Return to Transcripts main page


Russian Spy Poisoning; House Republicans End Russia Probe; South Korean Envoys Brief China, Japan on U.S.-North Korea; China's Xi Jinping Says He Supports U.S.-North Korea Talks; Musk: Mars Colony not an Escape Hatch for Rich People. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 13, 2018 - 01:00   ET




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 British prime minister puts the Kremlin on notice: prove it wasn't behind the attempted assassination of a former Russian double agent or face the consequences.

SESAY (voice-over): South Korea tries to calm jitters over what would be an unprecedented meeting between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea.

VAUSE (voice-over): And in a stunning surprise, shocking announcement to absolutely no one, the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee closes down their investigation, saying they found no evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

SESAY (voice-over): Hello and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE (voice-over): I'm John Vause, thank you for being with us. This is now the second hour of NEWSROOM L.A.


VAUSE: Britain has demanded the Kremlin prove it was not involved directly in the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter.

SESAY: Prime Minister Theresa May says they were attacked with a potentially deadly nerve agent in Southern England last week in an attempted murder.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is now clear that Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. The government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.


SESAY: Joining me now, CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, in London and senior international correspondent Sam Kiley is in Moscow.

Welcome to you both.

Nic, to you first. If Russia ignores the deadline set by the British prime minister, which is to explain themselves by Tuesday, how this all went down, if they were to ignore it, how far is the British prime minister willing to go in punishing Russia?

I mean, that's the big question here.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: She hasn't said but it was very clear when listening to the questions that she was asked after she gave that statement in the Houses of Parliament yesterday that there's a lot of pressure on her to go a long way.

She's viewed as being weak in part because of the way Britain responded to the killing of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian military intelligence operative, who was working with British intelligence services, living in the U.K., murdered with polonium in 2006.

The inquiry into that, just over a year and a half ago, almost two years now, indicated that Russia again was very likely responsible. The only action then was to call in the Russian ambassador and to ask him for Russia's cooperation and to hand over those responsible.

That didn't happen. So that showed Britain's hand with Russia on this type of issue to be weak. So she's going to have a lot more pressure.

Will she do what the British prime minister Ted Heath did in the early 1970s, which was expel total of 105 Russian diplomats?

That was one-fifth of all those serving in the U.K. at the time. It was a very significant diplomatic rift. It was at the height of the Cold War.

But it is that that people are looking to her, that kind of strong action, clear message that people are looking for her to deliver. It doesn't have to come quite in that form; there are other options, sanctions on individuals, restrictions on individuals. But these are the options open at the moment.

SESAY: Thank you, Nic.

Sam Kiley, to you. Given all this talk about Britain taking strong action to match the strong words of the British prime minister, the question has to be now, if that does indeed play itself out, how Russia might respond?

Are we going to walk into a tit-for-tat situation? SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they most certainly would have the option of tit-for-tat expulsions. We saw that over the Litvinenko case when four Russian diplomats were expelled and the Russians countered with expulsion for British diplomats.

The Putin administration, though, has been very kind of fleet of foot in dealing with these things; when there were a large number of Russian diplomats expelled from the United States a year and a half ago he elected not to respond.

I think in this case, though, the real opportunities for the Kremlin lie in some of the gaps that they wish to exploit among Western allies. You've got an interesting gap already emerging between Rex Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state, very much in lockstep with Theresa May, the British prime minister, in pointing the finger of likelihood at the Kremlin.

And the White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders --


KILEY: -- saying -- being a little bit more equivocal about it, saying that they stand behind their British ally but not pointing the finger towards the Kremlin.

Equally within Europe, of course, the Russians have been cultivating contacts with the nationalist anti-E.U. movement across Europe.

So when Theresa May calls and her allies and colleagues in the House of Commons, like Tom Toobin (ph) there, call for support from the United States and the European Union, that may or may not be forthcoming, come this Tuesday midnight deadline, when the Russians are supposed to be responding.

And I think that that is the sort of thing that plays very easily into the Russian hands. They will come up with a sort of response that is a nonresponse. They are neither going to accept responsibility for a state sponsored act of attempted murder using a nerve agent on British soil nor, I think, in all probability will they admit they've lost control of these sorts of nerve agents.

All they need too is shrug and see what kind of unified front, rather disunited allies in the West can put up -- Isha.

SESAY: Yes, interesting, we shall see. The clock is ticking to that deadline. Sam Kiley there in Moscow, very much appreciate it. Thank you.

VAUSE: For more, CNN's European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas joins us now and Nic Robertson also staying around for the conversation.

Dominic, first to you. What seems to be more significant, what Theresa May did not say during that address to Parliament. She did not talk about specific retaliatory measures that the U.K. will take against Russia. They've got this 24-hour deadline before that could happen.

Is that an empty threat?

Has she talked herself into a corner here?

What can they do?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: That's thing; I think she has in many ways because she's not exactly said what she's going to do. But by giving them a 24-hour deadline, the implication is that, once that deadline is reached, unless a satisfactory answer is provided, then some kind of action needs to be taken.

We've already gone through a whole series, whether it's freezing assets, preventing people from traveling, expelling diplomats and so on. There's a whole range of things that they can do.

But if one looks at the bigger picture here, President Putin is up for reelection -- or at least there's an election that will officially take place in Russia in the next couple of weeks. The longer this goes on, the more distracting it is, of course, for Theresa May, gets her away from Brexit negotiations.

Vladimir Putin is not going to admit that they have participated in a state sanctioned, you know, assassination in the United Kingdom nor is he going to admit that he doesn't have control over stockpiles of military grade nerve agents, that people are walking into the U.K. with and assassinating people with.

So she's got herself into a corner here because, when the 24-hour clock runs down, something must happen. And of course there's a huge level of unpredictability here, so what it's really going to do.

VAUSE: She's now set up the anticipation that there will be some kind of action. I guess the question is what will that be.

Nic, the White House has condemned this attack, described it as an outrage and reckless. But then came this question about Russia's involvement. Listen to the press secretary, Sarah Sanders, here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not saying that Russia was behind this?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Right now, we are standing with our U.K. ally. I think they're still working through even some of the details of that. And we're going to continue to work with the U.K. And we certainly stand with them throughout this process.


VAUSE: Not exactly damn the torpedoes, you know. Even the Russian media had a very catchy headline. "White House refused to blame Russia," which gets to the bigger picture here. Most countries, be in the United States or countries in the European Union or Europe, they have their own strategic choices to make here when it comes to Russia.

And they're not willing to go to the mattresses over an attempted murder on Sergei Skripal.

ROBERTSON: Well, secretary of state Rex Tillerson said that he did trust the British investigation, that they did believe the results of the investigation so far, that this did point to Russia and he criticized Russia in that same statement coning from the State Department, for saying it was an irresponsible force of instability in the world. We're outraged. Russia appears again to have engaged in such behavior.

So I think maybe what we're looking at there between Sarah Sanders and Rex Tillerson of the State Department is differences there of messaging, of nuance.

This is not something that we haven't seen before between these two great institutions in the United States.

However, you know, I think when you do look at the very big picture here, this is absolute fodder for President Putin because where he scores most of all is where the international community is in disarray, whether it's between the State Department and the White House, whether it's Theresa May and her erstwhile European allies, whom she's going through this Brexit negotiation; whereas Dominic Thomas there very correctly said, is a very significant distraction at this time for Theresa May. She has --


ROBERTSON: -- pushed the can down the road by 36 hours yesterday, by giving Russia until the end of today to respond. But that's not a lot of time to build an international coalition of support.

Also when we consider President Putin's potential motivations, if he was involved in this here, he will like nothing better than to see division in Britain at the moment, a weakened prime minister Theresa May, weak in her own party, under extremely difficult questioning inside the Houses of Parliament on this issue.

Potentially this could be an issue where she makes a major decision about the future relationship with Russia. You've just come off the back of a cold snap here in the U.K., where it was declared the gas stocks were running out.

And what did Britain do?

It opted to resupply with a tanker of gas from a Russian gas field. One, that's despite the sanctions on Russia.

So you know, Russia knows that Britain has strategic interests at stake, business interests at stake. All of this in the way for Theresa May, all of this in the very big picture.

Whether or not Russia had, the Kremlin had a direct hand in this, all these disagreements play into what President Putin, we understand, would like to see, which is a much more divided set of countries aligned against him. He certainly faces them aligned against him. But these divisions, the White House, the State, et cetera.

VAUSE: OK. Theresa May basically told Parliament there are only two possibilities here for Russian involvement. This is what she said.


MAY: I believe this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country or the Russian government lost control of its potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.


VAUSE: So, Dominic, this sort of "please explain" from Moscow that Theresa May is putting out there.

If she had support from within Europe from her traditional European allies on any measures that she was planning to take, would there have been this deadline?

Would she have given the Russians or the Kremlin this chance to respond?

THOMAS: No. She's reacting. It's a knee-jerk reaction under tremendous public pressure because, let's face it, this nerve gas exposed the British public to potential contamination and people are upset with the response from the government.

And here they are, you know, speaking to, you know, in the chambers and having to address this particular issue. So she's trying to sound, you know, tough here, providing a deadline and expecting a response.

And as we can see, this feeds completely into this sort of new world order that, you know, that Putin is trying to get, which is sort of fracturing the West, which, let's not forget: the collapse of the Soviet Union led to this massive European expansion and he sees right now she doesn't have support from the United States.

The White House had an opportunity today to stand unambiguously behind its --


VAUSE: -- Tillerson states you have to take that in context of where he sits in the White House right now.

THOMAS: Where he sits and the fact that he's not even sitting in the U.S. now. He's on his way back from an international trip. And yet again he's at odds with the president over foreign policy.

VAUSE: And potentially out of the loop.

Nic, we're almost out of time but I just want to finish up with you because obviously a lot of criticism of Theresa May and of the government and their response to past incidents similar to this one.

On the upside of all of this, some are saying that if Theresa May gets this right, if she is strong, if she is decisive, this could help her politically. They'll be talking about her as being the new Maggie Thatcher once again.

What are the chances?

ROBERTSON: It's a very short space of time to pull that off. And I think the fundamental difficulty for Theresa May is she knows that the decision that she makes in the coming 24 hours potentially will set the course of relationship between Britain and Russia over the coming years.

If we look to Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary's visit to Russia just before Christmas, that was the first time a British foreign secretary had been to Russia for three years. The expectation was that he was going there to deliver an unequivocal, clear message to Russia. We know what you're doing. If you do X, we will do Y, that there will be a reaction and a response for your covert actions.

This was in relation to many issues. But this is where the British government has to live up to that statement it's very clear from his visit, if that was the message he delivered to Sergey Lavrov and others in Moscow, it seems that they weren't listening and perhaps just don't care.

Britain is small and is becoming, in their eyes perhaps, even more isolated in the world order than it was in the past.

VAUSE: Yes, it seems there was X and there was Y and maybe you can throw in Z, which is that they just didn't really care.

Nic and Dominic, thank you both for being with us. Appreciate it.

SESAY: Quick break here. The U.S. House Intelligence Committee is ending its Russia investigation. Just ahead, President Trump reacts in all caps while the Democrats call the move tragic.

Also, O.J. Simpson describes a hypothetical scenario in which he might have killed his ex-wife and her friend.


VAUSE: But some say his account isn't hypothetical at all.




SESAY: Republicans on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee have ended their year-long investigation on Russia. The man leading that investigation, Mike Conaway, says, we've had no evidence of any collusion of anything people were actually doing other than taking a meeting they shouldn't have taken or just inadvertently being in the same building.

VAUSE: All just one great meeting incredible series of coincidences. President Trump followed that with an all-caps tweet. It was rare. The Intelligence Committee has after a 14-month long in-depth investigation found no evidence of collusion or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. Michael Genovese is president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University and Peter Matthews is a professor of political science at Cypress College.

Good to see you guys once again. So here is the reaction over the last couple of hours from the Russian embassy to this finding by the House Intelligence Committee which was led by the Republicans. Basically quoting that statement from Mike Conaway where he described all of this as just a series of coincidence and Russian involvement is a fantasy like a Tom Clancy novel.

But, Peter, you know, to say this was all just a series of coincidence and that there is nothing to see here, it's almost like they didn't even try to make this report believable because there is so much which proves that there is something there, that we just don't quite know what that is.

PETER MATTHEWS, CYPRESS COLLEGE: And they ignore the Democratic side completely. Instead of coming out with a combined report after negotiating and working things out, they come out with their point.

The Republican House Intelligence Committee's point of view and that's (INAUDIBLE) committee and then Russia sees it and says, this is the America government saying we're scot-free. We didn't do anything.

VAUSE: This is the Republican view. It's not the view from the U.S. government.

MATTHEWS: Exactly.

VAUSE: Democrats, no surprise. They're saying this is all just a sham. Here's Adam Schiff.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CALIF.), MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The Republicans have said for some time they're under immense pressure to shut down the investigation.

And it was apparent really from the very beginning from last March when our chairman went on that midnight run to the White House that the real objective was protecting the president. It wasn't doing a credible investigation.


VAUSE: So Michael, how much damage has been done to the House Intelligence Committee, as opposed to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which was also doing an investigation because these intelligence committees have always been seen as this bastion of bipartisanship?

MICHAEL GENOVESE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And that's the problem because there was a tradition of bipartisanship. It wasn't that long ago and this is not a long ago and far away fantasy. But foreign policy was different, that partisanship used to not literally end at the shores of America.

But there was this understanding that it was different and that both parties had to get together to help national security. You saw it during the Truman administration. You saw it later and you saw it throughout really the modern era up until the last couple of presidencies. And I think right now --


GENOVESE: -- politics is so tribal and it's so narrow in terms of the focus that they don't even bother worrying about the truth.

The rule is the 20-step rule in telling the truth. A lie has to be one, two or three steps away from the truth to make it believable. But when you're 20 steps away, no one is going to believe it and that's where we are today. We're 27 steps away from the truth o this phony report. It's all a fig leaf for the president.

VAUSE: It seems that they didn't just go 20 steps away from the truth. They probably went about 200 steps away because they've taken it even further, disagreeing with the assessment from the intelligence community that Russia was actually trying to help Trump get elected. They say there's no evidence of that.

Here's what the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, told Wolf Blitzer.


GEN. JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: No, I don't agree. I think their objectives evolved over time and certainly to start with they were interested in sowing as much doubt and discord as they possibly could.

And because of starting with personal animus that President Putin had for Hillary Clinton, they wanted to do everything they could to hurt her. Then when things got serious with then candidate Trump, particularly when he became the nominee, they were attracted to him because they thought he would be much better for them.


VAUSE: And, Peter, that sounds like a very reasonable explanation coming from someone who should know or at least have a very good idea of what happened.

Is it possible that the Republicans put this line in about, you know, the Russians not helping Trump get elected simply to help because that's what the president wants to hear? MATTHEWS: Well, definitely, because they want to support that president. He's given them a lot of rewards -- the tax cuts, for example and everything else, the lack of gun control legislation. It's exactly what they want. They're giving him something to protect him basically and this is just not right for democracy.

There's process and there's policy. Policy you can differ on. You should in a democracy. Difference of opinion, different approaches to how to solve problems. But when it comes to process, there has to be agreement how do we accomplish the investigations in a bipartisan way to get the truth?

It's part of the process of democratic activity. It has to go in the right direction together.

VAUSE: Part of the process here, the Republicans called time on this investigation without interviewing at least three key witnesses: Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chair; Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser and former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who is helping Mueller with his inquiry into Russia.

All of them have been indicted by the special counsel. According to some of these reports, Republicans didn't even use subpoenas to gather information. So with all that in mind, listen to Congressman Chris Stewart, a Republican, earlier on CNN.


REP. CHRIS STEWART (R): It's very clear and, by the way, it's not just this committee that's drawn that conclusion. As Manu just said, the senior Democrat or Republican on the Senate side says the same thing.

So does Dianne Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the Senate committee. So did Director Clapper. I mean I would invite anyone, tell me the strongest piece of evidence that you have that supports the theory of collusion because, Anderson, there just isn't and we've been looking at this for going on 15 months now.


VAUSE: I guess my question is, what gets the headline here?

What gets the attention of American voters?

Is it a statement from the congressman, no collusion here. Nothing to see or the nuanced part that witnesses weren't in court, subpoenas weren't used?

This goes way over what the national intelligence community's been saying.

George And June 9th never occurred, June 9th, 2016, when you had Don Jr., Manafort, Kushner in a meeting at Trump Tower, instigated by the Russians, who said, we've got dirt on Hillary. This is a gift from our government to your father's campaign. VAUSE: And Don Jr. says, I love it.

GENOVESE: I love it. Now, maybe that's not collusion but if we live in bizarre world, that's true. But the fact that the Russians -- excuse me; the Republicans are parroting the Russian version, it's shocking to me that -- that's a big step to take just for the loyalty to Donald Trump.

And Trump has, as you said, given them a lot. He's given them Supreme Court justices, he's given them the tax cut. And there's more that they want. But that's a high price to pay.

VAUSE: Apparently they found no link to cancer in smoking as well.

The other scandal with the White House. The White House says there's nothing to this story; others say it just keeps getting worse, Stormy Daniels and the $130,000 worth of hush money. Listen to what the lawyer for Daniels said to CNN earlier today.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Their theory is it's always been about the money. Your pushback?

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: It hasn't been about the money. In fact, had she wanted to sell her story to the highest bidder, she could have obtained far more than $130,000.


VAUSE: He didn't really explain what it was about Daniels but what do you think her motivation is?

Is it to make a lot more money?

Or is there more to this?

MATTHEWS: I think there's a bit more to it. She wants to be someone who tells the truth about what happened that could actually affect the president himself and also she could probably make some more money and a better deal after that. A movie or a book, whatever else. So there's --


MATTHEWS: -- probably a dual motivation there. Nevertheless, it's very serious right now. It's getting more serious as we go along.

VAUSE: Yes, it is. I just want to finish on the White House releasing its school safety plan after the shooting in Florida on Valentine's Day last month. If you remember, a week ago, President Trump was talking tough about facing down the NRA, specifically mentioned raising the legal age of buying an AR-15 style weapon from 18 to 21.

This is what he told that meeting of lawmakers. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They have great power over you people. They have less power over me. I don't need it. Some of you people are petrified of the NRA. You can't be petrified. They want to do what's right and they're going to do what's right. I really believe that.


VAUSE: OK. The White House plan is out. There's nothing about raising the age limit from 18 to 21. There's everything in there that the NRA wanted, arming teachers and that kind of stuff, which might explain what happened between then and now is this tweet that the president put out last week.

"Good (great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA." And that was with the senior lobbyist for the NRA.

So, Peter, did the NRA get to Donald Trump?

MATTHEWS: Absolutely, $30 million worth of getting to him. They spent that money on his own election and not to mention the money on Congress, $55 million. That's a lot of money to go around. They have so much clout because they also are funded by the arms production agencies, the ones that produce the weapons, the guns, like (INAUDIBLE).


GENOVESE: I also think that -- and you've said this before, that Donald Trump is a day trader and he wants a victory at the end of the day. So what he said at that meeting, the clip that you showed, sounded great. He's going to take over. He's going to get something done.

And then the next day it's, wait a minute. I said what?

And the NRA says no. He says, well, I guess OK. The answer is no.

So a lot of it is who he talks to last and a lot of it is who represents the best financial interests to the Republican Party. I don't want to say that the Republican Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the NRA or vice versa. But Donald Trump caved in to them.

VAUSE: And the NRA does not represent the vast majority of Americans but they do have a lot of sway. Michael and Peter, thank you so much.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

SESAY: Quick break here. North Korea is keeping quiet so far about Kim Jong-un's meeting with the U.S. president.

So is the White House worried the talks may not happen? What President Trump's press secretary is saying about all of that -- next.




SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: And I'm John Vause. We'll check the headlines this hour.



VAUSE: South Korea's envoys are trying to pave the way for what would be an unprecedented meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un. South Korea's national security advisor met with China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing. Mr. Xi says he actually support these talks.

SESAY: And meanwhile, South Korea's spy chief has been meeting with Japan's prime minister. Shinzo Abe reiterated he wants concrete action from North Korea on denuclearization.

VAUSE: So far, no public comment from the North Koreans about these talks with President Trump but the White House remains confident the summit will go ahead.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We fully expect that it will. The offer was made and we've accepted. North Korea made several promises and we hope that they would stick to those promises and if so, the meeting will go on as planned.


SESAY: Well, joining us now is CNN's Paula Hancocks in Seoul, South Korea and Journalist Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo. Ladies, welcome. Paula, to you first, so as we all focus in on the fact that we haven't heard from the North Koreans about this meeting that has been agreed to, how is that being read where you are?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Isha, the unification ministry spokesman spoke about this on Monday and said that there hasn't been a response at this point from the North Koreans.

But said that they believe that the North Koreans were being prudent, potentially cautious and were trying to organize themselves before making a public announcements. Now that's his personal opinion. Clearly, one that other officials within the government withhold. And if you read between the lines of that, you could suggest that they weren't expecting the U.S. President Donald Trump to say yes so quickly.

So we could just be seeing a slower reaction here because quite frankly a lot of people were taken by surprise where Mr. Trump said yes to that offer so quickly and even those within the Trump Administration were taken by surprise. We know that Mr. Trump was keen to have the meeting as soon as possible, he suggested April, it was his national security advisor and the one of South Korea suggested he should wait a month until after the North, South Korean summit as well.

So I don't think from the South Korean point of view that they're concerns there's been no word from North Korea. I think certainly in the past we have seen North Korea media-wise and regime-wise works a lot slower than the rest of the world.

SESAY: All right. Paula, thank you. Kaori, to you. We know that one of the South Korean envoys has made a stop in Tokyo and has had meetings with senior officials. Obviously Tokyo has had its concerns about the speed that this has been moving at. Have they -- have their fears been sufficiently laid? What are we hearing from the government now?

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Well Isha, high stake diplomacy playing out in full force over the last two days and today the national South Korean spy chief, National Spy Chief Suh Hoon sitting down with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as part of this two-day trip.

And I think there was a lot discussed between them in the terms of -- on the diplomatic front. First, the South Korean official thanking the prime minister, him, and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence for the -- for attending the Olympics and making this kind of conversation even possible. So, at the diplomatic level, I think all is calm here.

On the -- beneath the surface, we want to know if there was any explicit message from North Korea to Japan. We're not getting any indication yet that that -- there was. Instead, the South Korean official saying that it was -- to use his words, "meaningful" that the North Korean leader used his own words to express his willingness to denuclearize.

In response to that, the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe not really straying far from the language he's used over the last several years really saying that he wants to see North Korea essentially walk the walk and saying that denuclearization for North Korea would be a precondition of these talks going forward. So that's the gist of the conversation that we know so far.

Last night there was another round of diplomacy with the South Korean official meeting with the foreign minister here, Mr. Taro Kono and there were some words after that and the warning for Japan all along and it was reiterated last night is that we shouldn't be fooled by North Korea's (INAUDIBLE). To use the foreign minister's language, we should not make these mistakes again. I think he's referring to the breakdown of talks between these three parties and China was involved last time, Russia as well, the so-called six party talks that essentially broke down nearly a decade ago.

So they have been trying to remind I think officials all around and the public about the general skepticisms I think that still lingers ahead of these very, very critical talks.


And I think the prime minister of Japan getting back to him, he's in a very, very tough position. I mean, he's faced with a very crippling domestic political scandal right now and here in Japan. So this upcoming meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump is going to be very critical to make this a water-type sort of a full core press on North Korea. Guys.

SESAY: Certainly. All right Kaori Injoji joining us there from Tokyo and our own Paula Hancocks in Seoul, appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you to you both.

VAUSE: Clayton Dube is the Director of the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California and Clayton is with us now. Thank you Clayton for coming in. I'm glad you're feeling better. OK.


VAUSE: According to a statement which actually came to the office of the South Korean president, we'll get that to -- get to that in a moment. China's Xi Jinping, he's all onboard with this, we heard the reporting there.

This is -- I want to look at this statement because it's very brief, it's typical sort of Beijing speak in a way, this is what it says, "I support the U.S.-North Korea talks. I am delighted that south Korea's efforts have made great progress in the overall Korean Peninsula situation and that close dialogue between North Korea and the U.S. has been achieved."

Just how delighted is China at this point because it seems that they've been cut out of these negotiations here and even if this summit or talk is going ahead, chances are it won't be held in China which is significant.

DUBE: Well the striking thing is this will be the first -- if the summit happens and that's big if.

VAUSE: It's a big if, yes.

DUBE: It's a big if. If it happens, this is the first time that a North Korean leader has met with a U.S. president but it's also true that this is the first North Korean leader to have not met with the Chinese leadership.

He has not left North Korea and ordinarily, the North Korean leader upon taking office those directly to Beijing. And so this is a very significant break. Now, you make this point that Beijing is sounding happy about this and in fact, this is what Beijing has been advocating, that the U.S. talk to North Korea. But they didn't expect for them not to be involved.

VAUSE: Right. There's a couple of things in there but firstly, why is this statement coming from the North Koreans? They seem to be talking on behalf of a lot of world leaders at the moment.

DUBE: It seems like only the South Koreans were talking to everyone.

VAUSE: Right.

DUBE: And that's one of the striking things about this. This summit was announced to happen in a couple of months. If you go back, it's often compared to the Nixon going to China meeting, right? If you go back to 1971, Kissinger, the national security advisor meets with the Chinese leaders and then seven months later the American president goes. This is moving astonishing quickly.

VAUSE: Yes. I mean, you mentioned the act that in the past we saw Kim Jong-un with -- Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un's father, there was always this kind of mystery because he ride his train across the border and he would go (INAUDIBLE)

So it is incredibly bizarre at the moment just for people who are used to watching this to see that Kim Jong-un has decided to meet with this U.S. President. What does it say about the future direction of the relationship now between, I guess, North Korea and China and everybody else?

DUBE: Well one of the striking things is that North Korea has wanted to separate South Korea from the United States and to separate South Korea from China in terms of its alliances. And they haven't succeeded in separating South Korea from the United States but they've cut China out through these various measures.

And this must have been a huge shock to Beijing. Number one, China could always say we want the two sides to talk directly because they could count on the American side to say, not a chance.

VAUSE: No. Yes. OK, with that in mind, what is interesting, you remember Bill Clinton back in 2009, he was not a sitting president, he was a former president. He traveled to Pyongyang because there were two American journalist who are being held by then Leader Kim Jong-il, I went to all the photographs, they were all like this in every single photos, not a lot of them, Bill Clinton looks miserable, he looks dour, he looks mad and angry.

There were -- did not smile in one photograph and there was obviously a clear reason for him doing that. He was -- did not want to say that there was any kind of U.S. approval of this visit that he's basically almost being forced to be there because he knew the power of that image of the North Korean leader sitting down at that point with a former U.S. president.

When we get to the point now where we -- if it does happen, Donald Trump sits down with Kim Jong-un and we -- you know, we have the smiling photo of Donald Trump there with Kim Jong-U.N. I mean, what message is that then going to send to the rest of the world because I don't think a lot of people understand the significance and the legitimacy that that will give this regime in Pyongyang.

DUBE: Just the fact that Trump said yes, Pyongyang has won.

VAUSE: Right.


DUBE: This is a major triumph.

VAUSE: Everything else is gravy from this point.

DUBE: Everything else. If there is a meeting, that's more to the good for North Korea. But you made the point and you were reporting in the region at the time when Clinton was there, he worked hard to keep a smile off his face.


DUBE: Either they wanted to send a very clear signal that he was there underdressed on a specific mission.

VAUSE: Yes. And I remember -- I think there's been some negotiations about would there be photographs? Would they released? And I think in the end the North Korean insisted the deal was off and so they caved essentially and that was sort of the compromise. It is interesting times to say the least Clayton. I'm glad you're with us, thank you.

DUBE: Thank you.

SESAY: Well in the event of another world war, one entrepreneur says this is the place to be, Elon Musk's plan to save humanity.

VAUSE: Well that's depressing.

SESAY: That's where we're sending you.

VAUSE: Oh great.


VAUSE: Well an interview recorded 12 years ago with O.J. Simpson has finally gone to air in which he hypothetically confesses to killing his ex-wife and her friend.

SESAY: The tapes are bizarre and some say the count of the 1994 murder is not hypothetical at all. Brian Todd has more.


BRIAN TODD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: O.J. Simpson laughs repeatedly. He laughs when he says how hard it is to talk about his ex-wife's horrific murder. He laughs when he mentions Charlie.

O.J. SIMPSON, ACQUITTED OF 1994 MURDER: Charlie. TODD: A mysterious friend who's not been matched to any real person who Simpson says came with him to the murder scene. Here's how he described the crucial moments of June 12th, 1994, and a count which he repeatedly insist is hypothetical.

SIMPSON: As things got heated, I just remember Nicole fell and hurt herself and this guy kind of got into a karate thing and I said, "Well, you think you could kick my ass?" And I remember I grabbed the knife, I do remember that portion, taking the knife from Charlie. And to be honest, after that, I don't remember except I'm standing there --

TODD: Simpson infers he blacked out and laughs bizarrely.

SIMPSON: I hate to say (INAUDIBLE) I know we got to back up again.

TODD: And he says he was standing in blood.

SIMPSON: I don't think any two people could be murdered the way they were without everybody being covered in blood.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, AUTHOR "THE FUN OF HIS LIFE: THE PEOPLE V. O.J. SIMPSON": The idea that O.J. Simpson is still toying with people, spinning out theories including incriminating ones is so repulsive and is so horrible to the victim's families.

TODD: It's all part of "Fox's" show called "The Lost Confession" the only interview Simpson's ever given about the murders of his ex-wife Nicole and Ron Goldman. It may never have really been lost. Although "Fox" claims to have recently discovered it.

"Fox" shelved the 2006 interview following a public outcry. It was originally supposed to be part of a promotion for Simpson's book, "If I Did It."


Christopher Darden the former prosecutor who was part of the team which infamously lost the Simpson murder case was part of "Fox's" panel.

CHRISTOPHER DARDEN, FORMER L.A. PROSECUTOR: I think he's confessed to murder. He may try to describe it as hypothetical but, of course, it becomes "I," I did this, I felt this, I saw this. I think Charlie is O.J. This is no hypothetical, this is reality.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Orenthal James Simpson not guilty of the crime of murder --

TODD: But is there any legal action Simpson could still face?

TOOBIN: There is absolutely no legal recourse against O.J. Simpson at this point. Double jeopardy prevents another criminal trial. There already is a multimillion dollar civil judgment against him which he has avoided to a great extent paying. TODD: "Fox" says Simpson didn't get paid for this interview but the fascination with this case endures. "Fox's" interview follows widely viewed airings of the Oscar Winning Documentary, "O.J. Made in America" and the Emmy Winning Drama Series, "The People VS. O.J. Simpson."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This case is a circus.

TODD: In the interview, Simpson as always shows no lack of self-pity.

SIMPSON: And it's almost like they killed me, who I was was attacked and murdered.

TODD: The Goldman and Brown families have opposed the airing of this interview when it was first scheduled to air in 2006 because they didn't want O.J. Simpson making money off the murders. But in a statement just obtained by CNN, an attorney for Fred Goldman says the family now welcomes the airing of the interview because everyone can now make their own judgments. Brian Todd, CNN Washington.


SESAY: Now, if the worst happens and there is a nuclear war on earth, Elon Musk says space colonies are the way to save the human race.

VAUSE: OK then. The founder of SpaceX held accord at the Annual South By Southwest Conference in Austin, Texas. Talking about the future of self-driving cars and the threat posed by artificial intelligence. But then it all kind of turned serious where he warned of the fears and the bad times which are on their way.


ELON MUSK, FOUNDER AND CEO, SPACEX: We don't know if there's likely to be another dark ages particularly if there's a third world war. And we want to make sure that there's enough of (INAUDIBLE) human civilization somewhere else to bring civilization back and perhaps shorten the length of the dark ages. You know, I think that's why it's important to get ourselves sustaining base ideally on Mars --


VAUSE: Ideally on Mars. Amanda Hendrix is a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institution. She joins us now from Boulder, Colorado. Amanda, good to see you. So, the obvious message here from Elon Musk that the faith of the entire human race depends on sending people to Mars. But I thought you couldn't breathe on Mars.

AMANDA HENDRIX, SENIOR SCIENTIST, PLANETARY SCIENCE INSTITUTION: Well, that's a good question. It's a good idea you go to Mars and to send humans to Mars but there's a lot of problems with going to Mars and it's definitely not easy. That's one reason we haven't gone there yet, it's very challenging. And breathing is just one of the problem, so we have to find work around to fix the problem.

VAUSE: Yes. I think breathing is a good place to start with some of those issues which need to be addressed. I guess for Elon Musk he does address or talk a little bit about just how difficult all of this could be. Here's what he said.


MUSK: (INAUDIBLE) Mars I thought of is like, is this some escape hatch for rich people? But I -- it won't be that at all, it's -- anyone who -- for the early people that go to Mars, it will be far more dangerous. I mean really, it kind of (INAUDIBLE) Antarctic explorers, it's like difficult, dangerous, good chance you'll die, excitement for those who survive.


VAUSE: You know, I just want to know Elon Musk owns a huge lot of property in New Zealand (INAUDIBLE) he doesn't seem to want to go to Mars. Hypothetically speaking, is there anywhere else within our solar system that maybe a better option?

HENDRIX: Oh yes, there is. There's an earthlike, the most earthlike place in the solar system is a moon of Saturn that's called Titan and it's about as big as our moon, a little bit bigger than earth's moon but it's much more earthlike and much more habitable for human.

And the reason is that it has a thick atmosphere. It's not oxygen, so we'd still need to make oxygen to breathe but there's plenty frozen water, so you can do electrolysis and drive oxygen to breathe there. But the problem with Mars for a long-term human habitat there of (INAUDIBLE) is that there's a very thin atmosphere and little magnetosphere and so there's very little shielding from cosmic radiation, solar radiation that can be very damaging and can kill people over the long-term. So the --


VAUSE: You know what, it does --

HENDRIX: -- Titan is the atmosphere shields us from the radiation.

VAUSE: Yes, it sounds to me like what you're saying is earth is pretty good, maybe we should look after this planet and not worry about those other planets out there at least for the time being, right?

HENDRIX: Well, of course, that's the best option. Earth is pretty much the best (INAUDIBLE) but there are better to go than Mars.

VAUSE: Good. OK, well --

HENDRIX: Mars is a good stepping stone to other places in the solar system.

VAUSE: Well you got to start somewhere I guess. Very quickly, for those who are left behind, if they're lucky enough to survive Elon Musk's dream or vision of a nuclear holocaust, he actually has a warning about artificial intelligence. Here's what he says, listen to this.


MUSK: We're very close to the cutting edge in AI and it scares the hell out of me. The danger of AI is much greater than the danger of nuclear warheads by a lot. And nobody would suggest that we allow anyone to just build nuclear warheads if they want, that would be insane and mark my words, AI is far more dangerous than nukes.


VAUSE: I mean I guess in the scheme of things, I mean where -- what sort of -- where does the science committee sit on the greater danger to the future of the human race? Is it potentially killing ourselves in a nuclear war or the robots going to kill us in our sleep?

HENDRIX: Well I think the bigger problem is climate change but that's the way we're going to kill ourselves. And that actually is very addressable, it's not too late to turn that problem around or at least to slow it down. So climate change is the real problem and could potentially bring on World War III.

But AI has a potential for dangerous outcomes but can also help us, of course, very much. And it's going to be very useful for space travel and space exploration.

VAUSE: OK. Amanda, we're out of time but the point is we've got one planet, (INAUDIBLE) and I think your point about climate change being a threat is by far more relevant than anything Mr. Musk had to say. So thank you for being with us.

HENDRIX: Thank you.

SESAY: So no Mars for you then.

VAUSE: I'm not going to Mars. No killer robots, I'm staying here.

SESAY: For hour three of NEWSROOM L.A. and --

VAUSE: On Mars, it takes longer.

SESAY: That is My Freedom Day. Young people around the world is joining the fight against modern day slavery. Next, human trafficking survivor inspired high school students in Virginia.


SESAY: For My Freedom Day on March 14, young people around the world are joining forces with CNN to fight modern day slavery. And students at a high school in the U.S. State of Virginia want officials to require every school in their community to have an anti-trafficking curriculum, take a look.


MATT FLOYD, TEACHER: Smithfield, Virginia is a very rural family- based town. The sense of community is a very big part of our local culture and identity. My name is Matt Floyd, I'm a teacher of U.S. VA Government at Smithfield High School. Hi everybody, good morning. How are we doing?


FLOYD: My first day on this job about a year and a half ago, my new department had asked me, "What do you know about human trafficking? And have you given any thought to making that your project-based learning topic?" And the answer was nothing and no and sure.


I jumped into it and have a look back. I like that, convinced. The Provincial Project is a nonprofit organization and it provide a curriculum for us to teach human trafficking in a very real world sense to high school kids. Our students are taking the information they're getting and they're taking it off the PowerPoint, they're taking out of the textbook and they're addressing it in the real world. They are making sure their congressmen, their senators, and their government officials know what they're learning and know what they expect for them to do about this problem. And they've actually pushed (INAUDIBLE) community to help bring awareness to the community by how serious this is in our area.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And in every single state in America there's been a case of human trafficking.

FLOYD: We decided to put together a presentation to help raise awareness of human trafficking. The goal being to try to convince local lawmakers to institute education on human trafficking and to the local curriculum across the board and all middle schools and/or high schools in the county.

If this one classroom could make this a big a difference and this one classroom can have this much of an impact, what could an entire school system do? The one thing the kid said is, "We want to meet somebody that's really had to live with this, that's had to deal with this."

MONICA, HUMAN TRAFFICKING SURVIVOR: My name is Monica and I am a human trafficking survivor.

FLOYD: Having Monica come in has inspired the kids, it made it real. Now it's not something you read or see in a movie. It's somebody flesh and blood standing right in front of you. And I thought it was important for them to see firsthand and hear her story and not be able to turn the other way.

BREIGH CAMPBELL, STUDENT: When Monica came and spoke to us that's when I got the idea of writing Monica monologues to show what the different views are. Took every, every piece of my body.

I decided to take her story and to put into words from my point of view of what it would be like if I was in her shoes.

VOICE OF ELISE BROWN, STUDENT: Monica was a part of my inspiration. I don't want this happen to anyone else that needs to stop, things need to change and we can't just be that person that sits and watch, we need to do something about it. We want better, we want change.

ABBY CONYERS, STUDENT: (INAUDIBLE) such a passion in this problem that I now want to take that on to my college career and to be able to make a change not only in my community here but future communities that I'm going to be a part of.

JAIA HEAD, STUDENT: I wrote a song I call, "The Sail of Your Sister" (INAUDIBLE) just being chosen to perform or just to share my piece, it's an honor.

FLOYD: My students humble me on a day-to-day basis. My students tend to push things further than what I anticipate seeing them doing. They had a drive that I couldn't have imagined before I started doing this. My students are rock stars.


SESAY: Yes they are.

VAUSE: Rock stars.

SESAY: Rock stars. You're watching NEWSROOM L.A. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Stay with us, more news after a short break.


SESAY: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour.