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CONNECT THE WORLD
Putin, Erdogan Meet in Turkey; Investors Unnerved by Trump's Attacks on Amazon; Saudi Crown Prince Says Israelis Have Right to Their Own Land; Awaiting First Sentencing in Special Counsel Probe; Israeli Prime Minister Cancels Migrant Deal Hours After Announcement. Aired 11a-12n ET
Aired April 3, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST: Warming relations. At this hour, the leaders of Turkey and Russia are meeting and the agenda, the future of
Next, we're live in Ankara and Moscow. Also, ahead, up or down, the markets have been on a wild ride. Later, a look at what's happening on
Plus, quote, the right to have their own land. Those words from Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince with enormous meaning. Coming up, what Mohammed bin
Salam said about Israel.
Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Lynda Kinkade in Atlanta filling in for Becky Anderson.
Well, any moment now, Russia's president is due to join his Turkish counterpart and host in a news conference live from Ankara. Vladimir Putin
is in Turkey to discuss the crisis in Syria, among other issues. He and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will be joined on Wednesday by Iran's leader, Hassan
Rouhani. Now the three presidents represent the largest foreign military forces currently inside Syria, excluding the U.S.
We are covering all sides of this story. Gul Tuysuz joins me from Ankara. Matthew Chance is in Moscow and CNN Money's emerging markets editor, John
Defterios, is in Abu Dhabi. Good to have you all with us. I want to start first with Gul. Give us a sense of Turkeys perspective. Tensions seem to
be really high back in 2015 when Turkish jets shot down a Russian warplane on the Syrian border. Where do things stand right now? Where did they see
eye to eye? And what are the red lines?
GUL TUYSUZ, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Lynda, the relationship has for the most part been restored. It was extremely intense after Turkey shot down that
Russian war plane, as you mentioned. But over the last couple of years, they have managed to get the relationship back on track and have really
been trying to find more of their common ground as opposed to their disagreements which there is of course many for most of which is Syria.
But today, really, the Putin/Erdogan visit is about highlighting where they see eye to eye and of course in that circumstance, it's money that talks.
It is about increasing trade volume and for the purchase of Turkey -- for Turkey to purchase S-400 antiaircraft systems from Russia. Also, earlier
on today, we saw that President Putin and President Erdogan came together to open the Akkuyu nuclear power plant. Another one of the areas where
there has been a lot of cooperation between these two countries.
When it comes to red lines, when it comes to disagreements, it's all about Syria. These two countries, while maintaining really good relations in
terms of trade, are on differing ends. Of course, Russia supporting Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and hoping to continue this status quo in
Syria. Whereas Turkey and Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been backing Syria's opposition. And they have been trying to come together and tomorrow we'll
be seeing more of that, where Putin, Erdogan, as well as the Iranian leader will all try to sit down and come up with some sort of road map for the
future of Syria. But given how tenuous the circumstance in Syria really is, whether or not that meeting can accomplish anything and whether or not
Putin and Erdogan's good relations can overcome the chaos of Syria is something that we just don't know at this point -- Lynda.
KINKADE: All right, Gul, I want to go to Matthew Chance for more on all of that. Matthew, this is President Putin's first foreign trip since being
reelected as president. Just give us more of a sense of what President Putin is hoping to achieve with this visit.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think a couple of things. I mean, Gul touched on the main thing for today, which
is the commercial relationship between Russia and Turkey, which has been flourishing and which is important to both economies. But there are other
issues as well, particularly Syria, even though Moscow and Ankara are on opposite sides of the conflict there, they've come together in co-
sponsoring peace talks with a hope to both getting something that they want out of those peace talks. Of course, the Turks want to prevent the
emergence of a Syrian Kurdish entity on its border. And the Russians want to make sure their man, Bashar al-Assad, stays in power.
[11:05:00] And they both understand that they are crucial to each other's aims in that regard. Which is why I think the emphasize of the meetings --
at least tomorrow -- are going to be very much on Syria. I think there's a third aspect as well when it comes to the Russian point of view. Which is
this increasingly close relationship that Putin had with Erdogan and it's a thorn in the side of the West. I mean, Turkey is a NATO ally. Putin loves
the fact that he's selling surface to air missiles to Turkey, S-400 missiles. That's raised eyebrows among Turkey's NATO allies. And I think
it's sort of a case of Putin showing that he can sort of go larger than the NATO alliance and to some extent weaken it by bolstering this relationship
KINKADE: Excellent. And I just want to go to John now for a little bit more on the trade and investment. Obviously, a lot of the talks today
between President Putin and Erdogan focus on Syria but there is a lot to be said about what President Putin will gain economically.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNNMONEY EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Oh, certainly. This is a nexus where geopolitics and business absolutely come together. We've
both talked about it before. This is a chance to reboot relations between presidents Putin and Erdogan. No doubt about that. Syria will top the
agenda, but I think on Matthew's point here, President Putin has another agenda for himself, and that is economic survival. He's trying to remove
the isolation because of the diplomatic relations and strains with the West. This goes, of course, to the poisoning of the spy in Salisbury and
the accusations around that. All the way back to the annexation of Crimea back in 2014 and the sanctions that remain in place. And Turkey and Iran
are key players in this economic survival strategy of Vladimir Putin. It's a tilt to the emerging markets, a tilt to Asia and those who don't look
very closely to the human rights record in Russia as well. Let's take a closer look.
DEFTERIOS (voice-over): The diplomatic isolation of Vladimir Putin by the West is, in a word, unprecedented. But if recent history is any guide, the
Russian president won't be left wanting for partners. He's made a big pivot east to Asia, initially built around selling oil and gas.
RICHARD CONNOLLY, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Since 2014, Putin and other key members of the Russian foreign policy elite have been very
systematically seeking closer ties with the likes of China, South Korea and even Japan.
DEFTERIOS: Back-to-back deals in China when economic isolation was at its peak best illustrate the point. In 2013, he signed a 25-year oil agreement
worth $270 billion. A year later, a 30-year gas deal was inked for a projected $400 billion. And Russia has expanded its reach by adding
military equipment and nuclear know-how. Recent contracts with countries like Turkey mean Russia is now a dominant figure in the nuclear power plant
industry with contracts in over a dozen countries.
CONNOLLY: The Russian leadership, they like to see nuclear power generation sold to as many countries as possible. It makes Russia a lot of
money and it keeps people working in a high technology industry.
DEFTERIOS: And President Putin keeps on pursuing more emerging market alliances. Five years ago, here in the Middle East, Russia signed a $5
billion strategic investment with the UAE. And last autumn, he made another major push, inking deal with Saudi Arabia, despite the deep
partnership between the kingdom and the Trump administration.
But Putin did the same with the kingdom's regional arch rival, Iran, signing contracts pegged at $30 billion. While the Russian president is a
wily survivor, his economy under Western sanctions did suffer when emergency prices collapsed. After hitting a peak of nearly $2.3 trillion
in 2013, GDP shrank $1 trillion three years later. French energy group, Total, is invested in Russia. It CEO says he sees high risk with a
PATRICK POUYANNE, CEO, TOTAL: We can be worried if we continue to escalate any event around the world as clashes between big tensions and I'm not sure
interest of everybody is to come back to cold war system.
DEFTERIOS: A diplomatic cold war is brewing but an economic defeat seems less likely with Putin's new partners.
DEFTERIOS: And I think it's worth adding here, finding these new partners plays well back in Russia. Remember, back at the St. Petersburg
International Economic Forum in May of 2014, Vladimir Putin came back after his meeting in Beijing, signed that $400 billion gas agreement and he told
the Russian people, we're not isolated. I can still play ball with the major players and not really worry about the Western sanctions. After all,
I export gas to Europe, the number one exporter of gas to Europe as well.
KINKADE: And so, John, when it comes to Russia building Turkey's first nuclear power facility, how does that all fit into the Putin strategy?
DEFTERIOS: Well, first and foremost, this is a gigantic project, Lynda. $20 billion in southern Turkey. It's had some fits and starts because of
the tensions between Russia and Turkey, but this is getting back on the ground here. And this is a key pillar of that economic survival strategy I
was talking about. Over the last few years, they've signed contracts better than 19 in different countries with the back order of $300 billion
and extends all the way down to Egypt as well with a key focus on emerging markets.
The other big project they have on the ground here that was delayed is the TurkStream pipeline which comes from Russia down to Turkey, bypasses the
Ukraine, so this is politically very fortunate for Russia. Again, it had delays but I think they're going to try to seal this deal in the next 24
hours and get that final leg done in terms of construction.
KINKADE: All right, John Defterios for us in Abu Dhabi. Good to have you with us. Thanks so much.
Well, notably missing from the talks in Ankara today is any representative from Syria itself. Now, within that country, the last remaining rebel
group in the besieged area of Eastern Ghouta has begun leaving along with family members. Now that is according to Syrian state TV. Jaysh al-Islam
group has not responded for our requests for any comment. Eastern Ghouta has been the target of a government offensive that has devastated the area.
CNN's Frederick Pleitgen had the rare opportunity to report to us from live from Syria's capital, Damascus, close to Eastern Ghouta. And Fred, you've
been in one of those internally displaced camps where people fleeing Eastern Ghouta have been sent. You've been speaking with children in those
camps. What are they telling you?
FREDRICK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think a lot of them, look, have been telling us, Lynda, that it was obviously
terrible, especially in the last week there in Eastern Ghouta. We have to keep in mind that this was a very large enclave that was held by the
opposition forces to Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad. Some of these areas for well over five years and there was always a lot of heavy fighting
going on, but it was never worse in the past couple weeks. I would say around the past months or so when there was a huge government offensive
The children there, a lot of them were telling me, you know, that they couldn't go outside. They couldn't play. One of the things that they also
said is they hadn't actually been to school many of them for months. And clearly, they were quite traumatized by many of the things they witnessed.
We saw some children who were getting a haircut, for instance, for the first time in many months. And many of them who were able to play outside
for the first time in many odd months. So, you had people who were quite relieved that they were finally out of the hell that was Eastern Ghouta.
Many of them of course also still very much traumatized by many of the things that we witnessed. And you know, especially with the children that
we saw, Lynda.
One of the things that we have to keep in mind is that the younger children, many of them do not know anything except war. There were kids
who were five, six, seven years old who were either too young to have realized the time that they were born when there was no war. Yet or who
have just simply been at war for the entire time they've been alive. So clearly, these children have a lot of scars and clearly aid organizations,
if they do get access to them. There are some aid organizations that do. They're going to have a lot on their hands to try and deal with these
psychological wounds, especially that many of these children and many generally of the people there from Eastern Ghouta have endured.
KINKADE: No doubt, Fred, a lot of trauma to work through. And I was reading that many of these families were unable to take anything apart from
some basic necessities, some taking the keys to their home. And many families, hopeful that they will one day be able to return to Eastern
PLEITGEN: I think one day is probably the operative word there. I don't think that any of these families really know when they'll be able to
return. There's places that I've been to in and around the Damascus area where it's taken a long time for families to be able to return after
they've had to leave some of those areas. There's other areas where it's different, for instance in Aleppo where families are returning. But I
don't think that the families that have left there are planning on returning any time soon or believe that it's going to be possible for them
to return any time soon. I think most of them will want to return there but it's clearly not sure when exactly that is going to happen. And you're
absolutely right, you know, a lot of these people, they fled under fire. There was a shooting going on. There were bombs being dropped as they were
making their way out of these areas. It was a very, very dangerous thing and of course, they could barely take any belongings with them. And so,
many of them have virtually nothing and you saw that in those camps. Where of course they received some aid from international aid organizations, also
from some local Syrian aid organizations as well. But they really do not have very much and so many do want to return. But in many cases, also, of
course, you have to keep in mind that these areas were absolutely ravaged by the war that's been going on here in this country for so many years. So
many of them clearly won't have much to return to -- Lynda.
[11:15:00] KINKADE: Yes, seven years this war has been dragging on. We heard last week from U.S. President Trump that he's looking to withdraw the
U.S. from this war. But this week, it sounds like he hasn't spoken to the Pentagon about that. Because it sounds like they might be increasing U.S.
PLEITGEN: Well, you know, it's one of the interesting things when you look at some of the other nations that are also involved here in Syria. You
look also at the Syrian government, some rebel groups as well, they all have a very hard time figuring out what exactly the United States' strategy
is in long and medium-term here in Syria. On the one hand, of course, you have the president who was saying that, yes, they want to pull out as fast
That clearly alienated some of America s close allies in the fight against ISIS. Like for instance those majority Kurdish and Syrian democratic
forces who were clearly angry at the fact. Because they thought that America would stand by their side, even after ISIS is defeated. And then
you have the Pentagon, which appears to be making other plans. So, it's very difficult for international actors to find out what exactly America
wants and that's certainly is also something that marginalizes the United States' position. Here when it comes to negotiating the future of Syria,
when it comes to negotiating what things are going to look years.
And so, the countries that are really going into that void, if you will, are Russia, Iran, and Turkey, and we know that President Vladimir Putin of
Russia is in Turkey where he's going to be holding meetings with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also President of Iran as well tomorrow. Where they're
going to be speaking about the future of Syria without the United States at the table. To note that Syria has also not been at the able as well. But
clearly as far as the outside powers are concerned, right now, it's Russia, Iran, and Turkey that are very much calling the shots. We can see that on
the ground here as well. There are still some rebel enclaves on the eastern outskirts of Damascus and the ones who are leading the negotiations
there for those rebels to essentially give up as well, it's the Russians. The U.S. clearly does not have a role in this part of Syria and clearly is
being marginalized in other parts of Syria as well -- Lynda.
KINKADE: Frederick Pleitgen, great to have you there in Damascus, Syria, for that on the ground perspective there. Thank you very much.
Well, still to come, the U.S. markets looking to rebound from Monday's massive selloff. We'll see how Twitter rants by Donald Trump are factoring
into volatility when we come back. Stay with us.
[11:20:00] KINKADE: You're watching CNN, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD, with me, Lynda Kinkade. Welcome back.
Donald Trump is escalating his war on the world's biggest online retailer, taking to Twitter yet again to blast tech giant Amazon. Now, he insists
that he's right, that Amazon is costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money. Costs which he says are then passed on to
taxpayers. Mr. Trump's attacks on Amazon actually started back in 2015 and have only intensified ever since.
Well, words do matter, especially when they carry an implicit threat from the president of the United States. Yesterday, we saw the consequences for
Amazon's stock. It plunged 5 percent. And the rest of the market also took a beating, partly dragged down by Amazon but also by fears of a
looming trade war. But so far today, we are seeing somewhat of a recovery in the broader market in general.
Let's get more now from the Stock Exchange. Our Clare Sebastian joins us now live. And Clare, since Donald Trump was elected president has taken to
Twitter individually attacking at least 20 companies now. And we've seen some of those companies lose billions of dollars on the stock market.
Yesterday, a sea of red. Today, a slight bounce back.
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Lynda, there is a recovery happening to some degree today. About half of the losses that they
sustained yesterday have come back on the Dow. But don't be fooled, there is still quite a lot of sensitivity out there when the president tweeted
about half an hour into trading this morning. We did see Amazon stock take a little bit of a dip. It has come back now as well. But I think that
really gives you a sense of the kind of mood that we're in at the moment. When the president has tweeted in the past about big public companies, the
market has been in a very strong and stable kind of mode.
That is not the case anymore. This is a very sensitive market. We've seen a real gear shift over the last few months. And I think people are looking
at these tweets and thinking, if Washington is prepared to start a trade war, is prepared to interfere in the affairs of a public company, what is
that mean for the future? Can we really predict what's going to happen? Don't forget the markets are in the business of predicting what's going to
happen in trading. So, this is the unpredictability of this that's got the markets nervous.
KINKADE: Yes, certainly a lot of concern. And as we heard from President Trump, he criticized Amazon for not paying enough tax. But also, for
taking advantage of the U.S. Postal Service. How is the U.S. Postal Service faring right now?
SEBASTIAN: Well, I think it would be faring a lot worse if it weren't for big customers like Amazon. Obviously, mail is something that is much less
popular than it used to be. First class mail volumes at the post office are down about 40 percent since 2000. But given the volume of packages
that Amazon ships, that has really offset those declines. The post office, for example, has added Sunday delivery just for Amazon. Yes, it's true
that Amazon pay less for shipping than the average person. This is a bulk discount.
But this is true not just for Amazon but for all bulk shipping companies. And really the post office's problem with its bottom line, with the fact
that it isn't profitable, has a lot more to do with thing like it has to, you know, pre-pay retiree health benefits and things like that. That it's
mandated to do by Congress. And the fact that Amazon doesn't pay more. Also, Amazon has stayed silent throughout this. No one has actually asked
them, or we don't know whether they're prepared to pay more or not. We have no evidence that they're not.
KINKADE: And of course, Clare, President Trump not only attacking big business, also talking about starting a trade war with China. For a
politician who is a businessman, how is this being seen on Wall Street?
SEBASTIAN: Well, I think there's a mixture of kind of confusion and frustration around this. And don't forget that it was the president
himself and his policies that really drove that market rally that we saw throughout all of last year, and his tax cut and deregulation. You know,
it was really even the expectation of the tax cut before it actually happened that set the market on its upward rise last year. So, I think
there's really been a shift in how the market views Washington. They're very frustrated that he talks about things like a trade war is easy to win.
But Wall Street doesn't see it that way. You saw the broad base declines yesterday. This isn't just the companies that are going to be directly hit
by tariffs. This is across the whole -- all sector. Because of course a trade war can hurt the economy. So, I think, you know, frustration,
confusion, and generally just the unpredictability of it all.
KINKADE: Yes, we'll see how the markets continue to fare over the coming days. Clare Sebastian, thanks so much.
Well, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince is raising speculation over what could be growing ties between his country and Israel. In an interview with the U.S.
magazine, "The Atlantic," Mohammad bin Salman said Jewish people are entitled to their own land. That's a rare statement since most Arab
countries, including Saudi Arabia, don't even recognize Israel's right to exist.
[11:25:00] CNN's Nic Robertson joins us now from London. And Nic, have we ever heard
Arab leaders speak about Israel's right to land like this? How unusual is it? And what does it say about the relationship that Saudi Arabia has with
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, his language was blunter and more direct than we've heard from any senior Saudi leader. If
you go back to 2002, and the man who was in his shoes then, Crown Prince Abdullah, who went on to become King Abdullah, when he was trying to
restart a peace initiative between Palestinians and Israelis, he spoke then in 2002 about a two-state solution. And again, when he tried to restart
the initiative in 2007, about a two-state solution. There were conditions on it that Israel would withdraw to the 1967 borders. So, what was
implicit even back then that what we're finding with Mohammad bin Salman, MBS is known to a lot of people around the world now. Is that he really
pushes forward. He takes a really sort of forward leaning position. So, his language is blunter than we've heard before.
But what's going on behind that language isn't so new. And we heard again overnight from the King in Saudi Arabia, reported phone call with President
Trump, also talking and expressing as his son did, King Salman on that phone call with President Trump and his son, Mohammed bin Salman, using the
same language about the rights of Palestinians and Jerusalem as being a capital for Palestinians as well. So, they're both on the same sheet
there. But when people look at Mohammed bin Salman and say he's rushing forward too fast. They also look at his father, the King, to provide top
cover, if you will, and that appears to be the sort of sequence of events we're looking at here.
KINKADE: And those comments on Israel were not the only intriguing part of that interview he gave "The Atlantic." he also compared Iran's supreme
leader to Hitler. I just want to read a part of he said.
He said, I believe that the Iranian supreme leader makes Hitler look good. The supreme leader is trying to conquer the world. He believes he owns the
world. They are both evil guys. He is the Hitler of the Middle East. In the 1920s and 1930s, no one saw Hitler as a danger, only a few people until
What's being made of those comments?
ROBERTSON: Well, he's been very outspoken about Iran since the beginning, even speaking to Saudi media. He doesn't do interviews very often. But
when he does and when he's asked. He criticizes Iran strongly. It's a visceral feeling for many Saudis that they feel for a number of reasons,
they see Iran as expanding its influence. Which means not just sort of the presence of a nation. But they see it as a theocracy. They see it as --
they are Sunni Muslims in Saudi Arabia, Iran are Shia Muslims. So, there's a lot of history to this.
But this is a feeling that he's expressed before. And again, others express it in less potentially hostile terms. But let's also remember his
audience here, and his audience in this magazine was the U.S. audience. He's on a two-week tour of the United States, trying to sort of encourage
businessmen to invest in Saudi Arabia. Despite the fact that he locked up without judicial process a number of several hundred senior Saudis,
including royals and businessmen. He wants to drum up business. So, part of that business is -- part of that message is to show that Saudi Arabia is
on the same page as the United States so it's a political message as well, on the issue of Iran.
He certainly understands President Trump's feelings towards Iran and he sees President Trump as a good ally in that animosity and hostility to
Iran. And the desire to thwart what he sees as Iran's growing influence in the region. So that message also is very clearly for the U.S. audience.
He's expressed it in different terms for an Arab audience as well.
KINKADE: And just to add on that, you mentioned he's in L.A. He's meeting with Hollywood heavy weights, trying to rebuild the entertainment industry
only months after he overturned that 35-year ban on cinemas.
ROBERTSON: Yes, whenever he talks these days, he talks about the way Saudi was before 1979, before Islamic radicals tried to overthrow the holy site
of Mecca. It was the same time, of course, as the Iranian revolution, as he frames it, and as many people who study Saudi Arabia see it. They see
it that's the period from 1979 when this sort of real conservatives managed to get a stronger hold on how to run the country. What he is trying to do
is roll a that back as he says to that pre-1970s period. Back to a period where women had more rights, more freedoms and cinemas were, you know, a
normal thing, and outdoor entertainment and music were a normal thing in Saudi Arabia. So that's his message. Of course, he stands to make very
many enemies in this regard, particularly with the religious conservatives in Saudi Arabia. But he obviously, won't be speaking too much about that
to the Hollywood executives.
KINKADE: He certainly will not. Nic Robertson, thank you so much.
Well, you are watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from CNN's world headquarters here in Atlanta. Still to come, as quickly as you walked in, he had to
walk himself back. Israel's leader making a huge announcement, then hours later canceling it entirely. We'll tell you what it was when we come back.
[11:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KINKADE: You're watching CNN, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Lynda Kinkade. Welcome back.
We've got some news just into us. Britain's Prince Philip is in hospital for planned surgery on his hip. Now this news is coming to us from a Royal
spokesman. The Prince is 96 years old. You're looking there at pictures of him with his wife, the Queen, from late last year. The operation is due
to take place on Wednesday at a hospital in central London.
Well, we are awaiting the first sentencing in an investigation that cast a cloud over Donald Trump's entire presidency.
[11:35:00] The Russia investigation by special counsel, Robert Mueller. Dutch attorney, Alex van der Zwaan, will soon hear his fate in a U.S.
federal courthouse. He has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his communications with Rick Gates. That's a former senior Trump campaign
official. Gates is key to the Russia investigation. You may recall that he is cooperating with Mueller's team, and we've learned that investigators
want his help as they dig into allegations of collusion. Well, the prosecutor at the van der Zwaan's hearing just warned that that case should
serve as an example to others. Let's bring in CNN's Shimon Prokupecz for details. And Shimon, just give us a sense of what's taking place today.
This is a former attorney that has pleaded guilty to the FBI.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, you would think he would know better, given that he's an attorney. Certainly, he was involved
with Paul Manafort and Rick Gates in the lobbying work that they did on behalf of the Ukraine and he was -- had some role with some -- a report
that they were compiling and putting together. And that was generally his role with them. He's in court today after he pleaded guilty for lying to
the FBI to the special counsel. They brought him in to talk to him, and they wanted to know what he knew about some of Paul Manafort's dealings.
Some of what Rick Gates' dealings were on behalf of the Ukraine government.
And it was at that time that Alexander van der Zwaan, one of his attorneys, lied to the special counsel. And in particular, he was covering up some
contacts he had, some communications with Rick Gates, and a Manafort associate also who turned out to be a Russian intelligence official. Now,
that Russian intelligence official, according to the special counsel's filing, is a relevant part of this Russia collusion investigation. And so,
van der Zwaan in court today. He did address the judge a short time ago where he apologized. We're now waiting to hear if the judge is going to
make him serve any jail time or if there's going to be any kind of probation. And we should have that later on this afternoon.
KINKADE: And Shimon, there is also an update on the case against Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager. With the release of this
crucial memo that was written in August last year, it's just been released. Give us a sense of the timing of this release and what we've learned from
PROKUPECZ: Right, so this memo comes in a court filing and in response, the special counsel is responding to Paul Manafort's attorneys who are
asking a judge to dismiss the case. Because that case where Manafort is charged, again, for his work on the Ukraine and money that he made and
money that he hid in offshore accounts, and he didn't pay taxes for. Well, his attorneys are arguing this was beyond the scope of the special counsel.
So, in their response to that request, they filed their own motion. And it contained a memo which essentially lays out exactly what the special
counsel was authorized by the Department of Justice, specifically Rod Rosenstein, who's the deputy attorney general, and is overseeing the Russia
investigation. And in the memo says that -- two things. One is that Paul Manafort is being investigated for allegations of working with the Russian
government on collusion. And the second thing that it brought up was this work that he did in the Ukraine and that the special counsel, Rod
Rosenstein was authorizing the special counsel to go ahead and investigate these allegations of money that he was making from the Ukraine and then
obviously where charges were brought.
KINKADE: Yes, this certainly does not look good for Paul Manafort, who I expected to face court later this year. Shimon Prokupecz, good to have you
with us on this. Thanks so much.
Well, now, take a listen to this clip from Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: It's a good agreement. I'm very glad that we achieved it with the U.N. Commissioner on Refugees and it
enables us to solve this problem in a way that serves -- protects the interests of the state of Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: A very good agreement is what he called it. And just hours after that, Mr. Netanyahu pulled a 180 on that agreement, he had just been
talking about, canceling it. The deal in question is this one, to send more than 16,000 African migrants out of the country and over to Canada,
Italy, and Germany. Others would have been allowed to stay. And as we just heard from Mr. Netanyahu mention, the deal was worked out with the
U.N.'s refugee agency. Among the twists, though, is that Germany and Italy claim they didn't know anything about it. Now this is not the first time
Israel's Prime Minister has tried to take on this issue. Back in February, Israel sent out letters to illegal immigrants who the government insists
are mostly just job seekers. The letters warning, leave or be deported. Well, that was frozen last month by the Supreme Court. As we look to that,
still uncertain future, we want to go back now to February. CNN's Oren Liebermann taking us into the very public battle for Israel's streets.
[11:40:00] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The map of Johnny Goitom's journey is drawn in scars. The marks when he left Eritrea, the
beatings in Sinai, and the wounds when he crossed into Israel, where he's lived since 2009.
JOHNNY GOITOM, ERITREAN ASYLUM-SEEKER (through translator): I feel like I belong here because this is where I am. I placed my foot here. I am here.
LIEBERMANN: Goitom has built a life here, but his family, like thousands of others here face deportation. He speaks to me influent Hebrew.
GOITOM: They don't want refugees here. They tell you you're not a refugee. You just came for work. They just don't believe you.
LIEBERMANN: Most are from Eritrea and Sudan, two of the biggest sources of refugees in the world. Fleeing war and poverty, they traveled north
through Egypt, turning east to pass through Sinai. More than 1,000 crossed the border into Israel each month until the Israeli army sealed the route
with a fence in 2013. The immigration authority here says it has received more than 50,000 asylum requests in the last decade. Some 3,600 from the
Eritrea have been rejected. Just 8 have been accepted. Less than 1 percent among the lowest rates in the Western world. Israel calls them
NETANYAHU (through translator): We are not acting against refugees. We are acting against illegal migrants who come here not as refugees but for
work needs. Israel will continue to offer asylum for genuine refugees and will remove illegal migrants from its midst.
LIEBERMANN: South Tel Aviv is ground zero for this fight. And Sheffi Paz, a grassroots activist is on the frontline.
SHEFFI PAZ, ISRAELI ACTIVIST: We feel here completely, completely strangers. And it's a kind of like -- kind of occupation or invasion.
LIEBERMANN: We stroll around her neighborhood at night. The polished shine of the tech hub glimmers in the distance. She says this no longer
feels like Israel and wants to see these recent arrivals returned to their countries. The vast majority from countries the U.S. labels human rights
PAZ: I really need a Jewish country and I am -- my parents were Holocaust survivors. That's my conclusion on the Holocaust. Not that I have to get
-- to give up for the world but that I need to fight for my country.
LIEBERMANN: Others draw a different lesson from the Holocaust. Reut Michaeli works to help Africans apply for asylum. Her parents entered
British mandate Palestine in 1941 illegally. She says a nation built by Jewish refugees cannot turn away others.
REUT MICHAELI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HOTLINE FOR MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES: Israel was one of the initiators of the refugee convention and the fact
that Israel will deport people to a third country without taken even a little, little piece of responsibility is not moral. Not to mention that
it's against our Jewish values as a refugee nation.
LIEBERMANN: In a nearby Levinsky Park, I meet Awat Asheber From Eritrea.
This is where Israel first brought many of those fleeing Eritrea and Sudan. Even after ten years in Israel, Awat's goal has never changed
AWAT ASHEBER, ERITREAN ASYLUM-SEEKER (through translator): Tomorrow, the next day, it doesn't matter when, the day our country has peace, we will go
back. That's what we're waiting for, but no one is going to bring us peace.
LIEBERMANN: As Israel has pressured these families to leave, peace has been hard to find here. The promised land just wasn't promised to them.
Oren Liebermann CNN, Tel Aviv.
KINKADE: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Still to come, French commuters walk into chaos. Why they need a special timetable to keep up
with a rolling railway strike.
[11:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KINKADE: You're watching CNN, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Lynda Kinkade. Welcome back.
French rail commuters have a confusing few months ahead. Railway unions are on strike as part of a rolling three-month walkout. They're protesting
labor reforms proposed by French President, Emmanuel Macron. Our Jim Bittermann has more.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For decades, French leaders have tried to reform the nation's economy and while they've
had some successes, there have been some spectacular failures. As unions, especially in the public sector, have pushed back against attempts to
change workplace rules.
In this case, the protests against Jacques Chirac's plans in 1995 went on for weeks, brought the country to a halt and contributed to the downfall of
the Prime Minister, Alain Juppe. There's been one attempt after another since, and now French president Emmanuel Macron, who was elected on a
promise to enact reforms, and who began the process shortly after election day, is taking on the most difficult one yet. Modifying the work rules in
the public transportation sector.
For economists, like Pascal Perri, it's long overdue. If for no other reason than France is facing a deadline at the end of the year when
European railway systems most open up to competition, meaning that there could soon be German and Italian trains running on French tracks.
PASCAL PERRI, AUTHER, "SNCP: A FRENCH SCANDAL": It's a question of competitiveness, of profitability. So today the government has decided to
play its role.
BITTERMANN: Perri points out that the French rail system runs at a loss each year and is currently 50 billion euros in debt. But French railway
workers, some of whom are employed under work rules that go back to World War II and the days of coal fired locomotives, are resisting any attempt to
tamper with their pay, tensions, or benefits. What's more, they fear the government as is done in other sectors, is heading towards privatizing the
rail system, a system some union leaders think should be entirely free.
BRUNO PONCET, GOVERNING COUNCIL, SUD RAIL (through translator): We want to explain to everyone that like medical costs, health care costs, and
education, transportation should be free in order to have true social equality in France.
BITTERMANN: Even among the other rail unions involved, not everyone would agree with that. But Poncet points out that public employees in other
sectors like the ones he mentioned and others like Air France will go on strike in labor actions that could continue well beyond this week. In
fact, the leadership of one rail union is calling for train strikes from April through June at a pace of two strike days for every three days
worked. An innovative protest that could infuriate rail user and bedevil the government. And so, the government and passengers could be in for some
trying times ahead. Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.
KINKADE: Well, coming up, take a look at this. This is a huge place, more than 1,000 rooms with countless priceless paintings on the walls and the
price tag for this place, $300 million. Whose presidential palace is this? Find out and take a tour next.
[11:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KINKADE: You're watching CNN, and this CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Lynda Kinkade. Welcome back.
We have an update now on that nerve agent attack in Salisbury, England. Our Nick Paton Walsh is standing by in London. And we understand that
scientists investigating this nerve agent now say they're unable to determine whether it is the Novichok nerve agent that was initially
NICK PAYTON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, that's not necessarily the case. They are saying, and this is the head of the Defense
Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, Gary Aitkenhead, talking to Sky News. He is saying they were able to identify that it was Novichok,
and that's a military grade nerve agent. They're just not able to necessarily specify Russia as being the country of origin. Now, sort of as
a headline, that does sound potentially quite troubling. Obviously, the notion that Russia supplied Novichok has been behind many countries, about
20 or so, expelling hundreds of Russian diplomats, often receiving retaliatory expulsions the same way.
But step back a bit from this and really it comes down to what particular job certain scientists have. Now Porton Down say their job is to work out
what the substance was. And that it was a military grade nerve agent. They say they have established that and they have established that it is
Novichok and that is by definition of the translation of the name, which means newcomer. Part of the program in the Soviet Union in the late '70s
and '80s designed to create a nerve agent that was more or less undetectable.
What they go on to say -- what Mr. Aikenhead goes on to say, as he speaks to Sky News, is that it isn't actually Porton Down's job to then say where
in the world that was produced. Because obviously that requires people to go out into the world, to get defectors, to get whistle-blowers, to get
spies to specify exactly how that is made, where it is made, and who does the making of it. So, what we're seeing here is a bit more transparency
into the sort of chain of evidence in the British government's case here.
What it does say that Porton Down haven't done the identifying of this as being Russian in origin. It possibly opens the idea that there may be
other countries that could have supplied this. There's no doubt in the British government's mind, though, and it's quite clear that they have
intelligence that says this originated from Russia. And it appears to be enough there to have convinced dozens of other countries to go along with
expelling diplomats here as well. The only doubt really this casts on is the phrase British intelligence, which of course since the Iraq war, 2003,
and Saddam Hussein's alleged WMD program has always had some issues when it comes to weapons of mass destruction. But frankly, this statement from the
had a Porton Down to Sky News doesn't necessarily damage the British government's case at all. It just shows how the trail of evidence has been
KINKADE: So, you're saying it doesn't damage the British case, but what do you think the Russians will make of this, given that it doesn't directly
point the finger at them?
WALSH: Well, it doesn't at Porton Down directly pointing the finger at them. Look at this -- imagine like a police situation. You have a
forensic scientist on a murder scene who would say, yes, definitely the gun did the killing. The detective's job is then to go out and say, who did
the gun belong to and who turned up to fire it. If you just separate the same job here, Porton Down are the foreign forensic scientists on the scene
saying what was this. It's the detectives' job to work, the intelligence agents job to go and work out who actually had the gun, who could've fired
it, who was at the scene of the crime.
[11:55:00] So, this is sort of, to some degree, an element of common sense, where people have different jobs in the government. What it doesn't do
though is have a seamless single scientist who says that he's able to specify Russia as the point of origin of this particular substance. But I
think nobody really expected that to be the case at this stage. What it does do, though, potentially, as Porton Downs is not the singular source of
both the forensic examination and also pointing the finger of where this originated from, is it allows potentially Russia to seize upon this
headline and suggest there's a hole in the British government's case. But frankly, if you look further at what the head of Porton Down's scientific
division here actually said, it really is about a chain of evidence and whose job it is to do what.
KINKADE: All right. Nick Payton Walsh for us in London. Good to have you with us. Thanks so much for that update.
We also have an update on a story we told you about. The sentencing hearing in the Russia investigation. A U.S. judge has just ordered Dutch
attorney Alex van der Zwaan to spend 30 days in prison and pay $20,000 in fines. Now he has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators over his
communications with former Trump campaign official Rick Gates. Prosecutors warned that van der Zwaan's case could be seen as an example to anyone
considering to anyone else considering lying to investigators.
I'm Lynda Kinkade. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks so much for joining us. I'll see you next time.