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Trump, First Lady Make Surprise Visit to Iraq; U.S. Border Patrol Changes Policy After Second Child Dies; Russia to Deploy "Invincible" Nuclear Missile; U.S. Government Shutdown Enters Sixth Day with No End in Sight; Dow Posts Biggest Daily Point Gain Ever. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired December 27, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): President Trump makes a surprise visit to Iraq, defending plans for a military pullout from Syria while signing make America great again hats for U.S. troops.
After enduring the worst Christmas Eve in history, U.S. stocks rack up their best day of the year as the Dow breaks a record, soaring more than a thousand points.
What's behind the turnaround?
And refusing to return home. Thousands who survived Indonesia's tsunami now living in constant fear in shelters as the volcano that caused the disaster continues to erupt.
How and welcome to the viewers and joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
CHURCH: President Trump and the first lady are in the air at this hour and heading back to Washington after an eventful day. For the first time in his presidency, Mr. Trump visited a war zone for some three hours. He was on the ground in Iraq.
There he visited with troops and military leaders and he defended the pullout from Syria and said the U.S. cannot continue to be the world's policeman. He said that he came to share the country's gratitude for, among other things, everything they do to keep America safe and strong and free.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The other reason I'm here today to personally thank you and every service might be through the region for the near elimination of the ISIS territorial caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
Two years ago when I became president, there was a dominant group. They were very dominant. Today they're not so dominant anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Mr. Trump also met with troops during a refueling stop in Germany. As Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr reports, a trip like this is not without risks.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: For any President of the United States to make a trip into a war zone, it is a significant security event. The Secret Service and military working together for weeks to plan it all out. They know how to do it. They did it for George W. Bush, for President Obama and now for Trump.
Some of the key challenges we know from past presidential trips, they have to secure the airspace as they enter a combat region. They have to make sure they have intelligence and surveillance, reconnaissance, helicopters up while the president is on the ground, making sure there can be no intrusion by adversary forces.
They know how to do it. But it doesn't mean they're not worried. This time it appears, by all accounts, the trip went off flawlessly, the president and first lady visiting troops at the holiday season, getting briefings on how the fight against ISIS is going and the president defending his decision to bring troops out of Syria and also saying he will continue to have U.S. troops inside Iraq -- Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
CHURCH: Joining me now is retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, who served as State and Defense Department spokesman during the Obama administration.
Thank you so much for being with us.
ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: My pleasure. Glad to be here.
CHURCH: This is Trump's first visit to a war zone since being elected.
Why is a visit like this so critical for troop morale at this time?
KIRBY: It is always critical for morale during the holidays. It is a tough time to be in the service and be separated from your families. It is also important for the families themselves to see that the commander and chief and the first lady understand the sacrifices they all make, all military family members.
So that's important, too. But it also is great opportunity for the commander in chief to learn more about the fight. To show the troops that he actually supports the mission they're on and he wants to get it right and he's looking to the future and taking the time to really understand from a tactical perspective, not just about morale but from a tactical perspective what they're going through.
CHURCH: This visit comes after President Trump made it clear he intends to pull out troops in Syria and Afghanistan. While in Iraq, he emphasized there was no plans to pull troops from there. But Iraq could be used as a base to still have a presence in Syria.
What is your reaction to the new --
CHURCH: -- military strategy on this?
KIRBY: A couple of thoughts. First, I believe that his decision to just uniformly extract forces from Syria was a reckless mistake. It is not at all in keeping with our national security interests. We now have ISIS on the run in Syria. Now is exactly the time to press the advantage.
There's not that many of them there, there are some and they don't have as much territory as they had. Now is the time to carry that all the way through. So it is a terrible mistake.
I think it is also important to remember Iraq's role in this counter ISIS fight since the beginning. If you go back to 2014 and 2015, it was from Iraq that we started to launch strikes into Syria. So what he's proposing is not new. We've done it before. It will be a little bit more difficult now and probably less effective now because the ISIS targets inside Syria are not as overt.
There's no infrastructure to hit anymore. They have been reduced now in size and scope so they're almost under the radar if you will. They have gone to ground. Targets there are much harder to hit. They're more dynamic. They need more time-sensitive intelligence that you're not going to get now because you won't have those boots on the ground to actually see what's going on and provide that very dynamic intelligence, that intelligence they need.
CHURCH: You mentioned ISIS. The president also apparently said this about ISIS.
"We have knocked them out. We knocked them silly."
Is that true?
KIRBY: It is true to a point. I mean, he does get credit for accelerating the fight against ISIS over the last two years. He has loosened up some of the constraints that our military commanders were under, both in Iraq and Syria and, I do think he deserves some credit for that.
But he's overstating the case in the extreme. ISIS is not destroyed in Syria. His own special envoy, who just resigned in protest, said that not two weeks ago. And so has his Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis, who also resigned in protest over this decision.
Let's look at Iraq, where he was today, the Iraqi special forces are still hitting one to two targets on ISIS every week now. And the new prime minister doesn't agree with his predecessor, that ISIS has been defeated and very much is concern about their ability to maybe resurge there inside Iraq.
So the fight is very real and it's very much in the Iraqis' face. And I think they were really hoping to hear from the president about how he is going to help them complete the task there. He didn't have a chance to even meet with the new Iraqi prime minister, which I think was a missed opportunity.
CHURCH: Yes, that was interesting indeed. While the president was visiting these troops he raised political issues and also signed some of those red make America great again hats and there's the pictures there. You called this inappropriate.
Why is that?
KIRBY: It is absolutely inappropriate. The military serves the people of the United States and the Constitution, not a party, not a president. They obviously -- he's the commander in chief. And they obey his orders. But it is an apolitical body.
And I said back in November that if he couldn't keep from making a visit to the troops political, he shouldn't go. And I'm really sorry to see that happened today. I mean, I guess I'm not all that surprised, given his past performance when he's in front of a military audience and he tends to politicize things.
But I'm very disappointed it happened today. Frankly, it just puts the military in a very difficult position. They want to support their commander and chief. They're glad he came and excited about it. But they don't want to be dragged into the politics here at home.
And I just don't know that Trump completely understands that. I think he -- I think he assumes that their obedience and their loyalty is really about political support for his policies and his administration. That's absolutely not the case.
CHURCH: Retired Rear Adm. John Kirby, thank you so much. We appreciate it.
KIRBY: You bet.
CHURCH: President Trump's Iraq visit comes as uncertainty looms in the U.S., a partial government shutdown is now into its sixth day and there are no signs that either the president or Democrats will budge. Trump said he will do whatever it takes to get $5 billion for the border wall. The Democrats' offer is nowhere close to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We need a wall.
So we say how long is it going to take?
We're not going to say that we need border security. What are the Democrats going to say?
Oh, yes, the Democrats all agree that we need a wall. But they don't want to do it.
Once I wanted it, they didn't agree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: All right, joining me now from Los Angeles, CNN senior political analyst and senior editor at "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein.
Good to have you with us.
So the president had originally told Democrat leaders, Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, that he would take full responsibility for the government shutdown over the border wall. But he's now trying to shift the blame back on the Democrats.
How long do you think the shutdown will last and who will blink first and --
CHURCH: who ultimately will get the blame?
And what damage will be done in the meantime?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, the -- the history of the shutdown is fascinating. It's easy to forget that last year there was a deal on the table for the president, in which he would have received his full funding that he's requesting for the border wall in exchange for legal protections for the so-called DREAMers, the young people brought to the country illegally by their parents.
That deal seemed to be on track until the hardliners on immigration in the White House demanded that Democrats also agree to the largest cuts in legal immigration since the 1920s.
And then it all fell apart. And so here we are now, the presidents in essence demanding from Democrats the money for the wall without anything on the other side.
The longer term history of this is that twice, both in 2006 and 2013, the Senate passed legislation, including a substantial increase in border security as part of a comprehensive package, however, that included a pathway to citizenship for roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country presently.
Each time the Republicans said no. Given that history, I think it is very unlikely the Democrats are going to agree to this border wall without getting some of the changes they want to see in the immigration assistance, particularly given that there has never been a majority in public opinion for building the wall. The CNN last poll, a couple of weeks ago, only 38 percent of the
country supported building a wall and that dropped to 33 percent if Mexico wasn't going to pay for it, which is, of course, the condition we're in.
CHURCH: We'll just have to see how long this shutdown lasts. So President Trump made a surprise visit to Iraq Wednesday and this is what he had to say in reply to criticism from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and others about the president's plan to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think a lot of people will come around to my way of thinking. It is time for us to use our head.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: OK. With every military expert advising against the withdrawal, is it even possible that everyone will suddenly agree with Mr. Trump's strategy here on Syria?
BROWNSTEIN: Probably not, obviously. But in many ways, the process of this decision was more alarming -- or at least as alarming as the outcome of the decision. There's a legitimate debate about how long American forces need to be in Syria on this mission.
But I think there's no debate, really from all points on the political spectrum, that this was a process in which not only the advice of allies was short-circuited but the input of the military was preempted. It was an example of the volatility that the president has introduced into all aspects of national policymaking by doing this so abruptly, so unilaterally, not only in terms of international allies but within his own government.
At the same time he has precipitated these other circles of instability around the government shutdown and what has been happening with the turmoil in financial markets. So the process here was at least as alarming as the conclusion.
CHURCH: Right. You mention the markets. Of course after they experienced the worst Christmas Eve in history, U.S. stocks soared Wednesday to their best day o f the year. The Dow breaking a record and adding more than a thousand points. This happened when Trump was on the way to Iraq, silent and not tweeting.
How big a role did politics play in this market rebound, do you think?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think -- I don't think this is the end of the gyrations of the market. I don't think anyone would expect that this is the last word and we're back to clear sailing. It has been striking to see how many financial analysts, strategists and traders in the last month have said something to the version of, in the past, we treated the president's Twitter tirades and his press conference remarks, his attacks on the Fed as the background noise behind policies that we like. Now we see there's a concrete consequence to them. The market may be
the most powerful force we've seen so far that has the capacity to pressure him to temper his behavior. But I don't think anyone expects it will be powerful enough, particularly because congressional Republicans have been -- continued since the election -- after the midterm elections lost the popular vote in the House and more than Democrats did in 1994 and 2010.
Really no concerted pressure on the president to change the way he is behaving. Some grumbling about Mattis and some about Syria, but a real party-wide reluctance to face the implications of that decision and to the broader way the president --
BROWNSTEIN: -- is operating. And as long as that is the case, I think the markets are going to have to brace themselves for more of what they have seen in terms of the disruptive behavior of President Trump.
CHURCH: Ron Brownstein, always great to get your analysis. Thank you so very much.
BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.
CHURCH: Well, a huge rally, as we mentioned, on Wall Street is carrying over to markets in the Asia Pacific region. Let's look at the numbers right now. Look at that. Positive territory, you can see Japan's Nikkei up more than 4 percent and increasing there.
And then, of course, in Australia, up nearly 2 percent. In New York, the Dow set a new record for the biggest point gain in a single day. Blue chips soared more than a thousand points or 5 percent. Tech stocks propelled the Nasdaq to a nearly 6 percent gain.
So joining me now from Los Angeles, global business executive, Ryan Patel.
Great to have you with us. After the markets' worst Christmas Eve in history, a record rebound Wednesday and the Dow soaring more than 1,000 points.
What do you think is behind this impressive comeback?
RYAN PATEL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR AND GLOBAL BUSINESS EXECUTIVE: Santa Claus showed up with the presents this year and Wall Street loved it. I think the whole day, the cooldown and the world is not ending piece.
Hopefully this is not a trend. You and I talked about a few days ago on Christmas Eve is still there. People are still concerned. It was a little bit overboard of what they saw in the market. Today was a day you mentioned earlier, nobody was talking about the Federal Reserve, there was nobody tweeting at the market. It was just today.
Everyone looking at tech stocks leading the way. The S&P 500, all but one stock was up by a lot today. So it was not just a few stocks. It was through the whole market. And I think to have a day like this and a day like Christmas Eve is going to tell you what will happen in 2019. We're going to be on a roller coaster ride.
CHURCH: SO what you're saying, though, is the president stays quiet and the market does well. If we can keep that going then things should look good.
CHURCH: Is that what you're telling us?
PATEL: Well, like I said, the concern had been just to let the markets play out. You know, not to get involved. I think the bank CEOs said the same thing. They don't want phone calls from the administration. Just leave it alone and let it be. Obviously, the president and the administration still has a lot of work to do. They can't just be quite on going to the markets, when it comes to global markets, they'll have to do their part to make sure the U.S. trade policy is there, too.
CHURCH: I know it is tough. I want you to get out your crystal ball. There have been rumors about a possible recession in 2019. When you see a rebound like this, you get excited. You look at your 401(k) and you think everything is going to be fine.
How possible is it that we could see a recession in the next 12 months?
PATEL: You still look at your 401(k). You look Tuesday. Don't look at it today. Stop looking at it.
I think people are -- and analysts agree that later in 2019 and 2020, that's is where the people are looking at the recession. The numbers, like I said, in the first quarter, second quarter, strong profit earnings will come out. They will be fine.
What really is going to push this to the other side is the cost of profits decreasing. How is that going to -- with rising wages. This retail this month was great. It was one of the top retail months in the six, seven years. Low gas prices, higher wages so people were spending money.
But when that changes over the next quarter and we get into this -- this aspect of -- of trade wars and, too, things becoming more expensive, the consumers will be passed on to it.
CHURCH: We'll see if a deal can be done with China. That could change everything. Ryan Patel, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
PATEL: Thanks for having me.
CHURCH: Well, for some Indonesians, it feels safer in a shelter, coming up why many are fearing a repeat of Saturday's devastating tsunami. Plus border patrol agents get new instructions after a second child
dies in U.S. custody. What they're doing differently to keep children safe. We're back in a moment.
CHURCH: The volcano that triggered Indonesia's deadly tsunami last Saturday is still erupting. And a spokeswoman for the Red Cross says Indonesia is evacuating thousands of people over fears of additional tsunamis.
Authorities also raised the eruption warning to its second highest level, urging people to wear masks and goggles to protect against the ash cloud. Residents of the affected areas are refusing to leave the shelters to return home. At least 430 people were killed in Saturday's tsunami and dozens more are still unaccounted for.
CHURCH: Immigration agents will drop off more than 500 migrants at various shelters in El Paso, Texas. This time, unlike earlier in the week, the process is expected to be orderly and it was planned in advance.
An organization that helps immigrants has 11 different sites available to offer shelter, food and medicine. On Sunday and Monday, agents dropped off hundreds of migrants at a bus station. Police say the people were simply left there with no one to help them until volunteers and churches stepped in.
The head of Homeland Security says it is heartbreaking that a second migrant child died while in U.S. custody. In response to that tragic death, Kirsten Nielsen said all children in Border Patrol custody have now gone through medical screenings. An autopsy will determine the cause of death of the 8-year-old boy from Guatemala who died on Christmas Eve. Nick Valencia has more.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a matter of three weeks, it happened again, this time on Christmas Eve. Eight-year-old Guatemalan migrant Felipe Alonzo Gomez became the second child this month to die while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
No official cause of death has been given. But the child died about 14 hours after a CBP agent first noticed he was sick, according to a timeline provided by the federal government. Alonzo Gomez was picked up on December 18th after crossing the border
with his father in El Paso, Texas. In the following days, he and his father were shuffled between CBP facilities, at least one of which was overcrowded.
On Christmas Eve morning, Alonzo Gomez was taken to the hospital after showing possible flu symptoms. He was diagnosed with a common cold and given Tylenol. But under an hour, later his fever reached 103 degrees. By 3:00 pm he was released from the ER anyway and prescribed an antibiotic and ibuprofen.
Around 10:00 pm the child was so lethargic and nauseous (sic) he was taken back to the hospital. Alonzo Gomez lost consciousness on the way to the hospital and was pronounced dead shortly before midnight.
Last week, the head of Homeland Security, Kirsten Nielsen, faced blistering questions about the detention process following the death of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin, also a migrant from Guatemala. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. HANK JOHNSON (D), GEORGIA: How many children 17 years old or younger have died in DHS, ICE, or CBP custody since you took office?
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I will get back to you on that figure.
What I can tell you is that we have saved 4,200 migrants who were in distress due to their --
JOHNSON: Approximately how many have died?
NIELSEN: I understand your question, sir. I will get back to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALENCIA: The intense scrutiny surrounding the deaths of two children in CBP custody this month is forcing changes at CBP which has said it is beefing up its medical screenings with a focus on migrant children under 10 years old. Others question the effectiveness of President Trump's much touted wall for stopping migrants from crossing the border.
VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TEXAS), U.S. REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT: I want to point out that Felipe and his father were apprehended in the El Paso sector where a wall already exists. This tragedy should be a wake-up call to folks who believe that mythology about walls. They just do not work.
CHURCH: Nick Valencia with that report.
Well, Russia's military will soon possible a nuclear missile that flies 20 times faster than sound. Coming up, why the Kremlin claims this next generation weapon is unstoppable.
[00:30:00] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we're following this hour.
President Trump and the First Lady made a surprise visit to Iraq, Wednesday. It was his first trip to a war zone since his inauguration, almost two years ago. Mr. Trump spent about three hours on the ground, thanked the troops for their service and defended his decision to pull troops from Syria.
Financial markets in the Asia-Pacific Region are riding high on Wall Street's momentum. Look at these numbers, Nikkei in Japan, up more than four percent, and in Australian markets added nearly two percent. The Dow surged more than 1,000 points on Wednesday, its biggest daily point gain ever, but the U.S. markets are still on pace for a dismal December overall.
U.S. customs and border protection is changing its policies after a second migrant child died in U.S. custody. An 8-year-old boy from Guatemala, died late on Christmas Eve. The head of the agency says all children in border patrol custody will now receive secondary medical checks and children under the age of 10 will get extra attention.
Russia says it will soon deploy a next generation missile that flies so fast, nothing can stop it. The hypersonic system is just one of several revolutionary weapons unveiled by the Kremlin, last March. CNN's Lynda Kinkade has the details.
LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Locked and loaded. Russia says it's ready to deploy an advanced weapon of war. A hypersonic missile capable of carrying nuclear war heads and according to the Russian president, it's going to render other missile systems, obsolete.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): The new Avangard missile system is invincible against today's and future air and missile defense systems of the potential enemy. This is a big success and a great achievement.
KINKADE: Speaking after watching a successful so-called pre- deployment test on Wednesday, Putin hailed the hypersonic missile an unprecedented new strategic weapon, adding that it will be operating in the New Year.
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think there's definitely a danger of an arms race ensuing if Vladimir Putin continues to test the limits of what the United States will or will not accept. Now, we obviously don't know what the United States has under development right now, in teams of advanced capabilities.
KINKADE: Animated video was posted by the Russia's ministry of defense, show off the missile's supposed capabilities. Reports from Russia State News Agency claimed it can fly 20 times faster than the speed of sound. It's able to aerodynamically adjust both altitude and direction to avoid defense, and fly low enough to avoid most interceptors. The Kremlin claims its range is intercontinental.
VINOGRAD: I would imagine that military commanders throughout the European theater in coordination with the U.S. military are looking at what we can do to try to defend against this kind of weapon.
KINKADE: Moscow may have also begun developing an underwater nuclear- capable drone named Poseidon. Russia's state run news agency reports the Russian navy is testing a weapon that can carry war heads underwater, capable of "destroying enemy infrastructure."
Putin had unveiled the Avangard and the Poseidon in March, as part of an arsenal of new weapons, he called invincible. His speech included videos depicting war heads aimed at the U.S. State of Florida, where U.S. President Trump often stays at his Mar-a-Lago resort.
VINOGRAD: The truth of the matter is, Vladimir Putin does not need a hypersonic missile to attack the United States. He's quite effectively attacking the U.S. right now, using information warriors, which are a lot cheaper. That's why, I think, that this was to show a domestic image of strength.
KINKADE: Putin haled Wednesday's successful missile test as not only a success, but a new year's gift to the nation. Lynda Kinkade, CNN.
[00:35:15] CHURCH: Well, just days after President Trump announced he's pulling U.S. troops from Syria, we seeing a major military build- up around the Northern City of Manbij. Now, Syrian government troops backed by Russia, are eyeing that city and so is Turkey, along with rebels who support the country.
Kurdish-led Syrian militia, liberated Manbij for -- from ISIS in 2016. But now, they are the ones under threat as CNN Senior Producer, Gul Tuysuz, explains.
GUL TUYSUZ, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: There has been movement on the ground in Syria, after the U.S.'s decision announcing they would be withdrawing their some 2,000 troops from the battlefield of Syria, in that strategic town of Manbij.
We have been seeing regime forces, Syrian regime forces, as well as the Russian backers reinforcing positions that they had in a little town on the outskirts of Manbij, called Arima. Some 40 trucks were seen going in to that area, carrying military personnel, as well as military equipment.
At the same time, you have Turkey's proxies on the ground, the Syrian army, amassing on the border with Manbij in the Turkish-controlled part of Syria, basically looking like they're getting ready to go into Manbij. The complicating factor in all of this is that Manbij is, of course, controlled by the Kurds. They are backed by the U.S. While they have said that they're going to be pulling their troops, there still is U.S. personnel on the ground in Manbij, as well. But we are seeing a lot of movement now in the heels of this decision, by the U.S., to pull its troops out.
The question, of course, now is what happens to the fight against ISIS? Because those 2,000 or so U.S. troops were there on the ground in an effort to beat back ISIS. Now, they have lost a lot of their territory, but there are still remaining pockets in Syria that's down along the Syrian-Iraqi border.
Well, the U.S.'s decision to pull out, Turkey has vowed that they are going to be taking a much more active role in the fight against ISIS. But Turkey's main priority has always been the presence of those Kurdish fighters. Turkey views them as an extension of what they categorized as a terrorist group here, at home.
And they have been threatening over the last couple of weeks, saying that they are ready to expel those Kurdish fighters away from their borders. But now, the scope of Turkish operation has grown. They're saying that they are going to be going after the remnants of ISIS to insure that there is an enduring defeat of the ISIS group.
But, how effective will Turkey be, when it's going to be trying to both oust those Kurds from along its borders, as well as go after ISIS. It's something that we're just going to be watching to see.
Gul Tuysuz, CNN, Istanbul.
CHURCH: Russia's foreign ministry says the Syrian regime should take control of areas vacated by U.S. troops in accordance with international law. But a spokeswoman says there's no word on any contact between Washington and Damascus on the matter.
Well, a rare find in Italy, sheds new light on an ancient myth. How the centuries old artwork plays in today's Me Too Movement. That's next on CNN NEWSROOM.
[00:40:00] CHURCH: A discovery in the Italian city of Pompeii is shedding light on a famous story from Greek mythology. Even though the tale is thousands of years old, it's taking on new relevance in light of today's Me Too culture. CNN's Barbie Latza Nadeau reports.
BARBIE LATZA NADEAU, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Her tempting days have been obscured for almost two millennia. According to Greek mythology, Leda, the queen of Sparta, was seduced or some say, raped, by the god, Zeus, who was disguised as a swan. But masters of the renaissance and poets have never quite agreed on whether her peculiar sexual encounter speaks to a woman's sensuality or to a man's power. The story is most often depicted as an act of violence. But this small rendition, just discovered on the wall of a bedroom, here on Pompeii, is unique.
MASSIMO OSANNA, CHIEF POMPEII ARCHAEOLOGIST: Let's say it's a message of sensuality. That means, I'm looking you, and you are looking me. Meanwhile, I'm doing something very, very special. It's very explicit. And also look at the naked -- her leg, and also, the luxurious sandal that she has.
So, very -- it's a message of beauty, but -- a message of beauty, but (INAUDIBLE) message of sensuality.
NADEAU: This incredible finding was made during maintenance work going on here, at one of the most famous archaeological digs in the world. Pompeii was destroyed in 79 A.D. when Mount Vesuvius erupted overhead. Francesco Muscolini, an archaeologist here on Pompeii, says the first rocks from the eruption, did kill people. But they actually also preserved these treasures before layers of burning ash covered everything.
FRANCESCO MUSCOLINI, ARCHAEOLOGIST: On top of this layer, there are -- the layer of the (INAUDIBLE) flow that destroyed the city.
NADEAU: An ash.
NADEAU: No lava?
MUSCOLINI: No lava.
NADEAU: The maintenance work also led to other treasure troves the public has not yet seen.
MUSCOLINI: The female here is Venus, and the male is one of her lovers. There is also a small (INAUDIBLE)
NADEAU: This part of the museum will eventually be accessible to the millions of tourists who visit the site each year. And then, as they wander through these ruins, they can also reflect on what they know about this ancient Leda myth in the context of today's Me Too Movement. Was she a victim of rape or was it consensual?
OSANNA: I don't know if it's a message of power of the men on the women. This is an -- I think it's different aspect. This is the power of the goat over the female -- human female, Leda.
NADEAU: Everyone can look into Leda's eyes and judge for themselves exactly who is seducing whom, and perhaps, even learn something from the ancient world at the same time, Barbie Latza Nadeau, for CNN, Pompeii.
CHURCH: And thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church. Stay tuned now for "WORLD SPORT." You're watching CNN.
[00:45:00] (WORLD SPORT)