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HALA GORANI TONIGHT
Seven MPs Leave Britain's Labour Party to Start Independent Group; Interview with Sir Vince Cable, Leader of The Liberal Democrats and Member of Parliament; Interview with Jo Stevens, Labour MP; UK Lawmakers Brand Facebook as Digital Gangsters; CNN Reports from Front Lines of War Against ISIS. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired February 18, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] HANNAH VAUGHN JONES, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hannah Vaughn Jones in for Hala Gorani. They ground political
chaos as they walk out, the opposition Labour Party. Digital gangsters, the scathing report of Facebook as it deliberately violating privacy laws.
The Olympic champions compete without medication for her elevated testosterone levels. But we begin the program tonight right here in the
United Kingdom where political chaos has become somewhat of the norm in the last few years. Well, a new chapter in that chaos has well and truly been
penned. Several lawmakers from the opposition Labour Party have dramatically quit the party denouncing what they call a betrayal on Brexit.
And the party's handling also of a wave of anti-Semitism. This is what Luciana Berger who suffered abuse herself had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUCIANA BERGER, LABOUR PARTY MP, UK: I cannot remain in a party that I have today come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally anti-
Semitic. It was a year ago we saw the unprecedented event of a minority community, Jewish community, taking to Parliament Square to demonstrate
against the Labour Party saying enough is enough. And yet since then, despite a mountain of evidence, we have only seen the situation of racism
against Jewish people get worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Well, the group will now sit as independent members of Parliament. It is worth noting this is happening 39 days before Britain is due to leave
the European Union. Let's bring in Phil Black following the story. Phil, good to see you. Seven of them have now left on the specific issue of
anti-Semitism, but of course set against the wider backdrop of Brexit chaos.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anti-Semitism is definitely one of the big motivating factors for the seven MPs, you heard her talking. It is broadly
accepted the Labour Party hasn't done enough. Today they are using incredibly strong language talking about racial and hatred for the Jewish
people within the party. That being an institutional problem.
The Brexit is a big issue. These are seven MPs who want another referendum on the issue. Jeremy Corbyn is not excited about that. They know there is
an ideological gulf, they are on one side. Jeremy Corbyn, his strongly left leaning policies are on the other. They don't agree with Jeremy
Corbyn on much at all. They have been talking about a split like this when Corbyn first became leader.
JONES: Specifically, on the issue of Brexit, many Labour MPs are calling for a second referendum. Jeremy Corbyn said he wants a general election
before pushing for that second memorandum, the caucus ticking down. What impact could these seven individuals have on what happens in 39 day's time?
BLACK: In a sense, maybe not very much. Or it might, just might give Jeremy Corbyn pause to reconsider or reassess his lack of enthusiasm for a
second referendum because Corbyn knows there are many other people, many other MPs in the party who feel just as strongly as these seven do and he
will not want to see a situation where many more of them abandon the party in the same way. So, perhaps to try and head that off, essentially
appeasing this unhappy MPs, may factor in his thinking, perhaps in swinging the party, changing the dynamic to more strongly support the idea of a
JONES: Philip, thanks very much indeed. So, we have Theresa May's government party at odds with itself over opposition party at odds with
what to do over Brexit and opposition Labour Party with today's high- profile departures as well. Where does that leave politics in general in the United Kingdom going forward? Let's get more with the leader of one of
the other British parties, Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Vince Cable. Sir Vince joins me from Westminster. Thank you for joining me. You have been
in British politics for some time now, and in that time, you would have seen your fair share of defections from one party to another. Indeed,
you've been involved in it yourself. Do you relish days like this, sir Vince? Not just as a Parliamentarian, but as a party leader.
[14:05:02] SIR VINCE CABLE, LEADER OF THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS AND MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR TWICKENHAM: Well, I think it is potentially very positive
in opening up British politics that hasn't been possible for a long time. I know we've got the conservative party that are horribly out of touch with
many of their own supporters and their traditional role of politics. The Labour Party switched from top to bottom, it is equally divided. We may
get people breaking off from them, too. I do see it as an opportunity under our restrictive system, the so-called system where people in the
middle ground where I also am, liberal Democrats, to make common cause in creating something really new and good and liberal and fighting back the
kind of populist movement of the left and the right.
JONES: You call it an opportunity. I'm wondering if it might be a missed opportunity because they haven't walked straight into the liberal Democrat
arms, if you like. They formed an independent group.
CABLE: I doubt something was anticipated. I have been talking to them about it and comfortable with the idea. It is difficult to jump from one
party to another when you've been fighting against each other in elections. We expect that to happen. We are looking to cooperate with them in
Parliament and outside Parliament because under our British system, the first post, you either hang together or hang separately. We're going to
have to cooperate.
JONES: Let's have a listen to what one of the seven said when he announced he was breaking off. We'll talk on the back of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUKA UMUNNA, INDEPENDENT MP, UK: The last few years have shown the established parties are simply not up to this challenge. They can't be the
change because they have become the problem. They have failed to provide the leadership and clear direction which the U.K. desperately needs. They
are deeply divided. They have failed to fulfill their duties with the come p/e tense the public rightfully deserves. They put their party interest
before the national interest and they don't remember the complex tapestry which is modern Britain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: So, Vince, I wonder if after hearing what he had to say, this is the demise of an effective opposition in politics that today has been
nothing less than a good day for the Prime Minister, Theresa May.
CABLE: Well, I think that's a very tactical short-term way of looking at it. Clearly if the Labour Party splits, in the short run the Conservatives
benefit. The Conservative Party itself is very divided. You have ERG, the UKIP style, the populist right wing are pushing a hard Brexit. Often
overlooked. You have liberal minded, one nation Conservatives who are completely lost at the moment. They've got militants trying to evict them
from their seats. I think Theresa May may have a good day. I think she's going to rue the experience of Brexit. It's going to damage her party as
much as the Labour Party.
GORANI: Do you think it's the case when it comes to Brexit it's either her deal or no deal at all, or do you think there is a chance for a second
referendum, for example, that you and the Dems have been pushing for?
CABLE: Yes, I do think so, I think we may get to a point where Parliament has effectively rejected the no deal option. It' it's grossly the response
of doing it. They reject her deal. It's the withdrawal agreement. She hasn't done it yet. If we rescue what she's negotiated, the only way she's
going to be able to do that is to go to the country and say, is this what you want or would you rather stick with the deal we have? That's not under
discussion at the moment. I think when we get to the crisis point in a few weeks, that will come into play.
JONES: As a former Business Secretary here in the U.K., it would be amiss that Honda announced -- we think it is likely it will close its only
British car plant by 2022. Something to put a dent on what is otherwise a very good day for Theresa May.
[14:10:00] CABLE: Well, it is terrible news, I was the Business Secretary. I visited Honda at that time. The car industry was one of the great
success stories of the British economy. It is was booming. It is now in decline, there are several reasons for it. We don't know exactly what
motivated Honda, the fact that we are using access to the European market. We're not able to cement the Japan/EU agreement into British law. They
failed to do that. These are all factors which made Britain a much less motivated Honda, the fact that we are using access to the European market.
We're not able to cement the Japan/EU agreement into British law. They failed to do that. These are all factors which made Britain a much less
attractive place to be and I'm afraid Brexit plays a part in that story. It is a tragedy. Swindon is going to be very badly hit, I'm afraid.
JONES: Sir Vince Cable, we appreciate you talking to us. Thank you, sir.
Digital gangsters, that's what some British lawmakers are calling Facebook, accusing the social media company of violating privacy laws. They issued
findings from an 18-month investigation. It slammed Facebook for failing to stop the spread of fake news and issued a stark warning saying democracy
is at risk, the relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation. They say much of that disinformation comes from foreign agencies, including
Russia. Touch-tone urging them to launch an investigation of the extent of any foreign influence. Let's bring in Hadas Gold, she's been reporting on
this all day. Misinformation may stem from foreign agents in foreign countries. This is a real dressing down for giants, particularly Facebook.
HADAS GOLD, CNN MONEY EUROPEAN POLITICS, MEDIA AND GLOBAL BUSINESS: It might as well have been called the Facebook report. It was scathing for
what it said was intentional and knowing violations and data privacy and competition law.
They said after reviewing many months of evidence, months of hearings and internal e-mails they obtain between Facebook executives, it showed a
disregard to users' data privacy and would willingly share it with app developers in order to gain more profits. While they noted it doesn't come
from Facebook itself, they say that Facebook could no longer hide behind the idea it's just a platform. And they don't have any control. Because
they know they are curating your feed. I spoke to the chair of this committee earlier today and he explained why they called them digital
gangsters. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAMIAN COLLINS, CONSERVATIVE MP, UK: We have referred to Facebook as digital gangsters. It's not a question of mistakes being made on the
platform, but they are fully aware of these as a company, the way they gather user data and share it with other developers without the users
really understanding what is going on, the aggressive position they take against other developers that work with the platform, including decisions
that could lead to those businesses closing. And persistent failure to deal with harmful content.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLD: Facebook said in response they don't think they have knowingly violated any of these data policy laws. The stance they have, they welcome
meaningful regulation because they want to have this regulation. U.K. is in the midst of a discussion of -- the case of the young girl who took her
own life, Instagram is owned by Facebook. They will have a white paper on how it should be regulated and had Damian Collins said he has been in
discussion with the government about what needs to be put forth. They know what's coming. They need to prepare themselves for it.
JONES: Thank you. I began by asking what her committee means by calling Facebook a threat to democracy, and what should happen now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JO STEVENS, LABOUR MP, UK: So, one of our recommendations in this report is that there is an independent inquiry into elections and referenda in the
U.K. since 2014. We have uncovered substantial evidence of interference from foreign actors, particularly Russia, and using Facebook and using
online platforms to micro target British voters with disinformation. Facebook has facilitated this activity. This is why we should have an
inquiry into what is going on. And in conjunction with that we are saying that electoral law in the UK needs to be updated urgently to take account
of digital campaigning.
JONES: If you wanted to look back to 2014, that obviously takes in the Brexit vote as well. Is that of particular concern.
[14:15:00] STEVENS: It was of particular concern. Both in our report published today and/or intermittent report published in July of last year,
we detailed quite a lot of evidence about interference in the election, breaches of electoral law, overseas money coming to the leave campaigns
being used which is against electoral law. There are a number of concerns about how that referendum was run, the conduct of the leave campaigns, in
fact, there is a criminal investigation underway at the moment.
JONES: Facebook said in response to this 18-month-long investigation and report, it will look into it and -- have you found them to be just as
helpful as opposed through the last 18 months?
STEVENS: We certainly haven't. It is of deep regret that Mark Zuckerberg has failed to come before us despite several requests. Failed to appear
before our international committee which have parliamentarians from eight countries representing nearly 500 million people across the world. Failed
to come to that as well.
He has on occasion sent what he has described as senior executives who would be able to answer our questions to our committee and then they
couldn't answer our questions. And they have turned up and misled us, on occasion they have lied to us in their evidence.
JONES: Especially here in the U.K., seven of your colleagues in the Labour Party, the opposition party in government, have resigned today, effectively
stepped away from the party. They seem to do so, all of them it should be said, with quite a heavy heart in the press conference this morning. Do
you sympathize with your former colleagues?
STEVENS: I feel today is a very sad day for my party. I feel sad and disappointed at the fact 76 my colleagues cannot be in the Labour Party.
One has been in the Labour Party for over 50 years. I don't accept all of the reasons for their departure, but they've also made permanent decisions.
This is what they wanted to do. Undoubtedly, it's a sad day for the Labour Party.
JONES: You have been a main campaigner, the leadership as it stands right now in the Labour Party, have the ability to derail Theresa May's steam
train with just weeks to go with you to leave the EU?
STEVENS: I think we will certainly stop a no-deal happening. There is a clear majority happening across the House and I don't think the decision by
my seven colleagues will make any difference to that. I doubt they're going to vote any differently on Brexit related issues than they would have
-- I am certainly confident that won't happen. We need to get to a position where, in my view, whatever deal Theresa May comes back with, that
deal should be put to the public in a vote so that they can decide, the public wants this type of Brexit or keep the deal we've got at the moment.
JONES: With time running out, might you be persuaded to join the seven colleagues who left the Labour Party today because we are just running down
the clock, some would argue, the government is running down the clock until March 29th?
STEVENS: The government is running the clock down until March 29th.
JONES: Will you be going outside the Labour Party?
SEVENS: I won't be going outside the Labour Party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Stevens speaking with me earlier on.
JONES: An important cyber security debate, British officials have decided not to -- the U.S. has encouraged allies not to use Huawei technology out
of fears that China is using the company to spy on other nations. Our tech correspondent Samuel Burke has been following the story, joins me on set
now. Samuel, is this finally the U.K. saying, we can manage Huawei, that's absolutely fine, and we don't need any advice or help from the U.S.?
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN MONEY BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: After weeks and weeks of U.S. allies bowing to pressure from the U.S., the U.K. is
saying, even if there are companies eavesdropping through Huawei. We know how it works, we can go in and we can change it. It is in line with what
I've been hearing from cyber security experts.
[14:20:00] My three take-aways for this latest round, number one, a lot of business people, especially in the telecommunications industry must be
happy. One CEO told me he felt this was the U.K. capitulating to the U.S. maybe they would do whatever the U.S. or Germany said. Number two, they
said Huawei, the numbers in China are great. In spite of everything that's happening or maybe because of what's happening, Huawei knocking the socks
off Apple and China. Whether it really is about protectionism, 5 G. Won't be rolled out as many people would like.
JONES: If telephone providers and the like were not able to use Huawei products, how much would it cost them?
BURKE: I've been talking to executives around the world, first of all, Huawei isn't much cheaper, it's much better. And there's no turn they have
so much of this equipment is already in place. And with Brexit and the lack of Europeans coming from the continent to the United Kingdom, they
don't know they have enough people install this equipment.
JONES: If the U.K. doesn't continue using its products?
BURKE: Maybe Huawei is pushing so hard because they won't have their equipment to spy on people. Classic China.
JONES: Thanks very much. Still to come on the program tonight, ISIS fighters are fleeing Syria into Iraq and the top U.S. commander in the
region is promising to follow through, still, on President Trump to withdraw U.S. troops.
The embattled President. What the U.S. President will argue needs to happen to end the growing crisis.
JONES: Welcome back. Two U.S. military officials say the beginning of the troop withdrawal from Syria is imminent. The top commander in the fight
against ISIS made an unannounced visit to Syria on Monday. General joseph Votel confirms U.S. forces will indeed withdraw from Syria in accordance
with President Trump's orders. This comes as American officials tell CNN they believe more than a thousand ISIS fighters have fled Syria for the
mountains of Iraq, with hundreds of millions of dollars in toe. They believe they are days away from clearing out the last territory ISIS holds
in Syria. Our ben we'd men has been traveling with the SDF and joins us from eastern Syria. Ben, you're just back from ISIS's last enclave. What
did you see?
[14:25:00] BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we saw was ISIS's last enclave, that half square-mile left, the state that
once occupied a territory the size of Britain has now been reduced to. This was the first time we got actually inside the town of Al-Baghuz
Fawqani. This is our report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WEDEMAN: All right. We are now very well inside Al-Baghuz Fawqani, far more inside the town than we've been so far. And what we are seeing
compared to the last time we were here is dramatically different. There is very little in the way of gunfire. We do hear coalition aircraft overhead,
but by and large, the destruction is massive. There is not a House that is not in some way destroyed or damaged. We are hearing a little bit of
gunfire in the distance, but nothing compared to what we've seen in the past. Now, what's interesting is we were able to go down the main road
into the town, we passed an area where those trees are over there in the distance. That's where there's a road which we saw just 11 days ago, cars
and motorcycles driving up and down and those were peel who were still living in the area controlled by is. At this point the area under ISIS's
control. It's described as 600 meters by 600, 700 meters. Just a tented area, perhaps a thousand people in there. Some ISIS fighters many
civilians, others of them are hostages that they have brought to use as bargaining chips. Others are being used as human shields. Officials with
the Syrian Democratic forces have been sort of vague as far as a time line for when this operation might come to an end. They say within the few
coming days, but we've already been down a few coming days. Nonetheless, it does appear the if h ferocity of the battle is dramatically less. We
were able to see through telephoto lens, people, motorcycles moving through that tiny area and they didn't seem to be particularly worried or they
would be bombed. It was relatively quiet and there has been talk, Hannah, recently, that there's been some sort of truce called, some sort of deal
trying to be worked out which might suggest why people don't seem to be particular -- quite open to the human eye. Hannah?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEDEMAN: The top U.S. commander in the region made a surprise visit to Syria. He was asked today by SDF forces whether more U.S. troops would be
made available to them in their fight. That was denied. He said he's going to stick with President Trump's orders to withdraw troops -- U.S.
troops from Syria. Given your experience of having traveled with the SDF recently, what kind of impact will that have on their activities going
WEDEMAN: Well, it could have a serious impact. What we've seen is not only are U.S. forces part of this battle, not on the front lines, but
firing artillery and mortars, but there are French and British special sources as well. So, they have really provided essential support in this
final against is. What's interesting is there may be some wiggle room here because the timetable of U.S. troops isn't clear. Yet morning I was
speaking for the senior Democratic forces, it may be in a different form, it may be different numbers. They are confident that there will be an
American presence in this part of the country. Well said well beyond this year. So, there may be some wiggle room there. Hannah?
JONES: Ben Wedeman live in eastern Syria. Thanks, Ben.
Still to come on the program, after days of turmoil in Haiti, authorities announce a number of arrests, including some Americans. We'll tell you
what they may be charged with, and it's a case that could alter the future of women's form it could change the rules of just who can compete.
[14:30:32] HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: U.S. President, Donald Trump, will soon address the crisis in Venezuela as fresh waves of
American aid pile up along the border. He's set to appeal directly to the country's officials in a speech near Miami urging them to allow that
humanitarian aid in and to side with the self-declared interim president or risk losing everything.
Kristen Holmes is in West Palm Beach near the president's resort. Kristin joins me now. Good to see you.
So, can we expect President Trump to reiterate his support for Juan Guaido explicitly?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hannah, yes, absolutely. And this is no surprise. We know that President Trump supports Guaido. We know that
he has called Guaido twice. And this is not an -- it's not an accident that this is happening in Miami. This is home to the largest Venezuelan
population in the U.S. And this issue is a really being seen as a rallying cry, rally for support of Guaido.
And we know from Press Secretary Sarah Sanders that he is expected to say that the current path towards the democracy is irreversible. The speech is
also going to be used to sort of reach out as an appeal to the Venezuelan military who have largely remained loyal to Maduro.
And I want to read you something. This is an excerpt that we got from Sarah sanders on what President Trump is going to say. He says the
Venezuelan military officials have a clear choice work toward democracy for their future and the future of their families or they will lose everything
Now, of course, this is not being directly billed as a threat, but I think that message is pretty clear, Hannah.
JONES: It certainly is. And we wait to hear from the president himself in the next couple of hours. Kristin Holmes, thank you.
Now, the crisis itself is taking a heavy toll, as you'd imagine on the Venezuelan people. It can be a struggle there just to stay alive. As
CNN's Isa Soares reports now the lack of food and medicine has forced many to seek help outside of their home country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For most of her young life, Vangie (ph) has only known hunger. Now, her body is feeling its impact.
Frail, irritable, and in pain, she's been unable to keep food down. But her little tummy suffering from severe acute malnutrition, in what was once
the world's richest oil nation, just can't keep it in.
She's one of thousands of Venezuelan children leaving home with many being treated at this border city hospital in Cucuta.
Several floors up on the maternity ward, I meet several women who too have some scarcity for months on end.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you eat there, very little rations.
SOARES: I go further down the hall, and on a floor where pain and life go hand-in-hand, I come face-to-face with tragedy.
She is telling me that her baby is dead and no heartbeat, nothing. No life, she is telling me.
29, six months, so basically 29 weeks, so -- her baby has died.
This is the toll of the humanitarian crisis Nicolas Maduro denies. But death and despair are not just contained within these hospital walls. I
travelled through Old Cucuta and meet others desperate for help.
[14:35:09] 19-year-old Clayva Salazar (ph) recently arrived from Caracas. He made the journey simply for survival.
He says he's HIV positive and desperately needed anti-retroviral drugs, unavailable back home.
As he gets a check-up, the doctor at the NGO for which Clayva volunteers for, tells me nine of his HIV patients died in 2018, all Venezuelans.
Clayva (ph) got out just in time. But getting here has come with sacrifice and the wounds he carries are still fresh.
I do my best to delicately ask him if he ever had to sell sex to survive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPOKEN IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SOARES: Isa Soares, CNN, Cucuta, Colombia.
JONES: The political turmoil in Haiti seems to be taking an international turn following 10 days of violent anti-government protests there. The
Haitian government says it has arrested eight people and five of them are American.
This video shows them at a Port-au-Prince police station. Local authorities say they may be charged with illegal possession of arms. Our
Sam Kiley is live in Port-au-Prince for us.
Sam, give us the back story here first. Why are these eight people being arrested? And what is the amount of evidence that's mounting against them?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to the police, and we have a team actually talking to the police right now, but
initially, this group of five Americans, a Serb and a Russian were allegedly caught with automatic weapons, M16 type weapons, as well as
pistols, a large amount of ammunition and communication devices.
Now, they are being interviewed at the moment and they are also accused of having an unlicensed vehicle. Now, they -- we have had, of course, no
comment from their side at all.
One of the individuals we've bene able to track on a website, he does work for an American base, the security company. And this may all boil down to
nothing more than a licensing issue or a misunderstanding.
But the context here, Hannah, is that over the last month, particularly since February the 7th, and the 10 days that followed that, like Haiti has
been torn apart by very, very violent riots right across the country, but particularly here in Port-au-Prince.
And a lot of the government position has been that these riots are being influenced by unspoken outsiders. They're not pointing the finger at any
particular nations, not yet, anyway. But they're trying to portray these paroxysm of violence here as something that is imported and has been
stimulated from outside -- the stimulus rather has come from outside, not an indigenous expression of anger towards the government.
Of course, the opposition is saying the absolute opposite to that. They are saying that these riots and these demonstrations are all about trying
to depose the president and his government particularly following the publication as a very damning government reports into corruption at the
highest levels here, Hannah.
JONES: So, could these eight individuals be pivotal, or at least considered pivotal to what could be a coup, an antigovernment movement?
KILEY: It's very unclear, indeed, as to whose side, if any, these individuals are supposedly on. All we know is that they have been
arrested. They have not yet been charged. They are being held on suspicion of an illegal possession of firearms.
Now, this may all go away. Of course, when you have a situation that you've got in Haiti, at the moment, where an embattled president and prime
minister, prime minister two days ago going on state television promising the country to root out corruption, a wide range of reforms. But a nation
where fuel is running out. Cooking gas is running low. Even water is hard to find. It is a feral atmosphere.
And this sort of incident feeds conspiracy theories. There is no evidence though of any real kind yet that we're getting from the government that
these individuals had any kind of criminal, let alone political intent, Hannah.
[14:40:06] JONES: And, Sam, just finally, what have the U.S. authority said if anything about the fact that there are five Americans among this
group of eight?
KILEY: We've had no comments so far from the United States. We've reached out to them. They're saying -- they're getting some consular contact have
been made and this is being dealt with at a diplomatic level.
But as I say, there is no -- nobody in the government is suggesting that this is some kind of a conspiracy. They insisted that they're simply being
held on allegations and suspicions that they don't have licenses for their weapons and that they were driving vehicles without license plate and
caught with a large number of weapons, license plates and indeed walkie- talkie radios, Hannah.
JONES: All right. Sam Kiley, live for us there in Port-au-Prince in Haiti. Thanks very much, Sam.
And still to come on the program tonight. It may be a case involving just one athlete, but it has the power to change the future of sport entirely.
We'll bring you the details of the woman challenging a rule to the limit. Her testosterone levels, that's coming up next.
Plus, as crisis boil around the globe, U.S. President Trump is sharpening his attack on "Saturday Night Live." What he's suggesting ahead.
JONES: It is one of the most ethically controversial cases in the history of sport and it's a battle that's been raging for years. South African
athlete Caster Semenya is a double Olympic champion, but her success has consistently been questioned because of her elevated testosterone levels.
Athletics governing body, that's the IAAF, says women with naturally elevated testosterone hormones must take medication suppressing those
hormone levels before being allowed to compete.
Now, critics call it a violation of human rights, but others say it's all about leveling the playing field.
Now, Semenya herself is challenging the pending rule change. The landmark case before the court of arbitration for sport got underway in Switzerland
CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan joins me now from Washington, D.C. Christine, good to see -- it's good to see you.
Just explain to our viewers then why this case of Caster Semenya is rocking the entire sports world, not just the athletics field.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Hannah, because 30, 40, 50 years from now, we might be looking at this week and say this was a watershed
moment. Why is that? Because if Caster Semenya wins and there are many people who believe -- I could make that argument too that she should win --
born this way, higher level of testosterones, that's the way she was born. Is there racism involved? All sorts of questions on her side.
But if she wins, then the question becomes, and others have talked about this as well, if that higher level of testosterone is allowed, will it be
unfair? Is it an unfair playing field for the women who have the lower testosterone naturally in their bodies, because the studies have shown, of
course, that a higher level of testosterone will make you, in general, a faster, stronger, better athlete.
[14:45:15] JONES: But this is where Caster Semenya is different to say other transgender athletes who were also fighting a similar cause. She was
born this way rather than transgender athletes trying to -- saying that they want to identify differently, and therefore, they will change their
hormone levels deliberately in order to become male or female.
BRENNAN: That's right. And while that might sound to some listening and watching as ridiculous, right? And someone would do that for an Olympic
gold medal or for best riches on a tennis court? It's not so ridiculous because we have seen such cheating over the years in terms of performance
enhancing drugs. We could fill a whole show. We're talking about those people.
So the question would be would someone potentially do that? Now, I would say this. Common sense tells us we've been talking about Caste Semenya now
for 10 years and what a difficult time for her, no matter how you come up with this issue. And from age 18 to now 28. She's 28 years old, two-time
Olympic gold medalist, as you said.
But the reality is that no one else has been shown up since. So, are we going to see a flood of people trying to regain the systems? So far, we
are not seeing that. The sky is falling people might not actually much of case, at least at some point.
JONES: And her supporters, of course, saying that she's the victim in all of this. She's hugely popular throughout sport, but particularly in her
home country of South Africa as well. And you mentioned before, Christine, about this issue of race. Some people are saying that there's a race
element as well.
BRENNAN: Well, it's South Africa. And you can understand. I'm sure many people, again, whatever side you're on, you can look at -- she's such a
hero in South Africa, and such a symbol of success in sports for women and also, of course, for people of color in a country that has only emerged on
the world scene in sport over the last decade or so.
So the thought that then she is being as if they on this side of the issue, Hannah, is that she's being persecuted because of the way she was born,
absolutely you can see how this would enrage many people.
JONES: And Martina Navratilova, of course, multiple grand slam champion in tennis has weighed in into this debate as well. She tweeted back in
December and I'm paraphrasing here, because she since deleted the tweet, I should say, Christine. But she said, you can't just proclaim yourself a
female and be able to compete against women. There must be some standards. She goes to say, having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that
Martina Navratilova effectively saying that people who deliberately try and alter their hormone levels, those testosterone levels without going through
with full surgery to become transgender, become male or female, that they are cheating, that they are cheating the system.
BRENNAN: And you could make that strong case. So this actually would be very different, as you've said, from Caster Semenya. She was born this
But if this ruling goes in her favor, does it open the floodgates for those who want to try to cheat? Again, it sounds outlandish. But what we've
seen in world sport, East Germany, Soviet Union, et cetera, over the years, the amount of cheating that's going on, the United States, Lance Armstrong,
Marion Jones, what would prevent someone from them taking this ruling which might be intended just for Caster Semenya and a positive outcome for her
and taking it and using it to their own nefarious advantages. That's what Martina is talking about.
JONES: And the Caster Semenya's case opened today in Switzerland. What is the feeling here about which way this is -- this is going to go?
BRENNAN: I could see it both ways. I guess I would say more likely that she would win just because the individual athlete tends to win. It's going
to be five days, one of the longest CAS hearings we've ever seen. Whoever loses could appeal to the Swiss Supreme Court. That would be the end of
And, of course, the question is then, the world championships are six months and two days from that decision and they will, one, if she loses,
she could take birth control or other hormones to lower her testosterone. She would need to take it for six months. She could then compete under
those new rules if she chose to do so, if she does lose this case.
JONES: Yes. And I guess that's the extraordinary thing that if she does lose, she then has to make the decision as to whether she artificially
changes her hormone levels in the body that she was born, in order to still compete at the top levels of her sport. Which she might say, I just simply
not be the athlete I was before if I have to artificially change who I am.
BRENNAN: Well, that's possible, of course. The other side of it would be if she did decide to go ahead and take the hormones, what if she still came
out and won? Then she'd make a strong statement that she could do it with the lower testosterone level.
Frankly, that would be the ultimate victory for her, although she would have had to adhere to something that, of course, she does not believe she
needs to do because she was born this way.
JONES: The knock-on effect of that, if that were to come to play on everyone else would be huge as well. It's a fascinating story and topic,
and we will stay across the case for our viewers as well. Christine, thank you.
[14:50:06] BRENNAN: Hannah, thank you so much.
JONES: More to come, including no laughing matter. Why President Trump is calling an investigation after a "Saturday Night Live" skit.
JONES: Welcome back. Illegal and treasonous, that is how U.S. President Donald Trump is describing actions by one of his former FBI officials. Mr.
Trump launched a series of angry tweets after Andrew McCabe appeared on CBS's "60 Minutes". He said among other things that Deputy Attorney
General Rod Rosenstein offered to wear a wire in the White House and that officials talked about using the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from
office. The president also tweeted McCabe's story was getting more deranged.
And Mr. Trump is also upping his anger at the television show, "Saturday Night Live." He fired back after the show's opening skit this weekend. It
started by parodying Mr. Trump's national emergency declaration on the border with Mexico. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am basically taking military money so I can has wall. So I'm going to sign these papers for emergency and then I'll immediately
be sued and it really will not go in my favor and it will end up in the Supreme Court and then I'll call my buddy Kavanaugh and I'll say, it's time
to repay the Donny, and he'll say, "New Phone, wo this?" And then the Mueller report will be released, crumbling my house of cards, then I can
just plead insanity and do a few months in the puzzle factory. And my personal hell of playing president will finally be over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Now, President Trump lashed out as he's been known to do in the past, but this time though he took one step further. The president tweeted
that TV networks were getting away with, quote, "hit jobs and collusion and suggested an investigation."
So, is Mr. Trump serious? Is it actually as a threat? What should the media and shows like "Saturday Night Live" do? Should they be worried?
CNN business media writer, Frank Pallota joins us from New York. Frank, good to see you.
So, I can imagine critics of Mr. Trump screaming first amendment. It's satire, take a joke.
FRANK POLLOTA, CNN BUSINESS MEDIA WRITER: I mean, satire is one of the reasons that America is great. It's one of the things that makes America
great. And if you come with the job of being president, you kind of understand that that is a part of the job description.
So, he really doesn't have much to do here outside of just kind of tweet and complain as much as if you or I were on the cold open of SNL and they
said -- and they made us look kind of foolish. There's really nothing more that he can do there outside of what he's already kind of done. Because
again, satire is what makes America great.
JONES: Can he ban "Saturday Night Live"?
PALLOTA: I don't really think that that's a very real possibility. I mean, "Saturday Night Live" has made fun of presidents pretty much its
entire 45-year run, almost. And it's not like -- and it's had some bumps along the road. It's done some things that some people were critical of.
Some presidents didn't like how they were perceived. Other presidents really liked it. Some presidents would have brought Dana Carvey to do an
impression of George H.W. Bush.
[14:55:00] This is kind of like a next level because he's really kind of going hard on Twitter. But it's also not the first time he's also bring
this up. And it should be noted that he hosted the show three seasons ago. Three seasons ago he was the host on SNL. He loved the show when they
loved him. And now, he's kind of upset that they don't love him anymore.
JONES: And this is a president, we know, who's mildly obsessed with viewing figures as well. If his objective is to turn people away from
"Saturday Night Live," or try and take SNL off the T.V.s, then how far is he being successful in that? I mean, how are the viewing figures doing?
PALLOTA: Well, I don't know if there's a correlation between him saying something and the numbers dropping. But the numbers for SNL in terms of
viewership really peaked in 2016 with the election when Alec Baldwin first introduced Donald Trump -- in his Donald Trump impression. Since then,
they've kind of softened. But it's still bringing in around seven million viewers over a seven-day period.
So that means people who watch it either live or within a week of the show itself. Plus, not to mention most people watch SNL on social media like
YouTube. I basically watch the clips of it.
If anything, it could work counterproductively to what he's maybe trying to do, which is something like this. We're talking about it now. So maybe
next week -- if Alex Baldwin -- I mean, it's not on next week. It's on March 2nd. So if it's on March 2nd and Donald Trump is being impersonated
again by Alec Baldwin, everyone might remember this and watch it even more.
I mean, so much is probably groin to happen in that news cycle over the next two weeks or probably people will forget about this.
But that being said, it's like you're showing off something you don't want people to see by giving it attention. It's not the best way to kind of do
JONES: Well, Frank, as you said, he's been on the show before. Maybe he'll go on again and then he'll just take credit for the ratings being
PALLOTA: I don't know if SNL, at this point, or its viewership. The other thing too is like anyone who's watching SNL the same way than anyone is
watching late night with -- "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" or "Jimmy Kimmel Live." Their audience is pretty much kind of already knows where
their politics lies. They're pretty much - and obviously there's people who have different politics.
But I doubt anyone's going to watch it and they're live and be like, no, I don't think this is good. Because they're making fun of Trump.
JONES: Well, he's definitely watching. Frank, we have to leave it there. Thanks so much. We appreciate it.
And thank you for watching tonight. Stay with us here on CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming up next.