Return to Transcripts main page

HALA GORANI TONIGHT

Civilians Evacuating from Last ISIS Enclave; White House Says to Keep 200 Troops in Syria; US Football Owner Facing Sex Charges; Humanitarian Aid Showdown in Venezuela; Interview with Richard Branson; Last Major Court Filing in Mueller's Case Against Paul Manafort. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 22, 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] HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London on this Friday, I'm Hala Gorani. Tonight, we'll have the latest from the

battle to remove ISIS from Syria. And also, I'll talk to the lawyer of the American ISIS bride who has been told she can never come home.

Also, this hour, the owner of the super bowl champion team, the New England Patriots, is charged with soliciting prostitution. We'll have the very

latest. And the charges that could mean Paul Manafort cannot be pardoned by President Trump. We'll explain.

And we begin this hour in Syria where ISIS is on the verge of defeat. We've been saying that for the last several days. Where are we in this

battle? The aim now is to evacuate the remaining civilians before that final push to retake the last spec of is-held territory. It is estimated

there are still thousands of people trapped under ISIS control inside the tiny patch of land still held by the so-called caliphate. And the U.S.-

backed Syrian-led forces are transporting them via enclave as they prepare to expel the jihadists. 200 troops will remain, down from 2000. That is

despite President Trump ordering back in December to execute a full and rapid withdrawal. Our senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman has

been following developments from the front lines and he joins me live from eastern Syria. First of all, let's talk about this final push. How much

are we, Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I ask myself that same question, Hala, how far are we. We have heard from repeated Syrian

Democratic official forces, officials saying a few days, in a few days. Well, it's been more than a few days. The problem is the presence of many

more civilians in this last half square mile enclave that is occupies on the out skirts of this town. Now, in the last three days there have been

two large sort of convoys leaving that area between those two, more than 2000 people. But every time they think they've cleared civilians out,

there are still more in. We spoke with the commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces who is based on a roof overlooking that tent city, and he

says he's always amazed that when they think all the civilians are gone, more appear. Now, this is a suspicion there is a network of tunnels under

this camp and therefore, any number -- we are hearing from Syrian Democratic forces officials about how many civilians are left inside. I

think we have to take with a grain of salt. So, yes, we have been told they are almost done with evacuating. The ISIS fighters left inside will

have a choice. Surrender or die. Hala?

The 200 troops, American troops to remain, it's not zero, but it is certainly not 2000. And we are looking, really, at a huge, huge chunk of

territory here. What are the SDF and the other U.S.-backed forces saying about that decision to leave a couple hundred U.S. troops inside Syria? In

this case, they're happy there is something, something being left behind because certainly as what we heard from President Trump in December was a

complete withdrawal of U.S. forces in Syria but there are have been requests that that not happen. U.S. allies has asked that it not happen.

Joseph Votel, when he was here a few days ago, met with the head of the Syrian Democratic Forces who asked him bluntly not to pull out U.S. forces.

So, I think reality has finally sunk into the White House. They realize you can't just cut and run here and not expect others to come and fill the

vacuum. The Syrian regime would like to establish their authority here. The Turks have indicated they would like to invade this part of Syria. Of

course, is, even though it's down, it's not out. It still operates in this area, and it would like to also take advantage of that vacuum. So, 200

isn't 2000, but it's better than none. Hala?

[14:05:04] GORANI: It's better than nothing. Certainly the U.S. backed forces would say that. Lastly, and we're going to be talking later in the

program to the lawyer of Hoda Muthana who is an American who was told she cannot return. She's traveled to Syria in 2014, married I think three is

fighters. What happens to all these westerners, whether they're ISIS brides, western fighters? Their countries don't want them back. They've

stripped them of their citizenship in some cases. What happens to them? They can't be held forever.

WEDEMAN: That's the problem. Nobody has come up with a solution for them. We heard President Trump in that tweet saying the European states which

they came from needs to take them back, otherwise the United States will release them. When it comes to an American citizen who joined is, not as a

fighter, but as the wife of a fighter, he says, no, we're not going to take her back. As usual, confusion is reigning within the U.S. administration.

But the problem is being dropped in the laps of the authorities in this part of Syria, who simply don't have the resources. In the camp, where

they fled this area where some fighting was going on, ISIS fighters, it is filled to the gills. Somewhere between 2 to 3,000 arrived today, so we're

talking about 45,000, more than 50 children have died because of exposure, malnutrition and disease. The resources simply do not exist to take care

of these people and eventually but it appears that western powers are simply passing the buck quite frantically. Hala?

GORANI: All right, Ben Wedeman in eastern Syria there, following the last convulsions of the ISIS terrorist group in terms of how much territory it

controls. Thanks very much.

And we'll have as I mentioned, more with the lawyer of an American ISIS bride because the Secretary of State has said she's not welcome back.

She's someone who was born in the United States. Hoda Muthana. She says she was brain washed. Big discussion about brides like her, not recruits

strictly speaking, but traveled willingly to join ISIS and married some of these fighters. Their countries don't want them back. What happened to

them? What happens to their kids they had with the fighter? Hoda Muthana is suing the Trump administration saying she is a U.S. citizen and is

entitled to come back.

This story breaking in the last hour, less than three weeks ago his team won the Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event in the United States. And

today Robert Kraft, the owner of the NFL champion New England Patriots faces two counts of soliciting prostitution. The charges follow a raid on

a Dade spa in Florida. And the patriots say Kraft has done nothing illegal. Jason Carroll is looking into this case for us and he joins me

now live. What more do we know?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The day spa is located in Jupiter, Florida. It's the Orchids of Asia day spa. This is kind of a

lengthy investigation, detectives say, they conducted over a series of months. They say they identified 25 individuals listed as Johns. Robert

Kraft, they say, was one of those Johns. They say he was a frequent visitor of the day spa down there, and they also say, Hala, that they have

video of Kraft in a room, receiving what they characterized as, quote, paid acts occurring there. They also say they have video of Kraft being driven

to the spa. As you say he has been charged with two counts of soliciting a prostitute. These are misdemeanors. But what this really points to, this

is an embarrassing development obviously for Kraft. He's listed as one of American's wealthiest at 6 billion, a friend of President Trump, a frequent

visitor to Mar-A-Lago in Florida. And just recently he was the recipient of the 2019 Genesis Prize from Israel really known as the Jewish Nobel

Prize.

[14:10:06] This is the man who has been in the public, not just Super Bowl winning owner of the new England patriots. Now he's facing these

embarrassing charges. We should say he has come out with a statement through his spokesperson that says, quote, we categorically deny Mr. Kraft

engaged in any being illegal activity. Because it's a judicial matt effort we will not be commenting further. Embarrassing charges. We should say he

has come out with a statement through his spokesperson that says, quote, we categorically deny Mr. Kraft engaged in any being illegal activity.

Because it's a judicial matt effort we will not be commenting further.

GORANI: All right. Thank a meanwhile, the people, ordinary people struggle to get by day to day. It all looks to be coming to a head over

humanitarian aid and whether it will get into the country. Take a look at these dramatic pictures. These are soldiers clashing with coalition in

Caracas. A woman was killed in Brazil. A local mayor said they opened fire on an indigenous group trying to support aid getting into Venezuela.

Meanwhile at another of the country's borders, very different seen. This is a huge benefit concert hosted by Richard Branson taking place right near

the Venezuela bordered in Columbia. Nick Paton Walsh joins me live. You had an opportunity, if you can hear me over the music behind you, to speak

to Richard Branson.

NICK PATON WALSH, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. As somebody who organized the concert here with very little time, something

that would normally take months, the stage behind me erupted in a matter of days. But will also be dismantled in the hours ahead. So, this is how

remarkably quick this process will be over.

We will be seeing the Colombian and Chilean presidents behind me quite possibly also, US Special Representative to this crisis, Elliott Abrams at

some point in the hours ahead. As I say this is erected quickly. There is a party atmosphere. You can't see -- an enormous -- tens of thousands of

people out in the field. They'll be asked by leaflets to stay overnight. Once the stage is gone, well, then the road is essentially open up until

the blockades are placed on the bridge behind me. The blockade put in place by the Venezuela security forces. Tomorrow, the other side of those

barricades tens of thousands of others gathered, being brought here by Columbians on the Columbian side of the order.

Between them the Venezuelan military with orders to prevent that passage of aid. While the party atmosphere behind me is one of unity, Richard Branson

is seeing this as peaceful, here's what Mr. Branson had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH: Juan Guaido was initially keen on this happening, it was his idea?

RICHARD BRANSON, VIRGIN FOUNDER: Yes, we had a discussion and what would be the way open the bridge and get humanitarian age in. We are that the

Army standing on that bridge will hear the music. Tomorrow when people bring white roses to those people on the bridge, that they'll let the much-

needed supplies in.

WALSH: A million people on the other side, the Venezuelan military saying they will prevent aid from getting across. There's a lot that could go

wrong.

BRANSON: There's always things that can go wrong in life. Nobody is going to try to force the bridge and --

WALSH: But they might do. Would you oppose if they did?

BRANSON: Juan Guaido is handling that side of things. Which is handling a concert. We're handling the humanitarian aid. He'll take over tomorrow.

And he'll handle trying to get humanitarian aid in this his country. That is something we are not part of.

WALSH: After this, are you done with Venezuela or are you going to stay till the end?

BRANSON: If the bridge doesn't open tomorrow, you'll get fed up seeing us until humanitarian aid gets into the country.

[14:15:00] WALSH: Now, there is a feeling I think there is very much being made up as they go along. Juan Guaido, you heard him say he thought this

concert was a good idea. Now it's happening. The Colombian government appeared to be having a role

in the background here, they are closing some of the migration crossing areas for anybody not involved in the transfer of humanitarian aid. There

is a mixture of a feeling that maybe there is a plan for tomorrow for the transfer of humanitarian aid. It is in quite clear when that stops when he

meets resistance from the Venezuelan military.

As you saw on the other side, a lot of desperation, hunger and anger. They are keen to get their hands-on aid. I'm concerned 24, 48 hours pass with

not much volatility.

GORANI: The concert organized by Richard Branson. If that aid does get across the border, which is not guaranteed as Nick was saying, Juan Guaido

has promised to distribute the relief by Saturday. Thousands of people have signed to help deliver them.

Isa Soares is live -- this is her report. We'll try to catch up with her live at the back of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the center of Caracas, a group of close neighbors are preparing for their biggest test yet. They

are marching to Juan Guaido's orders, volunteering to help bring humanitarian aid into Venezuela.

This makes me a bit nervous come Saturday.

They may be unconventional, don't let their looks deceive you. They are organized and determined. As we sit down, I asked them how confident they

are the aid will be allowed in?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: we're going to free ourselves from Maduro.

SOARES: The success of the aid delivery means only one thing for this group. President Nicolas Maduro's imminent loss of power. Mention his

name too often and tempers begin to flare.

You have all told me the aid is coming through one way or another. Are you prepared, each one of you to put your life on the line for that aid?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm ready give mocked my life for my son, for my grandchildren.

SOARES: Years of separation and struggle fuel their fire. With most family having already fled the country, 25 between them. They tell me

they've got nothing left to lose, even going as far as to call for U.S. intervention.

President Trump says all options on the table. Do you want to see U.S. boots on the ground?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the Armed Forces here don't give in, the only way for the aid to come in is with military force. And who was that, United

States.

SOARES: But talk of boots on the ground leaves them wanting some fresh air. So, I try to my best to ease their nerves.

When you think of Juan Guaido, what does he inspire you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hope. Strength, optimism, courage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your family. Union to get your family together. Trust.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Love for Venezuela.

SOARES: Emotions they, too, will have to tap into if they will face off this Saturday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Soares joins me from Caracas. It is interesting you asked those Guaido supporters if they would be willing basically to die. It is quite

possible that if they try to force aid in, that the military will respond with violence. Why are they so determined?

SOARES: I asked that question several times, and every time I ask them, Hala, I got the same answer. They said they've got to the point of

desperation. Even Olga, 95-year-old lady. I said to her, do you agree with them? Do you agree with their fight to put themselves on the line?

She said, this is desperation. We are tired, she said to me. The group that I spoke to, Hala, some of them will be here in the Caracas, some will

be making way to the border, they all said to me -- our family units broken up, the lady you saw crying in that piece, she doesn't have a proper

conversation with her husband. He doesn't agree that humanitarian aid is need. Trying to have that relation shipped is basically breaking their

relationship, ruining their relationship. That's driving a huge wedge between us.

[14:20:00] We're not talking about what this crisis has done to the hundred thousand people who have left. But also, what it has done to the family

unit. And the challenges they have to face every single day. They said yes, absolutely. They put themselves on the line. They know there will be

risks. If this is it, this is it.

GORANI: Isa, thank you. We'll be following that story and the tense and possibly violent moments at the border. Thanks very much.

Quick break. When we come back, prosecutors in New York are reportedly coming up with a contingency plan in case President Trump pardons Paul

Manafort for federal crimes. We'll have that story coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Prosecutors in New York are reportedly making contingency plans in case U.S. President Donald Trump tries to pardon his former campaign

chairman for federal crimes. Multiple reports indicate the Manhattan District Attorney is preparing to file state criminal charges against

Manafort. Mr. Trump can issue pardons only in federal cases. That's what Presidents are entitled to do. Manafort faces sentencing next month for

bank fraud and other crimes. Manafort, of course, is a key figure in the Russia investigation, and today we could learn the full extent of the case

special counsel Robert Mueller has against him. Let's bring in White House reporter Stephen Collinson. Let's talk a little about what implication and

what impact and what significance state charges could have on Paul Manafort and what plans President Trump may or may not have in terms of pardoning

him.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, Paul Manafort at the moment looks likely to go to prison possibly for the rest

of his life, give given that he's nearly 70 years old. It's possible President Trump could use his Presidential powers to pardon Manafort at

some time. He hasn't said he would do that, but there have been enough tweets by the President praising Manafort to suggest that that's

potentially a route he might try to take. Now, if there was a case in New York, a state case against him and Manafort was convicted and sentenced,

the President wouldn't be able to bust him out of that prison sentence. I think this is a good reminder that even when Robert Mueller files his final

report, possibly as soon as next week, there is this big web of legal cases all over the United States, New York, Washington, various other

jurisdictions that are beginning to entrap the President. So, when the Mueller report is filed and whatever it says, that doesn't mean it's the

end of the legal troubles for the President and the people that were around him in the 2016 campaign.

[14:25:07] GORANI: Speaking of the report itself, it appears as though we're nearing the end here.

COLLINSON: Yes, it appears that Mueller could file his report with the Attorney General as early as next week. Then the Attorney General takes

that confidential report and he is required to send a summary of it to Congress. That's when we are going to get into a big confrontation because

it's quite likely that the White House will try to intervene and make claims of executive privilege to try and have some of that report redacted.

And there are going to be many people on Capitol Hill, specifically Democrats who have the power of subpoena in the House, who are going to

want to see the original Mueller report and all the evidence that the special counsel found to back up his conclusions, whatever they are. So,

the report will be filed. We're not going to find out what's in it for a long time. We may never find out everything that's in it, but sort of get

ready for a big constitutional showdown between the administration and Congress.

GORANI: Just so our viewers are clear, the report is finished. It's handed to the Justice Department. Then it's up to the Attorney General to

condense it, redact portions of it possibly, and hand it to Congress. But as far as we are concerned, and ordinary citizens, people around the world,

they are not necessarily going to see this for a very long time.

COLLINSON: That could be the case. Now, of course, there is massive political pressure on the Attorney General to provide some kind of public

accounting of this. If he gives something to Congress that they believe is unsatisfactory, it is very likely they will subpoena the original report,

either try and publish it, Congress being Congress, something will get leaked. Eventually I think we are going to find out substantially what's

in the report. It's quite possible that Mueller includes information in that report about what the President did. If he believes that there is

severe wrongdoing, he may ask for that to be sent to the Congress himself, and that will be Barr's decision.

GORANI: Sure.

COLLINSON: There are a lot of hoops to go through. Eventually, I think it's very, very likely that apart from classified information and

information about people who Mueller decided not to charge in the investigation, a lot of what happened is going to come out eventually. And

as I said, there are all these other cases into Trump's transition, other parts of his administration, various parts of the campaign and the Trump

organization that are also going on. So, I think, if anything, the legal troubles the President is facing are going to deepen after the release of

the report. So, this is not the end at all. It's the start of a new phase.

GORANI: Stephen Collinson, thank you so much. Live in Washington.

Tonight, the Catholic Church Is tackling accountability of sex abuse at a major summit. Some of the surviving victims say the Vatican must do more.

We'll be right back.

And now to the long simmering question of what governments should do with those returning from ISIS territory in Syria and Iraq.

[14:30:00]

More specifically, what people have called ISIS brides, an issue which has been blown open in recent weeks with the media coverage of Shamima Begum,

that British teenager who's set to have her U.K. citizenship revoked. She left at 15, she's now 19. She's on her third pregnancy, has given birth to

a baby boy.

Now, the family of the woman whose picture you see there, an American who joined ISIS, her family is suing the Trump administration for blocking her

return to the U.S. Hoda Muthana left Alabama five years ago to join the terrorist group.

Now, she says she wants to return home. But the Trump administration says she's not American. Muthana herself, however, says she anticipates no

problem in returning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HODA MUTHANA, MARRIED ISIS MEMBER: I read the papers and I know that I was a citizen. And when I tried filing for a passport, it was very easy, it

came in 10 days. So I thought I didn't have a problem. And I'm sure there's no problem. And I know my lawyer hopefully is working on it and he

will win the case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: So that was a clip from an interview on the American network NBC. She mentioned her lawyer there, Muthana, Hassan Shibly. And he actually

joins me on the phone.

So, her family is suing the Trump administration, Mr. Shibly. You're joining us from Tampa, Florida. Why do they think they have a case?

HASSAN SHIBLY, LAWYER OF HODA MUTHANA (through telephone): Correct, I'm the family attorney. And Hoda has another attorney, Charlie Swift, who on

behalf of the Center for Constitutional Law for American Muslims, is suing the Trump administration to protect the right of American citizens not to

lose their citizenship by unilateral presidential overreach and abstinence.

Essentially, Trump has made this a constitutional and civil rights issue. He did something to strip an American a citizenship unilaterally, simply by

declaration. He did something to make the constitutional protections guaranteed to all Americans not applied to an individual simply by his

declaration.

That's how our country works. Our president is not a monarch. He's not a dictator. He can't simply strip an American of citizenship without due

process of law --

GORANI: They say she was born when -- they say, as you know, that she was born when her father was a diplomat and that is an exception in this case.

That children born to diplomats are not automatically given citizen -- birthright citizenship. What does her family say to that?

SHIBLY: It's correct, children of current diplomats are not citizens by virtue of their birth if their parents were citizens -- were diplomats at

the time of the birth.

However, in this circumstance, it's very clear that the father ceased to be diplomat months before she was born. He was no longer a diplomat. The

evidence is very clear the father had ceased to be a diplomat. And, in fact, the United States case law is very clear that upon a person's

diplomatic mission is terminated, they cease to enjoy those diplomatic immunities. They're subject to the jurisdiction of the land.

There may be a grace period of a reasonable time which is typically 30 days. But whether it was well up to those 30 days. She's a U.S. born

citizen. She had never left America prior to her trip to Syria. She has no citizenship besides American citizenship.

Listen, as much as we all hate ISIS -- as much as we all hate ISIS, we can't turn our back on our constitution and allowed president to strip

GORANI: Beyond that question -- I get the question of stripping someone of their citizenship. The same thing -- the same case the fact -- in fact, is

emerging in the U.K. here where Shamima Begum is being stripped of her citizenship.

What kind of support did she provide to the terrorist group though, aside from the question of whether or not she should be allowed to return? What

was her role within the group?

SHIBLY: Apparently going and marrying a couple of their fighters, almost by force. I mean, she made the horrible choice to choose to go over there.

I think she was brainwashed. She was manipulated. She was taken advantage of. But she ultimately made that choice. And she's got the responsibility

and she's willing to pay that price.

Once she got there, they locked her up in a room with 200 other women and said you're not leaving this room until you marry somebody there. She also

allegedly made --

GORANI: She was also very happy when the Charlie Hebdo journalist were massacred. She appears to have been tearing up and burning her passport on

social media. She's not -- she's not all that innocent. It doesn't seem like at least according to --

SHIBLY: Nobody is saying she's innocent. We're disgusted by the kind of tweets she allegedly made. There's no justification for them. Ad she's

willing to pay whatever legal debt she has the society for those mistakes.

Again, we all hate ISIS. We're disgusted by them. The ideology is poison and garbage.

But nonetheless, we had a rule of law, if she broke the law, let the government do its job and prosecute her, not try to circumvent its job

saying she's not a citizen.

What's mindboggling for me is several media outlets have already interviewed Hoda. The only way we can determine what law she's broken is

if the FBI actually investigate her, question her. And I personally called the FBI, I told them, we know where Hoda ISIS and she wants to collaborate.

She wants to meet with you. She wants to turn herself in. And the FBI failed to question her up at this point, while at least for me (INAUDIBLE)

[14:35:12] GORANI: No. Absolutely. But I guess, you know, ordinary people, Americans, others, they say, look, you were very happy to post

propaganda messages and cheer terrorists killing innocent civilians, but now that ISIS is destroyed, you're crying for your citizens' rights. I

guess that's how some people are seeing this and therefore they don't extend their sympathy to people like Hoda.

SHIBLY: Well, because she's not the most -- because she's not the most sympathetic character, because of those tweets and the mistakes she's made,

Trump is taking advantage of this situation to solidify his ability to strip Americans of citizenship without due process. And that's what's most

troubling.

And the truth of the matter is this. In order to protect the rule of law and the constitution and civil rights for the best of us, we must protect

it for the worst of us. Now, this woman, she wanted to abandon ISIS for about a year ago. Even when they were still strong. She tried to make

multiple attempts.

She chose to abandon them and defect from them and turn herself into our legal system. She's not asking for a free pass, and that's the point here.

Nobody is right now asking for sympathy or a free pass. We're just asking she get the same treatment that John Walker Lindh did.

John Walker Lindh was a white American who took up arms to fight with the Taliban against the illegal invasion of Afghanistan that America engaged

in. And the United States government brought him back to face our court system. Why can't we do the same with this young woman?

GORANI: And can I ask you one last question? And this is something that I'm asking myself and some of my colleagues ask. Why does she even want to

return? She could potentially face decades in prison. Why does she want to go back?

SHIBLY: Because she's extremely remorseful of her mistakes and she really wants to pay her debt to society. I think she wants to see her child grow

up in safety and comfort like she did in America. This whole experience ironically enough really made her realize how great of a nation America is,

how evil groups like ISIS is. And now, she's willing to spend really use behind bars if that's what it takes to pay her debt back to the society.

Alternatively, she could just try to disappear in Syria or any one of the neighboring countries, go off the radar since the U.S. has made clear that

they don't believe they have jurisdiction over here.

So this could actually has been a get-out-of-jail free card that the Trump administration handed her. And instead of her taking that get-out-of-jail

free card and running with it and just try to live her life without U.S. custody, she's willing to turn herself in and face years behind bars

because that's how much she is remorseful of her actions.

GORANI: Hassan Shibly, lawyer for the family of Hoda Muthana joining us from Florida. Thanks very much for your time.

SHIBLY: My pleasure. God bless you.

GORANI: The Catholic Church is finishing up a day two of the historic conference on sexual abuse. Bishops and cardinals are discussing

accountability. Pope Francis is calling on the clergy to come up with what he calls concrete and effective measures to deal with sex abuse.

Earlier, catholic leaders heard emotional testimonies from survivors, as well as church law experts. And just outside the conference, abuse

survivors and their support groups are keeping up pressure on the church. Some remain very frustrated and unsatisfied with the Vatican's handling of

sexual abuse, and they hope that sharing their personal trauma will inspire the church to really change.

Rosa Flores has that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAROL MIDBOE, SURVIVOR OF SEX ABUSE: I'm Carol Midboe. I'm a survivor from Austin, Texas.

PETER SAUNDERS, SURVIVOR OF SEX ABUSE: My name is Peter Saunders and I'm a survivor of childhood abuse from the United Kingdom.

LEONA HUGGINS, SURVIVOR OF SEXUAL ASSAULT, CANADA: I'm Leona Huggins. I'm a survivor from Vancouver B.C. Canada.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Survivors from across the globe have descended on Rome for the unprecedented bishops meeting on clergy sex abuse

with high hopes that abusers and those who cover up abuse will be held accountable.

Pope Francis kicked off the four-day event with a prayer. And in short, order set a firm tone asking for bishops to come up with concrete

guidelines.

POPE FRANCIS, SOVEREIGN OF THE VATICAN CITY STATE (through translator): The holy people of God are looking at us and expect of us. Not simple

condemnation but concrete and effective measures to put in place. We need to be concrete.

FLORES: Normally, we would need to read between the lines to figure out what the Pope means by concrete measures. But this time, he released a

list of 21 guidelines.

HUGGINS: I'm disappointed by what we saw today on that list of reflection points. When number one is we're going to create a manual or a handbook.

I thought they already had the handbook.

SAUNDERS: Concrete measures mean zero tolerance is not just a word. Zero- tolerance means excluding priests and other religious who rape and abuse children from ministry permanently.

[14:40:10] FLORES: Behind the scenes, Pope Francis has been meeting with survivors. In an encounter with Polish survivor, Marek Melevchek, Pope

Francis kissed his hand and looked visibly emotional.

He told CNN, "Emotions rose up inside of me, and it was like a roller coaster. I was able to say, I'm a child abuse victim from Poland. I was

holding the photo of myself as a teenager. The Pope took my hand in his hands. He looked at me. And I could see he was teary-eyed."

Survivors say they relive their trauma every time they share their stories. And hope this historic meeting means they never have to tell their stories

again.

Rosa Flores, CNN, Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Pope Francis has said one of the takeaways for catholic leaders is that abuse is a problem worldwide, not just in western developed nations.

My next guest is a journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for uncovering abuse that went on for decades. Michael Rezendes of the Boston Globe joins me

now. His real-life reporting inspired the movie "Spotlight" where he was played by the actor Mark Ruffalo and he joins me now live from Boston.

So, Michael, what the pope and the Vatican are now proposing have prevented the kind of abuse that you reported on, do you think?

MICAHEL REZENDES, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, THE BOSTON GLOBE: Well, I don't hear the pope or the Vatican proposing much of anything, to tell you

the truth. I hear a lot of talk about good intentions. I hear promises to do something.

But still, we don't have a set of specific guidelines applicable to diocese all over the world to prevent clergy sexual abuse. It's 17 years since my

colleagues and I on the Globe Spotlight team revealed the cover up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

So the Vatican has had quite a longtime to educate bishops, to come to grips with this matter and to have a set of guidelines applicable to every

diocese in the world. And still, what we get are speeches and talk.

GORANI: Sorry to jump in. But Pope Francis is now a different kind of pope though, isn't he? I mean, it's just kind of -- at least it's being

talked about in the open.

REZENDES: Well, you know, seven years ago, there was an international gathering of bishops and survivors at the Gregorian University in Rome. So

this is not the first international gathering that the Vatican has sponsored to discuss this issue. We've all been through this before.

Whether or not Pope Francis is different than he used to be, if that's what you mean, I think it remains to be seen. It was not too long ago where

Pope Francis had some terrible things to say about survivors in the country of Chile. Is he reformed? Has he changed? Well, maybe, maybe not. We

just don't know.

GORANI: And what would, then -- what needs to be done?

REZENDES: Well, it's fairly simple. There have to be some clear definitions of what zero tolerance is. Right now, I think it's a very

subjective term. Every bishop defines it differently.

So, what is zero tolerance? And let's define what clergy sexual abuse is. Then let's have a set of guidelines that can be agreed upon at the Vatican

applicable to every diocese in the world.

This is not so farfetched. I have to give the American bishops some credit. Because in 2002, they approved the document called the charter for

the protection of children and young people. And the Vatican made some alterations but also approved it.

Now, it's not a perfect document. It could be improved, but it's something. And it's much better than anything that exists anywhere in the

world.

I don't see why, after all this time, this was approved in 2002 by the American bishops, it's difficult to see why, after all this time, the

Vatican could not have used that as a template for a set of guidelines applicable all over the world.

GORANI: Has there been any improvement over the last several years since we've been discussing this issue more in the Catholic Church?

REZENDES: I think there's been some improvement in the United States of America. And I think the American bishops in their last gathering

indicated that they wanted some measures to hold bishops accountable as well as abusive priests. I think that's the main sign that things are

getting better somewhere.

But as far as the Vatican is concerned, they are way, way behind.

GORANI: All right. And then when you mentioned bishops, it's because the cover up is also a crime.

REZENDES: Well, I think that's really what we're talking about here. That's what needs to be addressed. That's why -- that's why clergy abuse

keeps happening is because bishops cover up for priests who abuse children. And bishops themselves sometimes abuse children or have sexual

relationships that are prohibited in the Catholic Church.

So I think the step now has to be holding bishops accountable for covering up priests who abuse children. That's the key here. The bishops

essentially rule their own diocese. They have the power. And they have to be brought in this effort to control and prevent for all-time clergy sexual

abuse.

[14:45:15] GORANI: Michael Rezendes of the Boston Globe. Thanks so much for joining us live. Appreciate it.

REZENDES: Sure. My pleasure.

GORANI: A lot more to come this evening. Could Israel be the next country to make a giant leap for human kind? Find out why its mission to the moon

would be a first in space exploration.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Israel has launched what would be the first private venture to the moon. It is the smallest lunar spacecraft ever, and the cheapest mission

to date. Oren Liebermann tells us about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go for launch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ten, nine, eight --

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That feeling of excitement once felt in the Soviet Union, United States and China --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three, two, one, zero. Emissions. Lift off.

LIEBERMANN: -- has now come to Israel. The control room near Tel Aviv exploded in applause as the Falcon IX rocket reached for the heavens.

Inside a tiny spacecraft weighing less than a ton from Israeli company SpaceIL aiming for the moon.

"Mazel tov," says Israel's president Reuven Rivlin, you have a craft on the way to the moon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything looking good with stage one trajectory.

LIEBERMANN: The spacecraft hitch to ride on border satellite heading for orbit. After liftoff, the craft separated and began its long trajectory to

the moon. It will be the first privately funded spacecraft ever to land on the lunar surface.

The craft will travel some four million miles on its journey to our nearest celestial neighbor, swinging around the earth, gaining speed in its orbits

faster and faster, wider and wider, until the moon's gravity grabs the craft and then slows and prepares for touchdown scheduled for April 11th,

seven weeks away.

The spacecraft is called "Beresheet," the opening words of the Bible that means, "In the beginning." Perhaps it should have been called Chutzpah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I'm ready. Let's get to the moon.

LIEBERMANN: Morris Kahn donated $40 million of his own money to $100 million project.

MORRIS KAHN, ISRAELI-AFRICAN ENTREPRENEUR: This mission that we were talking about was really a mission impossible. The only thing is I didn't

realize it was impossible. And the three engineers who started this project didn't realize it was impossible. And the way we in Israel think,

nothing is impossible. And we dared to dream and we did dream, and we are making this dream come true.

LIEBERMANN: The program began eight years ago, a competitor in the international Google Lunar space race. The race was canceled when the

teams couldn't meet a launch deadline. But some teams pressed on, including SpaceIL.

[14:50:09] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.

LIEBERMANN: For decades the moon has been the domain of superpowers. Only three countries have ever soft landed a spacecraft on the moon. The U.S.,

the former Soviet Union, and China. If this mission succeeds, it'll be one more major milestone in exploring the final frontier. Oren Liebermann,

CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: More to come on the program, including the biggest night in Hollywood is practically upon us. Who's likely to take home an Oscar,

next?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: The biggest names in film are getting ready -- getting ready for the biggest weekend in film and that is walking down the red carpet in just

two days for the Oscars. They are vying for the iconic golden statues.

Among the top contenders at this year's academy awards, a slew of movies that touch upon race and cultural diversity. And by the way, there are

also some firsts, some historic firsts in terms of the movies and the actors and actresses nominated. Whatever the outcome, it is shaping up to

be, therefore, a history-making night.

And Stephanie Elam joins me now live from Los Angeles with more on what to expect. Hi, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Hala. Yes, we are on the red carpet which as you can see behind me is very much in the middle of getting

ready for Sunday's big show. But for everyone who pays attention to the Oscars, if you're not clear who the frontrunner is for best picture, you're

not alone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My son, it is your time.

ELAM (voice-over): This award season, Hollywood choosing themes of race and diversity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can handle more mundane.

ELAM: Over politics and star-driven films. Once a front runner, "A Star is Born" is now looking like an Oscar longshot.

MATT DONNELLY, SENIOR FILM WRITER, VARIETY: They've been a long, long time contender. And it's hard. It's to combat the narrative of up and comers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Roma."

ELAM: No up and comer has more momentum than "Roma." Alfonso Cuaron's portrait of a domestic workers life in Mexico.

MATTHEW BELLONI, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: "Roma" is not an overtly political film, but it's certainly of the moment right now. It really

resonates with the debate that's going on right now in America about immigration.

ELAM: The Academy's best litmus test comes from its Guild Awards, since many of those voters are also in the Academy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Black Panther.

ELAM: The Screen Actors Guild chose "Black Panther". The directors chose "Roma."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you foresee any issues in working for a black man?

ELAM: The Producers Guild of America chose "Green Book." The PGA has predicted the best picture Oscar 20 of the last 29 years.

BELLONI: There is an older more traditional Oscar voter who loves this kind of film. The kind of voter who went for "Driving Miss Daisy" 30 years

ago.

ELAM: The Academy further embracing culture and foreign cinema, by giving Polish director, Pawel Pawlikowski, a director nomination for "Cold War."

ELAM (on-camera): So many people thought that that was going to go to Bradley Cooper for "A Star is Born." How did you feel when you saw the

nominations come out?

PAWEL PAWLIKOWSKI, DIRECTOR, "COLD WAR": I'm happy. I mean, the Oscars, the main award ceremony in the world. So the world should take part in it.

BRADLEY COOPER, AMERICAN ACTOR: Maybe it's time to look the old ways --

ELAM (voice-over): With eight nominations, "A Star is Born" can't be counted out.

[14:55:05] Bradley Cooper, along with Spike Lee for "Blackkklansman," hoping their first major award this season is the big one.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ELAM: Now, it's worth noting, Hala, that "Bohemian Rhapsody" was a movie that made -- it did well in the United States. But it did exceptionally

well outside of the United States. And so we've seen Rami Malek take home a BAFTA for that, where a lot of people thought it might be Christian Bale.

That hasn't happened.

But a lot of people here waiting to see how at the end of this award season how it boils down, who actually walks away with that Oscar.

GORANI: And you know what I find interesting, too, is more and more the international market is factoring into the Oscars because, I mean, "Roma"

is an example. You mentioned how Rami Malek and "Bohemian Rhapsody" did really well outside of the United States.

I mean, we're really starting to see the international market weigh on choices and on award shows and ceremonies in America. That's fascinating.

ELAM: Yes. And it's also because it's easier for all of these products that are coming from these other countries, all of these films, for people

to see them now.

I talked about that with Pawel Pawlikowski about "Cold War." And in fact is "Roma" has Netflix behind it. So a lot of people have seen it, right?

But it was also showing "Cold War" but just not as much.

But still, as more and more films are easily and readily accessible to voters, to just the general populace here, I think you're going to see more

of this. And the fact that you have the potential for Roma to walk away with best director and also the best picture, that says a lot about how

things are changing.

GORANI: And I do wonder how many people have seen the Oscar nominated movies and actors in the Oscar nominated movies by streaming them because

people's viewing habits have drastically changed.

ELAM: And that also says a lot to the fact that Netflix -- this could be their first best picture win. And the fact that they are a true viable

candidate shows you just how the landscape has changed and how it will probably continue to change moving forward.

GORANI: All right. There are some festivals that have resisted it, but I think embrace it. This is the way of the future.

Thanks very much, Stephanie Elam and --

ELAM: It's the future.

GORANI: Exactly. Have fun this weekend.

And thanks to all of you for watching. We're going to have a lot more on CNN. Of course, there'll be an update on the latest out of Syria in the

coming hours. Our Ben Wedeman there is very close to the frontlines. We've been waiting of the lines several weeks for that final push. There

have been some hurdles, of course.

And then there will be the very latest on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS," all your business headlines. There is one particular stock, stamps.com that took a

55 percent nosedive and they will tell you why after a quick break.

I'm Hala Gorani. If it is your weekend, have a great one. And if not, I hope you have a good day at work. See you next time.

END