Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

President Trump And North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un Will Be Face-To-Face Again On Wednesday And Thursday In Vietnam; Political And Humanitarian Crisis In Venezuela Is Escalating; Singer R. Kelly Is Still In A Chicago Jail; Aired 6-7p ET

Aired February 24, 2019 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:00:31] RYAN NOBLES, CNN HOST: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ryan Nobles in tonight for Ana Cabrera reporting from New York.

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be face-to- face again in just a few days. This summit, Wednesday and Thursday in Vietnam. It's less about the symbolic moment of the two meeting, that's already happened. This is more about progress toward the promises they made to each other. Most importantly, removing nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula.

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo told CNN today that he sees the nuclear threat from North Korea as weaker, but it is still there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Do you think North Korea remains a nuclear threat?

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes.

TAPPER: But the President said he doesn't.

POMPEO: That's not what he said. I mean, I know precisely what he said.

TAPPER: He tweeted that there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.

POMPEO: What he said is that - what he said was that efforts that had been made in Singapore, this commitment that Chairman Kim made have substantially taken down the risk to the American people. It's the mission of the secretary of the state and the President of the United States to keep the American people secure. We are aiming to achieve that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: And let's go live now to CNN's Will Ripley. He is in Hanoi, Vietnam. That's where President Trump and Kim Jong-un will meet later this week. Will, we are told that the two leaders will have two sessions

together. One will happen behind closed doors. The other with more people around. How will this summit likely be different from their last one?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously they have a little more time on the ground here at Hanoi. Singapore was a one-day event. This is going to be two days, as you mentioned. And they obviously have a lot more in terms of specifics that they need to discuss.

If Singapore was about, you know, the initial first meeting, breaking the ice, and making this kind of vague statement, this spreads to work towards a peaceful relationship and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, Hanoi is going to be a little bit of a dose of reality as President Trump and Kim Jong-un really sit down with their respective teams of experts to acknowledge the fact that they are so far apart on the key issue of denuclearization, what it looks like, how long it's supposed to take.

And this is going to be a chance for them to hammer out the details, a chance for them to do the work that secretary Pompeo was not able to do with his North Korean negotiating counterpart Kim Yong-chol.

Obviously, President Trump is banking on his good rapport with Kim Jong-un to get a deal that it is going to be favorable to the United States. And of course from the North Korean perspective, they are hoping that President Trump will give them a deal favorable to them, which means economic relief as soon as possible. And frankly, you know, some sort of way for them to hold onto the nuclear arsenal and the knowledge that they have spent decades developing while also getting the things they want like normalized relations with the United States and increased trade and economic opportunity, Ryan.

NOBLES: So Will, these two leaders are both setting the mood for the summit. President Trump slamming the people he says are telling him how to negotiate. On the other side, the North Korean government accusing Democrats and intelligence agencies in the U.S. of trying to sabotage the summit. It sounds like in at least one area, both Kim and President Trump have found a common adversary.

But tell me from what you are hearing, what are North Korean officials and what are they realistically expecting from this summit?

RIPLEY: Well, the North Koreans have been very smart in all of their state media never to criticize President Trump. They always go after his opponents. Because they studied the President long before Kim ever sat face-to-face with him, trying to figure out how they could best leverage this situation with this unconventional American President.

Clearly, the North Koreans are not going to be eager to immediately give up the nuclear weapons that they have because that is arguably gotten them to the negotiating table. But they do are also aware of the fact that the United States is going to want something in terms of a big concession especially after somewhat losing face post-Singapore with talks breaking down, particularly secretary Pompeo's disastrous trip to Pyongyang last July when he was accused of making gangster- like demands just hours after he left the country.

But the North Koreans say that they need to build trust with the United States. They need to take steps, you know, to basically feel more comfortable about eventually relinquishing their nuclear weapons. One thing that's been floated around is the possibility of the U.S. and North Korea exchanging liaison officers who can eventually open liaison offices in Washington and Pyongyang. Liaison officers eventually lead to embassies.

Here in Hanoi in 1995, they opened the embassy. They have liaison officers before that. Perhaps that's one step the two countries could take. But the U.S. is going to want North Korea to do something, anything, to move towards getting rid of those nukes, Ryan.

[18:05:00] NOBLES: All right. Will Ripley, setting the stage for us in Vietnam.

Will, thank you very much.

And joining me now, two people who have been to North Korea and worked under President Clinton, senior fellow at the Atlantic council Jamie Metzl and former Clinton White House advisor Guy Smith. Guy has spent significant time in North Korea holding high stakes meetings with some of the nation's most senior diplomats.

We are so fortunate to have both of you here to talk about this high- stakes summit.

Jamie, I want to start with you. I mean, how concerning is it for you to hear the President talk about how he does not view North Korea as a nuclear threat anymore and then this morning, the secretary of state -- his secretary of state saying something completely different?

JAMIE METZL, SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Well, there's no doubt that North Korea is a nuclear threat. It has nuclear weapons. And the North Koreans really have no intentions and have shown no intentions of giving up their nuclear weapons.

And from a North Koreans perspective, the North Koreans don't celebrate Christmas, but if they did, Santa Claus would have orange hair, because President Trump has given the North Koreans everything that they want, given them a great deal of legitimacy, weakened sanctions, undermined America's relations with our key allies including south Korea, and the North Koreans have made really no concessions.

So it's likely that the North Koreans will make some cosmetic concession and they believe that they can get away with that because in their analysis, Trump needs the headlines. He needs to announce a cosmetic win. But the big picture within for the United States of decreasing this nuclear threat from North Korea, that's not even on the table.

NOBLES: Now, the President's been very critical of folks like you guys who have negotiated with North Korea in the past. This is what he tweeted this morning. So funny to watch people who have failed for years, they got nothing,

telling me how to negotiate with North Korea but thanks anyway.

He basically doesn't want your advice, you know.

Guy, you worked under President Clinton. You know, the regime did build up nuclear weapons during that time frame. Does the President have a point here?

GUY SMITH, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: No, he doesn't have a point. What he's doing that's right is engaging, and that's so important. And that, frankly, wasn't done after Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright went to Pyongyang. And Bill Clinton, what he told me the first time I went there, he said I want to engage. I want to talk. And that President Trump is doing correctly.

Now, what he's not doing correctly, this is Asia. This is the Korean peninsula. Nothing happens fast. And there are many details. And as Jamie said, the President wants a headline. And Kim Jong-un has got a lot of smart people around him. And frankly he is very smart young man and has demonstrated that. And so what we need to see is -- and Pompeo has been doing this. They have been pulling back the expectations. And this is going to be for the long haul.

Now, there are things that we can do and President Trump has already done that, he stopped the military exercises. The military exercises freaked the North Koreans out. I was in Pyongyang with one of their senior leaders when some of our bombers flew over South Korea and they completely freaked out.

This is an important thing. But this is really about sanctions. It's about money. And that's what they need is relief on sanctions, especially the inter-Korean interaction. That's where Trump can do this, it will make the South Koreans happy and it will move things forward. But they're not going to go fast.

NOBLES: I mean, what Guy is talking about here, Jamie, is an incremental movement toward lasting peace on the Korean peninsula. That doesn't appear to be what President Trump is in search of with this summit.

METZL: Well, it would be great - I mean, in some fantasy world, maybe with different leadership on both sides, you could imagine a step of -- back and forth series of steps between the United States and the North Koreans that would ease tensions and then lead to the denuclearization of North Korea. But that's not even on the table. And so the North Koreans, again, have shown no inclination to give up their nuclear weapons. And frankly, from their perspective, they would be crazy to do it.

And so if we were going to use the leverage that has been built up by many past Presidents who would say, how do we put more pressure on North Korea, and then have a reciprocal series of trade-offs to ease tensions. The problem with what President Trump is doing is he is giving away so much out front. And the North Koreans don't feel a lot of pressure to give up their nuclear weapons. What they do recognize is they have an opportunity to play out these negotiations over many, many years while they are continuing to establish their legitimacy, to strengthen their nuclear deterrent. Then it's going to be a de facto recognition of North Korea as a nuclear power.

So it's great to say we should have meetings, we should feel good, and then why not meet. But there are real costs. And the question is will what President Trump does be better or worse than the status quo. And there is a very significant danger that it will be worse.

[18:10:00] NOBLES: So what's the best case scenario then, Guy? How could he come out of this meeting making those incremental changes without giving away too much?

SMITH: Well, the best case scenario would be for Kim Jong-un to agree to some steps. Dismantling some of the nuclear sites, the testing sites, the production sites. And also visibility, letting our guys in to look at this. That would be a -- that would really be a nirvana. That's going to take a while. I don't think you are going to see that coming -- you might, but the other thing that we need is to continue the engagement. The liaison offices is not giving away anything. Frankly, that makes it easier for the United States to understand why they are coming from.

And the problem that we have had is the President has never read a high school textbook about the Korean peninsula. And this is not how you deal with this. And to Jamie's point, he wants a headline. That's OK, but you have to have substance. And it will come if he's patient enough and he has got Steve Biegun (ph), a really good guy, the U.S. envoy. He is smart. He has been around the block. And I think if he has given the latitude, he will be able to achieve something.

NOBLES: All right. There's more breaking news happening that has to do with the Asia Pacific region. Since you are both experts, I want to keep you here to talk about it.

President Trump has just announced on twitter that he will be delaying additional U.S. tariffs on China that were set to go into effect at the start of next month.

This is President's tweet. He said quote "I am pleased to report that the U.S. has made substantial progress in our trade talks with China on important structural issues including international property protection, technical transfer, agricultural services, currency and many other issues. And as a result of these very productive talks," this is the second tweet, "I will be delaying the U.S. increase in tariffs now scheduled for March 1st. Assuming both sides make additional progress, we will be planning a summit for President Xi and myself at Mar-a-Lago to conclude an agreement, a very good weekend for the United States and China."

And I bring back in Jamie and Guy to talk about this.

I mean, I know you are not getting too much specificity from 280- character tweets, Jamie, but does this seem to you to be a positive development in - as it relates to these negotiation between China and the United States?

METZL: I actually think it is. And I certainly can be very critical of President Trump. But the United States needs -- has needed to put more pressure on China, and President Trump has done that. It hasn't been pretty. He hasn't brought our allies along with us and that would have given the U.S. a stronger hand.

But there is a possibility that we can move the ball forward. And the real question for President Trump will be does he keep pressing hard, does his administration keep pressing hard or will they be bought off by deficit reduction. The Chinese are making a lot of noise that they are going to buy a lot of soybeans, a lot of liquefied natural gas. But the name of the game is structural reform. So if Robert Lighthizer (ph) and the hardliners can keep the momentum going, there's a possibility that the United States can do something positive. But if they get spooked and do a deal at any cost, then we may not get that kind of benefit.

SMITH: Now there's a North Korea element to this that's not in the tweet, but Trump has gotten killed politically in the U.S. over these tariffs. It's cost our people billions of dollars. And for what? But on North Korea, North Korea is very dependent on China for its economy. So what does Trump do? He annoys China. And so what does Xi do? Xi says, well, OK, North Korea, you do your thing. So there's more petrol going into North Korea, not less. The price has gone down for gasoline in Pyongyang.

If China is not in a fistfight with the United States, Trump will get a little more help from Xi on North Korea, separate from --

METZL: Yes. But China is behaving toward North Korea based on China's strategic national interests.

SMITH: Absolutely, they are.

METZL: And China has no incentive to help the United States just because they like us.

SMITH: You are right, there's no incentive there. But the result will be --

NOBLES: Right.

METZL: But I don't think so. I think that the reason why China, when they put pressure on North Korea, it's because they think it's in their interests. And so, China is going to help or not help the United States based on its own assessment. And that's why the United States really needs to be very clear-headed about China, about North Korea, what are the goals and what are the benefits to the United States. If it's about getting headlines, we are in big trouble. If it's about advancing America's strategic national interest, that's what we need to do.

NOBLES: OK. We are out of time. You guys can talk about this all day. I'm very relieved to have two Asia experts here, so can you just hang around in case any more news from Asia comes out in the next couple of hours.

SMITH: Sure.

NOBLES: Thank you guys for being here. Appreciate it.

SMITH: Pleasure.

[18:15:00] NOBLES: And violence flairs in Venezuela. Trucks carrying food and aid stopped and even set on fire. Now secretary of state Mike Pompeo telling CNN today that Venezuela's Nicholas Maduro's days are numbered. So what is next?

Plus, too broke for bail. R. Kelly still in jail today because he was unable to post a $1 million in bond. We will talk to someone who has covered R. Kelly extensively over the past 20 years.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:19:31] NOBLES: The political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is escalating. Colombian authorities say more than 100 members of Venezuela's security forces have now defected. President Nicolas Maduro's control over the military you seen as key element of his grip on power. The defections coming one day after trucks carrying food and medicine into Venezuela were stopped at the border. Some were set on fire. And several people were killed in clashes with Venezuelan troops. Maduro says the aid all part of the U.S.-led coup effort.

Secretary state Mike Pompeo voiced his core at the violent effort to prevent aid coming in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[18:20:08] POMPEO: Yesterday was a tragic day. Multiple deaths. But mostly a tyrant who denied food to hungry people and medicine to those who are sick. There is talk about four or five deaths yesterday. But the truth is there have been hundreds and hundreds starved to death by Maduro. The America's policy has been very clear. We supported the Venezuelan people. We will continue to do that. There will be a meeting of the Lima group on Monday where further action will be contemplated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: CNN's Isa Soares is in Caracas, Venezuela. She joins us now.

Isa, where do things go next?

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, supposed, Ryan, the question now turns the attention now and turn city in to international community. We have heard from Juan Guaido, the opposition leader, the man that President Trump says is the only legitimate president of Venezuelan. And he has been calling, in fact, in the last 24 hours to international allies basically telling them to consider all options, something that we haven't heard from him before.

And he has to walk a very delicate line now, Ryan, because the saber- rattling could potentially mean more defections. More defections at different levels but perhaps he has to be careful when it comes to those higher generals.

But too much of that, too much of saber-rattling, the potential damage is that that will strengthen Nicolas Maduro and that would then reemphasize his point that he has been making all along, is that the aid was just a Trojan horse, pretense to get in to oust him and to get into Venezuela.

So the attention now turns to the international community, what else can they do, what further actions can they put on the table? Remember, the U.S. has already thrown actions against, sanctions against not only those around Maduro but also on (INAUDIBLE), which is an oil company really the cash cow behind Venezuela.

So although we have seen those actions -- interesting to see, Ryan, in the next 24 hours, what else they can put on the table.

NOBLES: All right. Isa Soares live for us in Venezuela.

Isa, thank you so more for that report.

R. Kelly still in jail this hour because he is apparently too broke to post $100,000 in cash to make bail. Up next, we will talk to a writer who has covered the star for decades and ask what he is hearing from victims.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:26:49] NOBLES: Singer R. Kelly is still in a Chicago jail right now because he is apparently too broke to make bail. His attorney says that the singer just not have enough money to post the cash of $100,000 bail. His total bond is a million bucks. And CNN has obtained court filing shows - that show Kelly owes more than $169,000 in child support payments.

The 52-year-old faces ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse stemming from four abusers. At least three of them were under 17 years old when the alleged crimes happened.

And joining me now to talk about this is "Chicago Sun-Times" music critic Jim DeRogatis. He is the author of the upcoming book, "Soulless, the case against R. Kelly" and Court TV anchor, Yodit Tewolde. She is a criminal defense attorney and a former prosecutor.

Thank you guys both for being here.

Jim, let's start with you. One of R. Kelly's alleged victims called you on Friday, hours before the new R. Kelly charges were announced. Tell us what happened.

JIM DEROGATIS, POP MUSIC CRITIC, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Well, let's start at the beginning. November 2000, when I was at "the Sun-Times," I'm no longer there. I reviewed an album. I got an anonymous facts that said, you compared R. Kelly to Marvin Gaye, well, Mr. Viewer got us Marvin had problems. They are not like R. Kelly's. R. Kelly's problem is young girls.

In the 19 years of reporting, the biggest superstar of R&B in the last generation, one of the biggest successes in music in the last 30 years, I have learned the names of 48 young women whose lives he has ruined or destroyed. I never stopped reporting because those women have never stopped calling me. But it is those women speaking out against this massively successful, very rich superstar who have stopped him and activists like (INAUDIBLE) with "Mute R. Kelly" and Tirana Burke with, you know, Times Up and the "me too" movement.

I have only ever been a reporter trying to use my megaphone amplifying what these women have told me.

NOBLES: So have you talked to any other victims since he was arrested on Friday?

DEROGATIS: Yes. And they are all happy that maybe justice is coming. But they are also sickened that it's taken this long. I mean, there is a young woman, a brave, brave young woman, Lisette Martinez who at age 17 miscarried with Kelly's baby, according to a settlement lawsuit, legal papers of a settlement.

You know, he began a relationship with her, took her virginity at age 16. And she wrote to me, you know, I'm glad but I still worried for all these young girls because there are two young women still with him, Azriel Clarie (ph) and Joy Savage (ph) whose parents say that they are being kept against their will in a cult-like situation.

NOBLES: Yes.

DEROGATIS: I'm a journalist, I know that sounds dramatic, but the evidence I have seen, the women I've met who broke away from the cult, it is horrifying.

NOBLES: Yes.

Yodit, let's talk about the legal implications that R. Kelly is facing. He owes $166,000 in back child support. I mean, is that one of the things that could possibly be holding up his ability to post bond?

YODIT TEWOLDE, ANCHOR, COURT T.V.: Oh, absolutely. But before I get into that, I just want to go ahead and say to Jim, I tip my hat to you. Thank you, sir, for your, you know, relentlessness in never letting up on this story and for, you know, the tenacity in your reporting in giving victims a voice. So, thank you, sir.

The child support issue --

DEROGATIS: Well, it's the victims' voices, you're right.

TEWOLDE: Right. Parents, obviously, have an obligation to support their children financially. And if they don't, there could be some legal consequences that they face like jail time. And so R. Kelly, right now, is ordered to pay back child support by March 6th per a child support order. DEROGATIS: Right.

TEWOLDE: And so, per that child support order, that is a court order. And if someone fails to pay the court-ordered child support, they could be found to be in contempt. And what does that mean?

To be in contempt means that there's a willful failure for someone to obey an order of the court, and that's like -- again, an example would be paying child support. So that court then has the power to punish those in contempt.

So that Cook County judge, in order to avoid having to find R. Kelly in contempt of court, gave him that March 6th deadline to pay back almost $170,000 that he owes. Is that likely to happen? I don't think it is.

NOBLES: Yes.

TEWOLDE: He's already having problems finding the money for the $100,000 bail. So he's got that. He's got the child support. He's got the eviction that's currently happening and rent that he's got to pay. So either way, it seems like he's going to be spending some time in jail.

NOBLES: I mean, it seems pretty incredible, doesn't it? I mean, Jim talked about how he is one of the most successful musicians of the past 30 years. How could he possibly be losing (ph) --

DEROGATIS: Well, would you like -- would you like a number?

NOBLES: Yes, go ahead, Jim.

DEROGATIS: $240 --

NOBLES: Yes.

DEROGATIS: $243 million earned during his career.

NOBLES: Right.

TEWOLDE: Well, let me tell you --

DEROGATIS: That's extraordinary.

NOBLES: Yes.

TEWOLDE: I mean, it is, but when you're busy making payments and settling lawsuits and paying off women and having to pay lawyers' fees -- and not only that, the Mute R. Kelly movement, they held boycotts.

DEROGATIS: Right, yes.

TEWOLDE: People didn't go to shows. Shows were canceled. So he's had some problems over the years, you know, getting money. And so I'm not surprised that he's having problems right now trying to scrape up the cash to bond out. NOBLES: Yes, great --

TEWOLDE: But he's got an issue. Even if he bonds out, he still has to make payment of that back child support or he's going to find himself back in jail.

NOBLES: Right. Right, great point. Now, Jim, during Saturday's press conference, you actually introduced yourself to Kelly's attorney. And you said, quote, I am the one you ignore. What did you mean by that, and how did Kelly's attorney respond?

DEROGATIS: Well, I've been reporting for "The New Yorker" about federal investigations -- two of them underway in New York, the Atlanta investigation which is dragging its feet, the Chicago investigation which is late coming. I mean, let's not forget he was tried and acquitted once in 2008.

NOBLES: Right.

DEROGATIS: What I meant is every numerous attempt, a dozen attempts to get comment for my reporting, he has not returned my comment. Everyone else, he's been saying all of these women are liars.

All of the women in Dream Hampton's brilliant documentary, "Surviving R. Kelly," all of the women whose names I have reported, the women named in the -- they were all liars. They're all -- he's calling, you know, 48 women who I know, who I believe are rape victims, liars. All of them.

NOBLES: Incredible. And, Yodit --

DEROGATIS: I lost my cool and got a little angry at that.

NOBLES: Yes, clearly, clearly. Now, as Jim mentioned, he was acquitted in his first trial. Now, based on what you know about this point about this new round of allegations, is there a reason to believe that the outcome is going to be a little bit different this time around?

TEWOLDE: Absolutely. The environment --

DEROGATIS: I think the fourth (ph) --

TEWOLDE: Oh, sorry, I don't know what -- who is supposed to answer that.

NOBLES: To you, Yodit.

DEROGATIS: No, no, no.

NOBLES: I'm looking for the legal perspective.

TEWOLDE: OK.

NOBLES: Yes, yes. Yes, Yodit. TEWOLDE: The environment now is different than it was back in 2008

when he was acquitted. We have the Me Too now, the Time's Up movement, the Mute R. Kelly movement.

The court of public opinion, right now, has a very strong opinion of what's going on with R. Kelly right now, but not to mention there was only one alleged victim in that case back in 2008. And that witness or that victim, alleged victim, wasn't cooperative. She didn't even show up at the trial --

NOBLES: Right.

TEWOLDE: -- to actually identify herself in that tape. Now, you have four women who are cooperating with the state. Not only that, we have physical evidence that we know of.

In that bond hearing, the prosecution made a revelation that there is a T-shirt from one of the victims, the alleged victims, that has R. Kelly's DNA. Not to mention there's a new tape.

And so it seems like there is more evidence stacked against R. Kelly. Of course, he's got the presumption of innocence. But from --

NOBLES: Right.

TEWOLDE: From what we know, there seem to be cooperating witnesses, cooperating victims. We have physical evidence.

[18:34:55] And we don't know, maybe the court is going to allow these other women who have been victimized by R. Kelly to go and testify in court. That would bolster, even more, the state's case. So I'd say the outcome is -- I can almost put my money on it that it'll be different than it was in 2008.

NOBLES: All right. We're going to have to leave it there.

TEWOLDE: And I'm not a gambling woman and I put my money on that, so.

(LAUGHTER)

NOBLES: All right. We're going to have to leave it there. Thank you both for your perspectives. A very terrific segment. We appreciate you being here.

TEWOLDE: Thank you.

NOBLES: And new tonight, Virginia's embattled Lieutenant Governor comparing himself to the Jim Crow-era lynching victims. Details from his surprise speech as he battles sexual assault allegations.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBLES: New today, Virginia's embattled Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax talking about lynching and due process this afternoon.

Fairfax staunchly defending himself against allegations of sexual assault during today's impromptu speech on the state's Senate floor, saying, quote, the truth is on my side. I've lived 40 years accusation-free. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[18:40:00] LT. GOV. JUSTIN FAIRFAX (D), VIRGINIA: If we go backwards and we rush to judgment and we allow for political lynchings without any due process, any facts, any evidence being heard, then I think we do a disservice to this very body in which we all serve.

And I want to stand in this moment in the truth, not only which has tested my constitution personally but it's testing the constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia and of the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: One woman says that Fairfax assaulted her in 2000 when they both attended Duke University. A second woman says Fairfax assaulted her during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. The Lieutenant Governor does deny both claims.

Friday, House Republicans announced plans to hold a public hearing where Fairfax and the women could testify.

Joining me now, civil rights attorney and Harvard University professor Cornell Brooks. Of course, Cornell is the former president of the NAACP and a longtime Virginian.

Cornell, I've been covering this story very closely. I've been covering Virginia politics for a long time. I know the Lieutenant Governor. How do you personally feel about this speech that he gave today bringing up lynchings in the same speech where he defends himself on credible sexual assault allegations?

CORNELL BROOKS, FORMER PRESIDENT AND CEO, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE: I think it's just important for us to appreciate the history here. So where there were at least 4,000 people lynched in America between the end of reconstruction and 1950, at least a hundred or so in the state of Virginia, to create an analogy or make the analogy with lynching is a very serious thing.

And so I want to note a couple of things that are very different. The two people who are accusing him of a crime are not two White men in hoods but rather two African-American women, point one.

Point two, lynching was, in fact, an extrajudicial -- lynchings were extrajudicial murders. That is vigilante injustice. These women are not seeking to have him at the end of a rope but rather in front of a committee or in front of some kind of investigatory body, and so the analogy with lynching is inaccurate and inappropriate.

The Lieutenant Governor can call for due process. That doesn't surprise me as a lawyer. He can even call for, and should call for, the presumption of innocence. That is certainly what lawyers do, and that's certainly what Americans expect. But to make the analogy with lynching is unfortunate. It's

inaccurate. It's inappropriate. It was not right when Clarence Thomas did it nearly 30 years ago. I don't believe it's right today.

NOBLES: All right. Well, let's talk about exactly what type of due process Justin Fairfax should be afforded. He has called for an investigation. Basically, everyone associated with this story has called for an investigation. There, apparently, appears to be different interpretations of exactly what an investigation is in this particular case.

Now, he has said that he is opposed to the General Assembly investigating this. He's even raised questions about a criminal investigation in either of the two states. He's asked for an FBI investigation, which the FBI doesn't have any jurisdiction here.

From your perspective as a lawyer, what type of due process should the Lieutenant Governor be afforded, and would he need to comply in order for this to be due process?

BROOKS: Well, let's be clear about this. If, in fact, there are those who are calling for his impeachment or removal from office or calling for him to step down in the city of Virginia as the Lieutenant Governor, that process would require a legislative hearing and witnesses and the collection of evidence.

You would certainly want to hear from Dr. Tyson. You would certainly want to hear from Ms. Watson. This is what would be expected and normal.

With respect to the state of Massachusetts and the state of North Carolina where these alleged crimes took place, in North Carolina, it is my belief -- I should say, it is my understanding that there is no statute of limitations. And so a criminal investigation could be conducted there where you would have all the normal elements.

What's important here is that the truth comes out. He has called for a full and fair investigation; so has the state NAACP and others. And you need all the elements for an investigation, which is to say you collect all the evidence that is, in fact, available.

NOBLES: But are you concerned at all, and based on this speech today, that he actually isn't interested in the type of investigation that you're talking about? Because he has pushed back on the idea of the General Assembly investigating him.

There was a call for impeachment from a Democratic member of the General Assembly, and he was very much opposed to that idea. I mean, impeachment, in legislative terms, is actually a due process situation where you get the opportunity to present evidence and testify on your own behalf.

[18:45:03] Are you concerned at all that he's attempting to try and play this out without there being a full vetting of this issue and allowing these victims the opportunity to tell their story? BROOKS: Well, listen, I can't discern his motives, but what I will

say is this. If you call for the truth, if you say that you want an investigation, you have to go where the investigation goes.

If, in fact, there are people who are calling for his resignation, calling for his impeachment, that implicates -- or I should say that suggests, calls for, a legislative hearing with all the requirements that go with that.

These are, in fact, serious crimes. An allegation of rape is a very, very serious crime, and that merits a full-fledged criminal investigation, particularly in the city of North Carolina.

NOBLES: Right. Now, so let's wrap this up by talking about the fact that there are two other big problems in Virginia right now, the Governor and the Attorney General both dealing with scandals where they appeared in blackface in their past.

You've called on Governor Ralph Northam to resign. He is resisting that. He plans to stay in office. But if he were to resign, do you believe that Justin Fairfax, right now, is up to the job of the most important job in the Commonwealth of Virginia while these allegations remain uninvestigated?

BROOKS: Well, listen, you know, is he up to the job politically? Is he up to the job as a leader? He was duly elected by the citizens of the state of Virginia, so he has and can assume to be -- assume to have the leadership skills and the ability.

But that's not the issue. The issue is whether or not he possesses the character. And that is and will be determined by an investigation and a sorting-out of the facts.

So, you know, if it came to that, one can assume that he has a leadership ability. But in terms of the character, that's a matter of determination. Yes, I'm just -- I'm sad to say that, but that's a matter of how all this plays out.

Now, with respect to the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor, I think this is a matter of them on an ongoing basis being very clear about what they did and what they're committed to doing going forward. But this is a very difficult situation in Virginia.

NOBLES: Very difficult.

BROOKS: Very difficult.

NOBLES: And hard to believe, after all of this scandal, that all three of those men remain in office. And it appears they will remain in office for the foreseeable future.

Cornell Brooks, your perspective on this was terrific. We so appreciate you being here tonight. Thank you.

BROOKS: Thank you. NOBLES: Women forced to sleep on massage tables, eat off hot plates.

The disturbing details that are emerging about the sex trafficking sting that ensnared Patriots' owner Robert Kraft.

And more on a developing story this hour, President Trump announcing on Twitter that he'll be delaying additional U.S. tariffs on China that were set to go into effect at the start of next month. Here is the tweet.

Quote, I am pleased to report that the U.S. has made substantial progress in our trade talks with China on important structural issues including intellectual property protection, technology transfer, agriculture services, currency, and many other issues. And a result of these very productive talks, I will be delaying the U.S. increase in tariffs now scheduled for March 1st. Assuming both sides make additional progress, we will be planning a summit for President Xi and myself at Mar-a-Lago to conclude an agreement. A very good weekend for the U.S. and China.

Right now, Asian markets about to open in the coming hour and futures are already trading higher. We'll be right back.

[18:48:44] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBLES: It is Hollywood's biggest night, and things could get a little spicy on the red carpet. It's this week's "State of the Cartoonian."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sean Spicer is now a correspondent for "Extra," the syndicated entertainment show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Extra! Extra!

TAPPER (voice-over): No, this is not a joke. The former White House Press Secretary has already interviewed the Secretary of State.

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and welcome to "Extra."

TAPPER (voice-over): And he got his take on a very important topic. His Oscars pick.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: You know, gosh, I love "Bohemian Rhapsody."

FREDDIE MERCURY, LEAD VOCALIST, QUEEN: Oh! Baby!

TAPPER (voice-over): We're guessing that "Bohemian Rhapsody" might be the favorite pick of another Trump insider as well.

MERCURY: Scaramouch, Scaramouch, will you do the fandango?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Extra! Extra! TAPPER (voice-over): Are they going to send Spicy to the red carpet

this year, putting his Trumpian spin on everything?

SPICER: My focus is on advancing the President's agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Extra! Extra!

TAPPER (voice-over): Will he draw comparisons between the movie "The Favorite" and the Trumpian court with Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner duking it out for the President's affection?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're getting along fine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Extra! Extra!

TAPPER (voice-over): He says he wants this to be bipartisan. Maybe he sees Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as "A Star Is Born."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Extra! Extra!

TAPPER (voice-over): When he sees Christian Bale, who just played Vice President Cheney in "Vice" and is up for a Best Actor, does he think of Vice President Mike Pence?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Extra! Extra!

TAPPER (voice-over): Of course, the red carpet moment we're all waiting for, Spicer interviewing the doppelganger who played him on "Saturday Night Live," Best Actress nominee Melissa McCarthy.

[18:55:00] MELISSA MCCARTHY, ACTRESS: That's the old Spicy, and this is the new Spicy.

SPICER: Sometimes we can disagree with the facts.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: "State of the Cartoonian" is my son Luke's favorite part of CNN every week. So that's the reason why.

The Bush family, no stranger to the inner workings in Washington. Follow their rise to power in a CNN Original Series, "THE BUSH YEARS," narrated by Ed Harris. It premieres next Sunday, March 3rd at 9:00 p.m. Only on CNN. And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBLES: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ryan Nobles, in tonight for Ana Cabrera, reporting from New York.

Get ready for another wild news cycle. President Trump has some extremely critical days ahead that could make or break his presidency.

[18:59:57] Two events on tap. The first, long-time Trump fixer and attorney Michael Cohen's hearing before Congress on Wednesday. Cohen finally set to spill what he knows about Trump's 2016 election and other things.