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HALA GORANI TONIGHT
Denuclearization Talks End In Impasse Over Sanctions, Israeli PM To Face Corruption Indictments, Pakistan Will Release Captured Indian Pilot, SDF Says ISIS Will Be Defeated In A Week. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired February 28, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:23] HALA GORANI, CNN HALA GORANI TONIGHT: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London on this Thursday, I'm Hala Gorani. Tonight in the words of
Trump, sometimes you have to walk. His one-on-one diplomacy with Kim Jong- un ends with no deal.
Also this hour, Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu complains of a witch hunt as he's told he will be charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a larger family than we had before. Like they've got brothers now, which they didn't have before, which is amazing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Opening up their home to refugees, we bring you the latest in our Life Changers series.
U.S. President Donald Trump is heading home after his deal-making skills were sorely tested by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Mr. Trump went to
Hanoi with hopes of landing a long-shot deal to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons. He says the talks ended because Mr. Kim refused to take any
action until all U.S. sanctions are lifted. President Trump appears to be taking this setback in stride.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: He's quite a guy and quite a character, and I think our relationship is very strong. But at this time we had some
options that at this time we decided not to do any of the options, and we'll see where that goes. But it was a very interesting two days.
And I think actually it was a very productive two days, but sometimes you have to walk. And this was just one of those times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: For details and perspective, we go to our Paula Hancocks. She joins us live from Hanoi along with CNN Military and Diplomatic Analyst,
John Kirby. And, Paula, you've had the opportunity to go to a news conference where the North Koreans gave their side of the story. It
doesn't always jive with what the President said. One of the lines being that they did not ask for a full lifting of sanctions, Paula.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Hala. They're effectively querying what the U.S. President Donald Trump said in that
press conference. He said he had to walk away because they were demanding sanctions be lifted in their entirety.
And what we heard in this very rare press statement, I should say, didn't take any questions from the Foreign Minister, Ri Yong Ho, is that they only
asked for 5 out of 11 sanctions to be lifted. They wanted the ones they said that were affecting civilians. And they said, in return to that, they
would dismantle Yongbyon Nuclear Facility or the uranium facilities within there and plutonium. They said that it was a very good offer. They called
it a realistic proposal, saying that they couldn't imagine offering any more at that point.
So we're in an interesting situation here where the U.S. President is saying one thing, the North Koreans are saying another thing. They are
both disputing it. The fact is that we also have sources telling us that Mr. Trump was told before going into these talks with Kim Jong-un that they
weren't going to budge on their demand for sanctions to be lifted. But we understand from those officials close to the negotiations that the U.S.
President believed that he could convince Kim Jong-un to strike a deal. Clearly, that wasn't the case, Hala.
GORANI: And, John Kirby, this was very unconventional in the style of Donald Trump. Usually before these summits, you have a lot of background
work, you have lower-level negotiations that take place so that once the summit happens, pretty much, it's just a question of rubber stamping an
agreement that was already hashed out.
In this case, again, it's a different approach and one that clearly this time around didn't work.
JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: No, it didn't work. He didn't leave with any kind of a deal, that's true. I do want to give the
President a little bit of credit here though. I mean, dealing with Kim Jong-un is not like dealing with any other leader around the world. He
doesn't empower people beneath him to really make decisions and negotiate for him with any specificity. So to some degree, the President had no
choice but to continue to talk directly to Kim Jong-un.
Now, is this sustainable going forward? I don't think so. And we'll see if there is going to even be a third summit. But when you attach a
symmetry [ph] to the personalities, this is one of the risks that you take.
GORANI: And I wanted to ask you also about what Trump said, and this is something that caused a lot of controversy, John Kirby, in the United
States, as well as around the world. What he said about Kim Jong-un's assurances that he did not know about the American Otto Warmbier, who was
severely injured and subsequently died after having been held by North Korea. This is what he said, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He felt badly about it. I did speak to him. He felt very badly about it. But he knew the case very well but he knew it later. And, you
know, you've got a lot of people, a big country, a lot of people. And in those prisons and those camps, you have a lot of people. And some really
bad things happened to Otto, some really, really bad things. But he tells me - he tells me that he didn't know about it and I will take him at his
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: John, what did you make of that? Because he said that about Putin, he said that about Mohammed Bin Salman regarding the Khashoggi case,
I'll take him at his word.
KIRBY: Yes, really, really low point of this press conference and a reprehensible thing for the President to say, especially when you know that
Trump actually did have a hand in bringing Otto Warmbier back. So he had to have access to enough intelligence and information to know what Kim
Jong-un knew about this. Is it possible that Kim didn't know at the moment when Otto was arrested and detained? That's possible.
But is it possible that Kim Jong-un, who is a tyrant, who is the autocrat in charge of this government, didn't know all the other things about what
happened to Otto in the weeks and months after that? No, it's not. It's just not. It's strange credulity. And it was really beneath the
President, I think, and beneath the solemnity with which he should have been treating this summit to bring this up.
And I just - I feel very much for the Warmbier - for Otto's parents, to have to listen to that.
GORANI: Paula Hancocks, thanks very much, John Kirby, both of you in Hanoi for more on this summit that didn't yield the desired results. But is
there a strategy behind all this?
Balbina Hwang joins me. She's a former senior adviser at the U.S. State Department. What did you make - was Donald Trump right to walk here or was
he wrong to rush into a second summit without enough preparation?
BALBINA HWANG, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, those are actually two separate questions. Apparently, I seem to be the only one
that thinks that this was actually the best of all possible outcomes. It frankly surprised me, of all the options I had thought through, I did not
think that President Trump would actually behave in this manner. But actually, I really think that this was not a failure at all. And I think
this was actually a win for the United States.
HWANG: The point is that because what this has done is bring the entire focus back to exactly what the original U.S. goals were, which apparently
still is denuclearization.
Now, look, President Trump had walked into Vietnam already by actually saying that he wasn't even - didn't even think that he was really there to
achieve that. And I think most analysts agree that denuclearization could not have been signed and delivered with this actual summit.
So it depends on what our goals are, but the point here is that this has now pushed the ball back into North Korea's court and it is going to force
North Korea to actually come to some sort of a decision.
GORANI: Well, North Korea is contradicting the President. They just issued this press statement. They said they didn't ask for a full lifting
of sanctions. That's what the U.S. President said they asked for. That's how he justified his walking away from this. So --
HWANG: Well, I think that that's a distinction without a difference. Because, in reality, I think, and perhaps President Trump might have been
able to couch this better or articulate, we don't know because we weren't in the meeting, but I think his overall point is the important one. The
U.S. ultimately wants total denuclearization, and North Korea wants total lifting of economic sanctions.
Now, if the North Koreans are going to insist that they were only demanding, what, 4, 5 out of 11 during the summit, that's actually not
really the point. The point is is that by the United States having giving in to any lifting of any sanctions would set us down the road to eventually
having to lift all sanctions.
So I think this was actually a brilliant turnaround of a trap of our own making.
GORANI: But, Balbina, so long as North Korea is enriching uranium, so long as they are working on their missile program, granted they're not testing
missiles in the way they were, how can anything be considered a success at this stage?
HWANG: Well, let's consider again what it is that the North Koreans are saying and what they were willing to give up in this meeting. Apparently,
aside from whether or not North Korea was demanding at this particular time lifting of some versus all sanctions, again, once the U.S. lifts any
sanctions, it sets us down the road to lifting all sanctions.
But the point is is that North Korea apparently offered to freeze or dismantle Yongbyon. And I don't hear anything from that statement saying
North Korea disagrees with what they offered in return. That is not acceptable. We have already bought that particular Brooklyn Bridge several
times in the last 30 years. We cannot be satisfied with just a freezing or dismantlement or inspections of Yongbyon.
That's only part of the problem.
And by the way, giving up nuclear weapons does not eliminate the threat from North Korea. This is my broader point. We have to actually be
worried if North Korea is willing to give up its nuclear weapons, because that means it is now feeling confident about some of its other threats and
things like cyber, perhaps biological/chemical, those to me, frankly, are far more dangerous.
GORANI: But are the sanctions, the lifting of sanctions, going to convince North Korea to get rid of its nuclear program, its nuclear weapons, and not
constitute, not represent a threat in the region? I mean, when you think about it, this is their leverage. Why would they give up the only leverage
they have for the lifting of sanctions that they know can come back down at any time? This is why Kim Jong-un is getting meetings with the President
of the United States, because of his nuclear program.
HWANG: Well, no, no. I think that that - well, I think that, again, people don't quite understand. I think you're exactly right. Lifting of
sanctions is not enough to get us or convince North Korea strategically to completely give up its nuclear weapons. That was precisely the point,
which is why I am arguing whether or not President Trump and Kim Jong-un misunderstood each other, misrepresented each other during the summit about
some sanctions, overall sanctions, that is precisely the point. It was absolutely important for President Trump to not have given North Korea the
lifting of any sanctions, and that is exactly why I would term this summit actually a success. And it was not one that I could have predicted.
GORANI: Well, Balbina Hwang, you're right to say you're in the minority here. Because a lot of the experts are saying he was wrong to go in the
first place, but this is what we love hearing on the show. Different voices, different analyses, and we always love having you on. Balbina
Hwang, thanks so much for joining us from Washington.
HWANG: Thank you.
GORANI: Breaking news in the last few hours. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded to what we've been covering today. He
will be facing corruption indictments, but he says the accusations are nothing more than a political witch hunt. This is a term we've heard
before on the other side of the Atlantic. He's said to be charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, but nothing is set in stone yet.
Everything will be subject to a hearing where Mr. Netanyahu will get the opportunity to argue against the charges. However, we're talking about a
situation here where there are elections in just a few weeks.
Let's bring in Oren Lieberman in Jerusalem. Talk to me a little bit about what these charges are against Benjamin Netanyahu from the prosecutor.
OREN LIEBERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So for years now, he's faced three ongoing corruption cases, known here as case 1,000, 2,000, and 4,000. In
1,000 and 2,000, and those are the smaller of the cases, the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, a Netanyahu appointee, said he intends to
indict the Prime Minister on breach of trust and fraud, which in Israel is essentially one in the same charge. Those are the smaller cases.
In the biggest case, case 4,000, the Attorney General said pending a hearing, he will indict the Prime Minister on bribery. That is a much
bigger charge, a much more serious charge, and a much more serious accusation, one that could very well deal a major blow to Netanyahu as he
seeks a fifth term in office in just a few weeks in the election.
Netanyahu fired back in a Prime Time address shortly after the Attorney General's announcement was made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: A few days before elections, every citizen understands that this timing is just to bring down the
rightist government and to bring the left into the government. That's the purpose.
These are ridiculous allegations against me without giving me the opportunity to answer now but only after the elections.
LIEBERMAN: Netanyahu's main challenger issued a statement a short time ago. He called on Netanyahu to resign from politics for the good of the
GORANI: all right. Thanks very much, Oren Lieberman, with that update.
Joining me now to look at all the implications of these is Global Affairs Analyst, Aaron David Miller. What do you make of this? I mean, we're
expecting indictments. They haven't been handed out yet and we have elections looming in April.
AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right. I'm reminded of the line from, Dorothy's great line from Wizard of Oz, that we're not in
Kansas anymore. And the reality is we've never been here before.
And for the first time in the history of the State of Israel, a formal but not final indictment has been issued against a sitting Israeli Prime
And while in certain respects, nothing has changed, you can't force an indicted Prime Minister to resign.
There will be an election. And right now, polls or no polls, it strikes me that Mr. Netanyahu probably has a clearer path right now to the formation
of a right-wing government than does his challenger. Now, that could change in so many respects in the next 40 days.
But I just caution because I don't have the answers here, and most of the, I think, smart Israeli pundits don't have them either. But there's been a
fundamental change here in the perception of the Prime Minister's viability. There's no question about that.
GORANI: What alternative is there to Netanyahu in Israel?
MILLER: Well, there is, for the first time in the Netanyahu era, which roughly begins in 1996 and resumes again in 2009. You know, Hala, if he
should survive until July of this year, he becomes the longest governing Prime Minister in the history of the State of Israel, exceeding Israel's
arguably greatest Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion.
But for the first time in a decade, you actually have an alternative in this blue-white party, which has three very self-confident and experienced
security officials, and Yair Lapid, a very attractive, charismatic figure. But the party is headed by Benny Gantz, a former Chief of Staff, who is the
first credible, it seems to me, alternative for those Israelis who worry that without Benjamin Netanyahu, there will be nobody at the helm on the
So you have a challenger, you have an indictment, and I suspect you have, after a decade, a lot of Netanyahu fatigue and exhaustion.
GORANI: And what impact would that have on the Palestinian - Israeli- Palestinian more of - I mean, essentially non-existent now peace process? But can any of this revive hopes that there will be some sort of
MILLER: You know, a serious negotiation leading to a two-state solution would take an Israeli Prime Minister and a sustainable coalition, a
Palestinian partner that will prepared to make the critical choices. Frankly, Mr. Gantz has been very, very quiet for obvious reasons. He
doesn't want to be attacked by the left on the issue of what he would do with respect to the Palestinians.
But, you know, when you're in a hole, and Israelis and Palestinians are certainly in a hole, the first order of business is to stop digging. So
you might actually, with an alternative, you may get a credible approach to the Palestinians.
GORANI: Even if that alternative comes from the right?
MILLER: Even if that, well, again, look at the history of Israeli peacemaking on the right. It's a history of transformed box [ph], men who
basically - who are not of the left, who, for any number of reasons, decided that it was in the interest of the State of Israel to negotiate,
from Menachem Begin to Yitzhak Rabin, he was the breaker of bones in the first Palestinian Intifida. That was his moniker to Ariel Sharon's
disengagement from Gaza. The left has never been the domain of peacemaking on the Israeli side.
So I think you're going to need a tough-minded Israeli Prime Minister perhaps much in the mold of Rabin, who is prepared to be pragmatic to
understand Palestinian needs and requirements, and to think about the future of the country.
GORANI: All right. Aaron David Miller, thanks very much with more reaction there to the news that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu is ready to be indicted on corruption and bribery charges. Thanks very much.
MILLER: Thank you, Hala.
GORANI: Still to come tonight, Pakistan's Prime Minister offers an olive branch to India. Is it enough to stop that flare-up over Kashmir? And he
once said he would take a bullet for Donald Trump, but Michael Cohen is back on Capitol Hill for a third day of testimony against the U.S.
President. We'll have the details next.
[14:21:29] GORANI: A peace offering, but will it be enough? After days of violence, retaliatory strikes, and heated rhetoric, it's all over the
disputed territory of Kashmir. Pakistan's Prime Minister says the pilot it captured after an air fight Wednesday will be released and returned to
India on Friday. It's a good sign that tensions might calm down, but for now at least, Indian military forces remain on a heightened state of alert.
Our Sam Kiley is in New Delhi. And, Sam, we have some of the still photographs from a video that Pakistan released of this downed pilot. Now
with Imran Khan saying that he will release that pilot, will it calm tensions? Is it enough to diffuse the situation?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, I think the prevailing view really is that both sides, in a sense, have got what they
want out of this. If we go back to why the Indians went on the attack in the first place, you'll recall that was, they said, a pre-emptive strike
against what they called a Terrorist training camp inside Pakistani territory, inside Pakistan proper, not Pakistani-controlled Kashmir,
largely in retaliation for the murder of 40 paramilitaries in the middle of February.
From the Pakistani side, they were able to respond very vigorously, flying along the line of control that separates the two parts of Kashmir and shoot
down an Indian aircraft and now can look magnanimous on the world stage by observing international norms and very rapidly handing him back to the
Indians. So the Indians have established their right in inverted [INAUDIBLE] to pre-emptive action, and the Pakistanis have shown that they
can push back at that right, so to speak. Hala?
GORANI: And are the Indians justified in saying that these attacks that killed their paramilitaries were organized, were planned on Pakistani - in
KILEY: Well, that's a rather more complex question. There has been an increasing number of militant attacks that have been locally generated
within Indian-controlled Kashmir, different to the past when almost all of them were generated by militants coming across the border from Pakistani-
held Kashmir into the Indian-held areas to attack Indian targets. The suicide bomber on the middle of February, for example, was a local
Now, of course, from the Indian perspective, this is a moot point because in the Indian view, they are getting support or at least a tacit approval
from the Pakistani State. That, of course, is something that is absolutely rejected particularly by Imran Khan, who's trying to reach out over this
whole period and calling for talks with the Indians. Those talks or requests have fallen on deaf ears so far.
But there is a problem for the Indians that increasingly the Kashmiri issue, the violence within Kashmir is homegrown, Hala.
GORANI: All right. Sam Kiley live in New Delhi, thanks very much. It's almost 1:00 in the morning there.
ISIS will be defeated in a week. That is what the commander of the U.S.- backed Syrian Democratic Forces is saying. The SDF has pushed ISIS into a tiny, tiny portion of land close to the border with Iraq.
The question now is how many civilians are stuck in harm's way in between the groups.
As Ben Wedeman discovers from the frontlines of the conflict, some are even refusing treatment that they desperately need.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Day after day, trucks ply the dusty track Baghuz delivering a cargo of misery, pain, despair and
The only aid and comfort here provided by volunteer medics from the Free Burma Rangers.
JASON TORLANO, FREE BURMA RANGER HUMANITARIAN GROUP: She came out of the frontlines and she's missing her left leg above the knee and she's missing
another part of her foot on the right. And she's also got some other shrapnel wounds throughout her body. And her whole family was killed.
WEDEMAN: Most of the badly injured are children and women. But some still resist help from those they see as infidels.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see, you can smell it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night, I tried but she doesn't allow it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She doesn't allow it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she's saying that she's waiting for her husband to come, and her husband wouldn't agree with this.
WEDEMAN: Resentment quickly surfaces. Um Anasse's [ph] husband is still with ISIS inside Baghuz. She says she fled only because medicine and food
are no longer available.
Planes and mortars are bombing us every day, killing children, she tells me. They're not dropping milk and chocolate on us.
Thousands have left ISIS's last enclave and more are expected to come.
These are some of the men who have surrendered to the Syrian Democratic Forces, but it's still not clear how many men, how many fighters, how many
women and how many children are still left inside that tiny encampment that is what remains of the state they called itself Islamic.
Disease, war, hunger and death now stock the last speck of land controlled by ISIS. Its subjects, willing or otherwise, cast off in its dying days.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, in Eastern Syria.
GORANI: Still to come tonight, President Trump's former attorney is answering questions again on Capitol Hill. We'll look at what congressmen
and women may be asking Michael Cohen this time behind closed doors.
And meet the woman who opened up her home to refugees in need. The people she helped explain how she gave them more than just shelter.
We'll be right back.
[14:30:12] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: It's another big day for President Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen. He's back on Capitol Hill
to speak to Congress. The world was riveted yesterday. Every news channel practically was carrying this testimony. The big difference today is we
can't carry it today on television because it's behind closed doors. So we won't get to see the explosive testimony in real time like we did 24 hours
Let's go live to Congress. Manu Raju is there. What is different about today? Why is today behind closed doors?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they want to focus exclusively on the Russia investigation and a lot of those matters
touch on the things that are currently being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, by also federal prosecutors, and the Southern
District of New York.
But namely, what Mueller is investigating, they want to make sure they don't interfere in anything regarding to that. Now, we do expect them to
drill down further on topics that were discussed yesterday, including why Michael Cohen made false statements to Congress, which he pled guilty to,
about the Trump Tower-Moscow project and the pursuit of the Trump organization and President Trump's involvement of that when he was a
Cohen downplayed that but he later said, no, it was much more serious than he initially revealed.
He also revealed yesterday that Roger Stone, the president's long-time associate, told then-candidate Trump back in 2016 about Stone's outreach to
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, the head of that e-mail dump that hurt the Hillary Clinton campaign, something that Stone and the White House
have denied. But we expect a lot more questions about that going forward.
No one has -- there's been few revelations yet because this testimony has been still been ongoing behind closed doors for several hours. Now, we do
expect several more hours of testimony system. At that point, we'll see what members have to say.
But at the moment, this is still going on, and this will be the last time he will be here, but not the last lawmakers plan to investigate. They plan
to look into a whole host of matters that he revealed in yesterday's testimony, Hala.
GORANI: That was going to be my follow-up. Because we can expect more hearings based on what we learned yesterday, right? Some names that
weren't necessarily household names or that we hadn't heard before. Those were brought up by Michael Cohen. And those people, theoretically, could
be called to testify.
RAJU: There's no doubt about that. In fact, I talked to the House Oversight Committee chairman, Elijah Cummings, earlier today about that
exact question. Who does he plan to bring in? And he said people whose names were brought up yesterday, they can expect some outreach from this
Those are people very high up in the Trump organization like Allen Weisselberg, potentially some members of the Trump family, like Donald
Trump Jr., their involvement in that hush money scandal, the president's payments of women to silence their stories about their alleged affairs
right before the 2016 elections.
They expect to -- Cummings wants to make that a focus of his investigation going forward. And he said five or six congressional committees will split
up other things to look into given the host of crimes alleged by Michael Cohen yesterday. So this is not going away any time soon here, Hala.
GORANI: Manu Raju, thanks very much on Capitol Hill.
Let's look more into this. Is -- are we ready to go to Elie? Yes, indeed. Elie Honig joins us now. Our legal analyst. Thanks for joining us.
What did you learn yesterday from the testimony that wasn't a matter of public record? What did you find most significant from the testimony?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: A lot of new revelations, Hala. So the first one is what Manu talked about before. The allegation from Michael
Cohen that Donald Trump was told about his political associate Roger Stone's involvement with WikiLeaks and Russia in the summer of 2016.
If that was proven out somehow, and I think there's ways it could be, that is a huge game-changing allegation, because up until now, we've heard the
refrain over and over, no collusion, no collusion.
But if it turns out the president knew that Roger Stone was involved in coordinating the release of those documents and gave his assent to it, and
I think Cohen's testimony was that the president said something like, well, that'd be great if he continue to do that, then that is a game changer in
terms of what the president knew about the Russian hacking effort.
GORANI: I was going to say, if it's just something he said he heard on a phone call and there's no real tangible evidence there, I mean, then that
makes that a lot harder to prove.
HONIG: Exactly. Look, a big question with any cooperating witness, including Michael Cohen, is corroboration. Right? When I was a
prosecutor, I would never stood up in front of a jury and said, here's something that the cooperating witness told you. There's no other proof,
but take his word for it. You're not going to get a criminal conviction that way. This is not a criminal court.
But I think the same sort of argumentative strategy applies. And that's why you have to look to corroboration. And I think that meeting, that
phone call is ripe for follow-up.
[14:35:07] For example, if I was investigating this case, I would get those phone records. Was there an incoming call from a phone number that was
known to be Roger Stone's or associated with Roger Stone into Trump Tower, into Trump's offices? And we have a pretty narrow range of days that
Cohen's able to put on it.
Another thing Cohen says that I'd follow up on is he says the secretary. Trump's long-time secretary was the one who patched through the call and
may have heard a piece of it. Get her in and talk to her.
So we heard things from Michael Cohen yesterday, some of which were heavily corroborated, for example the campaign finance, the hush money payments.
He brought a signed check. That's about as good as corroboration gets. And then there were other things. On the far end, I would say the anecdote
about how Cohen heard Donald Trump Jr. tell President Trump about the upcoming Trump Tower meeting. That is completely uncorroborated. And
probably uncorroborated of all.
GORANI: Yes. And you mentioned the checks. These are exhibits 5A and 5B, two $35,000 checks written by the president while he was in office from his
It's pretty remarkable to see these two checks. One signed by Donald Trump himself. What does that tell us? I mean, obviously, Michael Cohen is not
the most credible guy. He's lied. He's going to prison for lying to Congress. And he's bringing this to say I'm not lying, here you have
proof. It's tangible. You can -- you can touch it and see it.
HONIG: That kind of stuff is a prosecutor's dream. It is - it is the best kind of corroboration you had. What are you going to do if you're a
defense lawyer, if you're defending Trump? That check speaks for itself. You can call Michael Cohen, and they did call Michael Cohen a liar all day
long, and he has a history of being a liar.
But what are you going to do? You can't cross-examine a signed check. So that is sort of perfect corroboration for that particular allegation.
And again, some of the things Cohen said were very solidly backed up. Others are sort of just his word.
GORANI: Did he come across as credible? Because what I found interesting is he wasn't going all in. I mean, he had the opportunity to be more
critical, and he defended him in certain cases. There's that rumor, and really it is absolutely a rumor that there's some tape of Donald Trump in
the elevator in Moscow with Melania and that maybe he had become physical with her. He said absolutely not. It is not in his character.
So he came to the president's defense a few times. Did that make his overall testimony more credible?
Honig: Absolutely, I think it did. Look, cooperating witnesses are always going to have credibility problems. That's why they're cooperating
witnesses. They've committed crimes. They've pled guilty to them. And so anyone can ask them all day long, you're a convicted felon, of course.
That's how we prepare them as prosecutors. You go up there, you admit everything you did.
And what you mentioned before, Hala, is a really important indicator of credibility. Michael Cohen was not going out of his way to just slam Trump
at every opportunity. There was times he was asked, did Trump do this bad thing? Do you think he ever hit his wife? And Cohen said, no, he would
not have done that, not to my knowledge.
Even some of the testimony he gave, take, for example, the testimony about the Trump Tower meeting. He said Donald Trump Jr. walked behind the desk.
I didn't exactly hear them, but it seemed to me they were talking about the Trump Tower meeting. I kind of put that two and two together.
If he was making things up, he would have said, Donald Trump strode in and said to me, hey, dad, we're having this meeting with a bunch of Russians
next week and I heard it loud and clear. So, to me, that's an important indicator of credibility.
GORANI: sure. And also, you know, he's going to prison for lying. And some commentators have said, why would he go to Capitol Hill and lie again?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who's recently elected representative, asked some interesting questions in the sense that, potentially, she opened new lines
of investigation. Let's listen to what she asked Cohen and then I'll get your take on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: To your knowledge, did the president ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: Yes.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Who else knows that the president did this?
COHEN: Allen Weisselberg, Ron Lieberman, and Matthew Calamari.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: And where would the committee find more information on this? Do you think we need to review his financial statements and his tax
returns in order to compare them?
COHEN: Yes, and you'd find it at the Trump org.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So it's interesting because she used her time to ask questions that got answers that certainly, and to me, sounded like new avenues, you
know, just did he inflate the value of this, did he lower the estimate of the value of that so he would pay less tax on it and that kind of thing.
And Michael Cohen gave yes and no answers that gave some -- at least certainly questions, more questions that need to be asked. What did you
make of it?
HONIG: Yes. Representative Ocasio-Cortez gets the prosecutor of the day award. She probably would have been a great prosecutor. She was focused
and strategic and she did exactly what good investigators do. She was specific. She asked him who was involved, where do we find other proof,
and opened up this sort of brand new avenue for investigation.
[14:40:04] And what it looks like Michael Cohen was testifying to under representative Ocasio-Cortez's questioning was a fairly run of the mill
garden variety bank fraud. That this is -- when you're a first or second- year prosecutor, this is the kind of bank fraud that lands on your desk, somebody overinflated their assets in order to get a bank loan or a larger
bank loan than they otherwise would have been entitled to. So I think that right there is a new avenue for investigation.
GORANI: Yes, or even declaring a lower value on property to pay less tax. So we'll see what the committee does with this information and the answers
they got from Cohen.
Elie Honig, thanks so much, as always. Pleasure having you on the program. Check out our Facebook page, facebook.com/halagoranicnn. And @HalaGorani.
We'll be posting some of our content from this evening's show, including this next piece.
We often bring you news of the hardship and suffering of refugees after they've been forced to leave their homes. Many people wish it was
something they could do to help.
And in the next edition of our "LIFE CHANGERS" series, I want to bring you Belinda Drake's story. She's opened her London home to 11 refugees to
date. We bring you some of the refugees -- we brought, I should say, some other refugees together for a reunion over lunch with Belinda and her
family. Take a look.
GORANI (voice-over): At first glance, this looks like a pretty standard weekend family lunch, but look closer, and there is something special about
this particular family.
Several of the people gathered around this table were strangers to each other just a few short years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so lucky I came.
GORANI: Until Belinda Drake opened her London home to refugees in need of shelter. She and her family have hosted not one, not three, but 11
houseguests as they call them, and counting.
BELINDA DRAKE, REFUGEES AT HOME: We feel that we have a larger family than we had before. Like they've got brothers now, which they didn't have
before. Which is amazing.
GORANI (on-camera): So they feel like they have siblings now that they didn't have before.
B. DRAKE: Yes, yes.
GORANI (voice-over): Belinda signed up to an organization called Refugees at Home. She says her husband's family fled Nazi Germany, and it's that
painful part of the family history that inspired her to welcome others fleeing war and persecution.
B. DRAKE: We offer family to someone who may have lost their family.
GORANI: There is Abdullah from Afghanistan, whose parents, he says, were killed by the Taliban and who fears for his life if he had to go back. He
still lives with Belinda's family, thanks to help from them he's recently qualified as a personal trainer and gotten his residency papers.
And it quickly becomes clear how far Abdullah has come since first meeting Belinda.
ABDULLAH AHMADI, AFGHAN REFUGEE: Before I was hopeless. I didn't have so much encouragement.
GORANI (on-camera): You were hopeless?
AHMADI: Yes. Everyone needs like support, whatever. If you have a good life -- better life or bad life. But you have a -- you need those people.
B. DRAKE: You need people to believe in you.
AHMADI: Believe in you and support you.
GORANI (voice-over): And then there's 22-year-old Maan, a Syrian from Daraa. He walked the length of Europe in 2015 and traveled into Britain,
he says, hanging onto the bottom of a truck.
MAAN KOOR, SYRIAN REFUGEE: So I just feel comfortable here. I feel like I live in my home. I'm with my brothers, my sisters, and my mom. I met most
of the boys here as well. Lots of friends, so we create a big family then after that.
GORANI (on-camera): (INAUDIBLE) when I told my colleagues we would be interviewing you, some of them said, how does she know who she's hosting?
How does she know they're not dangerous or they have psychological problems? Is she not concerned for her safety? What would you say?
B. DRAKE: Well, I was a little bit anxious, but we thought hard about it and we thought these people have already been interviewed by a
professional. I'm being interviewed by a professional to check that we weren't total maniacs or group.
And so the person, the guests coming to the house must have equally -- equal anxieties. And then very soon, because people want to be part of the
family and help, you just -- you have a common bond like you do very quickly with anybody.
GORANI (voice-over): For Belinda's daughters, welcoming these young men into their home was about going beyond the news headlines, stereotypes, and
statistics about refugees.
KITTY DRAKE, BELINDA'S DAUGHTER: It makes something abstract into something human. And that human is in your home, and you really love them
and you really get on with them.
GORANI: And about expanding their family in different ways.
LYDIA DRAKE, BELINDA'S DAUGHTER: I never had brothers, so it's also really exciting for us. And we went -- and we went to a girls' school, so.
GORANI: Kusai Alwadi is also Syrian. He may be the quieter type, but says he will always want to stay in touch with Belinda and the girls.
B. DRAKE: Were you a bit frightened to begin with? Were you a bit worried when you first came?
KUSAI ALWADI, SYRIAN REFUGEE: Yes, yes, a little bit.
K. DRAKE: We're very loud.
ALWADI: Yes. (INAUDIBLE) we don't know if you are in home or not.
B. DRAKE: Because he's so quiet. I said, please, come and eat with me, Kusai. You don't eat anything. And he said, no, it's OK. I go out in the
morning and I have my coffee before college so you don't have to worry about me for breakfast. And I said, please, just take things from the
fridge. I'm so worried about you.
[14:45:14] GORANI: Hosting 11 refugees in your home may not be for everyone, but Belinda says she gets back way more than she puts in. What
would you have missed out on had you not done this?
B. DRAKE: Hopefully there wouldn't have been an emptiness, but there's certainly no emptiness now. I feel full to overflowing.
GORANI: In this house, it seems happy families really are all alike, as Leo Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina, even if some of them come together in
their own ways.
GORANI: And there you have it. Stay with us for another moving story you'll see only here on CNN.
This exclusive story from Ghana. A look into the lives of children sold into slavery, but there is hope for their release. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Ghana was once at the heart of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, a painful history it will never forget. But even with those horrors in the
past, new ones have taken hold.
Today, some 20,000 Ghanaian children are living in slavery. Our Nima Elbagir has the story.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lake Volta, Ghana, just before the dawn. A column of boys heads off to work,
all of them slaves.
The International Labor Organization estimates there are 10 million children living in slavery around the world. 20,000 of them, they say,
work here on this lake.
CNN was granted unprecedented access on board a boat where these child slaves labor daily. Some so young it's almost unbelievable.
Typically, the children tell us there's shouting from Samuel, the man they must call master. But with our cameras trained on these children, Samuel
only casts a watchful eye.
As the boys look back fearfully. A fishing net snags on an underwater branch. Without a word, Adam, who doesn't know his own age, understands
what he must do.
These underwater dives can be deadly. Children is said to get caught up in the net or tree branches and often drown. There's no telling how many
unnamed bodies lay at the bottom of this lake.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When he says you should dive, you have no option. The fearful part is that you might not come back. That's
what I fear most.
ELBAGIR: Back on land, Samuel explains how he justifies putting children like Adam in such danger.
[14:50:05] SAMUEL (through translator): If one of them dies while working on the lake, I sit down with the parents and we talk. We all know that
working on the lake is very dangerous and anything can happen. In this world, if you don't set a trap, you can't catch fish.
ELBAGIR: Despite the dangers and the laws in Ghana against slavery and forced child labor, rescues here of children facing violence and abuse
remain few and far between.
PACODEP, a local nonprofit does its best to identify and rescue child slaves. Pulling up alongside fishing vessels and with the help of a
policeman forcing their way on board.
With so many children on the lake and sparse resources to liberate and care for them, George Achibra's job can seem overwhelming. But by day's end,
Samuel agrees to release all six boys under his control. Instead of fishing, Samuel will become a farmer.
GEORGE ACHIBRA, JR., PROJECTS COORDINATOR, PACODEP: I think this is the best way. If we give him anything like money, nets, or anything, it means
we are encouraging him to go for more children. But if you are taking him off the lake into groundwork, it means he can't go for trafficked children
and use on the lake anymore.
ELBAGIR: But in the long term, the children here will need much more. The government of Ghana needs to commit funds to register every vessel on this
lake and those working on them to end this scourge.
Nima Elbagir, CNN.
GORANI: Well, you can see the full CNN Freedom Project documentary "Troubled Waters" throughout the weekend. It premieres Friday at 7:00 p.m.
in London, 8:00 p.m. in Paris.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN LANHAM, MARGATE RESIDENT: It's very simple. Europe needs us more than we need them. And that is something that you cannot get the Theresa
Mays of this world to understand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Brexit on the beach. The resort town in England that wants out of the E.U. at all cost.
GORANI: Twenty-nine days and counting. That's how long Britain has until, at the moment, it leaves the European Union. The political tamp down
continues with talks of delays and second referendums, but take a trip away from Westminster and feelings about the 2016 vote are still very raw.
Phil Black travelled to the seaside town of Margate. Phil.
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, this was once a popular, even glamorous holiday spot that was well forgotten, neglected.
There are clear signs of recovery, but a common view here is the E.U. has never done anything for this town. And so there are people here who want
Brexit badly, and they're pretty steamed up over the prime minister allowing for a possible delay and the opposition leader now pushing for
BLACK (voice-over): Sunny, warm February days are rare in Margate, and you don't usually see overexcited English people taking off their clothes at
this time of year. It's a summer holiday town, and like other seaside communities around the U.K., it's known tough times since cheap flights to
Europe lured many tourists away.
[14:55:03] That decline is a popular theory for explaining why so many people in this patch of southeast England voted for Brexit. Almost 64
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't beat it. Anywhere in the world.
BLACK: We meet proud residents Jackie and Martin Lanham while they take their daily cruise along the coast. Both are passionate Brexit believers
who hate the idea of delaying the process further.
LANHAM: It's very simple. Europe needs us more than we need them. And that is something that you cannot get the Theresa Mays of this world to
BLACK: So I'm guessing you're not a fan of the way Theresa May has handled all of this.
LANHAM: Absolutely in no way. She's an idiot.
BLACK: We easily find more disappointed Brexit cheerleaders enjoying the sunshine outside Margate waterfront pubs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just dragged on and on and on. And now it's just not --
BLACK: And it could drag on longer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. It may never happen.
BLACK: E.U. lovers here can be like good weather in February, difficult to find, except for Rob Yates.
BLACK: You don't support Brexit?
ROB YATES, MARGATE RESIDENT: No, I'm an ultra remainer.
BLACK: Whose beachside windows utterly declare block Brexit.
Is it fair to say that not everyone in town likes the windows of your apartment now?
YATES: I think that's quite fair. There are some people that do not agree with what I'm doing. They find it quite arrogant. I think what I'm doing
is sharing that this is -- this is a political discussion which hasn't ended yet.
BLACK: The rarest beast of all is the regretful Brexit voter, but we caught one. Meet 80-year-old Collin Sackin (ph).
You voted for Brexit?
COLLIN SACKIN, MARGATE RESIDENT: I did. Like millions of others. But you know, I never put enough thought into it. Are you a gambler?
BLACK: Not with stakes this high. No.
SACKIN: Yet am I. But I do gamble a little bit now and then. And I have an uneasy feeling about it. Let's put it that way.
BLACK: Brexit supporters in Margate hoped breaking with the E.U. would quickly bring sunnier, happier times for their community. More than 2 1/2
years after the referendum, they still can't be sure when or how or even if they'll get what they voted for.
BALCK: For the messy, last minute, and possibly delayed Brexit process, the people we've spoken to clearly blame the government and specifically
the prime minister.
Many of Margate's armchair tacticians believe Theresa May has bungled the negotiations from the very beginning. They are tough critics who fear that
political dream may never be realized. Hala.
GORANI: Phil Black in Margate, thanks very much.
And thanks to all of you for watching. I'm Hala Gorani. Do stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming up next.