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D-Day 75th Anniversary; Trump Presidency; George Pell Appeals Child Sex Abuse Conviction; U.S. Tariff Troubles; Tens of Thousands Demand Czech Prime Minister's Resignation; Police Raid Headquarters of Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired June 6, 2019 - 00:00   ET

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


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JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Remembering D-Day, 75 years on, the largest single day amphibious invasion of all time. An Allied operation which marked the beginning of the end of World War II.

On this solemn day when so many gave so much, will the U.S. president rise to the occasion?

One of the biggest protest in Prague since the fall of communism. Tens of thousands taking to the streets, calling for their billionaire prime minister to resign.

Plus, prosecutors outlined their case why the disgraced cardinal George Pell should remain behind bars, convicted for child sex abuse.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world, I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

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VAUSE: Now 75 years ago this day, Operation Overlord was about to begin. A top secret Allied mission that would turn the tide of World War II. It's best remembered now as D-Day, June 6th, 1944. When waves of Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy in France.

A few hours from now Trump travels to Normandy to mark the anniversary. Earlier he joined Queen Elizabeth and 15 Western leaders for a ceremony in Portsmouth, England, the starting point for a military offensive the likes of which the world had never seen before.

Relatively few of the men who survived the occasion are still alive to see this anniversary but for all of them, this battle was a defining moment. Today, the French coastline of Normandy is peaceful, inviting. But as Nick Glass shows us, there are still scars from what took place there 75 years ago.

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NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sunrise and the sea mist lifting, just about the time the Allies landed after 6:30 in the morning. In the utter, utter serenity that now, as we all need reminding, it was all so different on D-Day.

The 60 miles of Normandy coast was a killing ground, a terrible killing ground, and the sea green water once awash with blood. The old footage, of course, is in black and white. Choppy seas, landing craft, infantry wading ashore. And hauntingly and anonymously, men falling on the beach.

Could we ever really imagine what it was like?

Not perhaps until Steven Spielberg made "Saving Private Ryan."

This concrete skeleton is all that remains of an artificial harbor. As we know, the Americans took their heaviest casualties here at Omaha Beach. Many troops never reached the shore, killed by artillery and machine gun faster than their landing craft. A lot of men simply drowned.

On the beach itself, you can find particles of shrapnel, glass and iron still mixed in with the sand; 75 years on you just have to climb the bluff above Omaha to be reminded of the cost of the Allied landing.

Meticulously kept and intensely moving in its symmetry in the fading evening light, the American cemetery, thousands and thousands of white marble crosses and their lengthening shadows, over 9,000 of them.

You look at the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc and marvel at the bravery of the American Rangers.

How did they managed to scale them with ropes and rickety ladders under German machine gunfire and a rain of grenades from above?

The Rangers went on to neutralize the German artillery battery; 225 Rangers climbed up. Only 90 or so were still standing by day's end.

The relics at Gold Beach are perhaps more visible than anywhere else along the Normandy coast. The elaborate concrete harbors, one now a roosting spot for a colony of cormorants.

This is where, right in the center of things, the British famously quickly secured a beachhead. Total Allied losses on day one were as many, they estimate, as 4,400 dead, 9,000 wounded or missing. As the great war poem goes, "At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them."

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VAUSE: CNN's Jim Bittermann joins us now from Normandy.

Jim, usually there's a big memorial, at the end of the decade, the 50th, the 60th --

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VAUSE: -- the 70th. But the 75th is being remembered simply because the last few living veterans may not be with us for much longer. JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John. I think that's one of the reasons the leaders are gathered here, because they want to take the advantage of a living memory of those veterans.

Now part of that memory took place right here where I am, Arromanches. if you had been here, 75 years ago, out there in the English Channel, you would have seen 6,939 ships if you woke up this morning. And after that, a little over 4,000 landing craft came from those ships. And came onto the beach. Each hour, it was 6:30 local time, we are just a little after 6:00 local time.

In fact, it was at this moment 75 years ago, this beach would have been a beehive of activity. What's left is what Nick Glass was talking about, the mulberry harbor, as it's called, the cement caissons that were sunk in order to provide a breakwater for a temporary harbor that could bring onshore all the equipment that all the landing troops needed so desperately to keep them going.

VAUSE: I guess the fact that we are now facing the reality, losing these veterans, does that change the atmosphere or the mood of the occasion?

You have six of these anniversaries since 1984.

BITTERMANN: You know what's happened, John?

One of the things that's interesting is back in the first one I covered in 1984, the generals and the colonels were still alive and they had an idea of what the overall D-Day plan was. They knew exactly what the point of sailing across the Channel was and exactly what the men had to do.

As the years have gone by, you are going down in the ranks. So the people we are talking to, the veterans that are still around today, with the privates and the corporals, they really had no idea. They were just told, get out of the boats or get out of those planes and go over to France and start shooting.

It was a whole different kind of an attitude that they had to have. They had their missions very clearly in mind, they had very specific missions of what they wanted to take, almost hour by hour after D-Day began.

But they didn't really understand the overall plan and a lot of the veterans say that one of the reasons they wanted to come back is to get an idea of what they were a part of. They don't realize, sometimes, how big this operation and how important it was to establish this toehold on the continent of Europe which had lost its freedom.

VAUSE: Jim, what I think a lot of people don't realize is that there was no plan B. If this didn't work, that was it. There was no backup.

BITTERMANN: Absolutely right. There was no backup and they were putting all of these men, 156,000 men onshore, the ones that came from the landing craft. And they had to keep it going. They had to keep the initiative going. And they were helped by the fact that the Germans didn't understand exactly, the deception plan worked. They had deceived the Germans into believing that the landing would actually take place up the coast.

And the Germans basically were sleeping in. A number of the generals were missing; Rommel was off in Germany, celebrating the birthday of his wife. So there were a number of people who were not in place when the landings took place on the German side.

And it was until about 10:30 in the morning, local time, that the Germans actually started to react. Rommel came rushing back from Germany at about 10:30 and didn't get back there until some 12 hours later because he was driving. So it was sort of leaderless for a while on the German side. And that was very much the advantage of the Allies.

VAUSE: It's all went according to plan in the early stages, Omaha Beach was a problem for the Americans but a lot to talk about on this day. So glad you are with us, Jim Bittermann, live for us in Normandy.

Since the Germans began their invasion from Portsmouth and it was there that world leaders gathered to remember and to say thank you. CNN's Hala Gorani reports.

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HALA GORANI, CNN HOST (voice-over): 75 years on from the D-Day landings, world leaders gathered in Portsmouth to remember the turning point of World War II. Alongside President Trump and the first lady, some of the last remaining veterans of the operation.

A display of military prowess watched by leaders from 16 countries, many of which had sent troops to take part in the landings three- quarters of a century ago.

D-Day was the largest amphibious invasion ever undertaken. In just one day, June 6th, 1944, 4.5 thousand Allied troops and at least the same number of Germans were killed.

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GORANI (voice-over): Remembering that loss, President Trump took to the stage to read a prayer that Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke on the radio during the landings in 1944.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Almighty God, our sons, pride of our nation, this day, have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion and our civilization and to set free a suffering humanity.

GORANI (voice-over): The queen thanked the assembled veterans in the crowd for their heroism and courage.

ELIZABETH II, QUEEN OF ENGLAND: It is with humility and pleasure on behalf of the entire country, indeed, the whole free world, that I say to you all, thank you.

GORANI (voice-over): And they received a standing ovation from the crowd.

After the formal event, a flypast from the Royal Air Force. And the queen and President Trump met one on one with some of the veterans to hear their experiences.

As part of the commemorations, all 16 countries' presidents signed a joint declaration, committing to never allow the unimaginable horrors of the Second World War to be repeated -- Hala Gorani, CNN, London.

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VAUSE: Of all the speeches delivered by a U.S. president to mark the anniversary of D-Day, none is considered more memorable or inspirational and moving than Ronald Reagan in 1984. Against a backdrop of a great sky and great sea, Reagan talked of fallen nations and millions crying for liberation and here, he said, the rescue began.

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RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Your hopes are our hopes.

The strength of America's allies is vital to the United States and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe's democracies. We were with you then; we are with you now.

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VAUSE: On the 50th anniversary, Bill Clinton traveled to Normandy and spoke of the forces of freedom turning the tide of history.

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BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are the sons and daughters you saved from tyranny's reach. We grew up behind the shield of the strong alliances you forged in blood upon these beaches.

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VAUSE: And 20 years after that, Barack Obama stood on Omaha Beach and explained why American soldiers fought and died in their thousands to liberate those they had never met.

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BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we must not forget is that D-Day was a time and a place when the bravery and selflessness of a few was able to change the course of an entire century.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: There is a common theme in all three speeches: acts of selflessness for a good greater than ourselves. For any U.S. president on the world stage marking an anniversary like D-Day, it's a rare opportunity to unite not just Americans but friends and allies by reconnecting with pivotal moments in history and reminding us of the bonds that bind us together.

In the coming hours, the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, will have that chance.

Joining us now, James Astill, Washington bureau chief for "The Economist."

OK, James, this is a president who seems to have a little more than indifference to the values of which the men of D-Day gave their lives defending.

How does he honor their memory and not sound totally disingenuous?

JAMES ASTILL, "THE ECONOMIST": Well, President Trump is going to make, in your setup, is the least appropriate American president at this moment to mark a momentous anniversary, D-Day, the last momentous World War II anniversary, we might think, when there are still living veterans of D-Day, the final events of World War II.

And to mark that momentous occasion we have a president who that only has shown a complete indifference and contempt for sacrifice and public service but also is no believer in the transatlantic alliance, whose values the sacrifices of the men who served at D-Day were absolutely dedicated to underpinning.

So there could not be a less appropriate president to mark this occasion and that is tragic. It's part of the broader tragedy of Donald Trump and what he's visited on transatlantic relations.

VAUSE: This is also a president who received five deferments from the Vietnam War, including one for bone spurs. Now he claims he would have been honored to serve. But now he says he's making up for it in his words by spending $700 billion on the military.

That's taxpayer money which is approved by Congress. Trump seems to think he's --

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VAUSE: -- written a personal check for $700 billion.

ASTILL: It's all nonsense. The notion that Donald Trump could think that his defense ending is in some way an endorsement of history and sacrifice and the Alliance itself is plainly nonsense. Who's going to believe it?

VAUSE: There's also you know, Trump's obsession with dictators and autocrats. And less than 24-hours ago, during a meeting with the Irish prime minister, Trump again defended the North Korean leader, warned against this rush to judgment in the case of a high-ranking North Korean official who was reportedly punished for his role on the failed Hanoi nuclear summit. Listen to this.

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TRUMP: He's a strong man, he's a strong person and they like to blame Kim Jong-un immediately but they said he was killed and he wasn't.

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VAUSE: Would have been possible for this president to put those comments on hold or maybe modify them until after D-Day given that the Kim regime is the type of dictatorship the soldiers were giving their lives to defeat.

ASTILL: Well, of course, it would have been better if he -- if he not only put those comments on hold but not had them in his -- in his head to begin with. President Trump is defending this murderous North Korean dictator, one, because he feels he has some sort of personal relationship invested in Kim however crazy that might sound, but also because he knows that his critics think that it's crazy and offensive that he's defending a North Korea's murderous dictator.

And therefore he can't stop himself from biting back, from pushing back from defending the indefensible. Now that's the problem here. The fact that he's so intemperate, lacks such basic discipline, lacks such basic self-awareness that he should feel it important to defend Kim at this moment where nobody wants to think about North Korea and whatever, you know, worrying diplomacy Trump has in mind for it, it is just par for the course I'm afraid.

VAUSE: There are also these very odd comments he made about Prince Charles and his commitment to the environment and fighting climate change. This is what he said.

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TRUMP: I'll tell you what moved me is this passion for future generations. He's really not doing this for him, he's doing this for future generations. He really -- and this is -- this is real. He believes that. He wants to have a world that's good for future generations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want --

TRUMP: And I do, too. And that really -- he doesn't need that. You know, he's Prince Charles.

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VAUSE: Every day seems this president reveals just a little bit more about himself in this case what he thinks of selfless acts.

ASTILL: Well, I think we know his contempt for selfless acts, his inability to imagine himself making a selfless gesture. And actually more often his disdain for people who do for the mugs that selflessly commit themselves to public service, to the people who fought in Vietnam, perhaps even the people who fought in other wars. What's I think slightly more novel and revealing about that clip is the how craven he sounds. He's obviously really trying to make nice with the British Prince of Wales. He's obviously sort of wowed by the attention he's got and all that pomp and circumstance that the British royal family can visit upon foreign leaders which is perhaps rather pathetic.

VAUSE: Yes. I guess mission accomplished for the -- for the British royal family there, if that's the case. James, it's good to see you. Thank you.

ASTILL: Thank you.

VAUSE: And when we come back, we'll head to Washington, where tariff talks between the U.S. and Mexico have ended without any breakthrough. At stake, hundreds of thousands of jobs, American jobs, that is.

And disgraced Australian cardinal George Pell back in court for another day with prosecutors outlining why he didn't get a fair trial and should not be allowed to go free.

And as we go to break this hour, one of the last surviving veterans of D-Day, 97-year-old Leon Gautier was among the 200 elite French commandos who stormed the Normandy beaches to reclaim his country from the Nazis. He recalls at the time being met with a hail of bullets and heavy bombardment as he reached the French shores.

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VAUSE: George Pell returned to court for a second day in the appeal of his sex abuse conviction. The former Vatican treasurer was found guilty of accusing two 13 year old boys when he was archbishop of Melbourne during the 1990s.

His lawyer has argued there are 13 solid obstacles to a guilty verdict. Three judges will decide whether to overturn his conviction. CNN's Anna Coren following the developments for us.

Anna, essentially the prosecution today trying to defend the credibility of the surviving victim. They basically said that he is, in fact, a credible witness. He is not a liar or a fantasist, as Pell's lawyers are trying to make him out to be.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yes, that's exactly right, John. And the prosecution's case hinges entirely on the evidence of the testimony of that sole surviving choir boy who is now in his 30s. He is the one who went to the police in 2015, said George Pell had sexually abused him and molested his friend when he was archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 and 1997.

And it was his testimony that the jury believed and therefore convicted George Pell of the offenses.

But the prosecution's barrister, he said today, Christopher Boyce, said, quote, "The complainant was a very compelling witness. He was clearly not a liar, not a fantasist, he was a witness of the truth."

Some of the key points that came out of this legal argument from the prosecution today was that this victim, he knew the layout of the priest's sacristy where the attack occurred. This is off limits to choristers and members of the public.

They also attacked the memory of key defense witnesses who said they were always with George Pell. As you mentioned, the defense yesterday was saying it was impossible for Pell to have committed these crimes because physically he couldn't have been there. He was always in the presence of other people.

Well, today, as I say, the prosecution attacked that argument. And then the barrister, the prosecution barrister also ask those three appeal judges to try on the vestments that George Pell was wearing on the day of the attack, which, once again, his defense said would have been impossible for him to remove them or move them to the side to expose his genitalia.

In actual fact, the barrister said, try them on and you will see for yourself that it is actually possible.

John, I should note that --

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COREN: -- there is some concern over the performance of the prosecution's barrister, Christopher Boyce. He seemed to be struggling in answering some of the judge's questions. He also accidentally named the victim, which, of course, his name is suppressed in Victoria, being a victim of sexual abuse and this is being livestreamed by the Supreme Court. There is a 15-second delay, so that was cut out but people in the court were visibly shocked.

As we know, so much is riding on this case, not just for the victim of this attack but also for survivors of clerical sexual abuse, which we know there are so many. I asked one of them what it would mean if George Pell was acquitted. Take a listen.

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ROB HOUSE, SEXUAL ABUSE SURVIVOR: I think it would be a further message (INAUDIBLE). It would be an absolute disaster for survivors. It would bankrupt a lot of people's hopes and send a few of them, possibly, wanting to commit suicide out of despair. This is the way the Catholic Church has operated, cleverly, for the last however hundred years.

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COREN: Well, that was Rob House. He is an activist, also a survivor of child sex abuse. If the judges, three judges inside, it's a majority decision, if they

decide that there was reasonable doubt and if, in fact, these verdicts were unreasonable, reached by the jury, then George Pell will be acquitted and he will walk free.

Now it doesn't necessarily end here. This can go to the high court, where the prosecution or the defense, either can take it to the high court. As for a decision -- look -- it could happen this afternoon. Highly unlikely. Court has resumed. The prosecution continuing in their argument and we hear from Pell's barrister again.

We are expecting the judges to come back in the weeks ahead as they will want to lay out the reasons for their decision -- John.

VAUSE: OK, Anna, thank you. Obviously an emotional trial, a lot going on, we appreciate you being with us. Anna Coren, live for us.

To Washington, where there is optimism from Mexican officials that a deal can be reached with the Trump administration to avoid tariffs on all Mexican imports. But the U.S. president has a different view, tweeting that not enough progress was made on Wednesday during talks at the White House.

He is threatening to impose tariffs starting Monday if Mexico does not do more to stop the flow of migrants entering the U.S. illegally. Last month alone, more than 140,000 migrants were encountered or arrested at the southern border, the highest monthly total in 13 years.

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TRUMP: They are coming up by the millions, Mexico can stop it, they have to stop it. Otherwise we just won't be able to do business. It's a very simple thing. And I think they will stop it. I think they want to do something, I think they want to make a deal that they sent their top people to try and do it. We will see what happens today, we should know something.

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VAUSE: According to the U.S., Mexico has acknowledged there is a crisis and said they can actually do more to stem the illegal crossings into the U.S.

In the meantime, a new report says tariffs on Mexico imports would cost more than 400,000 jobs in the United States, a price Donald Trump seems more than willing to pay.

Still to come, the Czech prime minister rose to power promising to fight corruption. Now tens of thousands have hit the streets demanding he resign because of corruption.

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JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. I'm John Vause with an update of our top news this hour. [00:31:13] In the coming hours, U.S. president arrives in Normandy to

mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day. He'll be joining French President Emmanuel Macron and other world leaders.

Earlier, Queen Elizabeth hosted a ceremony at Portsmouth in England, where Allied troops launched this massive invasion 75 years ago.

High-level talks in Washington produced no breakthrough in tariffs which are threatened to be imposed on Mexico. This happened on Wednesday, but officials from both countries will still try to hammer out an agreement when they meet again on Thursday.

The Trump administration wants Mexico to do more to prevent migrants from crossing the border illegally. Otherwise, these new tariffs, 5 percent at first, on imported Mexican goods will begin on Monday.

And we're receiving conflicting information about the death toll from Monday's attack on Sudanese protestors by security forces. The Sudanese government says 46 were killed during demonstrations in Khartoum, but one doctors group says the number of dead has risen to 108 after 40 bodies were recovered from the Nile River.

Sudan's ruling military council has ordered an investigation.

So, does any of this sound just a little familiar? A billionaire businessman who ran a self-funded election campaign promising to fight corruption, or to put it another way, drain the swamp, is elected to the highest office, only to be accused of not just using said office for personal financial gain but also bending the legal system to protect himself from increased scrutiny.

And when tens of thousands turned out in protest, this business tycoon turned politician said the huge numbers were a result of nice weather. And accused the investigators of being part of a vast political conspiracy.

Meet the man they call Czech Trump, prime minister of the Czech Republic Andrej Babis, who is at the center of a number of scandals, from allegation of directing E.U. funds for his own benefit, to the appointment of a justice minister who many believe was chosen to protect the prime minister from fraud charges. Hmm.

In fact, it was the employment of the justice minister six weeks ago which sparked the protest in the first place. Initially, they were relatively small and contained but have sent grown. On Tuesday, an estimated 120,000 people took to the streets of Prague, demanding Babis's resign, one of the biggest protests there since the fall of communism.

To Los Angeles now, and CNN's European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas joining us this hour.

Boy, I mean, the similarities, OK? Let's just start with the background. Because Babis put his companies in a trust, unlike Donald Trump, who just handed them all to, you know, son No. 2, Eric. Even so, an investigation still found that Babis was able to direct E.U. funding to benefit his companies. Listen to this.

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DAVID ONDRACKA, CZECH TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL DIRECTOR (through translator): It is simple. The European Commission, in fact, said we are right that the construction of the trust funds in 2017 was only fake, and that he stayed as a leader and main beneficiary. And he can cancel these funds at any time and return control of the shares to himself.

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VAUSE: The upshot is, he wants their 70 million euros back. So what else do we know, Dominic?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, this is it. This is really a typical kind of scenario, as you mentioned. You know, a billionaire businessman who enters into politics and then struggles, essentially, to balance the role of the public servant with the question of self-enrichment.

Now, his issues with corruption and so on and so forth were there before he went into politics, but they've been exacerbated since he's been in office.

And of course, we find themselves at a complex crossroads now, where in many ways, using political office is a space in which he can be provided with immunity and be shielded from the law.

And you can see that this is somebody who created this political party called ANO, which is actually -- it means "yes" in Czech, but it's an acronym for the action of dissatisfied citizens, specifically geared to fight the question of corruption.

[00:35:07] And now that he's being challenged, now that he's facing these demonstrations, he's using, you know, the Trump playbook and, essentially, accusing people of conducting a witch hunt to try and expose him for these corrupt practices.

VAUSE: Yes. You know, one thing, though, which is a little bit different from Donald Trump is that Babis has fairly high approval ratings, at least for the time being. Even so, it seems the Czechs have a much lower level of tolerance for corruption, compared with the United States, at least judging by the sides of the protests.

THOMAS: Yes, you're absolutely right. I think there's a couple of things here.

I think, first of all, it's important to underscore, very much like Orban in Hungary, that in the big city, like Prague here, and Budapest in the case of Orban, his popularity is not that high. Although this has been going on for a few weeks now. His party emerged in the E.U. elections as the -- as the leading party.

This is a city with an absolutely remarkable history, you know, going back to 1945 and the uprising; to 1968, fighting off the Warsaw invasion; to the Velvet Revolution of 1989. That what people are especially concerned here -- and this is where the geopolitics of this side of Europe are so important -- is that the Czech Republic, along with Hungary and Poland and Slovakia -- Slovakia has taken a very different path in recent months with their recent elections -- are concerned that they are going down the road, potentially, of Hungary, which is an erosion of the power of the judiciary.

Babis -- Babis owns some of the major newspapers, radio outlets, and so on. And so there's a deep concern here that these democratic institutions are being weakened by this political leader, who has just replaced the minister of justice, as well, who is unlikely, therefore, to pursue these charges.

And so this story is unlikely to go away until there's some -- some serious resolution here.

VAUSE: In the United States, critics of this, the president here are accused of Trump Derangement Syndrome. In the Czech Republic, Babis hysteria in its place. But these are real scandals, real controversies. So if you look at the two main ones, the one involving the E.U. funds and misuse, and then there's the alleged attempt of obstruction with the justice minister appointment, which is the more serious of the two?

THOMAS: Well, I think what's really -- well, they're all absolutely symbiotically connected. There is neither one without the other.

These subsidiary companies in which he is the sole beneficiary or where some family members are, of course, points to -- you know, to corruption and planning and premeditation.

What's really bothering people, though, is this -- is the judicial aspect. It's the way in with these institutions are potentially being chipped away.

This is a country that has made, you know, remarkable progress since the late 1980s, that has a deep respect for these democratic institutions. And they've placed a lot of hope in this antiestablishment figure who promised them to fight against corruption and to bring, by dismantling the mainstream political parties, to offer a new political landscape to the people in the Czech Republic. And so this is of tremendous concern to them.

VAUSE: You mentioned this, that as far as Babis is concerned, he's the victim; everyone is out to get him. It's a witch hunt, a liberal conspiracy to force him from office.

Would that kind of -- type of brash brush-off been possible before Donald Trump? Because it seems the U.S. president has rewritten, you know, the playbook for dealing with a political crisis.

THOMAS: It's clear, they feed off one another. Of course, far-right parties have been around for a long time in Europe, way before Trump. Here what we're talking about is a kind of -- a new brand of populism where you have this -- the narrative is, essentially, to fight against the existing establishment, to get rid of the traditional political parties, and to replace it with something new.

But the fact remains that all of these leaders, from Orban, to Babis, to Trump and to others, are feeding off the same kind of playbook. And of course, the common denominator for them, too, is the extraordinary capital they have behind them. These are billionaires, much like Berlusconi in Italy. They own media outlets. They control the narrative.

And in the case of Babis, it's slightly different, because he's got a long -- much longer history of being involved in politics. He's been a minister of finance. He's been a deputy prime minister before. There are stories about his involvement with the security services and so on, and so forth.

So I think he's a much more skillful political operator than Donald Trump is and understands far better how to manipulate public opinion and is, therefore, I think, a more dangerous immediate figure in this particular region; and has a lot of support with countries like Poland, Hungary and so on, particularly around the agendas that he runs: anti-immigration, skepticism of the E.U. and so on.

VAUSE: Yes. The playbook and everything else around, it's just all so familiar, and it's playing out in so many parts around the world.

Dominic, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.

THOMAS: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: We'll take a short break. A lot more news after this. You're watching CNN.

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[00:42:08] VAUSE: Australian police have just finished defending two recent raids which have raised serious questions about freedom of the press.

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NEIL GAUGHAN, ACTING AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE COMMISSIONER: I reject the claim over the last few days that we are trying to intimidate journalists or conduct a campaign against the media. The AFP is a strong supporter of press freedom. The media plays an important role in today's society, in keeping the Australian community informed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: This all stems from a report aired by the same broadcaster, the ABC, in 2017 about the conduct of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAPHIC: Secret Defence Force documents have been leaked to the ABC.

The Afghan files detail killings of unarmed men and children by Australian Special Forces soldiers.

The documents also point to a growing unease at the highest levels of Defence about the culture of Australia's Special Forces.

The Afghan Files.

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VAUSE: Well, the accusations apparently dealt with by having Australian police raid ABC offices.

A military lawyer says he leaked the Afghan Files so the truth would be known. But the military alleges classified material was published, as well.

The network's head of investigative journalism says the ABC will continue to report on national security and intelligence issues when there is a clear public interest. And we wish them well.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Stay with us. WORLD SPORT is next. You're watching CNN.

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