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Yazidi Women Helped by Holocaust Descendants; Five Years Later and the Chibok Girls Fade From Spotlight; Hong Kong Chief Executive: Extradition Bill is Dead; Harris Tries to Seize Momentum on Clash with Biden. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired July 9, 2019 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[01:00:00] CARRIE LAM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, HONG KONG: The bill is dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: But sometimes dead just doesn't go far enough. Hong Kong's Chief Executive calling time on a controversial extradition bill but protesters want it withdrawn from the legislature never to see the light of day again. A multi-millionaire with ties to the rich and powerful again facing
sex trafficking indictments accused of preying on underage girls.
No dinner invite for you. Mr. British Ambassador in Washington uninvited to an official function in the Treasury Department over his leaked cables describing the Trump administration as inept and dysfunctional.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world, I'm John Vause. Good to have you with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
Let's start in Hong Kong with the city's chief executive Carrie Lam apparently giving in to protesters and promising the controversial extradition bill is dead. She caved after weeks of massive, sometimes violent demonstrations.
The bill would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be sent to mainland China to stand trial but then short of a formal withdrawal but says the government has no plans to restart the amendment process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAM: The cause of all these grievances and confrontations is an exercise to amend the fugitive offenders ordinance. I have almost immediately put a stop so the amendment exercise. But there are still lingering doubts about the government's sincerity or worries whether the government will restart the process in a Legislative Council. So I reiterate here, there is no such plan. The bill is dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: CNN's Anna Coren joining us live once again from Hong Kong. So, Anna, we have a situation now. Carrie Lam says it's dead but it has been suspended but it is still sort of within the parliamentary process. Is Carrie Lam playing a little fast and loose with the truth?
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's certainly the interpretation of many protesters. And we heard from Joshua Wong earlier saying that Carrie Lam is a habitual liar. Why would we believe her? We're hearing that too from other protest organizers who are concerned that Carrie Lam is not telling the truth.
Why doesn't she use the word withdrawn, instead she says it's dead? It's the same as withdrawn but she's decided to use the word dead. That is not satisfying the protesters one little bit. Look, there is no doubt that this is a mere culpa from the city's chief executive Carrie Lam but it's a month too late. That is certainly the feeling of the protesters here in Hong Kong that she could have done this much earlier to try and placate the situation to try to meet some of the protesters' demands.
We have to remember that it was a month to the day that the protest movement began, this current protest movement began on the 9th of June. It's taken one month for Carrie Lam to come out with this apology saying that it's her fault that the people of Hong Kong feel like the government has been ignoring her.
She said she wasn't resigning, that stepping down isn't a simple task and that it was her job to be more open and more communicative with the protesters. Joining me now to discuss this further is pro- democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo. Claudia, what did you make of Carrie Lam's press conference this morning?
CLAUDIA MO, LEGISLATOR, HONG KONG: Now, Carrie Lam is liar and I shouted that out loud and clear inside the Legislative Council about two months ago. I mean that -- what she said and today is just too little too late and just too phony. And she keeps using political rhetoric thinking that that alone could appease this society.
But this population in Hong Kong has become unforgiving and she thinks she can stop a hill fire by using some garden hose and guys, let's have a life back to normal. It's nothing to work.
COREN: Why doesn't she use the word withdrawn? That is what the protesters have been demanding. Why doesn't she say it?
MO: It's a faith issue in Chinese politics. If she would actually say, OK, you guys you love that word, I will give you that word, and that's right, right? But no, she can't because she doesn't want to appear bowing to public pressure. That's very un-Chinese. It's this parental attitude towards the people.
They think by doing that, what they're doing now, they could still reaffirm strong governance, but she keeps saying she understands that trust in her and the government has sir waned to zero in zilch. But then why couldn't you give a second chance to the arrested protesters?
[01:05:28] COREN: She's asking for a second chance. She is asking for the people to give her breathing room, to give her the space so that the government can do the job for her to change her governing style. I mean, she's two years into a five-year term. Why is she changing or just having to change a governing style now?
MO: Exactly, exactly. Character is destiny. Either this person called Carrie Lam is so stubborn, so arrogant she just couldn't see through what the people really want or she is just executing Beijing's orders.
COREN: Well, I want to ask you that, Claudia, because where has this apology if you like, where has that come from? This decision to call this press conference, to say that the bill is dead, is that her decision or is that Beijing's order?
MO: Now, this so-called press conference this morning it not actually a proper one. It's her usual so-called executive council i.e. cabinet meeting. And usually Tuesday mornings before the meeting as she will meet the press, she hasn't done that for weeks already.
And I should think that there must have been thorough discussion between herself and her Beijing master and that's what they've decided to do. It's partly her and partly her Beijing order.
COREN: Is she on borrowed time?
MO: I would say her days must be numbered. But then she would be around still I should think for what, in the near future. She's not leaving anytime soon because to let her go or make her go would be too much a loss of face for Beijing that they would succumb to a public pressure. That would work on mainland China. What sort of message with that sent on to the vast hinterland?
COREN: And no doubt these protests are going to continue, yes?
MO: I should think so. The young are not giving in. They are not giving up.
COREN: Claudia Mo, as always, lovely to speak to you. Many things. So John, as we just heard, protesters are not giving up, they're not giving in. We have seen the marches, we've seen the demonstrations over the past month. They are happening every weekend and we are hearing that they are going to continue.
VAUSE: It's almost like every move that Carrie Lam makes shows a little gasoline on to the fire right now. Anna, thank you. Anna Coren live there in Hong Kong. Well, the U.S. President is refusing to deal with the British ambassador in Washington after a leak diplomatic cables revealed that Kim Darroch thought the Trump administration was inept, clumsy, a lot of other nasty things, and the president radiating insecurity, he said.
The British government has ordered an investigation to find the leaker while standing by their man in D.C. Here's part of a statement from number ten. The selectively extracts leaked do not reflect the closeness of and the esteem in which we hold the relationship. At the same time, we've also underlined the importance of ambassadors being able to provide honest, unvarnished assessments of the politics in their country. Sir Kim Darroch continues to have the Prime Minister's full support.
There are a lot of theories out there about why the cables were leaked. They have less to do with the U.S. than they do with Brexit. Here's CNN's Erin McLaughlin to explain.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Who leaked these top-secret cables and why. That is at the center of an ongoing investigation launched by the UK's Foreign Office. There's lots of speculation here in London surrounding a possible political motive especially when you consider who ambassador Kim Darroch is seen by Brexiters as a remainer and a Europhile. After all, he used to be the UK's perm rep to the European Union.
Some speculating that this leak might have been meant to sort of move him out of the way so that that job, the job of the UK's Ambassador to the United States could be claimed by someone more pro-Brexit likely to be part of this ongoing investigation.
Keep in mind that this is the second high profile leak here in the U.K. In the past three months there was the Huawei leak that saw the sacking of the defense secretary. So authorities are taking this extremely seriously especially considering this really is seen to compromise the diplomatic services, the ability of top diplomats to give candid assessments to their ministers back in London, a point made by the British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt earlier today. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[01:10:06] JEREMY HUNT, FOREIGN SECRETARY, UNITED KINGDOM: I made it clear that I don't share the Ambassador's assessment of either the U.S. administration or relations with the U.S. administration. But I do defend his right to make that frank assessment and it's very important that our diplomats all over the world continue to be able to do so.
What we will not allow to happen is any interruption in the superb relationship that we have with the United States which is our closest ally around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, as you heard, Hunt say there, another focus is on damage control, mitigating any damage that could have been done as a result of these leaks to the special relationship between the U.K. and the U.S. seen as essential in a post Brexit reality.
Brexiters looking to that potential trade deal between the U.S. and the U.K. as making Brexit a possible success. And so Liam Fox, the Trade Secretary says he plans to meet with Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump's daughter to apologize. Erin McLaughlin, CNN London.
VAUSE: Well, the E.U. is scrambling to defuse a nuclear standoff with Iran. France is sending a top diplomat to the country after the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Iran is enriching uranium beyond the limits set in the 2015 nuclear deal. So a long way off from weapons-grade uranium but Tehran warns it could
drastically increase enrichment even further in the next 60 days. Tehran is pressuring E.U. countries to try and help ease U.S. sanctions after the U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear deal last year.
Well, Tehran has also locked in a dispute with U.K. after British forces seized an oil tanker near Gibraltar. It's calling the seizure piracy and vowing retaliation. CNN's Nic Robertson filed this report off the Coast of Gibraltar with the tanker in his sights.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, this is the vessel, The Grace I that the Iranians demanding that the British and Gibraltar authorities release immediately. They say it was detained as an act of piracy. A former member of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps has threatened that a British vessel in the Straits of Hormuz should be captured if you will to sort of hold while the British and Gibraltar authorities keep the Grace I here.
But a contention here, Iran says they don't believe the Gibraltar authorities that. The Gibraltar authorities say they had reason to believe that this vessel was headed to a Syrian oil refinery breaching E.U. sanctions and that's why they detained it.
Now, the Iranians are saying that they think that Britain was requested by the United States to stop this vessel because they say it's got their oil on board and that it wasn't ever going to the refinery. So this currently is a big diplomatic standoff. The threat that this must be released or a British vessel would be taken captive is essentially what the Iranians are saying.
Meanwhile, British and Gibraltar authorities saying that they continue to investigate this vessel where it was going and what it was doing. And it seems as if it's going to be here for quite some time more, a big international diplomatic standoff. Nic Robertson, CNN off the coast of Gibraltar.
VAUSE: Well, the U.S. President Donald Trump is outlining his administration's achievements when it comes to the environment despite a record that has critics cringing. Now, Trump cited the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord an achievement he said, helping out more public lands to hunting, an achievement as well. He also says the strong economy is good for the environment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Since 2000, our nation's energy-related carbon emissions have declined more than any other country on Earth. Think of that. Emissions are projected to drop in 2019 and 2020.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: According to the International Energy Agency, the U.S. is still the second-largest producer of carbon dioxide after China. Really there's 300 million people here and 1.4 billion people in China but the emissions actually went up in 2018.
The environment isn't the only issue where the president's comments do not exactly aligned with reality. He's also defending his administration's treatment of migrants at the U.S. border with Mexico. CNN's Abby Phillips reports.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump is doubling down on two of the most controversial issues of his presidency, conditions and migrant detention centers --
TRUMP: I've been to some of those places and they are run beautifully. They're clean, they're good --
PHILLIP: And his push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
TRUMP: They're asking everything except are you a citizen of the United States? How ridiculous is that?
PHILLIP: Trump Sunday claiming that conditions at the U.S. border detention facilities are actually better than the places migrants came from.
TRUMP: Those are people that are very happy with what's going on because relatively speaking, they're in much better shape right now.
[01:15:04] PHILLIP: Trump's comments, in sharp contrast with the facts on the ground. The New York Times describing squalid conditions at one facility in Clint, Texas, saying border patrol agents described outbreaks of scabies, shingles and chickenpox, as children sit in cramped cells with clothing so dirty, the smell spread to the agents' own clothing, Trump, insisting that report is fake and saying he wants reporters to see the facilities themselves.
TRUMP: But it is crowded. But we want to have the press go in and see.
PHILLIP: Reporters have already seen children sleeping under solar blankets, and migrants crowded into holding pens, the border situation just one key immigration-related issue for the Trump base, the other, the ongoing census fight. After a defeat in the Supreme Court, Trump is still pushing his administration to force a citizenship question on to the 2020 census.
TRUMP: We are moving forward. We have a couple of avenues, and our attorney general is doing a fantastic job in many ways. And I think he's got it under control.
PHILLIP: But one senior Trump official says everything is up in the air as the administration scrambles to determine if an Executive Order would even pass muster with the courts.
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: I think, over the next day or two, you'll see what approach we're taking. And, I think, it does provide a pathway for getting the question on the census.
PHILLIP: And in addition to commenting on the timeline for the 2020 census, Attorney General Bill Barr also commented on the House Democrat subpoenaing former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
According to Barr, he was disappointed in the Democrats' move to subpoena Mueller, and he said the Democrats are trying to create some kind of spectacle. That testimony is expected to happen next week. Abby Philip, CNN, the White House.
VAUSE: Well, a wealthy financier linked to the rich and powerful around the world, facing accusations of sex crimes again, coming up, why this is not the first time he has been in this situation.
VAUSE: An American multimillionaire with ties to senior politicians, the rich and the powerful around the world, facing disturbing new charges of sex abuse. Prosecutors say Jeffrey Epstein ran a sex trafficking ring, which involved dozens of underage girls. He pleaded not guilty on Monday. CNN's Miguel Marquez reports that Epstein has faced similar charges in the past.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lurid sexual allegations, again, against multimillionaire investment banker, Jeffrey Epstein, New York prosecutors, looking for more.
GEOFFREY BERMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: If you believe you are a victim of this man, Jeffrey Epstein, we want to hear from you.
[01:20:13] MARQUEZ: The allegations over four years, Epstein lured underage women, some as young as 14 years old, to massage him and engage in sexual acts in his Palm Beach, Florida and New York homes. Epstein has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Epstein arrested, Saturday, on his private jet upon returning from Paris. Shortly after, investigators forced their way into his Manhattan mansion. In addition to finding hundreds, possibly thousands, of photos of nude and partially nude young women, some of them, locked in a safe.
Investigators found "compact discs with handwritten labels including the following; young name plus name, miscellaneous nudes one, and girl pics nude."
BERMAN: The alleged behavior shocks the conscience.
MARQUEZ: Epstein, already a registered sex offender after agreeing to a plea deal with prosecutors in Florida, in 2008, related to sexual crimes alleged by dozens of young and underage women, the man who headed the Florida case, Alex Acosta, now Secretary of Labor, in the Trump administration.
ALEXANDER ACOSTA, LABOR SECRETARY OF THE UNITED STATES: At the end of the day, Mr. Epstein was incarcerated. He registered as a sex offender.
MARQUEZ: The Miami Herald in an investigative report helping prompt today's charges, found that Acosta signed off on a deal, essentially shutting down an FBI investigation, giving immunity to any potential co-conspirators, allowing the multimillionaire to pay restitution to his victims, register as a sex offender and plead guilty to two state charges.
He spent 13 months in Palm Beach County Jail, where he was allowed to leave 6 days a week, 12 hours at a time.
ACOSTA: The world was put on notice that he was a sex offender and the victims received restitution.
MARQUEZ: Epstein's connections go beyond Acosta, photographed here, with Donald Trump in 1997 and 2000 at the President's Mar-a-Lago estate, also in Palm Beach, Florida. In February this year, the President had this to say about his Labor Secretary and the plea deal given to his long-time friend.
TRUMP: I really don't know too much about it. I know he's done a great job as Labor Secretary. And that seems like a long time ago.
MARQUEZ: In a 2002 New York magazine, Epstein profile, Trump said, I've known Jeff for 15 years, terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.
Just yesterday, the President had this to say about Jeffrey Epstein.
TRUMP: No, I don't know anything about it. That I don't know.
MARQUEZ: Miguel Marquez, CNN, New York.
VAUSE: CNN Legal Analyst, Areva Martin, joins us now, from Los Angeles (INAUDIBLE) Areva, it's good to see you. I wonder if you can explain to me, what are New York prosecutors doing here, in this case, specifically? So that they can move forward despite Epstein's 2008 plea deal with federal prosecutors in Florida. Are they walking an illegal tightrope or is this fairly standard legal procedure?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think so, John. I think they have a very solid case against Epstein. The charges for which he pled guilty to, in Florida, were under state law. They were fairly minor prostitution and solicitation of prostitution charges. He was never charged with any federal crime in that Florida case that he was involved in.
And the non-prosecution agreement that was entered into by Epstein and those Florida federal prosecutors isn't binding on the New York prosecutors. And New York has evidence that the sex trafficking that he was involved in, took place in his mansion, in New York.
And about a decade ago, Congress did away with any statute of limitations with respect to sex trafficking. So, even though some of the charges in the indictment go back several years, there's no issue with respect to them being barred by any statute of limitations. And New York has jurisdiction and has every right.
And I'd have to say, I applaud the federal prosecutors that had the courage to listen to these victims and to give them their day in court.
VAUSE: The plea agreement, which has been widely criticized from Florida, it was made by the then-Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, the current Labor Secretary. Here's how the Miami Herald reported the deal.
Acosta agreed to not prosecute Epstein federally, which means Epstein is not subject to double jeopardy. Instead, his plea agreement included unusual language that granted federal immunity not only to Epstein, but to others who are never identified or named.
Given the long list of Epstein's high profile associates from presidents Clinton and Trump, British Prince Andrew, does that suggest, I'm not saying these individuals specifically, but some of these colleagues, some of these people, may in fact, be covered by that non-prosecution agreement?
[01:25:10] MARTIN: Well, the agreement is certainly, John, on its face, would suggest that, but what we know about that agreement is that a federal judge, just in February, deemed that agreement, illegal, said that the federal prosecutors, in Florida, failed to notify the victims of the agreement that had been reached, and it was almost a year after the agreement was reached, and after Epstein had served a short period of time that he served in jail, that they even found out about the agreement.
So there's ongoing litigation, as we speak, over the validity of that agreement. So it's quite possible that that entire agreement would be deemed null and void by a federal judge, which would lay bare those individuals that have been identified, but not identified in that agreement.
VAUSE: You know, in terms of Epstein's options in the New York case, when he can stand in trial, he can plead not guilty, he can plead guilty, he can cooperate, he can plead guilty and not cooperate, could he strike another plea deal?
MARTIN: It would have to be a really incredible amount of information and evidence against some other higher profile people that he would have to provide to those federal prosecutors in New York, whatever that, kind of, deal is reached.
Unlike the case in Florida, typically, those plea agreements require the defendant to come forth with damning evidence, substantiated evidence against other targets, other potential defendants. And in this case, I don't see the federal prosecutors in New York, particularly, given how botch that agreement was in Florida, moving forward with any kind of agreement.
I think Epstein is going to have to face federal prosecutors in a federal trial, unless there's some agreement reached by which he pleads guilty or accept some level of responsibility and perhaps, his sentencing, is less than the 45 years that he potentially would face if he is convicted at trial.
VAUSE: Forty five years, wow. Areva, good to speak to you, thank you for the clarification. We appreciate the analysis.
MARTIN: Thanks, John.
VAUSE: Still to come, she can't seem to say the word, withdraw. That's what protesters in Hong Kong want to hear from the chief executive (INAUDIBLE) the unrest will continue.
[01:30:01] VAUSE: It's called complex post traumatic stress disorder -- physical, mental and emotional pain that runs especially deep. Yazidi women who suffered at the hands of ISIS know this first hand. And now they're getting help from the children of the Holocaust.
CNN's Oren Liebermann reports now from Tel Aviv.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They carry the weight of the past on their shoulders. Hundreds of miles from their home in northern Iraq, these Yazidi women have come to Israel to help rebuild their community.
When ISIS attacked the Yazidis in their homeland in 2014, thousands were massacred, thousands more enslaved. Lamiya Aji Bashar was one of those slaves, at the time only 15 years old.
LAMIYA AJI BASHAR, FORMER ISIS PRISONER (through translator): ISIS wanted to finish us, to kill all of us and to exterminate our identity. And they were thinking if they rape us we will be ashamed and we will never go out and they will destroy all of us.
LIEBERMANN: Bashar was a prisoner for more than a year and a half. One of her attempts to escape left scars on her face when another slave stepped on a land mine. After she was finally able to flee ISIS captivity, she settled in Europe and shared what she witnessed with the world.
BASHAR: I saw in the captivity that ISIS even raped eight year old girls, or even the women who were married were raped in front of their children. I decided to be their voice. And I get my strength from the suffering of those women.
LIEBERMANN: The damage was not solely physical. Many of the emotional scars run even deeper, hidden within the anguish of complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
The impact of such trauma has a particular resonance in Israel. The Holocaust and its effect on survivors and their descendants offer valuable lessons to the Yazidis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rates of PTSD in the (INAUDIBLE)
LIEBERMANN: These 16 Yazidi women were brought over by Israeli NGO Isra-Aid to study mental health treatment. There is no cure for complex PTSD so every treatment is crucial.
PROF. ARE ZABAN, PRESIDENT, BAR-ILAN INVENTORY: When you treat, eventually you get as close as possible to curing people. I'm not sure if we can cure all of them, or even if we can get close to this, but we can definitely make a better life for them. And what's more important for the coming generations.
LIEBERMANN: Though foreign aid has reached the Yazidis, there is a lack of mental health care. The group's study in Israel will take what they've learned back home to help their fellow Yazidis. Rashad (ph) One of two former ISIS slaves in this group will take the lessons to the growing Yazidi community in Europe.
We aren't identifying the other women to protect their safety once they return to Iraq. This woman is studying to be a doctor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most of them have depression. They are a survivor of ISIS. And they have major depression -- chronic. And some of them have suicidal thoughts.
LIEBERMANN: The effects of complex PTSD can pass to second and third generations. And that's what these workshops are trying to prevent, so the future doesn't carry forward so much pain from the past.
Oren Liebermann, CNN -- Tel Aviv.
[01:33:14] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAUSE: Five years ago this past April, the world knew almost nothing about the kidnapping of 300 Nigerian schoolgirls by Islamic militants from Boko Haram. They were all taken from their school in Chibok. Initially, the Nigerian government did its damnedest to play down the story, paying little attention to the pleas for help from desperate parents.
It took a global campaign on social media to shame authorities into action. "Bring back our girls" went viral, (INAUDIBLE) celebrities, activists and leaders like then-first lady Michelle Obama.
In the years since then, the Nigerian government has negotiated the release of more than 100 girls, others have escaped but more than 100 remain missing. Also missing as the global spotlight which was gone faster than the snap in Snapchat which means the current Nigerian president can make this promise with little fear of being held to account.
"We will not rest until all the remaining girls are back and reunited with their families. I made this promise when I became president and I will keep it."
Also missing five years on, the presence of international news outlets. In the days after the story broke in 2014, a handful of international reporters were on the ground in Nigeria asking questions and pushing for answers. Among them our friend and former colleague Isha Sesay.
Here's part of an interview she did at the time with the bizarrely titled minister for information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The moment we found that this was the case, we went into action.
ISHA SESAY, FORMER CNN ANCHOR: Not what we heard from people on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did. No, no, no, no, no, come on. Excuse me. Excuse me.
SESAY: That is not what happened. All we are asking for is the Nigeria government to be transparent. That's all we are asking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we shouldn't turning this into a (INAUDIBLE) of the Nigerian government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen, listen. We have a tragedy. We have a tragedy -- I agree with you but I can you show you --
SESAY: It is not a trial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no. Listen -- (END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Isha may have left CNN but she has not left the story behind. And now her new book, "Beneath the Tamarind Tree" details never before reported about the difficulty that these girls endured from kidnapping to freedom. As well as the extraordinary lengths taken by the Nigerian government to try and kill the story.
Writer, journalist, (INAUDIBLE) speaker, media trainer, no longer a CNN employee -- the incredibly well-rested Isha Sesay joins us now from New York. Good to see you.
SESAY: Good to see you -- friend.
VAUSE: You know, we would chat, during the commercial breaks when we anchored together and you go on and on, I'm writing my book. I thought you were writing an autobiography at the time.
I didn't expect this to be a book that was really, really, really good like this one. And you know I can really tell by the writing that a lot of this is just really personal for you.
SESAY: Yes. It was a story that meant a lot to me when it first broke in 2014. As a child of Africa from neighboring Sierra Leone, you know, it meant a lot to make sure that the world didn't just turn away from the abduction of close to 300 girls.
And the point I always make to people is, you know, on an even deeper level, I felt a certain kinship. I mean not to overstate it but when I think about, as I grew to learn more about where the girls came from, the town of Chibok, it is not a place all that different from where my mother was born.
You know, my mother was born in (INAUDIBLE) in Sierra Leone, a town in the southeast where her father had multiple wives, you know, her mother sold goods in the market, and, you know, my mother rose to be educated and do the things she achieved in her life.
And so for me hearing that girls had been stolen from a school and understanding what education can mean to an African girls life just set me on this path to telling the story.
VAUSE: Your mom is an incredible person.
And what we get from this book though is a lot that we did not know in particular details about what these girls went through. And many may still be going through because more than a hundred remain missing and other girls have been kidnapped since then.
SESAY: Yes. And you know, this is the thing. The abduction objection of these girls from the school in northern Nigeria wasn't the first time Boko Haram had taken girls, had taken women. They had done that but we had never seen it on such a scale.
I think that there was very little known about what had happened to them during their time captivity for many reasons. Partly it was hard to gain access to the girls who had been freed. And also the world's attention had moved on.
[01:40:01] But for me I felt that it was important to humanize them and to move beyond just seeing them as nameless and faceless black girls, to move beyond seeing them just as a headline, and to really tell the stories of some of these girls.
And just -- for me, one of the biggest surprises, John, was really how defiant a lot of them were in captivity. How there were these act of defiance, of resistance against their captors and how they held their ground, whether it was practicing their faith, their Christian faith, and whether it was in other small ways. I won't give all of the book away, but they are remarkable. And I think readers will find that they are incredibly resilient, which isn't often told about African girls.
VAUSE: We know these kids went through hell. Was there anything, apart from their resilience, was there anything in those details that you found out that, you know, even shocked you?
SESAY: You know, I think that what shocked me was the determination on the part of Boko Haram to break their spirits. It wasn't just enough to have taken their physical safety, their space from the world, but how they wanted to two fully overcome them psychologically, spiritually.
That kind of level of determination to break them really surprised me. And was truly shocking. But again like I say, as you read the book you will realize that for all those efforts there are some of those girls who would not be broken.
And that really did kind of change my perspective from seeing them. They obviously are survivors, these girls have made it out. But you know, they are heroes. They really are.
VAUSE: You know, we play that clip from the interview you did with Labarad Makhul (ph), the so-called information minister. With that in mind, here's part of your book, page 137 to be precise, this is what you wrote.
"We've got the story all wrong," I said breathless down the phone to Atlanta. My bosses listened as I explained the apparent information blackout in Nigeria and lack of any discernible effort on the government's part to find the missing girls. Trust me, something is not right here."
You know, that piece of information really had an impact for a time on how the story was covered in newsrooms around the world. I remember we were having the debate, is the story over? Have they all been found? Have they been rescued?
And it was a very difficult story to cover 8,000 miles away, not so much if you were there.
SESAY: Very. Very. I mean it was -- and you know, to give credit to our teams on the ground during that moment, you know, the likes of Vladimir Dutier (ph) who were out there on the ground in Nigeria. You know, they were trying their hardest to get information and they couldn't get an accurate number count for the girls who had been taken. Then there were reports that all of them apart from eight had been rescued.
There was just this push-poll. And then there was just no information. I'm, you know, I'm incredibly proud of this network's focus on telling the truth story. Once we realized, and we couldn't have found that out from, you know, thousands of miles away until we got to Nigeria.
I made it to Nigeria at the beginning of May and we suddenly realized that people were asking more and more questions which from 8,000 miles away I thought had been answered. There was just this air of confusion and the Nigerian government themselves saying no girls had been taken.
VAUSE: So, you know, thinking -- you know, looking back now had you and the other international reporters had not been there, were not asking those sort of hard questions, could this have all ended differently?
SESAY: Oh, without a doubt. I mean there is no doubt in my mind that if the international media hadn't swarmed Nigeria in the way they did it in May of 2014 this story would have just fallen away.
And you know, I say in the book repeatedly that I feel part of the reason the Nigerian government was quick to look away and certainly it took then president Goodluck Johnson close to three weeks to publicly come out and address this issue.
I have said this again and again and I don't back down on it that it is because these girls come from poor families. It is because they do not have last names that are see recognizable,. This is why the government could say well, they live in part of the country that so far out of reach from poor families without distinction you know -- it's just the way, it's just collateral damage if you will of fighting an insurgency.
So it took the international media, it's took the global pressure. It took that hashtag, I don't undermine or dismiss that "bring back our girls" hashtag, to force the Nigerian government to address it, to speak publicly about it, to stay on it for as long as they did.
But then even then, John, as you well know, they were reluctant the whole way through to share information.
[01:44:56] VAUSE: While kicking and screaming the entire way. You know, "The Independent" recently did a follow up on the girls who survived. They found at (INAUDIBLE) University that dozens of students abducted by Boko Haram say they're the lucky ones.
But security restrictions mean they must be accompanied if they leave their university campus. They cannot have visitors without special permission, are not allowed to have the babies born in captivity to stay with them. Deutsche Welle, a German news outlet had this headline, "Chibok girls still undereducated, unsafe five years after abduction." It goes on and on and on.
But as far as the world is concerned, this story is over. There was a successful media campaign. The girls were released. There are 100 still being held. All over, goodnight, thank you very much. But it's not over. It's not even close to being over.
SESAY: No. it's not even close to being over and let me just say, you know, as somebody who is in close contact with the school where the vast majority of the freed girls are being educated. It is important to give full context to the fact that they are now in the school in northeastern Nigeria.
But a lot of them got to the school and had -- you know, were lacking in basic skills for reading and writing and math so they came such a low grade level in terms of their schooling because they were going to school in a place like Chibok with pour standards that yes they are in these almost make up classes to help them get up to speed before they can progress into university.
So, you know, I don't think it's necessarily a failure on the part of school authorities that they are undereducated. It's more that they are having to make up for what they didn't have from school in Chibok and being held in captivity for as long as they did.
But to the point, to the broader point of not being over, Boko Haram is still attacking Chibok -- John. As recently as of three weeks ago, the launched attacks on the area where these girls are from, to the point where there were concerns about the girls going home over the summer holidays because it is that unsafe.
Not to mention there are 112 girls still unaccounted for. The story isn't over.
VAUSE: And still, you know these brave men of Boko Haram are still attacking girls and women. you know, it's unbelievable.
Isha -- it's a great book. Congratulations.
SESAY: Thank you.
VAUSE: And it's a story which needs to be told. I'm glad you did. Thank you.
SESAY: Thank you. Thank you -- friend.
VAUSE: We miss you.
We will take a short break. A lot more news when we come back.
VAUSE: More now on our lead story, Hong Kong's chief executive says the city's controversial extradition bill is dead, but Carrie Lam stopped short of a formal withdrawal. The bill sparked weeks of massive, sometimes violent protests.
Critics feared it would be used to target dissidents, send them to Mainland China to stand trial.
Hong Kong's Liberal Party, advocates for closer ties with China, Alan Hoo Hu is the party's vice chairman and he is with me now.
Mr. Hoo -- thank you so much for joining us.
At the beginning for me, just explain to us, or clarify for us, did Beijing want to this extradition bill? Where they the ones behind the bill? And if they weren't, then why was Carrie Lam so enthusiastic for it?
ALAN HOO, HONG KONG LIBERAL PARTY VICE CHAIRMAN: Ok. Categorically I can state firsthand involvement in this, I can tell you that the initiative never came from Beijing. And a Chinese ambassador in England at the appropriate occasion has said as such that it never came from Beijing.
[01:49:50] And it was something completely from Hong Kong's own initiative and it is nothing which was even discussed at the state council level. It was something that Hong Kong thought because of the Taiwan incident, which I think personally affected the chief executive very much. She was very taken with that case.
But as I say it was paved with good intentions. But there was the whole method of doing it is completely wrong. I mean the consultation period was too short, people didn't even understand. I know even now people don't understand what really you are trying to do and what is wrong with the law at the moment.
But that is already something passed. I think that's the triggering discontent. I think we should look at the larger picture, the strategic look where people are discontented over a lot of things.
It's not just over this bill, even if you withdraw this bill--
HOO: -- even if you withdraw this bill, people will still come out. The energy is mobilized. A lot of people are very unhappy about a lot of things.
VAUSE: Absolutely. So here is part of an op-ed. It's written by one of your pro Beijing colleagues, a lawmaker. They write, "The government needs a radical shake up both in its mindset and its policies and systems or Hong Kong's days as a vibrant, and above all, safe city of Asia will be numbered."
Carrie Lam made no mention of any reforms remotely like that. She can (INAUDIBLE) protesters to a teenage son. She wildly misjudged the mood and the level of anger among the people of Hong Kong. This is a leader who has become symbolic of the problem and is oblivious to the fact. Should she resign? HOO: Well, if she resigned, do you think the problem would go away?
It's not just about her. I think everybody knows that to be fair to her, she has been a very conscientious chief executive. She may not be politically very aware, she's not a politician. She's always been career civil servant.
I think that's just to sacrifice her. As I said, let her fall on her sword. Would that solve the problem? No. The problem is deeper. One of the five demands by the protestors is they want political change, universal suffrage.
VAUSE: Let me just interrupt you very quickly. If she doesn't resign, if she stays where she is, do you think the problem will go away?
HOO: Well, put it this way. I think she's in the best position to deal with the problem because she's at the helm now. You can't just surrender the helm immediately to somebody else like on any chief of state.
I think that basically she is aware, and I think she's very decision- isolated at the moment in what she's trying to do. But that the main thing now is to bring stability and then try to take the next step, which is dialog. The next step dialog. No intimidation form either side. But one thing is sure. This is going to be a summer of Hong Kong's discontent.
VAUSE: You know, city leaders there, they're elected from a group of about 1,200 candidates. It's a list approved by Beijing. Answer me this, at the end of the day, are they there to serve the people of Hong Kong? Or are there to advance Beijing's agenda? Which one is it?
HOO: Well, I think that the correct way, and the way that the chief executive should do, is to defend the sovereign parts where it ought to like affairs of state, and anything to do with the economy of the city. That's your responsibility.
And in this case, you can see where the conflict lies because Carrie Lam refused to move political change during her term. All right. And this is underlyingly what people want.
They want a change in LegCo. We've got a majority of directly elected seats, in effect. but now they want the chief executive to be directly elected. That is a key issue.
And Beijing says yes, that should happen, but we have to move progressively towards it. We haven't, right. We've come to a place where there should be a new look at governance, what the priorities are of society. If they want political change, then let's deal with it. If they wanted this bill killed, then kill it. But Hong Kong to get on with its life.
VAUSE: Absolutely. I think that last point, I think everyone will agree with you on that point. You know, this has been a very traumatic way of staying time for the city, disruption to say the least.
Alan Hoo -- thank you so much, though. We appreciate you being with us.
HOO: Thank you -- John.
VAUSE: Well, and then there was 23.
California Congressman Eric Swalwell has the title of first to drop out of the race to the White House. His campaign focus on dealing with gun violence.
There's still a crowded field of candidates, many with no name recognition, no significant standing in the polls and let's face it no chance of winning the Democratic nomination taking on Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, Senator Elizabeth Warren as a number of these provincial campaign announced a $9 million fund-raising haul for the second quarter, third among Democrats. That's behind the South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former vice president Joe Biden.
Senator Kamala Harris saw her poll numbers jumped after the first Democratic debate. And she's taking her fight for the White House straight to the front runner Joe Biden.
CNN's Kyung Lah has that part of the story.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kamala Harris on a campaign swing through South Carolina.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And this is a fight we will win.
[01:55:02] LAH: Seeking to sustain her post-debate momentum after her break-out moment taking on front-runner Joe Biden for his position on school busing and seemingly nostalgic comments about his work with segregationist senators.
HARRIS: I was actually very -- it was hurtful.
LAH: This weekend, after three weeks of pressure, Biden relented and addressed those comments.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I regret it. I'm sorry for any of the pain or misconception I may have caused anybody.
HARRIS: Well, he says he's sorry. I'm going to take him at his word.
LAH: Hardly a clear victory, though, as Harris was pressed in the aftermath of the first debate to explain her own position on federally mandated busing.
HARRIS: Busing is a tool. Among many that should be considered when we address the issue --
LAH: Those comments appeared to be at odds with her stance in the debate in which she seemed to suggest federally mandated busing was needed in the 1970s, leading her to clarify the next day that she does not support such a mandate in 2019.
HARRIS: I've been very clear about where I stand on busing. There has been no ambiguity whatsoever.
LAH: Harris also had to clarify on health care.
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS: Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan?
LAH: Changing her answer the next day, saying she misinterpreted the question.
HARRIS: So the question was would you be willing to give up your private insurance --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is not how it was asked.
HARRIS: I support such a plan --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is what you heard, right?
HARRIS: OK, that is certainly what I heard. And in terms of -- I'm supportive of Medicare-for-all.
LAH: Biden pointing to the differences on health care to open a new line of attack on Harris.
BIDEN: I believe what we should do, we have to improve Obamacare and add a public option, not throw it out.
A number of the folks that are running want to get rid of it.
LAH: For some South Carolina voters, Harris' approach is not a deal- breaker yet.
(on camera): Does that clarify? Does that hurt her in your eyes?
KANDACE BETHEA, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: I do hope as we continue to move forward, it would be less of having to clarify.
VAUSE: Our thanks to Kyung Lah there for that report.
And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.
Stay with us. Another hour of CNN NEWSROOM after the break. This time though with 100 percent more.
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