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Syria's Assad Travels To Russia, Meets With Putin; Former Vice President Calls On Mugabe To Resign; U.S. President Takes Aim At African-American Athletes. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired November 21, 2017 - 02:00   ET


JOHN VAUSE, CNN HOST: This is CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles ahead this hour.

ISHA SESAY, CNN HOST:: Whether deliberate or by accident it's out there now. The White House hinting at how it wants the controversial Alabama Senate race to go.

VAUSE: Back on the list, the U.S. president declares North Korea state sponsor of terrorism bringing new sanctions and questions about how this move will bring Pyongyang closer to negotiations.

SESAY: And, Donald Trump takes the bait feuding with a college basketball player's father. Is there a pattern to the president's targeting of sports figures? Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world and, I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: Great to have you with us I'm John Vause. This is Newsroom L.A. We begin with U.S. politics and both major parties continuing to struggle with allegation of sexual harassment. Another woman has come forward accusing democrat Senator Al Franken of inappropriate sexual behavior.

SESAY: Meantime, the Trump administration seems to be walking back its strong criticism of the allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. And the U.S. president is refusing to make any public statements about Moore despite his first accuser giving a television interview detailing how she was molested by Moore when he was his 30s and she was just 14.


LEIGH CORFMAN, ALLEGED VICTIM: He basically laid out some blankets on the floor of his living room and proceeded to seduce me, I guess you would say. And, during the course of that he removed my clothing, he left the room and came back in wearing his white underwear and he touched me over my clothing, what was left of it.

And, he tried to get me to touch him, as well. And at that point I pulled back and said that I was not comfortable.


VAUSE: (Inaudible) out here in L.A. democratic strategist Mathew Littman, Lanhee Chen, republican Mitt Romney's former Public Policy Director and Jessica Levinson, professor of Law and Governance at Loyola Law School. Good to have you all - have you all with us. OK.

Roy Moore has yet to refute in any detail the allegations from his first accuser but his campaign issued a statement in the last couple of hours proving in their words that the claims by another one of his accusers Beverly Nelson is all just fake news. So, it goes on and on and on. Here are the highlights.

According to a former waitress where Nelson met Moore employees were required to be 15 or 16 rather. Nelson says she was 15 when she started. Two more (ph) witnesses say the dumpsters were at the side of the building. Nelson said there at the back. Another former worker says the restaurant closed no earlier than 11 p.m.

Nelson said 10 p.m. A former police officer who was a regular customer said he never saw Judge Moore go in there. Another waitress said she never say Moore there, as well. She never recalled Mrs. Nelson working there either. So, there you have it. Case closed. Clearly Nelson, at least, her argument's shut to pieces. So what? Seven others to go.

MATHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: So, there are a lot of people out there accusing Roy Moore and let's remember they're the people who said that he was casing the malls basically.

VAUSE: Right.

LITTMAN: And, wasn't allowed to go back to one of malls specifically. I don't think there's much question that the story's about Roy Moore are true, the question is the Republican Party now seems to be moving toward a place where they're basically giving their tacit support to this person so that he can get elected and they can have another republican in the Senate.

VAUSE: We'll get to that but Lanhee, why would a campaign issue this kind of ridiculous statement that proves absolutely nothing.

LANHEE CHEN, FORMER PULIC POLICY DIRECTOR: Yes. I mean this is just a lot of hand waving. This is a lot of attempt to sort of distract attention elsewhere. This is not something that they want to be litigating. This is not something frankly republicans want them litigating. At this point in time republicans want this over as quickly as possible.

So, in my mind I think republicans may actually be better off if Roy Moore loses. Even though they lose that single vote in the U.S. Senate, they also don't have to talk about this guy and answer these allegations for the next six, nine, 12 months. I mean, this statement is indicative of how this is going to go.

It's going to be a litigation of all these points and you know it doesn't even matter because the allegations are serious and real and that's what matters.

VAUSE: And, Jessica, if that's the best you've got in terms of trying to destroy someone's argument it almost seems incriminating. JESSICA LEVINSON, PROFESSOR OF LAW AND GOVERNANCE: It - almost? I

would say it is incriminating and I mean, the idea that this is where we are in a U.S. Senate campaign, that we have someone who is facing a mountain of credible accusations dealing with not just sexual harassment, like that's not bad enough, not to just sexual misconduct but also pedophilia and his best response is well this is where the dumpsters were located and the restaurant closed at this time.

I mean, this is a very small response to just a building mountain of evidence and I think that I have two words, Hail Mary. I mean this is just a desperate attempt of saying, please voters,, I just want to try and say that there's a conspiracy against me and you should really believe - and this is just part of their campaign to try and discredit all of the accusers who have come forward with very similar, very troubling story.

MALE: But going back -

MALE: Yes -

MALE: He didn't even deny - he was interviewed by Sean Hannity -

MALE: Yes -

MALE: He said he generally did not date underage women -

MALE: That's counter active, which I do not recall again is ridiculous -

MALE: Right, tight.

MALE: You touch on this, (Matt), it now through seems the white house with these allegations, they don't even really matter because tax cuts are at stake -

MALE: Right --

MALE: Kellyanne Conway on Fox and Friends.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR OF PRESDIENT: Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don't be fooled. He's be a vote against tax cuts, he's weak on crime, weak on boarders, he's strong on raising your taxes, he's terrible for property owners -

MALE: So, vote Roy Moore? -

CONWAY: And Doug Jones is a doctrinaire liberal which is why he's not saying anything and why the media are trying to boost him.

MALE: So vote Roy Moore?

CONWAY: I'm telling you that we want the votes in the senate to get this tax bill through.

MALE: I don't know why they engage in the silly word game, just say vote for Roy Moore but it - this is quite the turn around for Kellyanne Conway. Just a few days ago was saying there is no senate seat worth more than a child - not its vote Roy Moore.

MALE: Yes, I think in their quest for tax reform, I think they're forgetting about the fact that Doug Jones would be a southern democrat who would vote for tax reform. So I don't - this whole thing about trying to get Roy Moore elected seems crazy to me.

I just have to say if there's one very good thing in this senate tax reform package and that is it lowers the tax on alcohol and I think after listening to all of this stuff, I think we're all going to need a scotch.

MALE: And then some.

MALE: Yes, it does lightly seem that there are a growing number of republicans from the president on down, they seen to be taking this lime (ph). Let the votes of Alabama decide, we've been hearing it the last couple days; we heard it again on Monday from Sarah Sanders during the white house briefing.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Obviously the President wants people both in the house and the senate that support his agenda but as I've said and as the Hedge Act prohibits me from going any further, we certainly think that this is something that the people of Alabama should decide.

MALE: Yes, forget what's happening in Alabama; look at what's happening in Washington. It does seem like they're laying the ground work to welcome Roy Moore into the senate.

MALE: Yes and its one thing to say that the voters of Alabama ought to be able to make that decision, I think that is a fair thing to say. The probably is then, the White House feels pressured, I feel like they don't feel like they can go one step farther and say then how they feel people ought to vote or not to vote.

Because the White House, they're in the position to do that, presidents issue endorsements all the time, they retract endorsements all the time. So I think it's very difficult for them to just leave it at that and I think people are noticing that there is this gap of informant and the problem is that their line seems to change from day to day.

Yesterday on some of the Sunday shows, they were out there saying well the Presidents not going to go down to campaign for Roy Moore. That should give you an indication of where the President stands and this morning it's - we need the vote for tax cuts.

MALE: The inconsistency is problematic.

MALE: So part of the problem is that the President doesn't have any moral authority, so when we say that the people are looking to the Presidency - normally we do. In this case, the President doesn't have the moral authority that previous presidents have have.

MALE: (Jesse), could Donald Trump who carried Alabama by 28 points actually bring this to some kind of conclusion? LEVINSON: I think that the voters of Alabama would listen to him and I think that President Trump knows that and that's why they're kind of skirting this issue. So it starts with - like so many things from the Trump Administration.

It starts with one story which is we're going to let the votes of Alabama decide and then it kind of shifts and Kellyanne Conway is saying we really need that win for the tax reform and we really need that vote and look at all of these other policy considerations like crime and like environmental regulations and so I really think you should vote for Roy Moore.

I think that the White House clearly believes that they have a role to play here and even though this president is so different from most presidents in many ways, he still has an enormous platform and he has a lot of support particularly somewhere like Alabama and if he really wanted to say something - and I think there's about two weeks until the election and I think we could see President Trump come out and say something.

But this kind of finger somewhere close to the button but not quite on the button may be the long game for the White House and as he said ready to open their arms for Senator Roy Moore.

MALE: OK, got to more on. We're going to Al Franken accused by another woman of sexual harassment, this was Lindsay Menz, back in 2010 at the state fair posing for a photograph with Franken. She told CNN, he pulled me in really close like awkward close as my husband the picture he put his hand full fledged on my rear. It was wrapped tightly around my butt. Franken says he doesn't remember this incident, he said he feels badly that Menz was - felt disrespected.

But (Matt) again you know, two women have now come out. Whether its two or 20 could be 20 we don't know, but should Franken resign?

MATHEW LITMAN: Well I don't think he should resign, number one. Number two I don't think it's 20 there's gonna be an investigation in the Senate. As first women Leeann Tweeden in that story, I believed her story, I think Al Franken's behavior was inappropriate and I think Al Franken has apologized for his inappropriate behavior. But I think they were in danger of completing things.

We have a President who's been accused by 15 women of various forms of sexual harassment and threatened to sue all of them which is why we don't have more of those stories, and in the Al Franken story is a bad, but it's not the same.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a double standard though? Franken gets the Senate Ethics Investigation Roy Moore doesn't.

LITMAN: Absolutely, I think Al Franken should step aside because here's the reality. We shouldn't be in the business of litigating between different accusations. All these accusations are deeply problematic. They suggest behavior that's wrongful, inappropriate and reprehensible and in all cases we should be judging it fairly and the same way regardless of political party. UNIDENTIFIED MALE CORRESPONDANT: Somebody's bad somebody's worse, the attribute of something like that. OK we are out of time but thank you so much Lanhee and Matthew as well as Jessica, appreciate it.

JESSICA LEVINSON, CNN HOST: Well next on CNN more sexual harassment accusations, this time against long time television host Charlie Rose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE CORRESPONDANT: Also ahead (Jesper) himself was in the White House thoughts of (inaudible) investigation was winding down, guess again. This here is finding the interview even more Senior Officials within the Trump Administration as well as the campaign, and next what that means for the timing and the direction of the Special Councils investigation.



SESAY: Well CBS has suspended it's Morning Show co-host, Charlie Rose, after eight women accused him of sexual harassment. The allegations including groping and unwanted sexual advances. PBS also halted distribution of Rose's talk show.

VAUSE: Rose later released a statement saying, "in part it is essential that these women know I hear them and that I deeply apologize for my inappropriate behavior. I am greatly embarrassed. I've behaved insensitively at times and I accept responsibility for that, but I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate.

SESAY: Well Caroline Heldman joins me now. She is a democratic strategist and an associate professor of politics at Occidental College. Caroline, always good to see you and to have you with us, especially for this particular conversation because I really want to look at these accusations but really from the angle of the women who come out and stand by the men who are accused.

So to my mind when you would hear men come out and stand with the accused, we heard something of the alike of Bryan Cranston saying Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey deserve a second change. Not necessarily standing by them, but at least opening the door for them coming back - Morrissey, the singer, making similar comments at week end.

You hear that, and that's one thing. It's men, but it's totally something else when you hear women come out and stand in defense of these men who have these accusation of wrongdoing. I'm thinking Donna Karan who made comments about what women wear. She walked that back. Kayla Moore, the wife of Alabama senatorial candidate, Roy Moore. What goes through your mind when women take that position?

CAROLINE HELDMAN: Well, it's a bit of a betrayal in the sense that if you're a woman working anywhere in any industry, you have probably suffered or witnessed some form of sexual harassment. So at the end of the day we all know that this is prevalent, and to have women like Lena Dunham come out, for example, and stand by someone who's been accused of sexual harassment, I think it's a particular chord. Now is the time that survivors are feeling really empowered, and

victims of sexual harassments are feeling empowered to come forward. So during this time, I think if you're a women who is supporting a man who is being accused of sexual harassment, the best you can probably do is stay silent on the matter because to come out an do otherwise at this point is essentially to side with predators during a time where it is very obvious that this predatory behavior is normal, and it's especially normal in industries that are male dominated.

SESAY: Let's dig a little deeper into statements made by the likes of Kayla Moore, the wife of Roy Moore as I just said. She mounted a spirited defense of her husband. Take a listen to the sum of what she said.


KAYLA MOORE: Even after all the attacks against me, against my family, against the foundation, and now against my husband, he will not step down.


SESAY: That was Kayla Moore. You referenced Lena Dunham, of course, and the actress, writer, TV producer - and executive producer on her show Girls, Murray Miller has been accused of rape by actress Aurora Perrineau who says she was raped back in 2012 when she was just 17.

Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, who's the cofounder of Lenny Newsletter, put out this statement. Let me read you some of what Lena Dunham said. She said this.

"During the windfall of deeply necessary accusations over the last few months in Hollywood, we have been thrilled to see so many women's voices heard and dock experiences in this industry justified." She goes on to say, "while our first instinct is to listen to every woman's story, our insider knowledge of Murray's situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year. It is true - it is true shame to add to that number as the outside of Hollywood woman still struggle to be believed. We stand by Murray, and that is all we'll be saying about that at this time."

What does that say - the statements made by Kayla Moore, the statements put out by Lena Dunham, who we must say has come out since then and said she got it wrong putting out that defense for Murray Miller - what does it say about how we choose to respond to accusations when they involve people we love or like?

HELDMAN: I think it's really difficult to acknowledge that there are some men in our lives who might be sexual predators. I would argue that with Bill Clinton's multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, Hillary Clinton stood by him in the '90s, and in fact, refuted a lot of those allegations.

We have someone in the White House who has 19 allegations of sexual misconduct ranging from sexual harassment to sexual assault and yet we see the First Lady standing by him.

I think it is really difficult for us to process how we're supposed to respond to this, especially given the fact that we live in a culture where we don't hold people accountable for this, right?

So, only two percent of rapists will ever see a day in jail. The vast majority of cases of sexual harassment go unreported because of retaliation and also because these are the only crimes where we treat the victim as though she is on trial.

And so, I think a lot of women -- we don't have good mechanisms of accountability either socially or in the work place and so when this comes up we end up quite torn if it's somebody who we love and I really wish we had a culture where we held people accountable, because I think it would be much clearer for people like Lena Dunham to say, absolutely not, I'm not going to stand --

SESAY: Especially someone like Lena Dunham who has put herself out there as a feminist and has put out a Tweet thing that woman don't lie about this kind of thing. They lie about lunch but not this kind of thing.

I do want to read something to you. There was a really great column written by Clementine Ford for "The Sydney Morning Herald," she wrote about this and I thought it was fascinating and raised several points. Let me read some of this to you and get your thoughts Caroline.

She said one of the core tenants held by rape culture and it's practitioners is that sexual violence is something that occurs on the fringes of our communities, perpetrated by men who are easily identified by their greedy personalities and a giant sign around their neck that screams, here be a rapist.

In reality the opposite is true, in America 70 percent of all rapist are known to their victims, they have families, colleagues and friends, all of them would almost certainly consider them to be a good person. So this notion that if you don't look slightly, I guess, out of central casting of what you consider to be a rapist, like a bad person, then in the mind of those who are close to you and everyone else, you couldn't possibly have done it.

HELDMAN: Indeed and yet at the end of the day we know that 11 percent of men in U.S. society will engage in some form of sexually predatory behavior which means that there a lot of good men around us who are engaging in this and I think it's really telling that a lot of my friends, both liberal and conservative, my male friends, are saying, well I knew that sexual harassment happens. I knew that sexually predatory behavior happens, I just didn't realize it happens this frequently and that women had normalized it.

And at the end of the day, that's absolutely the case. We have a culture that does not take this behavior seriously. We live in a culture where there is assumed heterosexual male access to female bodies. Where woman have to be the gate keepers and men, we raise them to be pushers in sexual relationships. SESAY: And everything they're told to reinforce is that --

HELDMAN: Indeed.

SESAY: -- on TV they're advertising all the images of woman being sexualized beings and sexualized objects.

HELDMAN: Correct. We reduce women from sexual subjects who are people who act to have power to sexual objects which are things that are acted upon. That's widespread in our culture and at the end of the day we have to look at the sickness of what it means to sexually objectify 51 percent of our population and still think that somehow that's going to command a level of respect that we need to be safe in our own culture.

SESAY: Caroline Heldman, thank you for joining me for this conversation.

HELDMAN: Thanks Isha.

SESAY: Thank you.

VAUSE: Six months now into the Special Counsel's investigation into to Russia's involvement in the 26th election and some within the White Hose, reportedly even the President himself, are optimistic. It will be wrapped up around the end of the year.

But that optimism seems hard to explain given investigators working for Robert Mueller plan to interview Senior Administration officials in the comings weeks, including Hope Hicks, the current White House communications director who's seen as one of the President's most trusted confidants and almost constant presence by his side during last years campaign.

And according to the "Washington Post," one republican operative in frequent contact with the White House described Mueller's team working through the staff like Pac-Man. Presidential historian Allan Lichtman is author of the, "Case for Impeachment," one of the few who actually predicted Donald Trump would win the election. He joins us now from Washington. Professor, good to see you.


VAUSE: OK, so apart from Hope Hicks, investigators plan to talk to White House Counsel Don McGahn, also Josh Raffel an Aide to the Advisor and Presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner. They've already spoken to Policy Advisor Stephen Miller, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

So what does all this now say about the time table and the direction of Mueller's investigation?

LICHTMAN: Well the direction is quite clear, it's upwards. This is very similar to what happened in the investigation of Richard Nixon, you work your way up through the staff members, through the person's close to the president, but ultimately it boils down to the president. Look the country -- the future of America is not going to rise and fall on whether Hope Hicks or any of these other people go to jail, get convicted. It is Donald Trump who is the most powerful person in the world, who holds the American nuclear codes in his hands. So all of this only matters to the extent that it works its way up to whether or not Donald Trump has committed impeachable offenses. And by the way the special counsel can't impeach the president, he can only recommend that to the U.S. House.

VAUSE: OK the last time we spoke it was in April, Robert Mueller was yet to be appointed as special counsel, we know a lot more now than we did even so back in April this is what you said about what could be the road to impeachment. Here we are, listen to this.


LICHTMAN: If members of his team in any colluded with Russia's reprehensible attack on our Democracy in the last election and Trump knew about it, that's a serious crime not reporting treason. Heaven forbid of course if Trump himself in any way was involved in collusion, he could be the first president to be charged with treason, an explicit ground for impeachment under the Constitution.


VAUSE: OK since then at least nine people within Trump world had contact with Russians either during the campaign or during the transition. There's still no evidence directly linking the president with any of that so where does this now leave the president -- and could obstruction of justice actually be a bigger issue facing Donald Trump?

LICHTMAN: Obstruction of justice might be a lot easier to prove, even based on what is publically known, the firing of James Comey, the failure to fire Michael Flynn, either the drafting or the working on the drafting of that misleading account of the June 2016 meeting with his son, his son-in-law, his campaign manager and the Russians, but there is now some evidence directly linking Donald Trump to collusion. We know from the guilty plea of George Papadopoulos, he was sitting a few feet away from Donald Trump when he talked about his connections with the Russians and said his connections wanted to set up a Trump- Putin meeting. Trump was right there -- the man, Donald Trump, has said I have the greatest memory in the world, but somehow he didn't remember that meeting and direct evidence of collusion with the Russians even though Russia has been so much in the news and so much of a focus for over a year.

We also know now that Donald Trump Jr. was in contact with WikiLeaks and that the candidate himself seemed to have acted in response to some of the information coming from WikiLeaks who we know acted as an agent of the Russian government. And by the way, I talked about treason because Russia was engaged in a war against the United States, not a war of bombs and bullets, but a modern kind of warfare, a cyber attack and the Russian general staff has talked about cyber warfare as the modern form of warfare for the Russians and the ways in which they would use it to destroy the western democracies. VAUSE: As you say, impeachment ultimately though a political act and it will take a vote in Congress for the president to be impeached and to stand trial and then that gets around to where this all stands politically, right?

LICHTMAN: That's right and you know, it is a Republican House, but one of the Lichtman rules of politics is the first requisite of an office holder is survival. We already saw kind of a collapse of the Republican brand in these off year elections and come next spring if Republicans in the House think Donald Trump is dragging them down, enough of them could join with the Democrats for a majority to at least begin an impeachment investigation. And then if the Democrats take over the House after the mid-terms of 2018, they could launch an impeachment investigation or even vote Articles of Impeachment without any Republican cooperation. This Russian Sword of Damocles that's hanging over the Trump Administration and the president is right now in a very slender thread.

VAUSE: This will probably be the most significant mid-term elections we've seen in a very long time. Professor Lichtman thanks for being with us appreciate it.

LICHTMAN: You bet sure.

SESAY: A lot of predictions out there.

VAUSE: Oh yes, everyone's got something to say.

SESAY: Everyone's got something to say. Let's take a quick break here. A bold move toward North Korea by Donald Trump will be putting the rogue nation on a list that could ease or worsen the standoff. We'll take a look.


[02:33:21] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angles. It had just gone 11:33 here on the West Coast.


VAUSE: The United States is ramping up (INAUDIBLE) pressure on North Korea.

SESAY: President Donald Trump says the county is now back on the list state sponsored of terrorism.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tomorrow the treasury department will be announcing an additional sanction and a very large one on North Korean. This will be the highest level of sanctions by the -- it's finished over a two-week period.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Still no official response from Pyongyang. But a short time

ago state media calls Donald Trump to be sternly punished for his hideous crimes. Joining no live by Paul Carroll in San Francisco. He's a senior adviser at N Square, a group focus on nuclear security. Paul, good to see you. The Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he told reporters putting North Korea back on this list of state-sponsored of terrorism, it is more symbolic than practical. Listen to this.


REX TILLERSON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: It is very symbolic on the one hand because it just points out again what -- how -- what a rogue regime this is and how brutal this regime is and how little they care for the value of human live.


VAUSE: OK. So what's the point there? Could this move actually provoke Kim Jong-un? Does it move the North Korean's closet to negotiations?

PAUL CARROLL, SENIOR ADVISER, N-SQUARE: I don't think it moves them closer to the negotiations at all. I think the point is that President Trump is playing to his domestic political base. This is another way for President Trump to demonstrate that he's tough, that he's, you know, pressuring North Korea. But Secretary of State Tillerson sort of believed it's really just symbolic that the highest level of sanctions, I'm not quite sure what that means between multilateral and U.S. independent sanctions, we've pretty much- exhausted everything that we can do diplomatically, financially with North Korea in terms of pressure.

[02:35:18] What we haven't done is the other side of the coin which is made clear to them and clear to our allies what types of relief or benefit may be on offer if they were to change the behavior. So moving them more toward negotiation, I think we're likely to see the opposite coming out of Pyongyang in weeks ahead.

VAUSE: You know, there's word that Kim Jong-un has moved to tighten his grip of the military as well as the party a few hours ago on state-run television. There were images of him visiting a vehicle factory, he was talking about the revolutionary spirit of self- reliance. Is this all that Kim essentially preparing the country, you know, for these sanctions with some tough times ahead?

CARROLL: I think -- I think they've seen some tough times even in the months behind us. China has been actually onboard in the months since the U.N. Security Council resolution passed sanctions after their missile and nuclear test. So suspect this might be -- yes, partly to brace the economy, brace the society for a tough winter ahead. Let's not forget, we're in late November now. Winter is coming. And depending on how severe that is and the rains and the floods. They may be looking at a pretty tough road. On the other hands, if they're getting ready for China to continue to hold an implement these sanctions, he may be looking at more of domestic revolts to stronger word but dissatisfaction than he has in the past. (CROSSTALK)

CARROLL: Yes, yes.

VAUSE: Sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt, Paul. But (INAUDIBLE) should North Korea actually been taken off that list on state-sponsor of terror in the first place?

CARROLL: Well, it was done during a time when there were negotiations ongoing and there's actually a deal in the making. And yes, there are sort of requirements to be put on the list and going to be taken off. It is practical matter, it's really a political move. I think when President Bush removed them in 2008, it was the right thing to do. There was some evidence that the North was making the deal. Should they have been for eight years? I think that's up for debate.

VAUSE: OK. Apologies when dropping it (INAUDIBLE) appreciate it. Thanks very much.


SESAY: OK, then. Well, the leaders of the Russia and Syria say the fight against terrorism in Syria is coming to an end. Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad have been meeting in Sochi, Russia.

VAUSE: Mr. Putin reportedly praised Assad for the fight against ISIS, stress a need for a peaceful political solution to the crisis in Syria.

SESAY: Let's get now to CNN's Matthew Chance who joins us from Moscow. Matthew, give our viewers some perspective on the significance of this meeting between Assad and Putin.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's pretty significant in the sense that it's only the second time as far as we know that these two figures have met face-to-face since Russia began its ferocious military campaign in Syria back in -- back in -- 2015. Both occasions the visits have been shrouded in secrecy. This time, Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president had a meeting in the Southern Russian City of Sochi with Vladimir Putin yesterday, it happened -- it happened on Monday, local time. But we're already told about it very early this morning. And so, presumably, Bashar al-Assad has already departed in his -- back in his palace in Damascus by the time the news reports of this -- of this meeting, you know, kind of emerge.

The two leaders are showing to be very close. This one still photograph that's been released by the Kremlin that I've seen which shows the two men Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad hugging each other, greeting each other with a hug. So, they're obviously want to put across this idea that there is a close personal relationship between the two although in the past there have been tensions between the Russian and Syrian leadership. And what they discussed according to the Kremlin readout of the meeting was had the Syrian conflict had moved from being a military operation and was now focusing on a political solution to the conflict. And so, it's that point which the two leaders were discussing in Sochi.

SESAY: Very interesting timing. Matthew Chance joining us there from Moscow. Very much appreciate it, Matthew. Thank you.

VAUSE: Of course, Donald Trump, the U.S. will speak with Vladimir Putin.

SESAY: On Tuesday. We'll see whether we'll get any details on that call.

VAUSE: Well, It'll be interesting for the White House (INAUDIBLE) usually very vague. We'll see. OK. (INAUDIBLE) a deadline and then define ahead on NEWSROOM L.A., it's being Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe is refusing to go quietly into the night. He's now facing impeachment.


SESAY: Hello, everyone. Zimbabwe's ousted vice president is urging Robert Mugabe to resign as president. Emmerson Mnangagwa had been in self-imposed exile since earlier this month. He says he won't return until his safety can be guaranteed. Many people see him as Mr. Mugabe's likely successor.

VAUSE: But the president could be facing impeachment proceedings with his own party playing to begin the process in the coming day after Mr. Mugabe ignored a deadline to step aside.

SESAY: Well, CNN's David McKenzie joins us now live from Zimbabwe's capital, Harare. And David, President Mugabe set to preside the cabinet meetings scheduled to start (INAUDIBLE) start at 9:00 a.m. local time. What do we know about this gathering, has it started?

[02:45:00] DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha, this situation now is very fluent and we're just hearing from the vice president, defied vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa who released a statement from hiding in exile saying that in fact the president, Robert Mugabe should resign or suffer humiliation. So that's a very strong statement coming from Mnangagwa, known as The Crocodile. He fled after being fired which really kicked off this entire situation. Now, this comes as Parliament is set to -- set today in the Capitol today as the ZANU-PF Party looks to start impeachment proceedings against Robert Mugabe. Late yesterday, the military came for a very rare statement, letting the press inside military H.Q. to say that this is all part of a military operation.


CONSTANTINO CHIWENGA, COMMANDER, ZIMBABWE DEFENCE FORCES: We are confident to take our beloved country of its present circumstances.


MCKENZIE: Well, Isha, it appears to be building pressure still on President Mugabe. Though, he hasn't left yet. It still seems like he is on the house arrest as well as members of the G40 faction of ZANU- PF. You have pressure coming from the streets and you have pressure coming from the party. And there, that very strong statement coming from the former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa who effectively say that he will not hold talks with President Robert Mugabe until his safety is assured. He says that he believed he could have been assassinated in the hours after being sacked. He fled from Zimbabwe he said until his security can be guaranteed, he will not come back into the country and hold any kind of talks, but he's pushing for Mugabe to resign. Isha?

SESAY: David McKenzie joining us there from Harare. We appreciate it, David, the way out of this crisis still seems quite unclear. David, thank you.

VAUSE: Donald Trump fires up another with the conflict machine, taking on an NFL player, another one all at the same time, taking on the father of a college basketball player who's arrested in China. But why has some criticize the president, why did they escape the Twitter lashing?


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Quickly approaching the busiest holiday weekend here of this season across the United States, at least when it comes to not only travel but, of course, shopping as well. And here's how it looks over the next 24 hours at least. Much colder air filtering into the northern tier of the U.S. Cooler but dry air in place on the eastern half of the country. It is back towards the northwest that we think inclement weather really expected to persist into this weekend as well. Vancouver, 8 degrees, how about 8 below out of Winnipeg? Chicago is 7 for high temperature, even Dallas going up just a little bit, but into the upper 20s. Lower 20s across that region. And you notice the heat is on across the southwest. The colder air on the opposite end of the spectrum across parts of the great lakes. Some lake (INAUDIBLE) snow expected across this region as well.

But notice what happens here Saturday into Sunday, expect major cities across the northeastern U.S. to get in on some of the cooler air here as we work our way towards the weekend. In New York, about 14 degrees, eventually down to 6, could be back up around 9 by Friday afternoon. Across the Western U.S., this is the problem here when it comes to travel, I think, on Wednesday and Thursday. As we could see is a lot of heavy rainfall and a lot of mountain snow to really pile up across this region in the next several days.

Chihuahua around 26 degrees, Havana, Cuba looks to be around 30, Managua around 32. Now, onto the Bahamas, morning thunderstorms, upper 20s is what we're looking at there for Tuesday. Bogota around 21. And work your way to (INAUDIBLE) some scattered storms, 32 degrees.


[02:50:10] SESAY: So, Donald Trump is locked in a Twitter fight with --

VAUSE: That' a shock.


SESAY: -- wherever -- you'll never guess who -- with the father of the UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball.

VAUSE: Another shock.

SESAY: And it's not the first time Mr. Trump had taken on an African- American sports figure.

VAUSE: Three shocks. OK. There's also the NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, Steph Curry, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. At the same time, the U.S. President hasn't said a word after scathing criticism from NBA coaches Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich. Hmm, not a word, nothing like the outrage he had for NFL players who knelt in protest during the American anthem. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get that son of a (BLEEP) off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired.


SESAY: Well, joining us now, social commentator and entertainment journalist, Segun Oduolowu. Segun, always good to have you with us.

SEGUN ODUOLOWU, ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: Always good to be here, it's good to see you.

SESAY: And recently married. (INAUDIBLE) our viewers. Done the deed. Congrats, congrats.

ODUOLOWU: Thank you.

SESAY: OK. So, the president. I'm going to ask you to spell it out. What do you see here as the commonality in terms of when he takes on sports figures versus letting the criticism (INAUDIBLE) face from white commentators.

VAUSE: I think she has a wife. That's right.


SESAY: Is that it?



SESAY: What is the -- what's the -- what's going on here?

ODUOLOWU: Well, there are two things: One, it's very difficult to criticize Gregg Popovich because Gregg Popovich is former military. So, and he's won, you know, NBA championships. So, criticize Gregg Popovich would go against everything that Trump talks about as he jangles his keys and does smoke and mirrors that David Copperfield would be proud of because it's all smoke and mirrors, and it's magic. He doesn't go after Popovich or Steve Kerr because they are rich white men. He goes after NBA players because they're not as necessarily rich as the white people that he likes to represent or rub shoulders with.

I always -- you know, my black always seems to get up when rich white men dictate to black people that how appreciative they should be for the freedoms that they're supposed to have in this country that they live in.

SESAY: Which seem to get to the heart of this whole issue with LiAngelo Ball's father, Lavar Ball, and I know John wants to weigh in but just as I said he --

VAUSE: No, I don't. I'm good.


SESAY: OK. You sure -- you sure you don't want a part in this?

ODUOLOWU: You sure.

VAUSE: I'm good.

SESAY: OK. As we all know, President Trump was in Asia for his tour and the three UCLA players were accused of shoplifting. He said he intervened and the boys were brought back, right?

ODUOLOWU: Yes, that's what he says.

SESAY: OK. That's what he says. That's what the President says. Now, it was put to Lavar --to LiAngelo Ball's father that they think he should say thank you. He refused. We had LiAngelo's father, Lavar Ball on CNN a couple of hours ago. It was put to him once again, I want you to take a listen to what he said.


LAVAR BALL, LIANGELO'S FATHER: When somebody asks me a question, that's not disrespectful if I feel nobody did anything. I don't have to say go around saying thank you to everybody. I mean, he didn't call me, I didn't shake his hand, and he didn't have to say that, but I'm just saying. If -- I have to know what somebody is going before I'll say thank you. I'm not just going to go around saying thank you.


SESAY: Where do you stand on this issue about the thanks or the gratitude that the president due here. And does it tap into a bigger issue, a bigger messaging thing here?

ODUOLOWU: Well, I just find it to be somewhat outrageous that the commander in chief wants a thank you for doing what presidents have done for years. And it's not as if he got them out of a detention camp or if he got them out of some political asylum or anything like that. So to -- I can't even believe I'm going to agree with Lavar Ball. To Lavar Ball's credit, he does not know how much the president intervened. So, if the president is looking for this great big thank you, a bigger thank you than the three kids actually said on a podium at UCLA where they thanked the president and said they thanked him, then what more does the president want because Lavar Ball does not know exactly what the president's role was.


ODUOLOWU: I get that part. Now, to Trump's part, you're the President of the United States, you -- is this really what we're discussing now? Again, this is a smoke and mirrors. While he attacked Lavar Ball and said, I should have left your kid in jail, he cuts everything that Obama worked to build. So, it's like watch me dangle these keys you silly people over here and I do my hocus-pocus and do this horrible magic trick where everything poof, disappears.

VAUSE: Is this a strategy, is this like Nixon's southern strategy? Because we heard from Steve Bannon, the former White House Strategist, the strategist during the campaign. He did an interview back in August and this is what he said, "The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got them. I want them to talk about racism every day."

Is this all about, you know, waging this war on political correctness against the coastal elites? And as we say, you know, undoing what Obama did not just in a practical sense but you know, in a symbolic sense as well.

[02:55:14] ODUOLOWU: Well, I will say this that there is a brutal irony in the fact that Charles Manson died recently and part of what he wanted to do was start this race war. And here we are decades after he had his brutal killings, fighting this race war that he was hoping to start. There is some credibility to what Bannon is saying, that we focus so much on as whether you're a Liberal or a Democrat, we focus on these minor slights that they said this about us. And they -- while funding gets cut and afterschool programs get cut and people are disavowed and disadvantage and Americans are horrible names by the people in power. We focus so much on these minor slights while the real battle for redistricting and voting rights and rights for women, all seem to be just moved off the table as we focus on the wrong things. There's credibility to do that and it's a scary form of politics.

SESAY: And don' forget prison reform is --

VAUSE: Don't listen to what they say and watch what they do.

ODUOLOWU: Well, it's so -- it's so sad.

VAUSE: Segun, thank you.

ODUOLOWU: Thank you very much. It's good to be seen by you all. Thank you so much. SESAY: He seemed energy --

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) is better than Donald Trump otherwise that fans coming back on (INAUDIBLE)

SESAY: You have been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. You just continue as Max Foster is in London, he'll be with you after a short break. You're watching CNN.