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Blinken To Meet Key Israeli Officials In Hours Ahead; House Republicans Fail To Impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas; Donald Trump's Immunity Claim Rejected By Appeals Court; Chile's Sebastian Pinera Dies In Helicopter Crash at 74; Michigan School Shooter's Mother Found Guilty Of Involuntary Manslaughter; Examining Iran's Control over its Proxies and Allies; Election Officials Challenge Nadezhdin Registration; Pakistan on Edge as it Gears up for General Election; West Papua Rebels Argue over Fate of Captive NZ Pilot; Britain's King Charles III at Sandringham Estate. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired February 07, 2024 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up here on CNN Newsroom.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: An agreement is possible, and indeed a century.


VAUSE: But can a deal to pause fighting in Gaza come and time for a million and a half civilians in Rafah caught in the crossfire of Israel's war with Hamas.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: History is watching.


VAUSE: Watching as Republicans line up to do their masters bidding and kill a deal on border security because they were told to by Donald Trump and democracy Russia style were criminally picked candidates running for president must have zero chance of winning the election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from Atlanta. This is CNN Newsroom with John Vause.

VAUSE: The U.S. Secretary of State will push for humanitarian pause in the fighting in Gaza when he meets with the Israeli prime minister in Tel Aviv in the coming hours. Those talks take on added urgency with almost half a -- million and a half to displace Palestinians. Now the firing line as the IDF pushes further south towards Rafah. Any pause in the conflict would be part of a potential deal with Hamas in return for the release of Israeli hostages. The militant group has now made a counter offer after receiving a framework of an agreement. In their response, Hamas is calling for a quote complete ceasefire, a condition which Israel has repeatedly opposed to the past.

On Tuesday, Secretary Blinken was in Qatar, the mediator in hospital negotiations between Hamas and Israel. Qatar as Prime Minister described that response by Hamas leaders as positive.


MOHAMMED BIN ABDULRAHMAN BIN JASSIM AL THANI, QATARI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We have received a reply from Hamas with regards to the general framework of the agreement with regards to the hostages. The reply includes some comments, but in general, it is positive.


VAUSE: A different assessment though, from U.S. President Joe Biden.


BIDEN: There's been a response from the opposition. But yes, I'm sorry, from Hamas, but it seems to be a little over the top.


VAUSE: CNN's Nic Robertson is in Tel Aviv following all the developments and filed this report.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMAT EDITOR: Well, President Biden is describing Hamas's counterproposal as a little bit over the top, other U.S. officials saying it is positive and reasonable that Qatar is who the key interlocutors here also described it as positive. But they also indicated it wasn't a sort of straight up and down, yes, no answer to the proposal that had been given over a week ago.

And just going into late Tuesday, the State Department was saying the ball was in Hamas' court to give their response. And that response, the timing of it is interesting, because it happened only just before. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Doha, so really not giving him much time to study yet before he gets into meetings here in Tel Aviv on Wednesday with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli government officials.

We know that Mossad here is already in possession of the counterproposal, they're looking at it. Hamas themselves have said that they have responded in a positive way to the proposal that they receive, but their language in their statement, which doesn't detail what's in their counter proposal, but their language still indicates they want this permanent ceasefire, which for the Israeli government has been a no go what was on the table was a ceasefire of perhaps around about six weeks, that could then lead to a longer cessation of hostilities.

Hamas also indicating that they want all their prisoners released, so they want a full exchange of prisoners. That also has been a no go for the Israeli government who don't want to hand back all the Hamas prisoners who are in their jail.

So, is there too much daylight between the two sides here? Certainly, Wednesday is going to be a very busy day here for the Secretary of State, with all his meetings with Israeli officials to try to close some of the gaps.

The positions, as far as we know, are still a part. It's going to take some maximum diplomacy to close it and it's not clear that that's going to happen in the short term. Nic Robertson, CNN, Tel Aviv, Israel.



VAUSE: Kurt Volker spent 25 years working in senior foreign policy positions for six presidential administrations who is also a U.S. ambassador to NATO. And he's with us this hour from Washington. Thanks for coming back. It's good to see it.

KURT VOLKER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: This is a pleasure, John, thank you very much for having me.

VAUSE: OK, so now the exact details on the camera offered by Hamas have not been made public. But A source tells CNN it is, quote, reasonable, and does not include two of its most prominent and public demands that Israeli soldiers leave Gaza or for a deal to end the war. It is enough for the U.S. Secretary of State and others to believe a deal is still possible. Here's Secretary Blinken.


BLINKEN: There's still a lot of work to be done. But we continue to believe that an agreement is possible. And indeed essential. And we will continue to work relentlessly to achieve it.


VAUSE: So what we're hearing a deal as possible, the counteroffer is reasonable. It's positive, you know, essentially, open ended words which are so nonspecific, it's frustrating. So from your experience as a senior diplomat, what's your sense of what's actually going on here? How is this playing out?

VOLKER: Well, honestly, I think what Secretary Blinken is doing is the right thing and is what anyone in his position should do. Which is don't give up. Keep trying, keep talking, keep traveling, keep pushing. What he said there doesn't necessarily indicate what he thinks is realistic.

And I think any realistic assessment here is that Hamas is not serious. Hamas could release the hostages. They're not doing so. Hamas could be saying we're going to give up the fight. They're not doing so. Israel is not going to rest as long as Hamas militants are armed and organized and holding hostages. So this is actually quite an impasse.

So I think what Secretary Blinken is doing is right, by trying to keep that door open and trying to see if there's a way to get there. But I think the honest assessment is the chances are very, very slim.

VAUSE: Let's assume that there is an extended pause in fighting in Gaza, and there is some kind of deal. Secretary Blinken believes that could then possibly open the door to a more lasting peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, again, is Secretary Blinken. Listen to this.


BLINKEN: We're also determined to use any pause to continue to pave a diplomatic path forward to a just and lasting peace and security for the region. That is the best way. The best way to ensure that October 7, and the tragic loss of life by Israelis and Palestinians is not repeated.


VAUSE: He didn't said but any kind of lasting peace deal is based around the two-state solution. How does that have a chance but it's been rejected outright by the current Israeli government, as well as by Hamas militants in Gaza?

VOLKER: Exactly. So just a lasting peace, of course, you know, that's what everybody wants. The question is, how do you do it? And Hamas, as you said, rejects the idea of a two-state solution. They reject Israel's existence.

Likewise, no Israeli government, no Israeli citizens would trust a Palestinian state that is run by Hamas, or even the Palestinian Authority, which has shown itself weak and incompetent as compared with Hamas.

If there was a democracy in Gaza, they would elect Hamas again. So there's no way that I see a two-state solution is actually possible going forward. I think we need to really be thinking outside the box here, of what are the other types of solutions, maybe even ones that put aside concepts of political recognition and focus instead on economic development on enfranchisement of a population, on demilitarization. We need to be thinking about different things because I think a two state solution at this stage is frankly impossible.

VAUSE: Yes, we talked about it for decades and obviously it's gone nowhere. But still, these negotiations over hostages are continuing with the Israeli military bearing down on Rafah and there are satellite images which show how the population of Gaza's southern boasts city has surged since the war began. The ones were taken in early October as well as earlier this month. Now, there's no effing ground in sight. A million and a half

Palestinians are simply crammed together in search of some kind of safety. And somehow the Israeli military plans to find and kill Hamas leaders in Rafah in the coming days. If there isn't a deal for the hostages, and there is no pause in fighting. It seems this military operation by the Israelis is likely to edit a bloodbath for civilians in Rafah.

VOLKER: Well, yes, I wouldn't go quite to that extreme at the moment, anyway. I think what Israel has tried to do is clear northern Gaza, create some space where they feel they have some measure of control, and where Hamas is no longer able to be operational.

They do want to go after and find whoever the Hamas fighters are then infiltrated with the civilian population in Rafah but they also then want to create a valve to release people who are unarmed and who are genuine civilians to get them to safety.


And remember, the other side of this border is Egypt. And Egypt is not letting these people out of Gaza into Egypt, either. They're being squeezed there and trapped there. It is a horrific situation for the civilians, a horrific situation for the population. But it's also one that is, it's kind of easy to understand how this gets created, because you have a Hamas military force embedded with the civilian population, fully organized, fully armed, willing and able to attack Israel as well.

Israelis are doing their best to avoid civilian casualties. But at the same time, they are forced into a situation where they have to try to make sure that they can root out Hamas.

VAUSE: Urban warfare is incredibly difficult, and especially this is what Hamas wants. They want to draw the Israelis in. And that, you know, is obviously the main concern right now. And Ambassador Volker, thank you for being with us. Really appreciate your time, sir.

VOLKER: Well, it's a pleasure. Thank you.

VAUSE: The IDF says militants dressed as civilians were killed while preparing to attack Israeli ground forces around Khan Younis in southern Gaza. The mosque controlled health ministry in Gaza meantime says and Israeli military siege over medical complex near Khan Younis is tightening continuing to trap thousands of displaced Palestinians, who were taking shelter and refuge in the hospital grounds. CNN has asked the IDF for comment on the operations around that hospital.

In northern Gaza another look at the scale of the destruction left by months of war. Drone video from the U.N. Relief and Works Agency shows dozens of buildings just completely totally destroyed.

Now to Washington were crucial us funding for Israel and Ukraine has been stalled by Republicans in Congress who had seemed unable to count votes. In the past few hours, the GOP controlled lower House failed paths to their own bills, due in part to chaos within party ranks. First, there was a blatant political stunt which backfired when

Republicans fell short by two votes to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. House Speaker Mike Johnson says they will try again but only when they actually have the numbers.

For almost $18 billion standalone funding bill for Israel also failed. Right Wing Republicans forced the House speaker to bring up the bill under a fast track procedure which required a two-thirds majority to pass. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle oppose that measure.

And a bipartisan deal on immigration and foreign aid is on track to fail a vote in the Senate Wednesday amid Republican infighting and because Donald Trump wants the bill dead. The bill includes $75 billion in aid for both Ukraine and Israel. U.S. President Joe Biden had this warning for Republicans if the bill does not pass.


BIDEN: We can't walk away now. That's a Putin is betting on. Supporting this bill is standing up to Putin. Opposing this bill is playing into his hands. History is watching. History is watching. A federal support Ukraine this critical moment will never be forgotten.


VAUSE: Another big legal setback for Donald Trump with a U.S. federal appeals court ruling that presidential immunity does not prevent him from being prosecuted for crimes allegedly committed to overturn the results of the 2020 election. CNN's chief legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid has a closer look at the ruling and the Trump team strategy.


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFAFIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a unanimous historic ruling, three judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejecting former President Trump's claim that he has absolute immunity from criminal prosecution.

The judges writing for the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant. Special Counsel Jack Smith charged him with four federal counts related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

JACK SMITH, SPECIAL COUNSEL: It's described in the indictment. It was fueled by lies. Lies by the defendant targeted at obstructing a bedrock function of the U.S. government.

REID (voice-over): Trump has repeatedly insisted he was acting within the scope of his duties as president and therefore cannot be tried.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: A president of the United States has to be free and clear of mind. And you can't be worrying about something where you're doing the right thing. But if it doesn't work out, you're going to end up in prison. REID (voice-over): The judges on Tuesday have batted down that

argument and slammed Trump's alleged efforts to stay in power despite losing the election as unpresidential and an assault on American institutions.

We cannot accept former President Trump's claim that a president has unbounded authority to commit crimes. Former President Trump's stance would collapse our system of separated powers by placing the president beyond the reach of all three branches.


In a statement today the Trump campaign argued that without complete immunity, no president could properly perform their duties for fear of retribution. If immunity is not granted to a president, every future president who leaves office will be immediately indicted by the opposing party.

But the court also rejected any suggestion that prosecuting Trump in this case would have a chilling effect on future leaders. Past presidents have understood themselves to be subject to impeachment and criminal liability, at least under certain circumstances, so the possibility of chilling executive action is already in effect.

Trump is vowing to appeal and the Supreme Court will likely have the final say. The justices though were already set to hear arguments on Thursday, in another case with huge implications for Trump, on whether his actions after the 2020 election disqualify him from the 2024 ballot.

REID: With Trump expected to appeal the issue really becomes now one of timing, because the longer the Supreme Court sits with this case, the less likely it is that it can go to trial before the 2024 presidential election. And Trump's strategy here while they are litigating some valid constitutional questions, really, his number one priority is to try to delay, delay, delay and push both of his federal criminal cases back until after the election. Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: When we come back here on CNN, the result of a landmark case in the United States, testing the legal limits of whether a parent can be held responsible for a school shooting their child committed. Also remembering Chile's former president after his death in a helicopter crash.


VAUSE: Argentina's President Javier Melei has traveled to Israel, his first overseas trip as President. In a few hours he's scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A day earlier, Melei visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem, very emotional after kneeling to pray.

Melei has also met with the Israeli President Isaac Hertzog on Tuesday repeating a promise to move Argentina's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Chile is mourning the death of former President Sebastian Pinera who died in a helicopter crash Tuesday. He was 74 years old. A state funeral will be held for the late leader and three days of national mourning had been declared.

A statement from his office says others survived the crash but it's not clear what caused the accident. Many left flowers outside Pinera's house following the news of his death. CNN's Patrick Oppmann has details on the accident in Pinera's legacy.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sebastian Pinera had served two terms as President of Chile. He was a billionaire and a conservative, one of the most conservative presidents that Chile has had since transitioning from the dictatorship the right wing dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

According to the Chilean government, Pinera died on Tuesday while traveling in a helicopter in the southern part of the country Leadership of Augusto Pinochet.


According to the Chilean government, Pinera died on Tuesday while traveling in a helicopter in the southern part of the country. There were three other people aboard the helicopter with him when it crashed. They are survived and are listed as being out of danger is not knowing what caused the helicopter to crash. Although there was a rainy weather at the time of the crash, it was reported in Chilean state media.

The Chilean Navy was able to secure Pinera's body. He will be remembered and Chile has been president during the time in 2010, when 33 miners were rescued safely after being trapped in a mined collapse. Pinera was on the site of the rescue for hours as each miner was pulled for the mind, he would come and shake their hands and greet them. He monitored a minute by minute the progress of that successful rescue operation that was followed by people throughout the world.

He will also be remembered during his second term for the heavy handed response to widespread protests in the streets by students. That received a lot of criticism because so many people were injured or killed as a result of the government clashing with their students afterwards he admitted that perhaps the reaction to those protests had been too strong.

Pinera, according to the current President of Chile, Gabriel Boric will be remembered. It will be mourned across the country and will be given a state funeral. His death cubs as Chile is already recovering from widespread wildfires, the worst wildfires in that country's history that have killed over 100 people. Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: For the first time in the United States, a parent of a school shooter has been directly responsible for their child's actions. Jennifer Crumbley was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter Tuesday, while in two years after her son killed four students out of Michigan high school. CNN's Whitney Wild has more on this unprecedented case.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We find the defendant guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 45-year- old Jennifer Crumbley found guilty becoming the first parent in U.S. history to be held criminally responsible for a mass shooting committed by their child.

Crumbley son already serving life in prison for murdering four students Hana St. Juliana, Justin Shilling, Madison Baldwin and Tate Meir and wounding seven other people at his high school in Oxford, Michigan in 2021, when he was 15.

CRAIG SHILLING, FATHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM JUSTIN SHILLING: It was a long time coming but it's definitely a step toward accountability like what we've been talking about. It's kind of been our goal the whole time.

WILD (voice-over): Over the nine day trial, prosecutors argued that Crumbley, ignored warning signs her son was a threat and failed to lock up a firearm and ammunition he used to kill his classmates. Prosecutors pointed out that hours before the rampage, Crumbley, school administrators and the shooter had a meeting over this violent drawing on his math worksheet. Crumbley didn't pull her son from classes despite being told he needed help and never told school administrators she had given her son a gun and ammunition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did tell them that you had gotten him that Christmas gift?


WILD (voice-over): Prosecutors argued that Crumbley could have prevented the killings, but instead did nothing.

KAREN MCDONALD, COUNTY PROSECUTOR: She walked out of that school, when just the smallest, smallest of things could have saved Hannah, and Tate and Madison and Justin. And not only did she not do it, she doesn't even regret it.

WILD (voice-over): Defense attorneys argued Crumbley, didn't know about her son's deteriorating mental health and had no way to predict the shooting.

CRUMBLEY: Of course, I looked back after this all happened and I've asked myself if I would have done anything differently. I wouldn't know.

SHANNON SMITH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The Crumbley son was a skilled manipulator and they didn't realize it.

WILD (voice-over): But prosecutors grilled Crumbley on the warning signs they said she ignored including a phrase her son wrote in the drawing found by his teacher the morning of the shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the thoughts when stop helped me that ring out to you?

CRUMBLEY: Yes, that was what was concerning to me.

WILD (voice-over): The jury foreperson described the evidence that sealed the guilty verdict.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The thing that really hammered it home is that she was the last adult with the gun.

SHILLING: You cannot choose to take your own interest over your child, especially when it comes to mental health and addressing concerns.

WILD: Jennifer Crumbley faces up to 15 years in prison. Meanwhile, the shooters father and Jennifer Crumbley's husband James Crumbley is also charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. He's set to go to trial March 5. Whitney Wild CNN, Pontiac, Michigan.


VAUSE: When we come back, challenging the man who's challenging Vladimir Putin. Election officials In Russia fine errors and anti-war candidates application to be on the ballot for the presidential election in March.



VAUSE: Welcome back. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN Newsroom. Iran-backed Houthi rebels warned their attacks on American and British ships in the Red Sea will increase that the war in Gaza does not stop. What remains unknown do they have the capability to make good on that threat?

Week's U.S. and UK military strikes have targeted Houthi militants in Yemen, who initially began these attacks on ships which they say were linked to Israel.


ABUDL-MALIK AL-HOUTHI, HOUTHI LEADER (voice-over): I'm warning them. I say that they must first stop their barbaric, brutal and criminal aggression against Gaza and to stop their siege of the Palestinian people from whom they deny medicine and food and the Gaza Strip. Otherwise, we will seek to escalate further and further.


VAUSE: The Pentagon says ongoing attacks by Iran-backed groups in Iraq, Syria and Jordan are responsible for 146 U.S. casualties since October. Most we're not serious. But there are growing questions about who's ordering these attacks and how much control Iran really has over its proxies and allies. CNN's Paula Hancocks explains.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The United States says this is just the beginning. Striking Iranian-backed militia in Syria and Iraq and Iranian backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, an axis of resistance that is funded, trained and equipped by Tehran. But are they controlled by them?

VALI NASR, PROFESOR, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: I think Iran has given the broad support that this is the time to put pressure on us and Israel. But I don't think they manage them as tightly as we are assuming.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Last week, the most powerful proxy in Iraq Kata'ib Hizballah said it was suspending attacks against the United States just days after three American servicemembers were killed in a drone attack in Jordan, an attack would sharpen the Biden administration's focus on Tehran.

FARZAN SABET, GENEVA GRADUATE INSITUTE: While this reveals kind of archetype as well as reaction and potentially wringing pressure on them over the attacks on the U.S. and the consequences and follow. I don't think this necessarily means an end to the attacks and any pause will likely be short lived a matter of days or weeks.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Sources familiar with U.S. intelligence, say U.S. officials believe that Iran's leadership may be concerned about the actions of some of its proxies, although adding it is unlikely to affect their support of these groups.


SANAM VAKIL, CHATAM HOUSE: They are involved because of their own agency, because they have their own local and domestic goals. They also want sort of accountability for deaths on their own fighters and on their own terrain so it's not just that Iran can press a button and get everyone to stop.

HANCOCKS: The assassination four years ago of Qasem Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Quds Force and others may have also weakened Tehran's direct power over some of these groups.

FARZAN SABET, GENEVA GRADUATE INSTITUTE: Once they were assassinated, there is a belief among many experts that the kind of effectiveness or Iranian command and control over these groups begin to break down somewhat.

HANCOCKS: Neither Washington nor Tehran appear to have the appetite for direct confrontation. U.S. officials saying that an attack on Iranian soil is highly unlikely.

What we've heard from Iranian proxies, they said that they would silence their guns even if Tehran's influence on some groups has lessened if there is a ceasefire in Gaza the same as they did last November.

Paula Hancocks, CNN -- Abu Dhabi.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: As Russia's war in Ukraine heads into a third year, a message of support for Kyiv from the E.U. with a visit from the foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. He plans to discuss both military and financial aid with Ukrainian officials as well as Ukraine's progress in reforms needed so the Ukrainians can join the European Union.

Last week, the E.U. approved $54 billion of new aid for Ukraine. Kyiv has been pleading with western partners for more support.

Now Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announcing plans for a new military drone unit called Unmanned System Forces highlighting the critical role drones have played in the war.

Russia's Central Election Commission is challenging an anti-war candidate, Boris Nadezhdin's bid for the presidency. It says more than 15 percent of the signatures he submitted last week as part of this application are invalid and is now recommending his registration be denied.

Nadezhdin wants the commission to postpone a meeting scheduled for Wednesday so he can review their concerns. If elected, the former lawmaker has said he would end Russia's special military operation in Ukraine and free all Russian political prisoners on his first day in office.

With us this hour is Jill Dougherty, adjunct professor at Georgetown University and former CNN Moscow bureau chief. Good to see you. It's been a while.


VAUSE: Ok. So from out of nowhere, it seems Boris Nadezhdin is now the man of the moment, the only candidate who wants to run for president of Russia opposing the war in Ukraine.

But what do you know? election officials have found some issues with the 100,000 signatures in support of his candidacy, which is a requirement to get on the ballot.

Here's what one official had to say.


NIKOLAY BULAYEV, RUSSIAN CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION: When we see dozens and not just one dozen of people who are no longer on this earth, yet they have signed questions of integrity and ethical norms that are used by signature collectors arise. A candidate is directly implicated to some degree.

VAUSE: And according to the Institute for the Study of War, the Kremlin initially allowed Nadezhdin to run, assuming he would lose in a landslide to Putin, which would then show overwhelming domestic support for the war in Ukraine.

But a funny thing happened on the way to prove his landslide win. It seems maybe the Kremlin has underestimated how deeply unpopular the war is in Ukraine. And now it seems they have a bit of a problem, right?

DOUGHERTY: They do. Because if you looked at the few weeks ago, if you lived in social media that had people standing in line for hours to sign up to give a signature so that he could get on the ballot, there was a lot of interest in him.

And early on the Kremlin said, well, we don't think that he is a threat, but I think they definitely do. And that's why we'll see what the Central Election Commission says but I can't imagine they will allow him to be on that ballot.

VAUSE: Well, here's Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, talking to reporters two weeks ago. Here we are.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does Kremlin consider Boris Nadezhdin as a serious rival to Putin in upcoming presidential election. Does Kremlin see him as a threat?

DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESPERSON: Not at all, we don't consider him as a rival.


VAUSE: Which is to your point, he wasn't a threat back then, but I guess the mere fact that he may not be allowed on to the ballot seems to suggest that yes, he is a threat. Because this is how "managed democracy" as they call it, works in Russia.

DOUGHERTY: Yes. You know, there's a dilemma really with this "managed democracy" as they call it, because essentially the Kremlin has to give people the idea that they have a choice, OK.


DOUGHERTY: They also have to kind of motivate people to vote because if you know that the guy in power is going to win, then you're not very motivated to get out there.

So they have a dilemma, you know, they kind of did I believe think that he would just -- that Nadezhdin would simply, you know, not be able to be much of a force, you know. And he could be on the ballot as a few years ago. There actually was a

woman whose name is (INAUDIBLE), she was on the ballot. She got like 1.56 percent of the vote.

But it kind of gave the idea that there was somebody there and siphoned off liberal votes. So this is a different ball game. So they are treating this in a different way.

VAUSE: And you know, even you know, in the longshot case that Nadezhdin is allowed to run, he has no real chance of winning, I guess. But a very real chance of losing and losing a lot.

Here he is.


BORIS NADEZHDIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I hope that despite the election campaign, I will remain alive, free, and not be accused of being a foreign agent.

We live in such a country and in such a time that one can never know what can happen.


VAUSE: It seems to be a very high price to pay. And life expectancy for, you know, legitimate opposition leaders in Putin's Russia is not great.

Alexei Navalny is now, you know, playing out his days in a gulag north of the Arctic Circle.

So what is -- this is clearly the message that the Kremlin wants to send to anybody that has real hope of challenging Putin.

DOUGHERTY: Yes. And also, you know, there are people who were really looking at this. Some experts looking at it very carefully and the theory that they have is this is kind of like a stress test that the Kremlin is carrying out on the system.

They're going to be using electronic voting. The Kremlin is now trying to control the Internet even to the point of cutting off the Russian Internet from the worldwide web.

These are control methods that they're literally thinking about. So they're going to do a stress test on the Russian public to see what they're thinking, do a stress test on how they can manipulate the vote.

And Nadezhdin really is a wildcard. That is why it appears that this might be just too much for the Kremlin to handle and it would be much easier to say, well, you know, fake signatures, therefore, he cannot run.

VAUSE: And when you control pretty much the vast majority of the press and the media and what the message is, you get away with it, right DOUGHERTY: You do.

That doesn't mean that the people who are voting or would like to vote for him don't realize what's going on, but how many of them are there and what can they do about it if you are arrested for opposing the war or opposing Putin.

VAUSE: Jill, great to see you. Thanks for being with us.


VAUSE: Pakistan will hold a general election Thursday, the first since the collapse of Imran Khan's government in 2022. The former prime minister remains wildly popular and is languishing in prison and banned from contesting this election and as the country is facing mounting challenges from economic uncertainty to frequent terror attacks.

CNN's Anna Coren has more


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The aftermath of an explosion in southern Pakistan. Just one of a string of attacks targeting political candidates across the country. So as the nation of more than 230 million people prepares to go to the polls, there's an air of unease.

Pakistan's widely popular former prime minister Imran Khan is behind bars, charged with corruption and revealing state secrets, and is banned from running in the election. He denies any wrongdoing.

After Khan was arrested by paramilitary police in May last year, his supporters took to the streets, some of them armed. What followed was an extensive crackdown by what many say was led by the country's powerful military, a claim it denied.

Protesters were detained, journalists censored. Among those jailed social media activists Sanam Javed, a supporter of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or PTI Party.

The 36-year-old mother of two is facing terrorism charges, accused of inciting her thousands of followers to commit arson on the day Khan was arrested. She denies the charges. Her father says her incarceration is an example of authorities silencing dissenting voices.

IQBAL JAVED, FATHER OF SANAM JAVED: I know that all of this is fake and created and being done to victimize the political party of Imran Khan. This is a political case.

COREN: Pakistan's information minister denied those claims, saying law enforcers and prosecutors had evidence against Javed.


COREN: With the fall of Imran Khan has come the return and rise in popularity of his predecessor, Nawaz Sharif. Sharif is back in Pakistan after corruption charges led to years of self-imposed exile. He's now widely expected to win a historic fourth term.

TIM WILLASEY-WILSEY, POLITICAL ANALYST: The good prognosis is that if Sharif is elected, he builds a coalition which includes Bilawal Bhutto (INAUDIBLE) and starts to run the country pragmatically, he's a pragmatist. And starts to, you know, balance relations between U.S. and China, get the economy back on track.

COREN: Standing between Sharif and the top job is Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the 35-year-old is descended from one of Pakistan's political dynasties.

Yet even with Zardari's youthful appeal, many young voters have been left disillusion by Pakistan's recent political disorder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole country knows that the decision has already been made.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think stability will come because I think after the elections, a lot of problems will be created.

HASSAN, LAHORE RESIDENT: We as the voters, feel disenfranchised, because even if a certain government comes into play, all governments have, we feel disappointed us at most levels.

COREN: Pakistan faces mounting challenges from economic issues to climate catastrophes and militant attacks. just last month, Pakistan and Iran carried out strikes against alleged militant targets in each other's territory citing the threat of terrorist attacks.

For Pakistan and its people, unified government after years of uncertainty, will be a must to avoid tensions spilling beyond the country's borders.

Anna Coren, CNN -- Hong Kong.


VAUSE: The Indian government plans to build a fence on the entire border with Myanmar. Officially it's for better surveillance. New Delhi says the patrol track will be paved along the nearly 1,700- kilometer border as well. Ten kilometers of the fence is already being built in Manipal, which was rocked by renewed violence between ethnic groups last year, the worst clashes there in decades.

Well, the fate of a kidnapped pilot from New Zealand remains unknown, a year after he was taken captive by rebels in West Papua in Indonesia. We'll have the very latest in a live report.


VAUSE: It's been a year now since a New Zealand pilot was kidnapped by rebels in Indonesia's combative province of West Papua. Now, the commander who took him is being urged by his superiors to release the 37-year-old husband and father. The rebels have previously threatened to kill the pilot unless New Zealand agrees to pressure Indonesia and support with Papua's bid for independence.

The pilot was taken when his plane landed on a routine delivery run.

Let's go to CNN producer Angus Watson live for us this hour in Sydney. This has been obviously a heart-wrenching story for his family and for many people in New Zealand. But what's the chances of his release?


ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: John, this is perhaps a glimmer of hope after an entire year in which Phillip Mehrtens has been kept largely incommunicado in the rugged foothills of Papua -- of West Papua. This area of Indonesia in which this independent struggle has been going on since the 1960s.

Armed rebels there taking him one year ago and threatening to kill him, as you say, unless New Zealand steps into try to convince Indonesia to allow Papua to secede from that country, which already was an extraordinary demand and one which was very unlikely to be met.

So the New Zealanders immediately refused to negotiate with this group of rebels who are designated as terrorists by Indonesia.

And Indonesia's method to try to rescue Mehrtens was military. They sent wave after wave of special forces troops at this group of rebels to try to take him back by force and were unsuccessful.

So over the past 12 months, little has been known about how Mehrtens has been getting on save for a string of proof-of-life videos of hostage videos, in which we see Mehrtens growing increasingly thin, increasingly unkempt as well.

And those hostage videos even began to dry up as the rebels realize that even New Zealanders were not going to negotiate directly with them.

So now, one year after this hostage situation began, a glimmer of hope in that the rebel group, the top brass of the rebel group, want to try to convince the individual rebels that hold Mehrtens to release him. The command at the top level, these rebels no longer believe that there's a political gain to be made in keeping Mehrtens captive.

The rebel group, the individuals that hold Mehrtens have not agreed to do that yet. Unfortunately for Mehrtens, it's one of the most feared rebels that has him in captivity now.

Eganius Koyega is someone who's previously claimed responsibility for massacres of Indonesians in Papua. So it's this delicate situation in which the rebels are effectively squabbling between themselves as to what to do with Mehrtens, this 37-year-old New Zealand father and husband who has been in captivity for 12 months.

That window, that glimmer of hope may be a small one, John. As you know, next week, Indonesians will go to the polls, including people in Papua will vote for a new president. The front runner --

VAUSE: That report there unfortunately interrupted by some technical problems. So Angus Watson in Sydney, we thank you for the update.

We shall move on.

Britain's King Charles III and Queen Camilla, spending a little time at their Sandringham country estate. That's about 100 miles north of London.

The 75-year-old monarch was seen in public Tuesday, a day after Buckingham Palace announced his cancer diagnosis.

Meantime, is his youngest son, Prince Harry, arrived in London making a mad dash flying in from California to be with his father.

More details now from CNN's Isa Soares.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rushing to his father's side after a troubling cancer diagnosis, Prince Harry arrives in the U.K. alone. Just one day after the news sent shockwaves throughout the country, Harry flew from Los Angeles to London and drove directly to the King's residence where he stayed for less than an hour.

The prince's arrival without his wife, Meghan Markle or their children, comes amid a family feud that has played out publicly. One that saw the couple step down from their royal duties in 2020 following damning accusations of racism and ill-treatment.

Only last year, Harry's tell-all books, "Spare" detailed episodes of a troubled family life accusing then Queen-Consort Camilla of leaking stories to the British press and saying his brother and sister-in-law never really accepted his wife due to racial stereotypes.

Now, Harry's back in U.K. for the first time since the king's coronation last year. This diagnosis raising speculation of a royal reconciliation after years of estrangement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's got to come back to see his father (INAUDIBLE). I mean it's the right thing to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This whole family feud seems a bit silly in my opinion. They should makeup and hopefully this means (INAUDIBLE) a little bit more.

SOARES: Perhaps a chance to heal what was once a strong bond, not only between father and son, but between brothers.

EMILY NASH, ROYAL COMMENTATOR: This is a major event for the royal family and like any family, cancer diagnosis comes as a big shock. And people will want to rally around and rightly the priority has to be enforcing (ph) their father that we'd all like to see relations after a very difficult period in their relationship as brothers.

Primarily, the big (INAUDIBLE) is he's going to be here to spend time with his father.


SOARES: We have been told there are no plans for the brothers to meet officially but in the event 75-year-old King Charles undergoes surgery or becomes debilitated, both William and Harry, first and fifth in line to the throne, might need to step up as counsellors of state.

With this diagnosis comes uncertainty, not just for the family, but also for the monarchy. And with a slimmed-down royal family, an image of unity will be crucial for the health and the future of the crown. Just as it happened when the family gathered to say goodbye to their matriarch, Queen Elizabeth in September of 2022.

Prince Harry's return however long a renewed proof that at the end of the day, regardless of the turmoil, family always comes first.

Isa Soares, CNN -- London.


VAUSE: Two deadly weather disasters on the West Coast of both Americas have a common connection. Scientists say they're both driven by climate change and the natural phenomenon of El Nino, which has a global heating effect.

This has helped to fuel deadly fires in Chile that have killed more than 130 people, destroyed at least 3,000 homes.

Thousands of kilometers away in California dealing with catastrophic storms caused by a system known as an atmospheric river, bringing intense rainfall which has been battering the state since the weekend.

The European commission is supporting one of the most ambitious climate goals in the world. On Tuesday, the E.U. published a roadmap to slash carbon pollution by 90 percent from 1990 levels by the year 2040.

It may take a year before the European parliament approves that target. The commission removed the agricultural sector from an earlier draft, a concession to European farmers who've been protesting for weeks, complaining that E.U.'s environment policies threaten their livelihoods.

We'll take a short break.

When we come back, Taylor Swift in Japan for her latest leg of her global tour. We're live in Tokyo for all the Taylor mania.


VAUSE: Brace for it, Tokyo. Taylor Swift has arrived. The latest stop on her record-breaking Eras tour which reportedly brought in more than $1 billion just last year, the first concert tour in history to make a billion dollars which is a big deal.

Live to Tokyo, CNN's Hanako Montgomery is waiting near the concert venue. Are you a Swiftie or you excited about this? HANAKO MONTGOMERY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John I am so excited about this,

I actually wish you could be here with. I am a Swiftie. I'll be honest. I'll admit.

But the excitement -- I'm glad, I'm glad -- the excitement here though, is just palpable. The jubilation here is amazing. And we're not even at Tokyo Dome or near Tokyo dome. And there's just so much excitement.

We've been here since 2:00 p.m. local time and fans, thousands of fans had been going through here heading towards Tokyo Dome to see their favorite popstar.

And you know, they're in their very colorful costumes, each representing a different era in Taylor Swift's discography. They're also chanting, they're singing, they're dancing to all of Taylor Swift's music.

They have these friendship bracelets. I actually got one from a Swiftie earlier, very exciting. And, you know, we knew that she was popular in the United States but her fame at transcends international borders. We have to remember that all of her concerts have been sold out in Tokyo.


MONTGOMERY: Organizers tell us that within the first 30 minutes that the tickets went online, all of them sold out. And she is the first foreign female artist to play in Tokyo Dome for four nights in a row. That is just how in demand she is.

And you know, celebrations have been taking place all across the country. We shot -- we saw (INAUDIBLE) actually Taylor Swift's music playing in one of the very centers of (INAUDIBLE) as people just jammed out to her music very, very exciting.

And you know, you have to remember. Oh, thank you. I just got another I just got another friendship bracelet. How exciting.

This is just the kind of fan base that Swift has. Very, you know, friendly, very loving for Taylor Swift. And we have to remember the last time that she was in Tokyo was in 2018, nearly six years ago for her reputation for it.

So fans -- they are Swift-deprived. They are so excited to see Taylor Swift as she is bringing in the fans, but also the big bucks.

Some of the economists that we spoke to tell us that she's going to generate over US$230 million because of her concert. The next biggest music event in Japan is (INAUDIBLE), and that generates $134 million.

So again, she's just a powerhouse. People are so excited to see the woman who is making music, the soundtrack to their lives John.

VAUSE: You know, I'm so glad I'm not there because when she was in Atlanta, the traffic around the CNN Center was a nightmare. I sound like a real curmudgeon (ph).

Hanako, thank you for the live report. Enjoy the bracelets.


Well, France's oldest Olympic medalist will once again be in the spotlight 76 years after winning gold. Charles Coste, who turns 100 Thursday, will carry the torch for this year's Paris summer games. He uses a walker to get around these days, but he'll do his best.

He won the track cycling gold in the 1948 London Olympics, calling it a dream come true, fulfilling a promise he made to his mother when he was just 12 years old.

Can't wait to see the walker. It's going to be good.

Thank you for watching. I'm John Vause.

Please stay with us. CNN NEWSROOM continues with my friend and colleague Rosemary Church after a very short break.

See you tomorrow.