Return to Transcripts main page
Isa Soares Tonight
Children Killed In A Russian Strike On Apartment Building In Uman Ukraine; Fighting Rages In Sudan Despite New Ceasefire; Free Speech Debates Rage On U.S. College Campuses; Russian-Backed Officials: 9 Killed In Donetsk Shelling; Activists To Rally Saturday To Push U.K. To Recognize Iran's Revolutionary Guard As Terrorist Organization; College Students Protesting Controversial Speakers. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired April 28, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, children are among the dead after a
barrage of Russian missile strikes across Ukraine. Then, a new ceasefire struck on paper, but the fighting rages in Sudan as the crisis for
civilians becomes even more dire.
And then later this hour, the culture wars are raging on some U.S. campuses. We'll explore the line between free speech and hate speech at one
university. But first, this evening, central Ukraine is again plunged into shock and grief today after a missile plowed into an apartment building
overnight, killing at least 22 people.
Officials tell CNN, three children are among the victims. It happened in the city of Uman, that's hundreds of kilometers away from the frontlines.
Around half of the apartments completely destroyed, as you can see there. Emergency workers are working their way up the building, searching for
survivors. And this is a huge death toll for a largely unsuccessful Russian attack.
Ukrainian forces say they intercepted 21 long-range cruise missiles in a massive barrage. More proof that no home, no person, no child, in fact, in
Ukraine, is safe from Russian strikes. Our Nic Robertson is on the ground in Uman and brought us this report. It's just a short one, OK.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (on camera): Yes, this is where the rescue and recovery efforts is going to shift to up here. Once
the rescue and recovery mission down at ground floor, and I'm just going to ask David to pan around so you can see. We'll shift up here, but what
you're looking at there, you shouldn't be able to see those other apartment buildings.
That should have been -- that was where the rest of this apartment was. The floors pancaked down. So, we're in the crawl space above the top floor, and
that, where the floor stops there, that was where the other apartments were below. They're completely pancaked down. When the rescue and recovery is
completed at the ground floor level, the firefighters are going to shift up here.
They've got the ropes laid out already. They're going to lower themselves off the edge here, down to the pancake concrete floors of the apartments
below. Literally, this is where those apartments were. You can see where the building is, shorn off at the side over there, completely shorn off.
All of that there was where those apartments are.
And we've been talking to one lady who lives close to here, one of her friends was in one of those apartments on the eighth floor. She says her
friend survived, the friend's husband is in hospital, but their two daughters, a 13-year-old girl and her 7-year-old sister, are missing. And
there's a real concern that they will unfortunately have perished. But their bodies may still be up there, trapped on the eighth floor, along with
potentially other people.
So the firefighters will come up here, and as they've been doing all day in this dangerous mission here, literally putting themselves in danger to try
to recover, to clear out the site, to bring solace. We've been talking to people down there who are neighbors, who were here when the missile hit at
5 O'clock in the morning, who are desperately trying to find out what's happened to the -- to the -- to the people that they know, to the people
that they love, to the people that they care about.
And the firefighters are going to be doing just that. One man who was one of the first on the scene here said that when he got here, he could hear
children screaming. He said they managed to pull a lady out of the rubble, but by the time she got to a hospital, she had died. And another lady in an
apartment just close to here, told us, when she heard the missiles fly over, she didn't know what it was, she put her kids in a bathtub, put
pillows on their head because she thought they were going to die, too.
Luckily, they survived. But one of the things she told us, and I think that's the tragedy of this building, when we think about those lives, 20
people killed that we know about so far. Three of them confirmed to be children. This lady told us that so many children lived in the space that's
just gone. That's where they lived.
SOARES: Absolutely horrific, and so many innocent children there affected by that missile strike. We'll of course, stay on top of this story for you.
I want to go to Sudan because we don't know when this hell will end. Those words from one resident who lives near Khartoum as intense fighting shreds
yet another ceasefire deal between Sudan's warring factions.
Heavy black smoke rose over the capital today amid new airstrikes as well as artillery battles. The neighboring city of Bari was also rocked by
violence. This is all that's left of the main market there and the fighting is spreading. The U.N. says at least 96 people have been killed in fierce
clashes this week in El Geneina, in Sudan's west Darfur region.
The U.N. warns there's a serious risk of further escalation. Meantime, more people are fleeing Sudan however they can, by foot, by bus, air or sea. But
in an incident today involving a Turkish evacuation plane, underscores just how dangerous these efforts can be. I want to bring in CNN's Larry Madowo,
who is live for us in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
And we have seen in the last 48 hours, many evacuees making their way to Jeddah, to Saudi Arabia. Do we know, Larry, how long these evacuations will
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I imagine these evacuations will keep going for as long as there's a need for people to leave Sudan, Isa. And
right now, it appears that not just Sudanese people, but many foreigners are trying to escape the country. The Saudis say they have so far evacuated
about 3,000 people out of Sudan from 80 nationalities, only about a 100 of them were from Saudi Arabia.
And today alone, we saw members of the military's or diplomatic support from India, Pakistan, China, all talking about evacuating their citizens
here to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, and then off to the country that they need to go to. Even those that are getting on these Saudi boats to come to
Jeddah are only here for a couple of days, they're getting sent to hotels, getting food, getting travel support when they don't have travel documents,
and then leaving to their final destinations.
The reason why Jeddah has become the central point is because it appears to be the closest port across the Red Sea from Port Sudan in Sudan, which is
the main seaport there. But to get to Port Sudan is an ordeal in itself. In the best of times, it's an 800 kilometer journey, more than 500 miles, it
usually takes about 12 hours.
But during this war, it's taken as much as 30 hours to get from Khartoum to the eastern Port Sudan. You get on a convoy, you hire a bus, sort of van or
some kind and hoping you get there. It is so dangerous, that the U.S. has so far told its citizens it cannot coordinate any evacuations of private
citizens, because they just can't arrange the security set-up enough to be able to have a continuous evacuation of about 16,000 or so dual U.S.-
Sudanese nationals in the country.
But many of the foreign, especially western nations have done, such as France and Germany and the U.K. flying people out of an airbase in northern
Khartoum and into Cyprus in the case of the U.K. or here in Jeddah or in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia or in Djibouti, and then onto their final
destinations. But this is a situation that continues to worry security experts, because even though we're onto the fifth or the sixth ceasefire,
it's not being strictly observed.
SOARES: And look, I've heard in the last two days or so, I've spoken to a family whose father -- American-Sudanese father, dual national, is stuck.
He can't get into Egypt. I heard from another British writer who's also Sudanese who struggled to get out. They are getting out. There is help. But
do you know, speaking to Saudi officials or to other western nations who have been part of this evacuations, whether they will be opening their
doors? They'll be helping the Sudanese refugees get out, Larry. Is that being discussed?
MADOWO: So, that's part of the issue here, that those that are getting on the Saudi ships are foreigners who have been given priority. Even if
they're Sudanese, they will have to be Sudanese dual nationals with the U.K., with the U.S. or with the Netherlands or France or Germany. So,
people who only have a Sudanese passport are having it harder to get on these evacuation ships, to Saudi Arabia or to elsewhere.
And that is precisely the problem. And we've got to admit here that those who have second passports or residences in other countries or visas that
are valid to other countries tend to be the more privileged class of society. Those who really don't have a second option are going to the
Egyptian border. They're trying to go to Chad. They're trying to go to South Sudan or Eritrea or Ethiopia.
The Saudis say they're accepting everyone, even those who don't have travel documents, and they can arrange for a temporary stay in Saudi Arabia. I
just met while we've been standing here, waiting for this live shot, Isa, officials from the Kenyan embassy who say they received about 39 Kenyans
here in Saudi Arabia, some of them didn't even have travel documents, but they're foreigners. They're not Sudanese.
SOARES: That's a good -- starting a conversation is a good sign. I know you'll stay on top of this for us. Thanks very much, appreciate it. Well,
deciding to risk your life and try to escape a war zone is traumatic enough, but imagine having no car, little cash, and no official help in
organizing an escape route. Many people in Khartoum are facing this terrifying scenario. I spoke earlier to a British-Sudanese author who went
to Sudan for a cousin's funeral. She says it's a miracle she made it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROZAN AHMED, BRITISH-SUDANESE AUTHOR & ACTIVIST: I had no running water for seven days. Our water was cut off the day the conflict had kicked off
on the 15th of April. I had a supply of drinking water, but after seven days, my drinking water had run out. And I simply didn't know what to do.
And the British Embassy, I was in contact with on a daily basis, so was my mother, so were friends, you know, calling constantly to try and get some
information as to a tangible plan to evacuate, but unfortunately, seven days later, we didn't hear anything, so I -- and I was terrified. I don't -
- I wasn't sure if I could tolerate being there any longer.
So I joined a group of Sudanese in the community, within the community that I was staying in, and we planned our own escape. We mobilized, we
organized. And I have no words for the resilience and the strength and the power of the Sudanese people that managed to do it themselves.
SOARES: You managed to get on a coach. Who did you travel with? What was that journey like? And the situation at the border, because I've been
hearing some reports as well that are incredibly worrying.
AHMED: Oh, it was -- I'm telling you now that the border between Egypt and Sudan, in the Aswan region, the Nubian territory of Aswan, that region is a
humanitarian disaster in the making. It was -- it was probably, for me, just as harrowing as the war itself. What I saw -- I saw elderly people who
were just having to wait in the boiling hot heat for the process as there were so many people there, they couldn't lie down.
They couldn't sit down. It just broke my heart that there wasn't any humanitarian assistance there either, and the journey itself was -- it was
terrifying. But I'll tell you, as they say, you know, God takes the wheel. I felt such a remarkable sense of calm and composure, I felt like I had to,
because I was --
SOARES: Yes --
AHMED: On a bus with a lot of elderly people, a lot of young, you know, children, and the men who were with us were really such a foundation of
strength, and I felt really responsible. You know, there's a reason why I've survived this -- and people don't really discuss how war affects the
mind. You know, the mental devastation involved.
You know, we always look and see the physical ailments or disaster of war, but the mental devastation is really hard. But really, by the grace of God
and the Sudanese community, who came together in such a brilliantly beautiful way, I am alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: And our thanks, of course, to Rozan Ahmed for taking the time to speak to us. Britain did begin to organize evacuations from Sudan on
Tuesday, the day our guest, Rozan, made it to the Egyptian border. We've just learned that the U.K. plans to end those evacuation flights with the
final flight happening on Saturday, because of what it calls a decline in demand.
Well, we want to get back to our top story this hour, the situation in Ukraine, where the death toll has climbed after a Russian missile strike on
an apartment. We've now learned that at least 23 people have been killed. We have connected with our Nic Robertson who is live for us in Uman, in
And Nic, we saw your report at the top of the hour, you being inside that building and how the impact of that strike. And this was one missile here.
The impact of one missile, 23 were launched, and the majority intercepted. But just give us a sense of what is happening behind you right now on the
ROBERTSON: Yes, so those 23 people you mentioned dead, four of them we understand are children. And I'm just going to move out of the shot now,
Dave is going to tilt up to the top, which is -- you can see the firefighters up there right now. This is where we were, looking down above
the building before with the firefighters -- they told us, this is what they were going to do.
They said all day that they were working at the lower level, recovering bodies, doing as much as they could to make sure that everyone that they
could recover had been recovered. And now, they turn their attention to the top floors, and they told us that they were going to upscale down, and you
can see one of the firefighters getting ready to do that.
That big crane that's positions up there is going to help them lift some of the heavy slabs of concrete. These are the floors, ceilings of the
apartments that were collapsed. And we were speaking with a lady here earlier on, who was telling us that she had a friend living on the fourth
floor -- eighth floor apartment.
The friend, she said, had survived. The friend's husband was in hospital. But their two daughters, a 13-year-old and a 7-year-old are believed up
there somewhere in that rubble. And that is what the firefighters are doing. They said they were going to work all through the day until they've
recovered everyone, until they had searched through all these apartment buildings.
They've been at this now 16 hours, up there on the precarious, broken concrete, risking themselves to help bring solace to people below. There's
been a lot of people gathered around here, watching to find out what's happened to their neighbors. For people that they love, trying to find
out what has happened to the people they really care about? We've seen police specialists here and trauma psychologists counseling people.
There is a DNA unit that the police has brought in, brought in here as well to help people identify some of the victims who have been brought out of
the rubble, because some people were hiding in the basement. And the basement was completely devastated and crushed. It's a massive operation
here, and they say that they're just going to keep going through the night until they've cleared it all out, Isa.
SOARES: And Nic, I mean, this happened at 4 O'clock in the morning, and just -- you know, this is Uman, it's south, from what I understand of Kyiv.
This is far away, Nic, from those frontlines. So try -- help us make sense of what we are seeing, this tragedy right before our very eyes.
ROBERTSON: It's so hard to know exactly what the Russians are trying to target. This is, as you say, hundreds of miles from the frontlines, people
here sleeping in their apartments, 109 people, we understand, registered living in the apartments here. Russia has not attacked with missiles Uman
since March last year. They also launched strikes on Kyiv for the first time in almost two months.
Is Russia probing to try to find weaknesses in Ukraine's air defenses? Is that what they're trying to do as Ukraine prepares for a much-expected
counteroffensive? It's not clear why this is happening, but the resilience that we see on the ground here, the outpouring of rescue recovery workers,
of aide and support groups. What you don't see around the corner here are the men cutting sheets of plastic, handing out -- handing out planks of
wood as well, so that people can repair the windows.
The buildings we were in along here, the windows have been blown out, but there were workers in there already repairing the buildings. The effort and
immediate support -- there is a school around the corner here that's full of clothes for people who've lost their possessions in these apartments. So
outpouring of support is huge.
SOARES: And it's something that we've always seen throughout in Ukraine, that resilience, and that community spirit, wonderful to see among so much
strategy. Nic, thanks very much. Nic Robertson for us there in Uman, Ukraine. Now two historic testimony in the investigation into former
President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Former Vice President Mike Pence testifying Thursday before a federal grand jury. For more about -- and for more than 5 hours or so about his former
boss and potential rival for the White House. I want to bring in our senior U.S. Justice correspondent Evan Perez, who joins me now. Evan, great to see
you. So this was quite a lengthy, it's 5 hours or so, that's pretty lengthy. What more are we learning about his testimony? Do we know what
Pence was asked at this stage or we're never going to find out here?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, because the grand jury, Isa, is a secret proceeding, we're probably never going to find out
exactly what he was asked, and the questions that he declined to answer, or did he decline to answer any of those questions? You'll remember that he
did file a lawsuit to try to limit what the Justice Department could ask, what prosecutors could ask him.
He claimed that as the member -- the president of the Senate, he had some protections from the constitution on certain questions, but truly, once he
goes behind the closed doors of that grand jury, he is there alone without his lawyer. And so if there's a question that he was asked that may have
been on the line, he could have answered them.
And that's one of the fears, if you talk to people close to the former President Trump, their concern is that behind the scenes, Mike Pence, and
certainly his aides, have been a lot more helpful to prosecutors than he has portrayed publicly. Of course, as you pointed out, you know, he is
possibly going to be running for president, and he's trying to walk a fine line, trying to pretend that he is standing up to the -- to the
administration and the Justice Department, but at the same time, wants to make sure that people know he has nothing to hide.
SOARES: This is pretty historic. Evan Perez, appreciate it my friend, great to see.
PEREZ: Great to see you, thanks --
SOARES: Yes, now another big Republican name is making headlines, this time here in the U.K.
Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis was in London today, bringing a little of the Sunshine State to the Big Smoke. He met the British Foreign Secretary
whose office says the pair discussed economic ties between Britain and Florida. Back home, DeSantis is being sued by Disney. Take a look at that
split screen there. The company accuses the governor and his allies of violating its rights in the effort to remove Disney World in Orlando's
special tax district.
This, after DeSantis and Disney sparred over Florida's so-called "don't say gay" law in public schools. Still to come tonight, growing scrutiny over
who is allowed to have security clearances in the U.S., as we learn troubling new details about an Airman accused of leaking Intelligence. That
SOARES: The U.S. Airman suspected of leaking a trove of classified Intelligence remains in custody today. This, after a judge in Massachusetts
held off on the decision about his pretrial detention on Thursday. Lawyers for 21-year-old Jack Teixeira want him released into his father's custody.
But prosecutors say he is a flight risk and a threat to national security.
In court filings, they've highlighted how the suspect has a history of racist as well as threatening remarks, what they've called an arsenal of
guns, and even a pennant in his room showing an emblem of Russia's military. With so many potential red flags, many are now asking how the
suspect was allowed to have a security clearance. For more, let's bring in CNN's Natasha Bertrand at the Pentagon.
Natasha, great to have you here on the show. I mean, that is the main question, isn't it? I mean, and I'm guessing it's one that's probably being
discussed right now at the Pentagon. How is the Pentagon currently vetting, and does it need to -- what does it need to do to avoid this happening
again, in terms of vetting process here, Natasha?
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Isa, so right now, the process for really anyone across the U.S. government who wants to
get this kind of clearances, they have to fill out a very extensive questionnaire, and basically self report any bad behavior in the past, any,
of course, contacts with foreign nationals. And they also are interviewed extensively by a personnel with the Defense Counterintelligence and
Security Agency which vets people again, across the U.S. government who are applying for these kinds of clearances.
Now what appears to have happened here is that this individual, the suspected leaker, he was suspended in high school for apparent violent
remarks, having to do with bringing guns to school, making Molotov cocktails, things that generally made his classmates feel very unsafe.
And that was either -- that information was either overlooked or simply not deemed important enough by the investigators who were looking into him to
give him a security clearance to prevent him from actually granting him that top secret clearance. Just three years later, just three years after
he was suspended from high school for these violent remarks.
And we should note also that in addition to that suspension, he was actually denied a gun identification card twice by the local police
department in his hometown because of their concerns over the incident, stemming from his high school years. So a lot of questions here about
whether the vetting process that the Pentagon currently has in place is good enough to kind of flag these kinds of anomalies and concerns before
granting someone like this a highly classified top secret clearance, Isa.
SOARES: Natasha Bertrand, appreciate it, thank you very much. Now, it appears two Russian comedians succeeded in making a prank phone call to one
of the most important officials in the U.S. government. The Russians, who are known supporters of Vladimir Putin, pretended to be Ukrainian President
Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a video call with -- that's right, the chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, you see him there, Jerome Powell.
A Fed spokesman says nothing confidential or sensitive was discussed on the call. The comedians claim to have made prank calls to other world leaders,
they include Poland's president, Canada's prime minister, and the head of the European Central Bank. And still to come tonight, it's been a big week
for diplomacy, we will have the top stories you need to know and international affairs this week.
SOARES: Well, welcome back to the show everyone. We are hearing reports of more civilian casualties in Ukraine, this time from Ukrainian shelling.
Russian-backed officials in the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, say nine people were killed in Donetsk city. Those authorities say an
eight-year-old girl is one of the victims, and they report 16 people were wounded.
CNN cannot confirm the reported casualties. We are working our sources as soon as we have more. Of course, we will bring it to you. We're also
waiting for any comment from the Ukrainian side. So, we'll stay on top of that story for you. As soon as we have more details, we shall bring it your
Well, it has been a big week for diplomacy, and I think there's plenty for us to unpack if you've been following us here on the show. Watching it, you
First, we saw, of course, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have a call with China's President Xi Jinping for the first time since Russia's
invasion began on Wednesday. President Xi now involving China to try and solve the crisis in Ukraine.
And that's not the only geopolitical headline that touched on China. The U.S. and South Korea made a show of their relationship on Wednesday,
expressing unity on North Korea as well as Taiwan. China reminded South Korean leaders, though, about their stance on Taiwan urging the country to
adhere to their One China Principle. I'd like to bring in. CNN's Senior Global Affairs Analyst, Bianna Golodryga, for more.
Bianna, great to have you on the show and there's so much for us to unpack. So, let's start, first of all, with that call between President Xi and
President Zelenskyy. The readout of the call was quite telling because it was long and meaningful, and I don't mean to sound officious, but what
difference do you think this will make to this conflict here?
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I think you're right to at least give a hint of officiousness there in that call. Look,
Isa, on the surface, it is very important and significant that this call was made between these leaders because this has been something that
President Zelenskyy has said publicly that he's wanted to see and that he's wanted to have had take place. So, this call on the surface, one hour
though, we have to remind our viewers that there was likely translation included to make this call seem longer than it was.
Nonetheless, it took place and it's really showing China's position in the world and how President Xi is trying to position himself as a neutral
arbiter. Now, anyone who's been watching this unfold for the last year can -- is right to have some skepticism about that presentation and label,
given the close ties that we've seen with President Xi and President Putin, not just since the war began but over the past several years since both of
them have been in office, really.
They called each other best friends, they visit each other more than any other leaders have. And President Xi was just in Moscow, as you'll recall
last month, and I'd like to read for you an exchange that he had with Vladimir Putin when he was there because this is what he said to Vladimir
Putin. He said, "There are changes happening, the likes of which we haven't seen for 100 years. Let's drive these changes together." To which Vladimir
Putin responded, "I agree."
So you can be the judge on what we're seeing from this readout between the President Zelenskyy and President Xi saying that they respect sovereignty
and that they are exchanging ambassadors as well. This is something Zelenskyy has welcomed, but when you look at words like these and actions
like these from President Xi to Putin, it speaks otherwise.
SOARES: It does indeed. And I don't see -- like you, I don't see Xi abandoning or turning his back in fact, Bianna, on Putin. Like you said,
they refer to each other as their friends, but I mean, for our international audience here, what does Xi get out of his involvement here
in Ukraine? How much is this simply about optics for him?
GOLODRYGA: I think a lot of it has been about optics. Behind closed doors, you even talk to officials who say that China has been quite embarrassed
and shocked by how this war has progressed. Whatever Vladimir Putin had told him when he had been in China just weeks before that invasion clearly
isn't how this is all played out. And nonetheless, China has really picked a corner and aside here.
And for President Xi, not necessarily a Russian victory would be beneficial to him, but definitely in his view, a Russian loss would be catastrophic
for him because, in his mind, as we know, and as you've covered extensively, this is really a larger issue at play and that is between
China and the United States. So, if the United States is backing Ukraine here, what benefits Xi one year into this war is a weekend Russia that
still itself is a partner to China, but much more dependent on China in that sense.
SOARES: Yeah. And Xi clearly -- I mean Russia needs China more than the other way around, but your --
SOARES: The point you're making in terms of the -- Xi's role here and trying to be an arbiter here, it becomes a very delicate balancing act
because, you know, it can't decouple, like you say, Bianna, from Russia because, you know, that becomes an admission in many ways that Putin's
special military operation has failed. But he also wants to be seen as a peacemaker and has the economic ties to Europe. How is then the U.S.
interpreting China's strategy? And more importantly its intention.
GOLODRYGA: Well, that's where the area becomes more complicated because, clearly, the United States, and its relationship with China, has changed
faster than China's relationship with Europe. And I think from the United States' standpoint, they can point to Europe and our allies there and say
we warned you about being too dependent on one country, case in point Russia. And now, you see the consequences depending on their energy
resources and gas in particular, and the pickle that has put you in.
That, having been said, we know that Europe is a large trading partner with China and the two are very dependent on each other. Hence, you've seen the
chancellor from Germany make a visit there and most recently, Macron raising some eyebrows with some of the comments that he's made in his visit
to China. So, I think President Xi views his role as sort of a sweetener, perhaps, to economic deals with Europe in a way where he can't offer
anything substantive in terms of really stopping this war between Russia and Ukraine.
SOARES: Even though he thinks he can and he's put forward a proposal that Zelenskyy has been very clear in saying that that means they will not give
up, they're not prepared to give up any territory.
Let's turn to the U.S., Bianna, because this week we saw, of course, South Korean president in DC standing alongside President Biden and they both
announced this landmark deal to deter North Korean aggression. How much is this move a message not just to North Korea, but also to China given, of
course, its assertiveness in the region?
GOLODRYGA: Yes, this Washington diplomacy deal. Look, I think it can be approached from two perspectives. One obviously sending a message to China,
that U.S. is only strengthening its ties to neighboring countries in the region, something China does not want to see, an increase perhaps even U.S.
presence there, as we've seen in the Philippines. And, now obviously, in -- with South Korea, South Korea and President Yoon in particular has been
what many describe as more hawkish. He's even broached the idea of perhaps returning nukes to the country that was quickly squashed by internal
politics. And he's walked those comments back as well.
Nonetheless, I think this offers the United States a chance to placate some of his concerns, given that the world, at this point, has at some sense,
come to terms with a nuclear-armed Iran as much as nobody wanted to see that happen. So what do they offer South Korea? Well, that is a seat at the
table, essentially, in terms of the United States backing, in terms of this nuclear arms submarine, which is the first that you would see there since
1981, I believe.
Now South Korea hasn't had any nuclear weapons in the country from the United States since 1991. Nonetheless, I think, as I said, this offers Yoon
a political victory, and something of a strategic win to bring back home, to show that he has this new alliance with the United States, once again,
having his back.
SOARES: Bianna, always so good to have you on the show. And to just help us digest the busy week of geopolitics. Let's make it a regular thing, Bianna
GOLODRYGA: Listen, I am such a huge fan of yours. Anybody who follows us --
GOLODRYGA: -- on Instagram would know that I comment on all of your posts. So, it's great to see you professionally, too.
SOARES: Likewise. Let's -- Laura, I'm speaking to my producer here, let's bring -- let's make this a thing. I love it. Bianna --
GOLODRYGA: Well, I love it.
SOARES: -- appreciate it. Thank you very much.
SOARES: And still to come tonight, Iranian activists in the U.K. are calling for rally on Saturday. We'll take a look at their demands for the
Then college campuses in America's so-called culture war, CNN takes you to one university where the debate is raging over what's not okay to debate.
That story just ahead.
SOARES: Iranian activists in the U.K. are calling for rally on Saturday, demanding that the British government designate Iran's Revolutionary Guards
as a terrorist organization. For months, activists and members of parliament have been pushing the U.K. to do what the U.S. has already done.
One British Iranian activist has become the face of this campaign after setting up camp outside the British Foreign Office and going on a hunger
strike that is now in its 65th day. Here is CNN's Jomana Karadsheh.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Iran International, a powerful voice the Islamic Republic wants silenced. It labeled the U.K.-based opposition
channel a terrorist entity, but it didn't stop there.
KARADSHEH: In November, London's Met Police notified the channel of serious security threats against a number of its journalists. Armed police were
placed outside its studios, but the threat had become so severe British authorities could no longer guarantee their safety. And in February, Iran
International announced it had no choice but to relocate to Washington.
KARADSHEH: This past year alone, the Met and intelligence services have foiled at least 15 plots, they say, projected from Iran to kidnap or kill
individuals, including U.K. nationals on British soil.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The IRGC have managed to infiltrate the U.K. to suppress our freedom of expression.
KARADSHEH: Many in the Iranian community say they're now living in a constant state of fear. Every time this couple go out to a London protest,
they tell us their children fear for their safety.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want to check our locks every night, set on alarms, be scared. Our families --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want our freedom of speech to be valued. We are living in the heart of democracy, and it doesn't look like it.
KARADSHEH: British-Iranians who've been gathering outside the Foreign Office, demanding their government do more. They want Iran's Revolutionary
Guards, the IRGC, to be designated as a terrorist organization, something the U.S. and a few other countries have done. Their demand is Vahid
Beheshti's cause, the British-Iranian activist/journalist has been camped outside the Foreign Office on a hunger strike for more than two months. He
was jailed twice and tortured before he fled his homeland 24 years ago.
VAHID BEHESHTI, BRITISH-IRANIAN ACTIVIST/JOURNALIST: They took everything away from us, but I can say I was one of those lucky people who could run
away and come out of the country. But they are here now. Here where we are sitting in front of Foreign Office is the most safest place in London. I
don't feel safe here.
KARADSHEH: We met Beheshti on his 59th Day of surviving on a handful of brown sugar cubes and water. He says he's lost more than 17 percent of his
body mass, too frail to get himself out of the wheelchair.
BEHESHTI: You feel your body start eating your muscles. But mentally, and internally, I'm getting stronger.
KARADSHEH: Beheshti's voice is being heard. More than 100 parliamentarians signed a letter to the Prime Minister urging the government to designate
the IRGC. With his wife, a British politician by his side, Beheshti's vowing to keep up the pressure. It's not only about Iranians, he says, this
is about standing up for the most basic of British values.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are terrorists, they must go.
KARADSHEH: Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.
SOARES: Well, Iran did not respond to CNN's requests for comment, but it has condemned similar designations in the past.
A British government spokesperson told CNN they have sanctioned more than 300 Iranian individuals, as well as entities, including the IR -- IRGC,
pardon me. The spokesperson says they do not comment on future designations, but "We do not tolerate threats to life and intimidation of
any kind towards individuals in the U.K. And we'll continue to use all the tools at our disposal to protect against any threats from the Iranian
And still to come tonight, college students and controversies. Some U.S. campuses are seeing new rounds of protests, like this one in Pittsburgh.
We'll look at where things stand today.
SOARES: We're going to take a look now at the line between free speech and hate speech. One battlefield in this debate, U.S. universities. Elle Reeve
reports from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
PROTESTERS: Trans' lives matter. Trans' lives matter. Trans' lives matter. Trans' lives matter.
ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's conservative podcaster, Michael Knowles, being burned in effigy at the University of Pittsburgh last week.
Knowles is most famous for this one line in his speech at CPAC this year.
MICHAEL KNOWLES, PODCASTER: Transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely.
REEVE: And he was brought to Pitt by a conservative group to debate whether the government should regulate what the group calls transgenderism, but he
was met by a rowdy protests outside. Such student protests have sparked the bigger debate about whether kids these days no longer have the appetite to
debate controversial issues on campus.
REEVE: Is free speech dead on campus?
CHRYSTA, PITTSBURGH RESIDENT: No. Obviously. He is speaking right now. We are not shutting him down. We don't want him to speak. Hopefully, we can
drown him out. We are, right now, enacting our right to free speech just the way that he is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't debate intolerance. If someone wants to inflict harm on you, are you going to debate them inflicting harm on you?
KNOWLES: Thank you very much. It's very kind of you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trans life for human rights. Trans life for human rights. Trans life for human rights.
KNOWLES: You there.
PROTESTERS: Trans life for human rights. Trans life for human rights.
KNOWLES: You didn't know -- all right.
REEVE: As the debate started, some protesters were removed. Speakers who oppose trans rights have sparked protests nationwide. At universities in
Iowa, Utah, and New York just in April. Last month, Stanford Law students heckled a federal judge about his record on trans rights.
The Law School's Dean scolded the students in a public letter, but declined CNN's request for an interview.
REEVE: Do you think kids are less able to take or listen to opposing views now?
JESS KLEIN, INSTRUCTOR, UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH: No, I don't think they're less able to listen to opposing views. I just think they take less crap as
they get older and realize that hate speech is hate speech and free speech is free speech. And I do believe the two things are very different from
REEVE: These speakers are often brought to campus by outside conservative groups, such as the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and the Young
Americas Foundation. Then the university has to figure out how to deal with the backlash. Afterward, those groups sometimes post videos of the event in
which students are humiliated.
MARY ANNE FRANKS, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW SCHOLAR: It's not a coincidence, right, that these events keep unfolding the way that they do. It's a
deliberate strategy on the part of these organizations to try to find a controversial speaker, try to provoke the liberal students into having a
reaction and making sure all of that gets filmed and edited in a certain way that makes those students look as bad as possible.
REEVE: ISI's president told CNN that it has no institutional strategy to provoke backlash, but it picks speakers who are substantial and
provocative. YAF said it brings speakers who engage in healthy exchange of ideas with students with opposing views.
FRANKS: I think we do need to step back and say what do we want out of this conversation? There needs to be some kind of reason to put it in front of
people. And I think very often, what gets skipped in these invitations is in place of value, you get controversy.
REEVE: More than 11,000 people signed an online petition against Knowles and two other conservative speakers invited to Pitt. The school went
forward with the events, saying it upholds the principles of protected speech and expression, though that speech can contradict the school's
Knowles had been scheduled to debate Professor Deirdre McCloskey, who's trans, but McCloskey pulled out the week before, telling CNN that Knowles
was not a serious person. Then ISI, the sponsor, offered trans writer Charlotte Clymer $10,000 to step in. She said no.
REEVE: $10,000 is a lot.
CHARLOTTE CLYMER, WRITER AND ANALYST: Oh, yes. $10,000 is a lot of money. That would have paid off my car. That's half a year of rent.
REEVE: Have you ever been offered that much?
CLYMER: No. Not even close.
REEVE: What does say to you?
CLYMER: It says they're willing to pay anything to grow their entertainment enterprise. I don't know why trans folks are expected to accept the premise
that our humanity is up for debate. If it were a debate on whether or not to allow racial segregation back into society, we wouldn't have a debate
about that. That would be unacceptable.
REEVE: Finally, gay libertarian podcaster, Brad Polumbo, agreed to debate Knowles.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Polumbo, it's awesome that you could come here on short notice. How much would they have paid you to do this?
BRAD POLUMBO, GAY LIBERTARIAN PODCASTER: A lot.
REEVE: Knowles, through spokeswoman, declined an interview with CNN. And despite its emphasis on free speech, ISI demanded media not film more than
the debate's opening remarks. But once the event got going, no one ushered the media out.
JOSH MINSKY, VICE PRESIDENT, COLLEGE REPUBLICANS AT PITT: Michael Knowles is a big speaker and he should be able to speak and have freedom of speech.
And sadly, that's kind of being shut down in modern society, as we can see outside.
REEVE: But would you have a panel where someone spoke about whether or not there should be legal murder?
MINSKY No. Because murder is objectively wrong, and you're killing someone, but I would not put that on the same scale. As I said about shutting down
free speech, I think this is a very good example of the fact that clearly something's going on here.
REEVE: That boom was an incendiary device, set off outside the building according to a university statement. No one was injured, but some buildings
were temporarily shut down.
Do you think the point of this debate is to try to convince people in this room or to convince people on the internet?
MINSKY: I think it's both. I mean, the goal of the event is not to make some uneducated leftist kid, you know, feel like an idiot. I hope there's
leftist people here that ask questions, opposing Knowles and are able to do so respectfully.
REEVE: So the protesters burned Michael Knowles effigy, which is protected speech.
CLYMER: It is. I wouldn't do that though.
REEVE: Why not?
CLYMER: It's too violent. It's too aggressive. In fact, it's counterproductive because what they do is they take an image of that, they
spread it online, and they say, see? This is what the movement is trying to do. They are going to burn anyone in effigy who disagrees with them.
REEVE: She says this generation is different, but not because it's more fragile.
CLYMER: As millennials, you know, you and me, I think that we were taught to stand up for what we believe in. But we were also taught that there's a
certain amount of abuse that we need to take in order to push the ball forward. And Gen Z for them, they refuse to accept premises that are
REEVE: Why do these debates over rights for minority groups always get converted into debates over free speech?
FRANKS: When someone backs you into a corner says I don't like your ideas, the easiest thing for you to say is, oh, well, that's because you don't
like my free speech. It's because you want to censor me. And it's really the cowards' way of trying to deal with any argument. Your answer should be
here's why my ideas are interesting and why they're important, not invoking some kind of quasi-constitutional gloss for what you have to say.
SOARES: Absolutely riveting stuff. That was Elle Reeve reporting, but the conversation doesn't end there. More than 100 Harvard scholars have joined
the Council on Academic Freedom, an alliance designed to defend free speech, on campus and encourage vigorous debate. They claim "Academic
freedom does not mean freedom from criticism, quite the opposite." And that is our thought for today.
And we plan to dig deeper on this on Monday, when I'll be speaking to a member of the Council on academic freedom. And join us, of course, Monday
for that conversation.
Thank you for watching tonight. Thanks for your company. Do stay right here with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next. Have a wonderful weekend. I'll
see you Monday. Bye-bye.