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Quest Means Business
Trump White House; Solar Eclipse; Big Ben Falls Silent for Repairs. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired August 21, 2107 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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PAULA NEWTON, CNN HOST: -- the Nasdaq and the S&P essentially black. It's Monday, August the 21st.
Tonight, turn around, Donald Trump gets back to work in Washington. Forever is going to start tonight. Elon Musk warns the U.N. about killer
robots. And nothing left to say, a total eclipse of the sun. You're so lucky I didn't sing that. Bonnie Tyler will be joining us live.
I'm Paula Newton and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
NEWTON: Tonight, President Trump is back in the White House and is planning a new push on his legislative agenda and struggling to leave the
baggage of his two-week vacation behind in the act. We got some things for his entree.
The first item, of course, palace intrigue, his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, now back at Breitbart news -- you heard right. He told "The
Weekly Standard" "I'm going to crush the opposition."
It's not clear whether the opposition will include people inside the administration.
Now to that second item in business. You will be hearing more about this in a few hours, Afghanistan. The president is due to lay out his strategy
for America's longest war and that comes in about five hours' time.
That follows a weekend of meetings on Afghanistan and U.S. policy in South Asia.
Finally you know it, the legislative agenda. This is tax reform and this is going to be tough. The White House is reportedly planning a major push
on tax reform to get it done in 2017.
Tall order, the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, is on the road this week, stumping for his own tax plan.
Doesn't this look good? This is great. Quest is so jealous. It's a policy item, Wall Street has long hoped Trump would tackle. U.S. markets
have risen and fallen along with tax reform's chances of success.
Today the Dow kind of struggled there as you can see to find some kind of direction and I warn you it's pretty quiet but it ended the day with a gain
of about 30 points.
CNN's Clare Sebastian was on the floor, spoke to traders at the stock exchange and asked them, how are you feeling about Trump's agenda's chance?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we've had a kink in the armor as a result of the events of last week. I think we've had had a not-so-subtle shift in
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're certainly worried about the viability of Donald Trump's presidency. They're worried about chaos down in Washington. I
think most people on Wall Street, if you talk to them, are convinced that there's either an overt or a subversive element that's kg to get rid of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is gold, it's up 590, so gold's doing pretty good.
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What does that tell you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, you look at gold. You look at oil. Oil has been up, too. But you know, they are -- there is that safe haven
trade going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The market has been trading upon the expectation of whether Donald Trump's presidency will bring here in the United States
(INAUDIBLE) tax reform, infrastructure spending, deregulation and the like.
We're certainly a little stalled on a large portion of that agenda. I submit that people are still believing that maybe not in 2017, maybe not in
early 2018, but at some point these things will start to get through.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think this market really capitulates much. I think we'll still see a pretty strong market.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think right now I'd probably keep my powder dry and not necessarily so witnessing good stocks but if I had weak stocks that
have not been performing in what has been a terrific market for eight or nine months, I'd probably be pruning my portfolio and getting rid of the
weak sisters. We'll just have to see how the current state-of-the-art in Washington plays out.
NEWTON: And Clare joins me now.
Nice to see you, especially after you've made it up here from being on the floor. We complained a little bit about how quiet the market's been.
Do you feel that they are looking at this with promise or a bit of trepidation going into what could be a very busy legislative season?
SEBASTIAN: I think it's a bit of trepidation. I think if you see like the market since the inauguration has been relatively low, volatility is really
only been one major dip that we saw in May, when that the James Comey scandal was going on, that memo came out --
SEBASTIAN: -- and now we see these peaks and troughs here that really are fairly unusual in this market.
I think what I got with traders on the floor West that they are really in a kind of a wait-and-see mode until we get off the Labor Day and September.
September brings new challenges. We have the debt ceiling, the NAFTA negotiations are continuing. The Fed might make some announcement on how
it's going to unwind its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.
So they really are looking ahead to that. And traditionally October is a really volatile month. That's when in history we've had these really big
moves. So I think the theme will be set for that in September.
NEWTON: Is it clear --
NEWTON: -- in the market size and the people that you speak to about what the consequences will be if that tax reform package isn't at least put on
the table and shows some odds of success?
SEBASTIAN: I think serious trouble was the phrase that one trader used to me today. I think they're not looking for it necessarily by the end of
Don't forget, originally the plan was maybe in August before the recess. So clearly that pad is now off the table. I think maybe early 2018 is when
they're looking for. But this really is the key. This is what everyone has been looking for.
This is why the biggest reason why they were so excited about the Trump administration coming in, why we've seen this rally supported for so long.
Obviously much of it is also to do with the fundamentals in the economy and earnings have been good; unemployment is low. But it really is that tax
reform that would really make a difference to those earnings.
NEWTON: And Clare, would that be enough?
I know from you following the business side of the Trump campaign and onwards there are many things that he promised the business community that
he just hasn't gotten done.
SEBASTIAN: I think they are starting to realize that now. They have been waiting a long time for the key points such as tax reform and
infrastructure spending. But one of the traders put it to me today, that this is really the genie was let out of the bottle, he said, when Trump won
the election. The markets are now looking at it and really believing that they live in a world where there will be tax reform, where there will be
tax cuts, potentially more similar spending.
And that would not have been the case had this been a Democratic government. And he said it's really difficult to put that genie back into
the bottle. Even despite what we saw last week with the dysfunction in the White House, the CEOs leaving the councils, the eventual dissolution of
those councils, even despite all that, I think there is still some hope.
But a lot of hope that Gary Cohn brings (INAUDIBLE) will remain in his job, that Goldman Sachs faction, that cooler heads will.
NEWTON: And people have said that if he's out then the markets will really feel nervous. Clare, thanks, nice to see you.
(INAUDIBLE) look good in the Oval Office --
SEBASTIAN: Oh, yes.
NEWTON: Don't get worried. It's not even legal. I can't run for president.
Our Clare Sebastian.
Now the end of President Trump's vacation has not stopped the wave of criticism he's facing over the response to the neo-Nazi and white
supremacist violence in Charlottesville on Monday.
Two organizations canceled fundraisers scheduled to be held at the president's Mar-a-lago resort and that brings the total number of
cancellations now to at least 11.
And the Treasury secretary has responded to a petition from nearly 300 of his college classmates. This is really an extraordinary letter, urging him
Steven Mnuchin though said the president deserves the opportunity to propose his agenda on regulation, taxes and jobs. Companies are, of
course, though, distancing themselves from the president.
But that doesn't mean they're going to stop lobbying for their issues. Now the Business Roundtable plans to spend millions on advocacy for tax reform
this year. Joining me now John Engler (ph) is a former president of the Business Roundtable and a former governor of Michigan and as both I know
you that you have your ear to the ground on these issues.
What do you think?
Much has been said about the fact that if Donald Trump can just get these business items done, his presidency will be a success, even if many people
culturally, socially will say it's a failure.
JOHN ENGLER, FORMER PRESIDENT, BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE: I think that's right. I think policy still matters a great deal. I think it matters that the
U.S. has a lot of room to improve its competitive posture vis-a-vis the rest the world.
We don't have a competitive tax structure today and it's the business tax structure that needs to be the priority. I think that's where Speaker Ryan
and Chairman Brady are thinking. I believe that also can incorporate some very substantial relief for small business, which has been historically a
And we've seen in recent years where small business formation is actually falling behind small business dissolution. So there's a win-win to get
competitive on the international competitive businesses, help them out and at the same time help business formation startup in the country.
That to me looks like a winning strategy. I don't think you necessarily have a crisis on individual tax rates. And it is always nice to see if
something can be done. They'll have a budget challenge there. What I hope is that Speaker Ryan and Chairman Brady can bring the whole House together.
You've got a lot of different ideas knocking about but the concept they ought to keep front and center is growth because if we can get growth, we
start addressing some real significant challenges.
NEWTON: But I have to tell you, Governor, look, this sounds a lot like what we would've heard about a Trump campaign eight months ago, hope and
Where are we when though you actually have to get this done in Congress?
Paul Ryan on CNN in just a few hours in a town hall, this is going to be tough for him to make any promises to people like you in America.
ENGLER: Well, you know I'm not sure. We couldn't have better leadership than Speaker Ryan and Chairman Brady in terms of two people, both who are
current chair, one previously chaired the Ways and Means Committee. They know tax policy.
They know the issues. They know how to do this and they know what needs to be done. I think what they've got --
ENGLER: -- to do is to harness a lot of different thinking and the president has made it pretty clear he's going to support what comes
forward. I do think that Mnuchin, the Secretary of Treasury, that Cohn, the head of Domestic Policy Council, that these have been two players
designated by the president to represent the administration.
I think they're going to do a fine job and I think that, as long as they're in that mix and they've done those principles, means including the Senators
McConnell and Cornyn over in the Senate, Senator Hatch, are key players, I think there's a pathway.
I've heard Thanksgiving talked about getting something done by then. That's ambitious. But the House will be motivated as will the Senate by
the need to have something that's in effect in time to maybe make a little bit of difference in November of 2018.
NEWTON: Yes and that's definitely that kind of a deadline they're looking at.
ENGLER: I would be thinking about that.
NEWTON: I'm sure that they are as well.
But in terms of two issues we just talked about Steve Bannon, obviously leaving the White House. He made it very clear on two issues I want to
talk to you about, whether Trump administration could actually -- some people think provides some trouble for bus. One is on this whole issue of
whether or not we're starting a war with China on the economy.
Steve Bannon used the words war.
What you think American business wants Donald Trump to do about this and if they actually agree with that?
ENGLER: Well, don't think anyone wants a trade war with anyone and probably especially with somebody who's as large a trading partner as
China. That said, there are significant issues in the China-U.S. trade relationship and one of them today was featured again in "The Wall Street
Journal," a wonderful article about the intellectual property threat that the China growth strategy represents to the U.S. because they've made it
very clear for U.S. companies to be in China, and to have access to their market, they're trying to acquire intellectual property without paying for
ENGLER: And that's a problem.
NEWTON: Yes, sorry to interrupt you, Governor, but I do want to point out that you as a former governor of Michigan, we've got perhaps Fiat Chrysler
maybe being taken over by a Chinese company -- maybe.
NEWTON: If you're the Trump administration and you're looking at that, what would you say to an administration about that?
NEWTON: Let China take over the company, no problem, we're not at war with --
ENGLER: No, I'm not so sure what this administration would do and I think the SIFIs process which is the acronym for that review that's done by the
U.S. government of any kind of an acquisition like that, would be very tough for the Chinese company. I think until some of this trade stuff is
sorted out and then this gets mixed up with foreign policy, what's China going to be doing in terms of this whole North Korea debate.
And so you see things get blurred and different interests come into play. I think from the U.S. perspective, there's some interesting factoids out
there. China today is the largest provider of foreign exchange students to our nation's universities. They've passed everyone now.
And there are some benefits that China gets out of the relationship with the U.S. I would think they would be reluctant to see those go away or
even pulled back a little bit. There is room to talk here.
I personally think the administration made a mistake when we didn't go through with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP.
NEWTON: You'd be getting into some very old arguments there that I think at the White House --
ENGLER: I know, but the allies out there in that region those other trading nations would be helpful when it comes to getting China to maybe --
NEWTON: -- and it's unfortunately something that in the White House I think is falling on deaf ears.
Governor, thanks --
ENGLER: -- strategy.
NEWTON: I thank you for having on the show and hope to have you back. Appreciate it.
ENGLER: Thank you very much, Paula.
NEWTON: Now, China's Great Wall Motors says it's interested in buying Fiat Chrysler. Shares in the parent company of Jeep Maserati, Alfa Romeo
You think I'd be able to say that word.
Surged as investors speculated about a potential takeover. However, Fiat Chrysler says it hasn't been approached by the Chinese automaker.
And CNN's Paul La Monica is here to make sense of it all.
We were just talking about it with John and obviously if this was a reality, there would be a lot of controversy about it.
But what's the reality, Paul, because no one seems to be talking about it?
It's as if this rumor has suddenly taken over the market, actually moving markets.
PAUL LA MONICA, CNNMONEY DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We still don't know exactly what is going to take place here. But it does seem as if Great
Wall Motors has some interest in Fiat Chrysler, particularly the Jeep brand and that is I think what makes it interesting. Jeep is a popular brand in
So whether or not Great Wall would want the entire company or just a key brand like Jeep, that remains to be seen. But then, again does Fiat
Chrysler want to sell?
Would the U.S. government back a deal like this?
I think it's worth pointing out that in a prior administration, we did have Ford sell Volvo to a Chinese company, Gilet (ph). But things have
LA MONICA: With President Trump in charge.
NEWTON: And given the Trump rhetoric, is it really -- if you're --
NEWTON: -- Great Wall Motors, are you really going to try and go through with this, knowing the kind of opposition you might get from this kind of
LA MONICA: It will be interesting to see whether they would. Fiat Chrysler already is a bit of an odd duck, if you will, because, yes, it
still is one of the big three but it's not just Chrysler anymore, of course, it's not even DaimlerChrysler anymore. Now it's Fiat Chrysler so
it's not just a U.S. company. You that have that big presence from Italy with Fiat.
Would Donald Trump really want to say to American autoworkers that hey, we're going to have one of Detroit's big three now owned by a Chinese
company and China is obviously a country that he's been very tough on with regard to global trade.
NEWTON: (INAUDIBLE) so confused as to why the market is obviously pricing some sort of --
LA MONICA: Fiat Chrysler stock has surged and I think maybe it is the case, Paula, that they're thinking that there could be things get carved
out. Could it be just Jeep, not all of Fiat Chrysler? So things like Dodge and other brands that are owned by Fiat Chrysler remain a part of that
company still part of Detroit's big three.
NEWTON: OK, Paul, we'll continue to watch it. It's quite a bit of intrigue on that stock for sure. Appreciate it.
LA MONICA: Thank you.
NEWTON: Now for a few moments today, millions of people across the United States were absently spellbound. And you had to be in the right place.
But from coast-to-coast the moon passed in front of the sun for a once-in- a-lifetime total eclipse of the sun.
The eclipse began mid-morning in Oregon. It was spectacular, the first state to be plunged into darkness. The eclipse then swept across the U.S.
mainland, across 14 states before reaching South Carolina in mid-afternoon.
It was the first time in 99 years that a total eclipse crossed the country from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Now entrepreneurs and the tourism
industry made the most of this rare celestial event and it was, of course, a business opportunity.
More than 7 million visitors are projected to visit areas -- they're doing it right now -- along what is called the path of totality. And we will be
right back with more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment.
NEWTON: OK, a view from right around the world and across the United States traveled long and far for this, the great American eclipse. Now
some eclipse chasers drove hundreds of miles to be the once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon near Alliance, Nebraska, thousands gathered at Carhenge. I kid
you not, a tourist spot famous for the replica of U.K.'s Stonehenge, created -- oh, how poignant is this -- of classic American cars.
Now other eclipse chasers took to the sky to guarantee a perfect view unobstructed by clouds. Alaska Airlines hosted an eclipse viewing party
in the air for a truly unique viewing spot. Some travelers joined a cruise, not just any cruise. Royal Caribbean's Total Eclipse Cruise
promised more than a total eclipse of the sun.
Passengers were treated to a special performance --
NEWTON: -- of, yes, "Total Eclipse of the Heart."
Now I've got that song on my head. Today's total eclipse of the sun was pretty spectacular. It really did live up to billing for many people.
Meteorologist Tom Sater joins us now.
NEWTON: It will be seven years until the next eclipse in the United States and across the pond in London, Big Ben bonged for the final time. For the
next four years in fact it's going to go silent for renovations. As David McKenzie explains, it's causing a bit of controversy.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's perhaps London's most famous sight and sound. Every hour on the hour, the bongs of Big Ben
drawing crowds, crowns keeping time over London.
The clock, a marvel of 19th century engineering, the 13-ton bell chiming through war and peace (INAUDIBLE) for 157 years.
Halted now for major renovations to Elizabeth Tower. The 118-decibel bongs too loud for the renovation team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the most extensive work that's ever been done. The tower is in pressing need of repair and doing of course is not an
option. So based on that, we've put together this extensive package of works which really starts at the top and goes all the way down to the
MCKENZIE: But the bell will be mostly silent for at least four years. And for --
MCKENZIE: -- some members of Parliament, that is a bit of a clanger.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): And it's created a very British tiff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What could be more symbolic than the sound of Big Ben, the sound of those glorious bells, ringing out in the key of E across
So its people feel that they want to cling onto something that is safe and they understand that they feel has been dashed from their very lips.
MCKENZIE: For some tourists here, it's all a bit emotional.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Big Ben is just what London is all about. And when I was little, I used to watch the news and Big Ben always used to be
10 o'clock news, Big Ben used to strike. And that said it. All the big occupations, you get Big Ben.
So for the next four years, it's going to be -- it's going to be sad, really, not to hear it.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): The hammer will still strike on Remembrance Day and New Year's Eve. And when it's all done, the clock face is restored to
their colorful Victorian splendor.
Then sounding off once again -- David McKenzie, CNN, London.
NEWTON: OK, so Big Ben has fallen silent. The sun has blocked out across the United States. (INAUDIBLE) bleak enough, Elon Musk warns another
threat is looming: killer robots. The CEO of Tesla (INAUDIBLE) is calling on the U.N. to vent (ph).
NEWTON: Hello, I'm Paula Newton. Coming up in the next hour of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, Sierra Leone says it needs more resources to help recover
from a catastrophic mudslide.
And the U.S. Secret Service admits it has a serious funding problem trying to look after President Trump.
Before that, though, these are the top news headlines we're following.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN HOST: The killer robots are coming and the world's top artificial intelligence experts say they must be stopped. Elon Musk, the
founder of Tesla and SpaceX has joined more than 100 founders of AI and robotics companies.
They're calling on the U.N. to ban autonomous weapons. Musk warns, quote, "These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use
against innocent populations and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways."
Joining me now from Moscow is Oleg Kivokurtsev. He signed the letter as well and he's founder of Promobot.
Oleg, thanks so much. We're admiring the scene behind you. It does look like what a lot of us remember "The Jetsons" to be. That's what the crew
and I were commenting here earlier.
And in that sense, they look fairly benign. They look like they should be helping us. And yet this threat apparently is very serious.
OLEG KIVOKURTSEV, PROMOBOT: Exactly. It is (INAUDIBLE) robots and they're used for help our community and improve our lives. (INAUDIBLE) can
speak with you about this (INAUDIBLE) for you and they can support you in a (INAUDIBLE) and other places (INAUDIBLE).
(INAUDIBLE) experts in (INAUDIBLE). And we are understanding (ph) to see. (INAUDIBLE) is really dangerous for our lives because first of all, if
(INAUDIBLE). There is no one (INAUDIBLE) which (INAUDIBLE) can be close to 100 percent. That mean if robot trying to show for someone for
(INAUDIBLE), he can be confused (ph) and show not any (INAUDIBLE) -- he can show the other person. It can be (INAUDIBLE) and more than that,
(INAUDIBLE) weapons, for example, for destroying (INAUDIBLE) or other things, (INAUDIBLE) confused, too, and destroy it (INAUDIBLE) or something
The next one is (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE). And (INAUDIBLE) will reach final (INAUDIBLE). That means (INAUDIBLE) and the robotics you have the
(INAUDIBLE) one minute.
And that means that if we will (INAUDIBLE) robots, they will have (INAUDIBLE) destroy humans. (INAUDIBLE) will not want to do that but if
they understand that it can be useful to their purposes, it can be useful for (INAUDIBLE) results --
NEWTON: Oleg, you've outlined the threat quite graphically there and it does sound like something out of a sci-fi movie.
But here's the problem. If you're saying that that is the threat, how will a letter quite frankly anything from the U.N. change things. Do some
things not need to change in a stronger sphere, if you will, because what you're describing is, in fact, quite dangerous.
KIVOKURTSEV: It will develop immediate for (INAUDIBLE) robotics. (INAUDIBLE) special rules, the same as for (INAUDIBLE), the same as for
(INAUDIBLE) the rules for development of (INAUDIBLE).
First one, we shouldn't --
KIVOKURTSEV: -- give access to difficulty in investment without (INAUDIBLE) or artificial intelligence. Next one, we should be aware about
robotics control because it can be next step (INAUDIBLE) access to robotics network. That means that they will have control and the robots and the
(INAUDIBLE) not good is the second rule.
The third rule is about human interaction with people and recognition (INAUDIBLE). We should choose (INAUDIBLE) in robotics and our document
which we sign have more than (INAUDIBLE) rules about it and (INAUDIBLE) should read it and understand it and should (INAUDIBLE) the same as other
NEWTON: OK. Oleg, we're going to have to leave it there. But this is not the end of this conversation. Thanks for weighing on something we'll
continue on this show. Appreciate it.
KIVOKURTSEV: Thank you.
NEWTON: Just absolutely chilling there, something artificial intelligence that we'll to continue to follow here QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
Now almost 500 are dead in Sierra Leone with fears for hundreds more missing. What the latest as those who made it through the devastation
continue their fight to survive.
NEWTON: The Secret Service reportedly can't pay hundreds of agent to protect Donald Trump and his family. The director of the Secret Service
told "USA Today" more than 1,000 agents have already hit their mandated cap for salary and overtime allowances.
(INAUDIBLE) also told CNN the problem had been ongoing for many years; it isn't just related to the Trump administration. CNN's White House reporter
Jeremy Diamond is in Washington following this for us.
Now of course this is something that also went on during the Obama administration but it has been much worse under the Trump administration,
not necessarily the fault of the president or his family.
But, Jeremy, give us a sense about what is at work here right now.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly seems that way. What the Secret Service has now told us in a statement is that more than 1,100 U.S.
Secret Service employees will reach this federally imposed salary cap on overtime payment by the end of the 2017 calendar year.
That's slightly different from what the Secret Service director told "USA Today" originally, which was that those 1,100 people had already met that
It is clear, however, that hundreds of Secret Service agents have already met that federally imposed cap and yet this is not the first time that this
issue has come up. Last year Congress actually had to pass a law to be able to pay some of these Secret Service agents some of this overtime pay
that they weren't able to receive due to these federally imposed caps.
What is different though is that, under the Trump administration, there are more Trump family members and --
DIAMOND: -- others in this Trump White House who need Secret Service protection compared to the Obama years.
And what's also different is that President Trump has traveled more frequently in his first 7-8 months in office than his predecessor. We know
that President Trump has about every -- nearly every single weekend at one of his Trump branded properties, whether that be Mar-a-lago or Bedminster,
where he just spent a two-week working vacation.
All of that, of course, adds up to a lot of long hours and overtime for these Secret Service agents.
So the director of the U.S. Secret Service said that normally they are not this tapped out. That's what he told "USA Today;" the Secret Service now
saying that they're going to seek a fix to this from Congress. So we'll see how that turns out.
NEWTON: And the fix is asking for more -- some more money. There certainly won't be a change in policy. And, Jeremy, I can't get over the
fact that they're saying that in one trip sometimes they pay $60,000 for golf cart rentals.
And I think it opens up another issue.
I mean how much talk has there been about some of this money is going to the Trump Organization?
They are the owners of these properties.
DIAMOND: That's absolutely true. There is no law that can determine whether the president can travel to a certain place or not. But certainly
I think that, given the fact that the Secret Service is going to have to ask Congress for more money, at least in part, this problem exacerbated by
the Trump administration and the president's traveling habit, this may reopen a whole new debate on that front.
NEWTON: Yes, and it'll be interesting because a lot of people would say, look, he's the president. He has a right to be protected and travel
wherever he likes. So Jeremy Diamond, continue to follow that story, appreciate it.
Now the lives of thousands of U.S. troops could depend on a decision Donald Trump will announce 4.5 hours from now. The president may ask for as many
as 4,000 more forces to head to Afghanistan or he may pull out everyone who's already there.
His generals laid those and several other options on the table. CNN's Athena Jones is in Ft. Meyer, Virginia, where Mr. Trump is due to speak.
Athena, we have to say he will have military personnel behind him when he's speaking, presumably looking for support on this issue and yet that will --
apologies; I'm just told that we do not have Athena but I am letting you know that, in fact, he will have those military members at his side when
all of this is going on and the issue here is whether or not if you're putting those new troops in, more troops in, what is your strategy.
Secretary Mattis, the deputy secretary, being very clear that, look, we want to make sure that the Trump administration was clear and could
articulate a strategy before we actually went to those troop movements. I just want a programming note for you. CNN will have of course that address
live for you. And then following that important town hall with Speaker Paul Ryan.
Now moving on, almost 500 people are confirmed to have died after a massive mudslide in Sierra Leone. Hundreds more are missing after earth sped down
and we're talking huge mounds of earth sped down hillsides and through shanty towns. The devastation is just incredible. And it was triggered by
these heavy rains and flooding in an area that's suffered from years of deforestation; 20,000 people have been displaced amid warnings of a high
risk of disease and appeals for more international aid now in Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown the rains thankfully have now stopped. But
authorities are warning of a second tragedy as the threat of cholera now strikes survivors.
CNN Farai Sevenzo reports on the struggle to find shelter and clean water.
FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since the mudslide last Monday, Freetown has had some respite from the rains. But survivors of the
tragedy are beginning to swell the streets; 20,000 are homeless, says the presidential spokesman.
The government has issued an appeal for help as the threat of disease from so many deaths looms. And people are without shelter in a harsh rainy
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need the support so that we can get permanent housing solutions for these unfortunate people that are scattered all over
the city and dealing with the challenge of addressing hygiene as we are speaking.
SEVENZO (voice-over): Schools, churches are being used to shelter the homeless. And for many here, the memories of the mudslide are still raw.
And they have been telling stories of incredible loss.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).
SEVENZO (voice-over): About a third of those killed when the rain and mud carried everything in its path to the valley below were children.
This disaster makes children parentless and parents childless in one morning.
SEVENZO (voice-over): The government knows the task ahead is enormous and is calling for help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This issue that happened in Sierra Leone will happen to anybody. So this is where we are appealing very passionately, come to the
aid of the Sierra Leone. We've never received a disaster of such a magnitude in just one day.
SEVENZO (voice-over): This young man tells CNN he lost everything. As he looks up at the hills, where a large red scar from the rushing mud still
sits, he echoes the government plea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are appealing to people in the world. If they can hear us, let them help with this.
SEVENZO (voice-over): Farai Sevenzo, CNN.
NEWTON: Amnesty International says the crisis in Sierra Leone is actually manmade. Their deputy director of global issues, Makmid Kamara, is now
with us and he joins us from London.
Thanks for joining us. It is heartbreaking. We've all been stunned and saddened by the pictures that we've seen. And yet from what I hear from
those voices in the package is that there is donor fatigue here.
Do you guys sense that and you feel it?
And if so, why?
MAKMID KAMARA, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Thank you very much for having me. First of all, I want to send our condolences from Amnesty International and
as a Sierra Leonian, I feel connected and directly affected by the tragedy that has happened.
But in going to your question about donor fatigue or the resemblance of donor fatigue, I'm not surprised because as an issue of accountability in
Sierra Leone. There's an issue of a lack of transparency when we get this kind of situation because we've had situations in the past, when a lot of
money, both locally and internationally was raised. And those money would have siphoned, allegedly siphoned by public officials, who were responsible
for implementing the support they'd been given.
We had the Ebola fund, were stolen apparently and up to this day, we don't know what the outcome of the investigations that we are conducted are. So
as organization Amnesty International is calling for first sympathy to the government and people of Sierra Leone but secondly and more importantly,
accountability for what has happened.
People need to know; questions need to be answered and for those who have died to feel that -- to get justice because there will be no justice for
the dead if issues of accountability and transparency are not addressed.
NEWTON: But you hit your nail on the head about what that donor fatigue is all about. If you're a person sitting at home right now or working or
watching this video and you want help, you don't have any confidence that the 50 euros or the 50 pounds or the $50 that you send is going to get to
the families that need it. I'm not hearing a solution there.
What is the solution because I have to tell you, in trying to follow the money trail in places like Haiti, I couldn't find where the money went and,
quite frankly, I wondered if just delivering cash to people wouldn't have been an easier and more effective policy at the time.
KAMARA: Well, I think that is what has been happening, unfortunately. And that's why credit must be given to a lot of ordinary civilians, private
individuals, who have been going to the front line, who have been reaching out to the affected people in the various parts of the city to provide
direct support without waiting for the governments because a lot of people know that it you wait for the government, the bureaucracy and the fear of
corruption and the (INAUDIBLE) this and support will not be delivered to those who need it most will happen.
So individuals are committing their time, their money and the efforts to ensure that ordinary civilians who have been affected get the support that
they need. But that notwithstanding, I think it's still important for the international community to provide the needed support, especially emergency
relief support, for the people who have been affected. They should not -- I don't think it makes sense for the international community to use the
excuse of lack of accountability and transparency in the utilization of donor support, to hold emergency relief support to the people who have been
What we will call (INAUDIBLE) is to ensure that at the end of this process, questions are asked. Every penny that has been sent to the country is
accounted for and a public inquiry is also conducted so that people know why -- what happened happened and what can be done to ensure that it
doesn't happen again.
NEWTON: I want to get back to something you highlighted in your release, the fact that this is manmade. Explain to people what actually has gone on
in your country with people who we have to say have absolutely nowhere to live and that is why they built these very weak structures in places they
KAMARA: There are number of factors responsible for this and why one of the reasons why we said that the consequences of the natural disaster are
KAMARA: -- we have seen repeatedly when the releases it happen in Sierra Leone. This is not new. Every August every year we have the threats of
flooding and heavy rains driving people out of their homes and making people homeless.
In 2014 over 10 people were killed and (INAUDIBLE) forced to come in the national stadium for several weeks while accommodation were being found for
But that's (INAUDIBLE), the government's hasn't done anything to ensure the first environmental laws that are in place are effectively enforced and,
secondly, the proper planning regulations which the government has implemented.
When there's a lack of implementation of existing laws and regulation we would face the consequences. And one of the consequences of that is what
has happened in Sierra Leone.
So I think government should and must ensure that the laws that are in place, they should not be just laws for the sake of having laws. They
should not be on shelves (ph). They should be implemented. The edges (ph) that are responsible for implementing these laws should be equipped and
should be empowered to ensure that they follow due processes in effecting these, the provisions of the law because without calling for people to be
made homeless by forcibly evicting them from their homes, there is a U.N. guiding principle on development based evictions.
They will also have national protected (INAUDIBLE) loss of protected areas. These laws are not being implemented. These laws are not being effected.
And in cases where people are being prevented from building structures or houses in areas that are preserved, we know of situations where the same
government officials are avoiding and flouting the rules and building --
KAMARA: -- they also go there. So it's a matter of ensuring that there is a fair implementation of the laws and an effective enforcement of the
regulation and that it should be followed through under all circumstances.
NEWTON: Unfortunately, in a very short amount of time, you've listed some very complicated problems. We'll continue to follow the story in Sierra
Leone and see what aid can be developed there. Appreciate it.
And we will have much QUEST MEANS BUSINESS (INAUDIBLE).
NEWTON: Nebraska is known as one of those classic flyover states. Then the great American eclipse happened. Nebraska was on the path of totality.
A room at the Quality Inn online -- get this -- this time next month will cost you 129 bucks; tonight, 500 bucks.
Thousands descended on Carhenge in Alliance today, one the best eclipse viewing spots. Becci Thomas is co-chair of the Alliance Eclipse Planning
Committee. She joins me now live via Skype.
So let me know, was it worth it?
Two years of planning for two minutes.
Was it worth it.
BECCI THOMAS, ALLIANCE ECLIPSE PLANNING COMMITTEE: It was definitely worth it. We're here in the middle of Western Nebraska, Sand Hills (ph).
THOMAS: And we are having a party in the pasture and it's a great day.
NEWTON: So what was it like? Describe it. How did it go?
THOMAS: (INAUDIBLE). With the (INAUDIBLE) obviously, first one I've ever seen, I'm not a science nerd. I'm a history nerd. So this was all new to
me and it was very interesting. There were people everywhere in the last three days I have talked to more people than I usually talk to in a year.
We've been getting, averaging about 1,000 people a day just in our museum, where I'm the director. And we have had the most fascinating people from
all the world. I don't often get to visit with somebody from Jakarta or South Korea or Italy.
And I have this week.
NEWTON: Amazing. And tell us about the financial boon. We just had that stock, a room that was 129 bucks is now 500.
What has it done for the community that way?
THOMAS: You've got to know that Nebraska's new terrorism slogan is "Nebraska Nice." So 99 percent of us are just doggone nice. You also
could get rooms for much -- you know, considerably less. But there's always going to be somebody who sees this as a cash cow.
And while we don't approve of it, it's free enterprise and I guess if they told somebody $500, they didn't have to pay for it if they didn't want to.
But that being said we have hundreds and hundreds of campers and tents everywhere and we usually have a city ordinance against parking your camper
on the street here. And, ah, you know, we kind of let those ordinances go for a couple of days.
There's campers on every corner. But it's been a great economic boon but we look at it more as a great way to get people here to Alliance. That's
way more important for us --
NEWTON: Appreciate it for giving us the perspective from the party in the pasture. Amazing. Thanks so much.
And that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Paula Newton in New York. We will see you right back here again tomorrow.