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Hala Gorani Tonight

Chinese Ambassador Urges Countries To Avoid "Overreaction"; Aid Agencies Warn Of Humanitarian Catastrophe In Idlib Region; Polls Show Sinn Fein Leading Ahead Of Saturday Vote; Actress Jameela Jamil Comes Out As Queer Amid Backlash; Donald Trump Celebrates After Acquittal; Iowa Caucuses Vote Count Continues; Coronavirus Spread May Be Slowing. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 06, 2020 - 14:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London on this Thursday, I'm Hala Gorani.

Tonight, Donald Trump takes a victory lap after impeachment ends in acquittal. Wait until you hear the highlights of his hour-long stream-of-

consciousness reaction. That's coming up.

Then, Bernie Sanders claims victory in Iowa even as the Democratic National Committee chair calls for a full recanvas in that state.

And later, coronavirus, Britain and Germany confirm new cases and newborn babies are diagnosed in China.

Well, it was evil, it was corrupt, it was dirty cops, leaks and liars. Those words set the tone for a long, angry and often rambling speech by

Donald Trump, who's reveling today in his impeachment acquittal.

The U.S. president just wrapped up his remarks at the White House. He took aim at his political opponents, calling them vicious and mean, saying they

put him through hell in the impeachment process.

Mr. Trump packed the room with his family and ardent supports, who were smiling, cheering, applauding throughout, before launching into a rather

extraordinary speech that even he had trouble defining.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is really not a news conference, it's not a speech. It's not anything, it's just -- we're sort

of, it's a celebration. Because we have something that just worked out. I mean, it worked out. We went through hell, unfairly. Did nothing wrong, did

nothing wrong.

I've done things wrong in my life, I will admit --


-- not purposely, but I've done things wrong. But this is what the end result is.



GORANI: Mr. Trump framed his impeachment as a battle, praising his supporters as incredible warriors. Let's get more now from Boris Sanchez,

live at the White House.

He also held up the front page of "The Washington Post," of other newspapers (ph), "Acquittal," "Trump Acquitted." He is really, as far --

from his perspective, at least, having a good day in that sense.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Hala. This is quite the victory lap from President Trump. He was, at different

times, gloating, vindictive, certainly unrestrained. The president, using expletives to go after some of his opponents, while also really proud of

some of his supporters.

The president, extremely dramatic, in typical fashion, going after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying that she's a horrible person, saying that he

does not believe that she prays. And that if she does, she prays for his downfall.

The president, also going after Senator Mitt Romney, saying that Romney ran one of the worst presidential campaigns of all time, suggesting that he is

sort of a hidden shrouded enemy. Further, the president also took multiple breaks, reading out this list of supporters, people like Senate Majority

Leader Mitch McConnell, the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and others. Again and again, reading these names, pausing each time for a

standing ovation.

There was, also, speculation about whether President Trump would apologize, the way that former President Bill Clinton did after he was acquitted.

There was sort of an apology from Trump, but it was specifically about his family. Trump saying, quote, "I want to apologize to my family for having

them go through a phony rotten deal by some very sick, evil people."

Hala, the one other thing that really stands out to me in this hour-plus- long speech from President Trump, he did not once mention one of the most central people in this entire fiasco, and that's his personal attorney,

Rudy Giuliani. No thanks --

GORANI: Right.

SANCHEZ: -- to Rudy from President Trump during the speech today.

GORANI: Well, and he used some very colorful language as well. We remember how he qualified certain developing nations as, you know, S-holes.


GORANI: I just want our viewers, if they didn't sit through the entire hour-plus speech, just one particular segment here of this address that

stood out. This is what he said about the Russia investigation.


TRUMP: First went through Russia, Russia, Russia. It was all bullshit.


GORANI: Well, there you have it. And it's interesting, I wonder, I mean, politically, his supporters seem to not -- don't seem too bothered by the

use of this type of language by the president of the United States.

SANCHEZ: Not at all. They're more upset about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripping up the State of the Union address the other night.


SANCHEZ: Look, the president is in a comfortable place here. He drove (ph) -- he received rave reviews for that speech the other night, he has

momentum with recent trade deals, his approval numbers are high, he's watching the fiasco with the Iowa caucuses that unfolded, has exposed

divisions within the Democratic Party.


He's going to exploit all of this and promote all of this, going into 2020. He feels like he's in a good place, and he feels like he's in line for re-

election -- Hala.

GORANI: And Nancy Pelosi, of course, who is the target of many of the president's insults, who led this impeachment process and triggered it, she

was asked about her decision to rip up the president's State of the Union address at the lectern. This is what she said today.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I tore up a manifesto of mistruths. It's very hard for us to get you to talk about the issues that we are working on --

H.R. 3, infrastructure and the rest -- he misrepresented all of that. It was necessary to get the attention of the American people, to say, this is

not true. And this is how it affects you.


GORANI: Where do Democrats go from here? Because, as you mentioned there, you ticked off a substantial list of what, at least from the White House's

perspective, were accomplishments: the trade deals, the acquittal and the rest of it.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Well, the first thing on the docket for the president, following this acquittal, is handling the coronavirus and figuring out a

way to protect Americans from that growing epidemic.

Further, there is still this belief among some that he may tackle things like infrastructure, lowering prescription drug prices. But, obviously,

there is an enormous gulf between these two parties and it's highly unlikely that some bipartisan bill is going to get passed, heading into

2020, when they're essentially just going to be attacking each other and blaming each other for not getting anything done -- Hala.

GORANI: Boris Sanchez, thanks very much, at the White House.

Well, often -- because on CNN International, we report on elections all over the world -- when there are miscalculations or there are delays, often

people will say, oh, you know, maybe there should be election observers, or why is this country not able to handle a basic thing like an election.

But from the outside, looking at Iowa, you could be forgiven for saying, how does a country like the United States or the Democratic Party, in fact,

organize such an important election -- like the Iowa caucuses -- and then really mess it up?

There's also big news about Iowa today. Democrats are increasingly fed up with the ongoing delay in results from Monday's nominating contest. The

DNC, the Democratic National Committee head, now says enough is enough. He is calling for an immediate recanvasing of results.

With 97 percent of precincts now reporting, it is clear that Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders are in a virtual dead heat -- you can see it there --

really, basically almost neck-and-neck followed by Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden.

Just a short time ago, Sanders came out and reacted to news of that potential recanvas.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We won an eight-person election by some 6,000 votes. That is not going to be changed. What may be

changed, in this so-called recount, is a few SDEs here.

And what certainly is not going to change is the fact that, in terms of the popular vote, we won a decisive victory.


GORANI: Well, let's go to CNN's Abby Phillip. She's live in Merrimack, New Hampshire, where Pete Buttigieg will attend an event this hour.

So let's talk a little bit about this kind of slightly clearer result -- unless we go for a recanvas -- that Mayor Pete and Bernie Sanders are

essentially tied for the lead here.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, that's where we are, you know, three days after these caucuses. We have a virtually tied

race. They are a tenth of a point apart in terms of the state delegate equivalents.

Now, I say that because that is the metric by which the Democratic Party, the Iowa Democratic Party has agreed to determine who wins this race. So it

is not a popular vote percentage, it's not a percentage of all the voters who voted. But it is what matters when it comes to whether or not we can

declare a winner here.

Now, Tom Perez' call for a recanvas is basically being shot down by the Iowa Democratic Party. The Iowa Democratic Party says, we're not going to

recanvas the results until a specific campaign says that they want us to, and they submit that request officially. And that has not happened yet.

So we're kind of at a stalemate position right now, where you have two camps -- the Sanders campaign and the Buttigieg campaign -- both declaring

victory. In that clip that you played from Bernie Sanders, he's talking about winning by 6,000 votes. There are a couple of caveats to that. First

of all, the popular vote, as I just mentioned, is not how we determine a winner in this race. And secondly, he's referring to a first round of



So you're seeing Sanders kind of cherry-picking his data here, to determine how this race is won. And then on the other hand, Buttigieg is declaring

victory with not all of the results in. So this is pretty messy right now, and it's not apparently going to get resolved any time soon.

But time is running short. We're in New Hampshire, the New Hampshire primary is just five days away and these candidates are just trying to get

whatever kind of momentum they can, going into that next very, very critical test of their support in this Democratic primary.

GORANI: Right, and New Hampshire is five days away, that's where you are, that's where everybody should have moved on to but we're still talking

about Iowa. What are the -- what are the chances of a recanvassing? And what would that entail exactly, if it happened?

PHILLIP: Well, I think at this point, the Democratic Party in Iowa is saying, we're not going to do it unless a candidate specifically asks us

to. They have until tomorrow to make that request.

And if they were to recanvass the results, what officials would essentially do is take the tabulations that were made in each of Iowa's more than 1,600

precincts, and check them against the results that were released publicly over the course of the last 48 hours.

So they would not re-tabulate every single -- what they call presidential preference card, which is essentially the ballot in this case. They

wouldn't do that, but they would just double-check that the numbers that were coming in from the precincts match what they released publicly.

That would take some time; it would not be as time-intensive as a full recount but it would take some time and it would drag this whole thing out

even longer than it already has been.

GORANI: All right. And as far as Republicans are concerned, I'm sure many of them are quite enjoying this delay and this confusion. Abby Phillip,

many thanks, live in Merrimack, New Hampshire.

The White House press secretary says maybe people should pay for impeaching President Trump. And my next guest thinks Democrats made a tactical error

in this whole impeachment process. He's a Republican strategist and CNN political commentator, Doug Heye.

So you say they made that -- you write, in fact, in an opinion piece, that you believe Democrats made a big mistake with this impeachment process.


DOUGLAS HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do. And let me be clear, Hala. I do not think that Donald Trump made a perfect phone call. And obviously,

the behavior that we saw at the -- really, what was a rally in the White House East Room, just a little while ago, was appalling. Of course it was.

But, ultimately, I think Democrats should go back and say, what were we trying to accomplish here? And it's why earlier -- and you and I have

talked about this -- I think censure was a better way for the House to vote and officially reprimand Donald Trump on the not-perfect phone call that he


But by going down the route of impeachment, since we knew, ultimately, what the result was going to be, that he was going to be acquitted by the United

States Senate, what we saw when Donald Trump declared himself exonerated by the Mueller report, even though the Mueller report didn't really exonerate

him, I think Democrats should have realized, Donald Trump's going to be able to do this on steroids.

And so, you know, this morning, we saw the National Prayer Breakfast, where Donald Trump brought front-page papers that said, "Acquitted." It's not

just papers in Washington or New York City that are saying it, it's papers throughout the country. That wherever you are in America right now, the

front page of your paper says, in big bold letters, "Acquitted."

It means that he gets to have his rally in the White House, where he lashes out at opponents and declares himself a big beautiful exoneration. And it

wouldn't be very surprising to see him go on a road tour, with his poll numbers now at the highest they've ever been -- 49 percent -- more than $40

million, $47 million raised in the last quarter because of impeachment.

Donald Trump is in a better position to be re-elected today than when Democrats started impeachment. And it tells me -- and I think should tell

Democrats -- that instead of impeaching Donald Trump forever, as Nancy Pelosi --


HEYE: -- termed it they should look at four years, which may be actually longer.

GORANI: All right. Well, in any case, November is, you know, a million years away in political years. This might be all forgotten by the time we

get to the vote, to -- in November.

But what option did the Democrats have? A censure on Capitol Hill rather than going through this impeachment process, they knew they were going to

lose the vote, you need a supermajority in the Senate. They wanted the case explained to the American people in a way that anybody who was watching the

proceedings could understand. Why is that a tactical error in your opinion?

HEYE: Well, because ultimately that's not what happened for Democrats. If you looked at the RealClearPolitics polling, by a point and a half -- which

is not a massive margin, but is still a margin -- Americans said, we don't want to impeach the president, we want to move on to 2020 and the campaign

and sort it out there.

And so, you know, again, House Democrats could have censured and made an official reprimand of the president, this is something that is not without

consequence and has happened to two presidents in the past.


But by going down the route of impeachment, they have allowed Donald Trump to portray himself as an innocent victim. And, again, I would say, Hala, I

don't think Donald Trump is an innocent victim here.


HEYE: But he's allowed to portray himself as such. He got massive news coverage in newspapers today, every network took him live from the East

Room of the White House today. And, again, he's going to go on a campaign trail on this, declaring himself innocent of a witch hunt. And that should

matter to Democrats.

GORANI: I get -- yes, but I mean, this speech, I presume you listened to the whole thing. I can't even sum it up. It was meandering, it was

vindictive, it was filled with profanity. He called Mueller top scum, he mentioned dirty cops, he called the Russia investigation BS. He talked

about dirty cops, leakers, evil people.

He mentioned Congressman Steve Scalise, who was shot at a softball game. He said he got whacked, and that his wife was a mess. Explain to international

viewers why this type of language is OK, why his approval rating is still at close to 50 percent despite the fact that he says and does things that,

to most people around the world, sound shocking.

HEYE: Yes. The first thing I would say is, I don't think they're OK. That's one of the reasons that I decided, as a Republican, not to --

GORANI: He's at 49 percent. Yes.

HEYE: I know, I know. It's one of the reasons I decided not to support Donald Trump. But ultimately, our politics in America have really become

tribal. And if you're wearing a red hat, shall we say, then whatever Donald Trump does or says, you're bought in for. If you're not wearing that, if

you're wearing a blue jersey as a Democrat, you're going to go after Donald Trump for any reason that you can possibly.

And so there's very little room in the middle. And when I say the middle, I don't mean moderate politics or centrist politics. It's your on one side or

the other. There are very few people who have not picked a side.

And so as impeachment has backfired on Democrats -- and, again, I would say, given the fundraising boom that it's been for Trump, given that his

numbers are up -- because voters are clearly saying, we want to talk about more policy issues than we do impeachment -- it's allowed Donald Trump --


HEYE: -- to do this, even with his ugly rhetoric. He can still declare victory here.

GORANI: Doug Heye, thanks very much. Always a pleasure --

HEYE: Thank you.

GORANI: -- talking to you.

And don't forget, CNN will hold four more town halls Thursday night with Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Deval Patrick. It all

starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern 1:00 a.m. Friday if you're in London and a night owl. Only on CNN.

The World Health Organization says there's been a slight drop in the number of new coronavirus cases in China over the past 24 hours, but they warn it

is too soon to say the virus is peaking. There are more than 28,000 cases, most of them in mainland China. Britain and Germany each confirmed new

cases today. The virus has killed more than 560 people.

Some of the newest patients are also some of the youngest patients. China's state media say two newborns in Wuhan have tested positive. One of them was

just 30 hours old.

Also, thousands of people are stuck on quarantined cruise ships off the coast of Japan and Hong Kong; 20 people on board the Diamond Princess in

Japan have tested positive for coronavirus. Let's talk more about this with Peter Drobac, he's a global health expert with the Oxford Said Business


Thanks for being with us. Let's talk first about the death of the whistleblower, Dr. Li Wenliang. I'm sorry -- who -- apologies, it -- that

was a misrepresentation by state media, so that's actually good news.

But let's talk a little bit about the fact that we're seeing a slight decrease in the number. What do you make of that? Positive or not positive?

PETER DROBAC, GLOBAL HEALTH EXPERT, OXFORD SAID BUSINESS SCHOOL: Well, hopefully it's a positive sign. It's really been about two weeks since

we've seen the really extraordinary measures of cordoning off an entire province in China to try to contain the epidemic. So now is the time when

we would hope to see a leveling off of cases. But after just 24 hours, it's too early to call that a trend.

GORANI: Right. And again, I want to underline the fact that the state media reports that we initially got about Dr. Li were inaccurate, and that

the Chinese state media now says the Wuhan whistleblower is alive, good news there.

Cruise passengers are being quarantined, travel is being restricted. Is that the right strategy?

DROBAC: Yes. I think it's been a very difficult situation. We've seen very rapid spread around the world. In a place like a cruise ship, which of

course is a very closed space, I think it's important to try to isolate those passengers. So at this time, I think it probably is the right


GORANI: How concerned would you be if you were outside of China? What are really the risks for people watching this all around the world right now?

Because the number of cases is still very small, outside of mainland China.

DROBAC: That's exactly right. So, really, outside of China and a couple of cruise ships, the risk to the general public is extraordinarily low --


DROBAC: -- in fact, many of us should be more worried about regular old influenza, which is going around this time of year, instead. And so there's

a lot -- I think fear is spreading more quickly than the virus around the world at this time, and so it's really important for us all to keep calm.


GORANI: I see people, here in the Tube in London, wearing surgical masks. Is that kind of pointless?

DROBAC: Yes, there's no good evidence that surgical masks, to just wear them around generally, will do much good. And if anything, it just

increases everyone's general sense of panic.

GORANI: So the transmission is human-to-human, which is worrying and concerning. And also because you can be contagious even if you're

asymptomatic, right? But the death rate is still relatively low if you compare it to SARS, for instance?

DROBAC: That's right. So with the SARS epidemic in 2003, about 10 percent of infected patients ultimately died. At this point, we're seeing a death

rate of approximately 2 percent, with this novel coronavirus outbreak. It's still early to say, and I think that death rate may actually fall because

there are probably thousands and thousands of unreported cases in China. So that's still significantly higher than influenza, but there is maybe some

reassurance there.

GORANI: So looking forward, in your experience, tracking these epidemics, where do you see things going? Based on how China is now reacting to this.

DROBAC: Yes, it's reassuring that the number of cases outside of China have remained relatively low, and so it seems that in most countries, I

think they're doing a good job of containing the epidemic. And so we should be reassured there.

There's always a concern that this may spread into countries that have less well-developed health systems, and that it could escape there. And so I

think vigilance and international cooperation is extremely important. It remains a very difficult situation in China at this time.

GORANI: All right. Thank you very much, Peter Drobac, for joining us. Really appreciate having you on the program.

And as we mentioned moments ago -- and it's important to underline this -- Chinese state media re now saying that the Wuhan whistleblower doctor is in

fact not dead, but in critical condition. The same media outlets reported earlier that he had died, which was what I was referencing.

Dr. Li Wenliang tried to warn others about the new virus in the early weeks of the outbreak. He later became very sick -- this is a picture of him,

you're seeing on your screen -- police had reprimanded him at the time for what they called rumor-mongering. But of course he was right, as we now


David Culver spoke to Dr. Wenliang just a few days ago, and he joins me now from Beijing. So we're all very, very glad that the doctor is in fact still

alive, though it caused us a little -- it caused a bit of confusion, there, with journalists around the world. Tell us more.

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not only with journalists around the world. You're talking about millions here, Hala, online, who, when they got

that first report -- from state media, mind you -- the "Global Times" and the "People's Daily" -- "People's Daily" being the ruling Communist Party's

official newspaper -- both of those outlets put it out there.

And the immediate reaction that we saw erupted on social media, and it was emotion of sadness, grief, but anger as well. And then shortly thereafter,

we started to see the changes, state media pulling back those tweets, deleting them altogether and in some cases, erasing the web pages that

initially held some of that information, claiming that he had died.

And then they posted a statement that we have also seen -- it's on the Weibo account, the social media account for Wuhan Central Hospital. That is

not only the hospital where Dr. Li worked and is being treated, but also the hospital where he is currently, according to this statement, being

resuscitated. That's what they're saying, they're saying they're currently trying to resuscitate him and they say he's in critical condition.

So there's a lot of back and forth, a lot of confusion. But this is a man who has become a hero of sorts here. We shared his story a couple of days

ago. My producer, Yong (ph), who's in the room here with me, he actually connected with him about 24 hours ago, they've been in touch through

WeChat, communicating because he can't speak, Dr. Li cannot.

And he said that he was not feeling well, that things were getting worse. And he told us in that communication, the most recent one, that he would

probably not be able to communicate for a few days.

Now, when we heard, of course, this first report from state media, that's when we began to want to look into it a little bit further, and we called

the hospital. We have not gotten any response back. But this is something, obviously, we're following very closely. Critical condition is where

they're currently listing him. And as soon as we get more information, Hala, we're going to relay it to you.

GORANI: All right. Thanks so much, David Culver.


Still to come tonight, casualties tick higher in the Middle East after the U.S. laid out its peace plan. We're live from Jerusalem, there is a new

wave of violence in the region. We'll be right back.


GORANI: Well, last week, we saw the U.S. release its blueprint for peace in the Middle East, here's what we're seeing this week: tanks, stone-

throwing, sometimes deadly violence. The Israeli military is beefing up its activity in the West Bank, where three Palestinians were killed.

Among the incidents, the IDF, the Israeli military, says a car driven by a Palestinian rammed a group of Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem today. Twelve

soldiers were injured and the suspect was just arrested a short time ago.

So is this the reaction to the Trump administration's proposal? Let's go to Oren Liebermann with more. Talk to us about why we're seeing a bit of a

flare-up here.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, it may well be that some of this is related to anger, frustration and Palestinian factions -- chief among

them, Hamas -- calling for more attacks in the wake of the peace plan, in their form of outright rejecting it.

That may account for some of this including, perhaps, the ramming attack we saw in Jerusalem, in which 12 Israeli soldiers were wounded. There was also

a shooting attack in Jerusalem in which a border police officer was lightly wounded, the attacker shot and killed in that case, according to police.

And a shooting attack in the central or northern West Bank, in which Israeli forces are still looking for the shooter in that case.

So anger about the peace plan itself, its release and the fact that it gives Israel Jerusalem as an undivided capital, may be part of that anger.

And let's remember that Jerusalem is, of course, the reddest of red lines when it comes to Palestinians, and it's able to ignite the Palestinian


But that's not the full story because two of the Palestinians killed here over the past 24 hours were in Jenin, and that starts in a completely

different spot. Israeli forces went into Jenin early this morning to demolish the home of a Palestinian who was convicted of killing a rabbi two

years ago, in a terrorist attack.

As that demolition happened, there were riots between Palestinian protestors and Israeli forces. One Palestinian, according to Israeli

forces, opened sniper fire on soldiers who fired back, killing that Palestinian.

A second Palestinian, a police officer, was shot and killed Thursday morning. He passed away from his injuries later in the day on Thursday.

Israel says they're investigating what happened there.

Meanwhile, Fatah, the governing authority in the West Bank, posted a video on social media, showing that that police officer was simply standing in

his work, not taking part in any clashes or anything like that, when he was shot and killed.

What's the significance of that? Well, security coordination, as much as it's ongoing between Israel and the Palestinian authority, is even more

strained than it was before. And it's in situations like these, when the situation seems volatile and unstable, that security coordination plays a

big part.

Hala, it's a very sensitive situation right now, given what we've seen and more violence in 24 hours than we've seen in more than a year. And that

doesn't even include the rockets and mortars we've seen from Gaza. So the next 24 hours and beyond could determine if this spirals downhill, and it

could do so quickly.

GORANI: All right. Oren Liebermann, thank you.


Still to come tonight, we'll get you up to speed on what's going on in Syria with the impeachment and other news out of the United States, it

hasn't been in the headlines as much. And the skies over Damascus lit up, though, earlier today. And the crisis in Idlib could get even more dire.

We'll be right back.



HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: China's ambassador to the U.K. is urging the world not to overreact to the coronavirus. Speaking in London

today, the ambassador downplayed the outbreak and criticized some countries for their response.


LIU XIAOMING, CHINESE AMBASSADOR TO THE U.K.: Also overreactions by individual countries, panic among the public and even insulting and

discriminatory remarks and behavior, targeting the overseas Chinese community with regard to these issues.

It is our hope that the governments of all countries, including the U.K., should understand and support China's efforts, respect the professional

advice of WHO, avoid overreaction, avoid trading panic, and ensure the normal cooperation and exchanges between countries.


GORANI: Well, a newlywed couple is pleading for help amid the outbreak. Two Americans were hoping to celebrate the beginning of their lives together,

and now they are stuck onboard a quarantined cruise ship with thousands of others. Paula Hancocks has their story from Japan.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Milena Basso and her husband of three months, Gaetano Cerullo, saved up for this trip

for two years. It was meant to be the honeymoon they would never forget. It's turned into a nightmare.


MILENA BASSO, AMERICAN TOURIST ABOARD PRINCESS DIAMOND SHIP: We feel ready, and we just don't feel like we're safe.

HANCOCKS: The newlyweds are stuck onboard the luxury cruise line, the Diamond Princess for at least the next 14 days, they've been told, and the

quarantine as passengers and crew who have tested positive for the coronavirus are taken off and treated.

BASSO: If they're really concerned and worried, we should be quarantined in a sanitary environment that's safe, not on a cruise ship that's already


HANCOCKS (on-camera): The alert was raised when an 80-year-old from Hong Kong tested positive for the virus after he had spent five days on this

ship. No food, drinks, medical supplies are being taken on board to cover the extended stay. More than 2,600 guests and 1,000 crew still remain on


KENT FRASURE, AMERICAN TOURIST ABOARD PRINCESS DIAMOND SHIP: Usually, you would say you get another two weeks, that's awesome, but ending up two

weeks where you have to be in these circumstances is not the most fun for sure.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): The newlyweds say they're feeling depressed and scared. Their message is crystal clear.


BASSO: Donald Trump, save us. Get us a government-based airplane.


BASSO: Get us off the ship.

HANCOCKS: Paula Hancocks, CNN, Yokohama Port, Japan.


GORANI: Now to Syria, where the Air Force says it intercepted a number of Israeli missiles this morning over Damascus. This video comes from state-

run news agency. There's been no comment from the Israeli military.

In the meantime, Russia now says it lost military specialists and so did Turkey and the intensifying fighting in the northwestern Idlib Province.

The Turkish president, Erdogan, threatened a military response if Syrian troops don't pull back there this month. The fighting around Idlib has

forced more than half a million people from their homes in just two months. These cars are heading toward the Turkish border. A lot of these people

displaced more than once.

Let's get more perspective on Syria. I spoke with Sam Dagher recently. He's a journalist who's reported on the Middle East since 2003, and the author

of "Assad or We Burn the Country."

He spoke with me about the Syrian war approaching its 9th year.


GORANI: Did you think when you first started reporting from Syria camera that we'd be where we are today?

SAM DAGHER, AUTHOR, "ASSAD OR WE BURN THE COUNTRY": Honestly, no. I went in, in 2012, end of 2012, and I witnessed with my own eyes how Iran and

Hezbollah were doing everything to prop up this regime. There was already a counterinsurgency strategy in place, you know. That was devised by these

two - by these two entities. So I said to myself, this is going to be a belong battle.

GORANI: Yes. When was the turning point? Was it when Barack Obama failed to act after the chemical attack in Ghouta in 2013? Was it when the Russians

started really getting involved closer to 2015? When?

DAGHER: I think it's much earlier than that. I know everybody focuses on the red line --


DAGHER: -- and the chemical weapons attack. But I think the turning point was much earlier than that. I would take you back to the summer of 2011.

There had been many attempts by Syrians to occupy a major square in Damascus, Homs. I mean, they wanted to have their own Tahrir Square just

like in Egypt, if you remember.

But every attempt by them was met with bullets by the regime, utter carnage. Finally, the protesters were able to occupy the central square in

Hama, (INAUDIBLE), if you remember, and they were visited by the U.S. and French ambassadors and the protesters thought that this would offer them


And then President Obama actually spoke and told us, you've lost legitimacy, it's time for you to leave power and basically promised that

the protesters in Hama would not be abandoned. Guess what, Assad attacked them, killed them, and President Obama and the U.S. did nothing.

GORANI: I want to talk a little bit about the family, the Assad family. Because they have been in power, first the father, then the son since 1970.

They've really outlasted a lot of strong men across the Arab world. Why? How did that work?

DAGHER: Yes. I mean, they've been there for 50 years. They've outlasted eight U.S. presidents since Richard Nixon. They may even outlast this one.


DAGHER: So basically, I think it's in the title of the book. "Assad or We Burn the Country" is the graffiti that loyalists use to spray on -- of the

walls of neighborhoods referring to regime control. But in a way, it's the motto of this family. It's the guiding principle. Either they stay in power

or the country burns.

GORANI: Or we're taking you down with us.

DAGHER: Exactly. And they've kind of honed it into this manual. And every time they face trouble, they take this manual out of the drawer.

GORANI: But Bashar al-Assad when he first came to power was kind of this young, open, westernized president who had studied medicine in London. His

wife was this glamorous woman, who worked for JP Morgan in London. There was real hope.

And at the beginning, if Assad had played his cards differently, had not given orders to shoot to kill, or his brother as well to shoot to kill, had

not reacted so viciously, was there a chance for Syria in 2011?

DAGHER: Absolutely. I mean, I'll touch very quickly first on what you said about when he first came to power and was seen as the reformer. This regime

is brutal, and basically once it sort of gets cart blanched to all its henchman to be as brutal as possible, that's it. I mean, it's like the

logic of brutality takes a life of its own.

But the regime is also very smart. They knew -- you know, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall that something

had to change. They had to repackage this regime to actually sell it to Syrians, first and foremost. I mean, it's kind of...


GORANI: But once there's a bit of pressure applied, though, I guess old habits come back?

DAGHER: Exactly. So it's the same narrative with the fathers in the Middle East, giving power to their sons, and we saw it in many other countries.

But obviously in Syria, it was -- it was perfected, you know, down to the choice of his wife, you know, coming from London to be with him.

GORANI: You could argue that this country is dead in the sense that the way it was will never be again. The way it was multicultural, multiethnic, the

way it was a real cradle, a real cradle of civilization in the Middle East, that that's gone pretty much forever. Do you agree with that?

DAGHER: Not entirely.

GORANI: Why not?

DAGHER: Because I see the Syrians having been profoundly changed. Yes, he's still in power, he's there protected by the...

GORANI: Half of them are gone, though.

DAGHER: Exactly.

GORANI: And they won't come back.

DAGHER: No. But you know what? A third of the population is outside the country, but they're not giving up. I mean, they are the ones leading the

push to actually hold this regime accountable for its war crimes. And I talk to people in Damascus today and they tell me, we're watching very

closely what's happening in Lebanon. Because if you -- I mean, Lebanon and Iraq to -- also some extent, because they are the people are rising up

against allies of Iran against Hezbollah and these two powers are crucial for Bashar.

So if something happens in Lebanon, or something changes in Lebanon, this is going to weaken the regime.


GORANI: And that was Sam Dagher, the author of "Assad or We Burn the Country."

Turkish prosecutors want to talk to the pilots of that plane that skidded off the runway in Istanbul on Wednesday. Three people died when the Pegasus

Airlines' plane veered into a ditch and broke apart.

According to state media, authorities want to know if the crash could have been caused by negligence.

The two pilots will be brought in for questioning after their release from the hospital. Also, more than 100 people remain hospitalized and three are

still in intensive care. The airport remains closed while the accident is investigated.

Still to come tonight, a surprise frontrunner in Ireland's elections. The Nationalist Party, Sinn Fein, is hoping for a historic breakthrough in

Saturday's vote.

And also, actress, Jameela Jamil, makes a major announcement on Twitter after facing backlash for being chosen for a new show. We'll explain what's

going on there after the break.


GORANI: Well, an investigation has been opened in Italy after a high-speed train derailed, killing two people. Italian investigators are trying to

figure out just what caused this, the derailment, which happened just southeast of Milan.


Officials say the incident is being investigated on three counts, the train disaster, culpable homicide, and culpable injuries. The train's two

conductors were killed and dozens more people were injured. Traffic has been suspended on that high-speed line.

The Irish Nationalist Party, Sinn Fein, may be on the verge of a big victory in Dublin. The Left Wing Party has shocked the country and emerged

at the top of the polls ahead of national elections this Saturday. Nic Robertson has more on Sinn Fein's rebirth.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): The big surprise in Ireland's election, Sinn Fein, the party once known for its

links to the IRA and terror attacks are leading the polls for the first time, given a coveted spot on a national T.V. leaders' debate.

MARY LOU MCDONALD, SINN FEIN LEADER: But the reality is that the homeless figures have gone sky rocketed.

ROBERTSON: Housing, health care, and social reform are the crunch issues. Her pro-united Ireland party could remap Ireland's political landscape. In

second place, center right, Fianna Fail.

MICHEAL MARTIN, FIANNA FAIL LEADER: What to do now in terms of health, for example, is to bring up about real immediate approach in change.

ROBERTSON: Problem is Martin's Fianna Fail Party and third place, Fine Gael of the incumbent prime minister, are the establishment and perhaps,

belatedly, seem to recognize that.

LEO VARADKAR, IRISH PRIME MINISTER, LEADER OF FINE GAEL: I think this election is going to be a change election. One thing that's certain is that

the next government is not going to be the same as the last. It won't be Fine Gael independent lines supported by Fianna Fail. It is going to be a

new government.

ROBERTSON: Sinn Fein's games have come not just in demand for change but in changing their own image. Its political wing of the former terror group,

the IRA, notably dropping the ageing, Gerry Adams, their former president and allegedly an IRA commander, although he denies it from their roster of

candidates this year.

Even so Adam Schiff doesn't mean his influence is dead. The party under his leadership tried to fight the British out of Northern Ireland. McDonald

sees Brexit as a springboard to that goal.

MCDONALD: I think Brexit has changed things massively, as you know. And I think the conversation now about constitutional change, reunification has

broadened to the extent that it's not simply a Sinn Fein matter.

ROBERTSON: Yet Sinn Fein surge seems to have caught even them by surprise. McDonald is only fielding 42 candidates for 160 seats. She can't get a


And given Sinn Fein's troubled roots, are unlikely to be welcome coalition partners. Sinn Fein's day to rephrase one of their own slogans may not yet

quite have come.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


GORANI: Well, Scotland's finance secretary has resigned abruptly after reports he sent hundreds of messages to a 16-year-old boy. Derek MacKay

says he takes full responsibility for his foolish actions and apologized to the boy involved and his family.

Well, he spoke with Scotland's first minister late Wednesday to offer his resignation, Nicola Sturgeon. It's a huge blow to Sturgeon to lose a key

member of her government. MacKay had been tipped as her successor even before quitting.

He was scheduled to present the government's official budget today. But with his sudden departure, Kate Forbes, his deputy, had to do it instead.

Still to come tonight, actress, Jameela Jamil, opens up about her sexuality in a Twitter post. We'll talk about what led to her announcement and

backlash she's been suffering all day. What led to her saying that she identifies as queer? We'll be right back.



GORANI: Actress Jameela Jamil said she identifies as a queer. You may know her from the show, "The Good Place." She made this revelation on Twitter,

Wednesday saying this was absolutely not how I wanted it to come out.

Her statement comes amid backlash for her involvement in HBO's upcoming ballroom competition show and voguing contest show legendary. Jamil faced

criticism for hosting a show on LGBT subculture. In her Twitter statement Jamil says it was scary to openly admit her sexuality, especially as a

brown female in her 30s.

So the big backlash on Twitter was that this is not a member of the LGBT community, she is not a gay person of color who is associated with that

community and, therefore, should not qualify as someone who can judge that type of performance.

Let's go to discuss this further with pop culture journalist, Jarrett Hill. Jarrett, thanks for joining us.

So, first of all, your reaction to the backlash itself against Jameela Jamil. What do you make of it?

JARRETT HILL, POLITICS AND POP CULTURE JOURNALIST: Well, I think there's a couple of important things about this backlash. Number one, it's not solely

about her not being LGBTQ but she's not a black or Latino person who is involved in the ballroom community or has come from that community,


But secondly, a lot of the backlash is not necessarily specifically about Jameela, right? I don't think people are upset with Jameela so much as

they're upset with the decision makers who re taking this opportunity to like plug someone into this show to be a judge, but not really considering

like any relation that this person might have when there are plenty of people who are much more versed in ballroom culture, Trace Lysette or an

Amiyah Scott, or so many other people that, you know, grew up in ballroom culture that could come and speak to that.

GORANI: But you could look at it two ways. You could say, well, she is not part of that culture but she's a celebrity, she has name recognition. She's

not the emcee, by the way. She made sure that people understood that she would be a host.

So you could say, well, she has name recognition, so she will help shed a light on this subculture of the LGBT community, and then look at, at the

other way which is, well, she's appropriating this culture for herself. Where do you fall on this?

HILL: I mean, I think both of those things can be true at the same time. To be honest, Jameela coming out after this and saying I'm a queer person

doesn't really change the situation here, right? Like she's never been a part of ball culture.

But like, there is something to be said for using your privilege in a way that can illuminate stories that are important.

But I think that moreover, people are challenged by this because like, say we were casting the judges for Project Runway or for Top Model. You'd bring

in a photographer from the fashion industry, and a designer, and a model, and different people who have worked around those different things.

But Jameela Jamil, like, what can you say she has connection to other than now coming out and saying that she's queer. That being queer does not mean

that you have a connection to the ballroom culture.

GORANI: And can you shed a light for our viewers? When she says queer, I mean, is she -- what is it -- define that for us, exactly.

HILL: Sure. So queer has had this very mixed history, right? With how people have used it now it's been defined.

Before, I would say probably in the last five to seven, maybe 10 years. Before that, it was a derogatory word, a pejorative term that was a slur to

be able to say that, you know, LGBTQ people are weird or strange.

But that word has kind of been reclaimed by the LGBTQ community and just say that I fall underneath the umbrella of LGBTQ. Because you can be

lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two spirit, non-binary or anywhere underneath the umbrella and identify as queer. Because a lot of

people don't feel like they fit directly into all the different labels that we like to put on them.

So queer is a word that we're able to use now to be able to change that.

GORANI: So it's a bit of an umbrella term. And what do you think HBO should do at this stage?

HILL: I don't want to take a job away from any person, especially a person of color that is, you know, really having a rise. And I don't think that

people are upset with Jameela Jamil so much as they are upset with people who gave her the show.

GORANI: But she's taking it very personally, you can tell from her statement. She's quite upset by this.

HILL: Absolutely. And I mean, I'm sure it feels personal and I'm sure there are some people who are upset with her for taking this job, but I would not

be the person to say you need to fire this person or not. But I do think they need to be thoughtful about the way that they cast the talent on this


I think it's going to really hinge on who are the people that they have coming in to perform? Who are the people that they have coming in to also

maybe guest judge and things like that?


Because realistically, there are plenty of people who could have added more to the conversation about judging on this show than someone who's never

been involved in ballroom culture.

GORANI: And, finally, what is ballroom culture? I mean, we -- it's just people who are not familiar with that particular subculture associate

voguing with Madonna. Before her, there was Malcolm McLaren. But that was all borrowed from, it was already appropriated even at the time from

ballroom culture. Wasn't it?

HILL: Absolutely. So I think people are becoming a lot more familiar with ballroom culture right now because of a popular television show called,

"Pose," created by Steven Canals, directed by Janet Mock and so many others.

Ballroom culture is something that has been built by black and brown people, more specifically black and Latino folks in various different

places around the country. "Pose" focuses on New York City where it's a place for gay and trans folks to be able to dance and celebrate and enjoy

each other's company in a performative kind of way.

So ballroom culture is something that has a storied history, a long history that, you know, it's 30, 40 years old, if not older. And people always

associate it with Madonna, if you will, because of the song that she came out with "Vogue." But like even that came years into the ballroom culture's

popularity there in New York City.

GORANI: Right. Tell us your podcast, where can we find it? What is it called, Jarrett?

HILL: Yes. We have a brand new podcast that just launched today. It's called FANTI. It's actually about these intersectional conversations and

the conversations about things that you love. We call it Fanti because you can be a fan of something and also be a little bit anti about it as well.

Our first episode --


HILL: -- is about Kevin Hart and how you love Kevin Hart. But also are really challenged by some of the things that he said and done and trying to

figure out how to be a fan in that way. So that's what the show is called FANTI. You can find it everywhere you get your podcast.

GORANI: All right. Great name. Jarrett Hill, thanks very much for joining us on CNN.

HILL: Thanks a lot.

GORANI: Finally tonight, Kirk Douglas was one of the last Hollywood stars of the silver screen and he was larger than life on screen and off. On

Wednesday, that life came to an end. He made more than 90 movies, including the iconic "Spartacus."

Like many of the characters he played, Douglas was independent minded. He played a major role in breaking the Hollywood blacklist of actors,

directors, and writers who had suspected links to communism.

In the mid-50s, he took control of his career and formed his own production company. He was nominated for Oscars several times. He never won, though.

Kirk Douglas died at 103 years old.

Thanks for watching. I'm Hala Gorani. Do stay with CNN. Here's a lot more after a quick break. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming your way.