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North Korea Reportedly Willing to Discuss Giving Up Nukes; Chaos in the White House; Virtual Reality Film of Rohingya Crisis. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 7, 2018 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:11] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour --

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Just months after saying it could wipe America off the face of the earth North Korea now says it's willing to talk to the U.S. about giving up its nuclear weapons.

VAUSE: The White House economic advisor quits, Dow futures plummet, a porn star sues the President -- just another chaos-free day for the Trump administration.

SESAY: First, a new film gives us a 360-degree look at the Rohingya crisis as the ethnic cleansing campaign continues in Myanmar.

VAUSE: Hello everybody -- great to have you with us. I'd like to welcome our viewers all around the world. Hope you can stay with us for the next three hours.

I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay.

NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

Well, the U.S. and North Korea may be getting closer to a diplomatic breakthrough but there's a lot of skepticism about Leader Kim Jong- un's intentions. After an unprecedented meeting with Kim in Pyongyang, South Korea envoys now say the North is willing to talk to the U.S. about giving up its nuclear weapons.

VAUSE: The White House is cautiously optimistic that North Korea has made similar promises in the past and broken every one of them. A senior U.S. official says "All options are on the table and our posture towards the regime will not change until we see credible moves towards denuclearization. What we are looking for is concrete steps towards denuclearization.

SESAY: Well President Trump was asked Tuesday about North Korea's sudden willingness to talk. Well, that was President Trump being somewhat circumspect about Kim Jong-un's sudden willingness to speak saying he seems positive but we'll see what happens next.

Our own Andrew Stevens is following all of this for us from Seoul, South Korea. So Andrew -- President Trump being somewhat circumspect. South Korea of course, feeling quite optimistic about this turn of events but the same can't be said for everyone. Give us a sense of the reaction in the region.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's just start with South Korea because yes, there is some optimism here but it's certainly tempered by a degree and a very, very healthy dose of skepticism as well. The newspapers here in Seoul are playing a fairly straight bat on this -- Isha.

Basically they're reporting the fact that there is going to be -- or the North Koreans have offered and the South Koreans have agreed to this summit meeting. The North Koreans are prepared to speak to the U.S. on denuclearization.

But, you know, we've been down this path before and that's come up a lot of the time and particularly, I've talked to analysts here, we know that the North Koreans are offering this but what we don't know is whether they're actually serious about it.

And that's a recurring theme not just here but around the region as well. We heard the cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga in Japan. And I'll just give you the quick quote. He said, "It's necessary to respond to North Korea's possible offer based on the lesson from past talks that did not lead to denuclearization." And that really does sum it up pretty much across that region.

China is welcoming the move. China has always supported dialogue and conversation as a way of denuclearizing and lowering tensions so they are behind what we know so far.

Interestingly now, Isha -- we understand there hasn't been a word of this in the North Korean press. Now North Korea has not actually verified any of this. We're still relying on the word coming from the Blue House after that delegation went to the North. And in North Korea itself it is not mentioning the actual offers being made by Kim Jong-un.

It's talking a lot about the optics of the South Koreans going up there and a statesman like Kim welcoming them with his wife and with his sister there. But nothing on the specifics of what was on the table.

SESAY: Very interesting indeed. Our own Andrew Stevens joining us there from Seoul. Andrew -- always appreciate it. Thank you.

I want to go right now to Philip Yun who is an adviser on North Korea under U.S. President Bill Clinton. He joins us from San Francisco.

Philip -- good to have you with us. I want to pick up on -- PHILIP YUN, ADVISER ON NORTH KOREA FOR BILL CLINTON: Good evening.

SESAY: -- good evening -- what Andrew was just saying there.

But there's been no word of this offer of a deal, if you will from North Korea. No word of it in North Korean media; so in effect, no confirmation from Pyongyang. How much should we read into this?

YUN: Yes. Well, I think with North Korea, you never get too high and you never get too low. I think it's absolutely correct. I think the first thing we have to make sure is that in fact that's what the North Koreans are offering. I think it would be great and helpful if the North Koreans in some way reconfirm that.

I think it also takes a little time for us to actually hear from the South Koreans what North Korea said because there have been many instances where there have been miscommunications from -- between the parties, not only South Korea and North Korea but also the U.S. and North Korea.

So that's something we have to confirm. These are fairly significant moves on the part of North Korea in terms of concessions saying that denuclearization is on the table.

[00:05:04] The other thing that they've also talked about which is significant is the moratorium on missile testing and the nuclear testing which I think is potentially significant as long as talks between the U.S. and North Korea continue.

SESAY: It is interesting that again, as told by South Korea, the North has expressed this intention. But then Web sites say the North which you know well and they're reporting on the North and they are saying that their suspicions that North Korea has actually restarted their reactor presumably to produce plutonium. If that reporting is indeed accurate, if that is accurate --

YUN: Yes.

SESAY: -- how then do we read Kim Jong-un's willingness to hold talks.

YUN: Well, there is -- you know, the good news is the moratorium in the sense that North Korea cannot improve its nuclear capability and its missile capability. But what you just talked about is in fact true.

North Korea at this current rate is producing one nuclear bomb with material every eight weeks. And my guess is that they'll continue to do so. In certain ways this is an insurance policy as they're adding more and more things that they can bargain with during this time of negotiations and talks.

So that's definitely the downside of this. It would be very helpful if the North Koreans said they wouldn't produce anymore but I don't expect them to do that. SESAY: Is this moment that we've arrived -- is this because international sanctions on North Korea actually starting to really hurt?

YUN: Well, it's unclear. I'm certain that the U.S. administration would like to think that sanctions and these threats have possibly a bloody nose -- a unilateral strike may have forced the North Koreans to align their calculations on this.

It's also possible that the North Koreans have decided that they have advanced far enough to have a reliable deterrent because it's actually what we think exists. And in fact in November they said they have the deterrent.

So it's really unclear and the whole point of this conversation, to have a conversation with North Korea is to find out exactly what they're thinking, what it is that they want. We had no idea exactly in certain respects what they want and what it means in particular in specifics.

I mean the only American that has spoken with Kim Jong-un has been Denis Rodman and I think we can do a lot better than that.

SESAY: Well, you say that but there is no South Korean -- U.S. ambassador to South Korea and the top man in the State Department on North Korea has announced his retirement so -- I know you're looking to do better but really, how much of a challenge is this going to be for the U.S. to kind of handle this the right way.

YUN: Well, that's something that there is some concern. I mean in certain ways maybe it's possible the United States may not be able to take yes for an answer in the sense they'd been talking about having denuclearization on the table. The North Koreans have said yes with security assurances which we don't really know what that means.

But we don't have, you know, there's some concern on whether we can actually execute on these talks given the personnel issues that are going on. And that is something we have to be concerned about and everyone is going to be watching.

SESAY: Yes. We all will be watching. Philip Yun -- always a pleasure. Philip Yun there in San Francisco -- thank you.

YUN: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, another day and another senior aide quits the White House. Chief economist Gary Cohn has announced he will be leaving in the coming weeks.

Sources called Cohn the only good guy left and a moderating voice to Donald Trump's protectionist policies. Cohn is a strong defender of free trade. He openly opposed the President's plan for steel and aluminum tariffs.

Less than a week ago Hope Hicks, one of President Trump's most trusted advisers also resigned but despite the shakeup, the President claims all is well inside the White House, just a lot of good energy. There is no chaos he says. And everyone wants to work there.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Then I read oh, gee maybe people don't want to work for Trump and believe, everybody wants to work in the White House. So many people want to come and I have a choice of anybody. I could take any position in the White House and I'll have a choice of the ten top people having to do with that position. Everybody wants to be there.

The White House has tremendous energy. It has tremendous spirit. It is a great place to be working. It's just a great place to work. The White House has a tremendous energy and we have tremendous talent.


VAUSE: And then Gary Cohn quit.

Joining me now California talk radio host Ethan Bearman and California Republican National Committeeman and hat wearer Shawn Steel. Good to see you -- guys. Thank you for coming in.

Ethan -- it seemed pretty obvious that Cohn's resignation was on the way when we saw that empty chair at the White House news conference with Sweden's prime minister.

But apparently Cohn had warned the President repeatedly if he went ahead with his plan to impose, you know, tariffs, he'd quit. But Trump did it anyway.

ETHAN BEARMAN, TALK RADIO HOST: Yes. I mean who actually believes that they can change Trump's mind about things? That's really the challenge.

[00:10:02] Why did Cohn take the job thinking that he suddenly was going to turn Donald Trump, who on the campaign trail was all about protectionism and populism? Why would he suddenly become a free trader just because your Goldman Sachs guy? And Goldman Sachs has been well-represented in Washington for a long time, it doesn't mean that you're suddenly going to convince this President to be a free trader.

I mean it was never a good fit in the first place.

VAUSE: Yes. He was a Democrat arguing against the tariffs and the Republican president was arguing for them. It was like, you know Freaky Friday role reversal.

Shawn -- in all of this, the President is denying the White House is in chaos. He said that he'd like to have this kind of conflict among his advisers. Listen to this.

VAUSE: Hold a second.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I like conflict. I like having two people with different points of view and I certainly have that. And then I make a decision. But I like watching. I like seeing it and I think it's the best way to go. I like different points of view.


VAUSE: Team of rivals -- one thing. Game of thrones -- a completely another thing which is what this White House is like. But then, you know, does the President actually listen to an opinion that does not agree with his own?

SHAWN STEEL, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEEMAN: You know, he gets all kinds of opinions and we see that he's constantly changing and modulating his positions. But you know, you look at team of rivals and Abraham Lincoln, (INAUDIBLE) hated and loathed each other. Then you called FDR, notorious for having conflicts and wars with people resigning and turnovers.

He'd like that kind of energetic confrontation. And then you look at LBJ taking over JFK's office. So this is a monolith (INAUDIBLE) and American presidency.

Gary Cohn, who's a Democrat and a free trader in itself is unusual. I have a lot of respect for him. He's the one that helped -- was the key energy behind the tax reform --

VAUSE: The tax cuts -- yes.

STEEL: He's the key energy in deregulation. He's done a good job. He spent over a year. And a lot of times his job is high pressure and the kind of money that he can make. A year's pretty good service but --

VAUSE: But you haven't seen this kind of turnover in --


STEEL: Well, we haven't seen it compared to Obama.

BEARMAN: Shawn -- come on.

VAUSE: Or George or Clinton or Reagan or W Bush.


BEARMAN: -- gladiators fighting in the White House and the President sitting there like Caligula lording over it. It's insane.


BEARMAN: It's bad for America and it's bad for our government.

VAUSE: Apparently Cohn was ready to quit last year when the President seemed to side with the neo-Nazis --


BEARMAN: These are very good people in --

VAUSE: -- has denied this, ok.

So apparently, you know, he decided to draw a line in the sand over tariffs. So Ethan -- as "The Onion" put it, "over Trump's bigoted comments towards aluminum". If this is what he, you know, the war on -- this is what he calls a switch over?

STEEL: Right. Not the Muslim ban --

VAUSE: But in particular Charlottesville when, you know, President Trump sort of sided with the neo-Nazis.

BEARMAN: Yes, I agree with you. This is absolutely -- there's very good people on both sides. And Steven Miller is sitting there, smiling at the same time. So any of these people that are sitting in the administration are absolutely complicit to all the bigotry, the racism, the xenophobia that is going on, the painting of the other, the blaming the victims -- that is what this White House is about.

STEEL: John, John --

BEARMAN: It's absolutely wrong.

STEEL: Ethan is a startling example of the great division in America. Half the people think that Ethan is absolutely making no sense whatsoever. And I like and enjoy him but --

VAUSE: Which half of people?

STEEL: American -- half of the people and you're talking to them, you're talking to the people that hate Trump. The fact is that Trump's going to get a good replacement for Gary Cohn. I'm going to make a prediction.


STEEL: It's going to be one of your own people at CNN.

VAUSE: Well, we'll wait and see.

STEEL: Stephen Moore.


STEEL: You heard it first. You heard it first.


VAUSE: Ok. Sources at the White House told CNN the administration is trying to downplay Cohn's resignation. The source said officials are lumping in Cohn with other recent-announced departures of White House communications director Hope Hicks and Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. New York people -- they all end up back in New York, which you know

Shawn -- the President himself is actually from New York.

But Cohn's departure seems different in a way. You know, the stocks took a hit when the word came out, dropped out 300 points. Asian markets are bit mixed. The futures are down on (INAUDIBLE) so there will be a ripple effect from Cohn's departure.

STEEL: I think whenever you have a person that important there's going to be some noise. But frankly 300 points compared to 26000 market -- the highest it's been in American history with black unemployment the lowest measurement with a robust economy. This is a very much of a minor nuisance that some news organizations are trying to make a big deal.

But it's business in Washington, D.C. with a disruptive president that's going after people that just don't like the way business has been -- he's changing business.

VAUSE: Ok. Big deal or minor nuisance, you be the judge. Dominique Daniels, a.k.a. Stephanie Clifford -- the porn star who allegedly had an affair with Donald Trump before he was President. She is now suing him, alleging that their hush agreement, the one in which she received $130,000 allegedly. She says it was invalid because it was never signed by Trump.

[00:15:05] Here's part of the lawsuit. "After discovering Miss Clifford's plans Mr. Trump, with the assistance of his attorney Mr. Cohen, aggressively sought to silence Miss Clifford as part of an effort to avoid her telling the truth thus helping to ensure he won the presidential election."

Ethan -- you know, this does seem to, you know, bolster the complaints which have already involved the Federal Elections Commission that Donald Trump, he knew about the hush money, he knew about the $130,000 that Cohen, allegedly his lawyer allegedly paid. And he essentially is in violation of election law.

BEARMAN: Yes, I mean I think that this is one of the -- another step in the direction that should the Democrats take the House of Representatives in the midterms -- Cook Report just came out and says 60 percent of that.

If that happens this situation plus a raft of the bizarre numbered situation yesterday -- if any of that ends up being true as well, you can have impeachment hearings. This is the first time I'm saying that through this whole process.

VAUSE: Shawn -- when it comes to presidential candidates behaving badly, there is one thing the Department of Justice takes very seriously, buying a woman's silence. Ask John Edwards how that worked out. It was a mistrial in the end but the DOJ set down a real marker on that one.

STEEL: You know, you've got to enjoy the expanding career of Stormy. She is a porn star. This is a moment of glory, suing the President of the United States is a lot of fun.

But at the end of the day this is not any spectacular news. You're doing the same kind of things that Bill Clinton -- pardon me -- Bill Clinton walked away from. Jack Kennedy had these issues. I don't think anybody is shocked or surprised --

VAUSE: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Ethan --

STEEL: But here's the point --


BEARMAN: He has somewhere between 13 and 19 women accusing him of sexual --


STEEL: Which is it? Fifteen or 16 -- you know they don't know. You're making up -- you're pulling the numbers out of --

BEARMAN: He said his own admission on the Access Hollywood tape. That will be a violation of law -- what he did. Not only that, we know that he cheated with Marla Maples. We have a history of abuse by this man.

STEEL: Except he doesn't say that. You're making this up.


STEEL: Come on.

VAUSE: Putting aside any moral judgment here, you know --

STEEL: Fair enough.

VAUSE: There are issues of FEC law, of electoral law, of reporting campaign donations. $130,000 that (INAUDIBLE) says he paid for out of his own pocket. It now appears that it was a campaign contribution, hush money to help Donald Trump win the presidency. And that's the issue.

STEEL: We just don't know. And we're going to find out. We'll get to the bottom of it. There's going to be a lawsuit and public information. But rumors and innuendos are not going to change the President.

VAUSE: You know what we do know? Trump's alias -- David Dennison, I think it is. It was in the lawsuit. Let me very quickly get this.

So yes, David Dennison -- ok. Donald Trump ok -- David Dennison. Sounds like a stage name.


STEEL: Sounds like an imaginative lawsuit.

VAUSE: Well, we'll see. Shawn -- love the hat.

STEEL: Thank you.

VAUSE: And Ethan -- good to see you. Thank you.

BEARMAN: Thank you.

SESAY: Quick break here.

Leave or you will be killed. Words no child should ever hear but Rohingya children say Myanmar government soldiers warned them and their families to get out. I'll talk to filmmakers who are telling stories from these young refugees, next.


SESAY: Well, Myanmar's campaign of terror is still happening with a disturbing new twist. The U.N. says ethnic cleansing of Rohingya people is ongoing more than six months after a deadly crackdown on this Muslim minority.

A top U.N. human rights official who visited a refugee camp in Bangladesh says the Myanmar government is now using forced starvation in an apparent effort to drive the remaining Rohingya from their homes and cross the border into Bangladesh.

(INAUDIBLE) photographer and filmmaker Thomas Nybo captured the journey refugees make as they flee murder, rape and torture in Myanmar.

His film for UNICEF is called "Flight of the Unwanted". It's a 360- degree look at this tragic exodus from the perspective of Rohingya children.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More than 600,000 Rohingya flee Myanmar in a matter of months. Six out of ten people are children.

The head of the United Nations calls it textbook ethnic cleansing. The government of Myanmar denies it. They say the Rohingya are burning their own villages, killing their own people.


SESAY: Well Thomas joins us now from Atlanta. Thomas -- good to have you with us.

As you know, there had been no shortage of images of the Rohingya living in the refugee camps of Bangladesh. So help us understand your reasons for making this film and what you want people to take away from it.

THOMAS NYBO, PHOTOGRAPHER AND FILMMAKER: I wanted people to experience in a small way what it's like to be a Rohingya, not just the exodus, the flood of people from Myanmar but what life is like there and focusing too on giving traumatized children a chance to heal.

There's a girl on the film, nine-year-old Azma (ph) who is remarkable, and I chose to speak to her not because she had the worst story that I heard but because she was very animated about her dreams of wanting to open a restaurant.

She's this beautiful soul who I met at a UNICEF child-friendly space, who likes to jump rope and play with her friends. And she wants to open up this restaurant. And a friend of mind, Patrick Brown, introduced to her and I spent a lot of time with her.

And after several weeks she started to share her own personal story without my having asked. Her father was shot and stabbed to death in Myanmar. And what to stood out to me was the humanity of giving these children a chance to heal.

We know the numbers. We know now that there are -- when you factor in the previously arrived Rohingya, we have close to a million people in what is now the world's largest refugee camp. The needs, we know about this. We know about the coming monsoon season.

I think we like -- we need to bring it down to a personal level and get to know girls like Azma, or boys like 15-year-old Faisal who I met early one morning. His arm was shot-off in Myanmar. He was carried by his neighbors into the jungle and had to recover for two months. And now he's healthy but you know, missing an arm and being separated from his family. The challenges are endless.

SESAY: So as you tell us about nine-year-old Azma and the 15-year-old boy -- what is clear is that these children have witnessed unspeakable horrors. We see it in the art that they're producing. You share some of that in the film and images of soldiers with guns and blood.

Talk to me about the level of trauma, you know, you witnessed spending time in these camps.

NYBO: One of the nice things about spending three and a half months there over the past year is you see the drawings when the children first arrived of these horrific scenes, helicopters descending on their villages, soldiers burning down their huts, their neighbors being mowed down with gunfire. So you know the trauma is there.

Now here we are, fast forward six months and I'm seeing a new set of drawings. I'm seeing hope in the eyes. I'm seeing drawings of children jumping rope. I'm seeing girls drawing flowers. I'm seeing boys drawing flowers.

I'm seeing eyes looking to the future and not just from the past. Of course, the trauma is there. The trauma is going to have to be dealt with for many of these children for the rest of their lives in the cases where they had parents murdered, close relatives murdered. So it's an evolving story.

SESAY: You said at the beginning of this conversation that you've been in Bangladesh for over three months. I know that you have been all over the world. I know that you've photographed camps all over the world; met children all over the world in conflict zones and post- conflict zones.

[00:25:02] What has this been like for you personally -- Thomas. I mean this is now the largest refugee camp in the world. These people have undergone, you know, a whole new level of trauma and barbarity.

What has it been like for you making this film, being immersed in this space with these kids and their families?

NYBO: First and foremost, it's been an honor. And I don't take it for granted. It's also been one of the most challenging stories -- the most challenging story I've worked on in a career of more than 15 years.

And what's especially difficult about it is the world's attention is easily diverted to the next crisis but the Rohingya are in limbo. So the suffering continues.

And it's different if you just drop in to a story for a week. But when you see the same community of people month after month -- here we are six months later. Actually my first trip there was back in April, a year ago and their situation hasn't really improved. It's stabilized.

I'm haunted many nights kept awake thinking of girls like Azma, boys like Faisal who are doing their part to heal but what are the adults doing? What is the rest of the world doing to alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya? What are we doing to make sure that they have basic human rights and a semblance of hope?

SESAY: That's a question that we ask a great deal around here as well.

Thomas Nybo -- thank your for making this film and providing a voice for the kids there in Bangladesh in these refugee camps. And thank you for all that you do.

NYBO: Thank you -- Isha.

VAUSE: Well, CNN is teaming up with young people around the world to fight modern-day slavery with a student-led day of action on March 14. And ahead of My Freedom Day, we asked surfer Mick Fanning what freedom means to him.


MICK FANNING, SURFER: Freedom to me means just getting out in the water and just doing whatever I want and just flowing. Not being told by anyone what to do and just being there (ph).


VAUSE: Well, millions have gone on social media to share what freedom means to them. Share your own story using the #MyFreedomDay.

Countdown coming up -- very soon. Ok. Short break. When we come back, the Cold War thriller considered too out there to really happen. It's now actually part of the political conversation in the U.S. We'll have more on the Manchurian candidate in just a moment.


VAUSE: Thank you for staying with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour.



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: In 1962, "The Manchurian Candidate" opened at cinemas across the U.S. and a Cold War thriller with a dark film noir type feel. The movie begins with American soldiers being captured by Chinese Communists during the Korean War.

One soldier is brainwashed and programmed to become an assassin.


KHIGH DHIEGH, ACTOR, "YEN LO": Now then, Raymond. Take this scarf and strangle Ed Mavole to death.


Excuse me. Pardon me.

RICHARD LEPORE, ACTOR, "ED MAVOLE": Hey, Sarge, cut it out!

"YEN LO": Quiet, Ed, please. Now, you just sit there quietly and cooperate.

"MAVOLE": Yes, ma'am.


VAUSE: Fast forward two years in the movie and he's ordered to kill a presidential candidate. But here's the thing: at the time the movie was a flop at the box office because the plot was considered just too far-fetched.

But now the idea of an international conspiracy to place a foreign agent in the White House for real maybe not so crazy.


SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: Mueller thinks that Trump is a Manchurian --

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: He thinks he's -- I'm sorry.

He thinks he's what?

NUNBERG: He thinks Trump is the Manchurian Candidate.


VAUSE: CNN's national security analyst Juliette Kayyem joins us now from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

OK, Juliette, maybe we're putting our tinfoil hats on here but there's so much that seems to happen hour after hour. I think it's often difficult to pull everything together. So let's start with the president's response to Russian hacking, a question which he was asked yet again on Tuesday.

This time the question came from a Swedish journalist. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. This is an election year for both of our countries and I want to ask you, Mr. Trump, what do you think Sweden should learn from how the Russian influenced the campaign affected the presidential election in the U.S.?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, the Russians had no impact on our votes whatsoever. But certainly there was meddling and probably there was meddling from other countries and maybe other individuals.


VAUSE: OK, at least he acknowledged there was meddling but again he tried to water down Russia's involvement, (INAUDIBLE) Russians actually being indicted. So this in and of itself kind of stands out as just being weird.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It is and not only does he say there's these other mysterious countries or these mysterious individuals in the basement, hacking our elections, I really think it's interesting that he uses the term "meddling."

It seems sort of, fine, like they're playing a game, right, that it's sort of passive and child's play when you're actually looking at what happened here in the United States, it was a targeted effort by the Russians across various states, using both fake news and the release of materials about Hillary Clinton to essentially target her and, therefore, also promote Donald Trump.

So it's even the words that he is using make it seem like it's all one big joke. We're all just sort of meddling with each other rather than what Mueller certainly finds, is that this was a targeted campaign and the question is was there, in fact, collusion.

VAUSE: It's certainly not a joke to the intelligence community and the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, he was talking to lawmakers on Tuesday and this is how he summed up the Russia threat. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN COATS, U.S. DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: We assess that Russia is likely to continue to pursue even more aggressive cyber attacks with the intent of degrading our democratic values and weakening our alliances.


VAUSE: Which is kind of how you'd think the president would talk but all the only agencies, they are doing what they can to stop Russia and the attacks but they are doing it without direction and without leadership from the president, who is meant to be the commander in chief. Again, it's weird.

KAYYEM: Yes, weird is a nice way to put. This part of the story line about Trump continuing acceptance of what to this country in 2016 to me is the most disconcerting because it does suggest that he's positioning this nation to sort of suffer the same fate again in 2018.

He has not directed the agencies --


KAYYEM: -- in a meaningful fashion. They're sort of just working on their own. There's no strategy coming from the White House, no one has been told to do this or not do that. It's not just the intelligence agencies at this stage. We also have to use diplomatic and law enforcement efforts.

And then just before everyone forgets, the sanctions, which were clearly put in place to harm Russia, to make them feel, to make Putin feel the consequences of what happened in 2016, have not been implemented.

So across the board the evidence shows that Donald Trump is just simply not positioning this country to be in a better defensive mode heading into 2018, which is now really only a few months away at this stage, the elections.

VAUSE: OK, we're getting into sort of conspiracy theories over here kind of, because it -- listen to the State Department, because "The New Yorker" is reporting there is another memo from Christopher Steel, he of the Russia dossier fame. He sent this to the special counsel, Robert Mueller.

In that memo he say, "People were saying that the Kremlin had intervened to block Trump's initial choice for secretary of state -- that would be Mitt Romney. Romney famously called out Russia as a global threat back in 2012.

There is also reporting $120 million, the State Department has not spent a penny of, to fight Russian interference. Overall, we're looking at a State Department that's been gutted and then we link this to something else.

Donald Trump has continually undermined the credibility of the intelligence community like this.


TRUMP: I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. I think it's a disgrace and I say that and I say that and that's something that Nazi Germany would've done and did do. I think it's a disgrace.


VAUSE: OK, so here is the point. The U.S. essentially won the Cold War in no small part because it had really good spies (INAUDIBLE) intelligence. It had soft power, which came from the State Department.

So Vladimir Putin must be unable to believe his good fortune right now.

KAYYEM: I think that's exactly right. I think whatever the motivation was for Putin's desire to have Trump win, which may have been financial motivations or the sanctions or whatever else, the passiveness by which this president is addressing the future and positioning this country for what is likely to happen in 2018 and 2020 was probably not on Putin's agenda and he is probably quite pleased with it.

And I want to get to your -- does this all sound conspiracy theorist, you know, at some stage it's actually ignoring reality and the facts to just say, well, all of this is innocent coincidences.

If you just take every piece that we're going over since Donald Trump has become president, we're only mentioning probably about 25 percent of them. There just -- you get a consistent level of evidence. It's just consistent evidence that is leading to a rational person, not a conspiracy theorist, to believe that Trump's motivation is to protect himself from whatever any concerns are going to battle with Putin and Russia.

What we have forgotten in this long line is, remember, he told the American public that Putin told him that he had nothing to do with the 2016 election and he believed Putin at that stage.

So this is -- Donald Trump is doing everything he can to not sort of shake the bear, as they say, and doing a lot to disrupt the world order, including our allies in Europe, Canada, Mexico and elsewhere, to disrupt the world order that has led to stability since after World War II and certainly since the Cold War.

VAUSE: And this could be -- again, this could be totally coincidental but we now have Donald Trump threatening tariffs on steel and aluminum. And that is causing upset among traditional allies, which are threatening retaliation, which are now threatening a trade war.

There is so much discontent being sowed out there by these actions, at the same time the emasculation of the State Department, the discrediting of intelligence community, passively doing nothing about Russia's interference in election, it just paints a picture which somehow looks like "The Manchurian Candidate."

KAYYEM: Right and, well, it certainly looks like a president who is disinterested. That would be the best way to put it, disinterested in taking on Russia. The worst way to put it in is his motivations are to protect Russia for a variety of reasons that will probably find out when the Mueller investigation is done regarding financial dealings or ties to the Russians in ways that he does not want exposed.

But it's a great point about making our allies angry. It's very harsh; the Canadians are so angry that that's kind of hard to do. You can't do that accidentally, let alone the Europeans and others.

And what we talk about, Putin being so grateful for everything that Trump is doing to disrupt this stability --


KAYYEM: -- remember the other country, of course, laughing all the way to the bank is China because in the -- in this flurry of angering our allies and not taking on Russia, the rest of the world is looking elsewhere.

And in the end, Trump has not -- Trump has made the U.S. irrelevant in the major issues of our time: trade, economy, environment, law enforcement -- all of those issues.

VAUSE: Yes, at least in the movie, the main character, "The Manchurian Candidate," was brainwashed. So he had an excuse.

Juliette, good to see you. Thank you.

KAYYEM: Good to see you.

VAUSE: OK. There's a lot there and I don't want to put my tinfoil hat on but may I will in a break. We'll be back in a moment. Stay with us.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Is it under the desk?

VAUSE: It is.




SESAY: So a 2-year-old girl captivated by the former U.S. first lady got to meet her and dance with her. It's very cool. It all began with a moment that inspired many online. This is the moment, this photo of Parker Curry being fascinating by the official portrait of Michelle Obama.

And that moment went viral last week. VAUSE: Understandably it is a --


SESAY: Look at her. She is so cute.

VAUSE: OK, who could resist? (INAUDIBLE) Parker to meet with her in the (INAUDIBLE) together, (INAUDIBLE) like me. (INAUDIBLE) the first lady encouraging Parker to keep on dreaming and maybe one day she'll probably look up at a portrait of the little girl. CNN's Don Lemon spoke with Parker and her mom.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: You said before that, Parker, believes Michelle Obama is a queen. Does she still think that?

JESSICA CURRY, PARKER'S MOM: Parker, is Michelle Obama a queen?


J. CURRY: Yes, she is.

LEMON: I guess that suits us. She's a superhero. She should be -- maybe she should be in the Black Panther movie, because she's a superhero.

J. CURRY: Right, right.

Maybe Michelle Obama should be in Black Panther because Michelle Obama's a superhero?




J. CURRY: What is she?

P. CURRY: She's a queen.

J. CURRY: She's a queen.


SESAY: She's totally right. She is a queen.

VAUSE: Maybe she'll be president --

SESAY: Look at her. That was so cute.

VAUSE: Very sweet.

SESAY: Oh, very, very sweet.

VAUSE: Good note to end on.

SESAY: Very good note.

That's where we leave it right now.

VAUSE: For now.

SESAY: For now. We'll be back two more hours with us. You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. In the meantime, "WORLD SPORT" is up next and you're watching CNN.