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Putin: Trump Attackers "Worse Than Prostitutes"; Nigeria Accidentally Strikes Refugee Camp; Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning's Sentence; Putin Dismisses Trump Dossier Claims as "Rubbish"; Judge To Decide On Arrest Warrant For Samsung Chief; Dozens Killed When Nigerian Jet Bombs Wrong Target; Judge Decide On Arrest Warrant For Samsung Chief; Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning's Sentence; Trump Says He Doesn't Care About Inauguration Boycott; British PM May Lays Out Brexit Vision. Ad Likens Muslim Registry To WWII Interment Camps. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired January 18, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: And later, Nigeria's military thought it was targeting Boko Haram, it struck a refugee camp instead.
Hello everybody, thanks for staying with us. I'm John Vause, we're into the second hour on NEWSROOM L.A.
Just days before he leaves office, U.S. President Barack Obama has commuted the sentence of a former soldier convicted of leaking U.S. secrets. Many lawmakers are furious, they say Chelsea Manning, formally known as Bradley Manning, is a traitor, but the White House is defending the decision. We get details from CNN's Pamela Brown.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: In a shocking move, President Obama is allowing Chelsea Manning: the army private convicted of stealing and leaking hundreds of thousands of documents and videos to be a free woman in May. The reaction on Capitol Hill and beyond has been swift.
TOM COTTON, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM ARKANSAS: For the President, especially the President who's made so much recently about the danger that WikiLeaks has posed to our National Security. And to commute Private Manning's sentence, I think, is very disappointing.
BROWN: In 2009, Ben known as Bradley Manning stole hundreds of thousands of classified and sensitive military files as a 22-year old Army Intelligence Analyst. He then gave them to the website WikiLeaks, which published them causing a massive ripple effect in the United States and around the world and putting WikiLeaks on the map for future leakers such as Edward Snowden. Many disclosures included videos of U.S. airstrikes in Baghdad that launched worldwide discussions about their morality.
The stolen files also included embarrassing diplomatic cables. Manning, confided in an online associate about the disclosures who then alerted authorities in 2010. During the court-martial trial, prosecutors argued Manning was a traitor to the United States. But the defense said, Manning was a naive whistle-blower who wanted to shed light on human rights violations.
Manning pleaded guilty and delivered an apology to the court before the sentencing. Manning was acquitted of aiding the enemy, but found guilty on 20 other counts, including violations under the espionage act and sentenced to 35 years in prison. The day after the sentencing, Manning announced she wanted to live life as a woman. And a year later, a judge granted Manning to request for a formal name change from Bradley to Chelsea. Behind bars, Manning was placed on suicide watch after trying to kill herself twice in the last year.
Tonight, the White House is defending Manning's sentence commutation by drawing the distinction between Manning's case and Edward Snowden, who remains in exile.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing. Mr. Snowden, fled into the arms of -- into the arms of an adversary. And has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.
BROWN: Over the years, Manning, who was incarcerated at a men's military prison had petitioned unsuccessfully to be placed in a civilian prison and to be given gender reassignment treatment. She will be released from prison, May 7th after serving seven years of her 35-year sentence. Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.
VAUSE: I'm joined now by former U.S. Marine and Green Beret, Chase Millsap. Chase, thanks for staying with us.
CHASE MILLSAP, FORMER UNITED STATES MARINE AND GREEN BERET: John, thank you.
VAUSE: As someone who actually served on the frontlines in Iraq, as a -- as a -- you know, as a commander essentially on the ground, if you like, what was the direct impact that you experienced or people in Iraq, you know, soldiers in Iraq experienced because of the Manning leaks?
MILLSAP: It's simple, it's a breach of trust. You know, those of us that are on the frontlines expect that others who are in a support role, especially those that are in an intelligence role handling classified material on a day-to-day basis, that they're going to protect that information. Because, it has impacts in two ways: one, you know, when those things come out, dude, you to change business on the ground that day, which can add huge impacts to the team or any unit that you're at. And then secondly, it's that trust that we're all in it together on one team, and that, you know, the systems that are in place -- the UCMJ, those things that we hold true, are there and still intact. Otherwise, our job on the frontlines has just becomes more difficult.
VAUSE: Do you -- do you think the leaks, though, specifically essentially increase the threat level that you're facing?
[01:04:54] MILLSAP: You know, it's hard to tell specifically with this leak, you know, what the impacts are, we always talk about second and third order effects in the military. There are things that we may not even know yet, but what I do know is that handling classified material both on the frontlines and in a support role, is something that we do every day. I've worked with hundreds of young marines and soldiers that have done this. And I always wanted to make sure as a commander to highlight that, if there is a grievance at any point in your career in the military, there are multiple ways to come out and express that grievance through the chain of command, through the UCMJ, and all the other methods with -- that doesn't include giving that information to a third party outside of the chain of command.
VAUSE: OK. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, he tweeted this, "Commuting Manning's sentence is a slap in the face by our Commander- in-Chief to those who served honorably." Without getting into the politics here, what is your reaction to Chelsea Manning walking free, come May?
MILLSAP: I would say as a Commander, one of the things that I would really want to be looking at is what's the confidence that the unit has, and on the -- in an individual level. I mean, we're talking about personal responsibility and accountability here. And in a unit, whether it's a small team or a division, that standard is so important. And even the (INAUDIBLE) said there's a double-standard can kill that morale.
And so, I'm looking at these specifics and say, is the system in place right now effective to highlight the needs of those that have grievances within the military? And then also, those that choose to violate the UMCJ -- UCMJ that can come back and be held accountable for their actions. And I know there's a lot of young soldiers, marines, and those that wear the uniform right now asking that question, just say, you know, is accountability something that we truly, truly hold ourselves to?
VAUSE: OK, Chase, thanks for staying with us. We appreciate your insights. Good to see you.
MILLSAP: Thank you.
VAUSE: OK. More on the story now. We're joined by Ron Brownstein, CNN Senior Political Analyst and Senior Editor for The Atlantic. You know, the leak by Manning was huge, one of the biggest ever in the history of the United States, it put WikiLeaks on the map. In a tweet, WikiLeaks so claiming victory that Manning's sentence had been commuted. But what is extraordinary is when you look at the backdrop of this past election and the role WikiLeaks has played in essentially Hillary Clinton's defeat.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST AND SENIOR EDITOR FOR THE ATLANTIC: You have all the strong arguments that Mr. Millsap made from the military perspective. You have condemnation from across the political spectrum. And then you have on top of it all, just the odd juxtaposition where the intelligence services of the U.S. has spent months arguing that WikiLeaks was the conduit. The enabler of a Russian -- systematic Russian campaign to interfere with and disrupt the American election. And though this is a separate case to at the end of that process, grant clemency or commute the sentence of, you know, the leaker who put WikiLeaks in many ways on the map, is just an extraordinary juxtaposition.
VAUSE: And it is also extraordinary when you think about the Obama administration, which has been so zealous in hunting down and prosecuting --
VAUSE: -- people who were responsible --
VAUSE: -- for leaking information.
BROWNSTEIN: Right, and as one of his most ambiguous legacies and one that has, you know, raised a lot of concern among civil libertarians and journalists alike. On the other hand, particularly in relating to issues related -- questions relating to the war on drugs, the President has been very aggressive about using his power of clemency, and, you know, it is not unusual, John, for Presidents when it comes to clemency or commutation to save the most controversial for last resort. We started in Bill Clinton's presidency when he pardoned the fugitive financier Marc Rich at the very end of his presidency, a decision that was debated for months and even years after. I suspect this is going to be another one, we're talking about long after Barack Obama has left office.
VAUSE: Yes, we also talked about some of the political implications and, you know, the legacy issue here. The other famous whistle-blower in all of this is Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor now living in Russia. He tweeted this out, "Let it be said here in earnest with good heart, thanks, Obama."
BROWNSTEIN: Probably not -- probably not -- probably not the applause you wanted as on the --
VAUSE: It's not praise that he wants, right?
BROWNSTEIN: -- on the way out the door. And they went to great lengths today to try to distinguish between the two case, and arguing that Snowden had given away more damaging information, and also that Manning had gone through the process and in effect had paid a cost already. But again, it is just -- it's just reflective of what an extraordinary choice this was. But again, when Presidents make this kind of extraordinary choice, they're usually counting their presidency, not only in weeks or months, but days or even hour.
VAUSE: And, we'll find out the rationale in the coming hours later Wednesday, when Barack Obama holds that final press conference. I guess, one of the reasons is Manning is a transgendered woman in a men's military prison. Had been locked in solitary confinement. Had been in suicidal -- BROWNSTEIN: It's going to be hard, and I was talking about it when we
started. It's going to be hard to imagine any other argument from the President other than, really as an act of mercy. I mean, there is no constituency for this, and the -- and the -- and the moment of doing it when you have this concern about WikiLeaks and their effective alliance with Russian intelligence to influence the American election, it just makes it hard to find any other justification than that.
[01:10:08] VAUSE: You mentioned President Obama and his use of presidential pardon, issued clemency -- more than anybody comes to clemency, more than the past 11 Presidents combined. I mean, they're staggering numbers. Why is that? And clearly, this would seem to be something which could change when the law and order President Donald Trump comes to town.
BROWNSTEIN: I think -- I think a lot -- I don't know all of those, but a lot of those numbers are reflective of the inability to pass criminal justice reform through Congress. They thought they had a bipartisan coalition; Van Jones, who sometimes sits in this seat had worked very, you know, assiduously building support among Republicans; Paul Ryan, has expressed interest in it; a number of Senate Republicans expressed interest in it. They could not get it done. The President moved as much as he could with the pen, but it's still a small fraction of what he could have done with legislation. An interesting kind of epithet for a lot of his second term initiatives.
VAUSE: Yes, in many ways. Ron, stay with us because there's a lot more to get to. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin is coming to Donald Trump's defense yet again. He says unverified Intel reports presented to Trump are false, calling allegations that Russia spied on Trump, rubbish.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Did Trump really come and meet with Moscow prostitutes? First, he is an adult. And second, he is a person who for many years has organized a beauty pageant, socialized with the most beautiful women the world. It is hard to believe that he ran to a hotel to meet with our girls of a low social class. Although, they are the best in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Best in the world. CNN reported last week, U.S. Intelligence Officials gave Trump a summary of unverified allegations that Russia may have compromising information on him. BuzzFeed published the dossier in full, CNN did not -- did not report the details.
Let's bring in Robert English, he is the Deputy Director of the USC School of International Relations. Robert, thanks for staying around for us. I mean, this news conference that we had from Vladimir Putin all those hours ago, this very bizarre turn right at the end with Vladimir Putin talking about prostitutes. He sounded almost Trumpian at some point. How do you read all of this?
ROBERT ENGLISH, USC SCHOOL OF INTERNATION RELATIONS DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Does anything surprise us any more with the Trump candidacy? And now, the Trump President-elect? It's all unprecedented in its bizarreness. I mean, good grief, President Putin extolling the virtues of Russia's prostitutes. Got to give him credit. He is not a nice guy, Vladimir Putin, but he displayed a little bit of wit, and, you know, in fact, one or two of the things he said made sense. I can't know if these charges are true. None of us can. Only people close to the actual events could. But he raises a couple of interesting questions. It doesn't seem quite plausible. I just wish we could put this behind us and move on the real politics and maybe some real progress in U.S. Foreign Policy, and maybe even in relations with Russia. We're all tired of this circus.
VAUSE: Well, the circus goes on. I want to stay with the circus just for one more question. Putin also said the private dossier against Trump was more evidence of political decay in the West. This is one of his favorite themes, and you sort of touched on this. He seems almost giddy with delight right now.
ENGLISH: You know, again, the show does go on. OK. Let me just answer. This might sound a little unconventional, but you can sort of understand until such time as these allegations are proved that there's some substance behind them, even a supporter of Hillary Clinton could share Trump's frustration.
A last minute, right, on the eve of his inauguration, just as Hillary endured a last-minute FBI announcement of some kind of new nefarious information, right, that hurt her electoral chances seriously. Now, Trump sees this as politically motivated to hurt him politically on the eve of his inauguration. Then again, if it's true, all bets are off. I can't know that. But if we give the benefit of the doubt. And indeed, some of the allegations in the dossier have already been proven false. And there's a lot of sloppiness in it. And if it's all false, or at least greatly exaggerated, then you can understand both the outrage and the ridicule that both Trump and Putin are responding with.
VAUSE: The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, also held a news conference, and he talked about the overlapping or coinciding interest between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Donald Trump also says he wants to focus on the interests of the United States, on security, and on the interests of the United States, including setting up favorable conditions for business. And that is exactly like President Putin when he speaks about foreign policy and the Russian federations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[01:15:01] VAUSE: Yeah, I guess the serious question in all of this is, will president -- a President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin be able to work together to achieve common goals?
ENGLISH: You know, I'm always a cautious optimist, and we have a lot of common interests with Russia, that personality and personal animus have got in the way of in the last few years. Without going into details, it's pretty easy to see the outlines of the settlement in Ukraine and the possibility of greater cooperation in Syria and on issues like the Iranian nuclear program. We all hope for that.
But to make progress in diplomacy, requires serious diplomatic professionalism. You need knowledge, you need a coherent team, you need patience and you need the support of your allies. And what we've seen so far is ignorance. We've seen an incoherent contradictory team. We've seen -- instead of patience, Twitter storms and undermining our own allies. So, it's not a promising beginning but the deals are out there with the professional team and the will on both sides.
VAUSE: Okay, Robert. We'll leave it there. But thanks so much. Robert English there with the USC School of International Relations. We appreciate it.
Let's bring Ron Brownstein back in for more on this because we heard you in that news conference with Vladimir Putin, essentially saying that the Obama administration is trying to tie the hands and the feet of Barack Obama, trying to undermine -- oh sorry, of Donald Trump, I should say, and trying to basically undermine his presidency. In some respects, Vladimir Putin is right.
BROWNSTEIN: Well, look. First of all, by the way, joking about the prostitutes --
BROWNSTEIN: -- in the press conference was definitely a joke with an edge to it.
BROWNSTEIN: I thought, aimed at Donald Trump. I mean, you know --
VAUSE: A joke with a message?
BROWNSTEIN: A joke -- a joke with a message of like, "don't mess with me."
VAUSE: What's the message?
BROWNSTEIN: I -- it's hard to know exactly, right? But it was -- it's an odd thing for him to kind of --
VAUSE: Because he is not a guy who jokes.
BROWNSTEIN: He's not a guy who jokes and he is a guy who has to know that by joking, it is something that is going to resonate around the world. I -- look, President Obama understands that Donald Trump ran on a program, on a policy of undoing many of the things that he has done. President Obama is trying to do everything he can to kind of safeguard his policy initiatives, which in some cases is not very much. I think since the election, he has had a clear two-track strategy. On the one track, being as gracious and kind of trying to build as strong a personal relationship with Donald Trump as he can. But on the other, I think, laying down some trip wires and basically arguing if Donald Trump goes beyond this point on some issues that he believes are fundamentally important to the country and the world, giving himself the leeway to be more visible and vocal in opposition than we usually see former presidents being.
VAUSE: OK. Well, we're now into inauguration season.
VAUSE: Pre-inaugural event was held on Tuesday night. Donald Trump was in Washington, D.C. It was a black-tie event for donors and diplomats. At that event, Donald Trump went on to predict there would be record crowds turning out on Friday. He could be right. But maybe not for the reasons he thinks.
BROWNSTEIN: Look, there could be record crowds turning out on Saturday, too, in terms of the President. We've never -- Donald Trump is someone who has inspired strong passion among his supporters. But who is facing more resistance and public opinion than any newly elected president ever? You know -- no president in the history of polling in the U.S., this goes back to Dwight Eisenhower in 1953, has come in with support -- job approval of less than the majority of the public.
It is highly likely that Donald Trump will be the first, the highest disapproval rating ever for an incoming president, 25 percent under George W. Bush. He is probably going to be close to double that. And when you kind of put that -- add to that, that the passion that we saw in the protests immediately after his election, that will again be visible on Saturday with this Women's March, you know, basically against Trump -- another unprecedented event. You are talking about a deeply divided country and a precarious political situation for an incoming president.
VAUSE: And we realize, a dumb thing to say, what was interesting about Trump's numbers, they peaked.
VAUSE: A couple of weeks ago. This is on the downside now. They never got over 50 percent.
BROWNSTEIN: There is almost no example of someone losing support between Election Day and Inauguration Day in American history. Maybe George H.W. Bush slightly, but Trump, the unstinting series of confrontations. I mean, I -- this feels like kind of like a Kung-Fu movie where like one fight --
VAUSE: Yes --
BROWNSTEIN: -- just kind of transitions into the next. I think for a lot of Americans, not so much. There's no -- there is really not so much ideology on the table yet. It's style, it's approach to the presidency and whether he seems presidential -- don't forget, over a quarter of his voters, on Election Day, said they do not believe he was qualified for president. They wanted change, they were willing to look past that they had doubts about Clinton, but now without Clinton standing next to him, he is being judged more on his own terms. And that's why you see these numbers sinking back to more of what we saw last spring and summer.
VAUSE: It also just feels kind of exhausting right now.
BROWNSTEIN: Right, it is exhausting. I mean -- the level of conflict that he has kind of engendered.
VAUSE: On a daily basis.
BROWNSTEIN: On a daily basis -- with everyone from Meryl Streep, the cast of "Hamilton" and "Saturday Night Live" on the one hand, to Angela Merkel and John Lewis on the other.
[01:20:04] You know, it's kind of instigator in chief. And, you know, that worked for him as a candidate. But I do wonder, leaving aside all the polarizing aspects of this agenda, which do -- you know, which do -- which does draw passionate support from portions of the electorate and passion opposition. There is a whole separate issue which is style, temperament qualifications. I believe in the long run, confidence is a bigger political risk to him than ideology. And the question of whether Americans see him as a plausible president and the way he interacts with everyone around him, both at home and abroad is something that -- there are some clear, yellow, you know, and even red lights --
BROWNSTEIN: -- flashing in these post-election polls.
VAUSE: Three days -- three days before he puts his hand on the bible. --
VAUSE: Ron, as always, thanks for coming in. Good to talk to you.
BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, John.
VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, the Nigerian army says it was targeting terrorists but instead a deadly misfire hit a refugee camp. Also, the leader of Samsung faces a judge as South Korean prosecutors seek his arrest. More on that story, just ahead.
DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT HEADLINE HOST: Hey, I'm Don Riddell with your CNN WORLD SPORT headlines. Some historical intrigue at the Africa Cup of nations on Tuesday. The Group D game between Ghana and Uganda was a repeat of the 1978 final. Ghana won that game and until now, Uganda hadn't played in AFCON again. And well, the return was disappointing in their opening match losing to a penalty from West Ham's Andre Ayew. And that was also historically significant. It was his seventh goal in the tournament, breaking his dad's record of six. His old man, Abedi Pele, lifted the trophy in 1982.
We've heard a lot recently about mega rich Chinese football clubs making plays for some of Europe's top talent, but money isn't everything. Chelsea's Oscar and John Obi Mikel, took the cash and moved this month, but Manchester City's, Yaya Toure has refused an offer worth over $530,000 a week. The Ivory Coast star has played his way back into the Man's City team this season and seems to be enjoying life again in the English game.
Now, it's been just over 50 days since the LaMia flight carrying the Chapecoense football team crashed in Colombia. On Tuesday, we saw a video of the defender, Helio Neto, he was injured in the crash walking for the first time without the aid of crutches. Neto says he wants to play again for Chapecoense soon. His new teammates will line up this weekend for their first game since the crash, a friendly against Palmeiras.
That is a quick look at your headlines. I'm Don Riddell.
VAUSE: A South Korean judge is expected to decide whether to issue an arrest warrant for Samsung's Vice-Chairman.
[01:25:00] Jae Y. Lee is in court right now for a hearing on the matter. It could last for hours. He is accused of bribery, embezzlement and perjury in the corruption scandal that led to the President's impeachment. Prosecutors questioned Lee for 22 hours last week. He denies any wrongdoing.
At least 52 people are dead after the Nigerian military mistakenly bombed a refugee camp. Doctors without borders says 120 people were wounded. The Nigerian army says the jet was targeting the terrorist group Boko Haram. Farai Sevenzo joins us now with the very latest from Nairobi. So Farai, we know more about the evacuations of the wounded, trying to get them to better medical care, and also what about this death toll, because that seemed unconfirmed a few hours ago.
FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the moment, John, we're going with -- basically eight hours ago, the figure that was released, which is 52 people known to have died. And as you say, the medical evacuation is a very intricate thing to do in a place that is so remote. It's fallen state to the northeast of Nigeria. And hundreds -- basically these are the figures that we shall expect to have of wounded are being airlifted by helicopter from Rann, where this incident -- unfortunate the incident happened, to Maiduguri, which lies about a 176 kilometers away.
Last night, The Red Cross Spokeswoman (INAUDIBLE), told me that they -- it is a race against time to get the wounded away from there. You must remember, that the Nigerian army basically thought, Boko Haram terrorists were in this area where refugees are inhabit and released two blasts of -- by aerial bombardment. And of course, the fallout as we are speaking this morning, is likely to be very huge. The Red Cross lost six people, dead, volunteers who were distributing food to many people who were malnourished and in need of assistance were also wounded. Medicines and frontiers, as you said, may also have lost people. So it has -- it has affected eight workers and it has of course, affected the very people who are running away from the war between the Nigerian government and the terrorists known as Boko haram, John.
VAUSE: So how does it work there? Will there be some kind of internal investigation now to find out exactly what went wrong? How a town of 25,000 people in a safe haven were essentially bombed by their own government?
SEVENZO: Well, you know, the Nigerian military has been pained over the last 12 hours. They've expressed their deep regret. They said that when they found out that they had struck the wrong target, they were all in pain. But that doesn't distract from the fact that this kind of war between a military state like a military operation by the Nigerians is fighting Boko Haram, who are let's paint you a picture, they are all over the Cameroonian Border. They're all over the Chadian Border. They are essentially operating in a forest -- on some piece of forest and they are the ones, our viewers may remember, who kidnapped 200 girls back in April 2014.
So, it is a war that is likely to bring in the unfortunate refugees, who have been for the last three years, unable to plant their crops, unable to eat. And it's a desperate situation, John.
VAUSE: Farai, thank you. Farai Sevenzo, there live with the very latest from Nairobi. A short break now. When we come back, 50 U.S. lawmakers are boycotting Donald Trump's inauguration. We will speak with two of them. And they explain why they do not want to celebrate the Donald's very special day.
[01:31:56] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching "CNN Newsroom" live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.
An aid group says at least 52 people are dead after a Nigerian fighter jet bombed a refugee camp. Doctors without borders says another 120 people were wounded. The military says the target was meant to be Boko Haram terrorists. The Red Cross says six of its workers were killed in the strike.
A South Korean judge will decide in the coming hours whether Samsung Vice-Chairman Jay Y. Lee should be arrested. He's accused of bribery, embezzlement and perjury in the corruption scandal which led to the president's impeachment. He denies any wrong doing.
Now U.S. wall (ph) makers outrage over President Barack Obama's decision to commute the sentence of Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning. The former soldier was convicted of leaking U.S. secrets to WikiLeaks follow intelligence official calls the move is hypocritical. Mr. Obama has denounced WikiLeaks hacking in the past.
The number of democratic lawmakers planning to skip Friday's presidential inauguration continues to grow. But Donald Trump doesn't seem too bothered. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT ELECT: As far as other people not going, that's OK. Because we need seats so badly. I hope they give me their tickets. Are they going to give us their tickets?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're OK with them not going.
TRUMP: No, what happens to their tickets? I hope they're going to give us their tickets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Support for a boycott surged after the president-elect's feud with Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon. In a weekend interview, Lewis said he would not attend the inauguration, labeling Trump an illegitimate president. Trump hit back on Twitter saying "Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and is falling apart, not to mention crime, infested rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk. No action or results. Sad."
That tweak sparked a wave of outrage. Many highlighting John Lewis and his roll on the civil rights movement and the beating he took at Selma, Alabama while marching with Martin Luther King.
Well, joining us down here in Los Angeles, Judy Chu. And in Oakland Barbara Lee, both Democratic members of Congress who have decided to join the boycott. So Judy, first to you. Is your decision to skip the inauguration, was it essentially all about John Lewis, or was that basically the final straw?
JUDY CHU, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: I was mulling it over. I felt very conflicted. On one hand, I respect the office of the presidency. On the other hand, there were very negative comments being made about the disabled, women, Muslim, immigrants. But when that comment was made on Saturday morning about John Lewis, our Civil Rights icon and who has done so much to make sure we have voting rights, I just said enough is enough, and that was the last straw. I decided right then and there I was not going.
VAUSE: OK, Barbara, how about you? What was your final straw here, your decision making process in all of this?
BARBARA LEE, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRATS: I decided actually early last week that I was not going to go. I issued my statement. I believe it was on Thursday that I made that decision public. And I didn't make this decision lightly.
[01:35:06] But what I decided was I could not celebrate. And an inauguration in many respects is celebratory. But President-elect Donald Trump ran a campaign of divisiveness, a bigoted campaign, one that denigrated women. Laid out a Muslim ban, to ban Muslims from coming into the United States, building a wall between the United States and Mexico. And I hoped that he would stop that once he had been elected. And begin to talk about how he was going to govern. But unfortunately, this campaign has continued. And I cannot celebrate the values and the agenda that Donald Trump is putting forward now in terms of the governance and his administration. So I can't celebrate that. So I decided early last week that I was not going to go.
VAUSE: Well, many of the Republicans say on the Republican side rather that Democrats like you, you're just sore losers. It's time to grow up. This is what Representative Sean Duffy told CNN. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN DUFFY, U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: I'm disappointed that, you know, that all these Democrats are saying they're going to stay home. It's like I was a little kid and I'm used to getting a juice box and a trophy no matter whether I win or I lose. Listen, Democrats lost. Donald Trump won. Show up. Be part of it. Put your big boy pants on and let's start working together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Judy, your response?
CHU: Well, what I would say is President-elect Trump, perhaps it's time to get over it and maybe you should grow up. Because he did not have to respond that way to John Lewis. He did not have to do it on Martin Luther King weekend, of all times. I would think that he would take the few dates before his inauguration to unite the country instead of dividing the country.
So it is actually him that appears to be the sore loser. And I would wish that he would grow up and not have to react with his thin skin to every single comment that is being made. It is time to move this country forward in a positive way.
VAUSE: Barbara, just very quickly, I have this question also for Judy. But if Hillary Clinton can turn up to the inauguration, why can't you?
LEE: Everyone has the chance -- everyone should be able to make their own personal decision about whether they want to come or not. I am not coming because of the reasons that I indicated because I am not celebrating this. I intend to continue to work as a member of Congress to do my job. But for me, this president-elect has not conducted himself in a way with the values that I think are American values that would bring the country together and try to move on to be a president of everyone and to be a person who I can celebrate.
VAUSE: And Judy, quickly?
CHU: If -- well, i certainly tried to reach out. And I think that we need to come together. I actually put out a letter to President-elect Trump to meet. I've gotten no response at all. In fact, I would put the elements on President-elect Trump to try to put this country together to unify it and make us one.
VAUSE: OK, Congresswoman Judy Chu and Barbara Lee, thank you both for being with us. We appreciate you taking the time and sharing your points of view.
LEE: Thank you.
CHU: Thank you.
[01:38:27] VAUSE: And this programing note. Barack Obama holds his last news conference as U.S. president on Wednesday. Our coverage begins at 2:00 in Washington, 7:00 p.m. in London. That's 11:00 p.m. if you're watching in Abu Dhabi. And we'll be back in a moment.
VAUSE: British Prime Minister Theresa May has explained her plan to usher the U.K. out of the European Union. Details now from Nic Robertson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Billed as her biggest Brexit speech so far, the British prime minister made clear she wants a clean break from the E.U.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave. No. The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union.
ROBERTSON: With few details so far and Theresa May's self-imposed deadline for triggering E.U. exit talks barely two months away, much is riding on her words. In particular, political support for her plans.
MAY: I can confirm today that the government will put the final deal that is agreed between the U.K and the E.U. to a vote in both Houses of Parliament before it comes into force.
ROBERTSON: The markets that have become the instant barometer of all things Brexit quick to deliver their verdict. A slight upward shift in the value of sterling. Across Europe, a similarly tepid response from E.U. politicians in their tweets. European Council President Donald Tusk saying, sad process. Surrealistic times. But at least more realistic announcement on #brexit, E.U. 27. United and ready to negotiate after Article 50.
Lead E.U. negotiator Michel Barnier saying ready as soon as U.K. is. Early notification can kick off negotiations. #brexit.
MAY: A stronger Britain demands we do something else. Strengthen the precious union between the four nations of the United Kingdom.
ROBERTSON: With her usual passion, May insisted Brexit won't break up the U.K. She promised the E.U. Britain wants it to succeed, but warned no deal is better than a bad deal.
MAY: We would still be free to strike trade deals across the world, and we would have the freedom to set the competitive tax rates and embrace the policies that would attract the world's best companies and biggest investors to Britain.
ROBERTSON: Her speech was an advance on what she said here six months ago, that Brexit means Brexit. But it's still short on detail. The prime minister spoke to that saying every leaked detail, every hyped word makes it harder to get the best deal, a deal she says that would define the future of Britain.
Nic Robertson, CNN, London.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[01:44:28] VAUSE: Well, next here on "Newsroom L.A.," a powerful public service announcement warns the U.S. not to repeat one of its most shameful episodes of the past.
VAUSE: One of the most brazen violations of civil liberties ever in American history came during World War II when one more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans were sent to internment camps, deemed a national threat, locked up for years for no other reason apart from their ancestry. Now with the possibility of a Muslim registry looming over millions of Muslim Americans, they're asking if history is about to be repeated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HINA KHAN, ACTRESS, "DON"T NORMALIZE HATE" PSA: My name is Haru Kuromiya. I'm 89 years old. I grew up on a chicken farm in Riverside, California. My entire family was put on a registry. We were given name tags and numbers and we had to wear them. Then we were put on a train, and I had no idea where we were going. But we ended up at this internment camp in Manzanar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: This is a new public service announcement on YouTube. Singer Katy Perry is the executive producer and has a very surprising and very powerful ending.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[01:50:21] KHAN: Don't let history repeat itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And the actress who did the big reveal, Hina Khan joins us now. So to Tim Nackashi and Aya Tarimura the two directors. Thank you all for coming in. It's great to see you. Congratulations on the ad. It's very moving. It's very powerful. But Hina, first to you. As a Muslim, just are you concerned, how concerned are you about this Muslim registry that is going back and forth that doesn't seem to be any clear answer from the Trump transition team of where things stand right now.
KHAN: Yeah, I don't think we've had really clear answers. I think what we have seen and what is concerning a lot of people, especially a lot of Muslim Americans is a lot of Trump campaign incited a lot of fear and a lot of divisiveness. And a lot of it was targeted toward Muslim Americans.
Even with our PSA, what we've seen is we've seen a lot of positive feedback. But we've also seen a lot of hateful comments, and a lot of people that are sort of going on about this fear of Islam and fear of Muslims. And that is concerning because as we've seen in the past, that is a dangerous rhetoric.
VAUSE: Tim, the ending, it's symbolic. It's meaningful. It's very powerful where did the idea come from?
TIM NACKASHI, CO-DIRECTOR, "DON'T NORMALIZE HATE" PSA: The idea originally came from a conversation between Aya and a great visual effects makeup artist here in L.A. named Tony Gardner. And it seemed that they wanted to somehow combine efforts and create something that gave the message that we're connecting the dots essentially here between the internment camps and the sort of the lay of the land at that time in the present day. And how to do it in a visual way.
VAUSE: And you're Japanese-Australian.
AYA TANIMURA, CO-DIRECTOR, "DON'T NORMALIZE HATE" PSA: Correct.
VAUSE: So how much were you aware what happened here during World War II to the Japanese population?
TANIMURA: Well, you know, I've in Los Angeles now for over 10 years. I kind of consider at home. And I'm kind of involved with the Japanese-American community here. So, I was a very aware of the history but obvious part -- metro part of California but also the United States as the whole.
So when Trump is campaigning and, you know, these -- this rhetoric of possible Muslim registry was being brought up. It was very obvious connection to me.
VAUSE: And then one thing we talk about here when we speak with Muslim-American about issues, is that they feel isolated. They feel like they don't want to go out into their communities, you know, because of the persecution, or because they're worried about what might happen because of the backlash. But when other minority groups who have been through something similar reach out the Muslim-Americans like this, that's important, right?
KHAN: That's very important. It's very reassuring to see that we have that type of support. I think it's also important to understand where that fear comes from. And I wonder a lot of the people that have this fear, how many Muslims do they know, where do they get this depiction of Muslims? Is it because of someone they saw on T.V. that was portraying a terrorist? Or is it because now this is sort of being substantiated by our elected officials as a group of people to be afraid of.
And I think it's important that we in whatever capacity we can make sure that we are bringing light to this, and that we are showing people this is what a Muslim-American looks like. Not necessarily the negative depiction that you see on T.V.
VAUSE: Tim, were you surprised by the negative comments to the PSA?
NACKASHI: I think the comments were frankly not surprising, because I think we -- in the internet age, we have an idea as to what to expect in terms of differing views and how people voice them when they can be anonymous. But I think what might have been slightly surprising is that, you know, we sort of can take a step back and remind ourselves that this was never an anti-Trump piece. This was a piece about inclusiveness and saying hey, let's just calm down here. Take a second. Look around.
Remember, this is just a bunch of humans who need to look out for each other and communicate. It's not necessarily about being divisive and sort of --
VAUSE: Something I took away from the ad is sort of the Martin Niemoller poem. "First they came for the Socialists." And I didn't do anything because I was socialist. Is that what you were going for this?
TANIMURA: Yeah. I mean, I think our goal was to have people realize that a fear of a certain ethnic group or minority is probably based out of lack of interaction or knowledge of them.
[01:55:07] So before passing that judgment or before kind of stampeding with the rest of the group to stop and think well, why is it that I'm scared of Muslim-Americans? Why is it that I don't want them in my country? And to have kind of like a rational thought process. And I think if you have that, then you would really kind of start to realize that it is based on fear and not anything concrete necessarily.
VAUSE: The problem, though, is Los Angeles, California is kind of different from the rest of the country.
TANIMURA: Yes, absolutely.
VAUSE: You know, what you experience here is not what people experience in Alabama or in the Midwest of the country, is it?
TANIMURA: Right. Which is why we then drew the connection with, you know, what had happened in the past? Because I think everyone can now look back at what happened in 1942 and realize that it was just a national embarrassment. That U.S. citizens, not Japanese people, but U.S. citizens were being rounded up and placed in internment camps.
VAUSE: Because Muslim-Americans are U.S. citizens as well. We can't repeat making that point over and over again.
TANIMURA: Yeah, exactly.
VAUSE: OK. We're out of time, but thank so much for coming in. It's great to talk to you.
TANIMURA: Thank you.
NACKASHI: Thank you.
VAUSE: And thank you for watching "CNN Newsroom" live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
Stay with us. Rosemary Church picks up our coverage from the CNN Center in Atlanta right after a short break.