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U.S. to Add New Sanctions on Iran; Tune Change to Israel; U.S. and U.N. Demands Withdrawal From Russia over Crimea; E.U. Leaders Meeting Malta; Online War; XX Band Showing their Faces. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired February 3, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: Sticking to his guns. Donald Trump says all options are on the table regarding Iran.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN HOST: But perhaps changing his tune towards Israel. The White House says new settlements may not help the peace process in the Middle East.

FOSTER: And tougher stance on Russia as the U.N., the United States demands Russia's withdrawal from Crimea.

VANIER: Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining us. Welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Cyril Vanier at CNN center in Atlanta.

FOSTER: I'm Max Foster in London, and this is CNN Newsroom.

Two full weeks then into Donald Trump's presidency and his foreign policy challenges are coming fast and furious.

Tough talk and U.S. sanctions are a major focus. The two countries, Iran and Russia.

VANIER: Sources say the White House is ready to slap new sanctions on Tehran over its recent ballistic missile test with Mr. Trump saying that even military action is an option.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing is off the table. I haven't eased anything.


FOSTER: Well, the second part of Mr. Trump's answer there has to do with Russia. His administration has made what it calls a technical fix of sanctions against Moscow. We'll have more in that in just a moment.

VANIER: But the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley is taking a hard line on Russian military involvement in Ukraine. She says that sanctions will remain in place until Russia leaves Crimea.

FOSTER: Well, for more now on the threat of new sanctions against Iran, Thomas Erdbrink is a correspondent for The New York Times. He joins us live from Tehran.

And first of all, this idea that nothing's off the table for Donald Trump, what sort of response did that get in Iran when it came through?

THOMAS ERDBRINK, THE NEW YORK TIMES CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's been no official response yet, Max. Of course several aides (AUDIO GAP) have said that Mr. Trump's words were hollow rants. They would only hurt his own country in the end.

But what we're really waiting for today is the Friday prayer session. There's an especially outspoken cleric is delivering the Friday prayer session, and he's expected to speak out against these threats against Iran. The Iranians are especially sensitive over military threats.

They're very comfortable with President Obama, who had actually said that military threats were temporarily off the table. Now Mr. Trump comes in hard and we're waiting to see how the Iranians will react.

FOSTER: Obviously these sources talking to us and talking about more sanctions on Iran as well. That's the softer option obviously. And actually might backfire a bit, might it on Donald Trump because that's what hard-liners in the country are looking for.

ERDBRINK: Absolutely. There is a part here in the Iranian establishment. Hard-liners we can call them if you will, military commanders, certain clerics who have been very vocal against the nuclear agreement and they would probably like nothing more for President Trump to cancel this agreement.

They would like it especially because it would empower them in their domestic politic -- politics game, and they would get the upper hand over President Rouhani, who of course has been a very strong proponent of this nuclear agreement.

And he's tied this entire political faith to this nuclear agreement and also to his promise of establishing more relations to the west. So, some of these hard-liners will definitely be pleased if this deal gets canceled.

FOSTER: OK. Thomas Erdbrink, thank you.

VANIER: All right. The White House is warning Israel now that new settlement activity may not be helpful to the peace process.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans on Thursday to build the first new West Bank settlement since the 1990s.

CNN's Ian Lee is live in Jerusalem for more on this. Ian, now the White House has said that it won't take an official position on settlements until President Trump meets with Mr. Netanyahu. That's later this month. Still, though, is the White House starting to back away from the all-out support that it seemed to be promising the Israeli government previously?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, when Donald Trump became President, Cyril, it looked like Israel had the green light to build as much as they wanted in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Over 6,000 housing units had been announced.

They were pushing forward a law that looks like it will come into effect that dozens of illegal outposts in the West Bank according to Israeli law will be legalized.

[03:05:03] So, it looked like a full-court press from the Israelis. But now with this statement, that green light looks a bit more yellow. We had heard from Danny Danon, according to Israeli radio saying that it is still too early to tell how this will affect the future building and that he doesn't believe this is a U-turn.

Danny Danon being Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations.

But this morning it does seem like this is going to take a lot of Israeli officials by surprise. It took people who cover Israel by surprise because it did look like that the Israelis wouldn't have any obstacles to building settlements in the West Bank, in east Jerusalem.

But now we're hearing from the White House saying that the future or continuing expanding settlements is going to impede the goal of peace or likely to impede it.

VANIER: And although the Trump administration is still very young, it's not the first time that this White House has dialed back some of its support. For instance, moving the Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, that was a big promise. It no longer seems to be a priority.

LEE: That's right, and we have seen that kind of toned down a bit, about that announcement being made. We heard from the White House spokesman saying that they're just in the very beginning stages of even discussing moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

We've also heard from regional leaders, Arab leaders, strongly against this, saying that there could be some real ramifications for the United States if this move was going forward.

President Trump had met with King Abdullah of Jordan recently on the side, having a quick chat. Likely that move was coming up. Especially we also have Rex Tillerson now as the new Secretary of State. We'll be waiting to see what input he has in not only moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but also what effect he will have as well on the settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

VANIER: Ian lee reporting live from Jerusalem. Thank you very much. It will be interesting in the coming hours today, Ian, to find out more about that reaction to those White House comments where you are in Israel. Thanks a lot.

And the new U.N. ambassador to the United Nations made a big splash at her first Security Council meeting. Nikki Haley came down hard on Russia. In contrast to Donald Trump's friendlier tone during his presidential campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea. Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the Peninsula to Ukraine.


FOSTER: Despite Haley's remarks, the U.S. Treasury Department is making it easier for some companies to do limited business with Russia's federal security service. That's the former KGB.

The State Department calls it a technical fix. And President Donald Trump insists it's not an easing of sanctions. So what exactly is it?

CNN's Clare Sebastian is live for us in Moscow. At least how is it being interpreted there?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Max, well, this is a technical fix as the U.S. Treasury Department calls it. It was actually in place shortly after those sanctions came in.

You remember they were put in by the Obama administration in December over alleged interference in the U.S. election. And it turned out the blanket sanction on the FSB, the Russian state intelligence service had the unintended consequence of preventing some legitimate unsanctioned business that U.S. businesses were doing in Russia, partly because the FSB also has the jurisdiction over the import licenses and distribution licenses for certain technology products, particularly those that use encryption.

Now this amendment provides a limited amount of business. Companies are allowed to do up to $5,000 worth of that a year in terms of how much they pay to the FSB for licenses.

Now here we did see a short burst of optimism about that when the news came out last night. The ruble spiked a little bit, and we certainly saw in Russian media reports that the word softening or easing of sanctions was used.

As for the Kremlin, well, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman told CNN's Matthew Chance last night, we care but not that much. So, a slightly muted reaction there and it's certainly fair to say that the comments from Nikki Haley overnight did slightly dampen the mood when it came to, you know, the forward path of U.S.-Russian relations, Max.

FOSTER: That pretty hard line from her, wasn't it? And we also got E.U. leaders meeting there in Malta. They are no doubt going to discuss Ukraine. Do you expect the same from them?

[03:09:55] SEBASTIAN: Absolutely, Max. I think it's fair to say the vast majority of E.U. leaders, particularly Western Europe led by France and Germany are continuing to take a very hard line on Russia.

Reiterating, in recent days, some of them in phone calls to the new U.S. president, that nothing short of a full implementation of the Minsk ceasefire agreement on Ukraine could lead to any lifting of sanctions.

One notable exception, Hungary, President Putin was there yesterday and the Hungarian leader saying that he believes sanctions on Russia are counterproductive, that everyone loses out.

But it's important to note, Max, that this meeting comes at a time of escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine. You know, we're hearing overnight that a local ceasefire that was in place in the Donbas region in the suburbs north has been repeatedly broken.

Now, the OSC saying that they are looking into reports of multiple civilian casualties. And we know there's a growing humanitarian crisis on the ground there, lack of access to critical infrastructure because of the damage from this latest violence. So certainly this will be a key topic of conversation in Malta as the E.U. leaders meet today, Max.

FOSTER: We'll be following it very closely, Clare. Thank you very much, indeed. Cyril?

VANIER: And we continue to look at developing relations between the new White House and the rest of the world this hour. We told you about Russia. We told you about Israel. Let's get the view within the European Union.

E.U. leaders are arriving in Malta now for their first summit of the Trump administration. The new U.S. president is expected to dominate the agenda there as well the violence in eastern Ukraine. You just heard about that.

Our Nic Robertson joins us live from those meetings in Malta's capital. Nick, the E.U. has a lot going on right now. Brexit, of course. That still needs to be organized and tended to. And a new face in the White House. What are the diplomatic priorities?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The diplomatic priorities here are going to be, if you will, forming a common view towards the White House. That may be a little bit tough. But some of the immediate things on the agenda this morning, for example, they'll be talking about the migrant issue, refugees coming across the Mediterranean.

And of course, Malta so close to the Libyan Coast, right directly in that, in the line of the migrants coming from North Africa. So a concern for this country that's hosting the summit but also a concern for all the countries involved.

And also something it's clearly a concern for the White House as well. So the White House will also be looking to see what the Europeans, you know, put forward in terms of bolstering their own security and dealing with the refugee crisis. But they are going to hear about Donald Trump.

Theresa may, the British Prime Minister, will be here. She said she will be briefing the other E.U. leaders about her meeting last week with Donald Trump, giving them an idea of what was going on in the conversations behind the scenes.

We also understand that this is pertinent again to that meeting she had with Donald Trump. We've heard Donald Trump himself say that he's skeptical about NATO. She, Theresa May got a 100 percent commitment to the U.S. president so support NATO, and here she will be bringing the message that she said she would to President Trump that the European nations, that the members of NATO must do more to pay their way.

There's only five of the 28 nations that pay their 2 percent of GDP. So that will be a message she's bringing here. Of course, Britain leaving the European Union, one can only ask how closely is that going to be listened to by the other leaders who are spending their other half of the day here talking about Britain getting out of the European Union. Cyril?

VANIER: You started laying out for us some of the concerns that the E.U. might have regarding Donald Trump. Do you get a sense of how the European Union may be able to respond to a Trump-led America?

ROBERTSON: With unity would be the view of the European Council President Donald Tusk who said Donald Trump is an existential threat to Europe. And the reason for that is very simple.

They see the ban on refugees is fuelling the sort of populist nationalist parties in Europe which threaten to take power in upcoming elections in the new months in France, potentially in the Netherlands also.

They see it as a threat. They see what Donald Trump has said as a threat to the unity of the European Union that is pro-Brexit, that he wouldn't mind if other countries left the European Union.

Donald Trump has been very critical and some of his economic advisers has been critical about Germany, saying Germany is really sort of driving -- the E.U., if you will, is a vehicle for Germany to steal business from the United States and that the euro is pegged too low, that Germany profits by that.

All of these things resonate with various leaders within the European Union, and the sense from the leadership of the European Union, those who sort of hold and cherish its ideals closest to heart is that Donald Trump is trying to break up the European Union. So, yes, there could be a strong message here, yet differences of opinion, Cyril.

VANIER: It will be very interesting to find out what comes out of that meeting. Nic Robertson following it for us. Thank you very. We appreciate it.

We're going to take a very short break. When we come back, new U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has arrived in Japan. What he's saying to reassure the region's U.S. allies.

[03:15:08] FOSTER: Plus, what went wrong during a raid in Yemen that left civilians and a U.S. Navy SEAL dead?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VANIER: The new U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is set to meet with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this hour. Mattis arrived at a U.S. air base near Tokyo just hours ago after meetings in South Korea on Thursday. He defended the planned deployment of a missile defense system there and gave this stern warning to North Korea.


JAMES 'MAD DOG' MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: America's commitment to defending our allies and to upholding our extended deterrence guarantees remain ironclad. Any attack on the United States or on our allies will be defeated and any use of nuclear weapons could be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming.


FOSTER: For more on the U.S. Defense Secretary's trip we're joined by CNN's Will Ripley in Tokyo, Japan. And South Korea, Will, key allies for the United States in that region. Some concern there, I know, that perhaps that would weaken as a result of a Trump presidency. Is the defense secretary managing to reassure people there?

[03:20:08] WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly seemed that way in South Korea, and no bombshells from that country was encouraging for defense officials here in Japan.

At this very moment, we believe that Mattis is arriving at the prime minister's office. They'll be meeting for the next hour or so. Then there will be meetings with a number of high-level officials including the foreign minister, the defense minister.

Tomorrow there will be a joint press conference. And by all accounts, this is being touted as a mission to reassure Japan and South Korea that, in fact, the Trump administration is dedicated to this decades- long alliance.

In Japan's case, you know, 70 years of partnership, more than 50,000 U.S. troops based here. A cost split about 50-50 with Japan.

But during the campaign when you had then-candidate Trump saying that Japan should protect itself against North Korea, should arm itself with nuclear weapons, that was obviously pretty concerning for a lot of people in this country. Perhaps this visit will smooth that over.

FOSTER: It's as if Donald Trump does want to take on China economically and North Korea militarily, then it's going to need support, isn't it, of those two allies, Japan and South Korea?

RIPLEY: That's right. And this really is a strategic -- Japan is a strategic location for the United States. Obviously the U.S. is bound by treaty to protect Japan if it comes under attack.

But you also have the Navy's Seventh Fleet headquartered here. Just yesterday, I was down at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni where they brought in five radar planes that they're going to be using to try to detect the increasingly sophisticated stealth fighter jets that China is developing and detect cruise missiles capable of sinking U.S. aircraft carriers that China is developing.

And so, as far as the U.S. strategy under the Obama administration, they really pivoted towards Asia. They're bringing in more weaponry, they're bringing more manpower because they anticipate a growing situation where you have China, you know, moving its borders beyond the mainland, building these artificial islands.

You heard -- you heard Rex Tillerson say that they would try to stop China from accessing these artificial islands, which could potentially lead to a major military escalation, and you have to have the U.S. presence here in Japan to counter the dynamics that play in this region.

And so, tomorrow, when we actually go to that press conference with Secretary Mattis, we're going to be asking about the partnership. Is there going to be -- are going to be financial discussions? Is the strategy going to change? These are all questions that Japanese officials want answered as well.

FOSTER: OK. Will in Tokyo, thank you.

VANIER: Max, the joint U.S./United Arab Emirates raid in Yemen is raising some questions about President Trump's approach to fighting terrorism. The assault killed 14 Al Qaeda fighters, 10 civilians and a Navy SEAL.

Chief U.S. security correspondent Jim Sciutto tells us why the mission happened when it did and what went wrong.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN'S CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, new information that President Trump was actively involved in the decision-making on the Yemen raid up until the final hours.

On January 25th, four days before the mission, the president was briefly National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and then again during a 10-person White House dinner later that evening. The dinner as Mr. Trump's request included his three closest aides, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and senior advisers Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon.


SEAN SPICER, UNITED STATES White House PRESS SECRETARY: He then, on that evening, had a dinner meeting where the operation was laid out in great extent.


SCIUTTO: Like many high-risk military missions, the planning was months in the making. The initial proposed plans were first sent to the Pentagon on November 7th during the Obama administration and one day before the election.

Department of Defense lawyers and legal experts then reviewed the details before approving the plan and sending it to the National Security Council on December 19th. Next, the plan was reviewed by officials from defense, state, and the National Security Council. But there was one final delay, waiting for a moonless night to help

conceal U.S. special operators. That would not come until late in January after the swearing in of Donald Trump. The new president gave final approval on January 26th, one day after that White House dinner, three days to mission launch.


SPICER: This was a very, very well thought out and executed effort.


SCIUTTO: The raid targeted a suspected Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula compound in Yemen's Al Bayda province. U.S. Navy SEALS and UAE special operators immediately encountered AQAP fighters as they approached the compound.

According to the Pentagon, the fighters, including some females, positioned themselves along rooftops on adjacent buildings, pinning down U.S.-led forces.

[03:24:59] Aircraft conducted an air strike leading to at least 23 civilian deaths according to an NGO. The Al Qaeda fighters used heavy arms, killing Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens.

A V-22 Osprey aircraft was badly damaged as it tried to land to rescue the wounded. Special operators then took intelligence materials from the compound, including computer hard drives.


SPICER: When you look at the totality of what was gained to prevent the future loss of life here in America and against our people and our institutions, and probably throughout the world in terms of what some of these individuals could have done, I think it is a successful operation by all standards.


SCIUTTO: Tonight, Obama administration officials are disputing the Trump administration claim that this was a raid in Yemen approved by President Obama first. They say, one, that's not true. Two, that's not the way things are done. That the raid like this with this kind of sensitivity on the ground would not be approved, in their words, weeks or months in advance.

Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.

FOSTER: When we come back, more on the fallout from Mr. Trump's call with Australia and what that country's leader has to say about that.

VANIER: And how will the rest of the world respond to Mr. Trump's brand of diplomacy? We'll take a look at that as well. Stay with us.


VANIER: Hi, everyone. Welcome back and hello if you're just joining us. I'm Cyril Vanier in Atlanta.

FOSTER: I'm Max Foster in London.

Let's update you on our top stories this hour.

VANIER: The White House is expected to impose new sanctions on Iran over its latest ballistic missile test.

U.S. President Donald Trump says nothing is off the table, even military action.

[03:30:00] Iran says the missile test was for defensive purposes, and it doesn't need anyone's permission.

FOSTER: The new U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. slammed Russia in her first appearance at the U.N. Security Council. Nikki Haley said Russia must end its occupation of Crimea and return it to Ukraine. She added, sanctions against Moscow will continue as long as the Peninsula remains in Russian hands.

VANIER: And a Romanian law that decriminalizes some forms of corruption is drawing massive protests. Tens of thousands filled Bucharest's Victory Square on Wednesday, many of them sparring with police. The government says it will not withdraw the law which involves corruption value that less than $48,000.

FOSTER: President Trump has what you might call a unique take on diplomacy. His combative approach is setting a new tone for U.S. foreign policy.

Our Elise Labott reports on a turbulent time of world affairs.


TRUMP: The world is in trouble, but we're going to straighten it out. OK? That's what I do. I fix things.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Today at the national prayer breakfast, President Trump asked for a little faith in his brash foreign policy on display in recent phone calls with world leaders.


TRUMP: When you hear about the tough phone calls I'm having, don't worry about it. Just don't worry about it. They're tough. We have to be tough. It's time we're going to be a little tough, folks.


LABOTT: In a tense phone call on Saturday with Australia's prime minister, Trump grew angry when asked to honor a deal struck by President Obama to accept 1,200 refugees currently held in detention centers off the coast of Australia. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MALCOLM TURNBULL, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: The president assured me that he would continue with, honor the agreement we entered into with the Obama administration.


LABOTT: Sources say Trump insisted it was a very bad deal for the U.S. to take the refugees and that one of them was going to be the next Boston bomber. The call ended abruptly because Trump was unhappy, a source told CNN.

Late Wednesday Trump tweeted, quote, "Do you believe it? The Obama administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal."


SPICER: The deal that was cut by the last administration is something that he is extremely, extremely upset with. He does not like it, but out of respect for him, he's going to allow that process -- continue to study it and allow it to move forward under the conditions that had been set that there will be extreme vetting on every single one of those individuals.


LABOTT: A similar confrontation with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. According to a transcript of the call obtained by CNN, Trump offered to send U.S. troops after Mexican drug cartels, saying, quote, "You have some pretty tough hombres in Mexico that you may need help with. We're willing to help you with that big league. But they have to be knocked out and you have not done a good job knocking them out."

His undiplomatic tone making waves on Capitol Hill.


TIM KAINE, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: To have a contentious conversation and name-call a country or the prime minister of a country that's one of our greatest allies in Asia is foolish. He's doing kind of amateur-hour stuff on matters of significant national importance.


LABOTT: The president's turbulent first days in office make Rex Tillerson's first day on the job even harder. Today, the new secretary of state sought to reassure a State Department in turmoil with nearly 1,000 diplomats protesting Trump's immigration policies.


REX TILLERSON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: I know this was a hotly contested election, and we do not all feel the same way about the outcome. Each of us is entitled to the expression of our political beliefs. But we cannot let our personal convictions overwhelm our ability to work as one team.


FOSTER: Elise Labott reporting for us there.

Meanwhile, Australia's ambassador to the U.S. met with top White House officials on Thursday. The White House said it was productive and conveyed President Trump's deep admiration for the Australian people.

Political reporter Shalailah Medhora is in Canberra with more on this for us. We should point out, you know, the view is one thing within Australia, and it's another from the rest of the world. But actually there are many in Australia, including political leaders there, who agree with what Donald Trump was suggesting here.

SHALAILAH MEDHORA, SBS'S CANBERRA REPORTER: Yes, that's right. I mean we do have a very diverse range of views here. One nation leader Pauline Hanson is a big supporter of Donald Trump, but she doesn't hold power. In fact, what we've seen from the announcement of the phone call is that it really sent senior government ministers scrambling today to paint the phone call in a good light for the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

The way that they were seeming the message was that Malcolm Turnbull is willing to sell the Australian national interest, to put the Australian national interest at the top level of his -- of his concerns, that he's willing to bring it up with President Trump and really make it a concern.

And we also saw a rare thing in Australian politics today, which is bipartisanship. Opposition leader Bill Shorten was forced to sort of back into a corner really to support president -- to support Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull by saying that President Trump should have treated the Australian people with more respect.

[03:35:09] FOSTER: OK. And we had this meeting, didn't we? This follow-up meeting with Australia's ambassador to the United States it didn't meet Donald Trump, but certainly he met the people very close to him. Did that help in any way calm tensions there in Australia?

MEDHORA: It was certainly intended to do that, Max. But to be honest, tensions will continue in this space until we have a definite from President Trump about whether this deal will go ahead or not.

Let's keep in mind here that the government has no plan b for these people, these 1,200 or so refugees who are currently languishing in Australian-run offshore detention centers.

So for the government, there's a lot at stake here if this deal doesn't go ahead. Then it still raises the question mark of what will become of these people?

FOSTER: OK. Shalailah Medhora in Canberra, thank you. VANIER: And here's another hot button global issue that the new U.S.

president is taking on. The administration has gone after Iran after Tehran tested a ballistic missile.

Washington may now be getting ready to impose more sanctions. I talked about it CNN global affairs analyst David Rohde.

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: He's following through on a campaign promise. You know, he ridiculed the Iran deal. He tweeted that Iran was, you know, virtually on the point of collapse economically before the Iran deal. That's actually not true.

Iran wasn't on the verge of collapse, so this appears to be an effort after this ballistic missile test by Iran to show that this administration will respond to them.

They're similar sanctions in some ways to what the Obama administration used in the past, but it is a sort of, you know, some saber rattling very early on from the Trump administration towards Tehran.

VANIER: And, David, there are a few instances where there might actually be a departure from Mr. Trump's rhetoric during the campaign.

For instance, let's look at Israel. The White House is saying that expanding settlements or building new ones may not be helpful. We had got the impression during the campaign that Mr. Trump was prepared to give limitless cover to Israel.

ROHDE: Yes, this is a change in tone. He was a strident supporter of Israel during the campaign. He was extremely critical of a U.N. resolution that the U.S. abstained that condemned Israeli settlements, and now we have this statement today.

So it's a surprise. Another thing though, showing a change in policy, is that after promising that the U.S. would move its embassy to Jerusalem, the Trump administration is now moving, you know, slowly with that change in location according to press reports.

So these are two indications that, you know, the administration is backing away from some of its campaign rhetoric regarding Israel, and that's unusual on other fronts, particularly on domestic policy, Mexico, China, he's you know, the president has been very aggressive about saying the same things he did during the campaign. So this is a change.

VANIER: The new U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, had some strong words for Russia, condemning its actions in eastern Ukraine, saying that sanctions would stay in place until Russia essentially gave Crimea back to Ukraine.

Again, is this a matter of just Trump now being in a position of actually making decisions, and so he has to change his tune, or is there something that we don't know about that has changed his mind?

ROHDE: It's not clear. You know, Ambassador Haley's statements, that sort of verbatim, the Obama administration's position, and throughout the campaign President Trump and very recently in public statements, he's called for better relations with Russia.

So it's confusing. This came on the same day that the Treasury Department announced that it seemed to be loosening sanctions against Russia's main intelligence agency. It said that some U.S. companies could do business with Russia's main intelligence agency.

The Obama administration in its, you know, last period in office had added those sanctions. So, on the one hand, you've got the U.N. ambassador talking tough about Russia.

On the other hand, the Treasury Department's, you know, loosening some sanctions. Is it a new policy? Is one branch of the administration not clear what the other one is doing? It's not clear yet. I'm sorry to keep repeating this, but we should give them some time.


ROHDE: And at least, you know, it's been a very combative first few weeks in office. These are two areas where he seems to have stepped back. If it's permanent, we don't know, but you know, that is a change and that could calm the nerves of some foreign nations who have been, I think, worried by his, you know, tendency to sort of attack, attack, attack. You know, he does -- these are at least two moderate steps in two very important areas.

VANIER: David Rhode, CNN's global affairs analyst, thank you very much.

FOSTER: Allegations of Russian fake news campaigns are popping up all throughout here and Europe. But just ahead, we're going to go to Prague, where the fight is going full tilt.


FOSTER: British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon is accusing Russia of targeting western democracy with sustained cyber-attacks, weaponizing misinformation to destabilize the west and weaken NATO. He also called Russian President Vladimir Putin a strategic competitor of the west.

Our Isa Soares is at the Czech Republic where they're fighting this new kind of war online.

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Prague's heart may lie in Europe, but the ghosts of a Soviet past still haunt the Czechs. Twenty seven years on since the fall of communism, the Czech government says their fight is now online. Accusing Russia of waging an information war.


TOMAS PROUZA, CZECH REPUBLIC SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS: The ultimate Russian goal is to again bring us back into the Russia's sphere of influence. They want to weaken the Europe. They want to make sure that Western Europe is not able to stand up to them.


SOARES: In the last few years, Czechs tell me they've seen in a rise in anti-U.S., anti-NATO, and anti-E.U. rhetoric. Direct links to Russia may be hard to prove, but one government source tells me there are as many 40 pro-Russian web sites operating within the country.

So to counter this, the Czech government has set up a specialist unit to tackle what it calls hybrid threats and disinformation, and it's happening in the building behind me.

Managed by the ministry of interior, they've been countering these apparent falsehoods since the beginning of this year, flagging on Twitter stories they say are hoaxes. The manager of the unit tells me it's a team of 14 young computer analysts and seasoned intelligence experts.


DAVID CHOVANEC, CZECH REPUBLIC INTERIOR MINISTRY OFFICIAL (through translator): The objective of this information is to somehow disrupt the social balance in the country. We don't want to be just pessimistic, sitting down and waiting, we want to take a proactive approach.


[03:45:08] SOARES: He has reason to be wary. According to this report by Czech's domestic security agency, there is little doubt of Russia's involvement. It accuses Russia of infiltrating Czech media to sway perceptions, of creating tensions within the Czech Republic, and spreading alarming rumors about the U.S. and NATO.


PROUZA: We follow the money and how some of these alternative web sites are financed. This links to people that are connected to Russia.

SOARES: How real is the threat to Europe?

PROUZA: It is the biggest threat Europe has been facing since 1930s.

SOARES: The fear is very palpable here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): At this school in Prague, they now teach 17 and 18-year-olds how to spot Russian propaganda. Media, traditional media, and social networks are influencing the results of elections.


SOARES: Crucial given that most of this class will be voting for their first time in Czech elections in October. Elections some here fear could be manipulated by their former foes. VANIER: Now we did ask the Kremlin about the Czech Republic's

allegations, but they deflected CNN's questions. President Putin and other Russian officials have consistently denied accusations put forth by the U.S., Germany, as well as other countries that Moscow is behind the spread of fake news and attempts to influence elections.

FOSTER: Elsewhere, a British band that's largely flown under the radar in the U.S. is now soaring. The XX tells us about their latest album and who they're trying to reach with their music.


DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We are watching some interesting weather dynamics taking place across the western United States into western Canada. We're really starting to see an area of low pressure that's swirling across the Pacific Ocean that's going to stream in a significant amount of moisture.

In fact, it already has done so with low elevation rainfall and high elevation snowfall expected across the Sierra Nevada Mountain range into the Cascades as well as the northern Rockies. You can see that winter storm watches and warnings blanketing much of Idaho into Oregon as well as Washington, parts of Montana and across the mountainous regions of California.

As we look eastward, the central U.S. rather dry. A bit of cloud cover across the Deep South. Of course we're paying close attention into Houston, Texas. We've got the 51st Super Bowl taking place and the New England Patriots playing the Atlanta Falcons. That's a big game on Sunday taking place at 6.30.

It looks like we could have a few showers impacting the pregame. Tailgating festivities. Otherwise Friday and Saturday, cloud cover and relatively mild temperatures.

Elsewhere, across the United States, below freezing for Chicago today. New York, one lonely degree for your daytime high. Taking you through the course of the weekend, you can see how temperatures warm up slightly for the nation's capital as well as the big apple.


FOSTER: You may well have heard their music but maybe you haven't seen the faces behind it. The XX are getting ready to head out on tour following the release of their brand-new album.

I discovered that the British band is a group of shy school friends who much to their surprise have managed to crack the U.S.

With their soft, at times mournful lyrics and sparse sound, the XX have gathered fans around the world since their debut single "Crystallized" in 2009. They've made it onto Saturday Night Live in America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the XX.


They won the U.K.'s coveted Mercury Award. And their music is the soundtrack to Hollywood movies like "The Great Gatsby." Now with a new album out and a tour of Europe and the United States just starting, some critics say the XX are poised for global fame.

For the group of three shy friends who first met at school in London, say more than anything they're passionate about making music that everyone can relate to.


ROMY MADLEY CROFT, XX SINGER: We don't have he or she. It's just you and I, and we don't have time and place. So we wanted to be able to reach people no matter gender or sexuality or where they live or what they're going through.

We hope it would be open, and it comes because Oliver and I are both writing in the songs and, you know, it kind of helped that we didn't have he and she.

FOSTER: Do you route together when you do or you do it remotely or how does it work?

OLIVER SIM, XX SINGER: We used to be very separate, and it used to be a case of e-mailing each other, I suppose. But over time, especially on this album, we have sat in a room together and discussed. I think we've gained enough confidence to be able to do it even though we're the best of friends.

CROFT: It's funny, we've known each other since we were 3-year-olds old and Jamie since we were 11. But still sometimes sitting with your best friends and writing the deepest sort of most vulnerable things can be quite exposing.

But I think it's been great on this new album, sitting in a room together and just writing songs and talking about what we're going through and just putting it down. It's been a shift for us.

FOSTER: At which point we should probably listen to some of your lead single off the album.

Hard core fans are going to notice a big difference from the other two albums, right? So how would you define the difference? How have you changed?

JAMIE SMITH, XX SINGER: First it's like it's been quite a slow progression. Over four years of your life, you know, you change a little bit, and the music changes a little. We just listened to a much more broad range of music than ever before. I guess that infiltrated what we sounded like a little bit.

IFOSTER: t's interesting because some people aren't necessarily into your type of music know your music because it's been sampled so much.

CROFT: It has been sampled. It's also in a lot of TV shows. It's funny the people might know our music might not know us.


CROFT: I think in the beginning that was a conscious thing. Our artwork is an X when our faces are on there, I've been cover, we kind of wanted the music to speak for itself. Especially being more self- conscious from where we were younger being even a bit more shy. I think that we wanted that. We've kind of grown into being in front of a camera now, but it was -- it was difficult in the beginning.

FOSTER: The XX is a band still very much getting used to its fame and quietly shunning the celebrity culture of modern pop music.

VANIER: Max, I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I interview, you know, Nic Robertson and Ian Lee. No offense to them, but they don't sing half as well.

FOSTER: Well, we're actually of really sort of thrilled by them in this country simply because they are starting to break America. It hasn't happened yet obviously, but it's making huge amounts of critical acclaim there.

And normally the bands that break America from the U.K. are these very manufactured groups. And this is very much a group that's bubbled up over years, and they met at a young age. It's ground up. It's good to see.

[03:55:02] VANIER: Well, send them over my way, you know. You know, actually I owe you a debt of gratitude because I didn't know them before the show, but I did my due diligence, and our producer in the control room, Philip, made sure.

FOSTER: It's fun.

VANIER: And so, I listened to their music, and I like it. So I'd like a chance to sample them live as well.

FOSTER: Well, they're coming your way, Cyril.

VANIER: All right.

FOSTER: So, the next interview with you.

I'm Max Foster in London. We'll be back in a moment. Cyril?

VANIER: I'm Cyril Vanier at the CNN center here in Atlanta. That does it for me. Thank you very much for watching.

FOSTER: More Newsroom after the break.