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Trump Picks McMaster as National Security Advisor; Trump to Issue New Travel Ban; Pence Assures European Allies, But Says U.S. Patience Won't Endure Forever; South Korea: Likely Kim Jong-Nam Killed by North Korea; Tension Grow Between North Korea, Malaysia; Shaky Cease-fire in Ukraine. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired February 21, 2017 - 02:00   ET



[02:00:24] SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour -


SIDNER: Hello, and welcome. I'm Sara Sidner, in Los Angeles.

SOARES: I'm Isa Soares, in London.

NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

SIDNER: This week, U.S. President Donald Trump will try to turn things around after a rough start to his week. He's expected to roll out his second attempt at putting his executive order travel ban in place. Mr. Trump says the revised plan have been tailored to please the court that suspended his travel ban.

And for the first time, Vice President Mike Pence is admitting he was disappointed with the former national security adviser. That was Michael Flynn. He was forced to resign after misleading the vice president about his calls with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

And Mr. Trump has chosen Army Lieutenant H.R. McMaster as the new national security adviser.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I watched and read a lot over the last two days. He is highly respected by everybody in the military. And we're very honored to have him.


SIDNER: Joining us, talk radio host, Ethan Bearman; and California Republican national committeeman, Shawn Steele.

Gentlemen, you just heard about the new head of the NSA. This, of course, comes after Michael Flynn and what turned out to be an embarrassment to Donald Trump.

What do you make of the new head of the NSA?

SHAWN STEELE, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEEMAN: Probably better than the first choice. McMaster is by consensus, he was listed as one of the 10 0 most influential people on the planet. He's a military strategist. And a bonus, no connections to Russia. In fact, he was in charge of a Russian study to see how to countermand the Russians. He seems to have a great reputation, and Trump is comfortable letting people go and bringing in somebody that's probably very strong and better. He doesn't require Senate confirmation. It takes on the job immediately and will be probably the most influential person in domestic safety.

SIDNER: Not known the hold the political line.

STEELE: He can be independent, and I think Trump respects people that he considers appear, that's willing to speak his own mind. He's done that in his business empire. He's promoted more women than any other person thin that field. He's not afraid of people challenging him. But once he makes a decision, he expects people to follow the decision.

SIDNER: Mr. Bearman has a different view of this. You're shaking your head.



In some cases, I totally disagree with Mr. Steele's assessment of when Donald Trump was a private businessman and women in his workplace, but I agree with him as far as a new national security adviser. He has a stellar track record like General Mattis, not quite to that degree, but a great track record and he doesn't just go along to get along, which I as a Trump opponent am happy to see the national security adviser is one who will be willing to stand up for what he believes in.

SIDNER: Let's talk about another subject that came up in fact he's talking about the travel ban and redoing things. And so here is something he talked a little bit about. He disparaged the federal judge that made a ruling to halt his travel ban for a while. Then he disparaged the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that agreed with the federal judge that while the case is going through court, they would allow the ban to be halted until the legal battle is fought.

Here is what President Trump said about the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and their decision.


TRUMP: When you read something to clear to anybody and perfectly written, and then you have lawyers -- and I watched last night in amazement, and I heard things I couldn't believe. A bad high school student would understand this. Anybody would understand this. (END VIDEO CLIP)

[02:05:11] SIDNER: Now, this is right after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban is put on hold for now. Now he's going, OK, I'm going to change this to, quote, unquote, "please the court." What does that say about his -- one of his very first executive orders?

STEELE: It says he's flexible. He's a businessman. He ran into an obstacle. He doesn't like the ninth circuit. He's not alone. I don't. Most conservatives don't like it. It's a liberal court. Rather than beating that horse to the ground, he's going to come up with a newer, and better rollout. This time General Kelley is authoring and designing part of the executive order. It's going to be a slower rollout. It's going to get people on the other end noticed that you better not buy that expensive ticket if you don't qualify. He's going to recognize green cards. To me that was obvious.


SIDNER: You should be allowed in. You've gone through the checks.

STEELE: I agree.


SIDNER: This was the problem. This caused confusion. It caused chaos at the airport.


SIDNER: None of those things Donald Trump talked about, correct?


SIDNER: He never said this was a major problem. He said everything went great.

BEARMAN: He denied reality on the ground. He never took his eighth- grade civics, obviously, to understand how the law actually works, and this time around, clearly Emperor Bannon didn't write the executive order. We have General Kelley involved.

But here is the deal. We still have people like interpreters who were working with the military in iraq and Afghanistan. There's no indication they're being exempted in this. We have the issue of precedent in the United States of America where even illegal immigrants in the United States have due process right. I'm curious to see how they address it.


STEELE: I had a very good client, an Afghani, that actually was an interpreter, and I actually -- he's in this country legally. But he's a hero. And they take an enormous risk. So I have -- I'm hoping -- I'm sure it's going to be a lot more flexible and give more discretion on the field. SIDNER: Many thanks to talk radio host, Ethan Bearman; and California

Republican national committeeman, Shawn Steele.

SOARES: Protesters rallied against Donald Trump in several dozen U.S. cities on Monday coinciding with the President's Day holiday. They were dubbed "Not My President's Day" in a reference to Mr. Trump's losing the popular vote in the presidential election. You see the from protests on your screen. Organizers say the purpose was to show opposition to the policies and executive orders.

Protesters in the U.K. had a different agenda. Many don't want Mr. Trump to visit their country or at least not of an official state visit. The prime minister invited him last month. 1.8 million people signed a petition to take back that invitation. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To roll out the red carpet and invite him to meet the queen is inappropriate. This was the man after all, if you recall, you may or may not, this was the man who, three weeks after Diana's death, said he could have slept with her. This was the man who says Kate Middleton would take a great topless model. And we're expecting him to shake prince Williams's hand? I don't think so.


SOARES: Now, meanwhile the vice president is back in the United States after wrapping up his European tour. Pence reassured European officials worried about the foreign policy that they have U.S. support. But he warned American's patience for NATO allies. Take a listen to what he had to say.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRSEIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president put this issue front and center before the American people in his campaign for president. And frankly, it struck a chord. I don't know what the answer is to "or else," but I know the patience of the American people will not endure forever.

As Secretary of Defense James Mattis said a few days ago, if you're a nation that meets the 2percent target, we need your help encouraging other countries to do likewise. If you have a plan to get there, our alliance needs you to accelerate it. And if you don't yet have a plan, these are my words, not his, get one.


SOARES: That was Vice President Pence.

We are joined by Lesley Vinjamuri, a senior lecturer on international relations at the University of London, a well-known face on the program.

Lesley, thank you for coming in.

The mission was to really come to Europe reassure allies, reassurance tour we were talking about earlier. Did they manage to do that?

[02:09:55] LESLEY VINJAMURI, SENIOR LECTURER ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, UNIVERITY OF LONDON: I think there's a range of views. Many people still feel cautious for a couple of reasons. One is there was a clear sense of reassurance in terms of America being committed to Europe, committing to NATO, but with the clear line, as you said, of pressure on spending and pressure on spending to hit the 2 percent of GDP target by the end of 2017. There's a question about what happens if it's not hit. But I think there's great caution on the part of many European leaders. Nobody is quite sure who really holds the balance of power within the administration. So, Pence says one thing. What does Donald Trump say, and what is Donald Trump going to do? So, there's continued uncertainty around this visit. But it did go as one, the former NFC director for Europe said if people were at sort of nine, they're down to seven in terms of their fear and concern for Donald Trump.

SOARES: Right. It helps somewhat, but like you say, there are mixed messages. Before he arrived, there was a lot of speculation as to whether he would be speaking as a vice president or speaking for President Trump. So, which one is it? I mean, because there's clearly disparity between both sides.

VINJAMURI: There is. And we can't say who he's speaking for. As the vice president, he's always presumably one would assume, speaking for the president, but just think of the contexts. Flynn resigning the national security adviser and the vice president not even being aware of the phone calls and not having the information that the president had at that point in time. So, there's clearly a disconnect in communication. Now we have a new national security adviser, the balance of power is probably going to change again within the administration. I think everybody knew, in Munich when Vice President Pence gave his speech that they don't quite know what to make of it. And what will happen when he returns to Washington.

SOARES: A bit of clarity but not full clarity as of yet.


SOARES: Let me get the view from European leaders. I have tweets we want to show you from European president. He said, "I asked Mike Pence if he shared my opinions on three matters, international order, security, and new U.S. administration attitude toward the E.U. In reply, Mike Pence said yes three times. Now, Europeans and Americans must simply practice what they preach."

What was the view from European leaders? Chancellor Merkel, France, what do they think of what he had to say? Because it struck me as he didn't say much about Europe, which was everyone wanted to know.

VINJAMURI: That's right. And I think after Munich, after the weekend conference in Munich, there was grave concern on the part of the European Union, that they had never been mentioned. Now, yesterday, in Brussels, that was different. Pence said we remain committed to working with the European Union. There was an effort to make a very explicit -- to take a line that there will be ongoing commitment to Europe, but there's been months, many very vocal statements that have been very anti-Europe, anti-European Union. It takes a long time to walk back. It's not simply about what's said. It's going to be about what's done. So, it was the beginning of recognition at a more official level or a higher level than we've seen before. But it won't undo the very long now long but recent history that's eroded confidence in a significant way.

SOARES: And we saw that with the protests that we've been seeing not just in London but really throughout the United States.

VINJAMURI: That's right.

But what we saw in London yesterday, clearly, hits exactly that point.

VINJAMURI: That's right. There's a lot of erosion of confidence among the public. Leader are facing public pressure. The other thing we're seeing which is interesting is that a number of leaders who have been campaigning on a populous platform are having to distance themselves from Trump.

SOARES: It's hurting them, isn't it?

VINJAMURI: That's right.

SOARES: Lesley, I wish we had more time.

Lesley Vinjamuri, thank you for coming in.

VINJAMURI: Thank you.

SOARES: Thank you.


SIDNER: It's more than a murder mystery. Now it's a bitter diplomatic dispute. Just ahead, the latest on the mysterious death of Kim Jong-Nam.


[02:17:29] SIDNER: South Korea's unification minister says it's highly likely that North Korea killed the half hour of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. This video appears to show a woman coming up behind Kim Jong-Nam at the Kuala Lumpur airport. They're claiming she placed something over his face and walked away. Kim sought help but died on the way of the hospital. Malaysian police say these four suspects left Malaysia that same day. Four other suspects are already in custody. And three people not listed as suspects are wanted to assist in the investigation.

Joining me now is CNN's Saima Mohsin.

Saima, what other evidence do police have other than the video which if they can prove that's Kim Jong-Nam and the woman who put something over his face, they have some evidence, obviously. SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Sara, so far that seems to be

the primary evidence that police are focusing on for their investigation. They've share no details of any other evidence. They're not telling us. CCTV has been cited in press releases and we've been told by one police chief they're conducting facial recognition. There's information coming in as you were reading the latest on the story. Malaysia's health director general is holding a press conference at the morgue where Kim Jong-Nam's body is. He says the cause of death is still pending. They're still waiting on a next of kin to identify the body, and crucially, there's been no evidence of a heart attack which a lot of people were suggesting may have been an alternative cause of death. South Korea suggested it was murder with poison -- Sara?

SIDNER: There is obviously tensions growing between Malaysia and North Korea. What are they alluding to when they talk about colluding with an enemy?

MOHSIN: Well, just that South Korea was very quick to bring in the fact that this was murder by poison. Within the next morning, there was a national security briefing by their Intelligence Committee.

Now, this seems to be a situation of a push and tug between South Korea and North Korea, long-time rivals and Malaysia is stuck in the middle now. There have been some extraordinary developments with this diplomatic row. North Korea's ambassador making a midnight press conference outside the mortuary and alleging they're colluding with hostile forces. Malaysia responding Monday morning local time by summoning the North Korea ambassador and calling for its ambassador to Pyongyang to return to Kuala Lumpur for consultations, and then another press conference held by North Korea's ambassador. Extraordinary circumstances here, again, criticizing Malaysia -- Sara?

SIDNER: All right. Saima Mohsin, thank you so much.

The news that she's just gotten out of the press conference is that they still have not determined what the cause of death is of Kim Jong- Nam who is the brother of the leader of North Korea.


SOARES: Thank you very much, Sara. We'll keep on top of that press conference taking place right now.

But joining me now is Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association.

Mark, we were listening to what Saima said there. Have you ever seen a diplomatic spat over a, really, a body?

[02:20:21] MARK ELLIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION: No. This is new and unique. You mention using the term diplomatic, and that's part of the play here. That the only way that Malaysia would be forced to return to body before an autopsy was performed is if North Korea would suggest that, actually, Kim Nam was a diplomat. But you've heard them trying to figure out legal reasons to stop this continuation of the post mortem and the autopsy. And that's one of the arguments that has been made. Well, we think he was under some diplomatic immunity, and, therefore, international law does give some room to say that if that's the case, the body has to be returned.

SOARES: But he was traveling on a completely separate passport. Not even in his own name.

ELLIS: Yes, and this is North Korea. So, again, North Korea's government is desperate to have the body back and does not want any evidence, any suggestion that this was anything but a natural death. And this is the only argument North Korea can make. Other than that, it's completely within the legal boundaries and rights of Malaysia to conduct this investigation. This was a death. It seems evidence to suggest a murder, that took place in their country, and that's kind of the territorial jurisdiction that any country has to investigate this type of crime.

SOARES: Without the diplomatic passport angle, there's no other legal rights North Korea can claim?

ELLIS: In my opinion there would be no other rights. What Malaysia is doing is operate and it has the rights to do it until it has findings as to exactly what happened in this situation.

SOARES: What about what she was saying just now. This press conference they said the cause of death is pending. We know not a heart attack. They're waiting for next of kin. What happens now? I mean, do they hold on to the body until the next of kin arrives?

ELLIS: I think the body is going to be returned to North Korea.

SOARES: You think so?

ELLIS: Yes. There's no question that Kim Jong-Nam is North Korean. The argument here and the real tension is the fact that North Korea does not want any type of an objective evidence conducted by Malaysia in an autopsy because North Korea is arguing this is colluding with South Korea and other enemies in North Korea. That's what they're desperate to stop, but that's not going to happen. This will continue and there will be a finding, and once the finding is complete, I suspect the body, will be returned.

SOARES: I suspect we'll be talking more about this.

Thank you, Mark.

ELLIS: Thank you.


SIDNER: Thanks.

A shaky cease-fire between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed forces is entering the second day. The truce is to reinforce the Minsk Peace Agreement. Ukraine's military reports 24 violations on Monday. But also notes shelling in the region has drastically diminished.

For more, let's bring in Claire Sebastian for more in Moscow.

There was a cease-fire back in 2015. How is this one different and is there any indication it's possible this one will hold?

CLAIRE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sara, this one is essentially trying to do what the 2015 agreement has not yet done. We've seen cease-fire after cease-fire but the violence has been spiking. As for how this one is going today, I've just spoken to the head of the OCSE special monitoring mission in the region, he told me they are actually seeing a worrying trend. The numbers of cease-fire violations are not being reduced. Between Sunday evening and Monday evening they saw between six cease-fire violations and that ticked up to over 700over night and that includes explosions and rockets, the kind of heavy weapon they said needs to be removed from the front line. He said the two sides are too close together. The heavy weaponry remains in place and that leaves open the potential for more flare-ups. The Russian news agency is quoting someone saying they wanted to withdraw their weapons, the heavy weapons on Monday, but they didn't because they had no information from the OCSE that the Ukrainian side did the same. You see a stalemate. A volatile situation on the ground. And a lot at stake for the people of the region who have seen so much violence and over the last few weeks -- Sara?

[02:25:16] SIDNER: Sure. They're hoping it will hold. A terrible situation there.

Let me ask you about another big news event that happened involving Russia. They're long time ambassador to the U.N. has died, apparently of a heart attack. How big of a blow is it to lose him at the U.N.? He was a huge diplomatic figure there.

SEBASTIAN: Yeah. His career spans more than three decades in Russian diplomacy dating back to the USSR. He's been through all the major upheaval. Up until recent conflicts in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria. He's been a powerful proponent of kremlin foreign policy throughout that time. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said to be very upset. He praised his diplomatic talent and professionalism. We've heard from the foreign ministry spokesman who called him a colorful person. He was respected both for his quick wit, his ability to clash with his opponents in the U.N. while, at the same time, being as it seems fairly well liked from the outpouring of support and of condolences that we've seen from them and here in Russia as well -- Sara?

SIDNER: All right. Thank you so much. Claire Sebastian, live for us in Moscow.

SOARES: Now time for a quick break. "State of America" with Kate Bolduan is coming up next for our viewers in Asia.

Up next, for everyone else, the latest on the fight for ISIS's last stronghold in Iraq. Iraqi troops have their sights on Mosul's airport, and the way to it may have become easier. We'll tell you why, next.


[02:30:16] SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Sara Sidner.

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Isa Soares, in London.

Let me bring you up to date with the headlines this hour.


SIDNER: Iraqi forces are making gains in their new offensive to take back the last major ISIS held stronghold in Iraq, the Iraqi Army says trooped backed by the U.S. have cleared ISIS fighters from a village that overlooks Mosul's airport. They hope to rouse the terrorists from the airport and ultimately recapture Mosul from ISIS.

CNN senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, is following the developments in turkey and joins us now.

How diminished is ISIS at this point, ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Reporter: it is diminished. Over the last year and a half they've lost much of the territory they once controlled in Iraq, and we've seen that over the last three and a half months they lost control of eastern Mosul, but they are down but not out, Sara. There's still a long way to go. There's several thousand ISIS fighters still inside western Mosul, and they've had two and a half years to prepare for this battle, keeping in mind that they took over Mosul in June of 2014. They've perfected the art of urban warfare. As we saw in eastern Mosul, they dug extensive networks of tunnels. They're the masters at suicide car bombs, and recently they've also been increasing the use of armed drones that drop small explosives on incoming Iraqi forces. And then even beyond that, there is the problem of sleeper cells left behind. We've already seen since the launch of the operation in western Mosul, just over 48 hours ago, a series of suicide bombings in the eastern part of the city as well as last week a variety of suicide bombings in Baghdad. As a force that controls territory, yes, there definitely they are definitely on the run, but as a terrorist menace, they could continue to be a problem for Iraq and other countries as well for years to come.

SIDNER: I want to ask you about that, Ben. You mentioned them being a menace as a terrorist organization. If they are forced out of Mosul and sort of flee from the area, is there a fear about where they end up? For example, Syria?

WEDEMAN: Well, they've already got a large footprint in Syria. They control of course, Raqqa, their de facto capitol. Most of which they control, and we're getting reports, for instance, that some of the leadership that's in Raqqa has fled. If we look several steps down the road, we eventually assume there will be an operation on Raqqa itself. Mosul eventually will be retaken from ISIS. But the worry is that as ISIS is destroyed as a territorial entity in Iraq and Syria that many of the fighters who have come from Europe and elsewhere in the world may eventually go back home, and we've already seen the sort of trouble that they can cause in places like western Europe -- Sara?

SIDNER: All right. Thank you so much, Ben Wedeman live for us on the situation in Iraq from Istanbul.

SOARES: As this is happening, U.S. Defense Attorney James Mattis is in Iraq and trying to soothe nerves. Before he arrived, he said this was about whether the U.S. intended to seize oil.


GEN. JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: All of us in America have paid for our gas and oil all along. I'm sure we'll continue to do so in the future. We're not in Iraq to seize anybody's oil.


[02:35:16] SOARES: That you heard there was a pretty different message that from Mattis' boss, the U.S. president said in the past couple of years and even weeks. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would bomb the hell out of those oil fields.

We'll circle it and take the oil. We should have taken the oil when we left.

I would take away their wealth. I would take away the oil. What you should be doing now is taking away the oil.

I've always said, shouldn't be there, but if we're going to get out, take the oil.

If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn't have ISIS.

If we're going to leave, keep the oil.

Keep the oil. Keep the oil. Don't let somebody else get it.

Remember, I've been saying for two years, attack the oil. Everybody said, oh, Trump, with the oil, Trump, but I said more than attack it. I said attack it, take it, and keep it.

So, we should have kept the oil, but, OK --


-- maybe you'll have another chance.


SOARES: Attack it and keep it.

Lukman Faily is a former Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. and joins us now.

Thank you for joining us.

As you heard there, several comments from President Trump saying we should have kept the oil. At the same time, different comments from Defense Secretary Mattis in Iraq. Are you worried about the comments you hear from this administration? How unsettling is it?


I don't think the word worried is reflective. I think there was initial anxiety in Iraq. However, we have had a higher level of communication. Traffic flow between both capitols. Last week senior meetings took place between the prime minister and the new vice president in Munich. Yesterday's visit by the new secretary of defense, so I think the Iraqis are more at ease, however, we are still have waiting for the full review of U.S. policy toward the region including Iraq. And until that's settled, unfortunately the Iraqis will still have somewhat slight reservation, because you have to also bear in mind that the travel ban accompanied that. It wasn't just the talk. There was some action taken against Iraq directly.

SOARES: I'll get to the travel ban in a moment. I want to clarify. Of course, there are different, we're hearing different tones from this administration. You're saying you're waiting for a policy to come through. At the same time both Iraq and the U.S. Are fighting a common enemy in Iraq trying to push is out. Do you think the lack of clarity makes Iraqi more suspicious of U.S. Intentions in Iraq in talk to us about the mood?

FAILY: We have the situation on the military side. I think there's more like on auto pilot. I'm not worried about that, and the Iraqis know the U.S. commitment, more positive signs on that. To that effect, I think the fight against terrorism, is, and so on will be on auto pilot. I think it's a longer issue. And the statement by the secretary of defense and the vice president talked about the strategic frame which is more of a collective framework that goes through other fields of cooperation. That's where I think the key questions are. To me the travel ban is a sign rather than the end game, but it's important that we see what revision and whether there's still a ban toward Iraqis.

SOARES: Let's talk about the travel ban. We're expecting as you heard, a revised travel ban this week. Iraq is one of the seven countries named in the original President Trump's original executive order. What are you hearing? How are you preparing? How are Iraqis preparing for whatever comes at them?

FAILY: If you go to the details, there are some exemptions such as those who work with U.S. Forces, green card holders, people like me who hold nationality. I was banned and now I can travel to the U.S. That's a good sign. But as for the average Iraqis, that sign is still not there. To us Iraqis, there is still a perception that they are labeled as terrorist until proven otherwise. So, I think it's important that the there's a clear message by the new administration that they have no fight against the people.

[02:39:57] SOARES: Mr. Faily, I heard you say, I read, actually, you quoted saying, the travel ban was a betrayal. Talk to us about that. Why is it?

FAILY: Well, we are fighting together. American forces, Iraqi forces, the fight -- common fight against terrorism, other issues, all the history we've had together. So, to us, a strategic issue, U.S. Is our strategic choice partner of choice? To that effect, the new administration to blankly label us as terrorists until proven otherwise, that's the key question. That's where I think the issues of betrayal and others. We are getting difference signs as I said, high traffic flow. Positive signs that the Iraqis have sacrifices. To me these are initial good signs. We need the steps to prove it, and to resolve it once and for all.

SOARES: Lukman Faily, a former Iraqi ambassador to the United States, tThank you very much for joining us there from Manchester in England.


FAILY: Thank you.

SIDNER: Sweden not happy with comments from President Trump and they're reacting. Why the Swedish prime minister is telling Mr. Trump to check his sources.


SOARES: Sweden is questioning where President Trump gets his information. During a rally, Trump defended the travel ban by talking about what's happening in Sweden. But he was referencing a TV news segment critical of immigrants in Sweden.

Senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson, has more from Stockholm, Sweden.


[02:44:46] IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in Stockholm, Trump's comments on Saturday have been the target of mockery with the hash tag trending last night in Sweden since there was no specific act, crisis or incident that matched his rhetoric.

The government is taking that serious. The Swedish embassy in Washington reached out to the State Department for clarification.

The prime minister of Sweden said he was surprised at the commentary. He acknowledged challenges. But he also had words of criticism or advice for the president.

STEFAN LOFVEN, SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER: Do not forget, in international rankings in issues such as equality, human development, competence, we, like our guess today from Canada, are doing very well. So, yes, we have opportunities, challenges, working with them every day, but I think we must all take responsibility for using facts correctly and for verifying any information.

WATSON: Sweden has a population of 10 million people. It's taken in a large amount of refugees and asylum seekers in recent years, hundreds of thousands, and that has been a topic of serious debate and controversy in Sweden, which has given some support to a right-wing political party that has taken a tough stance on immigration. But the government insists there's no direct correlation between a rise in crime and the number of immigrants and refugees in Sweden. In 2015, the government says there were about 112 cases of lethal assault in the entire country.

The former prime minister of Sweden has tweeted in response to Trump, saying "Last year, there were approximately 50 percent more murders only in Orlando, Orange County in Florida, where Trump spoke, than in all of Sweden. Bad."

Ivan Watson, CNN, Stockholm.


SIDNER: Members of the U.S. Congress are on a break and back home. But for some, it's not exactly a holiday.




SIDNER: They're facing serious protests. That happened at a town hall Monday with Representative Scott Taylor of Virginia. And he's not the only lawmaker facing angry crowd.

As CNN's Kyung Lah reports, opponents of the Trump agenda are learning how to fight back.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sara, to a capacity crowd, Representative Scott Taylor faced his town hall. It mirrored what we've seen across the country, crowds upset with the Trump administration.


LAH (voice-over): Town hall furry.



LAH: Nebraska.


LAH: Chasing down congressmen at public events. (SHOUTING)

LAH: This week, aiming at congressmen working in their home districts.

The GOP bracing for protests. The president even noticing.

TRUMP: They fill up our rallies with people that you wonder how they get there but -

LAH: Sean Spicer shared the administration's theory.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRTARY: The Tea Party was organized. This has become a paid AstroTurf type movement.

LAH (on camera): Are you making money on this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, this isn't a moneymaking venture.

LAH (voice-over): Meet the team responsible, three former Democratic congressional staffers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We saw a very local activist movement, the Tea Party emerge, so we knew how powerful local action could be because it was used against us effectively.

LAH: Days after the election, based loosely on Tea Party tactics, they sketched out an online guide for progressives to stop Trump's agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hoped our parents would like it on Facebook.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 10 people read it, then 20, then 90.

LAH: Then it crashed. They posted the Indivisible Guide on the website. Viewed 15 million times, downloaded by 1.7 million. About 7,000 Indivisible groups formed following their guide.

ANNOUNCER: Once you're part of a team, there are four simple tactics to engage in.

LAH: A viral video filmed. The film was crowd sources.

The guides' authors have filed with the IRS as a non-profit.

There's one full-time employee, who still hasn't been paid. Three weeks ago, they put up a donation tab on the website. Their movement growing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a smart move because it keeps your coalition together and it allows you have a great impact.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was so inspired and motivated.

[02:50:12]LAH (on camera): Do you know the people who wrote this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I couldn't tell you their names.

LAH (voice-over): This is Ann Taylor, grandmother and founder of Virginia's Indivisible 757. None work for a political party. The target is Republican Congressman Scott Taylor.

(on camera): How do you feel when the GOP brushes you off as paid?

ANN TAYLOR, FOUNDER, VIRGINIA'S INDIVISIBLE 757: I think it's funny. It's a desperate attempt to delegitimize what they most definitely perceive to be a powerful grassroots movement.

LAH: How did it go? It was loud, there were books, but also some cheers. He did hear from people who felt he didn't answer questions sufficiently. We talked to people who said they wish he spent more time answering questions. But they appreciated that he held up and held a town hall. There were not major conflicts inside the hall. There were some outside people who didn't get in because it was at capacity. Some turned on each other. There was one arrest -- Sara?


SIDNER: Kyung Lah from Virginia Beach.

Coming up, Russia's ambassador to the U.N. has died. We'll look at the life of this highly respected diplomate, coming up next.


SOARES: The oldest head of state in Africa says he's not going anywhere. The president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, is turning 93 on Tuesday and says he'll for office next year. He's been in power 37 years and oppressed his opposition. He's calling on Trump to remove sanctions for alleged human rights abuses.

Russian ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, has died. He reportedly suffered a heart attack on Monday, a day before his 65th birthday.

CNN's Amara Walker has more on the life of this diplomatic giant.


AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vitaly Churkin was a long-time Russia diplomate and mainstay in Russian affairs more than three decades.

VITALY CHURKIN, FORMER RUSSIA AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: This panel has asked the representative of the Soviet government --

WALKER: He first gained attention as a junior-level diplomate in 1986 when he testified before a U.S. congressional committee on the Chernobyl disaster, making him the first Soviet official to do so.

He served as the director of information of the USSR foreign minister, became deputy foreign minister of the Russian Federation in 1992. Churkin moved on to serve as Russia's ambassador to Belgian and Canada, then ambassador-at-large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Russia ambassador to the U.N. in 2006.

Churkin was known as an aggressive defender of Russia's foreign policy, including Russia's war with George, the pro-Assad bombardment of Aleppo last year, and the annexation of Crimea.

[02:55:32]CHURKIN: The people of Crimea have voiced their will in the referendum. 93 percent of the population voted in favor of reunification with Russia, which the Crimea was unjustifiably and illegitimately torn from.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was a dear colleague of all of ours.

WALKER: Despite policy disagreements, Churkin was highly respected by current and former diplomats around the world.

Churkin is survived by a wife and two children.

Amara Walker, CNN.


SOARES: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. For my colleague, Sara Sidner, in Los Angeles, and myself, Isa Soares, in London, thank you very much for watching.

The news continues with Rosemary Church, next.


[03:00:09] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump's team tries to explain the president's foreign policy to allies abroad.