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FBI Refuses White House Request about Russia; U.S. Conservatives Rally around Trump Presidency; Malaysia VX Nerve Agent Used to Kill Kim Jong-Nam; Senior U.S. Officials Visit Mexico; New Fight Erupts After Trump's Transgender Action; CNN Visits "La La Land" Premier. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired February 24, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:37] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles and London. Ahead this hour --

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Exclusive CNN reporting, the White House asks the FBI to knock down media reports about Russia -- why the feds denied that request.

VAUSE: President Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon makes a rare public appearance. He says the administration is "maniacally focused" on its campaign promises and takes aim at the media which he says gets everything wrong.

SOARES: And new chilling details about how the North Korean president's half-brother was murdered.

VAUSE: Hello to our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

SOARES: And I'm Isa Soares. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

We start with a developing story this hour.

CNN has exclusive new reporting that the White House asked the FBI to knock down media reports about contacts during the presidential campaign. These are contacts between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to U.S. intelligence.

VAUSE: Jim Sciutto and Evan Perez broke the story, with Pamela Brown, Shimon Prokupecz and Manu Raju. Here's Jim now to explain how the White House may have asked the FBI to publicly contradict the facts.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: CNN has learned that the FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications during the 2016 presidential campaign between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to U.S. Intelligence. Multiple U.S. officials tell CNN the White House sought the help of the bureau and other agencies investigating the Russia matter to say that the reports were wrong and that there had been no contacts, these officials said.

You may recall that CNN and "The New York Times" first reported on this just over a week ago and so far the White House has not commented on the record. I should say that the FBI is still investigating these alleged communications.

Several members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees tell CNN that Congress is still investigating them as well and that investigation has begun. They are starting to collect documents, records, et cetera. They will call witnesses.

Communication between the White House and the FBI is unusual because of decades-old restrictions on such contacts. The request from the White House a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations.

The Trump administration's efforts to press Comey run contrary to Justice Department procedure memos issued in 2007 and 2009 that limit direct communications on pending investigations between the White House and the FBI. FBI Director James Comey rejected the request, according to these sources, because the alleged communications are the subject of an ongoing investigation.

Jim Sciutto, CNN -- Washington.


SOARES: And there's growing concern tonight the Trump White House is asking the intelligence community to come up with information to justify a travel ban from seven mostly Muslim nations. Now, a senior White House official tells CNN the President has assigned the Department of Homeland Security working with the Justice Department to help build a legal case for the travel ban.

But some intelligence professionals in the administration are taking issue with the assignment fearing it could politicize intelligence data in order to fit a policy rather than shaping policy to fit the intelligence.

Now many officials in Homeland Security say nationality is not the best indicator of potential terrorist activity.

VAUSE: President Trump will speak to the annual gathering of political conservatives known as CPAC on Friday. And what a difference a year makes.

At the last CPAC they were trying to derail his campaign for the White House. Any hard feelings for Mr. Trump seem to have vanished in the wake of his historic upset in November. There is nothing like winning.

And Vice President Mike Pence assured the crowd a few hours ago, the Trump administration is committed to delivering on a conservative agenda. Here's what Mr. Pence had to say about the Affordable Care Act.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me assure you, America's Obamacare nightmare is about to end.

[00:04:59] You know, despite the best efforts of liberal activists at town halls across the country, the American people know better. Obamacare has failed and Obamacare must go. This failed law has crippled the American economy and crushing the American people.

Talk about your fake news, folks. Just look at all the promises liberals made about Obamacare.


VAUSE: And of all the people addressing CPAC on Thursday, one figure stands out -- White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. Until now he has been a shadowy figure behind the President, the man called the great manipulator who rarely speaks in public.


STEVE BANNON, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: He's going to continue to press his agenda and as economic conditions get better, as more jobs get better they're going to don't fight. If you think they're going to give you your country back without a fight you're sadly mistaken.

Every day it is going to be a fight and that is what I'm proudest about Donald Trump. All the opportunities he had to waiver off this, all the people have come to him and said you've got to moderate. Every day in the Oval Office he tells Reince and I, I committed this to the American people, I promised this when I ran and I'm going to deliver on this.


VAUSE: Joining me now, Mo Kelly. He's the host of "The Mo Kelly Show" and "The Mo Kelly Experience" radio programs in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Mo -- it is good to see you.

MO KELLY, RADIO HOST: Good to see you -- John.

VAUSE: It seems that Steve Bannon really opened the window here into the real anger he has especially towards the Washington press corps. Listen to this.


BANNON: If you look at, you know, the opposition party and how they portrayed the campaign, how they portrayed the transition and now they're portraying the administration it's always wrong. I mean on the very first day that Kellyanne and I started to recent Reince-Sean Spicer team it's the same team that, you know, every day was grinding away on the campaign, the same team that did the transition.

And if you remember, you know, the campaign was the most chaotic -- you know, by the media's description, most chaotic, most disorganized, most unprofessional and no idea what they were doing. And then you saw them all crying and weeping that night on the air.


VAUSE: Ok. So the opposition, clearly it's main stream media as far as Mr. Bannon is concerned. But this is, you know, way beyond sort of, you know, the typical adversarial relationship between reporters and the White House. This is a man who seems to want to go out of his way to almost destroy the mainstream media.

KELLY: It's beyond anger; it's personal. It's almost like he wants to spike the football not only after Election Day but each subsequent day. And then it makes me wonder is this Donald Trump's vision for America or is this Steve Bannon's revenge against America for the way that he has been maligned up until this point.

VAUSE: If you listen to all of what Steve Bannon had to say, did he actually go out of his way essentially to declare war on the media?

KELLY: I don't think he went out of his way. I think he has been consistent in doing that. And I actually have to say that is a good strategy if only because you can't really declare war on the Democrats who you beat in November, who they don't have any real sizeable majority -- they don't have any majority in the House or the Senate. They can't stop what you want to do in a legislative sense. But the media can actually be someone that you can push your supporters to fight against for the next four years.

VAUSE: But there is something clearly which he wants to do. It's more than just a strategy or a tactic.

KELLY: Yes, but at the same time, when you have your supporters yelling at the media that you don't necessarily have to be responsible if you don't deliver on all your promises.

VAUSE: Ok. We also heard from Steve Bannon, very upfront, that there will be no pivot from the President, not stepping back from any of the controversies that we heard during the election campaign. Listen to this.


BANNON: Because we have a team that is just grinding it through on what President Donald Trump promised the American people. And the mainstream media better understand something -- all of these promises are going to be implemented.


VAUSE: You know, so much for what we're told, don't take Donald Trump literally. Take him seriously but not literally. What Bannon is saying is no, take him literally.

KELLY: Well, ok, let's take him literally. We know that the Iran deal is still in place. We know that Obamacare, at least, according to John Boehner today he says it's not really going anywhere. So what are they going to deliver? Is it going to be the Muslim travel ban? VAUSE: -- which has been struck down by a court.

KELLY: Exactly. So it remains to be seen.

He also said, you know, hold us accountable, that being Steve Bannon. Well, people are going to hold him accountable which goes back to my last point. You need to have some sort of boogeyman and it serves their purposes much more if it happens to be the press as opposed to the Democrats.

VAUSE: This was a safe space for Steve Bannon who was in a room full of conservatives. Does he need to get out of D.C. publicly, maybe go to some of those town halls where people are extremely angry especially about the Affordable Care Act?

KELLY: Well, they're still in the campaign mode. That is the thing that is really striking to me. They are still fighting a war as far as respect, trying to prove to people that they've won the election when in actuality we need to get ready to, if I'm the Republicans, get ready to address Congress, get ready to work with people on the other side of the aisle. Because that's the only way they're going to get everything that they want.

VAUSE: Yes. I think we haven't even talked about Trump's address to both Houses next week.

[00:10:02] There's too much happening, especially because just in the last couple of hours, Donald Trump did an interview with the Reuters news agency casually suggested that maybe the U.S. should restart the nuclear arms race. Here's what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It would be wonderful. A dream would be that no country would have nukes. But if countries are going to have nukes we're going to be at the top of the pack.


VAUSE: Yes. Not the first time he's raised this. But this time he also said he was unhappy with the START Treaty which essentially limits the nuclear arsenal, the stockpile for both the United States and Russia. This just seems incredibly casual, almost flippant.

KELLY: Everything that he has done so far has been casual, flippant and almost cavalier -- not taking to heart the seriousness of this issue. We have more nuclear bombs that could destroy life on this planet 80 times over.

VAUSE: Exactly.

KELLY: So at this point he is playing to the crowd as far as building up our military. But in the oversimplification of Donald Trump, that means more bombs.

VAUSE: Ok. Interesting times. Mo -- good to speak to you. KELLY: Yes it is.

VAUSE: Thanks for coming in.

KELLY: Thank you.

SOARES: Now, the Iraqi military are close to scoring a major victory in the fight for Mosul, the last ISIS stronghold in Iraq. Their forces have secured most of the Mosul airport, a valuable strategic target which the terror group has held since 2014. It's all part of the push for the western part of the city after the east was liberated, remember, back in January.

Meanwhile Iraqi war planes bombed ISIS positions in three separate cities killing at least 85 militants. One of the strikes hit western Mosul where commanders expect a long, grueling fight.

Well, joining me now from La Quinta, California CNN military analyst Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona. Colonel Francona -- always great to have you on the show.

Let's discuss Mosul. This is a discussion we've had on several occasions. We have seen Iraqi forces take most of the airfield or the airport in Mosul. Tell us why this is such an important as well as a symbolic victory?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it's a symbolic victory because, you know, the airport is a big visual sign that the Iraqi government is back in charge but more important than the airport itself, there is a huge military installation just to the west of that called Ghazlani. They are also pushing north and they're trying to take the train station and the power plant. These will be necessary if they are going to reestablish any kind of governance in the city.

So, you know, the Iraqis are doing this very methodically and surprisingly moving very quickly north on the western side of the Tigris River, much faster than we thought they were going to go. We thought this is going to take much, much longer.

They had a time line of about three months. I think that's going to be shorter. I think they're doing a fairly good job.

SOARES: And Colonel, why is -- what's behind the progress would you say? Is it Iraqis adapting their tactics or is it ISIS basically withdrawing? Which one is it?

FRANCONA: Well, it could be both. I think that -- of course, ISIS has suffered terribly over the last three to four months. I mean they've taken a terrible pounding from the air.

The Iraqis have cut off the city. It is completely surrounded now. There will be no more reinforcement. There'll be no more resupply. And there is no escape. The ISIS fighters that are in the western part of the city are there. They're going to have to surrender or die. And we know from past experience, they will probably fight to the death. The question is how much is it going to cost and I mean that in terms of human life because there will be a lot of Mosul residents die in this fighting.

SOARES: Of course. And the fight I suspect now Colonel, turns to western Mosul. The east of the city as we were saying took more than three months. So what can we expect from this next push?

FRANCONA: Well, my reading of this is the ISIS fighters have fallen back. They've got really prepared -- heavily prepared positions in that northwestern sector. And I think that's where the final stand is going to be.

And they have had, as you know, over two years to prepare this battlefield. They know this is coming. This is no surprise. They knew that this was going to be the big fight, the major battle for what remains of their territory in Iraq.

So when this battle is over, ISIS will pretty much have lost almost everything in Iraq. There are a few more pockets but this is the big, big battle.

SOARES: But Colonel, they have a big fight ahead because the Iraqi forces until now, you know, they have basically been working in a very sparsely-populated areas. This is what we've seen in the last few months.

So it will get tougher I assume, as they get nearer to the city and then obviously the risk is greater for the civilians too.

FRANCONA: Exactly. And we're going to see that as they push into that very, very, heavily-populated northwestern quadrant of the city. Unfortunately there's not much the Iraqis can do. They have taken, you know, all possible precautions but they are going to suffer casualties.

[00:14:58] SOARES: Colonel, as we see ISIS being defeated on the front lines the concern to many -- I was reading a fascinating "Washington Post" article today because the concern is really that the group is seeping (ph) back and reestablishing themselves in parts of Iraq that have been cleared by ISIS. Why is that?

FRANCONA: Yes. This is a really important factor. What we're seeing is a major recruiting effort on the part of ISIS to reestablish themselves because they know that they're going to lose their territory. So they've got to reestablish themselves as some sort of an insurgency in Iraq.

So they are reaching out to mostly the Sunni population, the Sunni Arabs with the premise that, and somewhat correctly, they're telling the people that, listen this is a Shia-dominated Iranian-influenced government in Baghdad that does not care about you. You're not going to have a say in the future of Iraq so you need to join some sort of a resistance organization.

And that's going to be somewhat akin to what we saw as al Qaeda in Iraq. They are going to try and reconstitute themselves as that kind of organization.

SOARES: Colonel Rick Francona there, joining us from La Quinta, California. Thank you very much, sir. Good to see you.

FRANCONA: Good to be with you.

Now we are following developing news at Malaysian investigators there say the half brother of North Korea's leader was poisoned with a VX nerve agent. Kim Jong-Nam was killed in Kuala Lumpur, if you remember, last week. At least two women are being detained in connection with the case. Authorities are trying to track down four other suspects and have asked for Interpol's help.

Alexandra Field joins us now on the phone from Kuala Lumpur with more. Alexandra -- what more are authorities telling you regarding this highly toxic nerve agent? What exactly is it?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes. This is the first time that they have publicly identified the VX agent as having been the cause of death here. Previously they had said that they believe that Kim Jong-Nam was poisoned. They're now identifying this as a nerve agent, a chemical weapon called VX.

It is highly toxic. It is highly lethal. It can come in various different forms, a liquid or similar to a gel. It's also highly deadly in a vaporized form.

What we're told by experts and analysts is that the symptoms of exposure can set on rather quickly within minutes up to 18 hours later. We know that Kim Jong-Nam did begin to feel ill after he was approached by two women, you've seen being approached by the two women on that CCTV video inside the airport. He goes to a help desk to let people know he is in need of help and he dies in the ambulance on his way to the hospital.

So again, this is the first time that we are hearing from authorities in Malaysia that he was exposed to this agent, VX. They are not saying how they believe the substance made it into that airport, whether it was created in the country or if it was brought in from another country.

This is something that has been made since the 1950s. That's when it was first developed. So it's something that could have been produced outside of the country with the right know-how.

So investigators still not certain of where it came from but they are trying to track down four suspects who they believe have fled to North Korea who they also believe may have provided that substance to the two women seen on that closed circuit television video -- Isa.

SOARES: Alexandra Field joining us there on the phone from Kuala Lumpur. Thanks very much -- Alexandra. John.

VAUSE: Well, time for a break now. When we come back, U.S. President Donald Trump continues the tough talk on Mexico. But his head of Homeland Security is taking a different tone. And we will hear from Mexico's former foreign minister in just a moment.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody.

The Trump administration sending mixed signals about ties to Mexico. Senior U.S. officials met with members of the Mexican government on Thursday and appeared to break with President Donald Trump on some key issues.

From Mexico City, here is CNN's Leyla Santiago.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John -- the Mexican government is calling this a productive series of meetings, one in which the U.S. government showed up with really, some strong messages.

We heard Kelly today address deportation, something that the foreign minister said was very important to him. He said it will not be a military operation even though earlier in the day President Trump at the White House said in regards to deportation that the U.S. is getting rid of bad people and quote, "it's a military operation".

And in speaking in general about deportations, here's what Kelly had to say.


MICHAEL KELLY, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Let me be very, very clear. There will be no -- repeat -- no mass deportations. Everything we do in DHS will be done legally and according to human rights and the legal justice system of the United States.


SANTIAGO: And there was also an acknowledgment of differences that they're not going to agree on everything. What was not mentioned today during statements between the U.S. and Mexicans involved in these meetings -- the wall, or who will pay for the wall.

But what we saw off camera, also was very telling as Kelly was approaching with the Mexican secretary of government, I watched as he patted him on the back and actually had an exchange of laughter.

So clearly they're getting along, they're moving forward, they're willing to work together. But the big question now is can their presidents do the same? And that will be a matter of time to tell -- John.

VAUSE: Leyla -- thank you. Leyla Santiago reporting there from Mexico City -- Isa.

SOARES: Thanks very much -- John.

Let's get more on the story. I'm joined now by former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castaneda. Hew joins me now from Mexico City. Senor Castaneda -- thank you very much for joining us this hour. We heard there the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said there won't be mass deportation; instead the U.S. will be focusing on the criminal element. Do you believe what you heard today? How do you view the discussions?

JORGE CASTANEDA, FORMER MEXICAN FOREIGN MINISTER: You know when I believe it, Isa, is when Secretary Kelly changes the drafting of the guidelines he made public two days ago, with a series of measures that imply inevitably mass deportations. If he changes those guidelines, I will believe him entirely.

Until he does that, I will believe not a word of his and nobody should because what he says in Mexico City is absolutely irrelevant as long as the guidelines that were published two days ago in Washington, D.C. continue to say that they will hire 15,000 more CBP and ICE agents; and as long as the guidelines say that they will deport anybody all over the U.S. territory not just within 100 miles of the border and not only those in the U.S. for 14 days but for two years. And also those who can be suspected of having committed a chargeable act, whatever that means.

So I don't care what Kelly says, I'm interested in what the executive decrees and guidelines that were issued by the U.S. government a couple of days ago say.

SOARES: You don't care what Kelly says. You care what the President says. Because meanwhile in Washington, what we heard was President Trump talk of military operation on bad dudes -- those where his words. How does Mexico then make sense of these mixed messages and perhaps of these inconsistencies from this administration?

CASTANEDA: I think, Isa, in this case, they're not mixed. Decrees are decrees. Guidelines are guidelines. They are written texts. These are not statements by either President Trump or by Secretary Kelly. These are guidelines issued by Secretary Kelly to the ICE and CBP agents in the field.

[00:25:07] If he wants to change them, he can. The guidelines say that the U.S. will try to send non-Mexican nationals back to Mexico to await asylum hearings. Secretary Kelly says no, we're not going to do that. Well then, change the guidelines.

I'm interested in what's written. I don't care what he says. And I think this is the hypocrisy of this American administration. They are not mixed messages. It's one message. What we're not learning to do is to listen to the right one.

SOARES: Ok. Senor Castaneda -- give me the view of Mexico. You were talking there about potentially sending thousands of Central Americans back into Mexico. What -- how does Mexico view this? If this does indeed happen, how can Mexico handle this?

CASTANEDA: I think, on this account, I agree completely with President Pena Nieto and his foreign minister, Videgaray who stated very clearly yesterday that under no circumstances will Mexico admit any refugee, any deportee, anyone from the United States who is not a Mexican national.

If they are Honduran or Salvadoran or Guatemalan, the United States has to send them back to their countries, not to Mexico. That's a U.S. problem. And I think on this, all Mexicans agree. There is no way we are going to admit anybody back to Mexico who is not Mexican.

SOARES: Very quickly what leverage does Mexico have on this front then?

CASTANEDA: It has enormous leverage which is to open the southern border to tens of thousands of -- not hundreds of thousands of Honduran, Salvadoran and Guatemalan people fleeing from the violence in their country and going north trying to reach the United States, entering the United States and then being apprehended and asking for asylum. We have enormous leverage on this account and I think we should use it.

SOARES: Jorge Castaneda, the former Mexican foreign minister. Mr. Castaneda -- thank you very much. Great to talk to you, sir.

CASTANEDA: Thank you -- Isa.


VAUSE: Ok -- Isa. We'll take a short break. When we come back we talk to a transgender woman as the battle looms over Donald Trump's roll back of protection for transgender students.

We're back in a moment.


[00:30:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Isa Soares in London. Let me bring you up-to-date with our main news headlines this hour.

Donald Trump says if the world has to have nuclear weapons, the United States will be at the top of the pack. In an interview with "Reuters," Mr. Trump says the U.S. has fallen behind on its nuclear weapon capacity and he won't let that stand.

VAUSE: Malaysian police say Kim Jong-nam was poisoned with VX Nerve agent. The half brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un was killed at Kuala Lumpur Airport last week. These two women are in custody and has already Interpol to issue an alert for four other suspects.

SOARES: Iraqi military says it's nearly retaking the airport in Mosul, the last ISIS stronghold in the country. It's not clear exactly how much of the area is left until it's fully secured, but capturing the airport is the big part. The large scale assault on the western half of the city.

VAUSE: For thousands of conservatives gathered just outside Washington at the high profile conference known as CPAC, these are happy days.


KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: A lot of news has been made in the last 24 hours, President Trump rescinded the Obama guidelines on transgender and --



VAUSE: Yes, the clapping and the cheering was for the White House repeal of Obama-era protection for transgender students which allow them to use the bathroom that corresponded with their gender identity. But civil rights groups, LGBTQ activist, doctors and business are warning of the impact this could have on a group of kids already marginalized and misunderstood.

From the American Academy of Pediatric, "Transgender children are already at increased risk for violence, bullying, harassment and suicide. They maybe more prone to depression and engaging in self harm. Policies excluding transgender youth from facilities consistent with their gender identity have detrimental effects on their physical and mental health, safety and well-being."

Tech giant Apple weighed in. "We support efforts towards great acceptance, not less. And we strongly believe transgender students should be treated as equals. We disagree with any effort to limit or rescind their rights and protections."




VAUSE: Even Jackie Evancho, the 16-year-old girl who sang the national anthem at Trump's inauguration, asked the president to rethink his decision. She knows a lot about this. Her sister, Juliette, is a transgender woman.


JULIETTE EVANCHO, TRANSGENDER WOMAN: What I want to say to Donald Trump is can we please sit down and talk, how can we make transgenders safe? And basically, we just really want to calmly sit down with him.

JACKIE EVANCHO, SINGER: Yes. Maybe there's a way to create a federal law or something. Something that's just going to help with transgender discrimination.


VAUSE: Well, for more, we're joined by Jessica Taylor. She's a transgender airline captain based in Denver and advocate for transgender rights. Jessica, thank so much for being with us.

Can you explain just how much of a big deal this bathroom issue is to transgender kids? It's not just bathroom as well. You know, it covers locker rooms, clothing, even if kids can attend the prom?

JESSICA TAYLOR, TRANSGENDER RIGHTS ACTIVIST & AIRLINE CAPTAIN: We're talking about the basic protection of a minority group in our community. These children which are already at a 43 percent risk of suicide and death, we've marginalized it again.

And we've opened discrimination up not only in the public era of every community, but now our schools. When this president promised to protect the transgender community in an open forum in New York City, he is now going against the fundamentals of what he was elected on, and this is what's dangerous.

What's next? Our transgender community is already at great risk.

VAUSE: OK. So for the transgender kids struggling, they hear the news. What will be the immediate impact right now on this decision by the Trump administration?

[00:35:00] TAYLOR: I can tell you what the kids are thinking. I can tell you what the parents are thinking. They're hurt. They're in tears. I spent most of my day dealing with parents in responses to their children -- of children in schools today having to hold it until the end of the day because they're in so much fear to use the restroom in their school.

This is from preschool to high school. These parents and children are in fear to even move outside of their protected class rooms with their teachers that they trust, because they're afraid of getting bullied. They're afraid of going home.

One parent told me tonight she said that her daughter won't even talk to her. Something happened at school. Another bullying incident. She's not even sure how to respond to this one. All she can do is hug her daughter and tell her that it's going to be OK.

VAUSE: You know, apparently, the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, she tried to fight this move, but eventually she fell in line with the White House. She explained why the administration had taken this action.

Listen to this.


BETSY DEVOS, EDUCATION SECRETARY: This issue was a very huge example of the Obama administration's overreach to suggest a one-size-fits-all federal government approach, top-down approach to issues that are best dealt with and solved at a personal level and a local level.

And I have made clear from the moment I've been in this job that it's our job to protect students and to do that to the fullest extent that we can.


VAUSE: OK. So, you know, it's just a states right issues. States like Alabama and Mississippi, they'll go -- they will protect some of the most vulnerable kids in their public schools, right?

TAYLOR: Absolutely not. They're going to throw them to the wolves. They're not going to hear these cases. Our community is already marginalized in society as a whole, not only in their finances but as a person.

You think that somebody -- that a family that's already struggling with trying to get their transgender son or daughter integrated into society can afford to fight some sort of high level case that goes all the way to the Supreme Court? That's not going to happen.

This protection that was removed, it broke down the absolute fundamentals of the United States, which is to protect the least of these.

VAUSE: You know, during the election campaign -- you touched on this -- Donald Trump was specifically asked about this issue. I want to go back to what he said. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: If Caitlyn Jenner were to walked into Trump Tower and wanted to use the bathroom, you would be fine with her using any bathroom she chooses?



VAUSE: That is correct. So can you explain how Candidate Trump can say one thing, but President Trump now appears to do the complete opposite?

TAYLOR: Let's just call it a lie. We've caught him in not only one lie but this is a multitude of lies now. And this one is a bold-face lie by our president of the United States.

He ran on this premise. People that are transgender in our community, Caitlyn Jenner voted for Donald Trump because of his progressive views with our community. And now he has turned his back with Vice President Mike pence and said we're not going to protect that class anymore. We're not going to look out for the children of that class anymore.

And I think this is just the beginning. This is just a guidance. This was not a legislative order. This was not a congressional sight. This was just a guidance on what could be the beginning of a lot of lawsuits coming to the Supreme Court.

VAUSE: Yes. Well, obviously, a difficult time for so many families who are already dealing with some pretty tough issues right now.

Jessica, thank you so much for being with us.

TAYLOR: Thank you for having me.

SOARES: Now, next, right here on NEWSROOM L.A. We go behind-the- scenes of "La La Land," where some of the iconic scenes of the movie were actually filmed. We'll bring you that after a short break.


[00:41:02] SOARES: Now we're just days away from Hollywood's biggest night of the year. And that is, of course, "The Academy Awards." "La La Land" leads the pack with 14 nominations.

VAUSE: Yes. The romantic musical plays out in the midst of backdrop of some of the most iconic landmarks here in Los Angeles. So now your Hollywood tour guide is Paul Vercammen.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The odds are astronomical against the star struck fan meeting "La La Land's" Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cinematography, and the music and the dancing, it just told a beautiful love story.

VERCAMMEN: But they can remember dancing and romancing at "La La" landmarks.

The Griffin Observatory.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it was a really good movie, and I'm an artist anyway so I thought the movie was very artsy and it's had its nostalgia to it with old Hollywood kind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The folks want to come in and they want to dance in the planetarium and some even think that perhaps they can float to the planetarium.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can recreate some of the scenes like I'm floating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Impossible of course.

VERCAMMEN: Robert Foulkes location manager for the film guided Director Damien Chazelle to 48 locations in 42 days of filming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The beginning stages of movie over time is me and my production are sitting in a car, driving around, figuring out if this is where we're going to make the movie or not.

VERCAMMEN (on-camera): I know I don't look like Ryan Gosling, but I am allowed to walk on this pier. The Hermosa Pier and you can, too. It's featured in the movie. One thing you may notice, though, there are no actual lamp posts.

It's getting political. The Hermosa City Council is considering adding the lamp post.

JEFF DUCLOS, HERMOSA BEACH CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Whether it's Dyersville, Iowa and the field of dreams or that bench in Georgia for "Forrest Gump," I mean, people connect with the moment. And there was a moment there in that film that will always be remembered.

VERCAMMEN: Near the pier, the "Lighthouse Cafe" where gosling played jazz. It's a treasure and so is the 91-year-old woman who books the music acts.

GLORIA CADENA, TALENT BOOKER, LIGHTHOUSE CAFE: And I'm Gloria but they call me glow because I shine. Can you feel it?

VERCAMMEN: It's lighting me up right now.

(on-camera): Here's the "La La Land" landmark from the opening scene where they were dancing on this freeway onramp. This is where the 105 can exit the 110 in L.A. So you can't set foot on it, but you sure can go ahead and drive this part that so many people remember.

(voice-over): Now the scene where Gosling gets fired is inside Burbank's Dark Smoke House restaurant across from Warner Brothers Studios.

JACE DAVIS, PRODUCTION MANAGER: To be sitting here in a landmark of "La La Land," an Oscar-nominated film on my lunch break, I can't think of a better place to be.

VERCAMMEN: They remove the head shots for filming. Recognize Jennifer Aniston and George Clooney?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So many cool things happen here. This place was filled with actors and crew, and you know, watching the movie and being in the same place is actually pretty cool.

VERCAMMEN: Also cool, this mural of actors which looks like the entrance to the smoke house in the film but isn't. The mural is over the hill at Hollywood seems it's all just one sprawling special effect.

Paul Vercammen, CNN, "La La Land."


VAUSE: Yes, the magic of Hollywood. Please join Amara Walker and me. A special edition of NEWSROOM L.A. on Oscar night Sunday. We'll bring you the highlights, the winners, the celebrity reaction, who was dressed well, who was dressed badly.

All of the politics goes. All of that this Sunday 9:00 p.m. right here in Los Angeles, 1:00 p.m. Monday in Hong Kong.

OK. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm John Vause in Los Angeles.

SOARES: And I'm Isa Soares in London. "World Sport" is up next. You are watching CNN. We are of course the world's news leader.