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U.S. Opens Criminal Probe Of CIA Leaks; At Least 20 Killed In Bombings At Iraqi Wedding Party; Iraqi Forces Capture Complex In ISIS Stronghold; More Than 30 Killed In Attack On Kabul Hospital; ISIS Claims Responsibility For Hospital Attack; Afghan Security Forces Suffer Record Casualties; 21 People Killed In Guatemala Youth Center Fire; #MyFreedomDay On March 14; Vice President Pence Dodges Question About Wiretap Claim; Schiff: Wiretap Claim Should Be Easy To Investigate; Senators Demand Evidence For Wiretap Claims; Senators Ask FBI Attorney General For Wiretap Information; Republican Health Care Plan Facing Sharp Criticism; U.S. Ambassador To U.N. Slams Kim Jong- un. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 9, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONA CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: Hello, welcome to our viewers from around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: I'm John Vause. Great to have you with us. This is NEWSROOM Los Angeles.

SESAY: Well, the CIA is bracing for the possibility that WikiLeaks could spill more of its secrets. The U.S. spy agency says, documents published, Tuesday, threatened to do major damage to its ability to protect Americans against terrorism.

VAUSE: WikiLeaks says, the CIA, can spy people through their phones, tablets, and Smart T.V. It's anywhere around the world. And those high-tech tools may have been stolen by criminals and hackers. CNN's Pentagon Correspondent, Barbara Starr, has details.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: A federal criminal, and intelligence investigation, is being opened into WikiLeaks publication of documents detailing alleged CIA hacking operations, several U.S. officials tell CNN. The new investigation is an acknowledgment the documents appear to be largely authentic, detailing how the Intelligence Community hacks into common devices like phones, televisions, and computers overseas. The Trump administration won't publicly confirm the leak, but it appears to have known about it for some time.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: All of these occurred under the last administration, that is important. All of the alleged issues.


STARR: The White House says, this time, it's a serious breach.

SPICER: This alleged leak should concern every single American in terms of the impact it has on our National Security.

STARR: The FBI and CIA will investigate for potential criminal activity, and who might have been behind it. Officials would not say if they believe an employee, a contractor, or a foreign government was involved. WikiLeaks claims, former U.S. government hackers, or contractors leaked the material to them.

JAMES LEWIS, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES DIRECTOR AND SENIOR FELLOW: There's things in the story that make it look like the information is, for the most part, real. But there's problems about how you would get that if you were an individual. So, we can't tell, but I think it's either an individual, or the Russian government.

STARR: Officials say documents detail hacking programs that have been used as well as some being developed to collect intelligence overseas. One allegation, the CIA can hack into smart T.V.s, placing televisions into a fake off mode that can listen to conversations and relay those conversations back to U.S. spies, according to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks also suggests the CIA was even studying technology that would allow them to take control of a car, by hacking into its systems.

The document mentions products made Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung may have been hacked. It's no secret, operating systems have shown vulnerabilities and manufacturers regularly offer fixes. The most notable hacking in a terrorism case came when the FBI paid a private company more than $1 million to hack into the phone of San Bernardino terrorist, Syed Farook. Even now, the FBI Director is saying:

JAMES COMEY, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION DIRECTOR: There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America. There is no place in America outside of judicial reach.

STARR: The next big worry is that, WikiLeaks will release the computer code on how to conduct these type of operation, and hackers around the world may learn the secrets. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


SESAY: A bomber targeted an Iraqi wedding party in the northern village of Hajjaj. At least 20 people were killed, and dozens more are wounded. No group claimed responsibility, but ISIS has carried out similar attacks as it fights for its stronghold in Mosul. An Iraqi troop got 300 meters into the old city Western Mosul on Wednesday, in an operation to recapture a government complex. Official say, they killed 139 ISIS fighters, and destroyed car bombs, motor launchers, anti-aircraft weapons.

VAUSE: The battle to retake Raqqa in Syria from ISIS could be just weeks away. U.S. officials tells CNN, marines equipped with heavy artillery have been deployed to Northern Syria. The artillery will add fire power to U.S.-backed fighters, as they move against the self- declared capital for ISIS. Well, the terrorists who launched a bold attack on a military hospital in Afghanistan's capital, have all been killed.

SESAY: The suicide bomber and three gunmen killed more than 30 people including Afghan troops recovering from battle wound. Nick Paton Walsh, has the details.


[01:04:46] NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A brazen attack that began at 9:00 this morning. This - the Sardar Mohammed Daud Khan hospital is a stone's throw from the gates of the U.S. embassy compound. What should be, frankly, one of the most secure parts of the capital. It's absolutely at the heart of the Afghan's military infrastructure here, but it was at 9:00 time this morning - that four men approached the southern gate. One, was a suicide bomber, they're all disguised as medical personnel. And the other three managed to get inside and fanned out across the multi- story building.

We understand horrifying picture showing patients cowering on the balconies outside their hospital rooms to perhaps, escape these attackers. Afghan commandos landing on the roof - it was then, I think, that they began this awful six-and-a-half-hour task of trying to keep those attackers away from multitude of patients and doctors inside the hospital. Although, unfortunately, it seems by the end of the day, at least 30 people lost their lives that includes doctors, patients, and medical personnel, and 50 were injured. The Taliban, you would normally think to point a finger out for an attack like this - brazen as it was.

But instead, they denied responsibility quickly on Twitter, perhaps trying to keep some distance from a brazen attack on medical infrastructure like that. Perhaps against the laws of wars, in fact, called by the American Commander in Afghanistan General Nicholson, unspeakable crime. Instead, quickly stepped forward ISIS and their remark affiliated news agencies saying that, "Their Commandos were behind this attack." It comes at a very bad time for Afghanistan. We set it off from - this is a key summer ahead here, and at a time record casualties for Afghan's security forces. Their military and police between January and November of last year alone, lost over 6,000 men. That's deaths. 11,000 were injured.

Staggering figures, and also perhaps, underpinned by figures too from the U.S. inspector for Afghanistan who say just over half the country is in fact controlled by the government - a third contested by the Taliban. And the Taliban, perhaps, control about a tenth of it. These are chilling numbers indeed, the way upon the Trump White House as they try and work out what they're next policy move should be in this America's longest war. None of that though will assuage the loss of those inside Kabul today, who thought they were safe inside this hospital. But instead, found themselves under six hours of what appears to be an ISIS attack.


VAUSE: Nick Paton Walsh there, with that report. To Guatemala now, where officials have declared three day of mourning for 21 people killed in a fire at a youth center for victims of violence. At least 19 of the dead were teenaged girls. The fire apparently started after a mattress was set alight.

SESAY: Well, March 14th is my Freedom Day. CNN is teaming up with young people around the globe, for a unique student-led day of action against modern day slavery.

VAUSE: Now, these students in these videos explaining what freedom means to them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom to me is to have a right to speak for yourself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, to me, it means to respect one's wishes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To me, freedom is the power to act on my own beliefs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me is to having the ability to go about your life, to find your passion, and to live by it every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom to me is to be whoever I want.


VAUSE: We want to hear what freedom means to you. Post a photo or a video, using the #MyFreedomDay. Send us it - here to us at CNN. Of course, you have now less than a week to get it to us. We would like to welcome our viewers in the United States who are just joining us, I'm John Vause live in Los Angeles.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. Well, Donald Trump isn't getting a lot of support for his claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped his phone at Trump Tower.

VAUSE: The latest White House official to sidestep the question: Vice President Mike Pence. CNN affiliate WEWS asked, if he believes Mr. Trump's allegations?


JOHN KOSICH, WEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: The President has alleged that the former President committed a felony in wiretapping Trump Tower, yes or no? Do you believe that President Obama did that?

MIKE PENCE, UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT: Well, what I can say is that, the President and our administration are very confident that the Congressional Committees in the House and Senate, that are examining issues surrounding the last section, the run up to the last will do that in a thorough and equitable way. They'll look at those issues, they'll look at other issues that have been raised.


SESAY: Well, a growing number of Republicans in Congress are raising questions about Mr. Trump's wiretap claim.

VAUSE: Senator Lindsey Graham says, he's ready to subpoena Intelligence Agencies for information. He wants the FBI and the Attorney General's office, to hand over anything they have to prove the President's claim. Well, joining us here in Los Angeles: Talk Radio Host Mo'Kelly, and Republican Consultant John Thomas to talk more about this. OK. So, let's talk about the wiretapping allegations - for Democrats, it seems they believe this is a pretty easy road ahead. They can prove this quite simply. Here's Senator Adam Schiff.


ADAM SCHIFF, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM CALIFORNIA: This is among the very easiest allegations to investigate because it's simply a matter of putting those questions to people under oath, who would've been in position to know and we should have all those persons present on March 20th.


VAUSE: So essentially, you have a situation where the FBI Director James Comey, turning up saying publicly what he's been saying privately. So, John, will the President take the FBI Director's word at that hearing?

JOHN THOMAS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: I believe he has to. Because at some point, if the President doesn't have evidence in his hands, and the FBI Director is saying, that he didn't do it - you can't keep marching down this road.

SESAY: And Mo, it is worth pointing out that Director Comey said in public remarks on Wednesday in Boston College, after six and a half year. And this was subpoena - basically saying, I'm not going anywhere. And so again, it begs the question: if the President continues down this road, what are we looking at here in terms of the fallout?

MO'KELLY, TALK RADIO HOST: Well, taking a page out of John Thomas' book, this is an unconventional President. And we can say, conventional wisdom would be - you would drawback, pull back. But Donald Trump doesn't apologize, he doesn't pull back. So, I don't expect him to go further down this path. He's not only doubled down, but he's tripled down to the decrement of the party. So, I think it's going to get worse before it gets better. Because this is a - this is a self-imposed error, this is an unforced error. He's doing this all by himself.

THOMAS: Well, the problem with the story is that, it's distracting from the robust job numbers that came out in February. You know, he should be pushing that story, but instead we're talking about wiretapping.

VAUSE: You know, if this - if the plan for the President and some of his speculator vows to defer attention away from Jeff Sessions and the Russian connection - alleged Russian connection to the Trump campaign. John, it had the equivalent effect of pouring gasoline on a fire. I mean -

THOMAS: And that's why I don't believe it was intended to deflect.


THOMAS: Because look at - look what's happened here, it hasn't been good for the situation. The Sessions' fire was neutralized the second Sessions said that was recusing himself, that was done.

SESAY: But what it has spotlighted again, is the White House's inability to stay on message, the White House's inability to get ahead of something. I mean -

KELLY: Well, I don't know if it's the White House's inability, or it's just the function of Donald Trump is not listening to his advisers. I'm quite sure, someone is in his ears saying, we need you to stay on message, we need you to focus on healthcare, this is your signature legislation that you're trying to push through Congress. But instead, he's not talking about healthcare or not solely healthcare. So, the Republicans are on a very difficult predicament because they seem disunited, they're not together on just trying to get this one piece of legislation through, having nothing to do with the travel ban, having nothing to do with any other things they want to get done like infrastructure or the wall.

VAUSE: So, the one in his ear is probably Steve Bannon, which is an issue within itself.

THOMAS: Well, in the past, this has worked for him.

VAUSE: Right.

THOMAS: Right. It worked for him in the campaign trail, and he rallied right at the end, and stayed on message right when it counted and it worked.

VUASE: Big difference between a candidate, and a President.

THOMAS: Absolutely.

VAUSE: OK. Democrat Senator, Dianne Feinstein, she said to the Intelligence Committee - she says, so far, she's seen no evidence to back up the President's claim.


DIANNE FEINSTEIN, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM CALIFORNIA: I have not. And it's all rather shocking to me, that a sitting President would make this kind of an allegation about a former President without any proof whatsoever. So, to keep this going with no proof, I think it's really very dangerous for President Trump.


VAUSE: And Mo, it's dangerous for the President in a way that, if he is caught out not essentially telling the truth in this instant, what happens when he has to go to the American public and say, I have intelligence, which is classified - I can't share with you, or we have to have some kind of military action against North Korea, you have to trust me.

MO'KELLY: Well, all this has been undermining his credibility. But more broadly, it undermines the credibility in confidence in the U.S. government that is going to run smoothly. He wasted all his political capital during this supposed honeymoon phase, when he was fighting with the Department of Justice, who's fighting with the Intelligence Community. Now, he needs those same individuals and two different communities to come to his, and help him go forth in an investigation. It is undermining his presidency and he will see shortly, that he needs all of these different facets to work with him, as supposed to against him.

THOMAS: The problem is, we're in this hyper-partisan environment where any time a Democrat can take a shot at Trump, no matter whether or not he's coming up with good alternative solutions to healthcare. They're never going to give him an inch, and he's making the problem worse here?

VAUSE: It sounds familiar.


SESAY: But, take a listen to the White House's attempts to duck- answering this question of the wiretaps. They've been trying to do this for the last couple days. Take a listen to how that's played out.


[01:14:44] PAUL RYAN, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE SPEAKER: I think what you're seeing is, we're going through the inevitable growing pains of being an opposition party to becoming a governing party. And in - being in opposition party, we have a divided government. 64 percent of our members - 64 percent of our members have never known what it's like to work with the Republican President, to have unified government. So, it's a new feel, it's a new system for people, but it's all the more reason why we have to do what we said we would do, and deliver for the American people, and govern, and use our principles. That's what this is.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: He is going off of information and he's saying that has led him to believe that this is a very real potential.

JOHN KELLY, UNITED STATES HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I don't know anything about it other than when I was sitting in the off studio here watching CNN. If the President of the United States said that he's got his reasons to say it, he's got some convincing evidence that took place.

SPICER: That's probably a level above my pay grade.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP) SESAY: OK, various members of the President Trump's inner circle there, trying to duck the question of the wiretaps. We're pointing out that we heard speaker Ryan at the top of that clip obviously talking about (INAUDIBLE)


THOMAS: He really ducked the question.

VAUSE: Hey, right, everyone. We're going to get to that in a minute.


SESAY: But I mean, to the point of the inner circle of President Trump kind of like, trying to skirt around this issue. How long can they keep this up?

[01:15:58] THOMAS: It's very difficult. But you got to remember their styles of the - Vice President Pence is dramatically different than President Trump's. You know, President Trump is, you know, shoot first, figure out the details later.

VAUSE: Right. OK, so let's get back to what Speaker Ryan was talking about there. Because, you know, the problem with the President's allegations against President Obama is because it's distracting from a whole bunch of things including the efforts to try and, you know, to get the party together on the issue of Obamacare because - forget about the Democrats, you know, the Republicans aren't on board with this right now.

Paul Ryan is saying, hey look it's just a phase. You know, we haven't been in government, we don't know how this works. Mo, for the past eight years, you know, Republicans in Congress, they come to Washington and they punch the leadership in the nose. You know, be it Republicans on Democrats leadership, they go home to their districts and they're hailed heroes but that isn't going to work now.

MO'KELLY: No. They had seven years to devise some sort of health care plan or some sort of alternative to Obamacare. And we had a first draft last week and then we have freedom caucus come out and say it's not a good first draft.

So, you have this very bad look for the party. Then you have Paul Ryan who is not really stepping into the moment and supporting the full agenda of President Trump. And it seems like they're competing factions almost like, thinking aback to the campaign trail, we don't know what Ted Cruz is going to do. We've seen what Lindsey Graham is going to do. And it's not like they are actually going to support this President in everything he wants to do.

SESAY: So John, let me ask you this very quickly. Would the President's credibility slipping, should we say, with these wiretaps claim, how much impact or influence does the bully pulpit have right now as he tries to whip Republicans, you know, as is?

THOMAS: I mean it still does - I mean remember, a Trump can destroy your career with a tweet or a nickname. So, he has still a lot of power there. This process is always messy and I don't care Republican or Democrat. I'm pleased to see the competition of ideas within my own party. I'm sure it will result in a better outcome but it better result in an outcome.

VAUSE: That's right, yes.

THOMAS: That's the key.

VAUSE: And the clock is ticking. So, what sort of the plan that was made earlier is that there seems to be unruly discipline within the Republican ranks in the sense. In the past, they were rewarded for going up against the leadership, they go home and they say that's amazing. That is something which is going to have to change within the (INAUDIBLE)

THOMAS: It does. And Paul Ryan has never really - had been able to flex his muscle to whip votes before. He hasn't have that challenge. Boehner understood it a little bit better because --

VAUSE: He got beaten over the head every day and kept coming back for more.

TOHMAS: Right.

VAUSE: OK, Mo and John.

SESAY: Appreciate it. Thank you so much.

THOMAS: Thank you.

MO'KELLY: Thank you.

SESAY: Well, President Trump has a back-up plan in case Republicans in Congress fail to repeal and replace Obamacare, playing the blame game. That's next.


[01:20:37] DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Don Riddell with your CNN WORLD SPORT headlines. Barcelona have made Champions League history by becoming the first team to overturn a first leg four-goal deficit and knock Paris Saint-Germain out to reach the quarterfinals.

Barcelona were 2-nil up at halftime courtesy of a header from Luis Suarez with the goal. But going into the 88th minute, they found themselves 5-3 down on aggregate needing three goals to go through. And they got them, thanks to Neymar's free kick and a penalty followed by Sergi Roberto's most dramatic of 95thminute winners to seal a quite extraordinary victory.

Away from those historic scenes in Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund also overturned a first-league deficit to knock out Benfica. Going into their match, 1-nil down, Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took matters into his own hands and scored a hat trick to send the Germans through to the last eight.

Away from the Champions League and in the English Premier league, Manchester City missed out on a chance to go second and close the gap on the leaders Chelsea after being held to a frustrating goalless draw at home to stoke. Manchester City's boss Pep Guardiola said his team could not afford any more slip ups in their pursuit of Chelsea who are 10 points clear of the chase in fact with 11 games left.

City showed signs of scoring when David Silva came off the bench but he couldn't make a difference. That is a current look at your SPORTS HEADLINES. I'm Don Riddell.

VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. 22 minutes past 10 here on the West Coast. Now, the Republican plan to replace the affordable care act is not widely popular and that is an understatement. Some conservatives are slamming it as Obamacare-lite. According to sources at a White House meeting, President Trump said if the new legislation does not pass, he may let Obamacare collapse on its own and then blame the Democrats.

SESAY: And one of the President's top aides suggests that if Congress does pass a new health care insurance law, the President may not want his name attached to it.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: I'll call it the Trumpcare if you want to but I didn't hear President Trump say to say to any of us, "Hey, I want my name on that." We're happy to see American health care. This is serious stuff. This isn't about branding according to someone's name. This is serious business.


SESAY: Well, replacing Obamacare could also face an uphill battle among some people who voted from this to Trump. But rely on the Affordable Care Act to get life-saving medical care. Here's CNN's Miguel Marquez.


MO BROOKS, UNITED STATES HOUSE REPUBLICAN: It's the largest welfare program ever proposed by Republicans.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some Republicans outright rejecting the plan to replace Obamacare; Democrats too.

MICHAEL DOYLE, UNITED STATES HOUSE DEMOCRATIC: This is what you come up with? This is a bad joke.

MARQUEZ: The bill under fire from both sides, Americans like Tiffany Koehler.

MARQUEZ: You are a conservative Republican?

TIFFANY KOEHLER, REPUBLICAN: I am. MARUEZ: Not your typical Republican caught in the middle. Could you

have afforded that chemotherapy without Medicaid, without being on that program?


MARQUEZ: And it was only that expansion of Medicaid that allowed you?


MARQUEZ: She does not like Obamacare's individual mandates. Like many Republicans, she prefer market solutions to health care. But -

KOEHLER: When we all want to thrive and make America great again, as he would say. You know, but we can't do that if we're struggling to pay bills.

MARQUEZ: Three years ago, she had employer-based insurance then lost her job. She went on Obamacare for $400 a month then decided to take a chance.

KOEHLER: I might need your help.

MARQUEZ: She ran for office and lost. Then, some really bad news. Cancer, stage four Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

KOEHLER: My prognosis was four. I wasn't supposed to survive.

MARQUEZ: By that time, she couldn't afford insurance. Qualifying for Medicaid, Wisconsin expanded its coverage under Obamacare but rejected federal funds to pay for it.

MARQUEZ: Was it difficult to go - to rely on the government for health care?

KAHLER: Well, not necessarily. I -- it was life or death for me.

MARQUEZ: The American Cancer Society estimates today, there are some one and a half million Americans with cancer on Medicaid.

DICK WOODRUFF, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY, VICE PRESIDENT ON FEDERAL RELATIONS: Anyone who's in the Medicaid expansion, who are the really, the lowest income Americans and many of them are cancer patients as well, including childhood cancer patients are going to be losers.

MARQUEZ: The Center on Budget and Policy priorities estimates the G.O.P. plan will gut more than a half trillion dollars in federal Medicaid spending over a decade. For people like Tiffany Koehler with a preexisting condition, her healthcare costs already over a million dollars.

KOEHLER: People have to be able to get to their doctors. People have to be able get their medicine. And out of any country in the world, we should be doing it. We should be doing it right

MARQUEZ: Miguel Marquez, CNN, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


[01:20:34] VAUSE: Yes, Isa, you know, of the things around the world, people are baffled why there is not a better healthcare system here in the United States. It's a question which a lot of people in Europe and other places continually ask me.

SESAY: Especially at a time like this. When it's being overruled again, at least it's on the way.

VAUSE: Exactly. OK, a quick break here. When we come back, the U.S. is reevaluating how to deal with North Korea because Pyongyang just keeps launching ballistic missiles.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. It's just coming to a 10:30 here on a Wednesday night. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The U.S. is talking tough on North Korea after its recent ballistic missile tests. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says all options are on the table.

VAUSE: There is a sense of frustration at the U.N. with sanctions and resolutions having no impact on Pyongyang. Here's Ambassador Nikki Haley.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Tell me why we wouldn't do the THAAD in light of 24 ballistic missiles, in light of two nuclear tests? Knowing that we're going to protect our allies, we are not going the leave South Korea standing there with the threat of North Korea facing them and not help.

We have not seen any goodwill at all coming from North Korea. I appreciate all of my counterparts wanting to talk about talks and negotiations. We are not dealing with a rational person.


SESAY: Let's bring in our correspondents. Matt Rivers joins us from Beijing and Paula Hancocks in Seoul.

Paula, how are Nikki Haley's comments about all options being on the table, how are those being read there in Seoul?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, Isha, South Korea is going to be in step with the United States. It's a very close alliance and the South Koreans rely on that Washington umbrella, the capability of being protected by the United States. But the interesting part of what ambassador Haley said was it was a personal comment about the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un. Many have criticized the country and the nuclear missile program, but to call the North Korean leader, to say he's not rational, that's a personal attack on the leader which may not seem like much in the Western world. But in North Korea, that is a big deal. The North Koreans would not take kindly to their leader, who is deified, they would not take kindly to those comments -- Isha?

SESAY: Matt, are those comments that China would welcome? Would that with be a pivot that China would support?

MATT RIVERS, CNN ASIA-PACIFIC EDITOR: I'm not sure exactly how China is going to take this. But one thing for sure is that China will continue to push its position that direct negotiations are the only way to solve the continuing issues coming out of North Korea. And so, given the ambassador's comments there, I think perhaps the Chinese reaction would be that it's not productive, and that by personally attacking the North Korean leader, it doesn't get both sides to the negotiating table. And that has been the position for years now. The Chinese say that all sides in negotiations led by the United States needs to happen in order to solve this problem and to peacefully denuclearize the Korean peninsula. Anything short of that won't work. Perhaps in China, they're not too thrilled about the ambassador's comments.

SESAY: And, Matt, trying to propose a tit-for-tat deal freezing their military deals in exchange for North Korea stopping its nuclear activities. The idea swiftly reject by Washington and Seoul. What is China's next move?

RIVERS: That is something that was proposed before. If you stop the missile tests the military drills should stop too. And that leads to negotiations but that is probably not going the happen. Now China has a question to ask itself. China has been playing ball more as of late with the United States agenda on the Security Council. China helped draft both rounds of sanctions against North Korea in 2016. But if China doesn't see any type of leeway or give from the United States and going toward that negotiations route, does Beijing become more obstructionists? China hold veto power. If it wants to, it could stand in the way of what Nikki Haley and the Trump administration want to do at the Security Council.

SESAY: Matt Rivers from Beijing, and Paula Hancocks in Seoul, South Korea, thanks.

VAUSE: For more on the situation in North Korea, Philip Yun, executive director of Ploughshares Fund, joins us.

Philip, good to see you.

With China at odds with the U.S. and South Korea is that a rift that you expect North Korea exploit?

[01:34:57] PHILIP YUN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: Of course. What happens now is China has done what the United States want it to do. They announced a complete ban on coal imports from North Korea. Now that's huge. That represents over 50percent of North Korea's foreign exchange. And in one moment, in one decision, China essentially has given away a huge amount of leverage which in the past it has used sparingly and in slices. So essentially what they told the United States is saying we've done what you wanted to do. The ball is in your court. You have to solve this problem on your own and they are saying if you don't we're going to step in. You can bet that North Korea is going to exploit those differences.

VAUSE: One of the reasons for this tougher line coming out of the United States according to a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department is the North Korean's improved military capability.


MARK TONER, SPOKESMAN, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: We are very concerned with the escalation and continuing testing and augmenting of its weapons program. It's a great concern and it's getting to the point where we do need to look at other alternatives.


VAUSE: What are those other alternatives? They have tried sanctions and negotiations which have clearly failed so far.

YUN: That's the thing. I don't know exactly what they're referring to but realistically the only path we have in this case, the Chinese are right, is a political one. We're not going to basically allow North Korea to have -- acquiesce and say you can have a small arsenal, which they're on track to do. And the same policies which we are using, they are not leading to anything and the only alternative is to use force and force will -- is something that would -- it would be very dangerous. It would create hundreds of thousands of casualties potentially on the Korean peninsula, with another Korean war. Essentially the only alternative we have is to have some kind of negotiation. There is talk about a pre-emptive strike or a strike on North Korean missile capabilities. That was something that was advocated in 2006. That's a nonstarter. That's a high risk we'll start another war. The north has 14,000 missiles pointing at Seoul, a metropolitan area of 25 million people. You can imagine the damage that would inflict on the South Koreans. They're not going to do that.

VAUSE: Hard hitting pre-emptive strike on mobile launches as well.

Quickly, a "New York Times" reported over the weekend that President Obama ordered a cyberattack on the North's missile program. Given the successful launches that we've seen, is the tactic no longer effective?

YUN: This is something I assumed they were going to the. And given what they did with Stuxnet and Iran, that's something I assumed they'd do. It's a Band-Aid. It's temporary. There is a larger issue that eventually we'll figure it out. And as you have said, their capabilities have continued to improve. And we're in for a bumpy ride.

VAUSE: Bumpy ride.

Philip Yu, thanks so much. Appreciate it. YUN: Thank you.

SESAY: Quick break. The Trump Organization is forging new business ties over the world.

VAUSE: When we come back, why some new trademarks by Donald Trump in China are getting extra attention.


[01:42:40] VAUSE: Before he was the president of the United States, Donald Trump made a lot of money as a businessman. The Trump hotels and golf resorts are well known around the world. In many cases, he doesn't own them but just licenses his name. He does it the with a lot of products like with cologne or the Trump reading glasses. And it will be a long time before we forgot Trump Stakes.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When it comes to great steaks, I've just raised the stakes.


VAUSE: Businessman, Donald Trump, has a vast portfolio of trademarks around the world to protect his brands and products. And for years, his company has been applying for trademark protection in the world's second-biggest economy, China. And by most accounts, that had been slow going until now. Dozens of Trump trademarks have got a preliminary approval by Beijing.

And Democrat Senator, Ben Cardin, is one of many who say the timing is more than a coincidence. "It's clear to me," he says, "that officials in Beijing have come to appreciate the potential return on investments for China in having a personal business relationship with the president of the United States."

Well, for more, we're joined by former ethics star in the Obama administration, and now CNN contributor, Norm Eisen.

You are part of a legal team filing suit against President Trump alleging he violated the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution.

Good to see you.

With that in mind, how does that fit into the Emoluments Clause in the constitution which prohibits the president from accepting payments or gifts from a foreign government.

NORM EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me again, John.

And the framers of the United States Constitution, the founders of our country were so worried that a foreign government would try to extend things of value to an American president and distort his judgment that they put a ban on it in our Constitution. That's the Emoluments Clause. Emoluments is a fancy 18th century word for swag, for goodies of any kind and these trademarks are massive goodies to Donald Trump. They are forbid been I the constitution.

[01:45:01] VAUSE: There was a lot of tension between China and Donald Trump earlier this year. But then last month he backed away from that and gave commitment to Beijing on the One-China policy and all of these trademarks are approved. Even without a direct connection there is a perception.

EISEN: John, it's more than just perception, it's a reality. Take the very first in the series of these trademark grants. It was one that China had denied Mr. Trump for years, suddenly, as he approaches the threshold of the oval office they reverse course and while he is sitting in the White House register this trademark for him and that took place simultaneously with his flip-flop from pro-Taiwan saber rattling to the One-China policy. So that is exactly what the constitution prohibits. I know it may seem incredible that you have a president who is acting against the plain text of the constitution, but it very clearly says no presents or emoluments, that means anything of value. This is contrary to the Emoluments Clause.

VAUSE: The chief legal counsel for the Trump Organization says it is part of a process of register trademarks in China. He says any is us to the contrary demonstrates a lack of the facts and lack of understanding of international trademark law. If you look closely it implies that the Trump Organization is looking to do from business in China despite the promise there would be no new foreign deals during his time as president.

EISEN: 38 new trademarks today alone. And one thing that is noticeably missing from that defense of the trademarks is a reference to the constitutional limit on Trump receiving presents or benefits from a foreign government. Look, if he were an ordinary businessman nobody would be paying attention to this. But he is the president of the United States. Our country has a huge and complicated interest with China. The American people need to know that Donald Trump is making decisions in the interest of the U.S., and not to get an additional flow of dozens of valuable trademarks from the Chinese government.

VAUSE: Norm, we shall leave it there.

It is good to speak with you. Our new and latest CNN contributor. Thank you, sir.

EISEN: Thanks, John.

SESAY: Still ahead, women around the world pay tribute to one another and call for gender equality during International Women's Day marches. Details, next.



[01:52:03] SESAY: Hello, everyone. Women around the world marched in solidarity on International Women's Day. Wednesday was designated as a day to reflect on the progress women have made and call attention to issues that still need change. Most of the marches were peaceful but 13 women were detained in New York for disorderly conduct outside the Trump International Hotel and Tower. They were rallying against the Trump administration.

VAUSE: The president marked the day with a tweet: "On International Women's Day join me in honoring the critical role of women here in America and around the world. I have tremendous respect for women and the many roles they serve that are vital to the fabric of our society and our economy."

And Melania Trump hosted a lunch for International Women's Day.

VAUSE: The first lady has avoided the spotlight, but apparently that's not hurting her approval ratings.

Jeanne Moos reports.



JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hail to the chief. Hail to the chief's wife.

TRUMP: Melania.

MOOS: She's doing better than the chief in the polls. Of course, she's less visible, though she hosted an International Women's Day lunch, the White House wouldn't let the press stay for her speech.




TRUMP: Your excellencies, esteemed representatives --

MOOS: Melania Trump is held in high esteem by 52 percent polled compared to 36 percent before the inauguration.

Tweeted one fan, "She has given class and elegance and reverence for God back to the country."

From a critic, "Easy to have a great approval rating when no one ever sees you or hears you speak.

MELANIA TRUMP: Our Father, who art in heave.

MOOS: Though we have heard her pray and read Dr. Seuss to kids at a New York hospital.

MELANIA TRUMP: You head will bring and your feet.

MOOS: We hear a lot about shoes full of Melania's feet as a former model. As a former model, she is under a fashion microscope. Oh, no, she didn't. Melania Trump wears one dress two days in a row.

Even her body language with her husband is micro analyzed leading to calls to free Melania. Blink twice if we want us to save you.

UNIDENTIFIED COMEDIAN: Looking for the truth. Look at her eyes.


Look at her eyes and you can see in her eyes she's like, you guys don't know what he's capable of.


MOOS: Comedians take their shots. So do cartoonists. "I will be the first lady instead of the third wife."

But her approval still jumps 16 points. Men favor her more than women, 58 to 46 percent.

Tweeted one guy, "This just in, old white Republican dudes approve of ex-model wives."

But Melania is climbing in the polls --


MOOS: -- her way.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.



01:55:03] VAUSE: There is one thing for certain, this is not the life I think she thought she would have many years ago. Good for her.

SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

Stay with us. A lot more news in a minute.

We want to leave you with this image of the Empire State Building in New York lit up in red in honor of International Women's Day.


SESAY: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour --


SESAY: Hello, and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

[02:00:04] VAUSE: Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. This is NEWSROOM L.A.