Return to Transcripts main page


2 Protesters Killed in South Korea as South Korean President Ousted; New Details in Trump Organization/Alpha Bank FBI Investigation; Comey Meets with Gang of Eight to Discuss Trump/Russia Ties; New EPA Chief Unconvinced on CO2 Problem; People Flee Amid Fight to Retake Mosul from ISIS. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 10, 2017 - 02:00   ET



[02:00:09] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour --


ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. This is the third hour of NEWSROOM L.A.

SESAY: We are covering the story. Breaking news out of South Korea. For the past several hours, riot police have been facing off in the streets outside the constitutional court. And now things have turned deadly. We're hearing two protesters have been killed. People are upset about what happened earlier.

VAUSE: A long-awaited decision. The constitutional court's eight justices upheld the impeachment of President Park Guen-Hye effectively ending her presidency. She's the first South Korean leader to be removed from office by impeachment. And here was that moment.


UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE (through translation): We announce the decision as the unanimous opinion of all judges. We dismiss the defendant, President Park.


SESAY: At least two people have died in the ongoing protests. The acting president put the country's military in alert and ordered increased security.

Paula Hancocks joins us from Seoul, South Korea, in the midst of the crowds.

Paula, we heard two people lost their lives. Can you tell us what happened? PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha, we don't have details.

We just have police confirmation that people lost their lives because of what happened today. Now, the news is spreading throughout the pro-Park supporter camp here just close to the constitutional court. Everyone is very sad, very shocked that two people have lost their lives during this protest.

This is not what you expect on the streets of Seoul. It has been many years since we have seen violent protests on the streets of Seoul, and when every single Saturday there were hundreds of thousands of people on the streets, some pro-Park, some anti-Park, most of them anti-Park. It was peaceful.

This shows how much emotion many of these people here have invested in this president. These are the people who did not want Park to be impeached. They are devastated that she has gone. Many people coming up to me. Everyone wanting to speak, saying they've been robbed of their president. There is a lot of anger here.

It's important to note there's a lot of protesters who are extremely peaceful. Pockets of violence, but they're small, and they appear to have calmed down.

And there's a lot of people in Seoul and South Korea today who are happy with what has happened. The anti-Park protesters were sizable. Millions of people have come back on to the streets repeatedly called for impeachment. When the verdict came down we saw tears of joy by that protest group because it's what they wanted -- John and Isha?

SESAY: Paula, when we spoke to you last hour, you mentioned the call had gone out to other pro-Park supporters to come down and join the crowds on the streets of Seoul. Do you get the sense that that call is being answered? That the crowds are getting larger?

HANCOCKS: It's difficult to say when you are right in the middle of it. It's difficult to get a gauge of how far down this street this protest goes. I can see people as far as the eye can see at this point. Standing on tiptoe, the streets are completely filled with protesters. Whether or not that's more or less, I don't know, but certainly the mood among the people here is they have no intention of going anywhere. It's the afternoon. They say they want to stay. They're calling for more people to come here. The police are actually on the loud speakers asking them to go home. They went on the loud speakers asking the police to go home, saying we won't be violent, clear the road and let us through.

SESAY: Paula, let's talk about Park. Now that she has been ousted from office, is it a foregone conclusion that she will face criminal proceedings? What comes next?

HANCOCKS: It's not a foregone conclusion, but she has now lost her presidential immunity. We heard at the end of the three-month investigation they were recommending Park face indictment as soon as her immunity was lost. It's lost. Park denies she's done anything wrong. But certainly, as far as special prosecutors are concerned, they would like to question her. They would like to see her indicted. We know there won't be a statement from Park this day. We heard that from the Blue House. We also know she won't be leaving the Blue House today. Obviously for security reasons, for logistical reasons. A lot of organization needs to go into her moving. Security being obviously of the utmost concern.

[02:05:59] SESAY: As we take a look at these scenes and at the large crowds showing their support for Park, let me ask you about those who are welcoming the decision by the constitutional court. You'd also said when we spoke to you earlier that we might see more anti-Park protests on this day. Are we getting more information about a protest in the coming hours of anti-Park demonstrators?

HANCOCKS: Well, I think protests might be the wrong word. Celebration may be.

SESAY: Indeed.

HANCOCKS: Previously, we noted they planned to have a gathering, have a protest and a celebration at 7:00 p.m. local time in the central square of downtown Seoul. It is very possible that we will see them down there in large numbers to show how happy they are that they believe justice has been done. And every single week for many months, they have braved sub-zero temperatures to come into the streets and call for Park's impeachment.

Also in the same area, there have been these protesters, the pro-Park protesters who have also been protesting, not in such large numbers, but they're coming out today.

SESAY: Paula Hancocks joining us from the streets of Seoul, South Korea, where the pro-Park protesters have taken up residence.

Paula, we appreciate it. Thank you. We'll continue to check in with you.

VAUSE: Also, joining us now, Stephanie Studer, Seoul bureau chief for "The Economist."

Stephanie, thanks for being with us.

We have the decision now, Park Geun-Hye is out. But this is not the end of the scandal, not for the president, and not for many high- profile business leaders who have been implicated.

STEPHANIE STUDER, SEOUL BUREAU CHIEF, THE ECONOMIST: It certainly isn't. Already the three-month long investigation has indicted about 30 people and the heir to the Samsung empire. This week this trial began officially yesterday. And that will probably go on for the next three months. So it's really only the beginning of the story for a lot of the different actors that have been ensnared in this scandal.

VAUSE: And beyond the impeachment, there is a feeling now of this is a watershed moment for South Korea, almost a chance to clean house and to change the way things have been done.

STUDER: There's definitely, I think, a real appetite among South Korean citizens for change, and I think that, hopefully, they'll be able to use this momentum and election is going to come within the next 60 days, probably on May 9th, for the next president of South Korea, and they'll look for a candidate that can bring that change. There's a lot of constitutional reform which would limit the executive powers of the presidency which is strong here. You also need to look at cultural change that needs to happen. And a part of that scandal has been long-standing collusion between elites in business and political circles, and that's going to have to change.

VAUSE: Also, what could change with an election? If the opinion polls are right, we're looking at an opposition party, the Democrats which have a very different policy on issues like dealing with North Korea, essentially dealing with the United States, with the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system, which arrived in South Korea on Monday. What sort of changes and how significant will those changes be should the Democrats win which it looks like they will?

[02:09:51] STUDER: Well, at the moment, the front runner is leading by far in the polls. And if he's able to sustain that lead, then he would likely be the next president. So far, because a lot of the candidates have already begun their campaigns in anticipation of the decision today, so far, he has been trying to reach a broader voter base. So some of his earlier calls, for example, to stop the deployment of the THAAD system, or to review a landmark agreement that was agreed with japan in December of 2015, those sorts of things, he has sort of tempered his statements on those. So I think that if he does win, then we might see a more practical presidency than an ideological one once he's faced with the constraints of office.

VAUSE: Yes. The challenges of actually governing are always different from when you're in opposition.

Stephanie Studer, we appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

STUDER: Thank you.

SESAY: Now, new information has emerged about computer communications this summer between servers owned by a Russian bank and the Trump Organization.

VAUSE: CNN justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, has more details.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: FBI investigators and computer scientists continue to examine whether there was a computer connection between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank called Alpha Bank, according to several sources familiar with this investigation. This is the same server mentioned in a "Breitbart" article that a White House official said sparked President Trump's series of tweets last Saturday accusing investigators of tapping his phone. CNN is told there was no FISA warrant on this particular server.

The questions about the connection between the server and the Russian bank were widely dismissed four months ago as an attempt by Alpha Bank to block spam. But we have learned the counterintelligence team, the same one looking into Russia's suspected interference in the 2016 election, is still examining it.

And one official I spoke with said the server relation is seen as somewhat odd and perplexing. And investigators are not ignoring, but the FBI has more work to do to determine what was behind the unusual activity and whether there's any significance to it.

The FBI declined to comment and the White House did not respond to our request for comment.


VAUSE: Thank you to Pamela Brown.

And FBI Director James Comey went to Capitol Hill on Thursday and reportedly met with members of the so-called Gang of Eight.

SESAY: That's eight top lawmakers from the House and Senate with access to most highly classified U.S. intelligence. Sources tell CNN they discussed Russia's interference in the 2016 election and its possible ties to the Trump campaign.

VAUSE: We're joined by Wendy and John phillips. Wendy Greuel is a former L.A. city councilwoman. John is a CNN political commentator, talk radio host.

I think you wrote an article, too, for the Orange County newspaper?


VAUSE: A Trump supporter.

OK. There's this secret meeting on Capitol Hill, which everybody seems to know about. The FBI director meeting with senior lawmakers in both houses, John, but still no meeting with the president. Why wouldn't Donald Trump want to sit down, talk to James Comey, and find out everything there is to know about wiretapping in?

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think we're heading in into John Bircher territory. Could be. Might be. We saw in the piece the FBI dismissed this connection between the computer in Russia and the computer at the Trump Organization before because the likely scenario is it's spam. I probably have a lot of communication on my computer with Romania because of all the Viagra ads. They span me.


Too much information, yeah.

THOMAS: It because they trying to sell. I don't have actually communications with them


That's because they're trying to sell. I don't buy. (LAUGHTER)

SESAY: Move away from there.

Wendy, the fact that Director Comey went to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers and it was clearly a public yet secret meeting, what do you make of that? Is that about sending a message to the White House? Why not have them come to the CIA? How are you reading it, the optics at play?

WENDY GREUEL, FORMER L.A. CITY COUNCILWOMAN: I think there were comments by Congressman Adam Schiff saying that Director Comey was not being honest or forthright in sending information or sharing information that was appropriate. And so I think it was important to have that meeting today. This is Republicans and Democrats. This is not just meeting with the Democrats.

And I believe if Trump wants to know if somebody actually did a wiretap for him, he can pick up the phone and talk to the FBI director. That person is easily accessible to him. And I think it's benefitting him, he believes, but having it out there, and nobody necessarily knowing the answer to that question even though Obama himself has said there was no wiretapping. The FBI director said there was no wiretapping. So I think Trump doesn't want to know the real answer.

PHILLIPS: Obama didn't say that. Obama said he didn't order the wiretap.

VAUSE: Which was the accusation.

GREUEL: Which was the accusation.

PHILLIPS: Which means someone in the executive branch didn't do it.

SESAY: Again, not that he said, and the charges at his predecessor, after McCarthyism. That's very different.

[02:15:06] PHILLIPS: But if it came from the executive branch, then who cares. What Obama said was very specific. He said that he himself and someone from the White House didn't do it. But what does that mean for the DOJ or the FBI or the CIA? We know there was a request in June to tap the Trump administration or tap his lines.


PHILLIPS: That came from the executive branch. We believe that another one happened again in October. We don't know the details as to who exactly they wanted to tap in that one. We know James Rosen, a FOX news reporter, had his phones tapped by the Obama administration. A reporter from the Associated Press had the same thing happen. And we know an Obama supporters within the administration, or at least many of us believe, that they leaked information about the phone conversation with the president of Australia, the phone conversation with the president of Mexico, and Flynn's conversations with the ambassador from Russia. VAUSE: They could use TV to find out what was going on.


OK, another day and another dodge for the vice president, and that really tricky question which they are now even asking at FOX News.


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Do you think it's possible that Obama ordered the wiretap on President Trump?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we'll just let the congressional committees answer those. Those are knowable answers, and the bipartisan congressional committee can appropriately review the facts.


VAUSE: John, tell me, who in the White House actually believes the president at this stage?

PHILLIPS: The president when he's at Mar-a-Lago.


Look, whether or not Obama did it himself, has not been proven. We know the Obama administration used wiretaps on a variety of instances to try to gain information on their political opponents.

VAUSE: Wendy --


GREUEL: There is no proof that they were doing that for the political opponents for the reason of actually infiltrating or having some impact on the election. Whereas, on the other side, from Russia and the others, engaged in the Trump election. So I think when you look at what Trump said, he was specific about Obama, called him a sick man. That is just unacceptable from the president of the United States to be tweeting that on a Saturday morning and has refused to say what where he got that information. And no one from the administration is saying anything.

SESAY: He put it out and now we're seeing limited availability to the press. It's like you decided --


SESAY: -- is this the course? Is this what we're looking at now? The president is in bunker-down mode until the hearings are down and we get an answer?

PHILLIPS: One thing we heard from the intelligence geeks over the weekend on the Sunday shows is that there's no connection between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. We also heard the confirmation that that FISA court request happened in June. I think they should release that request. I think we should know exactly why the Obama administration wanted to tap Donald Trump's phones when Donald Trump was the Republican nominee for president.

VAUSE: OK. We'll get to some alternative facts de jure. This comes from the new head of the EPA talking about what causes climate change.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you believe that it's been proven that CO 2 is the primary control knob for climate? Do you believe that?

SCOTT PRUITT, DIRECTOR, EPA: No. I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. So, no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.


PRUITT: But we don't know that yet. We need to continue the review and analysis.


VAUSE: Wendy, Pruitt is wrong, there is consensus, but is this a sign the Trump administration wants to roll back not just climate change policy but scientific fact?

GREUEL: I believe so. I mean, scientists have demonstrated what causes climate change, global warming. This is not something that you can say doesn't exist. The actual facts are out there. And I believe that when the EPA administrator was selected, he was selected for that reason, because Donald Trump didn't believe in climate change either. I believe there are scientists across this country that are worried on a number of levels that their facts and figures will not be considered by this administration. It will be political and not about the facts.

VAUSE: John, quickly.

PHILLIPS: The gas bags in Washington, D.C., are more damaging to the environment than CO2.

SESAY: We knew --


VAUSE: Thank you so much.

OK --


VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, a rare look inside the fight for Mosul. We have images from the last ISIS stronghold in Iraq. [02:19:45] SESAY: And police are searching for answers in Germany

after a man with an ax launches an attack in a train station in Dusseldorf.




SESAY: Hello, everyone. Seven people were wounded, three severely, when a man with an ax attacked the main station in Dusseldorf, Germany. Police say the suspect is a man from the former Yugoslavia who lives in Germany. He was injured when he tried to run away. Police believe the man has mental problems and acted alone. The train station is closed while police investigate.

VAUSE: More than 70,000 people have fled Mosul as Iraqi forces continue their offensive to retake the city from ISIS. A freelance cameraman is there. He has a rare glimpse into the battle.

With more, here's senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman.



BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESOPNDENT (voice-over): Gunfire roaring nearby, Mosul residents flee their neighborhood.



WEDEMAN: Then, an ISIS suicide car bomb explodes nearby. Pieces of metal and concrete raining down. The blast sets an Iraqi federal police Humvee on fire, killing several policemen, wounding others.


[02:24:57] WEDEMAN: This footage provided to CNN by a freelance cameraman is a raw glimpse of the intensity of the battle for western Mosul.




WEDEMAN: Iraqi officials aren't putting out casualty figures but it's clear that government forces are paying a high price.


WEDEMAN: ISIS fighters continue to put up stiff resistance. Car bombs, their weapon of choice. They've used dozens to attack Iraqi forces since the push in west Mosul began two and a half weeks ago.

More than 70,000 civilians have fled the western part of the city. Others, like this old woman and her granddaughter, had no choice but to stick it out. Hundreds of thousands remain inside, hanging white flags on their doors in the hopes they'll be spared.


WEDEMAN: Fighting in western Mosul appears far heavier than in the east, where it took Iraqi forces three months to gain control.


WEDEMAN: The phrase "war is hell" here becomes reality.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Irbil, northern Iraq.


VAUSE: Well, next here we'll take you back to Seoul, South Korea, where two people have died during demonstrations over the impeachment of the nation's president.

SESAY: Plus, two powerbrokers meet to discuss Syria. How Russia's alliance with Turkey could shape the region.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay.

Returning now to the breaking news out of South Korea. At least two people have died in protests following the ousting of the president. Earlier, South Korea's constitution court upheld the impeachment of Park Geun-Hye, ending her presidency a year early. Crowds that demands Park's ouster cheered the news.

[02:30:04] VAUSE: But supporters of the ex-president were upset and clashed with riot police. Because of the court ruling, Park immediately lost her presidential immunity, which clears the way for possible criminal prosecution over alleged corruption.

SESAY: Let's go back to Paula Hancocks on the streets of Seoul.

Paula, when we spoke last hour, the news was just coming in that two protesters lost their lives amid the scenes. What's the reaction there among the protesters now?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are many pro-Park protesters still here. A lot of them don't appear to have any intention of going home. They've been calling for the police to go home, saying please clear the roads. We will not be violent, but they just want to get through. The police from their point of view have called on the protesters to leave. Now, there were pockets of violence and scuttles earlier on. That appears to have completely dissipated at this point. There was actually a call from the pro-Park organizers asking people not to push against the police, because those are our sons and daughters, they said. It was a real call to hold back.

Emotions high and the frustrations high that Park Geun-Hye has been impeached. These people I'm with at the moment don't believe that should have happened. They believe there's been an injustice that has happened. And also, there are some very sad people in this crowd that the news swept through when it was learned that two people have lost their lives because of the protests and because of what happened today. Certainly, this is a much more somber crowd than it was just a little earlier on, but they don't show any signs of wanting to go home.

SESAY: Paula, we can't miss the loud voices on the loud speaker drowning you out. Any sense of what's being said? I know your Korean isn't necessarily the greatest, but what is being said to the crowds now?

HANCOCKS: Well, at this point they're talking about that the political aspect of this. The fact that it's not just that they are pro-Park Geun-Hye but anti-the liberal presidential front runner who could potentially take her place. This is what people here are fearful of, if they are conservative, they wanting her to stay in power. The alternative has policies that are opposite of what these people believe in. He's said he believes there should be a softer approach to North Korea. That's when there were negotiations and summits with North Korea. But they don't want that, and they also said they support the United States. They want Park. They want the nuclear missile defense system, and they believe the liberal candidate is against that. It's not just that they are pro-Park Geun-Hye but they are anti-the potential liberal candidate.

SESAY: Paula Hancocks joining us from Seoul where there's the pro- Park Geun-Hye protesters are still in place. Paula, appreciate it. Thank you.

VAUSE: Turkey's president is in Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin, and Syria is expected to dominate the talks.

SESAY: The nations are working with Iran to monitor truce violations in the region.

VAUSE: Fred Pleitgen joins us live from Moscow.

Fred, there has been a change in the relationship between the president and Erdogan. That change could have an impact on Syria?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it will have a huge impact on what happens next in Syria, especially right now at this critical juncture where it seems as though the forces that the Russians are supporting, namely the Syrian government forces, and the forces that the Turks are supporting, which is, of course, mostly FSA rebels, both of them are making gains against ISIS. As they do that, coming very close to one another. Right now, with the Turks and the Russians, what they're trying to do along with the Americans is keep the forces who don't like one another aligned to continue to fight ISIS and not have a go at one another. That's something that's very important for the future of the fight against ISIS, but for the future of Syria itself. That's why this meeting is so far important.

Here's what's going to happen.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Two strong men with a rocky relationship in the past. Vladimir Putin and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan have become the most significant power brokers in the Middle East.

No more so than Syria where the two countries back opposing sides in the civil war but are coordinating in the fight against ISIS.

Recently, top generals from Turkey, Russia and U.S. met, Turkey says, to keep all sides focused on the battle against the terror grown.

[02:35:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): The real reason of this meeting is to find the best way to prevent the parties from interfering in each other's operations and avoid unwanted incidents.

PLEITGEN: Relations between Russia and Turkey hit rock bottom when the Turkish air force shot down a Russian military jet. But Moscow and Ankara soon developed a pragmatic approach dealing with the interests in Syria.

James Nixie (ph) is an expert in Russia and Eurasia.

JAMES NIXIE (ph), RUSSIA & EURASIA EXPERT: They have totally different agendas, but their relationship has improved in the last four months alone.

PLEITGEN: And by the time the attempted coup happened in Turkey in 2016, Putin endorsed the embattled Turkish president.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): I know I was one of the first people who called on the phone and have expressed my support.

PLEITGEN: There have been challenges, like the murder of Russia's ambassador to Turkey in Ankara late last year, and last month, the accidental bombing of Turkish troops in Syria by Russian jets. So far, the leaders of both nations say the incidents haven't hurt ties.


PLEITGEN: And, John, while the Syria crisis is going to be the most important point on the agenda between the leaders, they're also going to talk about deepening economic cooperation as well, as Vladimir Putin and Erdogan continue to foster the relationship that has many in the West a little concerned, especially in light of the fact that relations between Turkey and NATO are becoming more rocky -- John?

VAUSE: Fred, thank you. Fred Pleitgen, live in Moscow with the latest. Appreciate it.

SESAY: A quick break now. And opposition to the new travel ban. Coming up, who's joining the fight against President Trump's executive order.

VAUSE: And to whom the bell tolls. How a church community in Oregon is protecting immigrants.



[02:40:30] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom is following your own path and what you want to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think freedom is everything. It should not be based on where you're from, what you're doing or where you're going.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to be to the me means the right to be happy and be proud.


VAUSE: CNN is teaming up with young people around the world for a student-led day of action against modern-day slavery with "My Freedom Day" on March 14th.

SESAY: Driving this is a simple question, what does freedom mean to you? Send us your answer using the ""My Freedom Day" hash tag.

VAUSE: It's deja vu. U.S. President Donald Trump, his new travel ban is facing the same kind of pushback that rose up after he signed the initial executive order in January.

SESAY: The attorney general of Washington State convinced the federal judge to block that ban last month. Now he's asking the court to do the same to the new measure before it goes into effect next Thursday.


BOB FERGUSON, WASHINGTON STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: This is effectually a Muslim ban. It's our view the temporary restraining order remains in effect.


SESAY: Hawaii has already challenged the new travel ban, which would stop citizens of six mostly Muslim nations from entering the United States for 90 days. Seveeral other states plans to joins Washington's lawsuit.

VAUSE: A church in Oregon is providing sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. It's telling its congregation to surround the building when they hear the bells ringing so they protect people inside from immigration officials.

SESAY: Joining us from Portland, Oregon, is Reverend Mark Knutson, pastor of the Augustana Lutheran Church.

Thank you for joining us.

Let me start by asking, why did you make the decision to offer up your church to provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants?

MARK KNUTSON, PASTOR, AUGUSTANA LUTHERN CHURCH: Well, it's an ancient principle of the church. We're all created in the image of God. We welcome a stranger as one of us. Jesus was a refugee, an immigrant with his mother and father when he was a child. And one in six Lutherans after World War II were refugees. The church has always been together on this. It's not somebody else. It's us. Our family members, our church members, sisters, brothers. It's a very important issue to people of faith.

SESAY: Is this an open invitation? Is it an invitation to everyone, including those who have committed violent crimes?

KNUTSON: No. When we talk about sanctuary, we're talking about safety. We're a church that has 30,000 worshipers. It's important everybody is safe. Anyone who comes here in sanctuary needs to be come in to be safe and be part of a community. That's who most of the 12 million people are. So we will not harbor someone who came in who committed a violent crime, no.

SESAY: OK. In your community, itself, there in Portland, Oregon, what are we looking at in terms of numbers of undocumented immigrants? How many people is your church able to accommodate?

KNUTSON: We, two years ago, the whole community turned out, including the mayor, heads of the NAACP, the Urban League, and faith leaders. We had 1,000 people in the first 10 days he was here in a service to stand in solidarity. We're prepared to take up to 100 people if things got very bad out there. We don't want that to be the case. We'd rather have a couple hundred of churches, synagogues, mosques open up, and many are. It's a major network across the country moving rapidly. Churches are joining daily. But we're prepared to do 100.

SESAY: You're prepared to do 100. So correct me if I'm wrong, enforcement officials are not actually barred from entering churches to make arrests or carry on investigations. They simply need special approval to do that. If that's correct, how far are you willing to go to protect those who turn to you.

KNUTSON: The question is will this administration honor sacred space? We have to give people time to reflect and reconcile differences and give back to where they need to be. We're expecting the government to honor that, and we're happy to talk. This church does not allow weapons or coercion. That goes back thousands and thousands of years in the history of faith groups.

So this is an important time. This is a critical issue. 12 million people are hurting, and afraid. And that's where the church is called to be standing, and that's where we're standing.

[02:45:23] SESAY: We are grateful -- (CROSSTALK)

KNUTSON: We're not going to harbor people. We're going to be open about it. But then we want to work the resolution where people can be reunited with families and be on a pathway that keeps them here.

SESAY: We are grateful you were able to join us and tell us more about the work you're doing in your community.

Reverend Mark Knutson joining us from Oregon.

We appreciate it. Thank you.

KNUTSON: Thank you so much. And we have to have immigration reform as part of this. That's the key.

Thank you so much.

SESAY: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, we'll take a break. When we come back, the new film "Get Out" is a hit. But not everyone loves it. Actor Samuel L. Jackson is unimpressed.




VAUSE: Movie critics are praising the film "Get Out" for how it portrays racism in the United States. Some say it really represents the experience of African-Americans.

[02:50:00] SESAY: But Actor Samuel L. Jackson is pointing out that the film's main actor isn't American. He is British

Here's what Jackson said about that earlier in the week.


SAMUEL L. JACKSON, ACTOR & FILM PRODUCER: There are a lot of black British actors that work --


JACKSON: All the time. All the time. I tend to wonder what would that movie have been when an American brother, who really understands that in a way. Because Daniel grew up in a country, where they've been interracial dating for 100 years. Britain is only about eight real white people left in Britain.


What would a brother from America have made of that role? You know? And I'm sure the director helped, and some things are universal, but everything ain't.


VAUSE: Well, for more on that, we're joined by Sandro Monetti, a film entertainment journalist and also managing editor of "Entity" magazine.

Sandro, lovely to have you with us.

SESAY: Hello.

VAUSE: Is Samuel L. Jackson wrong? For instance, would an African- American bring something different to the role of Martin Luther King in "Selma?"

SANDRO MONETTI, FILM ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST & MANAGING EDITOR, ENTITY MAGAZINE: British actors of all races have been notable success in America. They have a classical training. And that really seems valued by film makers. Samuel L. Jackson appreciates great acting. He's seen great acting. He's been to British and made 12 films over there. He was happy to work over there.

SESAY: Let's put his comments in context. You are around in the space talking to directors and actors. How widespread is this sentiment he's expressed? A kind of resentment? That's effectively what he was expressing? Is that a widely held feeling?

MONETTI: There's a lot of resentment in Britain among black actors that there's not enough work for them so they have to come over here, because there's so many period dramas, and there's not a lot of work for black actors. The opportunities are greater over, and the likes of a Naomi Harris, so many have found great work here.

Jackson seemed less than complimentary when asked why they were cast in American roles. Listen


JACKSON: They're cheaper than us. They don't cost as much.



JACKSON: In an interesting way, unless you're a known brother they find, but -- and they think they're better trained than we are because they're classically trained.


VAUSE: You, obviously, think the British actors are better, are they cheaper?

MONETTI: Yes. They're used to working in audio books and theater. No one got rich being a stage actor. No one got rich being a stage actor. (LAUGHTER)

VAUSE: They do it for the love.

MONETTI: But Jordan Peel came to cast "Get Out," a great film. He was fully intending to cast an African-American actor, but he gave the best person the job. That's what it should be about.

SESAY: A British journalist wrote this in one of the papers about Samuel L. Jackson's comments, "It simply shifts the focus on identity politics from racial equality where it is useful to an ethnic bun fight where it's worse than useless."

MONETTI: Yeah, the problem is changing the demographics of the people making the decisions. They're arguing over small crumbs. They should be getting a bigger cake. For all these quality African-Americans and British black actors, there should be more roles out there.

VAUSE: Remember a few years ago, Australians were stealing the roles? That led to this video. Have a look.



UNIDENTIFIED ACOTR: The Brooklyn Bridge can't hold my love for you, Jimmy.

UNIDENTIFIED ACOTR: I would ride a kangaroo across the outback for you, my lady.

UNIDENTIFIED ACOTR: Um, Jimmy, you're the man that I've been waiting to spend my whole life with.

UNIDENTIFIED ACOTR: I try to throw away our love so many times, but you're the boomerang I can't get rid of.



VAUSE: My point is it was the Australians a few years. It's been the Canadians, the English, the Irish, everyone gets a turn at being blamed.

MONETTI: But the British are always there. There was a time when every major superhero was a British actor. Now, Spiderman is a Brit. Superman is a Brit. Ben Affleck is fighting back with Batman, as an America.



MONETTI: British actors are great. And I'd say the best in the world, but then, I'm biased. VAUSE: Really?

SESAY: Don't be like that. He's right.

VAUSE: That's true.


VAUSE: Thanks, Sandro.

SESAY: Thank you.

MONETTI: Good day.



SESAY: It's a moment every parent dreads, their child throwing a fit in public. But the timing of this tantrum really couldn't have been worse.

[02:55:01] VAUSE: Or better depending on your point of view. A little boy melted down in front of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. It happened in London. The monarch, she's a grandmother, a great grandmother. She smiled. Didn't seem fazed. No truth to the rumor she yelled "off with his head."


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

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

The news continues with George Howell after a quick.

But first, a reminder of "My Freedom Day."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those who have freedom forget how important it is. And I think it's the right to express yourself without interference of whoever or wherever you are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom means being able to express myself in every aspect of my life without fear of prosecution. Prosecution and retaliation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me means having no limitations. It means you have the opportunity to create vision for your life. Freedom is also the opportunity to chase your dreams and aspirations.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [03:00:11] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Mass demonstrations in South Korea. You see the scene here.