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President Park Geun-hye Finally Ousted; Odd Computer Look ups; Looking for Answers; Another Halt for New Travel Ban; Ending Human Trafficking. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 10, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: Mass demonstrations in South Korea. You see the scene here. This after the court approves the impeachment of that nation's president.

In fighting over health care. The United States republicans trying to get on the same page on a complicated bill.

A childhood transformed. We catch up with JiaJia, she was in China longing for family. When he first met her, now new life in the United States.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN Newsroom starts right now.

Good day to you. We begin this hour with the breaking news we're following out of South Korea. Two people there are dead after violent protests that broke out when the country's embattled President Park Geun-hye was removed from office.

Earlier Friday, South Korea's constitutional court upheld Park's impeachment effectively ending her presidency. Many people there were angry about that decision. You see the scene here. Many people took to the streets. Others, though, quite happy to see the former president go.

Some demonstrations have been clashing. They've been clashing with police there in the streets. The acting president has put South Korean military on alert and ordered increased security.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is in the middle of it all following the story in Seoul, South Korea. Paula, we have been talking now for several hours since the ruling came down, this approval of the impeachment, and now we're watching these protests play out. What are you seeing?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, these are the Park supporters that have been protesting at this point. There have been small pockets of violence, but for the most part they are very peaceful. They are calling for more people to come back out into the streets to protest what they say is an unjust decision to push Park Geun-hye out.

Now it's worth saying that there are greater protests was earlier of anti-Park protestors. A couple of hours. We're expecting them to come (Inaudible) as well, less of a protest, more celebration really because of what happened to Park Geun-hye is that she was officially impeached.

But what we're seeing here is a sense of disappointment from these people, this sector of society. A lot of them older. A lot of them remember Park Geun-hye's father who was a leader back in the '60s and '70s and they don't believe that she should have been impeached.

Now there is more of a somber mood here as well. There's news spread (Inaudible) that actually two people have been killed, and lost their lives during today, so certainly that has put a more somber mood onto it. But at this point it doesn't appear as though they're going to be going home any time soon.

HOWELL: Paula, just to give some context, and again we know that you're in the middle of what we see here on the other scree. A lot of people who are out protesting, this particular protest, a pro-Park protest as you pointed out. If you could explain to our viewers around the world, so what happens next? You know, there's set to be a snap election. And who effectively leads this country until that happens?

HANCOCKS: That's right. Well, Park Geun-hye is no longer president. That happened as soon as the verdict was brought down. We know she instantly lost her presidential immunity as well. And then now what happens is this there's 60 days in which to have an election.

So, it's a very quick process. Today will be all about impeachment, tomorrow will likely be all about campaigning as presidential hopefuls get their act together to try so that there can be the next president of South Korea.

From Park Geun-hye's point of view, we understand that from the Blue House that she won't be leaving the Blue House today. She is going to be moving to her old house in southern Seoul. But there's logistics to be sorted out for her security. There's been really a big issue.

And she won't be making a statement either. So we are expecting the acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn who has been acting as president since Park was impeached back in December by lawmakers.

He will make an address to the nation. We also know that he's had an emergency cabinet meeting and a national Security Council meeting. So there has been a flurry of activity in the corridors of power. I mean, just any moment now we expect to hear from the acting president of the South. Clearly as expected he'll be calling for calm. We already heard him say the constitutional court's decision should be expected. George?

HOWELL: Paula, just quickly just to give our viewers a sense of what's happening there, so these protests they have been peaceful to an extent, right?

[03:05:00] I mean, so what's happening right now, and is there a sense that police do have a handle on this? HANCOCKS: There are still a lot of people here and there are calls

for people to come that certainly the organizers are looking for. They've also called for the police in a way. The police on the other hand, I believe have called protesters to go home.

So there is an uneasy standoff between the two, but there's no sense of violence at this point. There were just packets of frustration spilling over with the protesters and the police. But the protests organizers are actually calling on everybody to not show violence, to not take it out on the police pointing out that the police are their sons and daughters.

Many are basically and probably doing their military service so they are young men and women, George.

HOWELL: Paula Hancocks in the middle of it all in Seoul, South Korea. Paula, thank you. Now we understand the acting president there in South Korea is making an address right now. I believe if we are able to dip in and listen in to what's being said, let's -- we'll continue on.

But, again, you're hearing this message from the acting president of South Korea, this the former prime minister who is now the acting president of that nation. We'll continue, of course, to follow the breaking news. Again, we're hearing the new leader, the acting leader of that nation, and we're seeing many protests throughout the streets of Seoul, South Korea.

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

Turkey's president is in Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In just a few hours' time Syria is expected to dominate the talks there. The nation is working with Iran to monitor truce violations in that region.

Fred Pleitgen is following the story, live for us in Moscow. Fred, first of all, just talk to us about the significance of these two leaders meeting with Syria at the focus.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's highly significant, and the two countries, Turkey and Russia, by far are the most important players -- outside players in Syria at the moment.

Of course, they both support opposing side in the Syria conflict, but at the same time they've managed to get together and not only broker a truce in Syria of course bringing the Iranians on board as well. But now they're also coordinating their efforts to fight ISIS as well. And that's a highly delicate operation.

Because on the one hand you have the Turks supporting Syrian rebels fighting against ISIS and then you have the Russians who are supporting the Syrian regime doing the same thing and just keeping those two forces from attacking each other. That's no small fete in itself.

And then keeping the focus on ISIS, that will be the other thing that these two leaders are going to speak about. So it's a highly significant meeting but it's also one between two leaders who have had a very rocky relationship but have managed to get it together. Here's why it's important.

Two strong men with a rocky relationship in the past. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan have become the most significant power brokers in the Middle East.

Nowhere 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 the U.S met, Turkey says to keep all sides focused on the battle against the terror group.


BINALI YILDIRIM, PRIME MINISTER OF TURKEY (through translator): The real reason of this meeting is to find the best way to maintain coordination and to prevent the parties from interfering in each other's operations and to avoid unwanted incidents.


PLEITGEN: Relations between Russia and Turkey hit rock bottom when the Turkey's air force shot down a Russian military jet in 2015, but Moscow and Ankara soon developed a pragmatic approach dealing with each other's interest in Syria.

James Nixey is an expert in Russia and Eurasia.


JAMES NIXEY, CHATHAM HOUSE'S RUSSIA AND EURASIA PROGRAMME HEAD: They have totally different agendas, and yet despite this their relationship has improved remarkably in the last four months alone.


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


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


PLEITGEN: There have been further challenges to Russian/Turkish relations 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 however, the leaders of both nations say the incidents haven't hurt ties.

[03:10:03] And it really is remarkable to see how much the ties between these two countries have improved since they hit their rock bottom when the Turks downed that Russian plane there in Syria.

Now aside from Syria, George, one of the main topics that the two leaders will be speaking to is trying to deepen economic cooperation between these two countries. They believe that there's big potential here.

For instance, the Russians want to build a nuclear power plant in Turkey. There's talk of cooperation in the sector of oil and gas as well. That's something they say will deepen the ties further. But of course, it's also something, George, that worries some leaders in the west as well as the Turks now increasingly have a more difficult relationship with their NATO partners. George?

HOWELL: That is an interesting development in all of this certainly. The United States paying close attention to it.

Senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen, live for us in the Russian capital. Fred, thank you for the reporting.

Moving on now to Iraq, government forces say that they are closing in on Mosul's old city. That's where ISIS fighters are still dug in. The fighting there continues. Take a look here at this footage. You see families there rushing out of harm's way during battles that have been taking place. The video was taken more than two weeks after the offensive started to drive ISIS out of the western part of that city.

How close and personal they are. You hear the intensity here. You see what they are up against. This battle for western Mosul, it is overwhelming. This video provided to CNN by cameraman Ricardo Garcia Villanova.

Iraqi officials they are not putting up -- putting out casualty figures at this point, but it's clear government forces are paying a high price in this fight. ISIS fighters are still putting up a stiff resistance.

You're watching CNN Newsroom. Still ahead, President Donald Trump flexes his deal making muscle to try to sell the republican version of Obamacare. But some prominent GOP names they aren't so sure about it.

Plus, the head of the FBI meets with top intelligence lawmakers. What this might mean for the alleged Russia ties at the White House, as CNN Newsroom continues.


ALEX THOMAS, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Alex Thomas, your CNN World Sport headlines.

Starting with the Europa League where Manchester United have been traveling to Russia to take on Rostov. United making a strong start in the round of 16 first leg games. Henrikh Mkhitaryan scoring in the opening half. A precious away goal but the Red Devils could only manage a draw as Aleksandr Bukharov equalized in the second leg. The return leg takes place next week.

Thursday marked 100 days until the Confederation Cup in Russia where a celebration is held in St. Petersburg for the occasion. The FIFA president Gianni Infantino made news Thursday saying the United States along with other countries would not be able to host the World Cup if it did not allow access to the players star fans of any countries that qualified.

Finally, Bayern Munich midfielder Xabi Alonso announced that he will retire this summer at the end of his current contract. Alonso writing on twitter "Lived it, loved it. Farewell beautiful game."

The 35-year-old started his career with Real Sociedad before moving to Liverpool, Real Madrid and finally Bayern Munich where he is now. He played 114 times to Spain's national teams scoring 16 goals. Alonso, a member of the teams that won the 2010 World Cup and to European Championships as well.

That's a look at your World Sport headlines. I'm Alex Thomas.

HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm George Howell.

There's new information that's come to light about computer communications between servers owned by a Russian bank and by the Trump organization that took place this summer.

CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown and investigative reporter Jose Paglieri have been looking into this story and they joined Anderson Cooper with details. Let's listen.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Pamela, what have you learned about the investigation?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we've learned FBI investigators and computer scientists continue to examine whether there was a computer connection between the Trump organization and a Russian bank called Alfa-bank. This is according to several sources familiar with the investigation.

Now this is the same server mentioned in a Breitbart article that a White House official says sparked Trump series of tweets last Saturday accusing the investigators of tapping his phone.

CNN has told there was no FISA warrant on the server. The questions about the connection between the server and the Russian bank were widely dismissed four months ago as an attempt to by Alfa-Bank to block spam.

But Anderson, we're learning that the FBI's counterintelligence team, the same one looking into Russia's suspected interference and the 2016 election is still examining it. And one official I spoke with said the server relationship is odd. It's seen as somewhat perplexing.

And investigators are not ignoring it but the FBI still has a lot more work to do to determine what was behind the unusual activity on whether there's any significance to it. The FBI declined to comment and the White House did not respond to our request for comment. Anderson.

COOPER: So, Jose, I mean, it's kind of confusing. Explain what was odd about these communications between this Russian bank and...


JOSE PAGLIERY, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Sure, Anderson. This can get pretty technical fast. What's so odd about the communication here is that this Russian bank repeatedly looked up the unique internet address of a particular computer server in the U.S. being used by the Trump campaign. The computer world is the equivalent of looking up someone's phone number over and over and over again.

And while there isn't necessarily a phone call it usually indicates an intention to communicate. And that's according to several computer scientist we spoke to. Now a group of computer scientists who obtained these leaked internet records, records they were never supposed to be made public, they were puzzled as to why a Russian bank was doing this.

Was it trying to send an e-mail to the Trump organization? These scientists just couldn't tell. Now last summer, during the presidential campaign the Russian bank looked up the address to this Trump corporate server some 2,800 times. That's more lookups than the Trump server received from any other source.

The only other entity, curiously enough, doing so many internet look ups for Trump's server was Spectrum Health. That's a medical facility chain led by Dick DeVos, the husband of Betsy DeVos who was later appointed by the president as U.S. education secretary.

Those two entities alone made up 99 percent of the lookups. The computer scientist we spoke to just found that plain weird. All the corporations involved say they never communicated by e-mail with the Trump organization and they have different explanations for this activity but they haven't provided any proof and they don't agree to what the explanation is.

For example, the Russian bank thinks it was receiving Trump hotel marketing last summer but it hasn't provided CNN with a single e-mail to back up that theory. Meanwhile, the American marketing company that would have been sending Trump e-mails said it wasn't doing that at that time. And Alfa-Bank for its part stressed that not a single executive has had any affiliation at all with the president or the Trump organization.

[03:19:55] Their statements says that "Neither Alfa-Bank nor its principals including Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven have or have had any contact with Mr. Trump or his organizations."

So this potential computer link remains a mystery.

COOPER: Pamela Brown, thanks so much. Jose Paglieri, thanks so much.


HOWELL: That was a conversation that took place earlier with my colleague Anderson Cooper.

As questions about the Donald Trump's team, his administration and the alleged ties over Russia, as those questions intensify, FBI Director James Comey met with some top lawmakers in the nation on Thursday.

The so-called gang of eight, those are House and Senate members with access to the most highly classified U.S. intelligence, they reportedly discussed Russia's interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign.

Dealings with Russia aren't the Trump administration's only concern. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned over his contact with Moscow, but now he's also alleged to have worked for Turkey.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about this Thursday, about Flynn's reported ties to the country and here's how he responded.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was the president aware that lieutenant general Michael Flynn was acting as a foreign agent when he appointed him to be the national security adviser?

SEAN SPICER, UNITED STATES WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't believe that that was known. I would refer you to General Flynn and to the Department of Justice in terms of the filings that have been made.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Had the president have known that, would he have appointed him?

SPICER: I don't know, John. That's a hypothetical that I'm not prepared to answer. I don't -- I don't -- I don't know what he discussed prior to -- prior to be appointed in terms of his background, his resume, his client base. I don't know any of that.


HOWELL: Republican congressman is urging his colleagues to, quote, "do the right thing on health care." In an interview with CNN, Jim Jordan says he told President Trump the republican plan to remake Obamacare needs to go back to the drawing board.

Our colleague Jim Acosta has this report.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Making only brief appearances in front of the cameras, President Trump is scrambling behind closed doors along with top republicans to sell the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.




ACOSTA: Tweeting, "Despite what you hear in the press, health care is coming along great. We are talking to many groups and it will end in a beautiful picture." But that's not the picture painted by conservative critics. From Senator Tom Cotton who tweeted, "To my friends in the House, pause. Start over. Get it right. Don't get it fast." To tea party groups that call the policy Obamacare-lite.


TIM PHILLIPS, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY: They're not going to be fully repealing Obamacare if they vote for the House plan that was put forward just a couple of days ago. They're going to be breaking their word to the American people.


ACOSTA: Part of the frustration the White House and republican leaders are trying to race the plan through Congress moving the bill through two committees before the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has a chance to estimate the proposal's cost. A CBO score the senate majority leader wants to see.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we need to know that, yes.


ACOSTA: The White House suggests there's no rush.


SPICER: We're not jamming this down on people's throat. We're welcoming ideas and thoughts. We think this is a great vehicle to restore a patient centered health care bill to drive down cost.


ACOSTA: House Speaker Paul Ryan wore the message of urgency on his rolled up sleeves plotting lawmakers by PowerPoint.


PAUL RYAN, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Let's get into why this needs to happen and why it needs to happen now. Options are disappearing fast. This law is in the middle of a collapse and people are quickly losing their choices.


ACOSTA: President Trump warned a group of rebellious tea party leaders at the White House they're helping their opponents. But sources tell CNN the president told the conservative if the GOP effort fails he plans to let Obamacare collapse and then blame democrats who dismissed the White House strategy.


NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MINORITY LEADER: It's indicative of the fact that the president doesn't really know what he's talking about when he talks about the Affordable Care Act.


HOWELL: Jim Acosta reporting. Let's get some context on all of this with Leslie Vinjamuri. She is an associate fellow with the U.S. and America's program at Chatham House, an international think tank.


HOWELL: It's good to have you with us. The president of the United States tweeted, "health care is going great." Really, though? Just considering all of the divisions that we've heard from many of his colleagues. Help us understand the sticking points that are dividing so many republicans.

VINJAMURI: Well, I think, of course, for many conservative groups and many republicans in Congress, this doesn't go nearly far enough to repeal and replace Obamacare. As you said, they see it as Obamacare lite. And of course, interestingly it's also not pleasing those who have been in support of the Affordable Care Act and that rely on it.

And I think the big concern or the driver for many republicans and conservative groups has been to move away from something that has a mandatory -- mandates Americans to have health care, and he's done this, and to really shift towards market mechanisms.

[03:25:03] But they see the tax credit that substitutes a subsidy as not really fully doing that. He's also stopping the expansion of Medicaid. That's going to upset a lot of people that have been in favor of Obamacare.

So that the interesting thing about this, of course, is that the president seems to be losing all sides and is going to have to work very hard next week it goes to the budget, the house budget committee and then to a vote, but it's not looking very good.

And this has been at the center, it was at the center of his campaign, it was at the center of his rallies. When you spoke to his base about repealing and replacing, remember that many people weren't even clear on what Obamacare was.

They didn't realize that the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare were the same thing. So this entire move to repeal and replace is absolutely essential. It's the first time that the president is pushing forward his legislative agenda and it doesn't look like it's going very well at all.

HOWELL: So you talk about the details. But now let's go 50,000 feet here and talk about the names. So you mentioned Obamacare, you know, eight years ago, republicans were quick to brand the health care act as Obamacare.

But now looking forward, moving forward as republicans look to repeal and replace to create their own program, seems that no one really wants to put a name or attach themselves to this particular bill. Is it Trump care? Is it Ryan care? Is it Obama lite? It seems though that many republicans are shy about signing on to this and putting their names on it.

VINJAMURI: That's right. Some people are referring to it as the American health care act, which of course I think for the president that goes along with his entire agenda of America first and just putting America in the title of everything that he's trying to do. It's somewhat meaningless in terms of describing the content of the bill.

But, again, this is a very tricky piece of legislation. But politically it will be hard to understate its significance for the president's ability to claim success and to really move forward. And he's got a lot of distractions right now.

He's issued a revised travel ban which is already being contested by the State of Hawaii and now by the attorney general and many attorney generals but now led by the attorney general in Washington. And so that he's fighting on a number of fronts. And the news of Flynn, of course, is also there. So this is not an easy -- what, we're seven weeks in. And it's looking to continue to be a very difficult patch.

HOWELL: Leslie Vinjamuri, live for us in London following this context. Thank you so much for being with us today.

VINJAMURI: Thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead here on CNN Newsroom, illegal border crossings into the U.S. from Mexico. It took a dramatic drop. Why some say it has little to do with the fiery rhetoric from the Trump administration.

Broadcasting live across the world this hour, you're watching CNN Newsroom.


HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. It is good to have you with us. We continue following the breaking news out of South Korea.

Take a look at these live images there in Seoul, South Korea. You see so many people there on the streets. Thousands, in fact. At least two people have died in protests following the ouster of that nation's embattled President Park Geun-hye.

Earlier on Friday, South Korea's constitutional court upheld Park's impeachment ending her presidency. The ruling means that Park could face possible prosecution over her alleged prosecution.

The nation's acting president has addressed the nation after a very difficult day of political upheaval and he is calling for calm. The acting president put the country's military also on alert and has ordered increased security.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is following the story in Seoul, South Korea, in the middle of it all really. Paula, what's the latest there on the streets?

HANCOCKS: Well, George, there is a sense at this point that some of the people are starting to go home from this pro-Park protest. There's also a sense that the tempers are running over for some of them. The frustrations really spilling over. We've actually seen some of the protestors fighting with each other.

You can see this is a sign that the people are starting to pack up and starting to wind down these protests, but it's shown just how frustrated people are who wanted President Park Geun-hye, the former President Park Geun-hye to stay in power.

Everybody here that have spoken to me said (Inaudible) she did nothing wrong. This is our democracy that has died. She should not have been impeached. There are very angry people here that they feel something wrong has happened. This is not the overwhelming feeling in the country though, it should be said.

There are also some anti-Park protesters who were cheering, who were very happy when the vote came down. So there really is a very strong division between the pro and the anti-Park, but certainly at this protest the people here do not believe that she should have been impeached.

HOWELL: And Paula, just quickly. I mean, you've been covering this for some time. These have been peaceful protests. And we've seen so many thousands of people, you know, in the months before this come to the streets. Just explain to our viewers, you know, the history here. This was a public protest that led to the ouster of that nation's president.

HANCOCKS: Certainly from their point of view there were these massive candlelight vigils every Saturday during the Korean winter (Inaudible) to sub-zero and there was a sense of people power among those who wanted Park Geun-hye to be impeached and then have been celebrating. They were expecting many of them to go back to that area and downtown this evening more of a celebration than a protest.

So there is a sense of victory among those who wanted Park to be impeached. There is a sense of huge frustration among many people here who do not believe she should have been impeached. We did just hear though from the acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn who gave an address to the nation and he said that the constitutional court's decision must be respected.

He said, we need to respect the decision. There will be people who cannot accept this and find it hard to submit to it, but it's time to accept and end the conflict and opposition. So the acting president calling for the unity of the country and for the people to move on no matter which side of the divide that they were on. George?

HOWELL: Paula Hancocks was on the ground to give us the breaking news on five hours earlier, six hours perhaps that the president this constitutional court voted to impeach -- to approve the impeachment and now is in the middle of this protest. Paula, we thank you for all of your work and your reporting today and we'll stay in touch with you as these protests continue.

[03:35:04] Back in the United States, the attorney general of Washington State is asking a U.S. court to block President Donald Trump's new travel ban. This is the same attorney that convinced a judge to block the first ban just last month.

The new executive order specifically exempts green card and approved visa holders from travel restrictions, but he says that it still unfairly targets Muslims. And he told CNN's Anderson Cooper the same principles that made the original ban unconstitutional, well, they are at play once again. Let's listen.


BOB FERGUSON, WASHINGTON STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: If you compare the original executive order with the revised one, the language is virtually identical. So as a result while the new ban has narrowed the scope of the people impacted by it, those provisions are still in place and they still negatively impact people of my state.

Therefore, our view is that the temporary restraining order issued by Judge Robart about a month ago is still in place and applies to the new executive order.

COOPER: So, are you, essentially are you arguing that this is a Muslim ban?

FERGUSON: Yes, essentially that's exactly right and you don't have to take my word for that. Just look at the very words that Donald Trump said when he was campaigning for president. He said he was going to enact a Muslim ban. Rudy Giuliani went on national TV and said the president was asking him to create a Muslim but just to make it legal.

And that's what we know publicly. Throughout this litigation we look forward as you know, getting more documents, e-mails, taking depositions to further strengthen our case that this really is effectively a Muslim ban.


HOWELL: Now to the U.S. border with Mexico, illegal border crossings into the U.S. is down since Donald Trump became President and he is taking credit for it. But as CNN's Polo Sandoval reports, some say there are other factors

at play.


TRUMP: We're getting some very, very bad players out of this country. Drug lords, gang members, heads of gangs, killers, murderers. We're getting them out.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump's tough talk on illegal immigration may be a driving force behind a dramatic drop at the nation's southwest border. Customs and Border Protection announcing the number of illegal border crossing fell by 40 percent between January and February.

Homeland Security chief John Kelly calls it an early sign that, quote, "Comprehensive immigration enforcement can make an impact." The White House taking it step further.


SPICER: These measures reflect that both the economy and border are already responding to the president's agenda.


SANDOVAL: But a former immigration and customs enforcement chief under the Obama administration says it's too soon to say it's a decline is because of Trump's policies or something else. The number of undocumented border crossings tend to decrease seasonally dropping in the winter months and increasing in the spring.

Illegal crossings appear to have slowed. They haven't stopped. Isabel, a woman who didn't want her face shown, waits at a migrant shelter in Ciudad Juarez preparing to cross illegally with her three kids.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes, we are afraid, but the life of my children is what drives me to fight for a better life.


SANDOVAL: Isabel says she will not be deterred by the Trump's tough stance on immigration that includes a recent crackdown and deportation by ICE agents or the president's plan to build a wall.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the wall still need if the apprehensions are down?

SPICER: I think so, sure. The president was very clear, it's not just needed. The president committed to doing it to the American people. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SANDOVAL: If the president still faces skepticism from within his own party.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that Mexico will pay for it?



SANDOVAL: Polo Sandoval, CNN, Atlanta.

HOWELL: Polo, thank you so much for the reporting.

The owners of a wine bar in Washington are suing the President of the United States. They allege that they are the victims of competition from Donald Trump's hotel that's nearby. The Trump International Hotel has already been in the spotlight with lawmakers questioning whether it is a conflict of interest for the president.

But the Cork Wine Bar is the first business competitor to sue Mr. Trump while in office. Its owners say the Trump hotel has a leg up because it attracts customers who want to curry favor with the president.


KHALID PITTS, CORK WINE BAR CO-OWNER: This is an unprecedented situation. The conflict is obvious and by bringing this lawsuit we believe we will show that the president's ownership of the Trump Hotel and his action have given him an unfair competitive advantage.

We are not seeking money, we are appealing up here. We simply want to level the playing field so that all D.C. restaurants can compete fairly and equally.


HOWELL: A spokesperson for the Trump organization is calling the lawsuit, quote, "a wild publicity stunt."

Still ahead here on CNN Newsroom, a young woman is fighting against for profit orphanages helping the children that they export. Our freedom project has her story next.


HOWELL: What does freedom mean to you? It's a question that we're posing as we approach what we're calling my Freedom Day on March 14th, and we're getting a lot of responses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What freedom means to me is to have the

opportunity to pursue my dreams, to have the choices to (Inaudible) with my life and to make an opportunity for others who don't have the same freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom to means being able to do what I want when I want and not restricting my freedom to anybody else, so anybody else can do whatever they want.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me is living with my family and having the opportunity to study.


HOWELL: And we want to hear more. What does freedom mean to you? Post a photo or video using the hash tag My Freedom Day. Of course we'll take a look at everything you have to say with us. It's all part of our CNN Freedom Project to end modern day slavery.

And all week we focused on young leaders who are doing their part who are doing just that. Our Farai Sevenzo has the story of a young woman in Kenya educating her community about child trafficking in orphanages.

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been a long journey home for Teresia Wainimu (Ph). Orphaned at six, Teresia (Ph) was living with her aunt in this house when a man arrived at the door offering free education, food and housing and room in a nearby orphanage. He was known in the community as a child finder.

"I wanted Teresia (Ph) to stay with me like a daughter, but I didn't have enough money," she says. "When I was approached by someone who could take her into an orphanage, I didn't have a choice."

[03:44:55] Food, education and safety proved to be a false promise for Teresia (Ph). She says the orphanage directing ensure that the lives or the orphans revolve around foreign volunteers who travelled specifically to help children and are known as voluntourists.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes you could be turn to go to school, our volunteer is coming. so you had to entertain that volunteer and we used to not to go to school. We stay until they come.


SEVENZO: She said she was ordered not to speak with volunteers about conditions of the school.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes, too, you might also be told don't eat because you fear the punishment.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SEVENZO: Michelle Oliel was one volunteer. She says she raised thousands of dollars for the orphanage; money which she claims did not reach the children.


MICHELLE OLIEL, STAHILI FOUNDATION CO-FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Children were often starving. Children were being forced to work. Some of the children were not even sleeping at the orphanage but were going home and sleeping in porcupine holes, for example.


SEVENZO: Not all orphanages are corrupt or guilty or trafficking, but still the U.N. and other groups are now warning about child trafficking to orphanages around the world.


OLIEL: The children are being commodified and placed into an orphanage for the sole purpose of bringing in donations and other various donated goods. And this is done intentionally, this is not an accident. It's not an accident that most of the cases that we've dealt with children have families. They're exploiting vulnerable children, vulnerable people, vulnerable guardians.


SEVENZO: Oliel set up the Stahili Foundation, an organization dedicated to the elimination of orphanages and reuniting children with their families. The former orphanage is now empty. Oliel says after pressure from Stahili and the surrounding community and faced with declining donations, the owner abandoned the orphanage.

Police have not investigated and no formal charges have been brought. CNN has been unable to reach him for comment.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Child trafficking.


SEVENZO: Meanwhile, a community that once handed children over, some even paying for places in orphanages is now working actively against recruiting anymore.

ESTHER MUCHEMI, VILLAGE ASSISTANT CHIEF: I would condemn each and every orphanage in every area. If we pour our area the orphanages and demolish them, it would be of great help to the society.


SEVENZO: Teresia (Ph) now works with the Stahili Foundation helping trace children who have been trafficked to orphanages and assisting guardians who support themselves and their families. Teresia (Ph) is now at university. She hopes to become a human rights lawyer and advocate against such orphanages.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: According to me the hidden agenda of orphanages became revealed like when kids start maturing, getting older, they get to learn their rights and they can defend like themself.


SEVENZO: Once forced into silence, Teresia (Ph) has found her voice and her purpose.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll be speaking loud to many and many generation and (Inaudible).


SEVENZO: Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi.

HOWELL: Farai Sevenzo, thank you for the report.

Still ahead here on Newsroom, when we first introduced you to this young man he was desperate for a family and for a future. Well, he's now a star at school and the apple of his new parents' eye. Inspiration in action. It's ahead.


KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This is your CNN Weather Watch. Hello, everyone. I'm meteorologist Karen Maginnis.

Nothing like winter making a return across the northeastern New England had been seeing some fairly mild temperatures, but now you plunge into the deep freeze. That cold air sweeps in across the Great Lakes into the northeast across New England. Portions of the mid- Atlantic while milder weather across the west.

Where we see the purple shaded area from Pittsburgh all the way to New York City and out towards Cape Cod in Massachusetts, this is where we have winter weather advisories. Now how much snowfall are we looking at? Three to five inches overall. Some of that may be rain/snow mix like New York City may start out as rain and then change over to some snowfall, but out on the cape could be very blustery. It's going to be bone chilling cold and temperatures below normal for this time of year.

Well, say good-bye to those comfortable temperatures. New York City, four but those temperatures dropping through the day. Chicago, minus 2. San Francisco, 19. Dallas, 21 and Miami looking at partly cloudy skies in 28 decrease. All right. Here it is. We go from Charlotte, 19 to 7 on Monday. Single digit of 2 for high temperature coming up for Saturday afternoon.

HOWELL: Just two years ago that CNN profiled an American couple trying to raise money to adopt the disabled child from China. His name was JiaJia. But once our story aired, the Wilsons had the money they needed.

Our Will Ripley caught up with the boy is going by the name of Jason to find out how his life has been transformed.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: the most popular student at recess in Grain Valley, Missouri, doesn't jump the highest or run the fastest. Jason Wilson can't jump or run. He can make people feel inspired.

I met Jason two summers ago at this orphanage in China. Back then he went by JiaJia. He was like a big brother to all the other orphans. He was desperate for a family of his own. Brian and Jeri Wilson have been trying for months to raise $30,000 in adoption fees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was amazing.

RIPLEY: They reached their goal in eight hours when we told their story on CNN. I was with the Wilsons when they traveled to China to take their son home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little nervous.

RIPLEY: One year later I'm in Missouri for the first time since his adoption. Hello. Hi, Jason. He chose his new name because he says it's so cool. You're so big. Jason is 10 now growing up almost as quickly as he's learning. Reading and writing is a challenge.

JASON WILSON, ADOPTED CHILD: Dog called German shepherd.

RIPLEY: But he is quickly catching up. Is he popular with the other kids?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. They all are giving him high fives all the time and he fits right in, especially at recess.

WILSON: Oh, my gosh.

RIPLEY: Jason has become a star at Sni-A-bar Elementary. Teachers say his personality is magnetic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just the way that he approaches his life and he doesn't see it as a life with challenges.

RIPLEY: What's your favorite sport to play?

WILSON: Football.


WILSON: Because it's cool.

RIPLEY: Jason's learning music, singing in school concerts, in the cafeteria.

WILSON: Hi. I haven't seen you in a long time.

RIPLEY: He always has plenty of friends to sit and sing with.

You'd never know Jason grew up more than 6,000 miles away. He chooses not to speak Chinese anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He never wants to talk about China. He never wants people to know he's Chinese.

RIPLEY: Jason's English teacher says he does love talking about his family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's everything to him. He talks about his sisters all the time. He talks about dad and they play football.

[03:54:59] RIPLEY: Despite Jason's success, the Wilson's have struggled in the last year.

BRIAN WILSON, JASON WILSON'S FATHER: We have more of an issue than what we thought.

RIPLEY: An expensive construction snag stopped work on their new accessible house and there's family turmoil including serious health problems with Jason's grandparents. The Wilson's stopped they were saving him, but Jason saved them.

JERI WILSON, JASON WILSON'S MOTHER: We can get through this. You know, he's had to struggle to get along through this.

RIPLEY: Doctors told the Wilson's Jason will probably never walk, the result of botched spina bifida surgery in China.


So they raised the money to buy him a stander allowing greater mobility than ever before. He's also been reunited with his best friend Jeremiah from the orphanage adopted by another family in their church. Each day brings new challenges and new victories.

What's different now?

J. WILSON: Having love I think.

RIPLEY: Having love?



RIPLEY: After a childhood spent waiting and hoping, Jason finally has the one thing he always dreamed about, a family.

Will Ripley, CNN, Grain Valley, Missouri.

HOWELL: Wonderful story. Will Ripley, thank you so much.

OK. So when it comes to flying, you know the bill. Checked bag fees, drink fees, even reserve seat fees. It seems it's all about the nickels and dimes now. But one passenger headed to Hawaii, well, evidently he had enough when it came to staying warm.

Hawaiian Airlines wanted to charge him $12 for a blanket, $12. The 66- year-old man, though, was outraged. He threatened an airline employee. At one point the passenger said, quote, "take someone behind the wood shed for this." But the pilots won't have it. The captain diverted that flight, the Honolulu flight to Los Angeles.

Police there, they met the plane at the gate. The man decided -- they decided that the man did not pose a threat but he caught the flight the next day. Wow. Don't charge that man for a blanket.

Thanks for being with us. The news continues here on CNN with Max Foster, live in London.