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WikiLeaks out of Favor with Trump Administration; Iraqi Forces Making Progress in Mosul; Pope Considering Priesthoods for Married Men; The Trump Effect on Mexican Jobs. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired March 11, 2017 - 04:00   ET



NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Political uncertainty in South Korea one day after Park Geun-hye was removed from office. We go live to Seoul and ask what's next for the country.

An upbeat U.S. jobs report has the Trump administration cheering but concern over its ties to Russia remain, plus new legal challenges for the president's revised travel ban.

And a city turned war zone: what is life like inside Mosul as Iraq continues to push ISIS out. Our Ben Wedeman speaks with those forced to live among ISIS and choosing to stay there.

Welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.


ALLEN: Our top stories: citizens have taken to the streets for a second straight day in South Korea, this after the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye. Demonstrators in Seoul are rallying for and against her and they've been -- she has been at the center of a major corruption scandal.

The constitutional court upheld her December impeachment on Friday and that is when some of these protests turns violent. At least three people were killed. For more now, our Will Ripley is out and about in Seoul at a pro-Park gathering right now.

Those are still going on, I guess; hello, there, Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Natalie, although we get the sense that this basically is a victory lap for these demonstrators. Remember, they have been coming out here for month, sometimes with crowds larger than 1 million people and they have been demanding the impeachment of President Park. They have been demanding an end to government corruption, a new leader.

And now we see out here as people who are celebrating. They feel like democracy has worked.

Sorry about that. You can see the crowds; sometimes it's easy to bump into people here, really densely packed over there. You hear celebratory music. You heard that fellow on the loudspeakers there.

And it's a really a stark contrast with what is happening just beyond that police barricade over here. There is a dueling rally happening beyond that police barrier. Those are the supporters of President Park, as opposed to those on this side who want to see her in peace.

And it's a very different vibe over there. Here it feels like a carnival. Over there it almost felt, Natalie, like a political funeral. These are older people, many veterans, who remember the sacrifices of the Park family; of course, her father led this country for almost two decades. He was assassinated. President Park's mother was assassinated.

So the people on the other side of that barricade told us this is a disgrace. They think the family's sacrifice doesn't deserve this outcome. But when you talk to the younger people here, they say it's time for change, it's time to bring a progressive government in, and of course now the countdown begins, Natalie, because they have to hold an election with 60 days and a lot of people are thinking May 9th will be the date for that.

ALLEN: And we understand the difference between what the young people perhaps received for their future and what the elders think in that country.

But I'm wondering, regardless, Will, South Korea is set for a dramatic change.

The question is what?

And I heard you say earlier, some people fear South Korea could tilt toward communism.

Why is that?

RIPLEY: You know, you hear that language a lot from the people who support President Park; she obviously led a conservative government, a government that's very closely aligned with the United States, that supported things like the THAAD missile defense system, which has just started arriving within the past couple of days or so.

But the people who are out here, and according to public opinion polls, they support a different approach, a more liberal approach, where perhaps engaging with North Korea might be a preference option as opposed to deploying more military resources.

They're talking about a different approach to China. China very angry right now. They have banned group tourism into South Korea because of the THAAD missile defense system. A progressive government might take a different approach, might not be so keen to align militarily with the United States like the current government does.

So there is certainly a lot of uncertainty out here right now, who the new president will be, what this new government will provide these people in terms of policy approach.

But the corruption scandal really hit a nerve for the people on this side of the barricade because they felt like President Park's friends were using her influence to get millions of dollars in bribes and to give an unfair advantage to the powerful and the elite.

In an entirely competitive society with a lot of young people, a lot of students who are fighting to get into the best schools, to get the best jobs, that really pushed things over the edge for them, which is why you see these huge crowds demanding change.

ALLEN: Will Ripley, out and about for us in the crowd, thank you for bringing us that perspective, Will. We appreciate it.

To reiterate more of --


ALLEN: -- what Will just reported, Park has been stripped of her immunity. She could face criminal charges. A snap election set to be held within 60 days and the country's acting president has called for unity.

But as you could just see, the country is not there yet. He also warned that North Korea might take advantage of the political crisis in the South.


HWANG KYO-AHN, ACTING SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Social disorder due to the impeachment is concerning in this situation. Exploiting this current situation in the South, the North could further aggravate divisions and public opinion and worsen our confusion by staging military provocations.

The military should be fully prepared to restrain the North's provocations and to firmly punish them when they provoke.


ALLEN: North Korea has, in fact, reacted to Park's ouster. Our Brian Todd has more about that.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Violent protests in the streets of Seoul. The impeachment of President Park Geun-hye creates political instability in South Korea while, across the border, Park's archenemy, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, who the Malaysians now say ordered the murder of his own half-brother, is already taking advantage of South Korea's troubles.

North Korea's news agency, which once labeled Park Geun-hye "a tailless dog" and a, quote, "ugly bat disgrace," is gloating over her demise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): She will be investigated as a common criminal.

TODD (voice-over): And the acting South Korean president has an ominous warning.

HWANG: The North could further aggravate division and public opinion and worsen our confusion by staging military provocations.

TODD (voice-over): How will Kim Jong-un try to take advantage of this moment of regional instability to sow more chaos and threaten a vulnerable South Korea?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We could see more of the missile launches. We could see another nuclear test. We could certainly see provocations in the maritime space. Commando raids are a part and parcel of the special forces of North Korea. They are always ready to conduct small operations from abductions to assassinations.

TODD (voice-over): But some believe Kim may not have to do anything to get what he wants from South Korea and weaken the American position there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is to the advantage of Kim Jong-un. He hasn't had to intervene to make this happen. These were self- inflicted wounds.

TODD (voice-over): When South Korea hold elections in two months, a left-leaning candidate, Moon Jae-in, could well win the presidency. Analysts say Moon could be much softer on Kim Jong-un than Park Geun- hye was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A left-leaning president or, in Korean terms, what they call a progressive candidate, would be significantly more prepared to engage with North Korea, to make gestures to North Korea, would very likely try to revisit some of the critical decisions that were made under President Park, including the decision to deploy the THAAD anti-missile system on Korean soil.

TODD (voice-over): President Trump's team is worried enough about security on the Korean Peninsula. The secretary of state Rex Tillerson is headed to South Korea, Japan and China in the coming days

Is America ready for this upheaval?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Trump administration is making the right statements about the alliance with Korea but they don't have a full team on board and so we are also vulnerable to not being successfully engaged with our South Korean ally.

TODD: Analysts say a more left -leaning South Korean president might also go against America's wishes by helping Kim Jong-un financially, by possibly reopening an economic zone between North Korea and South Korea that's been shut down, by helping with North Korean infrastructure projects, by infusing Kim with the cash he so desperately needs.

One left-leaning South Korean president once even paid hundreds of millions of dollars to North Korea just to hold a summit in Pyongyang -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: We turn now to political issues coming from the United States, the legal fight over U.S. President Donald Trump's new travel ban. A federal judge is telling Washington State's attorney general to file an amended complaint challenging the ban.

He says, until that happens, he cannot determine whether his ruling freezing Mr. Trump's original executive order applies to the new one.

The Trump administration is also facing a new controversy involving Mr. Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. And it can't seem to escape the shadow of Russia. Here's Jeff Zeleny from the White House.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Was President Trump aware his first national security adviser, General Michael Flynn, was registered as a foreign agent to represent the government of Turkey?

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON: Just so we're clear, you wouldn't -- the -- General Flynn filed with the Department of Justice two days ago.

ZELENY (voice-over): White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Flynn's lobbying business was private and took place before he joined the administration although, at the same time, he was advising the Trump campaign --


ZELENY (voice-over): -- last year.

SPICER: That is not up for the government to determine. There are certain private citizens' activities that you conduct and you seek counsel on or professional advice.

ZELENY (voice-over): Flynn's contract with the government of Turkey ended after the election. Spicer dismissed a series of questions about the lobbying disclosure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The person who is in line to be the national security adviser may need to register as a foreign agent. And that doesn't raise --

SPICER: It's not a question of raise a red flag, John. It's a question of whether or not they gave them the advice that they are supposed to.

ZELENY (voice-over): On day 50 of the Trump presidency, this was the latest distraction at the White House. It has been a full week now since President Trump leveled the explosive accusation that President Obama was spying on him at Trump Tower. But again today, still no evidence.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all very much. We're going to get to work. Thank you.

ZELENY (voice-over): Asked three times, the president would not say whether he had any proof to back up his unsubstantiated charges. The White House is now trying to keep its focus on health care.

TRUMP: And that's what people want. They want repeal and replace.

ZELENY (voice-over): Yet Washington is consumed by Russia and the widening investigations into any connections between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.

The congressional probe includes allegations of presidential wiretapping, which no one seems to know about but Mr. Trump.

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN's Manu Raju today he has seen no evidence but suggests the question will come up when FBI director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill later this month.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIF.: He is certainly prepared for the question and I don't see any reason why he can't answer it. He may even welcome the opportunity.

ZELENY (voice-over): The top Republican on the committee, Chairman Devin Nunes, echoed his comments from earlier this week, that he had not seen any proof to back up the president's claims.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIF.: We want to find that out but at this point I just don't have anything to tell you.

ZELENY: All this talk of Russia from here at the White House to Capitol Hill have consumed and complicated the president's agenda. The White House is desperately trying to get back to health care and other matters. We'll see if President Trump tweets again and disrupts that this weekend -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.


ALLEN: And speaking of disruption, in a highly unusual move, the U.S. Justice Department abruptly fired 46 federal prosecutors in a single day. President Trump later asked two of them to stay. Here's CNN's Jessica Schneider with that.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Those firings coming swiftly and abruptly and the people I talked with really flabbergasted that this happened so suddenly and with no notice.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking for the immediate resignation of 46 U.S. attorneys, although two have been asked to stay on directly by the president in a phone call Friday night. But for the rest, this is an immediate dismissal. It's typical,

though, for presidents to want to appoint their own appointees in these positions. But U.S. attorneys do usually get a bit more notice.

Some of these U.S. attorneys found out about their firings via the media or even the Department of Justice press release, one source saying that this could not have been handled any worse.

Now some are wondering if the president is, once again, getting his cues from right-wing media. FOX News host Sean Hannity said on his show Thursday night that President Trump should clean house, comparing it to what President Bill Clinton did upon taking office when he fired 93 U.S. attorneys.

But people are noting that in that case, those federal prosecutors got a lot more notice -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: With us now live from the University of St. Galen in Switzerland is James Davis, dean of the school of economics and political science there.

And, Professor Davis, thank you for being with us, add your input and expertise on the goings-on, let's start with these abrupt firings. Let's talk about how it was done and why.

JAMES DAVIS, UNIVERSITY OF ST. GALEN: Well, I think as your reporter just indicated there is nothing new to this kind of policy. Presidents comes into office and ask ambassadors to resign, they ask cabinet members to resign, they ask attorneys to resign. That's nothing new.

I think what is new is just the degree of incompetence with which all of this is taking place. It's a part of a pattern of governing that suggests that they really aren't on top of their game, that we have a team in the White House that really is learning by doing, learning on the job.

This stuff could be done in a much more professional way. And I think the president would have saved himself a great deal of criticism had he had a few people on board who really understood how you do this sort of this thing.

ALLEN: Right.

And on that score, does this, in part, reflect, though, his ongoing battle with government institutions and doing things however he wants to do them, no matter how messy they may be?

DAVIS: Well, I think that the president has indicated that he really is mistrustful of many of the professionals that --


DAVIS: -- have served with distinction in the American government, whether we are talking about the intelligence agencies, whether we're talking about law enforcement, the FBI, whether we're talking about the professionals in the State Department.

The president has repeatedly indicated that he wants to shake things up; that he's distrustful of the bureaucracy and this is a part of that pattern. The question is, of course, whether he can govern without the cooperation of the permanent government.

And I think he's going to learn very quickly that the president can make a lot of decisions but people have to implement them and if the bureaucracy is not on your side, if you can't bring them on board, you're going to have a hard time moving your agenda forward.

ALLEN: Right. And all the while he's trying to keep the focus. He said on Friday, on health care changes, of course he wants to replace ObamaCare. But his moves by this young president like this and you pointed this out, reflect disruption, which is what he wants to do, despite trying to keep the focus on other things.

And some see this as disarray. You kind of just reflected that.

What, if you could advise this presidency, might he try to do to, you know, in some ways, grow respect for his presidency from those who aren't a part of his base?

DAVIS: Right, well, grow respect by growing up. And growing up means staying on message and trying to bring some discipline to your organization.

It doesn't help when you start the week that you want to focus on health care reform, it doesn't help when you start criticizing your predecessor and calling him a bad guy or a sick guy, making unsubstantiated charges.

It doesn't help when you are trying to be the president that brings in extreme vetting, when it becomes clear that you haven't been able to vet your own team, when we find out that your first choice for national security adviser is a foreign agent and hasn't declared that, when we find out that members of your campaign team are engaged in all kind of communications with Russia, which, perhaps you know, perhaps you don't know.

But all of this takes us off message. And so if you want to grow respect, you have to grow up and you have to bring some discipline to the organization. And this president and his team have not been able to do that to this point.

ALLEN: We appreciate you joining us and your comments, James Davis. Maybe in the future, we'll have something where he's turned that around a little bit. We'll see. Thank you so much for joining us.

DAVIS: Thank you, Natalie.

ALLEN: Coming up here, a U.S. senator scolded secretary of state Rex Tillerson for opting to go to Asia next week without the news media. But it's not just the media that appears to be getting sidelined. We'll explain right after this. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Atlanta.






ALLEN: U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson visits Japan, South Korea and China next week in a break with the practice of previous administrations. The State Department news corps, the press corps, will not be going with him.

And it's not only the media that seems to be getting sidelined, as CNN's Michelle Kosinski reports, Tillerson is apparently getting left out of key diplomatic meetings.


MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Secretary of state Rex Tillerson meeting with Iraq's oil minister but, once again, taking no questions from the press.

Many questions here lately, conspicuously unanswered, like the State Department press office not even being told that Mexico's foreign minister, essentially Secretary Tillerson's equivalent, was in D.C. to meet not with Tillerson but with White House adviser and Trump son-in- law, Jared Kushner, and two other officials.

MARK TONER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: We will take that and get back to you. I was unaware that he was -- foreign minister was in town.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): It turned out, according to a Mexican official, that the foreign minister did talk to Rex Tillerson by phone just before his trip and they randomly bumped into each other at a restaurant Wednesday night, where they did briefly talk face-to-face.

The official says the Kushner meeting was more a casual gathering, just a continuation of progress in an important relationship that has been repeatedly rattled by President Trump's tweets and statements.

But it's not only the Mexican foreign minister meeting that Rex Tillerson has not been a party to. Diplomatic sources say there have been other meetings with foreign officials and, again, Jared Kushner. One source says the Chinese ambassador now feels he needs to deal primarily with -- yes, Kushner.

A former top State Department official said diplomats here want to see Rex Tillerson succeed but many feel that's not happening right now. They feel Jared Kushner is essentially acting as secretary of state. And they wonder why Tillerson would want to take a job where he might appear sidelined.

And even if that was just an appearance, it still matters in the influence you have when you do meet with world leaders.

Top positions at State remain unfilled; press briefings just started this week. And Tillerson has resisted bringing a press corps with him on trips, even the extremely important visit days from now to China, South Korea and Japan, prompting Senator Ed Markey to call on Tillerson to allow better access, saying he is sending a dangerous signal to other countries about the U.S. commitment to a vibrant media.

"The decision to exclude reporters from your trip falls into a broader pattern of efforts by the Trump administration to sideline and undermine the press."

The White House says Tillerson is just trying to save money by not bringing along a press corps, an odd response, considering journalists pay for their own travel. The State Department says it's still being worked out. From Tillerson, himself, though, no comment -- Michelle Kosinski, CNN, the State Department.


ALLEN: Donald Trump spoke with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas by phone Friday for the first time since taking office. The U.S. president emphasized that peace in the region is possible and it's time to make a deal. He invited Mr. Abbas to the White House but no date was set.


ALLEN: Reports say the Palestinian leader will stress his concerns about Israeli settlement building and the need for a two-state solution.

Mr. Trump's choice for U.S. ambassador to Israel has been a supporter of settlements. And he is now just one step away from confirmation. A Senate committee approved David Friedman's (ph) nomination Thursday and the full Senate could confirm him next week -- as CNN Oren Liebermann reports, President Trump also has connections to Israel's settlement activity.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the shadow of the Palestinian city of Ramallah, this is the settlement President Trump has supported. His name is not in any of the buildings, but his mark and those of his administration are here in Beit El, one of the oldest settlements, home to 6,500 Israelis.

LIEBERMANN: Do you see Trump as positive for the settlements and positive for Beit El?

CHAIM SILBERSTEIN, BEIT EL SPOKESPERSON: Absolutely. I think that he loves Israel.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Trump donated $10,000 to the settlement's schools in 2003 according to tax filings from the Trump Foundation. Tax documents show the Kushner Family Foundation, his son-in-law's family charity, also donated tens of thousands of dollars.

But Trump's pick for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has the deepest connections. Friedman's name is on some of the buildings here, so is his father's. Friedman, a long-time supporter of a settlement school. He's even president of the school's fundraising arm, which raises some $2 million a year.

Critics question whether Friedman's loyalty of Beit El could conflict with what's in the best interest for the U.S., which considers the settlement expansion unhealthy to peace.

SEN. TOM UDALL (D), NEW MEXICO: I would like you, for the record, to answer in writing whether you've separated your financial interests from that of Beit El.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): On the conservative Arutz Sheva news outlet run from Beit El, Friedman, a regular columnist, has advocated for settlements, illegal under international law and against the Palestinian state.

He compared liberal Jews to kapos, Jews who worked for the Nazis during World War II, accused the U.S. State Department of a century of anti-Semitism and called the two-state solution an illusion for a nonexistent problem.


LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Friedman apologized for those comments during his confirmation hearing, even saying he'd support Beit El becoming part of a Palestinian state in a peace deal.

SEN. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: If the land in Beit El was included in a two-state solution and that that land had to be returned to the Palestinians, would you support the return of that land to the Palestinians?

FRIEDMAN: In the context of a consensual filigree to a two-state solution?

MARKEY: That's correct.


MARKEY: You would?


LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Beit El's spokesman Chaim Silberstein standing by Friedman.

SILBERSTEIN: In his position as ambassador, he would certainly fulfill the requirements of that position and he would support what his government decided.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: Our CNN's Oren Liebermann there in Israel.

Just ahead, why Team Trump has changed its mind about this man -- I think you know him. How the WikiLeaks founder ran afoul the Trump administration. We'll have that as CNN NEWSROOM (INAUDIBLE) here.


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live in Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our headlines.


ALLEN: There was no foul play in the death last month of Russian diplomat Vitaly Churkin. A New York City official also tells CNN the ambassador to the United Nations died of a heart attack. But the medical examiner's office says it won't comment publicly on Churkin's death because of diplomatic protocol.

As Russia's ambassador, Churkin supported Syria's Assad regime. And against the backdrop of the Syrian war, the presidents of Russia and Turkey met in Moscow Friday. Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Vladimir Putin to affirm coordination of their military and diplomatic moves in this six-year-old conflict -- and that's a big change.

As recently as 2015, Ankara and Moscow had not been getting along. For his part, Donald Trump has repeatedly spoken about improved relations with Russia. But recent controversies keep getting in the way. Matthew Chance explains; he's in Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Russia has emerged as a controversy the Trump administration just can't seem to shake. It started, of course, during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, when first reports emerged of hacking targeting Democratic Party servers, dumping private e-mails on the Internet.

U.S. intelligence agencies said they had high confidence that Russia was behind the operation. But the Trump team refused to accept that; Candidate Trump, even calling on Russian hackers to target Hillary Clinton's personal e-mails.

At the same time, Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was accused of accepting millions of dollars in cash for representing Russian interests in Ukraine. The scandal forced him to resign but Manafort denied any wrong-doing, saying the suggestion that he accepted cash payments was unfounded.

After President Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats in December 2016 of hacking allegations, the then president-elect praised Vladimir Putin's decision not to retaliate. President Trump's pick for secretary of state was also controversial, Rex Tillerson, he's the former CEO of the oil company, Exxon, that was awarded a medal of friendship by the Russian leader. In February 2017, it emerged that Trump's national security adviser,

Michael Flynn, discussed lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia even before he had been sworn in. General Flynn, who regularly appeared on Russian state television, even attended a gala dinner --


CHANCE (voice-over): -- with Vladimir Putin in Moscow, resigned his post after just 24 days.

Then more Russia controversy surfaced around Trump's attorney general, Jeff Sessions; critics accused him of lying at his confirmation hearing by saying that he had had no communications with the Russians during the election campaign.

In fact, he had meetings with Russia's ambassador to Washington, who U.S. intelligence officials said was a spy recruiter.

Donald Trump has spoken repeatedly about wanting to build a better relationship with Russia in the future. But the swirling scandals have focused on the contacts this administration have already had in the past -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


ALLEN: Team Trump also once looked favorably on WikiLeaks. Mr. Trump even applauded the website when he was on the campaign trail. But its latest leaks are creating problems for his administration, as we learned from CNN's Elise Labott.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After blowing the cover on the CIA's hacking techniques, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange took a bow.

JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS: The Central Intelligence Agency lost control of its entire cyber weapons arsenal, what appears to be the largest arsenal of Trojans and viruses in the world, that tax most of the systems that journalists, people in government, politician, CEOs and average people use.

TRUMP: WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks.

LABOTT (voice-over): President Trump and his backers celebrated the WikiLeaks' release of Democratic e-mails during the campaign. But now that the recent leaks involve the CIA's most sophisticated and effective spying tools, the White House is less than pleased with Julian Assange.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON: He has compromised in the past and undermined our national security. And I think I will leave it up to the Department of Justice to further comment on their disposition of him.

LABOTT (voice-over): U.S. intelligence agencies have accused Russian intelligence of using WikiLeaks as a tool in their campaign to interfere in last year's election. The Russians were seeking to help President Trump and weaken his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

According to a U.S. intel report, which says they have, quote, "high confidence" Russian military intelligence relayed material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks," and, quote "that the Kremlin's principle international propaganda outlet RT, which hired Assange to host a talk show, has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks."

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER DIR., CIA: This may be what WikiLeaks said it was, an insider. But with regard to the timing, I mean, look, I'm now pretty close to the position that WikiLeaks is acting as an arm, as an agent of the Russian Federation.

LABOTT (voice-over): Which made this all the more curious, a meeting between British opposition leader Nigel Farage and Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy just hours before Assange news conference on Thursday.

Why is this significant?

Farage was an early supporter of the Trump campaign.

TRUMP: Mr. Nigel Farage.

LABOTT (voice-over): After Trump's win, Trump took to Twitter to suggest Farage as the next ambassador to Washington. Farage now calls himself an unofficial adviser to President Trump and recently tweeted out a photo of the two of them having dinner at Trump's D.C. hotel last month.

The White House denied any advance knowledge of Farage's meeting with Assange.

SPICER: I have my own concerns here, keeping track of what everybody is doing. I generally don't worry about what's going on across the pond.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the question's not what Farage is doing.

But can you tell us he wasn't there on behalf of the White House?

SPICER: Sure. I don't -- he is not -- I am not -- this is silly.


ALLEN: Elise Labott reporting there for us.

A new controversy for President Trump's former campaign chief, Paul Manafort. A Ukrainian human rights lawyer wants prosecutors to investigate what are said to be the hacked text messages of one of Manafort's daughters.

The attorney represents the victims of mass police shootings in Kiev, Ukraine, in 2014. He says the texts point to possible influence Manafort had with Ukraine's president at that time. And as our Matthew Chance tests shon (ph), Manafort currently an FBI investigation over alleged payments connected to Ukraine.

The United Nations says aid workers are providing emergency food and water supplies to nearly 4,000 people trapped in Western Mosul. The battle is taking a horrible toll on civilians, with tens of thousands fleeing in just the last few weeks as Iraqi forces try to make progress in their fight to recapture all of Mosul from ISIS.

But as our Ben Wedeman reports --


ALLEN: -- and he's there, there's not much left to save.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how you get around West Mosul. You run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

WEDEMAN (voice-over): The soldiers here in the southern neighborhood of Danadan aren't confident of victory.

"The situation here is very good," says Ahmed (ph). "ISIS has run away. There are no problems in this area."

His comrade, Ali (ph), agrees.

"ISIS is finished," he says.

The battle passed through here just a few days ago, leaving massive destruction in its wake. Attack helicopters are busy overhead.

WEDEMAN: This is what the Iraqi military says is a liberated area but there's gunfire nearby and not a civilian to be found.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Just a few blocks away, most of the houses are empty and many of the few who stayed behind are leaving. There's no running water, electricity or food.

Omahamed (ph), however, staying put. She and her family hid out in their basement for 16 days while the battle raged around them. Their only food was cold porridge made of flour and water.

"The children were afraid," she recalls. "We gave them and the old folks medicine to make them sleep through the whole thing."

She's the exception. Thousands are fleeing the city every day.

"Our house was destroyed," Ivania (ph) says. "ISIS had forced us out. Then it was hit by a rocket."

Meriam (ph) left her home this morning and now enjoys a cigarette, forbidden under the rule of ISIS, although, she says, they weren't above a few sins of their own.

"They took pills, they drank alcohol, they oppressed us," she says. "But when they came to you, they'd say 'God says this, Muhammad says that.'"

Their experiment at being holier than thou has ended in this -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, West Mosul.




ALLEN: Well, the pope has indicated he's open to a possible change in the rules around marriage and the priesthood -- quite a headline. Our Vatican correspondent, Delia Gallagher, has that.


DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: An important comment by Pope Francis that he would be open to the possibility of Catholic married men becoming ordained priests. He said it could go some way toward helping the shortage of priests in certain areas around the world.

Now important to note is that it is not the same thing as saying Catholic priests can marry, which is usually what we mean when we talk about married priests. The pope said that he upholds the longstanding tradition of a celibate priesthood in the Catholic Church but that he would be open to a certain group of married men, called the viri probati in Latin, the tested men of faith and virtue, being allowed to be ordained.

We should say also that these were comments made in an interview; there has yet to be any action taken by Pope Francis on the issue. Presumably, if he were to go ahead with it, it would involve a meeting with his bishops to debate the question and then a papal document suggesting exactly how he intends to implement it -- Delia Gallagher, CNN, Rome.


ALLEN: Next here on CNN NEWSROOM, we profile a company that's moving 300 jobs from the United States to Mexico, a decision that grew criticism from President Trump.





(SPORTS) ALLEN: President Trump has vowed to bring jobs back to the United States and stop them from moving to Mexico but some U.S. companies seem to be ignoring the president's agenda. CNN's Leyla Santiago reports from Monterrey, Mexico.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the industrial capital of Mexico, on the corner of a street filled with factories, 22-year-old Estonio Bundego (ph) is waiting for his ride and something else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

SANTIAGO (voice-over): He's waiting for a job. The recent college grad hopes to work for one U.S. company in particular. The ball bearing manufacturer Rexnord is moving 300 jobs from Indianapolis to Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon. It's a decision that drew criticism from President Trump, tweeting the company had viciously fired 300 workers.

SANTIAGO: Do you think the damage is done?

Do you think Mexico and the U.S. can work together?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course. It has to, I think it has to. And the end, Mr. Trump is just an accident in history.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Secretary of Economic Development Fernando Turner (ph) says President Trump has a lot to learn about Mexico. Turner says the U.S. needs Mexico, needs Monterrey for trade, its workers and its low-cost labor.

Those factors resonated with Rexnord, telling CNN in a statement, "To be a viable company that contributes to economic growth, we must meet customer needs with high-quality products at competitive prices."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States needs Mexico as we need the United States. And, unfortunately or fortunately --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- we cannot separate. We are like Siamese twins.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): The majority of Nuevo Leon's exports land in the U.S. More than 2,000 American companies depend on operations here, many with plans to expand. And the demand for skilled labor here is so high, the state graduates an average of 5,000 engineers a year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Estonio (ph) tells us he is one of those engineers, who doesn't think of this as stealing a job from the U.S.; rather, an opportunity for a better life -- and so he waits. He waits for Rexnord -- Leyla Santiago, CNN, Monterrey, Mexico.


ALLEN: And finally this hour, we want to tell you about a program CNN is doing. March 14th is My Freedom Day. CNN is partnering with young people all around the world for a student-led day of action against modern-day slavery.

That, of course, is the topic we have been covering here for years. Driving My Freedom Day is a simple question.

What does freedom mean to you?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom is knowing that you're safe anywhere in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For us, freedom is act on your own will and choosing your own career.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me means the opportunity to live without oppression. Freedom means the ability to live.


ALLEN: That's a nice one. We want to hear what freedom means to you. Post a photo or video using the #MyFreedomDay so we can see it here and share it with the world. Thanks for joining me this hour. We'll have more news in a moment with my colleague, Hannah Vaughan Jones, in London. You are watching CNN.