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Dutch PM Survives Far-Right Challenge; Trump's Travel Ban Blocked Again; Trump Breaks Silence Claims Proof of Accusation; Russians Indicted in Yahoo Hack. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 16, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[000035] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands has survived a challenge from the far-right. But Geert Wilders promises we have not heard the last from him.

SESAY: Donald Trump's travel ban is blocked a second time just hours before it was supposed to go into effect. The President slammed the decision and vows to fight on.

VAUSE: And Washington is accusing Russian spies of hacking half a billion Yahoo e-mail accounts.

SESAY: Hello and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause and NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

SESAY: Well breaking news this hour, voters in the Netherlands appear to be rejecting far-right leader Geert Wilders and his anti-immigrant message. Results are not yet final in the country's parliamentary elections but Prime Minister Mark Rutte, his ruling party looks to be headed for victory.

VAUSE: So far with 94 percent of the vote counted, Rutte's People's Party is projected to win 33 out of 150 seats in parliament. Wilders' Freedom Party will take 20 seats.

SESAY: That could leave Wilders out in the cold when it comes to forming a coalition government. CNN's Atika Shubert reports from The Hague.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're here at the victory party for Prime Minister Mark Rutte and it is a big night for him. The party itself may have actually lost as many as ten seats in this election but his campaign was able to stop the anti- immigration, anti-EU populism of Geert Wilders right in its track.

Now he made a grand entrance to his victory speech. Take a listen to what Rutte had to say. MARK RUTTE, PRIME MINISTER OF NETHERLANDS (through translator): I've had lots of European leaders on the phone already. This night is a night for the Netherlands. After Brexit, after the American election, well we said stop it. Stop it for the wrong type of populism.

SHUBERT: While Wilders' Freedom Party was able to gain a modest amount of seats Mark Rutte has said he will not include Wilders in any coalition government which relegates Wilders to a mere opposition role.

GEERT WILDERS, FREEDOM PARTY (through translator): If they need or if they need the PBB for talks, then I am happy to take part. If not then they haven't gotten rid of me yet. We have more people.

With 19 to 20 people in parliament we will have a strong opposition against the cabinet and we will make their lives difficult everyday.

SHUBERT: This maybe sobering news for far-right parties in France and Germany who are hoping to mimic the success of Donald Trump in the United States starting right here in the Netherlands.

But after the celebration tonight, Rutte will have to find a way to cobble together a coalition government from all the smaller parties that managed to break through in this election from both the left and right. That is a process that is likely to take many weeks.

Atika Shubert, CNN -- at The Hague.


VAUSE: President Donald Trump's second try at a travel has been blocked by a federal judge just like the first one. A judge in Hawaii made the decision just hours before the revised ban was to take effect.

SESAY: The executive order would halt travel from several Muslim- majority countries. The ruling came down as Mr. Trump was preparing to speak at a rally in Tennessee. The President told the crowd, he'll fight the decision.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A judge has just blocked our executive order on travel and refugees coming into our country from certain countries.

The order he blocked was a watered-down version of the first order. That was also blocked by another judge and should have never been blocked to start with.


VAUSE: The new travel ban is similar to the original but Iraq was dropped from the list of targeted countries. It also exempts those with green cards and valid visas and dropped the language which referred to religious minorities. Let's bring in our Stephanie Elam now. She is in Honolulu, Hawaii. Also with us, CNN legal analyst Areva Martin; she is with us here in Los Angeles.

[00:05:00] But Stephanie -- first to you.

This is a very big, if maybe temporary win for Hawaii and a huge setback for the Trump administration. In broad brush strokes here what was the reason behind the judge's decision?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was very interesting to watch, John, because I was in that federal court as he was pressing both the judges representing the state of Hawaii and the judge -- the attorneys, I should say -- the attorneys representing the Department of Justice.

And he had big questions for that attorney from the Department of Justice about -- what about the context. He kept asking about that. Should you look at this executive order without taking a look at the context around that?

And what he meant was focusing on the fact that as a candidate, Donald Trump often spoke about a Muslim ban or that we don't want extreme Islam here where he referenced that. And they're saying, using his own words, you could see that this was a very targeted executive order where it was targeting people from a certain place and for their faith. And that was unconstitutional. So therefore the judge granted this temporary restraining order.

But what is interesting is that the lawyer was saying that that context was not key to this. The judge ruled, however, that it is necessary to look at it beyond just the four corners of the document but to take a look at what the context was outside of it including from the surrogates of Donald Trump as well.

So that is very important to take a look at why this ruling came down the way it did. Obviously there are people who believe that this is not right. There are federal judges who are Republicans who have come out and said that what was in the executive order was completely on the up and up and that this temporary restraining order should not have been granted by this judge here in Hawaii -- John.

SESAY: And Stephanie -- do stand by for us. I want to bring in Areva Martin. Areva -- let's be honest. This reworked travel ban, many did maintain or hold in place many of the major components of the original. Which begs the question, how surprised should the administration really be that it was blocked once again?

AREVE MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I don't think anyone is surprised -- Isha. Everyone expected that Attorney Generals from certain states would challenge the new travel ban and that immigration advocates as well would challenge it on the same grounds that this ban despite being neutral on its face is actually aimed at discriminating against Muslims simply because of their religion.

And I want to point out that the court, the federal judge in Hawaii referenced a 2005 Supreme Court case that says that courts are not to turn a blind eye to the context in which policy is made. And many of the statements that Donald Trump made during the campaign as well as those made post-campaign have come back to haunt him. Those very words, those very interviews that he gave during the last 16 months or so were used by this federal court.

And the federal court says uncontroverted evidence that shows the real intent of this ban to be to ban individuals from this country simply because of their religion. And that's a big part of this case. And the Trump administration is going to have a hard time at any level disputing the intent that's been so cited (ph) throughout this opinion.

VAUSE: It's very hard to un-ring that bell. But let's take a closer look at the actual part of the judge's ruling which refers to that.

This is what the judge wrote in his opinion. "The record before the court is unique. It includes significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus driving the promulgation of the executive order and its related predecessor."

And then the judge went on to specifically reference a statement the President made on CNN last year. This is it.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Do you think Islam is at war with the West?

TRUMP: I think Islam hates us. There's something there that -- there's a tremendous hatred there. There's a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it.

There is an unbelievable hatred of us --

COOPER: In Islam itself?

TRUMP: You're going to have to figure that out.


VAUSE: So Areva, essentially the court here was looking at, you know, motive as well as content within the executive order. But if this goes all the way to the Supreme Court isn't it the opposite when it reaches the highest court in the United States that they just look at content? They don't take into account motive.

Martin: Well, that's going to be interesting because we know when the first -- the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal's opinion was issued Donald Trump said we'll see you in court. But what really happened was a dismissal of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal case. So again we've heard Trump come out and say he's going to take this all the way to the Supreme Court but we know we have a court that only has eight justices.

So if it does make it to the Supreme Court the question becomes are we going to have a four-four (inaudible), are we going to have, you know, liberal judges coming down in favor of the TRO and Republican judges -- or Republican appointed judges coming down in favor of Trump and the ban?

[00:10:02] It's a real question here but I think we're not going to ever get around this intent that's been cited by this Hawaiian judge because it's a 2005 Supreme Court case that this federal judge relied upon to say that content does matter. That you can't just look at the neutral document or you can't take for face value what the government argument has been made. You have to look at the context which has been presented. And there's uncontroverted evidence about banning Muslims because of their religion.

SESAY: And Stephanie to bring you back in here, for our international viewers watching, they'll be wondering why Hawaii felt the need to take such a stand, such an early stand. Can you give us some context about Hawaii's position here?

ELAM: Right. Well, there are a couple of things. I did ask the Attorney General Doug Chin why he felt the need to stay separate from the other lawsuit that we saw coming from Washington State where you saw Minnesota and other states joining that one.

And part of it too, I should mention to you because the Attorney Generals, the Conference of Western Attorneys General is happening here in Honolulu right now. And the Attorney General from Hawaii is hosting.

So this is a super win for him while he's also hosting the other attorneys general. So the attorney general from Oregon is also here and she was saying that it is very useful to have different states attack the same problems from different ways because you may actually get a win one place where you don't the other -- right. So that is useful here to have this go separately.

But also here in Hawaii, they feel very strongly, according to the attorney general and Governor Ige that there is a different contextual meaning here in Hawaii about a travel ban like this.

For instance, what is really huge here in Hawaii is tourism, obviously. People come here to see these beautiful beaches that you may see behind me. They come here. They want people to continue to do that.

They're also saying the aloha spirit of helping refugees, of helping people in need is also huge here in Hawaii. And also one thing that came up a lot in court today was talking about the universities and the fact that they do -- right now they're in the process of accepting students and candidates who are coming in internationally that will cause them funds if these people aren't able to come -- tuition and the like.

So they're saying this would actually affect them right now if that were to -- this travel ban were to be put in place, if these candidates and students didn't have their visas in line already. And there's one other thing I just want to point out is that in light

of World War II and the interment camp and the fact that there is a large population here in Hawaii of people of Japanese descent, it also has a cord that is very negative and very upsetting here as well -- Isha. And so because of that altogether when you look at all of those angles, they're saying that this travel ban is not what is in the best interest of not just Hawaii but of the country but specifically looking at their unique needs because of that.

VAUSE: Areva -- back to you here. It seems that the first travel ban was blocked for legal reasons on the ground that it was a violation of due process. In other words, people were -- I mean their rights are violated because of it.

This time around, if you read the opinion of Judge Watson there in Hawaii, it seems pretty clear that he says that this is essentially a Muslim ban. It fails the religious test argument.

MARTIN: Yes, we have to make note that this is at the TRO stage, a temporary restraining order stage. So the judge didn't really rule on the merits of the case but what he did say was that the likelihood of success on the merits -- the likelihood that the ban would be determined to be unconstitutional is great.

And when you have a case where on the merits, the parties are likely to proceed -- in this case being the state attorney general from Hawaii, then the temporary restraining order was issued.

I want to point out one thing that Stephanie said about the Republican judges from the Ninth Circuit. So five judges appointed by a Republican president have come forward and made a statement that they believe the original travel ban from January meets constitutional muster.

Now they're making this unsolicited filing at a time when the Trump administration had already dismissed its case in the Ninth Circuit. So their filing -- their determination really has no effect whatsoever on the decision made by the federal court judge in Hawaii.

It may signal to the Trump administration that if this goes up again to the Ninth Circuit, he may find favor with those five Republican judges. But so far, that decision made by those judges at the Ninth Circuit, those Republican judges has no impact whatsoever on the national TRO that's been issued by the federal court judge in Hawaii.

VAUSE: Ok. Areva -- thank you. Areva Martin, legal analyst; and also Stephanie Elam there, live in Honolulu. Thanks to you -- both.

ELAM: Thanks to you.

SESAY: Now President Trump is breaking his silence on his wiretapping allegation.

VAUSE: Mr. Trump gave an interview to Fox News claiming that the former President Barack Obama order a tap on his phones last year. It's based on a story he read in the "New York Times" and also a Fox News report.

[00:15:04] He also said he has more proof which he has not released yet.

SESAY: Meantime, more lawmakers are coming forward with their doubts about the accusation. Manu Raju reports.


MANU RAJU, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Today members of President Trump's own party are openly challenging his claim that Trump Tower had been wiretapped under the orders of President Barack Obama.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: We don't have any evidence that that took place. And in fact I don't believe, just in the last week, a time the people we talk to. I don't think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.

RAJU: And Senator Lindsey Graham said official answers of Trump's allegation of wiretapping may soon be coming.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: There may be no there -- there. But it's pretty easy to answer the question was there ever a warrant issued or applied for. So --


GRAHAM: I believe it to be but the longer they take to get back to me the more concerned I am. And it builds suspicion. You know, what's taking them so long.

RAJU: This comes as FBI Director James Comey briefed senators about its ongoing investigation, a move to defuse tensions with the Republican Judiciary chairman, who is holding up a key confirmation of a top Justice Department official until he gets more answer.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: I expect people to respond according to what they told me. And in this particular instance, we were not given the respect that the constitution gives us of oversight of the executive branch of government. And so that's very irritating.

RAJU: The House Intelligence Committee is calling on the Justice Department to immediately provide any information to support President Trump's allegations that were made during the Saturday morning tweet storm 11 days ago.

NUNES: President Obama wouldn't physically go over and wiretap Trump Tower so now you have to decide are you going to take the tweets literally? And if you are, then clearly the President as well. But if you're not going to take the tweets literally and if there's a concern that the President has about other people, other surveillance activities looking at him or his associates, either appropriately or inappropriately, we want to find that out.

RAJU: But Nunes and the top Democrat in the committee, Adam Schiff disagree on one key piece of their investigation -- whether the Trump campaign had any improper contacts with Russians who are meddling in the elections.

Do you have any evidence of that?

NUNES: Not that I'm aware of.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: You know, I wouldn't answer that question as categorically as my colleague.

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Look, my answer is no.

RAJU: And the Attorney General said today that he never gave the President any evidence or reason to believe he had been wiretapped by the Obama administration.

SESSIONS: I have recused myself. I'm not talking to the President or the people who are investigating the case. And I'm unable to comment on any of these details.

RAJU: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island thought he was going to get a key question answered today -- whether or not the FBI is actually investigating the issue of Trump campaign contacts with Russian officials during the presidential election. Now he did not get that answer even though he said that Comey privately assured him in a private meeting just a couple of weeks ago that he would respond to him by today, by the time that his subcommittee was having a hearing on the issue of Russia.

Now, that deadline came and went. It did not happen and they expect actually now to get a response next week in a classified letter from the FBI director about that question and about the issue of wiretapping, you know, what evidence if any exists to support President Trump's claim. But tonight those senators are concerned there's going to be a classified letter and the public may never know.

Manu Raju, CNN -- Capitol Hill.


SESAY: Time for a quick break now.

Next on CNN NEWSROOM, the U.S. government names people behind the hack on hundreds of millions of Yahoo users. Just ahead, why the company is calling it a state-sponsored attack.

VAUSE: Also Rex Tillerson gets to work in Tokyo. We'll take a look at the discussions he will likely hold with Japanese leaders in just a moment.


SESAY: Hello everyone.

The U.S. Justice Department has charged four people including two Russian spies in connection to a massive hack on Yahoo e-mail accounts.

VAUSE: All of these comes at a time when relations between the U.S. and Russia are already strained.

CNN's Jessica Schneider has details.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The FBI said these two men are Russian spies. They're wanted for pulling off one of the largest cyber thefts in U.S. history, accused of stealing personal and financial information from more than 500 million Yahoo users.

The Russian intelligence officers, Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin were indicted for a breach the U.S. government says stretched over two years in both the U.S. and Russia.

MARY MCCORD, ACTING ASST. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Department of Justice is continuing to send a powerful message that we will not allow individuals, groups, nation states or a combination of them to compromise the privacy of our citizens --

SCHNEIDER: The FBI says some of the hacked Yahoo accounts belonged to U.S. government officials as well as to employees of a U.S. airline. Yahoo which has more than a billion users world wide cooperated with the investigation and in a statement praised the FBI and pointed to Russian involvement writing, "The indictment unequivocally shows the attacks on Yahoo were state-sponsored."

The scheme allegedly directed and paid for by the two Russian spies was allegedly carried out by two criminal hackers including this man Karim Baratov.

Baratov was arrested Tuesday morning in Canada. His Facebook and Instagram feeds show a passion for partying, fast cars and a love of computers. This picture of his one of his tattoos is written in binary code. Last month he posted he was suspended from school four years ago and he cashed in saying, "I was well-off in high school to be able to afford driving a BMW 7 series and pay off a mortgage on my first house."

[00:24:51] The other man allegedly hired by the Russian spies, Alexsey Belan has evaded law enforcement around the world since 2012. Belan is listed as one of the FBI's most wanted hackers. He's been indicted twice in the U.S. for computer fraud and is the subject of an outstanding Interpol red notice.

Still U.S. investigators say he somehow made it back to Russia in 2013 despite being arrested by police in Europe.

JACK BENNETT, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, FBI: The FSB knew this. There were red notices up on him and they've known that he's been in their country yet they still allowed him to operate unfettered there.

SCHNEIDER: In a strange twist one of the alleged masterminds of the hacking FSB officer Dokuchaev is in custody in Russia, according to a defense lawyer. He is charged with treason allegedly for working on behalf of the United States. The FBI believes the other FSB officer Igor Sushchin is also in Russia but U.S. officials stress this case is not connected to election hacking by the Russians. And now a lot of questions about why that former spy wanted by the U.S. is also charged with treason by Russia.

Jessica Schneider, CNN -- Washington.


SESAY: Rod Beckstrom is the former CEO of ICANN, the Internet corporation for assigned names and numbers. He joins us now from Santa Cruz, California.

Rod -- it's so good to see you again.

So this indictment containing 47 charges in one of the largest known thefts of data from a private corporation, it's long been suspected that the Russians used cyber mercenaries to do their work. But from where you sit, have we learned anything new with this DOJ investigation?

ROD BECKSTROM, FORMER CEO OF ICANN: Sure. And this is (inaudible) a number of first. There's three firsts in this incident. Number one you got over a billion records that were hacked back in '13 and '14. That's the largest (inaudible).

Secondly, this is the first time the United States government has ever filed criminal charges against Russian government officials. That's never happened before. So that's a first.

And the third one is it's the first time that the U.S. government has made an explicit connection between Russian criminal hacking organizations and Russian intelligence apparatus.

So three big firsts on this. I think the latter two are obviously the surprise. The billion records have been out there for a while. This is a big day and an interesting chess move by the U.S. government, I would say.

SESAY: Should we be surprised that two of the men indicted Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin worked in the cyber investigative division of the Federal Security Service. I mean it's been pointed out that this is the agency that's supposed to investigate computer intrusions in Russia and it is itself engaged in hacking?

BECKSTROM: Yes. Well, you know, this kind of things do happen. I think what's surprising here is the following. The contrast between how the Russian is conscripting mercenaries versus how other governments including the United States does that.

In the United States, like you take the first hacker that was prosecuted by the Department of State who was Kevin (inaudible) and he was a criminal and he served some time. And then they turned him into someone helping U.S. government. But when he did that he had to come clean which meant no more criminal activity and hacking whatsoever. And today he's, you know, keynote speaker in a security resource. In Russia the difference is they test hundreds of criminal hackers,

saw what he is doing, recruited him into helping them -- this is Belan we're talking about. And then allowed him to continue to keep doing the criminal hacking.

So it's almost like look, you can keep stealing, that's fine and do criminal activities and we'll ignore the Interpol alert as long as you give us some data we want.

And most governments in the world would not do that, certainly the United States wouldn't and western governments wouldn't. So I think that's an interesting fact to see coming out of the States -- Isha.

SESAY: Do these charges amount to being anything more than symbolic?

BECKSTROM: I think that it's more symbolic. I mean they've got a real chance of getting their hands on the two non-government employees or rather prosecuting them and they may spend some time. With respect to the charges against the government officials, no I think it is symbolic because there's no way Russia is going to hand them over no more than we would hand over FBI agents or CIA agents (inaudible) if the Russians filed charges against them back in their home country.

So that is totally symbolic. No, I think that the Department of Justice was sort of appalled by the level of this activity and it's extremely aggressive and there's a lot of final cyber crime here against millions eventually of American citizens and hundreds of millions of records compromised.

And I think that the Department of Justice simply thought they had to take a stand and I think that was probably the right move.

SESAY: Rod Beckstrom -- always good to speak to you. Thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate the insight.

BECKSTROM: Thank you.

VAUSE: We're going to take a short break.

When we come back, America's top diplomat is in Japan right now with a security threat from North Korea looming over the meetings with Japanese leaders.



[00:33:25] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour.

Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders says his party didn't win as many seats in parliament as he wonders, but they have brought the issue of immigration to the forefront. 94 percent of the vote is counted and Prime Minister Mark Rutte's party won the most seats. He's expected to try to form a collision government.

VAUSE: U.S. President Donald Trump says he based his wiretapping claims on report he read on "The New York Times" and saw on "Fox News." And he told the "Fox News" channel, he has more proof that former President Barack Obama had his phones tap but he just had to release it yet. Members of Mr. Trump's own party are now doubting the allegation.

SESAY: U.S. President Donald Trump is lashing out of the federal judge who blocked the new travel ban just hours before this to take effect. Mr. Trump told a crowd of supporters he would appeal the judge's decision to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

The ban would have block people from six mostly Muslims nations from traveling to the U.S. for 90 days.

VAUSE: While the president's travel ban is now on hold, the legal questions though are far from settled. Many families are anxious and they are to stay for many people living in those six countries targeted by the executive order.

SESAY: Our Farai Sevenzo introduces us to a Somali family with a disabled child who struggles to escape their refugee camp for years.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suria Mosei (ph) and her five children have found a new temporary home in this transit center in Nairobi.


[00:35:00] SEVENZO: It's been a long journey. For seven years, they live in this refugee camp after escaping war-torn Somalia. The Somali families' resettlement to the United States was cancelled twice since President Donald Trump's first executive order was announced.

Daughter, Asha (ph), has cerebral palsy. The whole family take turns to look after the little one and she needs constant care, which made them a priority for resettlement.


SEVENZO: Hope has return to Mama Suria (ph). But not far beneath the surface is sadness and fear that her family will again have their hopes slash and be force to return to the U.N.'s Kakuma refugee camp.

The moment has arrived for the family. At last Asha (ph) and her family are able to leave. They are heading to Texas, where resettlement program awaits them.


SEVENZO: Even in the relief of departure, anxiety. Suria's (ph) life as a refugee will be over, but the memories of war and the abuse that she suffered will stay with her. Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi


VAUSE: U.S. Secretary of Rex Tillerson will meet with the Japanese foreign minister about an hour from now. After that, he will hold talks with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Ivan Watson live this hour in Tokyo. So, Ivan, this is the first stop for Rex Tillerson before he heads off to Seoul and Beijing. This should be relatively easy for Rex Tillerson. Even so, the new secretary of state will have to deal with some uncertainty which is being created by the recent comments from President Trump.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, this will be the easiest because there's a stable government here in Japan and the U.S.

It seem pretty much eye-to-eye on the biggest question of the day, the biggest challenge which is certainly the nuclear program and missile program that North Korea is engaged in with firing missiles just last week.

One of which landed within the 200 nautical miles exclusion zone around Japan.

That noise by the way is an event from a conservative, kind of nationalist political party here in Japan that's been driving around playing "The Stars-Spangled Banner" if you can believe it to welcome Rex Tillerson.

But the next stops on the secretary of state's big trip will be a little bit more difficult. You have basically a power vacuum, a leadership vacuum in Korea after the impeachment and removal of the president there.

There's an interim president in place. And left wing politician leading in the polls there who is likely to want to take a more diplomatic position vis-a-vis North Korea and then of course there's the final stop in Beijing where the U.S. and China do not see eye-to- eye on many issues. Notably, the deployment of the missile defense system in South Korea known as THAAD, which China has vociferously oppose and even started imposing some punishing economic measures on South Korea to show its displeasure.


VAUSE: OK. I guess, that's now the duration of "The Star-Spangled Banner" which we're all familiar with.

But, Ivan, so when it comes to that threat from North Korea, when Tillerson gets to Beijing, it seems that he's gave some hard words for China in how they deal with North Korea.

WATSON: That's right. I mean, the consistent position of past administrations and currently this one has been that China needs to do more. Since it is effectively North Korea's only real ally and strongest trading partner that only China can kind of get North Korea there to behave and give up its weapons programs.

China bristles some of this criticism. It does point out that it has suspended purchase of coal from North Korea last month. But there, again, are still disagreements on what steps forward they can take.

So one of the other measures that the State Department has talked about is trying to deepen trilateral cooperation between South Korea, Japan and the U.S. And one example of that perhaps is trilateral Naval exercises that war ships from all three countries have been conducting just over the last two days using missile destroyers which had this ages system that can theoretically hunt down missiles that North Korea might fire into the air.

[00:40:00] But again, this is the kind of stuff that makes China uncomfortable and that is the diplomatic kind of tight rope that Rex Tillerson may have to walk between trying to protect the U.S.'s allies here in the region and trying to find a way to work with China that seems to be threatened by some of these measures the U.S. is trying to introduce.


VAUSE: Ivan, thank you.

Ivan Watson live this hour in Tokyo. We'll check in with you again now and throughout the day.

Thanks, Ivan.

SESAY: Still to come, what President Trump says and what he actually means are not always the same thing.


SESAY: Hello, everyone.

President Trump is a man of many words and tweets.

VAUSE: So how do we know when we take him seriously and not literally, or is it literally, not seriously?

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Take him or leave him, it's hard to know how to take him.


I mean, literally.

Literally around, you know, in the little bowl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't take Donald Trump literally about anything.

MOOS: For instance, when President Trump tweeted just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower, no one thought President Obama himself literally tap those wires. But even the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee now says --

DEVIN NUNES, U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: Are you going to take the tweets literally. And if you are, then clearly the president is wrong.

MOOS: Wrong or worse, lied, say Trump critics online.

If tweets are not to be taken literally then stop tweeting.

This whole literal thing first surface last year in "The Atlantic" when writer and CNN contributor Salena Zito observed, "The press takes him literally, but not seriously. His supporters take him seriously, but not literally." To which then candidate Trump responded, "Now that's interesting and confusing."

SALENA ZITO, WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: They take him literally and not seriously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, don't take him literally, take him symbolically.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We take the tweets so seriously and figuratively.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you are literally the president of the United States, we're going to take you seriously and we're going to take you literally.

MOOS: Trump supporters are always berating the press.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should definitely take him seriously because he's a man of his word.

MOOS: Make that words, plural.

TRUMP: I know words. I have the best words. But there's no better words than stupid.

MOOS: Literally.

TRUMP: Right? There is none.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


SESAY: Made it any clearer?



VAUSE: Best words. Best words ever.


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

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. And we'll be back with more news at the top of the hour. But, first, here's "World Sport" after a short break.