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Massive Blizzard Hitting Northeastern U.S.; Turkey/Netherlands Diplomatic Tensions Worsen; WH Officials Reshaping Trump Wiretapping Accusations; Ryan: CBO Report Confirms Plan Will Lower Premiums; Kremlin Denies Meddling in U.S. Election; Wildfire Rages in Colorado; Holocaust Survivor: Why Do People Hate?; "Beauty and the Beast" Record Box Office. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 20, 2017 - 02:00   ET



[02:00:14] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.


VAUSE: Hello, and welcome to our viewers all around the world. Good to have you with us. I'm John Vause.


We start with a massive blizzard affecting millions of people and shutting down much of the northeastern U.S. New York, New Jersey and Virginia are all under a state of emergency.

VAUSE: Around 6,000 flights have been cancelled across the U.S. Baltimore is getting hit hard. And in Washington President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are postponing their meeting until Friday because of the storm.

SESAY: Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri will join us in a moment from the Weather Center.

But let's start with our Rachel Crane out there in New York with an update on conditions.

Rachel, what's it like now?

RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Isha, as you can see, the snow is really starting to come down now. Also, the winds really picking up. The blizzard warning went into effect in New York City about two hours ago. And it will be in place for 24 hours. Now, New York City is expecting to see up to 20 inches of snow. And they're also expecting later today winds that are 40 miles per hour which could cause whiteout conditions. A state of emergency has been declared in New York as well as New Jersey and Virginia. And public schools are closed here in New York City as well as Boston and Philadelphia.

And officials all across the region are urging people that if they can, to stay inside, to stay off the roads. And, of course, the travel delays that you spoke of are affecting, the

storm is affecting the entire country, 6500 flights have been cancelled. And Amtrak has been suspended between New York -- oh, I told you the wind was picking up -- between New York and Boston.

I was not expecting to be wearing this many layers. Spring is just one week away, the start of spring. And we have been experiencing unusually warm weather the past couple weeks in the northeast region, but unfortunately, winter is not gone just yet -- Isha?

SESAY: No, indeed, it isn't. It's hanging over the northeast.

Rachel, stay warm.

VAUSE: That advice to stay indoors, everyone except reporters working.

SESAY: Sorry, Rachel.

CRANE: I know.

VAUSE: Let's go over to Pedram Javaheri for an update on the forecast.

Pedram, you were expecting the nor'easter to be 24 hours. A lot of snow. Is that still on track?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It looks like it will be moving through a little quicker, John and Isha, and it looks like it will favor the coast a little more. That means a lot more rain out of this mixed in with some snow. That will reduce the snowfall potential for some of the cities but could be among the snowiest March snowstorms on record.

We'll show you what could play out here. The I-95 corridor, the most densely populated corridor of the country. That's where the wintry weather is coming in. Philly seeing some of the snow. And New York snow coming down. That's the beginning of this where we think it will enhance and get heavy at times, through 4:00 to 6:00 a.m. We touched on the record warmth so far this year. In fact, 9,000 record-high temperatures versus about 1300 record-low temperatures in the winter season. A lot of people thought it was done with. We're not going to get much of a winter, but it's changing in the last couple of days of the season.

You notice south of Philadelphia, that's where we think the narrow band is going to be in place where a lot of rain could come in. So the accumulation north of New York City, could be seeing up to 60 centimeters or two feet of snowfall just outside of the city. If that shifts south, that could be an entirely different story as far as the significance of it. But you notice that is an incredible area there where we have millions of people living where you have the potential for a significant snow accumulations near the top of the charts. We'll see exactly how this ban sets up here.

Again, the snow just beginning to fall and we think only about 7 to 8 hours of snowfall time in places like New York City before it becomes rain later into the morning hours. That will dictate what comes out of this. It was about 21 Celsius on the fist of March. Now potentially, over a foot of snow in the forecast. This roller-coaster ride continues. Factor it in with the winds up to 50 miles per hour per hour, this could have coastal beach erosion for communities. And we know over 6,000 flights have been cancelled. With this sort of a pattern, it will be dangerous on the roadways and no flying anywhere across the northeastern U.S., at least on Tuesday, guys.

[02:05:57] VAUSE: Yeah. There is cold, and then there's, "oh, my house has just been covered in snow and I can't find my way out" kind of cold.

SESAY: I hope everyone stays in and they've made preparations and stay safe.

Pedram, appreciate it. Thank you so much.

VAUSE: Thanks, Pedram.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

SESAY: Diplomatic tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands are getting worse by the day. Turkey is suspending high-level relations between the countries. Police sealed off the Dutch embassy in Ankara Saturday and are refusing to let the Dutch ambassador back into the capitol.

VAUSE: Protests broke out in the Netherlands when the Dutch government refused entry to high-ranking Turkish officials who traveled there for a rally with expatriates. Turkey's president compared the Dutch government to the Nazis.




Dominic Thomas is the chair of the French and Francophone studies at UCLA. He joins us from Amsterdam.

Dominic, how serious is this move by Turkey to suspend high-level diplomatic relations with the Netherlands?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CHAIR, FRENCH & FRANCOPHONE STUDIES, UCLA: It's incredibly serious. Turkey has been a member of NATO since the 1950s. It's been working closely with the European Union since 2016, in particular, over the management of the migrant crisis. And the level of discourse has escalated. You mentioned in the intro recourse to Nazi and Fascism, and so on. And with the election pending, the referendum next month in Turkey and the election this week in the Netherlands, as well as other important elections in Europe, it doesn't seem this is going to go away any time soon.

VAUSE: How much is domestic politics -- and you mentioned the election there in the Netherlands and the referendum in Turkey on presidential authority. How much of this playing into this high level diplomatic spat?

THOMAS: It's an interesting situation. Folks in the Netherlands are stunned by the tremendous international attention that has been brought upon the Netherlands in the last few months. Brexit, the election of Trump, and the key role that Wilders is playing here with his Freedom Party and shaping questions in the election around Islam, border control, the European Union, and so on, and so the question with Turkey has brought visibility to the substantial and Turkish Muslim and ex-pats and bi-national populations living here and has allowed folks like Wilders to question the allegiance to those folks to Dutch values and Dutch society, and as they expressed their interest in voting in the elections.

And it's interesting. Domestic policies have been shaping most of the election, questions of health care, pension reform and so on. But this really plays into it. When we consider the fact that the number of undecided voters is considered to be around 30 percent to 40 percent, the turnout has been on decline in recent years and there's a remarkable number of political parties running in this election, 28 by the last count. It means that the outcome is unpredictable. Since so much of the run-up to it has been organized around this crisis and fear, it leaves the outcome unpredictable.

VAUSE: Earlier on CNN, the Dutch foreign minister said there was no other choice but to turn those high-ranking Turkish officials over the weekend. This is what he said.


BERT KOENDERS, DUTCH FOREIGN MINISTER: When you have the health minister that comes, in fact, without sovereign immunity on their own to Rotterdam in a very tense situation on the ground, that is, of course, not a very good situation. So then you to try to find a solution. And we did. But I'm just telling you we take sharp measures. As the Netherlands, this is our country. We decide on our public safety, but also on the rule of law and democracy. It's now up to all of us, I think, to make this a reasonable relationship.


VAUSE: As to the last part of what the Dutch foreign minister said, will the countries move beyond this and have any kind of reasonable relationship any time soon?

[02:10:03] THOMAS: I think that what's happened, particularly since things have escalated, you've seen a number of other countries step into the fray. The other day, Denmark and Switzerland more recently. And there's something highly problematic about this. The foreign minister was allowed to conduct a rally in France, which has fueled and all sorts of anger from the far right, and campaigning in communities in ex-pat communities is not something that's that uncommon. This one had a particular flavor, because of the question of Turkey. Just last month, Fillon, one of the leading candidates in the French election, traveled to London to speak to a constituency of an estimated 7,000 French people who live there and held campaign rallies. This is not uncommon. This one has gone out of control. They've used the excuse of security, public safety and so on as a way of preventing this and as a way for the current prime minister, Mark Rutte, to seem as if he's being tough on these kinds of external interventions into the country. But, of course, all these are fed directly into the kind of campaign strategies of the far-right populist, Wilders.

VAUSE: Dominic, thank you for being with us. Dominic Thomas there from UCLA, right now in Amsterdam. Appreciate it, Dominic, thank you.

From Seoul to London to Rio, students around the globe are celebrating My Freedom Day. CNN has partnered with more than 100 schools worldwide as they hold events raise awareness oh of modern-day slavery.

SESAY: Driving this national event is the question, what does freedom mean to you. Take a listen to some of the responses.


CHILDREN: What does March 14th mean to you?

CHILDREN: My Freedom Day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that freedom is having the right to be who you are and being comfortable in the environment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom is about being yourself and not confined to the restrictions.

CHILDREN: Education is the key.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm an Indian living in Jamaica. Freedom means the right to do or say anything no matter your age, gender or race.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to us is the right to do whatever you want, no matter what you like.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going the to tell you what freedom means to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom is having the liberty to do whatever they feel.


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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To us freedom is the ability of expressing their own ideas without being judged.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom means being able to do what you want to do, and not have anyone stop you as long as it doesn't harm anyone else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom means I can love whomever I want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me freedom is to be empowered to love freely and have the courage to become my own person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm Katrina Suarez. I'm 18 years old. And freedom to me is being able to laugh freely and experience happiness.

CHILDREN: Hash tag "My Freedom Day."



SESAY: Great stuff. We'll have more on My Freedom Day in a few minutes.

Coming up next, the White House is basically pulling back a bit. What senior officials are saying about the president's explosive wiretapping claim.


[02:16:24] VAUSE: Well, up until this point, White House officials have tried to dodge questions about President Trump's accusations against the former President Obama saying he ordered his phones to be tapped last year.

SESAY: But now they're reshaping the accusations.

Jim Acosta has the details.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ask President Trump if he has any proof Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, an allegation he made a week ago --


ACOSTA: -- and the room goes quiet. White House officials sound as if they're walk back the president's accusation.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think there are two things that important what he said. I think recognizing that Obama -- he doesn't really think President Obama tapped his phone personally.

ACOSTA: The answers don't get much better from top White House advisers.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you know whether Trump tower was wiretapped?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR TRUMP ADVISOR: I can say, there are many ways to surveil each other now. There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, through their television sets, any number of different ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera.

ACOSTA: On CNN's "New Day," White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, insisted she wasn't suggesting that she had evidence the president was being spied on through his appliances or otherwise.

CONWAY: I was answering a question about surveillance techniques generally.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: He didn't ask about generally.


CUOMO: That was true in the transcript. You may have answered it generally, but you were asked specifically.

CONWAY: I'm not Inspector Gadget. I don't believe people are using the microwave to spy on the Trump campaign. However, I have -- I'm not in the job of having evidence. That's what investigations are for.


ACOSTA: The president took to his favorite gadget to bristle at the continuing questions, tweeting, "It is amazing how rude much of the media is to my hard-working representatives. Be nice. You will do much better."

Even fellow Republicans are demanding answers. On CNN's "State of the Union," Senator John McCain explained the president has two options.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA: Either retract or to provide the information that the American people deserve, because if his predecessor violated the law, President Obama violated the law, we've got a serious issue here.

ACOSTA: After meeting with FBI Director James Comey, House Speaker Paul Ryan is still waiting to see the proof.

(OC): Have you seen anything to suggest there are wiretaps?


ACOSTA: Democrats contend the wiretapping allegations are more about what's bugging him.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY, (D), CONNECTICUT: When news gets bad for the Trump administration, they consistently try to say something outrageous.

ACOSTA: Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


VAUSE: Talk radio host, Ethan Bearman; and Shawn Steele, California Republican National Committee. Glad you guys could stop talking long enough to join us.


We're talking about what Sean Spicer said about don't take the president literally because he put wiretapping in quotes. It was wiretapping. Here's the tweet from the president a couple weekends ago. So because wiretapping is in quotes, don't take it literally.

Shawn, the problem is that Sean Spicer has said when he was asked about this, he said he spoke directly to the president and the tweets speak for themselves. So now they don't speak for themselves. So which one is it?



VAUSE: They're parsing over it, the White House.

STEELE: Steve Colbert has the answer. I'll tell you what he had to say. When WikiLeaks came out a few days ago, with 8,000 pages of CIA evidence of having --


STEELE: -- of having the ability to keep track of everybody in the world and blame it on somebody else. The CIA is very good at this stuff except keeping secrets themselves. The point is we have the most wired government in the history of mankind, and plus the other nation states, that are keeping track of everybody else. And Obama is the one that invented surveillance on a massive scale. George Bush --

[02:20:19] ETHAN BEARMAN, TALK RADIO SHOW HOST: That's not true. Absolutely not true.


BEARMAN: Who passed the Patriot Act?

STEELE: Unfortunately, Republican and Democrats.


STEELE: We're hoping one thing. Maybe Trump has learned something about this national surveillance state we're living in.


BEARMAN: And he enjoys it as well.

STEELE: I don't know. Apparently, he didn't like being surveilled?

BEARMAN: President Obama didn't order a wiretap on Trump when he was running -- STEELE: Neither did he tell Lois Lerner to use the IRS --


BEARMAN: Where is your evidence?

STEELE: Here's the evidence. Every administration has a deep state, going back to Jefferson and Adams. There's always holdovers from the prior administration that don't like the new guys. This has been going on for 200 years. This is an American tradition. Andrew Jackson takes over, he had to take out all the John Quincy Adams people.

BEARMAN: Are we going to review the Whisky Rebellion while we're at it?


STEELE: We should.

SESAY: You can take on the deep state, which continues --


STEELE: It's a phenomenon. It's nothing mysterious. It's nothing new. When Reagan took over, he had to take care of the Carter people. It takes about six months to find them and fire them.

BEARMAN: That's called --


STEELE: It's called a transition.

VAUSE: And when you have a transition and people are ready to go and to be employed in these positions, which most campaigns do.


STEELE: They're not ready to go. The trouble is they have to be ferreted out, found out, exposed and fired.

VAUSE: OK. All this leads to the question of oh when the president says something, can he be trusted? Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you say affirmatively that whenever the president says something, we can trust it to be real?

SPICER: Every time he speaks, he's speaking as president of the United States.


VAUSE: OK. So, Ethan, Sean Spicer was saying when he's speaking authority, he's speaking as the president. When he's joking, he gets out of jail for free. It's not a controversy. This seems to be, every time there's a controversy now, oh, he's joking.

BEARMAN: Right. This is what is so dangerous. We've been talking about this dating back to the race where he tweeted out foreign policy, critical foreign policy decisions, whether we are supposed to believe it or not? This is dangerous territory for the world. Again, wars have started over these kinds of small things. Let's go back to World War I and how it began. Shawn wants to talk about history. The point is it's dangerous and unsettling to everybody in the world, let alone to America.

STEELE: It's unsettling to liberals, particularly. What the mainstream media and liberals don't understand is that Americans take Trump seriously but not literally. Mainstream media, including Ethan, takes him literally but not seriously. There's a total disconnect. We're in different worlds. When Trump speaks it's interesting but you don't take it literally. That's the lesson tonight. Keep that in mind.

BEARMAN: So we shouldn't believe what he says?

STEELE: No. You have to understand what he says.


SESAY: OK, in the absence of providing evidence to support --

STEELE: "The New York Times" is his best evidence.


STEELE: They're not? They're not?

SESAY: We've asked them to provide a list of the publications that support the claims and to date we haven't received it.

STEELE: We need a careful investigation about the people engaged in the surveillance against Trump in his building, and that information should come out, but it's not going to happen overnight.

SESAY: In the absence of that information coming out, would you accept with each day that goes by, his credibility is taking a hit?

STEELE: Not at all. It's going to take a long time to -- look, first of all, do you doubt he wasn't surveilled and his people weren't surveilled? You doubt that there was surveillance taking place?


BEARMAN: He said it was President Obama that did it.


VAUSE: That I don't know. I don't think so. STEELE: By the way, there's only within definition of what wiretapping is, and it doesn't mean, well, I don't know, Sean Spicer said we don't know what wiretapping -


STEELE: -- one thing.

BEARMAN: You're doing the literal scheme again. We know surveillance is the problem.


VAUSE: Let's get to the repealing of Obamacare. The Congressional Budget Office report is out. Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan likes this report. Listen to this.


REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, of course, the CBO is going to say, if you're not going to force people to buy something they don't want to buy, they won't buy it, but at the same time they're saying our reforms will kick in and lower premiums and make health care more accessible. This, compared to the status quo, is far better.


VAUSE: Ethan, the House speaker likes it, but the 24 million Americans who could lose their health insurance over the next 10 years may not like it.

BEARMAN: Yeah, they're not going to like it. I would clarify that 24 million might include a few who choose not to buy insurance. Insurance works as a risk pool. So if the young healthy people choose not to participate, it will be much higher premiums for older people and people who aren't well. This will be terrible for people with illnesses and older people, and also for people in lower income brackets. All way around bad news.

By the way, for those who want to attack the CBO, Keith Hall was selected by the Republicans, including Secretary Price himself.

[02:25:23] SESAY: We have to call time. Gentlemen, thank you.

VAUSE: OK, now for something completely different.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god, I don't know where to go.



(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Yes. A moose. Running down the slopes at a ski resort in Colorado over the weekend.

SESAY: The snowboarder thought she was being chased by the animal. She was able to get out of the moose's way as he continued his trek down the mountain.

VAUSE: The moose is loose. And off he goes.

SESAY: Off he goes.

VAUSE: OK, a short break. When we come back, students around the globe are taking part in My Freedom Day. We'll be live in Abu Dhabi in a moment where one school is standing up against modern-day slavery in a moment.


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

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

We'll check the headlines this hour.


[02:30:49] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Returning to our top story. Monday a very big day for are it Trump administration. The FBI director scheduled to testify at a public hearing of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. In just a matter of hours, James Comey will face questions about President Trump's unsubstantiated claim on wiretapping and alleged Russian involvement in the presidential election. In fact, multiple allegations of Russian ties to Trump officials have dogged this new administration

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: It started last August when "The New York Times" reported on a $12.7 million secret cash payment earmarked for campaign manager, Paul Manafort. It came from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. Manafort denied the story but resigned a few days later. In December, investigators intercepted communications for Trump's pick for national security advisor, Michael Flynn, and the Russian ambassador. They included calls on the same day President Obama imposed sanctions on Moscow for interference with the 2016 campaign.

HOWELL: Flynn, the White House, and the Kremlin initially said sanctions were not discussed in the calls. But on February 13th, Flynn resigned after admitting giving the vice president elect incomplete information.

And earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation because of previously undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador.

CHURCH: Now it's worth noting, Russia says it's not paying attention to the U.S. House Intelligence Committee hearing. But top Kremlin officials will likely be keeping an eye out for new allegations and facts.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen went to the streets of Moscow where some people just want the discussion to go away.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIOANL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Does President Trump really have ties to the Russian government? Did Russia really meddle in the U.S. election? Questions that persist in the U.S. but that many Russians wish would just go away.

We got unnerved reactions on the streets of Moscow.

"No, of course we're not, interfering in any elections," this woman says.

And this man adds, "In Russia, we have an old saying, a bad dancer always has an excuse. The Americans blames Russia for everything. It's not true."

"I like Americans," he said. "They're normal people, but this is crazy. If they say all this, it means Russia is more powerful than the U.S."

Russian mostly state-run media has been lashing out Western coverage of the Trump/, especially at CNN.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: A gift to the Kremlin when you look at the timing.

PLEITGEN: Vladimir Putin spokesman lamenting what he calls American hysteria.

DMITRY PESKOV, SPOKESMAN FOR RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: And the fact that Russia is being demonized in that sense comes very strange to us. And we are really sorry about that.

PLEITGEN: All this after both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin express mutual admiration during the campaign.

"He is a brilliant and talented person, without a doubt.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In terms of leadership, he's getting an "A."

PLEITGEN: Russian officials acknowledge they were pleased when Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the U.S. election but they also expected results, better U.S./Russian relations and possibly an easing of sanctions slapped on Russia over the Ukraine crisis. Now, that hope is fading, one expert says.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were giving him a chance, still giving him a chance. But they're becoming more realistic about Trump, about the United States, more generally, and I think that basically they're not looking for a major breakthrough.

PLEITGEN (on camera): Some Russian officials compare the current mood I the U.S. to the day of McCarthyism. And many Russians say they believe their country is being demonized at a time they were hopping relations with America would improve.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, St. Petersburg, Russia.


HOWELL: Joining us is CNN senior political analyst, Mark Preston, in Washington.

Mark, good to have you with us.

Talk to me about what is to come on Monday. This will be very telling of whatever the FBI director has to say.

[02:35:00] MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No doubt about that. Not only will we see James Comey come up to Capitol Hill - he's been there several times already, George. He's been up there behind closed doors, but this will be the first time we're going to see the FBI director testify in public. And specifically, he's going to be asked the question, was there any connection between the FBI or any other intelligence agency in the United States doing surveillance of Trump Tower. In addition, we're also likely to get the question, George, about whether there was any ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government Russian operatives.

HOWELL: Talking about the Trump administration, the Trump campaign itself, how important will this be for officials to determine whether there were ties to Russia?

PRESTON: I'd like to say this going to be - the book will be close at some point tomorrow afternoon, but I don't think that's necessarily the case. We don't actually know what Comey's going to say. We'd been led to believe he'll say there's no wiretapping of Trump Tower. But there is an ongoing investigation not only within the Justice Department of any ties between associates of Donald Trump on the campaign and the Russian government, but also on Capitol Hill, there's these ongoing investigations, not only in the House, but also the United States Senate. So I don't think there will be any finality to it, but there will certainly be a lot of headlines out of there tomorrow.

HOWELL: From Paul Manafort to Michael Flynn, we've been covering this story and looking to see if there are any tires between the Trump administration and Russia. This is a story that won't go away. So again, tomorrow, a very crucial day for the Trump administration.

Have we heard anything from officials there on the eve of this very important moment of the FBI director speaking publicly?

PRESTON: They haven't said anything publicly. I did speak to an administration official yesterday, and they seem very at ease about what's going to happen on Monday. That's, in part, because they are sticking by the line that Donald Trump thinks there was some type of surveillance, which is a term he decided to use, George, as we all know, after he initially accused President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower, personally deciding that Trump Tower needed to be wiretapped. He has moved on to the word surveillance. And when he decided to do that last week, he said that within the next two weeks, we'll see some shoes drops. We will actually see some information that will open our eyes. So in many way, what you're seeing from the administration is they're just parroting what their boss is telling them. There's not much more than can do than to see if what happens in tomorrow's hearings and then to see if there is any truth, or anything to what President Donald Trump says about surveillance of his campaign.

But there is one thing to keep in mind. Even if there is nothing, no smoke or fire between immediate advisors to Donald Trump, were there folks connected to his campaign that were working with the Russian government or at least having discussions with them. That in itself would still be pretty damning.

HOWELL: All eyes will be on what Mr. Comey has to say.

Mark Preston, thanks so much for the insight.

PRESTON: Thanks, George.

HOWELL: We were talking earlier about the huge fire in the U.S. state of Colorado.

CHURCH: Our Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us again. We fixed some audio issues there.

Talk to us about those rages fires getting too close to homes in Boulders.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: This place is well known, Rosemary and George. When you think of Boulder, Colorado, often times named the happiest city in the U.S. It's a nice location as far as outdoors activities. I's one of the healthiest cities in the U.S. as well.

A close perspective shows you what's been transpiring as far as the dry conditions are concerned. North of Denver, there's a severe drought locked in right over Boulder. 60 acres consumed. Over 1,000 homes evacuated in an area west of Boulder. Over 4,000 in that location. Notice calls have been made as well. Notice these temperatures. In Denver, 77 Fahrenheit, 56 is what is normal. these temperatures over 20 degree above normal over a week now. Places like Phoenix, they're touching 100 degrees in the last couple of days. 94 yet again come Monday. You see this excessive heat in place. Humidity's extremely low. When you get fires ignited in places like Colorado, you have to keep in mind the elevated terrain doesn't help. They often say the fire speed will double with each 10 degrees added. For the sake of a simplicity, take a 20-degree slope on a hillside, have a fire moving around 20 miles per hour. You increase that flow from 20, just up a 30 slope. So essentially 10-degree increase doubles your fire speed. So now you have at least 40 miles per hour traveling of the fire. Another way of looking at is lighting a match, holding it straight out, watching it burn slowly towards your finger. If you give it a little slope, it burns rapidly. Same sort of scenario that makes it challenging to firefighters to put out these flames across Colorado. When we look at recent decades of 0an increase in wildfires going back for large wildfires in the western U.S. In the 1980s, we are 140. And the 1990's over 160. In the 2,000s over 250 wildfires per year considered large. And the seasons are expanding as far as how long they're continuing. So certainly, a story worth noting. And you note this forecast, a little better. Temps want to cool off a few degrees. Warm back up again come Wednesday afternoon. On Monday, officially, a little after 6:00 in the morning, local time, eastern time, I should say, we begin to see the first day of autumn get underway. First day of spring in the northern hemisphere. Autumn in the southern hemisphere. Shows the seasons are changing. But feels like summer for a lot of people in west Texas, in Dallas, getting up to 90 degrees this afternoon. We should be somewhere closer to the upper 60s, guys.

[02:40:58] HOWELL: Getting warmer.

CHURCH: Warmer temperatures.

Thank you so much, Pedram.

HOWELL: Thank you.

CHURCH: Next on CNN NEWSROOM, celebrating 100 years is a milestone for anyone. But imagine what it means when you've lived through Auschwitz. Coming up, how a Holocaust survivor fosters empathy one student at a time.

HOWELL: Plus, the leaders of Iraq and Egypt prepare the meet the U.S. President Donald Trump. What this could mean for ISIS and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.


HOWELL: Welcome back to NEWSROOM. Israel's defense minister is threatening to destroy Syria's air defense. That is if they fire at Israeli aircraft again. The warning this comes after Syria fired anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli jets last week.

The countries are arguing back and forth over this: Syria says it opened fire after the Israel's struck a military site near Palmyra. Israel claims it was targeting a weapons shipment headed to Hezbollah.

[02:45:08] HOWELL: In the United States, a Holocaust survivor has been asking an important question, the question simply, "Why do people hate? She asked students that at the Holocaust Museum recently.

CHURCH: And her question comes after a new wave of anti-Semitism with a series of bomb threats against Jewish community centers.

Barbara Starr reports from Washington.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An auditorium of teenagers listening to 100-year-old Fanny Aizenberg, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, tell of an unimaginable fear more than 70 years ago.

AIZENBERG: Nine minutes on the clock, 100 people were dead.

STARR: The students crowd around, wanting to say hello at Washington's Holocaust Memorial Museum. Now at 100, antisemitism is back in Fanny's life.

(on camera): You know that happened. And now today you see things like the JCC.


STARR: What do you think about that?

AIZENBERG: It kills me.

STARR (voice-over): More than 80 Jewish community centers and schools across the country have received bomb threats in a wave of anti- Semitism.

AIZENBERG: Next door to the JCC, they got them already two warnings about a bomb. That's next door to where I live.

STARR (on camera): Explain to people what you think about all of this.

AIZENBERG: I'm afraid to. Because I'm too honest.

STARR: Tell me.

AIZENBERG: No, it hurts me. And I say of all the places in the world.

STARR (voice-over): For elderly Holocaust survivors, a struggle once again to understand why.

AIZENBERG: So where do you stop it? If you don't have the authority today, and America is still the biggest power in the world, so why don't we do anything about it?

STARR: Diane Saltzman works with survivors at the museum.

(on camera): The reaction you're seeing is refusing to give up?

DIANE SALTZMAN, WORKS WERE HOLOCAUST SURVIVERS, HOLOCAUST MUSEUM: There's determination and even some defiance. That they're not going to stop. Their message is really important.

STARR (voice-over): And Fanny Aizenberg's life is testimony to that. When the Nazis invaded Belgium in 1940, she had to send her daughter

into hiding. She wouldn't see her for years. Even now, Fanny says the decision to separate was unbearably hard.

AIZENBERG: How do you put a child away? That's the only thing I had.

STARR: She joined the resistance, hiding Jews and working as a courier before she was exposed to the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz, surviving Nazi medical torture. The family eventually reunited and coming to America.

Today, she and other survivors struggle to understand a simple question: Why do people hate?

AIZENBERG: I tried to make people understand, you cannot love each other, but you could understand each other. You don't have to hate anybody.

STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: The question, why do people hate.

Iraq's leader is set to meet with the U.S. president shortly. Prime Minister Haider al Abadi left for the U.S. on Sunday and he says his troops were in the final stage of eliminating ISIS in Iraq. His trip comes as a Syrian Kurdish leader says there will be an offensive against ISIS in Raqqa. The YPG commander tells Reuters an assault on the terror groups self-proclaimed capitol will start in April. And he also said his forces will take part. That's despite fierce opposition from Turkey which considers the YPG terrorists.

CHURCH: In Syria, rebels on Sunday launched a surprise attack in Damascus. The assault began on the city's east with rebels pushing close to the old city. Government troops responded with intense bombardments on rebel-held areas. State media report an attack by jihadist fighters was repelled. A monitor says the clashes were the capitol's most violent in months, perhaps in years.

HOWELL: The U.S. president is also set to hold talks with another major Middle Eastern leader. Egyptian President al Sisi is scheduled to meet with Mr. Trump in Washington come April 3r d. They are expected to discuss the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The two men met during the U.N. General Assembly last September. Mr. Trump praised al Sisi, as quote, "fantastic guy" and touted their chemistry.

Still ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, a beloved fairy tale is back in theaters.

[02:50:02] CHURCH: And we'll tell you if fans were happy with the new live action remake of "Beauty and the Beast."




CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Disney's life action remake of "Beauty and the Beast" is breaking box office records. It made an estimated $350 million over the weekend, much more than anyone expected.

HOWELL: Wow. And the musical has all the classic songs you know and love from the animated version and a few new surprises, too.

Our David Daniel has a closer look.



DAVID DANIEL, CNN CORERSPONDENT (voice-over): Emma Watson and Dan Stevens star in "Beauty and the Beast," a live-action take of the Oscar-winning animated film.

Why a remake of a loved classic?

DAN STEVGENS, ACTOR: It's a great classic fairytale. The major of fairytales is they are -- they bare the retelling by each generation.

EMMA WASTON, ACTRESS: It was definitely a yeah for me because I was completely obsessed with the original growing up.


[02:55:04] WATSON: I was like what are we going to add? What is going to make remaking it worth doing?


WATSON: You can talk?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought, well, of course, they want to try to reimagine it because they now have the technology to do it. Why not? Why not go to that frontier?

DANIEL: For such musical theater veterans, like Audrey McDonald, Josh Gad) and Luke Evans, it was a special joy.

LUKE EVANS, ACTOR: It was a gift of a role for both of us. Coming from musical theater and loving it as much as we do.

JOSH GAD, ACTOR: We were 10 and 12 when this came out. We saw it in the theater. We were the generation that was inspired by this renaissance, this Disney renaissance.


DANIEL: In Hollywood, I'm David Daniel.



CHURCH: Certainly, looks fantastic. I'll be taking the kids to that one.

I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. Stay with us. We will be back after the break with more news.



[03:00:08] CHURCH: U.S. lawmakers are looking to this man for some answers Monday on the FBI's investigation of Russian --