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Waiting for Answers; Threatening Actions; Raging Inferno; Another Terror Threat. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 20, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: U.S. lawmakers are looking to this man for some answers Monday on the FBI's investigation of Russian meddling in the U.S. election, We will have a preview of what's at stake.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: North Korea showing no sign of being cowed by the new U.S. administration instead claiming a great leap forward in its weapons program.

CHURCH: And she lived through the holocaust. What this survivor has to say about the rise of anti-Semitism happening today.

HOWELL: Live form CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell.

CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. Thanks for joining us. This is CNN Newsroom.

A public hearing that could be pivotal to the White House is just hours away. FBI Director James Comey will testify before the U.S. House intelligence committee. He'll face questions about Mr. Trump's claim that former President Barack Obama ordered his phones tapped, and about Russia's alleged involvement in the election.

HOWELL: In January, a U.S. intelligence report concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign. The report said Russia's goals were to, quote, "undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and presidency." The report said Mr. Putin had a clear preference for Donald Trump.

CHURCH: The allegations got their start with an event back in June of last year when the server at the Democratic National Committee was hacked.

CNN's Ryan Nobles takes it from there.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The initial hack was soon connected to the Russian government, and wasting little time, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager linked the hack to then candidate Donald Trump.


those e-mails that Russian state actors were feeding the e-mails to, to hackers for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.


NOBLES: Then just as the Democratic National Convention was about to start, WikiLeaks unloaded a trove of DNC e-mails. Among them, damaging private conversations. It did not take long for the republican nominee Donald Trump to embrace the hack and Russia's potential involvement.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.


NOBLES: As the Clinton campaign worked to contain the political damage, Trump refused to back down from his kind words about Russia and its controversial leader Vladimir Putin.


TRUMP: I've already said he is really very much of a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.


NOBLES: Days before the second presidential debate in October, two major bomb shells. First, the Department of Homeland security and Director of National Intelligence issued a statement blaming Russia for the hack.

And second, WikiLeaks released another batch of stolen e-mails, unloading the inbox of top Clinton advisor John Podesta. At that debate once again, Trump attempted to take the focus off Russia.


TRUMP: She doesn't know if it's the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking.


NOBLES: WikiLeaks wasn't done. More DNC e-mails were released on November 7th. The next night, a new president.


TRUMP: I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans.


NOBLES: As he started to build his new administration, Trump still resisted blaming Russia.


TRUMP: It could be somebody sitting in a bed someplace. I mean, they have no idea.


NOBLES: President Obama ordered a full review of how Russia meddled in the election, which concluded it was working to help Trump.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Based on uniform intelligence assessments, the Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC.


NOBLES: Just 22 days before Trump took office, President Obama imposed new sanctions on the Russian government. On that same day, incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn spoke on the phone with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

It was later revealed he also texted the ambassador and met with him in person at Trump Tower. An administration official has told CNN.

Trump associates including Vice President Mike Pence called the meetings introductory.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They did not discussed anything having to do with the United States' decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.


NOBLES: But that turned out not to be true. Flynn specifically spoke about the sanctions. But Flynn wasn't the only one. Some Trump associates also held meeting with the ambassador at the republican national convention but insist they were only introductory gatherings, attendee J.D. Gordon told CNN.

Then Senator Jeff Sessions what was one of them. But appearing before Senate hearing on his confirmation, he said this when asked about possible contacts between the Trump campaign about and Russian officials.

[03:05:02] JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not have communications with the Russians, and I'm unable to comment on it.


NOBLES: But after taking office, Sessions now attorney general admitted that he, too, as a senator met with Kislyak twice during the campaign, but he said it was in his capacity as a senator, not a member of the Trump campaign.

Sessions decided to recuse himself from any investigation related to the campaign. Amidst all of this, the president himself took to Twitter, making this shocking claim. Quote, "How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during this very sacred election process? This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad, or sick, guy."

The accusation was made without any evidence to back it up. But led the White House to ask Congress to add this wrinkle to their broad investigation into Russia's role in the election. But at this point even republicans contend the evidence just isn't there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.

NOBLEs: Monday congressional leaders will attempt to unpack the many layers of this controversy with a goal of making the situation clear for the American people.

The White House continues to insist there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, setting the stage for Monday's hearing where high-ranking officials such as FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers will testify.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, Washington.

HOWELL: Ryan, thank you. Despite the eagerness of U.S. lawmakers to get some answers, CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin warns the FBI chief may not offer any definitive conclusions.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: He is conducting investigations as we speak, and one possibility is that we will not hear a dispositive answer from Comey tomorrow, that he will say this is a pending investigation, I can't comment on everything. So, the expectation or the hope that we're going to have a neat closure of the Trump accusation may not be totally justified.


HOWELL: All right. Let's talk about it and bring in Scott Lucas, live from Birmingham, England, a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham and the founder and editor of E.A. WorldView.

Scott, always a pleasure to have you with us. Look, this all depends upon what James Comey will or will not say. But how critical is his testimony for the Trump administration at this point?

SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM SHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS PROFESSOR: Look, this is just, as Jeffrey Toobin said, the first act of what's going to be a long running drama. The easy part today, albeit the embarrassing part for the Trump administration will be that I expect that Comey to clear away any idea that there is President Obama or Britain's GCHQ wiretapped Trump's Tower in 2016.

Hopefully, finally putting that scare story from the president to rest. The more important or more difficult part is going to be the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 election and to what extent the Trump administration knew about it. And that's working on different levels.

One is, first of all, did the Trump administration know about the Russian interference. Two, did they have contacts with Russian officials about that. Three, did they try to cover up those contacts. And finally, four, did they coordinate with the Russians at any point.

Now, as you can tell from that layered scenario, there's a lot of evidence that has to be gone through here. So, Comey, I think, will hold the line and say we're in a pending investigation and that will set us up for, to be honest with you, more speculation while the FBI and the CIA and the NSA are doing the hard work of sifting through what may or may not have happened between Russia and Trump's associates.

HOWELL: So, again, you know, the FBI director set to testify publicly in this hearing in just a matter of hours, we don't know what he will or will not say, but let's say hypothetically that he does, you know, show that there is some sort of a tie between the Trump campaign or administration and Russia. Then play it forward, Scott. So, how would that affect the Trump administration?

LUCAS: Yes, at one end, and this is what those who criticize Trump are hoping, it's going to be yes, they were talking all along with members of the Putin regime and they tried to cover it up. So we're not just talking about the resignation of a national security advisor like Michael Flynn. We're talking about something that could extend all the way to the president.

And let's be blunt here, that's an impeachable offense. At the other extremes what the republicans or Trump supporters are hoping for is that Comey comes out and says, no, no absolutely evidence of collusion, although that still leaves the question of Trump's knowledge of the Russian intervention, which would put the administration in a much better position.

But as I said, I don't think we're in the all or nothing scenario today. I think we're going to get more of a hold the line statement from Comey because, to be honest with you, there is so much circumstantial evidence out there that there may be a link that it will take some time to go through all of it.

[03:05:02] HOWELL: The other big topic is wiretapping. We've heard from top lawmakers that there is no evidence really to support the president's unsubstantiated claims that the Trump Tower was wiretapped, as he has tweeted out before.

But if, indeed, the FBI director comes out and says, there is no evidence to back this up, as we've heard before, then what is the president to do?

LUCAS: The president will just move on. I mean, look, you heard in the past from your correspondent Trump is not known for accurate statements. I mean, calling on the Russians to hack computers, for example, remember that one? Or making wild statements in other areas, for example, regarding, for example, the Chinese and their threat to America.

So, Trump just says things off the top of his head and they try to deal with the aftermath and then move on. So, I think it will last for a few days that Trump may get another unsubstantiated statement.

But we're going to be so much more into this Russia/Trump question and indeed getting into, let's be honest, the serious legislative questions about Obamacare, the confirmation of the Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, that I think this Trump Tower wiretap allegation will disappear.

HOWELL: Scott Lucas, live in Birmingham, England, thank you so much for your insight. We'll stay in touch as all eyes are on what the FBI director has to say here in just a matter of hours.

CHURCH: Meantime, the Kremlin rejects all of these meddling allegations. Just last week, the Russian government told CNN they won't be watching Monday's hearing at all.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joins me now from Moscow with more on this. So Nick, despite what Russia has said, clearly someone in Moscow will be monitoring this hearing to see just how far FBI Director Comey might go on the question regarding Russia's possible involvement in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, right?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, officially they're not watching, they're busy, they've got other stuff on their plate and don't expect any more details. In fact, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov referring to this sort of repeated drum beat of allegations as, quote, "a broken record" with a futuristic song without unofficially of course in the city.

There will be Russian officials pouring over whatever is James Comey actually says. And of course the FBI will be under pressure to come up with some sort of granular detail.

I mean, the scope and frankly the potential ramifications of the allegations being made at such that he's already been under pressure from U.S. congressman to come up with a slightly more evidence.

Of course, he may choose to hide behind the veil of what is not and what is classified information that can't be given out to the public hearing like this. But certainly in Moscow here they will be facing perhaps pressure to respond to certain details. It will be interesting to see exactly how far James Comey and, of course, Admiral Mike Rogers is willing to go as well. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes. And there's no doubt Director Comey will be very careful about what he says. So, what are we to make of the various meetings between Trump aides and Russian officials as well as that U.S. intelligence report released January that claims President Putin ordered and influenced campaign, and what's being said about all of this in Russia so far?

WALSH: Well, they distanced themselves from that and they said they had nothing to do with it. They suggest these allegations are, quote, "like a broken record." So there is that official position there. And of course previous meetings have been put down to suggestions that's just normal.

Frankly, diplomatic activity for the Russian ambassador in Washington to meet profile officials there. The question really comes down out to what was said in these meetings, did anything untoward necessarily occur.

If you look, for example, Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor, the speeches that now transpires he was paid about $30,000 for to give at Russia today functions, key state funded broadcaster here and around the world, they were back in December 2015.

So, of course, it's quite a stretch to suggest that back then, a, the Kremlin would have known that Donald Trump would win the election, and b, that Michael Flynn would be go on to be the national security advisor. The question you have to ask for yourself is what maybe going on behind the scenes and quite what James Comey comes up with in terms of what Washington is willing to throw out there as suspicions. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Nick Paton Walsh joining us live from Moscow with reaction there. It is 10.14 in the morning. Many thanks to you.

HOWELL: And now the view from the United Kingdom, leaders there will most likely have some interest in the intelligence committee hearing.

Just last week, the White House press secretary cited an unconfirmed media report that the former President Barack Obama used British intelligence to spy on Mr. Trump.

Max Foster, live in London on this story. Max, the reaction from across the pond when that came out wasn't too pretty.

MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: No, both have with the ministry (Ph) and the GCHQ which is the spy surveillance agency here in the U.K. both saying the claims from Donald Trump the GCHQ was involved in any sort of wiretapping is ridiculous.

[03:05:02] And it's continued to rumble on. There is a real frustration here that no one in official circles in Washington under the Trump administration is apologizing for these unsubstantiated comments.

And now we have a comment, an article in The Guardian newspaper from the former U.K. ambassador to the U.S. until only last year. So he's still very well connected in diplomatic circles here. In The Guardian piece he writes, "This is a dangerous game." This is Peter Westmacott. "The intelligence relationship between Britain and America is unique

and precious. It's critical to assert efforts to counter terrorism. Gratuitously damaging it by pedaling falsehoods and then doing nothing to set the record straight would be a gift to our enemies they could only dream of."

And this is because there is very close liaison between the intelligence agencies here in the U.K. and the U.S. That hooks into the international system as well. They work together against global threats, and that is potentially being put at risk because of this throw away tweet, as they say, from Donald Trump.

HOWELL: Mr. Trump has before, of course, upset British intelligence. He has knocked his own U.S. intelligence before in the past. But now we are expecting to hear the FBI director to testify publicly about possible ties with Russia and also this bogus wiretapping claim that has no fact to support it at this point. What is the reaction about what is set to happen with this hearing? What are the expectations?

FOSTER: Well, ideally they'd like to hear that there is no evidence that this took place, and you know, it goes against the principles of GCHQ as much as anything else. And British intelligence, that they would do something like this. They'd need sign off from the foreign secretary. He's due to visit the Trump administration or key members of it later on this week to talk about ISIS. But I'm sure this will come up as well.

They just want to make it very clear that U.K. intelligence doesn't operate like this. There is no evidence of it. It might harm their position in their relationships around the world as well. And I think they probably want an apology as well from someone official.

HOWELL: Max Foster, live in London. Max, thank you for the report.

CHURCH: Well, there are fears the simmering North Korean nuclear threat could soon boil over.

HOWELL: Next how the Trump administration is responding to the latest provocations from Pyongyang.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT REPORTER: Hi there, I'm Patrick Snell with your CNN sports headline.

I want to start off with Sunday's game of the weekend in the English Premier League. The big blockbuster confrontation at the Etihad as Pep Guardiola's hosted Man City hosted the Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, a frenetic encounter between these two northwest giants.

[03:20:02] Liverpool ahead 1-nil. Thanks to James Milner. The penalty would back came the host Sergio Aguero, the Argentine with a leveler. That's how it would end, 1-1, the draw.

At long, long last Man United no longer in 6th place after their 3-1 away victory at Middleborough on Sunday. For over 100 days, you know, the Red Devils were stuck in a Premier League rut. But after a marathon five matches in just after over weeks, they're finally at the fifth place.

United had to dig deep low before they could celebrate their 600th Premier League success. And they did it without their star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who is serving a suspension, but with goals from Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard, and Antonio Valencia, United cruising in the end to a 3-1 victory.

On to rugby now, the controversial club merger between two iconic Paris-based clubs has been abandoned less than a week after it was first proposed. Racing 92 and Stade Francais were planning on joining forces to greater Parisian super club.

But both teams were plunged into crisis as soon as plans were revealed Stade Francais players going on strike, claiming the merger was a takeover in just going.

That's a look at your sports headlines. I'm Patrick Snell.

CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, sanctions, diplomacy and military threats against North Korea have done nothing to slow its nuclear ambitions. And on Sunday, the North announced yet another provocation claiming it had successfully tested a powerful rocket engine.

HOWELL: In fact, that technology could help the regime to reach its goal of developing a long-range missile. On Sunday, the U.S. President Donald Trump did not give details on how he plans to deal with North Korea. Listen.


TRUMP: I had meetings on North Korea. He's acting very, very badly. I will tell you he's acting very badly.


CHURCH: And CNN's Will Ripley joins us now from Beijing. So, Will, no specifics there from the new U.S. administration. But clearly China is concerned about what the Trump administration might do in response to North Korea's latest provocation. What is it saying?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're right, Rosemary. There is concern, because one thing that Secretary Tillerson did say is that the military option is on the table and the days of strategic patience are over. That has to make Beijing nervous because there is one thing they prize above all else, that is stability especially when it comes to the Korean Peninsula.

That is why they are saying that all sides need to have cool heads in this situation. They want to see the United States engage with Pyongyang in North Korea and Kim Jong-un, they also want to see the U.S. stop as joint military exercises with South Korea which the U.S. says is not going to happen. The Unite States and Secretary Tillerson conveyed this to his counterpart here in Beijing. The U.S. wants Beijing to use its economic leverage over North Korea

to try to reign them in. So, both sides pretty far apart. But you're right. No specifics. And when Secretary Tillerson was asked for specifics about this supposed new approach to North Korea, he didn't give any. He just ignored reporter's questions. Not only here in China, but also in South Korea and Japan as well.

Which leads me to believe, Rosemary, that perhaps they are still trying to come up with a plan because Secretary Tillerson pointed out the past 20 years where multiple -- everything from sanctions to cyber warfare reportedly, to economic and diplomatic isolation, nothing has seemed to slow down Pyongyang in developing these nuclear weapons.

CHURCH: And, Will, given that the military option is now on the table, according to the United States, what is China doing to try to influence Pyongyang in some way, or does it no longer have that influence over North Korea that it used to enjoy?

RIPLEY: That is the big question, that everybody seems -- everybody has thought for a long time that China had the ability if they wanted to reign in North Korea. And even now the United States believes that China, because it's North Korea's only meaningful trading partner, that they do have the power if they were to cut off trade with North Korea, given the China accounts for at least 70 percent of North Korean trade, that would have a very severe economic impact.

And yet, you see Kim Jong-un continue to order these missile launches, two nuclear tests last year, more than 20 launches last year, so far five ballistic missiles launched during the Trump administration. And it has to be irritating to China. And it continues out of North Korea. So, how much leverage do they really have? That's what needs to be assessed.

CHURCH: Yes, watching this game of brinkmanship there. Will Ripley joining us from Beijing where it is 3.24 in the afternoon. Many thanks, Will.

HOWELL: Now to the U.S., the western part of this country in the State of Colorado, a wildfire is raging on, threatening several homes near the city of Boulder. At this point, the flames are near the edge of that city.

Some people leaving that area. They snapped a picture that you see here. You see all the heavy smoke billowing up. The state's governor has called on the National Guard to help contain that fire.

[03:25:02] Let's bring in our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri to follow the situation there in Colorado. Pedram?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, you know, guys, this is really a sad story. Because you can see this part of the United States, in Boulder, in particular is among the fittest cities in the U.S. among the happiest cities in the U.S., it often is given that distinction. And particularly what's happening, of course the fire is significant taking over parts of the western periphery of the town. But here we go with your Monday where 15 cities could set record

temperatures, much of them locked in around the western U.S. and parts of the southern U.S. as well where temps are running over 20 degrees above what is considered normal for this time of year.

Denver, in particular, just south of Boulder, about 21 degrees above normal. And for seven straight days we've had this sort of trend continue.

In fact, you notice the conditions down around parts of Arizona, and phoenix even western Texas, pushing close to 100 degrees in few spots. Again, in the first day of the spring season. So, here's what's going on across parts of Colorado. Look carefully north of Denver, the area indicated right there that's where severe drought is in place. So it certainly doesn't take much to spark off these fires and that's precisely what's happened in recent days.

And often say with fire speeds, they typically tend to double with just a 10-degree increase in slope. And when you think about Colorado, the Rocky Mountains in particular, of course there is tremendous slope.

So you take for sake of simplicity, just a 20-degree slope if the fire is traveling at 20 miles an hour, and you just increase that slope just a little bit up to 30 degrees, you're talking about that fire speed now doubling up to 40 miles per hour.

So this is why it's so difficult for these fire fighters to try to get control of these flames across parts of Colorado. You know, 60 acres have been consumed, over 1,000 homes have been evacuated, and some additional 4,000 homes have received evacuation notices because of what's happening across this region.

So the perspective is like this in the last couple of decades where we've seen large fires and the number of large fires increase over the last several decades. In fact, in the 2000s, over 250 large fires every single year in the western U.S. versus what was about 140 or so back in the 1980s.

So, you put all of that together, you look at the conditions outside again, summer-like warmth in Dallas, Oklahoma City sitting at 93 degrees. And of course, this trend, it looks to change a little bit, guys, if we're going towards the middle of the week with some cooling at least in store, that will help a little bit.

HOWELL: Pedram, thank you so much.


HOWELL: We're learning more about the Orly airport attack.

CHURCH: Yes, coming up, we will head to Paris to find out why the gunman's father says his son was no terrorist.

[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: And a warm welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN Newsroom. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. Good to have you with us this hour.

The headlines we're following for you, the U.S. President Donald Trump says North Korea's leader is acting very badly. After the country's latest provocation on Sunday, state media announced the successful test of a powerful rocket engine. North Korea says the world will, quote, "soon witness" that the test was a, quote, "great victory."

CHURCH: Malaysia wants to arrest more people including some North Koreans in connection with the murder of Kim Jong-nam. He was the estranged half-brother of the leader of North Korea. Investigators say he was poisoned last month with a nerve agent considered a weapon of mass destruction.

HOWELL: The swearing in of a hard line Hindu priest has many questioning India's political future. The new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh has made hateful comments about Muslims in the past. He'll now be responsible for running a state where Muslims are a large majority.

Returning now to our top story, Monday, a very important day for the Trump administration. The FBI director is set to testify at a public hearing for the U.S. House intelligence committee.

In a matter of hours, James Comey will face questions about President Trump's unsubstantiated claim of wiretapping and allege Russian involvement in the U.S. election. In fact, multiple allegations of Russian ties to Trump have dogged that new administration.

CHURCH: 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 between Trump's pick for national security advisor, Michael Flynn, and the Russian ambassador. They included calls on the same day the Obama administration 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, Michael Flynn resigned after admitting giving the vice-president elect incomplete information.

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

CHURCH: Now, 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.

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

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Does President Trump really have any 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 blame Russia for everything. It's not true."

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

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

Vladimir Putin spokesman lamenting what he calls 'American hysteria.'


DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESMAN: 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 expressed mutual admiration during the campaign.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: He is a brilliant and talented person without a doubt.

[03:35:03] TRUMP: I think in terms of leadership he's getting an a.


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


DMITRI TRENIN, DIRECTOR, CARNEGIE MOSCOW CENTER: This were giving him a chance. They still are 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PLEITGEN: Some Russian officials compare the current mood in the U.S.

to the days of McCarthyism, and many Russians say they believe their country is being demonized at a time when they were hoping relations with America would improve.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, St. Petersburg, Russia.

HOWELL: Joining us now is CNN political analyst Mark Preston in Washington. Mark, good to have you with us. Talking about what is to come on Monday, this will be very telling of whatever the FBI director has to say.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: No doubt about that. Not only will we see James Comey come up to Capitol Hill, he's been there several times already, George, as we know. He's been up there behind closed doors.

But this is going to 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 some kind of surveillance of Trump Tower.

In addition to that, we're likely to get the question, George, about whether there was any ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, or Russian operatives.

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

PRESTON: You know, I'd like to say that this is going to be -- the book will be closed at some point tomorrow afternoon, but I don't think that's necessarily the case. We don't actually know what Comey is going to say.

I mean, we've been led to believe that he is going to say that there was 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 is 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 certainly to be a lot of headlines out of there tomorrow.

HOWELL: You know, from Paul Manafort to Michael Flynn, we've been covering this story and looking to see if there are any ties, in fact, between the Trump administration and Russia. This is a story that won't really 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: Well, they haven't said anything publicly, but I did speak

to an administration official yesterday and they seemed very at ease about what's going to happen on Monday. And that's in part because they are sticking by the line that Donald Trump believes that there was some kind 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. When he decided to do that last week, Wiki said that within the next two weeks we'll see some shoes drop. We will actually see some information that will open our eyes.

So, in many ways, what you're seeing from the administration is that they are just parroting what their boss is telling them. So, there is not much more they can do than to see what happens in tomorrow's hearings. And then to see if there is any truth. If there is 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 there between immediate advisors to Donald Trump, were there folks tangentially connected to his campaign that were working with the Russian government or, you know, at least having discussions with them. I mean, that in itself would still be pretty damning.

HOWELL: All eyes will certainly be on what Mr. Comey has to say. Mark Preston, thank you so much for the insight.

PRESTON: Thanks, George.

HOWELL: Big questions, there could be answers. Stay with CNN for live coverage of the House hearing on Russia. Our coverage begins at 9 a.m. Eastern Time here in the United States. That's 1 p.m. In London and 9:00 p.m. in Hong Kong, only here on CNN.

CHURCH: All right. We want to turn to Paris now where tests show drugs and alcohol played a part in Saturday morning's attack at Orly airport. Authorities say a man grabbed a soldier's rifle and yelled that he wanted to die in the name of Allah. He was shot and killed by French troops.

[03:40:04] Jim Bittermann has more now from Paris. So, Jim, what more are we learning about the suspect in this attack, and what is his family saying about his likely intentions?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is still a mystery to some extent. The fact is that this guy, Ben Belgacem, in fact, was a common criminal. He had a police record, a very long police record, the nine infractions for various sorts of things including armed robbery, banks, and a lot of things that he was in prison several times including from 2011 to 2012, which is when the police believe he was radicalized and they followed him after that.

He was not the subject of an S-file which is a surveillance file that the intelligence services use to indicate someone that should be kept under surveillance. He was not the subject of that. So, some there are some questions raised about that. In 2015 they searched his home, found nothing, but they kept him under surveillance, and nonetheless was still not the subject of a radicalization file that would have kept the police on alert.

Why he suddenly went into action is still a mystery. His father told Europe 1, one of the big television and radio networks here yesterday, that, in fact, he had called him in the midst of this whole operation, basically, Belgacem he started off by striking a policeman.

And after he struck the policeman in a routine traffic stop, his father said he called his father and said, I've just committed a real idiotic thing and I'll see you soon. And, in fact, he didn't see him soon. He went to the airport, stole a couple of cars in the process. Went to the airport and tried to wrestle away a gun from one of the military soldiers at the airport.

She was after a protracted struggle was able to hang onto her weapon. And the other soldiers with her shot him dead. So, it's still a mystery why he suddenly went into action. But he did say as he was struggling with the soldier that, in fact, he was committing this act in the name of Allah and he was going to die for Allah. And that was the indication as far as police are concerned this was a terrorist attack.

CHURCH: It will be interesting to see what impact this will have on airport security going forward. Jim Bittermann, bringing us that report from Paris where it is 8.41 in the morning. Many thanks, Jim.

HOWELL: Just ahead, the 100th birthday of a holocaust survivor. She's teaching the 21st century and students now how the idea of never again never gets old. Stay with us.


HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom.

Israel's defense minister is threatening to destroy Syria's air defenses. That is, if they fire at Israeli aircraft again. This warning comes after Syria fired anti-aircraft missiles at an Israeli jet just last week.

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

HOWELL: In the United States a holocaust survivor has been asking a very simple question. The question is, why do people hate. It's a question she posed to students at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum recently.

CHURCH: Yes. And her question comes against the backdrop of a new wave of anti-Semitism with a series of bomb threat against Jewish community centers. Barbara Starr reports from Washington.




BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: An auditorium of teenagers listening to 100-year-old, Fanny Aizenberg, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust tell of 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. But now at 100, anti-Semitism is back in Fanny's life.


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


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

STARR: 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: For elderly Holocaust survivors, a struggle once again to understand why.

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

STARR: Diane Saltzman works with survivors at the museum. The reaction you're seeing is refusing to give up.

DIANE SALTZMAN, DIRECTOR, U.S. HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM: There is determination and even some defiance that they are not going to stop. Their message is really important.

STARR: And Fanny Aizenberg's life is testimony to that. When the Nazis invaded Belgium in 1940, she had to send her daughter Josie 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 the 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: And I try to make people understand, you cannot love each other, but you could understand others. You don't have to hate anybody.


STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN, Washington.


JAVAHERI: Happy first day of spring across the northern hemisphere. I'm meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

Some Midwestern to tell you about across places such as Chicago on into Monday afternoon Indianapolis, travel plans across this region certainly going to be impacted at least until the early afternoon hours. And the mild air that's in place quickly shifts here. We get some cold air that comes in toward the middle of the week.

But again, as you would expect in late March, it is all short lived. In places like New York, 10 to 14, down to 3, quickly back up to 6. And in the nation's capital as well, the cherry blossom festival getting ready to get underway.

And you notice conditions there also improving here, at least the next couple days before cooling off towards the middle of the week. Chicago will go with some of those storms around 13 degrees, Winnipeg 8, a little blustery at around 8. Vancouver and British Columbia beautiful as always, around 12 degrees there.

Some clouds expected and the wet weather expected to come right back into the picture there across parts of California. Of course, we've had a break with a lot of those storms being displaced off to the north, but notice much of California including parts of central even around maybe southern California as you approach Santa Maria into Los Angeles some wet weather expected over the next couple of days.

Twenty five degrees in Mexico City, sunny skies some showers come back in Havana. San Juan, Puerto Rico looking at temps into the upper 20s. Some afternoon rains in their forecast. And down across South America, Quito around 17.

HOWELL: Welcome back. It's been several months after her defeat, but Hillary Clinton says she is ready to return to the spotlight.

CHURCH: Yes, she's been away from the public eye for a while now, making just a few rare appearances. Now the former presidential candidate says it's time to get involved again. She spoke at a Saint Patrick's Day dinner held by a women's group in Pennsylvania.




And to shine the light on what is already happening around the kitchen tables, at dinners like this, to help draw strength that will enable everybody to keep going.


CHURCH: Hillary Clinton there, but getting back up.

HOWELL: Yes, she is.

CHURCH: All right. Well, Disney's live action remake of "Beauty and the Beast" is breaking box office records. It made an estimated $350 million globally over the weekend, much more than anyone expected.

HOWELL: The musical has all the classic songs that you know and love from the animated version, and a few brand-new surprises as well.

Our David Daniel has a closer look.

[03:54:55] DAVID DANIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Emma Watson and Dan Stevens star in "Beauty and the Beast" a live action take on the Oscar winning animated film. Why remake a beloved classic?


DAN STEVENS, ACTOR: It's a great and classic fairy tale. I think the magical thing about fairy tales, is that they are, they bear the retelling by each generation.

GUGUU MBATHA-RAW, ACTRESS: I mean it was definitely a yes for me because I was completely obsessed with the original when I was growing up.

EMMA WATSON, ACTRESS: I was like, you know, what are we, what are we going to ask, what is going to make remaking it worth doing? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello.

WATSON: You can talk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all he ever does.

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


DANIEL: For such musical theater veterans as Audra 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. I think we both, coming from musical theater and loving it as much as we do.

JOSH GAD, ACTOR: We were 10 and 12 when this movie came out.


GAD: We saw it in the theater. We were the generation that was inspired by this, you know, renaissance, this Disney renaissance.


DANIEL: In Hollywood, I'm David Daniel.

HOWELL: Stunning images there.

CHURCH: Yes. That is definitely one to see in the theater.

HOWELL: Absolutely. Absolutely. We thank you for being with us this hour of CNN Newsroom. Early Start is next for viewers here in the United States.

CHURCH: And for everyone else, stay tuned for more news with our Max Foster in London. You're watching CNN, the world's news leader. Have yourselves a great day.