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Trump-Russia Investigation; U.K. Kicks Off Divorce Proceedings from E.U.; Fight Looms for Self-Proclaimed ISIS Capital; U.S. Defense in Trump Administration. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 30, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:15] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm John Vause in Los Angeles.

The breaking news this hour, U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban will remain on hold indefinitely. A federal judge in Hawaii extended his temporary restraining order just a short time ago. Judge Derrick Watson originally blocked the revised travel ban two weeks ago. The judge's ruling covers the entire U.S.

CNN spoke with Hawaii's attorney general Douglas Chin.


DOUGLAS CHIN, HAWAII ATTORNEY GENERAL: Ultimately, I think what is happening is time after time in the court, they're pushing back and saying that the constitution is something that you have to look at.

And that was one of the points that we actually made in court today was that there was a statement where Donald Trump talked about how Muslims are pouring into the country, and Syrian refugees are converting our children to ISIS and we have to put a stop to that.

And one of the statements he then made was that I refuse to be politically correct. And the statement that he made is we're not actually criticizing Mr. Trump for being politically incorrect. We're criticizing him for being constitutionally incorrect. He is just not -- he is not making statements or instituting policy that is in line with the constitution of the U.S.


VAUSE: Meantime, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee is promising to get to the bottom of Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election. With the House investigation at a partisan roadblock, the Senate will hold its first public hearings on Thursday.

Republican chairman Richard Burr says the panel is reviewing an unprecedented amount of intelligence documents on possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: We began to schedule our first interviews. To date we have made 20 requests for individuals to be interviewed by the committee. As we stand here today, five are already scheduled on the books. And probably within the next ten days the remaining 15 will have a scheduled date for those individuals to be interviewed by our staff.


VAUSE: The Senate committee will hear from Mr. Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner. A source tells CNN Kushner's December meetings with Russia's ambassador and a top Russian banker is not about sanctions, but simply an effort to engage with Moscow.

Joining us now for more on this political commentator and host of "The Mo Kelly Show" right here in Los Angeles, Mo Kelly; also Trump supporter and author of "Taxifornia" James Lacy. Thanks guys for being with us.

Let's start with the latest news we have from Hawaii -- the federal judge extending the injunction pretty much indefinitely at this stage. So James -- it suddenly appears another setback for the President.

JAMES LACY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Yes, it is another setback. But, you know, the situation has just become so politicized when it really should be looked at for its legal issues. The statute does allow the President very strong authority to protect this nation for immigration and for terrorism.

And these six nations that have been identified in the Trump executive order are all nations where there is very poor vetting of individuals coming through airline traffic and going through their own procedures. There is just not a very good way for these nations to be able to track who they're sending into our nation.

Now, we know that the terrorism that the United States and that the western world has seen has come from radical Islamic terrorism. There has been a religious aspect to it.

Not all Muslims are terrorists, but the fact of the matter is that the President has determined that these six nations really cause a problem for United States citizens. And I have to say, I hope there is not blood on the hands of these judges that continually are turning down Donald Trump.

I do feel in time that the Trump administration will win this legal battle and will be able to fix this situation.

VAUSE: Mo -- the problem though with James' argument it seems is that court after court just seems to disagree with the President and the Department of Justice about how far he can go with those -- when it comes to his authority and national security.

MO KELLY, RADIO HOST: Not only that, but if we were to mention Nice, Brussels, Paris and even most recently London or the Orlando attack, these aren't refugees. These aren't immigrants. And these aren't people who are trying to get into the country specifically to hurt Americans.

So if we're going to talk about the travel ban and its efficacy as it relates to countries abroad with people who were trying to import terrorism, there is no record of that. That needs to be addressed as well.



[00:04:55] LACY: But they're all radical Islamic terrorists. That's the common thread. And the common thread goes even beyond that because, you know, you have right here in San Bernardino just 50 or 60 miles from where we sit, 14 people who are murdered by radical Islamic terrorist who have been -- .

KELLY: Then also include Saudi Arabia. Also include the United Kingdom. Also include France as terrorism is happening there. Are you saying that they can't get on a plane as well? Let's be intellectually honest in the desire of this travel ban.


LACY: Let's be intellectually honest. And Saudi Arabia does have ways to track. What you have are you have criminals from Saudi Arabia that are going through these other six gateway countries or that have the potential to come through these other six gateway countries to come to the United States and to go to Nice, France and to go the Germany and to create harm.

You know, we need -- Donald Trump was elected to do something about international terrorism. And this is a first step.

And eventually, the Democrats that lost the election and their supporters in the legal community are going to understand that they can't keep throwing these roadblocks because Donald Trump does have the constitutional authority to do this when all is said and done.

And I just hope that after we get the Supreme Court straightened out that we'll be able to move forward in this nation.

VAUSE: A last bit on this to Mo and then we have to move on. Very quickly -- so Mo?

KELLY: Well, the Supreme Court will have the final say, and we don't even know if we're going get even Justice Gorsuch on that Supreme Court. So that remains to be seen.

VAUSE: Ok. There has been another setback for the President as well. This is about the investigation into the Trump's campaign has alleged ties to Russia.

Now, on Tuesday, the White House spokesman Sean Spicer, he was very definitive. He said anybody who has been briefed has reached the same conclusion that there is no connection between the President or the staff and with Russia. The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, though, disagreed. Listen to this.


BURR: We would be crazy to try to draw conclusions from where we are in the investigation. I think Mark and I have committed to let this process go through before we form any opinions. And I would hope that that's what you would like us to do.


VAUSE: So James, you know, the words there from the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee -- how did Spicer get this so wrong?

LACY: He didn't get it wrong. I mean, you know, the media and the Democratic left with shoot first and ask questions later. And the reality is that the FBI has investigated this. And all we have, all the information that we know is that the Russians were likely involved in some hacking of John Podesta and the Democrats.

And what did that hacking reveal? It revealed that the Democratic Party and unethical journalists, including journalists at this network that we're looking at right now, that your viewers are looking at, colluded to steal the election against Donald Trump and in favor of Hillary Clinton.


LACY: That's the only news that we have out of this. There is no evidence of money. There is no evidence of money laundering --

VAUSE: James -- I'm sorry. I want to interrupt you here. I don't want to cut you off, but I just want to get back on the topic here because Sean Spicer was very definitive. He said anyone or everyone who has been briefed about the situation with the evidence and everything that is being presented about the connection between the Trump campaign and Russia, they've all reached the same conclusion that essentially there is nothing there.

LACY: So bring the investigation on, and there won't be anything there.

VAUSE: But the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said no, we have not reached that conclusion.

LACY: Well, what he said was that they want to conduct an investigation. Let them. What Sean Spicer was referring to --


VAUSE: But they haven't reached a conclusion that there is no connection, right? That's what we're saying.

LACY: What Sean Spicer was referring to is the FBI investigation. And there hasn't been anything that's been revealed by the FBI at all. The only information that's come forward with the FBI is that there may have been some telephone conversations by individuals who we don't even know were associated formally with the Trump campaign that may have had something to do with knowledge with respect to the hacking.

Keep in mind these hacking -- these are b or c felonies. These are misdemeanors. This isn't like Watergate. This isn't like where there were break-ins, where there was breaking and entry, where there was cover-up. There is no evidence at all of any cover-up on the part of Donald Trump as president or the Trump administration in the transition phase. All that is wishful thinking by --

KELLY: How you can you make that --

LACY: -- people who lost the election -- because it's true, Mo.

KELLY: But you just said you want to have -- but you want to have the investigation seen to its conclusion. So how can you come to that conclusion?

LACY: No let them investigate. Let them investigate. But there isn't anything there because the FBI has said there isn't anything there. This is all investigating.


KELLY: No, they said they're still investigating. They've been investigating. What you miss on this --

LACY: This is a lie. This is all political. It's all to take down Donald Trump's popularity. It's all to try and keep Trump from (inaudible) for as long as possible.

KELLY: It's kind of like Benghazi. It's kind of like Hillary's e- mails -- right?

[00:10:01] LACY: Well, Hillary's e-mails were illegal. Those were illegal. That's true. And as you noticed, there was no special investigator for that, was there?


KELLY: Wait a minute -- you can't have it both ways. You can't have it both ways. That's my point.

VAUSE: No one can have it both ways. You have to make a call.

Ok. Look, it seems though that one thing we can agree on is that the Senate committee wanted to send a clear message here that they are above politics. They tried to distance themselves from the White House. They wanted to make sure that they were as different in their approach to the House Intelligence Committee as possible, it seems.

Mo -- can they continue to do this?

KELLY: They're going to have to try. But I believe there is more bipartisan support to disagree slightly with Mr. Lacy. I mean when I hear John McCain saying we need to have a Senate investigation, I'm going take him at his word that it's not about politics -- someone who has put country first time and time again.

Now, James Comey has said that this investigation has been going on since July, and we're well into 2017. If there is nothing there -- let me put it another way -- if there is nothing to hide, then they'll be hiding nothing.

And the story should not change as far as Jared Kushner, when he meets with someone. I didn't meet with someone or I did meet with someone or it had to do with -- didn't have to do with sanctions.

The story keeps changing. So I think it's good for America to have an impartial body, be it a special prosecutor or at least a bipartisan committee such as the Senate Intelligence Committee to render a decision and then all the country can move forward. What's wrong with that?

LACY: Mo -- the election was on November 8th. Kushner's meeting with the Russians was in December -- right. It wasn't on November 7th. It wasn't on August 8th --

KELLY: I'm not talking about hacking.


LACY: Kushner met in December. And what he was trying to do is to help you and me and all Americans, even John who is here in the United States -- he is trying to help keep us safe. And there is nothing wrong with trying to make contacts with the Russian government. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the United States could actually --


KELLY: If you lie about it, yes there is.

LACY: -- foreign policy with the Russians. There is no lying about it.

VAUSE: Let's move on to the House Intelligence Committee because they are in disarray right now. Some Republicans are joining Democrats questioning the credibility of the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: The chairman is going to have to find a way to lift this cloud. Otherwise we're going to need someone else to preside over this. I think we really do need someone else to preside over this if we're going to do this credibly.


VAUSE: James, I mean is it possible for Nunes at this stage to lift that cloud? I'm imagining that you see this as purely politics right now. And if the Democrats succeed in having Nunes removed, then they'll just go after another target.

LACY: Yes. I mean let's step back and look at what Nunes did. Nunes got information from someone in the intelligence community -- big deal that he got it at the Old Executive Office Building. That's a government office. And that's where there would be a safe room and where he could get it. So he got that information.

And it was important to him because he saw that Americans, who had nothing to do with foreign intelligence, were surveilled by the intelligence community and what they said was distributed widely within the intelligence community.

Now that's like Edward Snowden. That's like Big Brother. That's like the government. It's an example of the government surveilling people it shouldn't be surveilling on.

So what did he do? When he had the information, the first thing that he did was he informed Speaker Ryan. After he informed Speaker Ryan, he called the director of the CIA. At that point he went to see the President of the United States.

Now the President of the United States is responsible for enforcing, not only our intelligence laws, but enforcing laws that protect the privacy rights of individuals all across America. That's information that he should have had that it shouldn't have been shielded from him because of politics.

So I think that what Devin Nunes did was absolutely correct. And I think that this is more folderol. It's more politics from the Democrats to try and, you know, hurt the Trump administration.

VAUSE: Mo -- before you respond, the criticism of Nunes is that, you know, he didn't get the information that he revealed from the White House. He got it while he was at the White House. And there is this continual question for the administration here, who actually signed Nunes into the White House complex because that could clear up lot of this confusion.

And it seems right now, at least all of this week so far, Sean Spicer is stonewalling on that. Listen to him at the White House briefing.


SPICER: I have asked preliminary questions. I have not gotten answers yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just asking you about something you told us.

SPICER: No, I said I will look into it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to continue looking into it?

SPICER: I will. I will look into it and whether or not -- but the obligation is I said I would look into it. And I will continue to do that.


VAUSE: So Mo -- why the delay here from the White House? Why not just reveal this information which my understanding is pretty easy to get hold of?

KELLY: Well, I think Mr. Lacy had it right. It has to do with politics.

[00:14:56] We have Nunes, who is heading up an investigation which is connected to the President and at the same time, he is conferring with the President. Whether it has to do with a Russian investigation for me it's neither here nor there.

He had a responsibility to at least respond to the members, the fellow members of the committee and at least appear aboveboard. A person of innocent mind acts accordingly. And Nunes was not acting as a person who is acting impartial and on behalf of American citizens.

And it was President Reagan who said "trust but verify", which is the translation of an old Russian proverb. I would like to trust this committee, I would like to trust all the proceedings, but let's verify that they're actually telling us the truth.

VAUSE: I mean James -- you know, if there isn't something nefarious going on here right now, the actions of the White House and the actions of Nunes to some degree is at least adding to the perception, don't you think?

LACY: Well, I mean, you know, I thought that it was nefarious that Hillary Clinton accepted millions and millions of dollars from the Saudi government before she ran for president. And that didn't seem to get investigated, you know.

KELLY: And she wasn't elected.

LACY: But listen, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. No, I think that this Nunes thing is trumped up. He has a responsibility as the head of the intelligence community to do what he thinks is right for the American people. And that includes working with the White House to protect the American people.

I think it's awful, and I think that the point that's really being missed is that citizens who should not have been surveilled had their discussions on the telephone not only recorded but widely disseminated in the intelligence community when they had no foreign intelligence value. That's wrong.

And I think that that's the big upshot out of everything that Devin Nunes has been working on. And frankly, I think that he is doing a favor to America by taking that information to the President and having it highlighted right now in the press.

VAUSE: You know, Mo --


KELLY: He hasn't revealed it. He hasn't revealed the information that he has.

VAUSE: Mo -- I think that there's a theory out there that, you know, Devin Nunes thinks he might actually be trying to help the President. But in some ways he could be doing more harm than good.

KELLY: Yes, I believe he is doing more harm than good because at this point, our President, like him or loathe him, he has a problem with believability. And those people who are closest to him have an issue of believability.

This is the same president who said he is not trying to get any type of security clearance for his children. And what do we know? That Ivanka Trump today is now named as a special assistant to the President. Her qualifications I'm not exactly sure. But it's important for me that --

LACY: Well, she has wonderful qualifications. She is a professional woman. She has done a great deal of good in the business world. And she wants to do good for our nation.

You know, what you're not missing -- what you're also missing is the fact that there was a Fox News poll that came out today that said that the majority of Americans want to see these Democrats work with Donald Trump. Even in California, where Hillary Clinton won by 30 points, a poll came out. UC Berkeley the day before that said 53 percent of Californians want the Democrats to work with Donald Trump.

I think that it's time that Nancy Pelosi and Schumer get the message to get off of this stuff and to move forward with what's important -- tax reform, getting the Gorsuch nomination dealt with, making certain that Obamacare is reformed one way or another.

These are the things that Americans care about. But it seems that people just want to wail away about this Russian thing. I got to tell you, there is nothing there. There just is nothing there.

VAUSE: James, guess what -- you know, with four investigations, we'll find out eventually. I guess the Democrats are pinning their hopes on the Senate Intelligence Committee for all of that.

We shall leave there it. We appreciate you both being with us -- Mo Kelly and James Lacy. Thank you.

Well, it's one of the first steps in the Brexit process. The government will publish a report on its so-called great repeal bill on Thursday. The idea is to allow Britain to decide which E.U. laws to keep and which ones to discard.

Nic Robertson looks back now on the historic day that set all of this in motion.



Prime Minister Theresa May beginning Britain's divorce from the European Union -- a 44-year embrace over.

MAY: Leaving the European Union presents us with a unique opportunity. It is this generation's chance to shape a brighter future for our country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you come to take back --

ROBERTSON: In the minutes before Britain's representative to the E.U. handing over the formal letter of departure to the E.U. council president, his vision of separation less rosy than May's.

[00:20:02] DONALD TUSK, EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT: There is nothing to win in this process. And I'm talking about both sides. In the essence -- in essence, this is about damage control.

ROBERTSON: The six-page letter he received signed by May under the watchful gaze of Robert Walpole, Britain's first prime minister, outlines Britain's desires for constructive engagement, respectful and sincere cooperation, put citizens first, secure a comprehensive agreement, minimize disruption and give certainty, pay attention to the U.K. island relationship, and the peace process in Northern Ireland, protect shared European values, begin technical talks on detailed policy as soon as possible.

MAY: And I have been clear that we should seek to agree the terms of this future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal within the next two years.

ROBERTSON: But even in approach, both sides are already at odds. The E.U. demands withdrawal first. Only then discuss the future partnership.

TUSK: There is no reason to pretend that this is a happy day, neither in Brussels nor in London. After all, most Europeans, including almost half the British voters wish that we would stay together, not drift apart.

NICOLA STURGEON, SCOTLAND'S FIRST MINISTER: Scotland's future should be in Scotland's hands.

ROBERTSON: May's woes won't end with the E.U. Scotland's first prime minister lambasting her for ignoring Scotland's 62 percent vote to remain and calls for independence. Tweeting, "Today the PM will take the U.K. over a cliff with no idea of the landing place. Scotland didn't vote for it. And our voice is being ignored."

MAY: We are one great union of people and nations, with a proud history and a bright future. And now that the decision to leave has been made and the process is under way, it is time to come together. For this great national moment needs a great national effort, an effort to shape a stronger future for Britain.

ROBERTSON: And now come the long, hard slog to deliver on that promised deal for all a brighter future. May's own future, and her place in history, depend on the outcome.

Nic Robertson, CNN -- London.


VAUSE: A lot more on Brexit in the next hour here on CNN.

In the meantime, we'll take a short break. The push towards Raqqa, Syria is gaining ground. Coming up, the battle for the self- proclaimed ISIS capital.

And later --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two years ago we traveled up to California's snowpack, and there was practically nothing here. But to these people's delight, it's a much different picture this year. But what does it mean for California's drought? I'll have that for you, coming up.



VAUSE: Well, the effort to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from ISIS appears to be imminent. U.S. military equipment has been seen traveling across northern Syria. The militants' self-proclaimed capital is mostly cut off now from the rest of the territory under its control. U.S.-backed Syrian defense forces captured the Tabqa Airbase on Sunday and are still fighting to retake the Euphrates Dam.

Well, the White House is defending President Trump's remarks about U.S. forces fighting in Iraq like never before. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the President was referring to progress in the battle against ISIS. But the words came during an investigation of a deadly air strike in western Mosul. Details now from Barbara Starr.



BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Rare comments on the war in Iraq from President Trump. He may have meant them as morale booster in chief, but the timing seemed peculiar.

TRUMP: Our soldiers are fighting and fighting like never before.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: In this particular case, he was ignoring the fact that the really hard fighting occurred with the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and 2004, 2007.

STARR: The comments also come just afterward of a formal investigation into U.S.-led air strike in Mosul after more than 100 civilian deaths. The Trump administration dropped 700 precision-guided bombs on Mosul just last week, according to the Pentagon. The top commander General Joseph Votel acknowledges keeping civilians out of the line of fire while attacking ISIS is growing harder.

GEN. JOSEPH VOTEL, U.S. CENTCOM COMMANDER: As we move into these urban environments, it is going to become more and more difficult.

STARR: As the Trump White House increases bombing and troop levels against ISIS in several countries, still no sign of a Trump military strategy.

LEIGHTON: I think there is the vague idea that you have to throw some troops at the problem, whether the problem is in Iraq, in Syria, or Yemen or some other place.

STARR: More U.S. troops are headed overseas.

VOTEL: I think that is what you continue to see with all of these -- deployments right here. We are not -- one of our key principles here with our focus forward is to help our partners fight, but not fight for them.

STARR: In Afghanistan, commanders want hundreds of additional troops. In Iraq, another 250 are on the way. In Syria, up to 900 are on the ground at any one time. In Yemen, the U.S. is increasing military support and stepping up air strikes against ISIS.

Trump is also facing calls for more troops to counter Russia from his top general in Europe.

GEN. CURTIS SCAPARROTTI, NATO, SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER EUROPE: A resurgent Russia has turned from partner to antagonist.

STARR: General Scaparrotti wants a brigade permanently in Europe, more than 3,000 additional troops. Trump has continued to defend Russia.

TRUMP: If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me, that's a good thing.

STARR: A fundamental disconnect from his defense team. Defense Secretary James Mattis says he is not ready for military cooperation with Moscow.

JAMES MATTIS, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Russia is going to have to prove itself first.

STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN -- the Pentagon.


VAUSE: And CNN's senior international correspondent Arwa Damon is in Mosul. Later, she will introduce us to a family she met at an Irbil hospital. They were victims of an air strike in Mosul.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was shooting. They fled. You heard the sound a plane and then what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was dust everywhere and my mother started to scream. She said this hit them. Rocks and debris were falling down on the house we were in. She said do you see what happened.

I could hear just her voice, "ahhhh". I ran. There was a block on here and a metal window and I pulled her out. I screamed for her mother but nothing.


VAUSE: Our full report can be seen here later today on CNN.

Well take a short break.

When we come back, the mystery in the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- an investigation now under way after two United Nations workers are found dead.



[00:33:35] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban will remain on hold indefinitely. A federal judge in Hawaii extended his temporary restraining order late Wednesday. The judge says changes made to the original travel ban did not go far enough and the ruling covers the entire U.S.

The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold its first public hearing on Russia's election meddling on Thursday. Eventually they will hear from the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner. The source tells CNN, Kushner's meeting with Russian officials back in December not about sanctions.

The top U.S. diplomat is headed to Ankara to meet with Turkish leaders in the coming hours. Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson will discuss the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. And Turkish rebel tries to bring stability to the region.

A South Korea court is deciding whether to issue an arrest warrant to ousted President Park Geun-hye. She is in court right now as the judge hears the prosecutor's request. Park was removed from office earlier this month over allegations of corruption and cronyism.

Well, U.S. investigating the death of two of its workers found in a shallow grave this week. The pair were looking into human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo when they disappeared earlier this month. We have details now from CNN's Farai Sevenzo.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are set out to investigate violence and human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but they became victims themselves. Members of a U.N. group of experts -- American Michael Sharp and his Swedish colleague Zaida Catalan were found in a shallow grave with their Congolese interpreter. They've been missing for two weeks.

Sharp had reportedly been working in the DRC for five years. Friends quoted as saying he worked to understand the local community and they seemed to get him. Seen here giving a thumbs-up to Congolese children.

His colleague Zaida Catalan had worked for Sweden's green party before turning to issues in the West Bank, Afghanistan and what would be her last assignment, the Democratic Republic of Congo. She and Sharp were investigating the Kasai central province, where a rebellion had been brewing against the Congolese government.

Reuters reports these eight mass graves recently discovered in Kasai offered the first glimpse of the scale of deaths in this region. The exact number of bodies in the graves, though, could not be determined.


And this video surfaced just weeks ago. It appears to show Congolese shooting alleged militia members in Kasai. Congolese authorities say they are i investigating and they have arrested and charged seven of their own soldiers. The region has also seen the recent beheading of dozens of police officers. Authorities say by rebels.

This is a country larger than Western Europe that has long been driven by factions and militias fighting for power. Some 20,000 U.N. troops make up one of the world's largest peace keeping forces here, but it has not been enough to stem the bloodshed.

Now these two U.N. investigators are among the latest victims of a conflict they had hopes to end.

Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi.


VAUSE: Well, remember that crippling drought in California? Nah, no one does. Because a wet winter seemed to wipe away all those worry about the drought. We'll have more on that in a moment.

Also, a musical surprise at a London Train Station. How this mini concert happened, just ahead.


VAUSE: Well, a series of winter storms in California, excuse me, has eased the worst of a three-year-long drought. CNN's Stephanie Elam visited the Sierra Nevada Mountains to check on the current snowpack.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're kind of running out of superlatives to describe how big of a snowpack we have.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Sierra Nevada Mountains exists California's largest water resource. Called the snowpack, it is layers of snow. During the warmer months, the snow begins to melt and that water filters down the mountain and into our rivers, eventually providing water for the state.

After several years of drought, this winter brought storm after storm, coating the mountain range in dense snow. In 2015, it was quite a different picture.

[00:40:00] FRANK GEHYKE, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES: California winters are very changeable. You can go like we have from two years ago, the driest on record to this year, flirting for a while with maximum on record.

ELAM: Despite some of the melting occurring in lower elevations, there is now so much snow at about 9,000 feet and higher that we couldn't even return to where we visited the snowpack in 2015.

GEHYKE: There wasn't any snow on the road at all, whereas now they're looking at probably not having that road open until maybe mid-July.

ELAM: At this time of the year in 2015, the snowpack was only about 4 inches deep. This year, it is over 200 inches. I stood in front of that gateway at Tioga Pass. The pictures that I have from you --

GEHYKE: You can't even see it. You can see an antenna in the flagpole.

ELAM: For skiers and snowboarders, the snow has been a welcome change.

TOM PAINTER, NASA JET PROPULSION LABORATORY: In fact, in January, we had the most snow in a single month on record here at Mammoth Mountain ski area.

ELAM: Nearly 250 inches of snow fell that month. But to find out how much snow is in the snowpack, Painter and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory take to the sky.

In 2013, we started flying the Airborne Snow Observatory to fill in that gap and essentially to take lasers and spectrometers to be able to know the exact distribution across the landscape.

(on-camera): You know, how deep is some of the snow out there?

PAINTER: Some of it goes to deeper than 75 feet.

ELAM (voice-over): These images show the difference. Here is 2015. But in 2017, there is a lot more dark blue, which means deeper snow. (on-camera): So what does this mean for the drought?

PAINTER: So we are not out of the drought, but we are out of the surface water drought. The groundwater that we have pumped so massively over the last several years, it takes a long time for that to replenish.

ELAM (voice-over): Not all of the snow will melt this summer, but what enters the system is going to be unlike what California has seen in recent years.

PAINTER: It really is going to tax the water infrastructure, the aqueducts, the dams, the spillways and really our capability to handle it well.

ELAM (on-camera): And while this year has been fantastic for the snowpack, there is no guarantee that the next year or the year after that will be as exceptional.


VAUSE: Stephanie Elam, thank you for that report.

We go to London now where commuters were treated to a musical surprise from singer John Legend.




VAUSE: The Grammy-award winner played a ten-minute set of some of his biggest hits. More than ten minutes worth, including the one you just heard "All of Me."

Legend created a buzz for the mini concert with a tweet saying he would be arriving at London's St. Pancras train station on the Eurostar and asked if they still had a piano. Legend, guess what, is launching a world tour soon and will be back in London in September, but then you'll have to buy tickets.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. "World Sport" is up next. Then I'll be back with another hour of news from all around the world. You're watching CNN.