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Policeman Killed, 3 Wounded in Paris Shooting; U.S. Prepared to Charge WikiLeaks' Julian Assange; North Korea Says U.S. Engaged in "Decapitation Operation; ISIS Claims Responsibility for Paris Shooting; Mosul Battle Final Stand for ISIS; Documentary Shows Conflict in Aleppo Far From Over; U.S. Defense Attorney Meeting Netanyahu in Israel. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired April 21, 2017 - 02:00   ET



[02:00:30] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour --


SESAY: Hello, and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

French President Francois Hollande says he believes the fatal shooting of a policeman in a busy Paris neighborhood was a terrorist attack. A man driving home from work recorded the scene on his cell phone as officers shot and killed the gunman. Witnesses say the attacker drove up alongside a police van, opened fire with an automatic weapon. Two other policemen and a passerby were wounded.

SESAY: The attack happened along the Champs Elysees in Paris not far from the Arch d'Triumph. ISIS says the attacker was one of its fighters. A source says the gunman has been convicted of shooting and he wounded other police officers back in 2001.

VAUSE: All this happening days before the first round of voting in the presidential election. Some candidates are canceling their final campaign event.

Joining us for more, in Paris, CNN's Melissa Bell; at the CNN Center in Atlanta, Cyril Vanier; and in Los Angeles, CNN law enforcement contributor, Steve Moore.

SESAY: Melissa, we understand that the French defense council meeting at the palace will be getting underway?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It was announced last night by the president in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Life here, almost back to normal on the Champs Elysees. That side of the avenue, where the police continue their investigation. It was just under 12 hours ago that this attack took place.

We heard from Francois Hollande fairly quickly afterwards. One of the things he announced was the defense council would take place this morning with the chief of staff and the defense minister and the interior minister to look at questions of security going into the final leg of this presidential race as France prepares to vote in the first round of voting Sunday night -- Isha?

VAUSE: Steve Moore, to you.

We're talking about the issue of security here and how the attack laid out. On the surface, it seems straightforward, but there are a few other issues that need to be looked at from law enforcement or FBI. What is different about this?

STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR: What's different to me -- we both hate the term straightforward terrorist attack. But --

VAUSE: That's what we're used to.

MOORE: Exactly. That's the sad part. But what's different about this is the type of -- this wasn't driving into a crowd. It wasn't somebody with a knife or machete. This was a sophisticated automatic weapon in a country that doesn't allow them. So there's immediately a thought in your head there was help here. The other thing that's amazing to me is ISIS's so quick claim of the attack and knowledge of who this guy was.

SESAY: People are focusing on, Steve, the fact it has been made clear that authorities knew this guy. They knew this guy. He's had run-ins with the police before. It will lead to criticism of the French police.

MOORE: Criticism at this point may be premature. You sure have to look at what's going on here and why he wasn't under surveillance at that moment. I go to it when somebody who has no background, no history, grabs a truck and drives into a crowd. But this guy had shot police officers before. And I know the French aren't ignoring him. So something put him a little farther down on the priority list, unfortunately, at this time.

[02:05:04] VAUSE: Cyril Vanier, in Atlanta, not only was this gunman known to police, but this happened whilst there was a state of emergency declared in France because of previous terrorist attacks. The Champs Elysees, that's somewhat a more secure location because it's a popular tourist attraction.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: People will be going to see if the government made any mistakes. People want to know is the government doing everything they can to protect us. There's a technically aspect to it and it's the questions you're asking. What can be done, is it being done? And there's a political aspect to it, Marine le Pen was saying on TV

that everything that can be done to protect you, this is her speaking to French people, hasn't been done recently. And that is why she has the platform that she has. She claims if she had been in power, she would have avoided a certain number of attacks. It remains to be seen whether that's enough to get her extra voters with two days to go for the first round of voting.

SESAY: Cyril, I have to ask you about other candidates' reaction to all of this.

VANIER: It's interesting, because all the leading contenders stakes out different territory. Francois Felon, the conservative center- right candidate, has said -- initially, was the first one to say we should put the campaign on pause. He canceled some of his campaign events. He said we have to take a different tack and we should be working with the Iranians and Russians, which is a 180-degree turn, to fight terrorism. By that, he means Iraq and Syria. Another is saying we must retain our democratic ideals, do not be sidetracked. He's not considered to be particular strong or tough on crime. Typically, that tend to be the case with far-left candidates.

There's one candidate I have to tell you about and that's Emmanuel Manchon (ph). This political is a critical moment for him because he's untested in this kind of moment. And French people, with 48 hours to go before the first round of voting, will be asking themselves this question, this 39-year-old man who's only ever minister for two years of economy and finance, nothing to do with security. Is he something who can protect us in times of crisis? And I think there's a question mark over that because he's relatively untested.

VAUSE: Let's bring Melissa Bell back in, in Paris.

What is the sense there how this terror attack will affect sway voters? Who stand to gain and who will lose out because of this?

BELL: One candidate clearly stands to gain and that is Marine le Pen because there will be an emotional reaction to what happen here last night, and partly because he's been so extreme in what she had to say specifically about those people who are under active surveillance, what the French call -- ever since we learned this particular individual was on that watch list. There are some 10.5 thousand people on that watch list who are linked to terrorism specifically. A vast number of people. Very difficult to imagine to what you were saying a moment ago of how French authorities could watch such people all the time. What Marine le Pen is saying is you have it all wrong. It's not a question of watching them. She talked about putting them all in prison. In the last few days, she's gone further. She said they should be simply be thrown out of the country, ignoring the fact that many are French nationals. It's difficult to know where they would be sent to. These are people who have not seen judicial process. These are people by definition who are being watched. Legally, it's difficult to see how she would go about putting that into place. She can say, if I'm elected president, the day after, all these people are thrown out of France the day after. That extremely strong rhetoric will play into the emotions of people who might be all the more easily swayed by the events of last night.

But That is the big question today. She's one of those candidates who's canceled her official events, but she will be campaigning and that's what we'll hear in a couple hours.

VAUSE: Let's hear from Marine le Pen. There was a televised debate as the attack was happening. This is what she said about security in France. Listen to this.


[02:10:00] MARINE LE PEN, NATIONAL FRONT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translation): I feel incredible sorrow for the police who have once again paid a heavy price. Not everything has been done to protect our citizens. What we need is the resources to make sure we can combat the Islamist terrorism. I don't want the youth to get used to this danger.


SESAY: Steve, on that point made by Marine le Pen that everything has been done to provide protection and yet this is still happening, is she right? Is there more that the French authorities could be doing?

MOORE: Here's the thing. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing is expecting different results. The police in France are not clocking out early. They are not taking long weekends. They are working as hard as they can under the rules they have. The problem here is that the rules either need to change or the staffing needs to change. If you want to accept this type of thing 22 or some attacks in the last couple years, fine. You can do it by staying the course. But you need to change either the rules or double the people who are looking after these people. The standard rules, this is teaching us that they don't work because they are working hard at this.

VAUSE: Back to Melissa Bell in Paris.

We have this meeting underway with Francois Hollande. Are they going to increase security? Will there be tough new measures put in place? What are they looking at?

BELL: That's what we're going to be looking to hear from them precisely what they're putting in place specifically turnover coming two weeks in this election period. But authorities had believed they would be targeted. There was an attack in Marseilles. There is, of course, what happened here on the Champs Elysees last night with all the symbolism of this particular street being attacked once again. Security forces are being targeted by a terrorist. And this before a general election that was already looking at hard to call as they come. Certainly, we're likely to hear strong words from Francois Hollande within the next few hours. After this meeting, what measures are going to be put in place and what have we learned from the investigation. These are some of the things we'll know more about very quickly.

VAUSE: Melissa, thank you. Melissa Bell in Paris. Cyril Vanier, in Atlanta at the CNN Center.

Steve Moore, former FBI agent, with us in Los Angeles. Thanks to you all.

SESAY: Thank you, everyone.

Breaking news out of Germany. Authorities have arrest a suspect in the Dortmund football attack. He's been identified as a 28-year-old Russian-German citizen. On April 11, three explosive devices shattered windows and injured a player on the Dortmund team bus.

VAUSE: Officials said the bombs contained pieces of metal. Sources say a letter left at the scene purported to be from an ISIS sympathizer. A statement from the prosecutor's office says the suspect are now under arrest had been staying at the Dortmund team hotel the day of the attack. He was arrested in southwestern Germany.

SESAY: We're going to pause for a quick break. New trouble for Julian Assange. What the U.S. government in store for the exiled WikiLeaks founder.




[02:17:18] SESAY: The Trump administration has set its sight on prosecuting WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange. Assange is out of reach right now inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The U.S. wants him arrested and charged for publishing classified U.S. materials.

CNN's Pamela Brown has our report.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: U.S. authorities have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange. U.S. officials familiar with the matter tell CNN that the Justice Department probe of Assange and WikiLeaks dates back to 2010 when the site first gained widespread attention for posting thousands of files stolen by the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst, now known as Chelsea Manning. Prosecutors have struggling with whether the First Amendment precluded the prosecution of Assange, but now they believe they've found a way to move forward. During President Barack Obama's administration, Attorney General Eric Holder and officials at the Justice Department determined it would be difficult to bring charges against Assange because WikiLeaks wasn't alone in publishing documents stolen by Manning. Several newspapers, including "The New York Times" did as well. The U.S. view of WikiLeaks and Assange began to evolve after investigators found what they believe was proof that WikiLeaks play an active role in helping Edward Snowden, the former NSA analyst, disclose a massive cache of classified documents. WikiLeaks has defended itself as accomplishing in the public's interest and compares itself to media organizations. As we know, Assange is sitting in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. So this move is seen more to be a political message now more than anything we're told.

Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: North Korea went into it United Nations on Thursday to warn that any hostilities on the Korean peninsula would be the fault of the U.S. And Pyongyang accused the United States of engaging in a decapitation operation to overthrow the regime of Kim Jong-Un.

SESAY: After decades of relative calm, Beijing is now worried another armed conflict is about to break out on its doorstep. In response, the Chinese military is on high alert.

Barbara Starr has the details.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): China has put some bombers capable of carrying cruise missiles on a high-alert status, a U.S. defense official tells CNN.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The reason they have their bombers on alert is they can respond should there be a kinetic strike against North Korea.

STARR: The U.S. also has seen an extraordinary number of Chinese aircraft being brought up to full readiness through intensified maintenance, all preparing for what the U.S. says is a North Korea contingency, but officials can't say what that contingency might be.

LEIGHTON: They see that possibility, if North Korea were to implode, as their biggest geopolitical worry.

[02:20:04] STARR: As tensions rise across the region, the "USS Carl Vinson" strike group is expected to arrive within days. Its planes will conduct visible flight operations. U.S. submarines will be able to remain covert under sea conducting surveillance of North Korean communications if ordered.

A joint U.S.-South Korean exercise named Max Thunder now underway, the second-largest air exercise held on the peninsula. All aimed at ensuring the security of South Korea and the 28,000 U.S. troops there.


STARR: No letup in the militaristic rhetoric from Kim Jong-Un's regime. North Korea's state newspaper issuing a dire threat saying, "Our preemptive strike towards U.S. and its followers will be the most merciless strike aiming for complete destruction."

And at the underground nuclear test site where the world awaits a sixth North Korean nuclear test, a curiosity. The latest commercial satellite imagery shows a volleyball game in progress.

(on camera): No one can say how long the Chinese alert status will last, but U.S. officials say they still believe North Korea could conduct a nuclear test at any time.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


VAUSE: We'll stay on that region a little longer. Ivan Watson is in Seoul, South Korea; and David McKenzie is in Beijing.

David, there was a time when Beijing described the relationship with North Korea as being as close as lips and teeth. We've seen those days are over. But the question, how far is China prepared to go to rein in North Korea.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORERSPONDENT: That's a good question. That's what the U.S. administration is trying to push China to turn the screws on Kim Jong-Un's regime to try and slow the development of nuclear weapons they could face towards the U.S. allies or the U.S. itself eventually. But there has been this shift in recent years. In years past, you did have this very close both political and trade relationship between the two countries. Now it's a little different. Kim Jong-Un has repeatedly ignored the pleas from Chinese leadership to stop the nuclear program. That's a big slap in the face for Chinese President Xi Jinping. So there's a lack of trust between the two allies. But you will probably not see China going the full move towards cutting off trade with North Korea. That could be a way for them to really put the pressure on, because they don't want the collapse of Pyongyang regime of Kim Jong-Un because that would really cause a major headache for China. So they're walking a tight rope right now -- John?

VAUSE: If they're not going to go all the way with trade, that raises the question about how far are they to go militarily. There's an assumption in the U.S., especially the White House and the Pentagon that China has put its military on alert and that's directly related to the situation in North Korea. If it's not related to the situation in North Korea, is it simply a show of force or is there something else going on that we just don't know. What are the options?

MCKENZIE: It could be something we just don't know. At this stage, the ministry of defense is not responding to our queries about that state of high alert according to U.S. officials. From a political perspective, there's no real reason China would be setting up its bombers, certainly not to bomb North Korea, its ally. Who else would they want to bomb in this scenario? I think China is looking to keep this far away from a military operation as possible. And until we get really word from the Chinese, which is unlikely, we'll have to play this kind of speculation game, which appearance at some level, what the U.S. officials are doing. They are looking, both with their comments about the carrier strike group in the region and otherwise, to try to push the pressure on Pyongyang. China's trying to diffuse it.

VAUSE: David, in Beijing, thank you.

Let's go to Ivan Watson in Seoul. Ivan, the U.S. president finding out that words matter and words about

history matter even more. There seems to be unhappiness after President Trump told "the Wall Street Journal" that Korea was once part of China.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That has rubbed a lot of Koreans the wrong way and it's gone all the way up to the foreign ministry which on Thursday said it was reaching out to both the U.S. and China about these remarks through diplomatic channels, going on to say according to a foreign ministry spokesman here, quote, "The international community unequivocally acknowledges that Korea was never a part of China in its thousands of years of history, and no one can deny the facts."

A day later here, Friday, in Seoul, the foreign ministry spokesperson saying there still hasn't been a response from the Chinese or the Americans about this request for clarification.

Meanwhile, take a listen to what seem people here on the streets of Seoul had to say about this claim that the U.S. president reportedly made.

[02:25:27] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): It is unreasonable to say that. It is nuts. Nonsense.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): I was furious to learn the news this morning. He lacks understanding of the Korean peninsula.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): I don't know what President Xi actually said, but I think Trump has misunderstood Korean history.


WATSON: John, it's election season here. This is something that candidates are talking about, too. You've got some of the candidates over my shoulder here on those posters. One of the front-runners in the polls was asked about this last night, and he said, if he's elected president, first, he'd have to clarify whether or not Xi Jinping actually claimed that Korea was once part of China. But he went on to say if he has a meeting one on one with Donald Trump that he will, quote, "explain history to President Donald Trump and correct this mistake."

Where the frustration? Well, Korea is a relatively small country sandwiched between China and Russia. This was a country that was occupied by Japan for decades during the early 20th century and is fiercely proud of its independence and doesn't like heads of state incorrectly reporting what happened in history to this country -- John?

VAUSE: It could be something as simple as a mistake in translation or a misunderstanding or it could be a deliberate attempt maybe by the Chinese president to mislead Donald Trump. We don't know. Maybe we'll find out.

Ivan, thank you. Ivan Watson there in Seoul. Also, before Ivan, David McKenzie, in Beijing.

Appreciate it.

SESAY: Quick break here. Just ahead, a look from the front lines of the fight against ISIS.


UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPODNENT: There, in the distance, is the reason the fighting so hard in these dense winding streets to hold the Iraqi police and military back. That is the mosque.


VAUSE: Much more from inside Mosul after the break.


[02:30:45] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.


ISIS claims one of its fighters is responsible for the Paris shooting of a police officer. It happened just blocks from the city's famous Arch d'Triumph. Two other officers and a passerby were wounded. The gunman is dead.

VAUSE: Police are searching the man's car and house in a Paris suburb. A source says the suspect was convicted in 2001 of shooting and wounding three police officers. He'd been under surveillance for ties to terrorist groups.

Let's head back to Paris. CNN's Melissa Bell is there.

Melissa, has the scene where this attack took place been cleared yet? Is there a sense of normalcy there now?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Almost. The Champs Elysees is now open. Traffic is going up and down. Pedestrians are back on the streets. It was eerie last night after it was closed down. Once the drama had past, how quiet this avenue was, which is always bustling with people. Almost back to normal.

But that area just over my left shoulder where that attack happened at 9:00 p.m. last night is still cordoned off. The police investigation still continues around that area where the man pulled up alongside the police vehicle and opened fire at 9:00 p.m. last night, killing, of course, the police officer that you mentioned.

VAUSE: Melissa, thank you. Melissa Bell, there pulling some long hours. Thank you, Melissa.

SESAY: Back to our breaking news out of Germany. Authorities arrested a suspect in the Dortmund football team bus attack. They say it may be part of a plan to make money off the stock market. He's been identified as a 28-year-old German-Russian citizen. On April 11, three explosive devices shattered windows and injured a player on the Dortmund team bus.

VAUSE: A statement from the prosecutor's office says the suspect had been staying at the team hotel the day of the attack. Also, they brought many shares of the team's stock in hopes of making a profit if their value went down. He was arrested in the southwestern part of Germany.

SESAY: Now the battle of Mosul is often called the final stand for ISIS in Iraq, and the fighting has been fierce as coalition forces push further into the western part of the city.

VAUSE: CNN's Nick Paton Walsh went to see the chaos fist hand.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIR INTERNATIONAL CORERSPONDENT: Ground down to its bones, Mosul is so quiet. You ask yourself, where are its people? Where has ISIS taken them? The answer is here. Trapped in the Old City, a densely populated holdout of ISIS.


PATON WALSH: There's a stalemate of shooting now, weeks old, where a few alleyways down, ISIS' mass hostage standoff begins. 10,000 civilians held as human shields.

You can see from these drone pictures, filmed during a massive is counter attack, exactly how tight the streets are packed. In everyone, hell could wait.

The mosque where ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, gave his only real public speech, its central prize.

Each street, window, bloody. The truth clear that ISIS leaves nothing intact behind them.


PATON WALSH (on camera): There in the distance is the reason why ISIS is fighting so hard in these streets to hold the Iraqi police and military back. That is the al Nuri mosque, the ideology heart in Iraq of their self-declared caliphate.


PATON WALSH (voice-over): They want more American precision fire power.

"Up until now, the help is weak," he says. They have advanced precise weapons, and with intelligence, they can help us better."

So far, astonishingly, this girl --


[02:35:06] PATON WALSH: -- aged four, has stayed in her home and survived.


PATON WALSH: And does not flinch once.


PATON WALSH: "There is no life under ISIS," her father says. "No food, no water, no electricity. We had to dig a well to find water."

The only thing she's really known is the police. She loves them like kids in her school.

And as the shells still rain down, there are those who will never leave. And those who do, as fast as they can.

Far enough out, they are ferried to camps.

ISIS is using people as human shields. Herding civilians into kill zones to make them die with them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): They would besiege us and use us as human shields. Take people and families as they withdraw.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (through translation): My brother and the rest of his family are besieged. ISIS hit them with sticks dragging them away. He can't go anywhere.

PATON WALSH: These voices a fraction in a cacophony of fighting inside, in a fight that may take months more to end.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, the Old City, Mosul.


SESAY: For more than five years, CNN has shown you scenes of the human exodus in Aleppo. Thousands of men and women and children have lost their lives and six million people have been displaced from their homes. It's been catastrophe for people of that nation and it's hard to see when there will be an end to the violence. The misery and death has been hard to watch from a distance.

In the HBO documentary, "Cries from Syria," we see that although the city has fallen, the country is in ruins, the conflict is far from over.

Here's a clip.

And we must warn you, some of these images are disturbing.


(EXPLOSION) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went back home and it was not home. All the buildings were on fire.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then you can see trash and rubbish. There were just bodies of people on the streets.


SESAY: The director of that powerful film, Evgeny Afineevsky, joins us me now here in the studio.

Evgeny, first of all, I don't know if congratulations is the right word, but thank you for making this film. It is a powerful film to watch. Thank you for being in here to talk to us about it. This war has been going for such a long time since 2011. People have become almost accustomed to seeing carnage on their TV screens. Why make this film now?

EVGENY AFINEEVSKY, FILM DIRECTOR: I think first of all people are accustomed to this in 2015 when the Russians involved themselves into Aleppo situation, I think people started to hear more about Syria. To explain this to the people how simple protests of people in Syria became later on civil war, and then everything transferred to the war of our days. I think this, why it was necessity to make this move

SESAY: Why not and you felt that a film would do that much better than the way news coverage has covered this conflict?

AFINEEVSKY: I think news have limitation. I as independent filmmaker have ability to go and learn about these people, to learn about what brought to this situation, allow them to voice themselves, put it together in comprehensive story and to allow people to hear them and learn everything in details. News have limitations. News have limitations in timing and amount of news happening every day.

SESAY: One of the things that struck me in watching the film, Evgeny, is it is going to light stories and voices of activists that haven't been fully shown before now. How did you get the access? How did you get the images? Did you go to Syria?

AFINEEVSKY: First of all, I think for every filmmaker it's a process of, if you're doing a narrator feature, you carefully find your actors. For me, it was a goal to reconstruct the history, to reconstruct all these journey into the darkest side of the humanity, into the darkest side of the Syrian history. For me, it was essential to find all these characters, but for all of them, I guess my track roar was there. It helped a lot to put it together and allow them to open their hearts and souls.

[02:40:13] SESAY: Recently, the world witnessed the horrific aftermath of the chemical attack in northern Syria. Incredibly difficult images to watch. Your film contains many, many images that are hard to bear witness to. Talk to me about your decision to put such brutality up there on the screens for people to see, especially given there have been so many images of death and loss coming out of Syria.

AFINEEVSKY: A lot of images still left in the hard drives.


SESAY: Too graphic?

AFINEEVSKY: Yes. It was too graphic. We still balance in the editing room between the level of the graphic stuff that we're putting in the movie. It was amazing. At the same time, we were feeling the necessity to bring this reality into the movie so people can realize how hash is the conditions there. So for the Syrian people, it's great that this movie can bring to light and tell the truth. And I think these images are a necessity.

SESAY: What do you want people to take away from this film?

AFINEEVSKY: First of all, I want to change perception about Syrian refugees because these people as we saw in the movie, as we saw from the atrocities that they were basically reporting for the last five years, these people, not trying to gain any business benefits or economic benefits. These people literally seeking shelter because their choices in Syria is either to die from horrible torture, ISIS hands, under the Russian bombings for from chemical weapon. So these people are trying to survive. But all of them have one goal and one dream. They want to go back home. And they are literally asking the world to pay attention to what's happening there and asking the world to allow everybody to get out of Syria so Syrians can decide what they want or to help stop these atrocities. This is all that they want. This is what I'm trying to bring to this movie. Understand they are not the terrorists and to understand the reality if inn what these people are living.

SESAY: I hope everybody watches this film. It is a remarkable piece of work.

AFINEEVSKY: Thank you.

SESAY: Evgeny, thank you for talking to us a bit.

A reminder, the HBO documentary film "Cries from Syria" is streaming on HBO. Check it out.

Evgeny, thank you again.

AFINEEVSKY: Thank you. Thank you.

SESAY: It is hard to watch, but it is worth watching.

VAUSE: That's a tough one.

Protests continuing on the streets of Venezuela with all the anger directed at President Nicolas Maduro. The opposition accusing him of trying to establish a dictatorship.

Meantime, U.S. company General Motors says the government has actually seized its local plant there, forcing it to halt operations.

SESAY: One image in particular is showing the determination of these protesters. Take a look at this with us. This unidentified woman forced armor trucks from advancing on Thursday. It's similar to the scene in 1989 in China's Tiananmen Square.

VAUSE: Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, the U.S. defense secretary traveling to Israel after some harsh words for Iran. A live report, all the details from Jerusalem in just a minute.


[02:47:02] U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is on his way to Australia now after leaving Indonesia. He'll met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. He's the Malcom Turnbull was on the receiving end of a heated phone call from U.S. President Donald Trump shortly after Mr. Trump was sworn into office. The U.S. president was furious about a refugee exchange deal made under the previous administration. He reportedly hung up on the Australian prime minister.

SESAY: We'll see how that one goes.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis is in Israel this hour and later will be meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It's part of a regional tour that so far included Egypt and Saudi Arabia. He's set to meet senior Israeli officials and counterterrorism is expected to be on the agenda.

For more on the trip, CNN's Oren Liebermann joins us from Tel Aviv.

Oren, the trip to Israel, part of a five-country Middle East tour billed by the Pentagon as "an opportunity to discuss defeating terrorist organizations". Are there any specific proposals under consideration?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We haven't heard about specific details as James Mattis meets Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman at the ministry of defense. They just met a few minutes ago. They're expect to meet in private for another 45 minutes or so before they came out and speak together. That's where we may get some specific idea of proposals.

Though ISIS may have been the number-one typical in some of the other meetings, with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, there is no doubt it will be Iran's presence in the Middle East that will be foremost on the radar of Israeli officials and the meeting with Netanyahu later on today. It'll be Iran itself and Iran's funding of Hezbollah in Lebanon. It'll be interesting to see what else they talk about.

There is some possibility that they'll talking about missile defense. And that could bring into play Israel's long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles. That was actually scaled down in the latest military cooperation agreement. If there's some discussion of that, that could come back. We'll certainly keep an eye out to see if that comes up. One more point that's worth noting with the minister of defense.

Lieberman heads to Russia next week. Israel has had to walk a careful line between the U.S. on one side and Russia on the other. Though the U.S. is the strategic partner, it is Russia that is the strategic presence in the Middle East. So that is the context under which these meetings take place -- Isha?

SESAY: A lot to discuss.

Oren Liebermann, joining us from Tel Aviv, always appreciate it. Thank you.

[02:50:03] VAUSE: A short break. When we come back, he left FOX News after a scandal, but Bill O'Reilly, despite everything, walks away with tens of millions of dollars. We'll explain.


SESAY: Hello, everyone. So we are learning that FOX News will pay Bill O'Reilly $25 million after he was dismissed from the network earlier this week. A source tells CNN the payout is all part of his contract O'Reilly was facing allegations of sexual harassment just like the network's founding chairman, Roger Ailes. FOX News has paid out more than $85 million in exit packages, a majority to men caught in sexual harassment scandals.

VAUSE: When we say the majority for sexual harassment, Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly are the only men who had a payout. Ailes got $40 million and O'Reilly got $25 million.

There we go.

Bill O'Reilly's department making some good jokes on late-night comedy shows.

SESAY: Yes, and they're getting their last few laughs at the commentators' expense.

Here's our own Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bill O'Reilly has traded the "No Spin Zone" for the no job zone. One cartoonist hung a "gone groping" sign on O'Reilly's door.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: Bill O'Reilly was fired today.

MOOS: Talk show audiences --

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, CONAN: FOX News fired Bill O'Reilly.


MOOS: -- seem delighted.



GOLDBERG: -- is out of FOX. God bless you. And god bless us all.

MOOS: The host of "The View" then reminisced about the time they walked off the set after arguing with O'Reilly. He sure had a way with words.

BILL O'REILLY, FORMER FOX HOST: Say you're a cocaine dealer and you kind of look like one a little bit.

GOLDBERG: As do you. You look like a cocaine user.

DAVID LETTERMAN, FORMER LATE NIGHT SHOW HOST: In my mind, I think of you as a goon.

O'REILLY: I didn't hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig.


MOOS: "Hey, Bill, how you like my wig now," read one tweet.

(on camera): Like magic, poof, Bill O'Reilly disappeared.

(voice-over): Posters outside FOX say "Nobody moves this man" were moved. His name vanished from his show, mockingly compared to Stalin airbrushing out comrades who fell from grace.

Steven Colbert resurrected his old conservative pundit character based on Bill O'Reilly.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, COLBERT REPORTER: You failed, Bill O'Reilly. All he ever did was have your back. If you're a woman, you know, have a go at the front, too.

MOOS: Comedians reprised O'Reilly's most macho moments.

O'REILLY: Cut his mic.

Cut his mic.

Cut her mic off.

Because you're lying.

Come on, you coward.

MOOS: And then rubbed it in.

UNIDENTIFIED COMEDIAN: Unlike Bill O'Reilly, we'll be right back.

MOOS: Funny or Die did a mashup of Van Diesel and O'Reilly's infamous outtake.

[02:55:14] O'REILLY: Whatever it is, it's not on the Teleprompter. I don't know what that is.

We'll do it live.


O'REILLY: We'll do it live. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) it.


MOOS: In honor of a loud host, a moment of silence.

Jeanne Moos --

COLBERT: Stay strong, Papa Bear.

MOOS: -- CNN, New York.

COLBERT: Oh, god, is this really happening?



SESAY: Bill O'Reilly is not crying. He just walked away with $25 million.

VAUSE: I think he could be because this man has a very healthy ego. He commanded cable television as the number one rated show for more than 15 years. From what I've been told, he does not want to be remember as the guy who got fired for allegedly groping women and being a sexual harasser.

SESAY: He'll be back on our air in some media.

VAUSE: He will turn up again.

SESAY: That is an interesting question.

VAUSE: Maybe write another book. Maybe this one called "Killing Bill O'Reilly?"

SESAY: I'll leave that one right there.

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

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

More news with Natalie Allen and Cyril Vanier, next.