Return to Transcripts main page


White House in Crisis; Russia Probe; Trump-Merkel Relationship; Manchester Terror Attack; U.S. Open to Alternatives to Electronics Ban; China Detains Activist Investigating Factory Making Ivanka Trump Shoes; Remastering the Album that Define an Era. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired May 31, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:08] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour --

President Trump angry, isolated and in a dangerous place as the Russia investigation swirls around him.

VAUSE: The ban back flip -- U.S. officials now say laptops won't be banned on flights from Europe, at least not for now.

SESAY: And don't look back in anger -- music helping Manchester get back on its feet after last week's terror attack.

VAUSE: Hello everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

VAUSE: Russian operative have been accused of flooding the Internet and social media with fake and damaging stories about Hillary Clinton during last year's presidential campaign. Apparently they also might just have the goods on Donald Trump.

SESAY: Now sources tell CNN the Russians discussed potentially derogatory information about Mr. Trump and his associates during the campaign.

CNN Diane Gallagher has the details.


DIANE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Conversations picked up by U.S. intelligence suggest the Russians believe they have the ability to influence the administration with the information, two former intelligence officials and a congressional source tell CNN.

Former director of National Intelligence James Clapper says conversations they were monitoring raised a red flag and warranted investigation.

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: There were a series of communications and dialogues that we grew -- I say we, the members of the intelligence community who were aware of this -- were very concerned about.

GALLAGHER: The investigation into Russia's interference in the U.S. election continues to swirl around those close to the U.S. President.

JARED KUSHNER, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: We found that a lot of --

GALLAGHER: His most trusted adviser son-in-law Jared Kushner is under intense scrutiny. A U.S. official says the FBI is looking into Kushner's contact with Russian officials during the transition as well as various explanations given for those meetings.

On December 1st Kushner met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower. Later that month at Kislyak's urging, Kushner met with Sergey Gorkov, the chairman of a U.S.-sanctioned Russian bank, a close Putin associate and a former spy.

In March the White House insisted it was part of Kushner's official transition role. But the bank said it was only about business, a key contradiction the FBI is now focusing on. The meeting with Kislyak was initially left off Kushner's security clearance disclosure forms but added the next day.

This month sources told CNN Kushner discussed setting up a secret communications channel with Russia using their facilities as a way to bypass detection by U.S. intelligence. As an explanation, said it was so he and then NSA nominee Flynn could discuss military strategy in Syria among other topics.

The White House is pushing back, calling the reports false and unverified claims.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think Secretary Kelly and General McMaster have both discussed that in general terms back channels are an appropriate part of diplomacy.

GALLAGHER: And now the President's son-in-law maybe his top adviser but Jared Kushner actually has plenty of White House duties as well including Middle East peace and streamlining the government.

So even with all that's going on dealing with the Russia investigation a source familiar with Kushner's role says that at this point he isn't giving up any part of his vast portfolio.

Diane Gallagher, CNN -- Washington.


VAUSE: Well, joining me now for more on this, CNN intelligence and security analyst, former CIA operative Bob Baer. Bob -- thank you for being with us.

Let's start with the U.S. intercept of what the Russian officials are talking about -- the derogatory information which could be used to influence the Trump administration. Is it likely to be disinformation put out by the Russians or is this typical of how Russian intelligence works.

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: No. What happens here, John, is these oligarchs are very close to Putin, of course. Some of them are former intelligence officers that Putin worked with or worked for Putin. They go in and see him say hey listen, our business is really hurting. You know the sanctions, this Crimea thing we're going down. And then Putin turns to them -- I'm reconstructing this the best I can -- don't worry about it. I've cut a deal with Trump, compromise whatever word they use.

The oligarchs then leave the Kremlin and get on the phone which the National Security Agency intercepts and they're talking about a compromised Trump administration. And this is what the National Security Agency is -- could Trump -- you know be the subject of a lie inside the Kremlin? Yes. Could Putin exaggerate his control over Trump? Yes. We simply don't know that until we get into these other contacts with Russians.

[00:04:59] For me, I don't understand why Kushner is meeting a banker as part of a back channel. That makes no sense. It makes no sense that a transition team has a back channel. That's just not done. It makes no sense to me the national security adviser McMaster knows little to nothing about it. None of this is playing by the rules -- John.

VAUSE: Let's talk about Kushner's meeting. But let's just first note that we're told, you know, the information that the Russians have is financial in nature which goes to your point.

So let's go to that meeting in December. Jared Kushner meeting with Sergey Gorkov, the CEO of state-owned -- Vnesheconombank is VEB it's also known as; but Gorkov is no ordinary banker, VEB is no ordinary bank.

BAER: Well, John -- I mean here is the question hanging over all of this is does Kushner have financial relations with the Russians? Does he have a financial relation with Gorkov?

You know, they're still doing business. They're still looking for money going into the Kushner empire as well as in the Trump, you know, Organization as well. There are so many conflicts of interest and there are so many Russian connections which, again always brings us back to the taxes.

We want to see the taxes to make sure that Trump, Kushner and the rest of them are not making decisions based on money coming out of Russia.

VAUSE: Well, with that in mind, VEB did release a statement back in March claiming Kushner was there in his role as the head of Kushner companies. He was not representing Donald Trump. Here's part of the statement they released. "During 2016, the bank's manager repeatedly met with representatives of the world's leading financial institution in Europe, Asia and America including the head of Kushner Companies, Jared Kushner."

The White House though at the time said Kushner was there representing the incoming administration adding it was nothing of consequence. But later they put out this idea it was all about establishing a back channel to Putin.

So either the meeting was purely business, it was inconsequential or it's meant to open this direct line to Putin. Do you believe the Russians or do you believe White House and which version do you believe?

BAER: Well John -- I've got to be frank with you. I don't believe the White House at all. I mean their versions change by the hour. I mean Trump is saying this is fake news. Kelly, the head of Homeland Security, said it was a back channel. You've got the Russians say it's business.

We know about these business contacts. You simply can't run a private business and then sit in the White House and make decisions. There is no way to sort what you're saying to these people, what the intent of the meeting is and what the understanding of the Russians are.

I mean the Russians are probably just as confused as we are. I mean is this Trump administration doing business or is it furthering American national security? I don't know.

VAUSE: Let's just finish this up by circling back to the derogatory information -- the financial information the Russians may have had. I don't want to link these two events together of Kushner meeting with Gorkov, but it does seem at least from where I sit that the investigators are increasingly focusing on all the financial details here.

BAER: I think it's financial. You know, Kushner and Ivanka both have business connections with Trump in Azerbaijan with Russian intelligence officers as well with Alpha Bank. There are just multiple contacts that are suspicious.

All of these companies, John, have KGB officers inside of them. So they are in effect arms of the state. And the question is, you know, what is Russian intelligence doing here? They are very good and they clearly have us tied up as a country and have the White House tied up. And I'll bet you this is going -- we're going to be talking about this next year, only it's going to be worse.

VAUSE: Ok Bob -- thank you. Bob Baer, former CIA operative and our security intelligence analyst. Bob -- thank you so much.

BAER: Thank you.

SESAY: Well, White House spokesman Sean Spicer was less than forthcoming about the Russia investigation. A reporter asked when and if President Trump knew about Jared Kushner's alleged attempt to set up back channel negotiations with Russia.


SPICER: Mr. Kushner's attorney has said that Mr. Kushner has volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings and he will do the same if he is contacted in -- connected with any other inquiry.


VAUSE: Joining us now Democrat strategist Matt Littman and CNN political commentator John Phillips, Trump supporter and also a talk radio host.

SESAY: Welcome guys.

VAUSE: It's good to see you both.

John -- let's start with you. The White House had what, four days to get a clear answer on the Kushner story. They decided obviously not to clarify anything that was going on. Spicer kind of laid a hint that the report was inaccurate even though senior members of the administration have been talking about back channels being a good thing. What's going on?

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, people have lots of conversations for lots of different reasons. I'm still not clear what law he violated, what crime he committed. We're doing all of this based on hearsay, based on anonymous sources, based on newspaper reports without attribution. So I'm still not clear as to what he did wrong, if anything.

[00:10:05] VAUSE: It's called collusion, I guess.

PHILLIPS: Where is the evidence? Where is the proof?

VAUSE: Well, that's why they're having an investigation.

PHILLIPS: But there is still no evidence or proof, though.

SESAY: But that's what the investigation is about.

MATT LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think at this point you'd have to prove that the Trump administration was not influenced by Russia. There are so many meetings with Russians that they all forget to put on their security -- on the security forms. It's incredible.

I think with Jared Kushner, I think we need to see his tax returns. We need to see Donald Trump's tax returns too, to find out what was going on with Russia as well as Jared Kushner's. Jared Kushner meeting in Russian territory wanting a Russian communications channel to meet with a bank from Russia -- to say that this is not going to have anything to do with finances is ridiculous.

PHILLIPS: I would add this. When this meeting took place -- this happened in what December?


PHILLIPS: Ok -- the Obama administration was still in charge of the Department of Justice. That was the most partisan executive branch in my lifetime where they used the IRS to target Tea Party groups. They went after anti-abortion activists.

They were the ones that were in charge of the investigation into the whole Russia situation including when that alleged meeting took place. If something was going on it was the Obama administration that was investigating and he had what a full month to do so.

SESAY: All right. So let me ask you this, Matt. To all of this -- I hear what you are saying, John -- but we could go around in circles forever.

Ivanka and Jared have taken the approach that they're just going to keep their heads down. They're going to keep their heads down and they're going to keep focused on the work. Is that a successful strategy in your view? I mean where does that leave his portfolio?

LITTMAN: There are a few things that could happen here. First thing that should have happened is that the Trump administration should have come out and said who met with Russians and when. That should have happened.

Jared and Ivanka -- Jared has no experience in government. He has come in and proven that he had no experience in government. He has been put in charge of all of these things. Trump only trusts family members, right. So that's why he's talking with Jared.

At some point it's going to be down to Tiffany Trump who's going to be running these things. But I don't think they could last. Inside the administration now, people aren't going to trust Jared because Jared in a sense is compromised not necessarily by the Russians but by the investigation.

VAUSE: And to your point, John, you know, what's the crime here. I mean the meeting itself isn't the crime but, you know, there is the wider issue of obstruction of justice, firing the FBI director which apparently was Kushner's idea. He was the one that urged the President to do it.

You know, quite often in these impeachment issues -- Bill Clinton will know -- it's not the crime, but it's the cover up.

PHILLIPS: And still no law enforcement agency has accused him of committing a crime. On the point of hiring the son-in-law I'd rather stick my fingers in the garbage disposal than work in the family business. I'm not a fan of hiring family members for reasons exactly like this.

So -- you know, Jared Kushner also is not someone that represents Donald Trump's voter base. I mean Jared Kushner is someone who is a Democrat and probably doesn't share many of the same political views as Donald Trump. And I think is probably more of a thorn on the side of the President than people think.

VAUSE: Ok the fact that Spicer actually turned up on Tuesday was a bit of a surprise for many people given all the talk that his role may be reduced. But he was there and he came out ready with an epic opening about the President's first overseas trip. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPICER: It was an unprecedented first trip abroad just four months into this administration. And it shows how quickly and decisively the President is acting to strengthen alliances to form new partnerships and to rebuild America's standing in the world.

The President's address to the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations was a historic turning point that people will be talking about for many years to come. He did exactly as he promised in his inaugural address, united the civilized world in the fight against terrorism and extremism.


VAUSE: Matt.

LITTMAN: Can you feel the enthusiasm? Wow.

When he says it's unprecedented and historic, true. Right.

Listen, it's a --

VAUSE: They will be talking about it for years to come.

LITTMAN: Yes. It's a disaster in terms of our relationships. I mean if Russia wanted to have influence, we -- today's "New York Times" talks about how Russia is influencing Italy and the United States has abdicated that. Germany says they can't count on the United States anymore in terms of our relationship with NATO and the United States leading.

What more could Russia want from -- Donald Trump hands them secrets when they come into the White House. What more could Russia possibly want than what the Trump administration is giving them?

SESAY: Well, so your point about Germany, Sean Spicer had a response to that as well and all the talk about frayed relations with Angela Merkel. Take a listen.


SPICER: I think the relationship that the President has had with Merkel he would describe as fairly unbelievable. They get along very well. He has a lot of respect for her. They continue to grow the bond that they had during their talks in the G-7.


SESAY: John -- are we operating in the relevant realm of alternative facts now?

PHILLIPS: I'm critical of his trip to Europe and Asia to the extent that he would have been much better off spending his time building the wall. But I'm happy that he went over there and told those dead beats to pay up. [00:15:00] SESAY: And Merkel -- the relationship with Merkel, fairly


PHILLIPS: Well, she needed to hear it. That's a message that should have been delivered to her by the previous president, and the president before him and the president before him. And finally it was Trump that went in there and told her to pay up.


SESAY: It wasn't Trump that went in there and said it -- other presidents have said this.

LITTMAN: Well, let me just say. First of all, Germany is not a deadbeat. I mean does Germany have a military base in Palm Springs. But the United States certainly has one in Germany. That's because of Barack Obama who said that these countries should reach 2 percent of their spending by 2024.

PHILLIPS: There is only five that have done it though.

LITTMAN: By 2024 and Germany is starting to increase the amount of its defense spending.

The United States does take more responsibility but it would be great if people paid more. But the United States gets a lot out of that relationship. We haven't had a world war since 1945.

PHILLIPS: You better figure that in bananas but because apes will be controlling the world by the time these people pay up.

VAUSE: Ok. We have to finish up this short (inaudible) right now with comedian Kathy Griffin. She has actually issued an apology because she was featured in a photo shoot holding a head which looked like the --

SESAY: Bloody head.

VAUSE: -- a bloody head which looks like the President. This was the apology.


KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: Hey everybody. It's me Kathy Griffin. I sincerely apologize. I just now seeing the reaction of these images. I'm a comic. I crossed the line. I moved the line then I cross it. I went way too fare.

The image is too disturbing. I understand how it offends people. It wasn't funny. I get it. I've made a lot of mistakes if my career. I will continue. I ask your forgiveness, taking down the message -- I'm going to ask the photographer to take down the image. And I beg for your forgiveness. I went too far. I made a mistake. And I was wrong.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Of course, Kathy Griffin known for co-hosting CNN's New Year's Eve show with Anderson Cooper. Anderson tweeted this out a short time ago. "For the record I'm appalled by the photo shoot Kathy Griffin took part in. It is clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate."

So John -- as far as the apology we're hearing from Kathy Griffin, is that enough?

PHILLIPS: Kathy's photo didn't offend me although nothing offends me. The only thing that offends me is when people try to block my free speech or block my ability to hear other's free speech.

I think she's a complete and total coward because she is not sorry. She's not apologetic over what she did. She did the joke. She meant it. Her audience likes that sort of thing. If I were her I would have owned it and done the same thing on Stephen Colbert and double down tonight.

SESAY: Matt?

LITTMAN: When Ted Nugent threatened to kill Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton he ended up in the Oval Office visiting President Trump. He certainly didn't apologize. Kathy Griffin apologized. That was the right thing to do.

VAUSE: Isn't that sort of, you know, from a liberal point of view, there is always this outrage about, you know, death threats against the President and you know the abuse and the body slam on the reporter in Montana.

And yet, you know, well Chelsea Clinton has tweeted about this being violent and disgusting. The response seems to be fairly muted from --

LITTMAN: I don't know about people's responses. It's obviously the wrong thing to do. There's no excuse for it. It's the wrong thing to do.

SESAY: All right gentlemen.

VAUSE: And we'll leave it there.

SESAY: Appreciate it. Thank you.

VAUSE: Thank you.

Well, still to come here, the race fiercely tightening ahead of next week's election in the U.K. But now a major gaffe on child care by the opposition leader might just cost him all that new-found support.

SESAY: Plus, pop star Ariana Grande returns to 1 on Sunday with some famous friends -- a benefit concert for the victims of the terror attack.

But Tuesday night, one of Manchester's own took the stage and it was epic.


SESAY: Well, one of Manchester's most famous sons has returned to his hometown. Former Oasis front man Liam Gallagher performed a benefit concert Tuesday night for victims and their families eight days after the terror attack. The crowd, as you hear there, belting out the band's hit "Don't Look Back in Anger", a song that's become an anthem for the city since the horrific bombing.

VAUSE: The stage was set for 22 candles to honor those killed as the crowd chanted "Stand up for the 22". .


CROWD: Stand up for the 22. Stand up for the 22. Stand up for the 22. Stand up for the 22.


VAUSE: Our Muhammad Lila has more now from the benefit concert. Also details on another big event coming to Manchester.


MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing outside a concert hall where Manchester's own Liam Gallagher is performing. You can see behind me security are screening all of the people that are going inside.

This is a symbolic concert to show the U.K. and in fact the rest of the world that Manchester is moving on after the tragedy. And just as life is moving on the investigation is moving forward as well.

Police carrying out another raid today and they put out images that show the suspect Salman Abedi wheeling around a blue suitcase. They're trying to find more information about the suitcase because Abedi was seen wheeling it around downtown Manchester in the days and in fact in the very hours before the attack took place.

Now police don't believe the suitcase was involved in the attack. They say that the attacker put the explosives in a backpack. But that raises more questions. What was in that suitcase that was so important that Abedi was wheeling it around in the days and hours before the attack?

Now as police scramble to find any remaining leads and any possible co-conspirators in this terror plot, life is slowly moving back to normal and the city is about to get a major morale boost with the announcement that Ariana Grande will be returning here for a benefit concert on Sunday night.

She won't be coming alone. She'll be coming with some of the biggest names in the music world including Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. All of them will be here to pay their respects and to honor the victims and the family members of the 22 people who lost their lives here in Manchester. This concert is so significant we caught up with Manchester's mayor today and here is what he told us. ANDY BURNHAM, MAYOR OF GREATER MANCHESTER: I think it will be quite

significant particularly for people who perhaps were at the first concert, who would want to -- to go back and be part of that second concert. I think it will be a positive moment I think where people can begin to look to the future and can at least again enjoy being with each other and taking comfort in that.

LILA: We've been talking to some of the music fans here who are going to the Liam Gallagher concert. They tell us that they and their friends are now frantically trying to get tickets for this weekend's concert. It's believed that at this weekend's concert not only the victims will be honored but also the family members of the victims as well.

So it's bound to be an emotional time but certainly a very important event for Manchester to show the rest of the world that it's healing and that it's moving through this tragedy.

Muhammad Lila, CNN -- Manchester.


SESAY: Another moment for the city to stand together.

VAUSE: Yes. There will be a lot of moments like that.

SESAY: Yes, there certainly will be.

Well, it is just eight days until Britain votes and polls suggest the opposition Labour Party is closing in on Theresa May's Conservatives.

VAUSE: But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn stumbled in a big way on Tuesday. During an interview with the BBC Corbyn struggled to explain his party's policy on child care.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me understand then how much will it cost to provide unmeans-tested (ph) child care for 1.3 million children?

JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: It will cost -- it will obviously cost a lot to do so. We accept that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I presume you have the figures.

CORBYN: Yes I do. Well, it does cost a lot to do it. The point I'm trying to make is we're making it universal so that we are in a position to make sure that every child gets it. And those that can -- the moment get-free places will continue to get and those that have to pay won't and we'll collect money through taxation, money through corporate taxation.

[00:25:10] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So how much will it cost?

CORBYN: I'll give you the figure in a moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't know it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're logging into your iPad here. You've announced a major policy and you don't know how much it will cost?


VAUSE: Awkward.

SESAY: Awkward.

Well Mrs. May has --

VAUSE: (inaudible) carry the two.

SESAY: Or log into your iPad.

Mrs. May has (inaudible) a platform of strength and stability throughout the campaign.

VAUSE: She continued to hammer that message at a campaign event on Tuesday.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We are approaching the end of a long campaign. But it's crucial that everybody remembers this important fact.

Britain is about to enter into the most important negotiations of my lifetime. They begin just 11 days after polling day. And the European Union is already adopting an aggressive negotiating position.

That's why now more than ever Britain needs a strong government and a strong prime minister, capable of standing up to Brussels.


SESAY: Well, economic unrest was a main driver for the leave movement when the Brexit was still being decided.

VAUSE: Our Richard Quest went to Newport in Wales to see how voters there are feeling now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Newport used to be a thriving place when we were growing up and my children were -- but look at it now. You only go look around and you can see what it's like anyways.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Empty shops. But there're all the flats above the shops. They could have them to let for people for the housing.

QUEST: What's gone wrong do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keeping up with for (inaudible)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My opinion is society is only as strong as its weakest link. The weakest link is at the top, isn't it? It all comes down to bad (inaudible).

QUEST: I was going to say it doesn't --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much does any man need to live?

QUEST: And what about in this part of the world. Are things getting better?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted out with Brexit, right, not because of the economy but I wanted control back. Right.

QUEST: You got it.


QUEST: You got it.


QUEST: Are you happy you got what you got?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes but the E.U. are now going to punish us because we've come out. They're going to make it very, very difficult for us.


VAUSE: Ok. We'll take a short break here.

When we come back if you're flying to the U.S. from Europe, if you like your laptop you can keep your laptop. The U.S. says there will be no ban, at least for now. We'll have more details on that in just a moment.


[00:30:08] VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay.

The headlines this hour --

Russian officials allegedly discussed having potentially derogatory information about Donald Trump and some of his top aides during the 2016 campaign. Multiple sources tell CNN the Russians thought they could use the information to influence a Trump White House. VAUSE: ISIS says it carried out three bombings in Iraq on Tuesday, killing at least 33 people. One of the attacks targeted young families outside an ice cream shop in Baghdad. Another outside an office where elderly residents collecting pensions. In Paris, the Eiffel Tower went dark at midnight to honor those victims.

SESAY: Well, from this hazy launch site in California, the U.S. military says it successfully shot down a mock intercontinental ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean. Now this was the first live fire test of the upgraded interceptor. They told us a flurry of North Korean missile launches and it's seen as a test of U.S. ability to counter an attack.

VAUSE: The suspect in the deadly train stabbing in Portland, Oregon yelled free speech or die as he was arraigned, Tuesday. Jeremy Christian is accused of killing two men who came to the defense of a pair of teenagers. Police say he was shouting racial slurs at the pair. One of whom was Muslim.

In the courtroom, Christian also declared you call it terrorism, I call it patriotism.

SESAY: Well, the U.S. may not extend a ban on laptops and other electronics to all international flights to and from the U.S. after all. U.S. officials now appear to be open to alternatives.

Right now, electronic devices larger than cell phones are banned from the cabins on flights from ten airports in the Middle East and Africa. A source says the Department of Homeland Security spoke with European counterparts, Tuesday, and the Europeans expressed outrage at the possible expansion. U.S. says an expanded ban, though, still on the table.

SESAY: Well, Heather Williams is a senior international defense policy analyst at the RAND Corporation and once worked at the Department of Homeland Security.

Heather, welcome. Good to have you with us.


SESAY: So earlier this month when it first came out that this was being considered, this expansion of the laptop ban, let me read to you what the head of IATA, that's the International Air Transport Association. Let me read to you what he had to say.

He said this. "The responses of Canada, the EU and Australia to the same intelligence demonstrate that a ban on large electronic devices in the cabin is not the only way forward. Indeed, we believe that is not sustainable in the long run."

Now we're hearing that homeland security appears to be open to alternatives to the expansion of the laptop ban.

What does that say to you? WILLIAMS: Well I think you're -- what you're reflecting there is that there is no right answer or wrong answer when it comes to how to mitigate a security threat.

There are balances that the airline industry would want the homeland security apparatus to make, to recognize the need of travelers. So I think it's -- it's relevant that DHS is looking for alternatives that would hopefully achieve the same effect in mitigating this existing threat, but I think it's relevant that they also have it discarded the possibility all together of some sort of a future restriction.

SESAY: You talked about alternatives that would do the same thing that would meet -- meet the threat in the same way as a ban.

Do those exist?

WILLIAMS: Yes. So I think there is no perfect equivalent for any kind of security measure. So DHS and the Transportation Security Administration use a layered base security. And so the idea is that one layer would compensate for weaknesses or vulnerabilities that might present in another.

So potential alternatives could be things like more sophisticated equipment that can do more reliable screening of these types of apparatus. It could even involve things like enhancing the posture of federal air marshals who are on flights to help protect it if it looks like somebody might be trying to tamper with or use a laptop in some sort of way that might show an explosive device.

SESAY: But let's be clear as we've just said. The -- it is still on the table as a possibility. Banning devices larger than a cell phone.

What about the point made by the IOTA chief that in the long run it is not sustainable to keep that going?

WILLIAMS: So that's an area where I would actually kind of take the opposite approach. So I think what happens with a lot of these types of measures is they really disrupt the industry at first. But then overtime the industry has the opportunity to adjust.

So Emirates, for example, which already is not authorize to have laptops in the cabin on flights to the U.S. and the UK has already looked at providing laptops to passengers.

You could bring a thumb drive with their personal files and use that as a work around. So I actually think, you know, over time, you might have other ways in which the industry is able to compensate. And it may not be needed over time.

So this does appear to be a response to an actual threat that might have existed. And that threat may go away.

[00:35:00] SESAY: I want to ask you a question that has been posed by many people.

Simply, why is the threat of a laptop bomb placed in a cargo hold less than the threat of it being in the cabin?

WILLIAMS: Right? So the plane is vulnerable at different times in its transit and in different places more vulnerable than others.

So the difference is if you're a passenger, you have some control over when a device might detonate or where you might physically be. Whereas if the device is put in the cargo hold, you wouldn't have the same controls.

SESAY: But if there's a fire.

WILLIAMS: If there is a fire, then there is certainly a risk to the aircraft.


WILLIAMS: And I don't know the details of the plane, but I'm sure that there are fire suppression and fire detects systems in cargo hold. These aren't the only thing that could potentially catch on fire. But this is another way in which the long-term might see some sort of industry solution. So perhaps there needs to be a fire safe box that laptops are checked into to help eliminate that risk of -- of a fire breaking out and affecting the rest of the plane.

SESAY: Final question and quickly, from the travelers perspective, I'm going to ask you almost like as a consumer question, if indeed this does go through and everyone puts their laptops in the cargo hold and that's that and something happens to the device, it's lost, it's damaged, whatever...



SESAY: Who is going to be responsible? I'm asking this actually more for my producer who is very interested in this point.

WILLIAMS: I think that doesn't change. I mean, there is already parameters for if you put some sort of valuables inside of the -- the --


SESAY: But it's going to come up. I mean, the potential of chaos here is great.

WILLIAMS: Right. Well, one nice thing is we have enhanced the way in which bags are screened so often there are pictures of what was exactly in your bag.

SESAY: OK. We're going to hold you to that.

WILLIAMS: Of what you had.

SESAY: We appreciate it. Thanks for the insight.

WILLIAMS: Great. Thank you.

SESAY: Thank you. All right.

VAUSE: Well, to China now. CNN has learned two activists investigating a factory which makes shoes for Ivanka Trump have gone missing and a third is under arrest. All three were documenting working conditions at the Huajian Groups factories in Southern China. Ivanka Trump's company has declined to comment.

CNN's Matt Rivers joins us now with more on this from Beijing.

Matt, the assumption here is that this has something to do with the fact that it is Ivanka Trump's company. But activists who investigate working conditions, they are detained and they are arrested fairly regularly across the country.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This does happen and certainly not too rare for labor activists to get in trouble with the law. This story was first reported by the Associated Press. The details then confirmed by CNN.

As you mentioned three different men working for a group called the China Labor Watch, a well-known NGO that operates here in China investigating unfair labor practices. These three men actually went undercover. They got jobs at two different factories belonging to this Huajian group. One of those factories is in charge of producing Ivanka Trump brand shoes for the brand to be exported to the United States.

And so what -- what we now know is that those men were planning on producing a report next month outlining what they called unfair labor practices, things like working for less than minimum wage, things like working up to 18 hours per day, forced overtime.

They were going to publish that report next month. But over the weekend all three of those men disappeared. Two of them, we don't know their locations, but one of them we only know his location because we spoke with his wife this morning.

His wife said she got a call from police on Monday saying that he had been arrested for unlawful surveillance but then she doesn't know where he is being held. She can't talk to him and she's obviously very upset about that.

Now CNN doesn't know if by getting a job and doing this kind of thing that we're in fact conducting illegal actions under Chinese law. But the fact is China Labor Watch had been doing this for a long time. They says they've never seen anything quite this harsh before.

VAUSE: Again, Matt, thank you. Matt Rivers there live in Beijing.

A short break here. When we come back, I read the news today and oh boy one of the most famous albums of all time is 50 years old. We will speak to the producer who remastered "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."



[00:41:40] VAUSE: I could listen to that all night.

It was 50 years ago this week when a piece of musical artistry was released capturing the spirit of an era like never before, "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band."

SESAY: The Beatle's unforgettable album is still certainly a thrill. Paul Vercammen spoke to the son of the legendary Beatle's producer George Martin -- producer Giles Martin who remastered the masterpiece and you may just want to sing along.

VAUSE: We will.



PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm so glad to be joined by Giles Martin, his father is the mastermind, if you will, of Sergeant Pepper's. And is it incredible for you to think that this was 50 years ago that this splashed down on all of us?

GILES MARTIN, RECORD PRODUCER: Yes, you know, it's crazy, because it's so fresh. My dad always used to say, he never planned on this music being heard in 50 years' time. He said he would have never written "Dark Side of the Moon." Had he not heard Sergeant Pepper's. And that the impact of the album is just extraordinary.

VERCAMMEN: When the Beatles were formulating this idea for Sergeant Pepper's, explain to people how they wanted to create this alternate identity.

MARTIN: The Beatles were the first kind of boy band, if you think about it. They all dressed the same, charismatic, progressive characters, that were taught to be polite for cameras. They just said, we're not doing this anymore. We're not playing the game anymore, we want to be us and that was the beginning of Sergeant Pepper's.

VERCAMMEN: If you look at the people on that cover, for the Beatles and for the artists, what do you think links them all?

MARTIN: I mean, they chose their heroes. They had a laugh. I mean, the Beatles had a sort of wicked sense of humor.

VERCAMMEN: You're given the keys to the kingdom and you're told to update and remix it. Daunting, I'm sure.

MARTIN: Daunting. It's funny that the actual mixes that we do sound fresher than the original record. You can hear everything much clearer.

VERCAMMEN: "Rolling Stone" magazine no less has rated this the number one record of all time.

MARTIN: I think that time in 1967 when there were so many things going on in the world, that they just, OK, let's escape into this beautiful colorful world and create something that is just ours, but then changes the way people look at life.


VAUSE: I'm going to listen to all my Beatles records when I get home. Turn the volume up pretty loud and wake the whole house up.

SESAY: No, don't do that. They were special lads.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. "World Sport" is up next. And then we will be back with another hour of news from all around the world. You're watching CNN.