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U.S. Attorney General to Testify before Senate; No Deal Yet in U.K. Government Talks; Trump and Team Send Mixed Messages on Qatar; May Faces Backlash for Seeking Deal with DUP; Insider Attack Kills Three U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan; Putin Uses YouTube to Call for Protests; Mounting Pressure on May to Resign as U.K. Prime Minister. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired June 11, 2017 - 05:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The attorney general of the United States, Jeff Sessions, may soon testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. We'll explain the impact of that.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Pressure builds on the British prime minister after her top advisers resign following a disastrous snap election. We'll take you live for the latest at 10 Downing Street.

HOWELL (voice-over): One of the biggest rifts in Gulf shows little signs of letting up.

ALLEN (voice-over): All these stories ahead this hour. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world, coming to you live from Atlanta, I'm Natalie Allen.

And I'm George Howell from CNN World Headquarters. NEWSROOM starts right now.


ALLEN: Our top story, U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions plans to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday. He was already scheduled to appear before Congress that day but in front of different House and Senate panels.

HOWELL: Sessions will be on the hot seat on his role for the firing of the former FBI director, James Comey, as well as his meetings with Russian officials during the presidential campaign. Our Athena Jones has the very latest for you.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, that's right. We're learning the attorney general has offered to testify on Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Now we know that Senate investigators are going to be interested in

speaking to the attorney general. So if this goes forward, it means they're getting the chance a lot sooner than they may have expected.

We expect them to grill Sessions on a number of issues, including his involvement in the firing of now former FBI director James Comey. During the hours-long testimony on Thursday, Comey made several mentions of Sessions.

He questioned his role -- he questioned Sessions' role in his firing given the fact that Sessions had recused himself from the Russia investigation and Comey believes he was fired because of his handling of the Russia investigation.

Comey also talked about how Sessions was one of the two people who lingered in the Oval Office -- the other was Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law -- after the president asked to clear the room so that he could speak alone with Comey. That is, of course, a conversation Comey later shared, in which the president, he says, asked him to let the Flynn probe go.

This being the investigation into his then national security adviser, Michael Flynn. We know that Comey says he later told Sessions that it wasn't appropriate for him to be having one-on-one meetings -- for Comey to be having one-on-one meeting with the president and asked Sessions to make sure that that wasn't allowed to happen again.

And he talked about having been aware of information that would lead to Sessions' recusal from the Russia investigation.

Here is that exchange that Comey had with Oregon Democratic senator Ron Wyden. Wyden asked Comey why he didn't discuss the president's actions, which clearly disturbed Comey, with Sessions. Watch that exchange.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: We also were aware of facts that I can't discuss in an open setting, that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic.

And so we were -- we were convinced -- and, in fact, I think we had already heard that the career people were recommending that he recuse himself, that he was not going to be in contact with Russia-related matters much longer. And that turned out to be the case.


JONES: "And that turned out to be the case."

Now CNN learned that, in the closed session that followed the open session on Thursday, Comey told the Senate Intelligence panel about a possible third meeting, an undisclosed meeting between Sessions and the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

Now the Department of Justice has denied that such a meeting took place. But that is some of the detail that Comey didn't want to talk about in open session. And it is the kind of question we expect Sessions to have to answer when he appears before the Senate Intelligence panel -- back to you.


ALLEN: Meantime the countdown is on for President Trump. House investigators are giving him two weeks to hand over any memos or audio recordings of his conversations with the former FBI director.

HOWELL: The president said he's willing to give sworn testimony to prove that he's telling the truth.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he said those things under oath.

Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version -- ?




HOWELL: So Brian Klaas is fellow of comparative politics at the London School of Economics. And I spoke with him earlier about the he said/he said situation between the President of the United States and the fired FBI director.


BRIAN KLAAS, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: When you get down to a credibility contest, everyone who's fair-minded in the world knows that Trump is going to lose that battle.

And so I think it's a very unwise decision to try to go up against somebody who has spent their career building credibility versus somebody who has spent their career --


KLAAS: -- showing why they should not deserve credibility in the public eye.

HOWELL: Brian, let's now talk about the president's attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who plans to testify this week. And from the testimony of James Comey last week, he revealed that there may have been a third encounter with Russian officials.

This is something that Mr. Sessions did not mention in his initial testimony. So the idea has been floated, Brian, that this could be perjury.

Your thoughts here? KLAAS: Well, I think it's too early to tell. I think that's going to be some of the questioning. I think the thing that we need to worry about a bit is that reports suggest that this hearing on Tuesday is going to be a closed hearing; in other words, the public and press won't be allowed to be there.

Now I don't see any rationale for why that needs to be the case because we saw with Comey that you can have both. You can have an open hearing that does not involved classified testimony and a closed hearing that deals with more sensitive matters.

And I think Jeff Sessions owes it to the American people to answer those types of questions, did he lie under oath during his confirmation hearing?

That's a very serious charge. And if he did we need to understand why and why he didn't correct the record because, in testimony, if you do misspeak, you can easily file something that says, I misspoke; let me correct the record.

Sessions did not do that and we need to know why.

HOWELL: Brian, the last question here, two different lines of investigations happening. One into collusion between Russian officials and members of the Trump administration or Trump transition team and then also the investigation simply into the president himself.

Did he obstruct justice in this case with Mr. Comey?

So first of all, which is the bigger danger to the Trump administration right now, given that there are quite possibly two investigations going on?

KLAAS: Well, they're parallel dangers and there's dangers for Trump's political survival, there's dangers for the Trump presidency more broadly and his political agenda and there's dangers for the United States.

So I think they're all wrapped into this. In terms of political survival, the obstruction of justice is the most pressing one because that before Nixon resigned, the articles of impeachment drafted against him involved obstruction of justice and abuse of power. Article 4 of the impeachment articles drafted against Bill Clinton involved abuse of power.

And there's a very strong abuse of power case simply because Trump admitted that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation and also because of the Comey testimony, saying I demand loyalty and also urging him to end a probe into Michael Flynn as national security adviser.

We're also losing sight of the bigger picture here, which is that, of the nine encounters, the nine times that Trump met or spoke to Comey, he never raised the issue of how do we stop this intervention in our democracy, the cyber attack by Russia. He had no interest in this beyond his own political survival and I think that's one of the big problems that's being swept under the rug here, is he seems much more worried about his personal political survival than about preserving, protecting and defending the United States, as he pledged to do in his oath of office.

And that's what we need to pay attention to more as well.


HOWELL: That was a conversation I had earlier with Brian Klaas. Of course, visit, where you can get all the information on the U.S. political situation, the Trump White House and much, much more.

ALLEN: Like this story.

HOWELL: That's right. Switching now to the United Kingdom, the question here, deal or no deal. Just days after a snap election that backfired on the British prime minister, Downing Street says she still hasn't struck a deal.

Prime minister Theresa May has not struck a deal yet with the Democratic Unionist Party, this after it indicated earlier Saturday that a preliminary deal had been reached.

ALLEN: Ms. May hopes to ally with the Northern Ireland party after voters stripped her Conservatives of a majority in Parliament. It also appears she's cleaning house after the election disaster.

Two of her top aides seen here, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill announced their resignations Saturday. Timothy admitted in a statement there were failures in the Conservative campaign -- you can say that again.

For more, CNN's Melissa Bell is outside 10 Downing Street in London and CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for us.

Melissa, let's start with you there outside 10 Downing Street. Another day dawns for Ms. May.

And what will it bring?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It seems every day brings its fresh layers of pressure to the embattled British prime minister Theresa May. First of all, that deal that's apparently not a deal with the DUP, the Ulster Unionists, and that will no doubt be the subject of continued negotiations.

It is crucial of course, to Theresa May if she has any hope of forming a minority government that that deal is struck.

Then she's continuing to fend off what appear to be growing calls, a growing movement, to prepare a leadership challenge. She's going to be facing a powerful backbench committee early next week and she's going to have to put on a pretty solid performance to get past them and convince her party that she deserves to keep their backing. Beyond that we look at a week on Monday. That will be the crucial

test of any deal, if a deal has been struck with the DUP. Will -- when she announces the queen's speech, that is the legislative program --


BELL: -- for the coming session, not only will it be the first test of the loose alliance that appears to be being cobbled together with the Ulster Unionists, it will also be an opportunity to announce the beginning of the great repeal bill.

This has been described as the House of Commons library as the greatest legislative program ever undertaken in the United Kingdom. It's about turning E.U. law into U.K. law, bringing power back to the United Kingdom with the view to the Brexit having come to an end.

It's a massive legislative program that this weakened prime minister is going to be trying to push through Parliament within the content of a fairly loose alliance with the DUP, if that takes place.

So that gives you an idea what is in Theresa May's entree for just the coming days.

ALLEN: Right. So if not Ms. May, the question is who.

What about the man we all remember for his hair mainly but among other things, Boris Johnson, in the picture?

BELL: Growing talks about him, the British press is full of it today, the fact that the current foreign secretary could be the best hope for those who hope to see Theresa May replaced.

There is so much anger, Natalie, within Conservative ranks about the fact that this election was called, about the way that it was handled and the sense among many parts of the Tory Party that she should go.

What helps focus the mind of the Conservatives is, for instance, when the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn -- he's been speaking on British television this morning -- reminds them that he's ready to form a government that should be talks with the DUP failed. He'll be ready to get in there and form a minority government to take over.

That of course, focuses Conservative minds. They know they need to help Theresa May get through the next few days. They hope that she forms a government; otherwise, they know that they will lose power altogether and that's clearly something no Conservative MP wants to consider -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Melissa Bell for us, thank you so much. We'll talk with you again.

HOWELL: Let's go now to Northern Ireland, where our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, is standing by live for us there in Belfast.

Good to have you with us, Nic. So it's very clear now and apparent that a deal has not yet been reached.

Are you hearing anything more about the sticking points, what separates these two parties from coming together to reach a confidence and supply arrangement to effectively move forward?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. Neither side is saying what they've been talking about and I get a sense that it's caution potentially on the part of the DUP and partly from what we're hearing from Melissa, that there is the possibility of a challenge for the leadership.

So there would be caution obviously on the part of the DUP, not to sort of jump too quickly to strike a deal with Theresa May, if she is not going to be prime minister by the end of next week.

But there are many other issues that are key. What's interesting here is Number 10 Downing Street seem to be very key to push an early narrative that their top official, who came here for talks with the DUP yesterday, Saturday, had some success. They said that there was an agreement in principle on an outline agreement, a sort of vague statement.

But it gave you a sense something had been done. But then they rolled that back, saying a little bit later, that, in fact, the prime minister had called the DUP and they were hoping for an agreement, discussions in the coming week.

The DUP said that, from their point of view so far, the talks had been positive but they expected the talks to continue into next week.

Look, the DUP will have things that they want to deliver on. That's for sure. There will be things there that they want 10 Downing Street to agree with them on and they will push for those.

One of the important things will be for their base not to be seen to be giving in too quickly on an agreement because that will look like they're capitulating. They're going to want to appear to be strong.

So these are going to be -- these are going to be the key issues for them. And so, from that point of view, for the DUP, making an agreement quickly is not in their interest.

And let's face it, in Northern Ireland, part of the politics here is the art of the negotiation. It plays out over a long time before you sort of make -- before you make a final agreement -- George.

HOWELL: Nic, just to get some context for our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world, who may not be familiar with the delicate peace that exists there in Northern Ireland, explain the danger here for the Tories to align themselves, even a loose alignment with the DUP.

I believe we may have lost Nic Robertson's audio or connection with him but we had Nic Robertson, again, live there in Belfast. We'll, of course, come back to Nic as soon as we can re-establish a connection with him. But a very important story, obviously, the Tories looking to align

themselves with the DUP in order to effectively govern.

The question is, will they be able --


HOWELL: -- to reach that agreement?

Will they be able to come together and, if they come together, what impact will it have on Northern Ireland?

ALLEN: I'll be talking about that a little later bit this hour with Sir Anthony Selden, the biographer of former prime ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair. And he'll give us his perspective about the future of British political leadership.



HOWELL (voice-over): All right. Right now voting is underway in France's parliamentary election. And National Front leader Marine Le Pen has just cast her ballot -- you see the video here. This is a look at her visiting a polling station.

Le Pen is running for a seat in her Northern District.

ALLEN (voice-over): The far right party is hoping to strengthen its power in Parliament after Le Pen lost the presidential election. Today's vote is just the first round. Another election is set for the 18th.


ALLEN: Coming up here the Gulf nations are still freezing Qatar out but now Russia is weighing in and offering advice.

HOWELL: Plus, a U.S. official says a deadly attack on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan looks to be an inside job. We'll have details ahead.

ALLEN: Also ahead --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you worried about the risk of what you do here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, motivation (ph) is not in fear. We are trying to build a beautiful Russia of the future.

ALLEN (voice-over): Getting the opposition message out on YouTube. The push for protests in Russia. That's coming up here. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.



ALLEN: Welcome back.

Russia vows to help resolve the diplomatic showdown that's left Qatar in isolation. On Saturday, the foreign ministers from Russia and Qatar met to talk about the dispute that's going on in the region.

HOWELL: Nine countries have accused Doha of supporting terrorism and they've cut all ties. Qatar denies the allegations. Russia is calling for open communication to end the standoff.

ALLEN: Washington's position in all this is not clear. Qatar has been a longstanding ally of the United States, especially in the fight against ISIS. But on Friday President Donald Trump sent a harsher message. It even differed from his own secretary of state.


REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The blockade is also impairing U.S. and other international business activities in the region and has created a hardship on the people of Qatar and the people whose livelihoods depend on commerce with Qatar. The blockade is hindering U.S. military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS.




TRUMP: The time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding. They have to end that funding and its extremist ideology in terms of funding. I want to call on all of the nations to stop immediately supporting terrorism.


HOWELL: The blockade led by Saudi Arabia started about a week ago, restricting access to neighboring airspace and land borders. That forced many Qataris to stock up on food in case of shortages.

Let's get some context now with Fawaz Gerges in London. He is the author of "ISIS: A History" and the chair for the Contemporary Middle East Studies at the London School of Economics.

It's good to have you with us, Fawaz.


HOWELL: So let's talk more about these mixed messages that we just heard a moment ago between the President of the United States and his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson sending a message to ease tensions in the region but the president then, a different message that seemed to only inflame the situation.

GERGES: Well, the American position is very clear, George. The American position has sided with Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar. The Trump administration wants to end the crisis as soon as possible but also trying to exert pressure on Qatar to accept the terms of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain and others.

Two major terms: they want Qatar to end its support for the Islamists, whether you're talking about the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or the Islamists in Libya, and end its funding, stop its funding for some Islamists and also join the anti-Iranian coalition.

The Trump administration believes that Iran is a spoiler (ph) state and all the Gulf states and the Arab states must become part of this particular coalition.

So even though there's some disconnect between the White House and the State Department, the American position has really been pushing Qatar to accept the terms of Saudi Arabia and its allies and end the crisis sooner than later because the current crisis has major implications for the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS.

The U.S. has a major military base in Qatar and also has major implication for Gulf unity. And this is where the messages are going from Washington these days.

HOWELL: Fawaz, how much of this is this the result of the president's trip to Saudi Arabia?

Are we seeing nations in that region emboldened now with a closer relation to this new President of the United States?

GERGES: George, I mean, to your question, there are two points. The first point I would like to make is that the current crisis has been simmering for almost three, four years between Qatar, which is a very small state, and its neighbors, the pivotal states in the region, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

This crisis, there was a major flare-up of the crisis in 2014 and Kuwait mediated and broke the settlement. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt believe that Qatar did not really -- have not carried out the terms of the 2014.

The second point, yes, you're absolutely correct. I mean, the visit by President Trump to Saudi Arabia was the spark that triggered the current crisis because the Trump strategy is a two-fold strategy. It's a fight against ISIS and Al Qaeda and extremism.

Trump wants all the Arab states, particularly the Gulf Cooperation Council, to become proactive in the fight against ISIS but also the second angle that they must join ranks against Iran, being a spoiled (ph) state. There is a consensus within the Gulf that Qatar is basically a

spoiler; even though it says it's part of the coalition against Iran, it really has very close relationship with Iran and Qatar support the Islamists, who are seen as a threat to regional stability.

So in a way, yes, the Trump administration summit in Saudi Arabia was a critical factor in the equation.

HOWELL: Confusion coming from Washington and into the room walks Russia. Talk to us about the impact of Russia, now stepping in to help find a solution, also flexing its influence in the region.

GERGES: We're seeing the reassertion of Russian power throughout the Middle East, whether you're talking about Syria or whether it's Egypt or whether in the Gulf and other places.

And Qatar's strategy basically is to expand the crisis, to maximize its bargaining position by internationalizing the crisis. The Qatari foreign minister was in Russia yesterday. Also Turkey has --


GERGES: -- sided with Qatar because Qatar now is isolated in its own space, i its own family. The Gulf is politically and physically the only land crossing with Saudi Arabia, is basically now shut down by Saudi Arabia.

So what Qatar is trying to do is play for time and maximize its bargaining position. I doubt it very much whether Russia can help Qatar a lot in the Gulf because, at the end of the day, Qatar's position is very weak because it has very few options and the options it has are very limited.

My take on it is that the Americans will most likely broker a settlement, a settlement where Qatar will accept the terms, the measured terms, laid by Saudi Arabia and its allies, probably in the next few day, I hope.

HOWELL: Fawaz, I'm curious to ask you this question.

How much of this could be just a miscalculation, a misstep by a new president, stepping into the geopolitical scene?

Or is there some strategy here, do you see, by aligning closer with Saudi Arabia?

GERGES: Well, I mean, I think the Trump administration is trying to really basically challenge the policies of his predecessor, Barack Obama. Barack Obama kept a healthy distance from the rivalries in the region, in particular the rivalries between Saudi Arabia and Iran and it signed a nuclear deal with Iran that was seen in Saudi Arabia as a major setback.

And that's what the Trump administration is trying to do, is to really basically carry out a new strategy by siding with Saudi Arabia, by siding with the pivotal state, Saudi Arabia; not just Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

And his strategy is based on a basically perception that, by creating a coalition not only against Iran and against ISIS, basically the United States would be able to change the dynamics of the region.

This particular strategy is to be tested. The Middle East is a minefield and most presidents, you're talking about from President Clinton to President Bush to President Barack Obama and now President Donald Trump will realize sooner rather than later that the Middle East is very complex and a very difficult basically area to manage basically from Washington.

HOWELL: Fawaz Gerges, with context and perspective, thank you so much for your time today.

GERGES: Thank you.

ALLEN: We appreciate it.

The son of the late Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi, is free after six years in captivity. A militia has been holding Saif al-Islam Gadhafi since 2011.

HOWELL: The statement said that Gadhafi was released from the city of Zintan under a general amnesty law the Libyan parliament passed. Saif Gadhafi is still wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.

ALLEN: British prime minister Theresa May is facing pressure to resign. We'll talk with the biographer of two former prime ministers about the future of the British political leadership -- coming up.




ALLEN (voice-over): And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL (voice-over): And I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.


HOWELL: And some political leaders, including Conservatives, are criticizing a potential alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party. The DUP opposes abortions and same-sex marriages. Earlier the British Secretary of Defence, Michael Fallon, spoke with the BBC's Andrew Marr Show and he addressed that criticism.


MICHAEL FALLON, BRITISH SECRETARY OF DEFENCE: We're not in government with the DUP. We're not in coalition with the DUP. They're going to support us, as I said, on the crucial economic and security issues that face this country --we do not agree and we do not have to agree with any of their views on some of these social issues and I certainly don't.


HOWELL: And striking a deal with the DUP is also divisive in Northern Ireland. Our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, has more from Belfast.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Elections barely over, the DUP or Democratic Unionist Party, Northern Ireland's most powerful Protestant party, is already in talks with Theresa May's Conservatives.

ROBERTSON: This is DUP heartland territory and the writing on the wall sums up the thinking, the Ulster Northern Ireland conflict is about nationality: this we shall maintain. They are proud to be British, the Union Jack at the center there, fiercely loyal to the crown and they're ready to fight for it.

Not all unionists are as strident as the murals paint.

MERVYN GIBSON, FRM. DUP NEGOTIATOR: Here people wanted to vote Unionist.

ROBERTSON: Reverend Mervyn Gibson is a moderate Unionist, knows DUP policy well, sees the May alliance as good for his community.

GIBSON: I think it's very simple, that both parties are committed to the United Kingdom and I think any cooperation between them will be good for the United Kingdom.

ROBERTSON: Across town in the Catholic or Nationalist community that aspires to Irish unity, the expectation, the DUP, are a political outlier that will cause May problems.

GIBSON: They're against an Irish Language Act. They're against marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples.

ROBERTSON: In this city, miles of peaceful divide Protestant unionists and Catholic nationalists. Three decades of sectarian conflict ended 20 years ago.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Still, distrust runs deep.

And where that trust is bridged at Northern Ireland's power sharing government Stormont, suspended earlier this year, the impact of Theresa May's DUP agreement could hit hardest.

The power-sharing government here collapsed amid acrimony over hundreds of millions of dollars committed to a green energy scheme managed by the DUP and claims by Sinn Fein of inequality in here.

Negotiations to restart need May's neutral mediation and now she'll be perceived as deeply in the DUP corner.

GERRY ADAMS, SINN FEIN: We have never seen the British government as being neutral or being impartial or being a referee who sometimes they represent themselves as carrying the white man's burden, you know. They are players.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The unionist parties are committed to seeing the assembly back up and running. I think there are other parties who want to play politics, particularly Sinn Fein.

ROBERTSON: Far from securing a strong future, Prime Minister May's reliance on the DUP could be saddling her with yet more problems: Northern Ireland's uneasy peace -- Nic Robertson, CNN, Belfast, Northern Ireland.


ALLEN: And we will be talking with a British historian about this -- what would you call it, ruckus?


ALLEN: -- at 10 Downing Street and with Parliament and Theresa May, coming up in this half hour.

The opposition is sounding a call for nationwide protests across Russia. We'll tell you how people that want to protest in Russia are trying to get that message out.

HOWELL: And a month-long offensive along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border takes a deadly turn. Coming up, the claim of responsibility -- ahead.





ALLEN: Three U.S. soldiers are dead and a fourth wounded in a joint U.S.-Afghan military operation in Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan.

HOWELL: It happened along the border with Pakistan. The Taliban is claiming responsibility for the attack.

Sune Engel Rasmussen is a reporter for "The Guardian" and now joins us live from Kabul with the very latest.

It's great to have you with us, sir. So this has been described as an insider attack, a member of the Afghan security forces who opened fire. What does this say about the overall safety or the overall security of

forces that are involved in this effort?

SUNE ENGEL RASMUSSEN, "THE GUARDIAN": Well, several attacks like this one have become a bigger problem as there have been more and more international troops in Afghanistan.

I think they started around 2007 and peaked around 2012. And since 2007, more than 150 coalition troops have been killed in so-called insider attacks. And it's a result of obviously American and other coalition troops working closely with Afghan soldiers, which is what they're doing now. They advise and assist.

If this is true, that the Taliban have infiltrated the special forces, which, you remember, is the Afghan special forces apparently, then this is a pretty new tactic from the Taliban or at least a success in this type of (INAUDIBLE) and we haven't seen before.

But we haven't had confirmation from the Americans yet just about what they're doing if this attacker wasn't or was indeed a Taliban infiltrator.

HOWELL: We've seen violence picking up there, all of this happening at the same time the United States is considering sending more troops to the regions.

Might have lost connection there with Sune Engel Rasmussen -- OK. Wanted to make sure we still have a connection.

This is happening at a time where we're seeing the U.S. thinking about sending more troops into the region to continue the effort.

RASMUSSEN: Yes, it's true. The American administration is mulling a decision as whether to send, as we hear, somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 troops to Afghanistan.

The question is now what these troops are supposed to be doing here. The Afghan president has said that they will keep advising but on a closer level, close to smaller Afghan divisions of the army, in that sense have -- be more hands-on and (INAUDIBLE) inject a bit of morale into the Afghan forces.

But the fact is when the Americans and their allies had 150,000 troops a couple years ago in Afghanistan, they still didn't manage to defeat the Taliban.

I think it comes down to whether or not this new strategy in place and what the plan for actually attaining a political solution to the conflict here is.

HOWELL: 2:12 pm in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sune Engel Rasmussen, live for us, thanks for the insight and we'll stay in touch with you, of course, to learn more.

ALLEN: The Russia is sending a message to the United States. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson spoke with Russia's foreign minister by phone Saturday. According to a foreign ministry statement, Sergey Lavrov was clear, Washington needs to stop bombing pro-Assad military forces in Syria.

HOWELL: The statement said Sergey Lavrov strongly disagreed with the U.S. strikes against pro-government forces, calling for specific measures to prevent similar incidents in the future. This comes after three recent U.S. airstrikes against pro-Syrian forces.

A vocal critic of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is calling for a nationwide protest, several protests on Monday.

ALLEN: Clare Sebastian reports Alexei Navalny has been blacklisted by the state-controlled media, so he's getting his message out on YouTube.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The show is about to start and Oxsana Balana (ph) is checking final details under the watchful eye of her boss.

OXSANA BALANA (PH): The idea was Alexei Navalny, of course, he wanted a special YouTube channel with live streams.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): The channel, Navalny Live, has grown from nothing to more than 300,000 subscribers in less than three months. That's on top of the 1 million that subscribed to Navalny's original YouTube channel.

SEBASTIAN: Is it important for your country?

BALANA (PH): I feel somehow that people need it. They are sick and tired all these years of -- without any possibilities to be heard.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Navalny's movement came of age on March 26th with protests in almost 100 cities across Russia. Many who turned out responding to this video --


SEBASTIAN (voice-over): -- a slick and detailed expose alleging corruption by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, which now has 20 million views.

Medvedev has denied the allegations. On that day, Oxsana's team were up at dawn, streaming the protests. Then the police arrived and that was live streamed, too. Balana (ph) and some of her colleagues spent seven days in detention, accused of refusing to heed a supposed bomb threat and leave their office.

SEBASTIAN: Are you worried about the risk of what you do here?

BALANA (PH): Motivation is not in fear. But we're trying to build a beautiful Russia of the future.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): While the Kremlin goes out of its way to ignore Navalny, who is banned from running in the next presidential election, billionaire Alexei Usmanov (ph), a close ally of Vladimir Putin, had this response to the claim that he's part of Medvedev's corrupt circle.

"I spit on you," Usmanov tells Navalny. He has since successfully sued Navalny for defamation -- a small price to pay, says Balana (ph).

BALANA (PH): Not a very long time ago, no high-ranked authority or -- would pronounce Navalny's name. I think it's a good thing.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): In the face of the Kremlin's might, this online insurgency is trying to build momentum for its next big test -- with a few modern tools and some old-fashioned ones.

BALANA (PH): It says only Navalny, only hard work.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Clare Sebastian, CNN, Moscow.


ALLEN: CNN contributor and former Moscow bureau chief, Jill Dougherty, now joins us live from Moscow.

If you can't go live in the streets, you can live stream, certainly.

What do you make of this effort and how it might be angering the Kremlin?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very effective because, you know, especially for young people who live on social media, on Facebook, Kontakt (ph) here, which is another Russian site and certainly YouTube.

So this is very effective. And I think you're seeing the Kremlin trying to figure out how to exactly deal with this. These demonstrations, meetings will be going on all over the country and in some places they are permitting them, such as here in Moscow. In other places they're not being permitted to take place.

So I think the Kremlin and the officials in these cities are trying to balance. You know, they're not happy about it, obviously.

But do you come down on it too hard and alienate people?

And the focus here, Natalie, really a lot of it is on young people. Young people are very important in Russia right now. The Kremlin is watching them carefully, trying to figure out how they can get their message out. It's a combination of persuasion and then sometimes intimidation in some places for young people and also their parents not to get involved in these demonstrations.

ALLEN: It's interesting. Yes, young people are becoming more and more of the focus these days because they do things their own way and certainly with help of social media. Jill Dougherty, for us there live in Moscow, we thank you. HOWELL: The British prime minister is being criticized for trying to form an alliance with the Northern Ireland party there. We'll talk with the biographer of two former prime minister, about the future of the British political leadership.






HOWELL: Getting back to the top story we're following this day. Days after a snap election backfired on the British prime minister Theresa May, Downing Street says she still hasn't reached a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party.

ALLEN: Sir Anthony Seldon joins us now via Skype from London. He is a biographer of former British prime ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair, an historian.

We thank you so much, sir, for joining us. We're really wanting to hear your take on what is going on.

What comes to mind when you think of a biography of Theresa May?

SIR ANTHONY SELDON, BIOGRAPHER: Which I plan to be writing. Well, this is an extraordinary position here in the U.K. I can't think of anything quite like it in peacetime, a prime minister who went to the country seeking a much stronger mandate, many more members of Parliament, to give her the strength to go to Brussels to fight for a good Brexit for Britain.

And she's gotten the very opposite of what she wanted. Her party, her government and she herself are much weakened. This is just an extraordinary time in British politics.

ALLEN: And did anyone seen this coming?

Should she have seen that coming?

SELDEN: Well, to be honest, you know, it's amazing. When this kind of thing happens, people pop up and say, well, you know, I warned you about it.

But the reality is that next to nobody imagined that it would be anything else other than a great majority for Theresa May. And the only interesting question was how big would her landslide be.

Would it be up in 150 or would it just be as low about 100 majority?

No serious commentator at the start of this election campaign foresaw that this kind of fiasco would happen. It's incredibly unusual. ALLEN: Yes, and polls show that the young people really came out to vote this time. Jeremy Corbyn has just said this morning that he expects perhaps another election could occur this year or next year. I would think at this point the people there who have voted are getting wary or weary of these elections.

SELDON: Yes. This, again, would be without precedent. We had in 1910 and in 1974 two general elections in one year. But they weren't --


SELDON: -- so recent to general elections. It's only two years since Britain had the 2015 general election, when David Cameron got back with an overall majority.

And then we had another national poll in 2016. So we are looking at the prospect in Britain of going to the country with a national poll four times within the space of 2.5 years.

And, yes, I think it's quite likely we're going to have a second general election in 2017. And that's interesting because they're often inconclusive. Back in 1974, when we had a second general election, that also was inconclusive.

So it's possible that this sense of uncertainty and instability will continue, even if there is a second general election.

ALLEN: And I want to ask you, too, what do you make of her like kind of a grasp, desperate grasp of the DUP in Northern Ireland to help shore up her support?

SELDON: Well, entirely logical. I mean it wasn't what she thought she would be having to do but she is a leader of honor. And she is now thinking, I've got the country into this position and what I now need to do is to do whatever I can to provide the stable government that can take Britain forward, to take the critical decisions that need to be taken over the economy and domestically, as well as the Brexit negotiations beginning in just 10 days' time.

So this is not what she wanted.

ALLEN: Right.

SELDON: But it's what she's having to do --

ALLEN: All right.

SELDON: -- to form this pact with the Ulster Unionists.

ALLEN: Thank you so much. We appreciate your thoughts. Sir Anthony Seldon for us, thank you.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. This is CNN.