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Investigation Into London And Paris Attacks; U.S. Student Freed By North Korea Dies; Trump Tweets Complicate Communications. Aired 1- 2a ET
Aired June 20, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] AMARA WALKER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, different cities, different targets but these attacks were both driven by hate. We'll have the very latest this hour from London and Paris.
WALKER: And the American college student who fell into a coma in North Korea - in North Korean custody has died triggering new condemnation of Kim Jong-un's regime.
VAUSE: Plus, the President in Twitter causing trouble and dodges to his communications team, but now, possibly, also his lawyers.
WALKER: Hello, everyone thanks for joining us. I'm Amara Walker.
VAUSE: We're now into the second of NEWSROOM L.A. I'm John Vause.
WALKER: Sadly, this's been a familiar scene this year. Two of Europe's biggest and most popular cities are, once again, investigating acts of terror. First, in Paris, police say a man deliberately rammed a car packed with explosives and weapons into a police van on the famed Champs-Elysees on Monday. The driver who is known to French security services later died, no one else is hurt.
VAUSE: Hours before that, in London, a van was driven into a crowd leaving a mosque after Ramadan prayers. Leaders of the mosque and other worshippers wrestled the drivers to the ground; he's now in custody on suspicion of attempted murder and terrorism offenses. One man died at the scene, nine people have been treated in hospital. And from London's Mayor: a defiant message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SADIQ KHAN, LONDON MAYOR: One of the things that all of these terrorists share are a parlous ideology that wants to fuel division and divide our communities. We're not going to let them. And what you see over the last 24 hours is Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, those members of the organized faith and those aren't; rich, poor, old, young coming together and say, "not in our name." We will not let you divide us and we will be stronger.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: For the very latest, Ian Lee, joins us now live from London.
So, Ian, what more do we know about the driver of the van, and I guess, in particular, his motivations here?
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the driver, John, his name is Darren Osborne, he is from part of the Wales, we know that this is - he's a father of four. And when they - when the people often out of that stand, were able to detain him that, "I did my best, you deserve it." Telling that to the worshippers, the people that he tried to run over that were able to detain him. But hearing about him back home, in his hometown of Cardiff; his neighbors describe him as a man very neighborly, someone that if you needed him, that he would be there for you, this is a man who would sing to his four children. And this is coming from neighbors who are Muslims, so there's a lot of confusion about, really, why he did this.
His neighbors said that they never saw this coming, although his family has said that he was a troubled man. And we are here where the incident took place, and there's just been a lot of outpouring of grief and mourning here. We have flowers. We have personalized notes. Some of these note saying that "Terrorism is not your fault, and you should never have to apologize for it." And our path of London is curdled for love, respect, and flower; the wreaths of hatred have no place here. You know, the one thing to talk about, John, that London Mayor that, is that the community is coming together, and that's something that we saw here just yesterday with people coming to show their support.
VAUSE: So, Ian, ISIS has recently claimed responsibility for a string for the recent terror attack in Britain, and because there are many Muslim say they're all getting worried about their own security, they're all concerned about the possibility of some kind of revenge attacks, was there any increased security? Had measures already taken place before the weekend around mosque or Muslim neighborhoods? And what's the plan now?
LEE: Well, John, speaking with people here yesterday, they said that there just wasn't enough security; they said that they wanted more security. And the attack happened when Muslims were leaving the mosque which is just right around this corner, they were leaving the Tarawih prayer, which is an extra prayer that is done during the holy month of Ramadan. And they said that now going forward, they'll have to be more vigilant, more aware of their surroundings because of something like this could happen. They say the increase in anti- Islamic rhetoric has also fueled this situation.
I was out at Scotland Yard yesterday, we were speaking with the Deputy Assistant Commissioner, and he said that they're going to increase security especially during Ramadan, around the mosque, and around London to make sure that nothing like this can happen. But they stressed that it's really up to the people to remain vigilant, and if you see something, say something. John.
[01:05:17] VAUSE: The old advice stays true. Ian Lee, live this hour in London. Well, for more on this now: former FBI Special Agent, Bobby Chacon; and Edina Lekovic is the Spokeswoman for the Muslim Public Affairs Councilperson joining us here in Los Angeles, again, good to have you with us. Bobby, leaders of the mosque and the worshippers have detained the driver, and they - at the same time though, they protected him from any kind of, you know, retaliation or any kind of violence from the people around him. How important is that, how significant were those actions?
BOBBY CHACON: FORMER FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION SPECIAL AGENT: Well, I mean, the significance is far beyond the physical nature of it, right? The significance is the impression that it gives to the people outside that these are peaceful people that were attacked, they had no - there was no justification for this attack, and when you can, actually, I think the Imam was the one that was mainly protecting him from - nobody else. I mean, that's a very significant public act, and it should be mentioned, and it should be talked about.
VAUSE: And into the investigation though, they've got the guy, he's alive, his custody, and he can talk.
CHACON: Right. And that's why we're going to find out more about him, and what his motivations are. We're already hearing some contradictory things about him; friends or neighbors say they're shocked. Some - the family are already saying he was troubled, so I think in the next day or two we're going to find out, really, the whole story behind this guy.
WALKER: Edina, what's your take on that moment that it is quite notable to see the Imam protecting the attacker, who apparently targeted Muslims.
EDINA LEKOVIC, MUSLIM PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCILPERSON: Well, I think once again, in these kinds of horrific situations we see the worst of humanity and the best of humanity. And I think that the Imam and the other gentlemen who were - formed a protective ring around the perpetrator until a law enforcement got there; did the right thing, right. Did the thing that we hope all Londoners would do; let alone face leaders.
And I think that for me, as Muslim, during this holy month Ramadan, that Imam and those - that community that's reeling during this attack, during one of, you know, our most sacred times of the year. They're in my heart and my prayers, and I'm really appreciative that Mayor Khan and Prime Minister May have stepped up and are urging unity and solidarity in this moment, and showing, you know, that they were slow in the beginning but they reacted the right way to label this as a terrorist attack. It's important that we treat them equally.
VAUSE: Of course, that action by the Imam and others from the mosque goes a long way to avoiding what something could be a: the set of a cycle of violence, when this attack breeds, and other attack breeds, and another attack can get this tit-for-tat attacks in London and elsewhere.
LEKOVIC: And that's what's so frightening here. You know, what the law enforcement in London has said is that after the London Bridge attacks, in the marketplace attacks, there was a five-fold increase in Islamophobic event that took place in the week following that attack. And we know that that's nearly the case; acts of terrorism, we see a backlash that spikes immediately afterward. And no person should be afraid to walk down the street because of the color of their skin, or their nationality, or their gender.
And unfortunately, in a place like London right now, you know, it can partially easily feel like no one's safe, but the fact that people come together is the most critical thing so that we don't allow ourselves to be divided because that's what ISIS and others want. If we weaponize cars, that would make us feel that we should stay in our homes rather than expose ourselves to be vulnerable, but that's the exact wrong answer. We have to go out and show that we're stronger than this.
WALKER: Bobby, when it comes to the investigation and counterterrorism - I mean, when you look at the handful of terror attacks that we've had in London, and in Paris, and I think it was even in Brussels, the suspects were known to police they had already been flagged but this case not so much.
CHACON: Yes. Well, it's yet to be seen, but what the family said was, he was a troubled individual. So, we're going to get down into the weeds on what that meant as far as troubled; was it a history of mental illness? Was it a history violence or both, as we saw last week in the Virginia shooting? So, I mean, I think we're going to see that as the next air to go on but there are some of these guys that snapped, and they've got a little bit mental history, mental illness history, and then something pushes them over the edge. And then, that's where the investigation, you know, needs to focus on.
VAUSE: With regards to using a car as weapon, there doesn't seem to be a lot of security that can actually stop that, and have still, you know, road-
VAUSE: So, then it comes down to intelligence, right?
VAUSE: So, then, you get your - as an investigator or as counterintelligence folks, they get their intelligence, you know, in this regards to attack carried out by, you know, Islamic terrorist groups from the Muslim community.
VAUSE: So, you need a good relationship with Muslim groups?
CHACON: Absolutely. And you know, that's an always an ongoing process. You know, especially here in this country the FBI has outreach programs that are ongoing, and we always need to do a better job with that. And I'm sure that that's part of it that - but there that we walk a fine line because you know, there's some time in certain communities there's a bad name for people who kind of, you know, cooperate with law informants. They call them "informants snitches," we don't like those words; we like to build more bridges and have it be more of a, you know, more of a community type endeavor.
[01:10:32] VAUSE: So, it won't be on it. So, Edina, how difficult is it for people within the Muslim community to go to the FBI, to go to the authorities because there's a lack of trust, because they about their own safety, or you know, they worry about reprisals if they get found out.
LEKOVIC: Sure. So, there certainly a level of distrust that exists between law enforcement and local Muslim communities because of surveillance and other operations that they've seen take place. However, that hasn't stopped people from reporting pragmatic individuals to law enforcement; we've seen that time and again. And we've seen law enforcement, unfortunately, not always intercede when necessary, and so the problem is complex. But the flipside of this is that law enforcement also needs to take a harder look at all white groups and white supremacist groups because this is why we're seeing commonality between some of these other perpetrators.
VAUSE: And that's the trust factor, right?
LEKOVIC: Well, yes. I mean, we're doing community outreach with those groups. And so, you know, we need to look at the-
VAUSE: No, what I mean is the trust issue in the FBI, they're moving into the all right groups, so tightening Muslim communities, and you're going to be more inclined to deal with the FBI.
LEKOVIC: Well, absolutely. And look, the Southern Poverty Law Center says that the right of all right groups and white supremacist groups are the greatest threat facing our country in terms of domestic terrorism. So, when we're all paying attention solely to religious groups or others, we are ignoring a huge part of the problem that, that cost many lives.
WALKER: Tell us more though, about the voices from the Muslim community, and how they're feeling, you know when they saw this attack happened. You spoke about backlash, and you know, the rise of Islamophobia as soon as, you know, we've seen these series of terror attacks.
LEKOVIC: You know, it's bone chilling. I mean, you know, this could be anyone of us there are - you know, something like 40 percent of American Muslims go to a mosque on a regular basis. During Ramadan, you know, it's like Christmas and Easter Christians, right? People come out for the holidays I higher number and so. Our mosques are supposed to be a place of sanctuary, and so this can have a really big chilling effect for people who are just trying to live their lives every day. And there are very difficult dinner time conversations that are taking place in Muslim homes all across the United States, and you know, in the U.K. and other places.
VAUSE: Bobby, very quickly we're seeing, you know, vehicles being used in London and across Europe, not really in the United States, why not?
CHACON: Well, you know, that's a tough question. I don't that I know that specific answer to that, but I know that in my experience over time in 90's, and then in the 20's, we did a lot more work on putting a setback on a lot of our public venues. Anyway, you have bollards that are now retractable, you have government office buildings that have to have a certain setback now when you build them or when you move into them. So, I mean, public gatherings there always going to be a danger, you know, we can always have and these friends here.
And you know, we had a kid situation years ago at the farmer's market in Sta. Monica, where it was a person who was elderly who - it was an accident, but those type of things can happen. It would certainly be easier if someone winds you on purpose. Why it doesn't happen? Hopefully, that's because, you know, I want to put an answer to it but it's, really, it's really difficult to say why it doesn't happen more over here.
VAUSE: Bobby and Edina, thank you.
LEKOVIC: Thank you.
WALKER: Thank you, both.
VAUSE: Well, the United States in condemning the North Korean regime for the death of an American University student. Otto Warmbier's made the announcement on Monday; they're blaming the torturous mistreatment their son received while he was in detention. The 22-year-old was sentenced to 15 years hard labor last year of so-called "hostile acts" against North Korea; he stole a propaganda sign, apparently. He returned to the United States last week, in a coma.
WALKER: Now, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a statement on Monday saying, "We hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier's unjust imprisonment and demand the release of three other American's who have been illegally detained." CNN's Paula Hancocks is joining us now from Seoul, South Korea. Paula, North Korea has a lot of explaining to do; there are still a lot of unknown especially regarding Otto Warmbier and how he fell into a coma, and what - why he suffered such significant brain damage?
[01:14:38] PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Amara. I mean, the way that North Korea sees it at this point, at least publicly, is that they believe they have made a humanitarian gesture by releasing Otto Warmbier. That's really the last statement we've had from a United State-run media that they have allowed him to leave. But of course, it seemed very differently around the world; there is a lot of anger in the United States. We hear the likes of Senator John McCain saying that this is-state the fact, this is a murder, that the North Korea has murdered an American citizen. So, certainly, this is getting an awful lot of attention and many are asking, why there are still Americans being detained in North Korea, what can Rex Tillerson, the U.S. Secretary of State, and others do to try and facilitate and expedite their release, as well.
We also just had a statement from Kenneth Bae, a former detainee himself in North Korea, who was the longest serving prisoner since the Korean War. He said that it was injustice that Otto Warmbier had been arrested, that for Otto to be returned to the U.S. and the state he was, and then for him to die because of it, is not only an outrage, but it is a tragedy from his entire family.
[01:15:53] WALKER: We're also getting reaction from South Korea, Moon Jae-in, the President, someone who has favored dialogue with North Korea, not much of a hard line with North Korea. What is he saying?
HANCOCKS: Yes, that's right. President Moon Jae-in has condemned what has happened and has also said that he has written a letter to the parents of Otto Warmbier. Now clearly, he has been very pro- dialogue - dialogue pro-engagement with North Korea in the past. It's one of the things that he was elected on in certain circles. But the fact that it's just a number of weeks ago when he had a phone call with the Japanese leader, Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister Abe said that it is not the time to be talking to North Korea and President Moon did agree with that.
So certainly, even though he is pro-engagement, he - according to the knowledge that now is not the time to be talking.
WALKER: Absolutely. Paula Hancocks, thanks so much. Live for us there in Seoul.
VAUSE: And we will take a short break. Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., tension, tough talk in new targets. Moscow's warning to the U.S. and its coalition partners in Syria.
WALKER: Also, the U.K. honors the lives lost in the Grenfell Tower fire. Next, why only five victims have formally have been identified, so far, as the death toll keeps rising.
WALKER: To the war in Syria now, and to an extraordinary warning from Russia to the U.S and its coalition partner.
VAUSE: Moscow says they could take aim as the aircraft after U.S. Navy shot down a Syrian warplane on Sunday. Russia says U.S. Coalition Aircraft will be considered air targets and could be tracked to fire air or from land.
WALKER: The White House says it's working to keep communications with Russia open following the incident.
VAUSE: Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona is the former U.S. Military Attache in Syria. He is also a CNN Military Analyst and he joins us now. Colonel, good to see you. Before we get to the fallout, why was the Syrian Airforce targeting the U.S. back rebels, the STF South of Raqqa in the first place?
[01:20:12] RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: That's right. It is very confusing to many of the analysts. We're looking at the Syrian army, a parallel attack by the Syrian Democratic Forces, the U.S. back forces. They're both fighting ISIS; they're both moving toward the East, the Syrian Democratic Forces are the main force that is taking on ISIS in Raqqa. The Syrian army is moving East going to their besieged city in their resort. They've been cooperating for the past two weeks. Everything's been going very smoothly. And then we have this dust-up in this city in the South West of Raqqa. No one understands why they're doing this and I imagine the Russians are a little concerned that the Syrians are going to this as well.
So, I'm hoping that this was some mistaken communications or something on the ground that went wrong. I don't believe that the Russians are going to stop communicating with us on coordination. It just doesn't make sense.
VAUSE: OK. With that in mind, the Russians have said they will suspend the hotline which is used to block collusions of aircrafts in Syrian Airspace. U.S. Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs is with us, specifically about the danger of the U.S. fallout. This is what he said, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you confident that U.S. Forces won't be shut down?
JOSEPH DUNFORD, JOINT CHIEF OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: I'm confident that we are still communicating between our operations center and the Russian Federation Operation Center. And I'm also confident that our forces have the capability to take care of themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Could this warning from the Russia could simply be posturing that they're threatening to do this before and haven't followed through.
FRANCONA: Yes. That's exactly right. We've seen this at least twice in the past. The most recent one was in April after the U.S. conducted strike in the airbase. The airbase which was responsible for the chemical attack. So, we've seen this from the Russians in the past, it never really carried through on it. The coordination lines remain open. It isn't the Russian's interest, to keep that communications line open. I think this is, as you say, nearly posturing.
VAUSE: Just how crucial is this hotline, though? When you look at the skies of Syria right now, Iran, Israel, Russia, Syria, Turkey, the United States, and of course, coalition of, you know, basically operating the index space. How crucial is this hotline to ensure that, you know, there is not an incident?
FRANCONA: Well, I think we've been fortunate until now, John, that there hasn't been an incident already. When you got that many aircraft operating in a very constrained amount of airspace, are representing many different factions, it is just a recipe for disaster. And I think it is in the credit for the Russians and the Americans, both, that we've not have an incident before this.
I think what we saw yesterday was an aberration. I'm hoping it is. And we'll get back to the business of actually coordinating airstrikes. For the most part, the Russians in the have stages in the West of the Euphrates. We have stages in the Eastern Euphrates. That seems to work. But at some point, as we move closer towards the end of ISIS in Syria, these forces are then converged closer and closer. This coordination is more important now than ever. And I think the Russians realize that, we realize that, and I think we're going to put this behind us because the bigger game here, the bigger goal, is the defeat of ISIS.
Once ISIS is removed from Syria, then, we can go back and figure out the political solution for Syria. But right now, it's important that the Russians and the Americans force the STF and the Syrian Army to, you know, maintain their posteriors coordination.
VAUSE: It was interesting the Russian Foreign Minister was in Beijing calling out all countries to coordinate their actions in Syria. Colonel, as always, thank you for being with us. We appreciate it.
FRANCONA: Good to be with you, John.
WALKER: Grief from anger after last week's massive apartment fire in London. Officials say the number of people killed are missing and presumed dead has now risen to 79. So far, only five victims have been formally identified. And some are questioning whether safety measures were followed at Grenfell Tower. For now, family and friends are mourning. Here's our Samuel Burke.
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY NEWS CORRESPONDENT: A moment of silence across the U.K. to honor the dozens and dozens of people who lost their lives at Grenfell Tower. At the scene of the inferno, the firefighting teams descended from the charred building and stood in order.
Day by day, the death toll increasing, difficult even for officials to announce to the public.
BHART CUNDY, METROPOLITAN POLICE COMMANDER: I'm afraid to say there has been about 79 people that we believe are either dead, or missing, and I sadly have to presume they're dead.
BURKE: Complicating the task of accounting for the dead is the fear the entire families may have burned alive together. So there's no immediate family member to even report a loved one missing. And because so many immigrants lived here, dental records must be sent from all around the world.
Some family and friends have only just now mustered up the courage to come to the horrific scene to see it for themselves.
SABITA BISWAS, COLLEAGUE OF GRENFELL TOWER VICTIM (through translator): He was a nice guy.
[01:25:25] BURKE: And there's increased speculation about the wrong new siding on the 24-storey tower may have plagued in the fire even from the highest ranks from the U.K. government.
PHILIP HAMMOND, U.K. EXCHEQUER CHANCELLOR: My understanding is that the cladding in question, this flammable cladding which is banned in Europe and the U.S. is also banned here.
BURKE: With one member of the opposition party labeling it corporate manslaughter, the U.K. government has launched a public inquiry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would do everything within my gift to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.
BURKE: Even for the people in the area who didn't lose loved ones, the trauma continues.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's been tents erected outside my flat and I'm just - it's just a living nightmare.
BURKE: And worst may be yet to come in accounting for the lost, officials fearing the death toll could easily pass 100. A number hard to grasp until you see it personalized, and images of those who have been confirmed dead, like 65-year-old Anthony Dissen, and look at the faces on the missing posters plastered on every inch of space around the towers. Samuel Burke, CNN, London.
VAUSE: To Portugal now, more than a thousand firefighters are trying to contain the country's worst wildfire in recent history. At least 62 people have been killed since the weekend, dozens more are injured.
WALKER: The fire has spread so quickly that some people burned to death in their cars as they couldn't get out on time. Portugal's President says everything that can be done, is being done to stop the fire.
VAUSE: And autopsy has revealed Star Wars actress, Carrie Fisher, had a cocktail of illegal drugs in her system when she died in December.
WALKER: The Los Angeles County medical examiner found evidence of cocaine, heroin, methadone, and remote exposure to ecstasy.
VAUSE: But the current discovery could not say the role that these drugs actually played in Fisher's death. It concluded it was caused by sleep apnea and other undetermined factors. We'll take a break. When we come back, the political focus on Michael Flynn; what top Democrats want to know about the fired National Security Adviser's business dealings abroad.
WALKER: Also, under pressure at a critical time. Britain's Prime Minister has a lot to handle as the U.K. and E.U. start their divorce proceedings.
[01:30:12] VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Amara Walker.
The headlines this hour -- (HEADLINES)
VAUSE: Two top Democratic lawmakers are looking into whether the former national security advisor misled officials about two business trips to the Middle East. They've sent a letter to Michael Flynn's layers asking for documents relating to the 2015 trip involving a nuclear energy deal with Saudi Arabia and Russia.
WALKER: And they said Flynn did not accurately report his foreign travels in a 2015 application to renew his security clearance. Flynn's foreign work is a focus of the investigation of ties between President Trump's associates and Russia.
VAUSE: Reporters are not getting many answers from Trump officials about that investigation.
WALKER: Our Jim Acosta reports the White House appears to be stonewalling.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, are you under investigation?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No surprise as President Trump offered no answers on whether he's under investigation in the Russia probe, though he had this to say to the president of Panama.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Panama Canal is doing quite well. I think we did a good job building it, right?
A very good job.
ACOSTA: Even though the president raised the specter that he's under investigation himself when he tweeted, "I'm being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch hunt.
JAY SEKULOW, TRUMP PERSONAL ATTORNEY: Let me clear, the president is not under investigation.
I was a trial --
ACOSTA: One of the president's personal lawyer's, Jay Sekulow, oddly insisted the president is not under investigation. Then he all but admitted he can't be sure.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX ANCHOR: You don't know whether he's under investigation?
WALLACE: You don't know whether he's under investigation or not?
ACOSTA: A contradiction you repeated on CNN.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: If I hired you, I would want to make that phone call.
SEKULOW: Well, you haven't hired us. We represent the president of the United States.
ACOSTA: The stonewalling continued in the White House briefing room, which was the scene of an off-camera, no-audio briefing where Press Secretary Sean Spicer provided more non-answers.
Can the president fire special counsel, Robert Mueller? Spicer: "I think the broader point here is that everyone who serves the president serves at the pleasure of the president."
Does the president have recordings of his conversations at the White House? Spicer: "I will tell you, I believe the president will comment in the next couple of weeks. It is possible we'll have an answer on that by the end of the week.
Members of Congress want to know, where are the tapes.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: They have not been turned over but the House Intelligence Committee has asked for those tapes, if they exist, be produced.
ACOSTA: The information blackout comes as the White House began what it's calling technology week, by rolling out the president's son-in- law, Jared Kushner, to top the administration's innovation of government services.
JARED KUSHNER, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISOR: By modernizing these systems, we will meaningfully improve the lives of tens of millions of Americans.
ACOSTA: Kushner is now seeking additional attorneys for his own legal team after discovering his personal lawyer once worked with the special counsel. That personal lawyer, Jenny Gorelick, said in a statement, "After the appointment of our former partner, Robert Mueller, as special counsel, we advised Mr. Kushner to obtain the independent advice of a lawyer with appropriate experience as to whether he should continue with us as his counsel."
(on camera): And White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer appears to be moving into a different role in the West Wing leaving an opening at the podium in the briefing room. White House sources tell us Spicer may be shifted into a role that oversees both the job of press secretary and communications director.
Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.
WALKER: And joining now are Ethan Bearman, a talk radio host here in California. VAUSE: Also, CNN political commentator and Republican consultant, John Thomas.
Good to have you both with us in L.A.
Let's look at the raw numbers. This was put together by people at "The Washington Post." 21 White House briefings in March, 15 in April, 13 in May, 11 so far this month. Do you see a trend?
And it's not just as the number of briefings which is shrinking but the duration of the briefings is shrinking as well. Combine that with the fact that Sean Spicer has an incredible knack now for giving non- answers repeatedly, Ethan, is this a strategy essentially, cancel the briefings without having any blowback for actually cancelling the meetings, therefore, you don't have to answer any questions on anything?
[01:35:20] ETHAN BEARMAN, TALK RADIO HOST: I think that's really where this White House is heading, is why answer questions that maybe are challenging and difficult to answer, maybe pointing out contradictions and inconsistencies in what the administration is doing. I think there's no question this ministration doesn't want to have to answer questions from people who aren't just their best friends that will give them softballs.
WALKER: Is it acceptable, John? This is a White House that has this media blackout going on. They were elected by the people, they need to be transparent with the people, don't you think?
JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They're holding a lot of different press avails from the different members from different cabinets, so the fact that they're not having press briefings with Sean Spicer, at a time when they been phasing Sean out, they lost their communications director. They've been understaffed. They're re-staffing. I think they need up the levels. I'm not saying that 11 for the month should be sufficient.
VAUSE: I got that wrong. I think seven for month. 11 is projected for the month.
THOMAS: Projected. And also just, as a practitioner, you have to look at it, where do they get themselves in trouble? When they talk too much. So if you can limit the level, then you can just drive your message. That's what the press people are charged to do. They're not here to talk to you guys. They are here to drive the message of the White House.
VAUSE: But the old wisdom used to be, when in doubt, get it out. Just put it all out there. Put it out there for everyone to see and be done with it. Whereas, when you don't have this openness with the press, if you don't answer questions, it does lead to this, at the very least, the perception that there's something going and there's something to hide.
THOMAS: Sure, but you also have to backtrack to campaign. This administration and this presidency has such a hostile relationship with the media --
VAUSE: But you still have to --
VAUSE: Exactly. This is one of the great things about Donald Trump as a candidate, and at least initially, as the president --
VAUSE: -- he wouldn't stop talking.
THOMAS: We're looking almost at old technology. Donald Trump, per tweet, is tweeting more than any president in the history of the United States. So if you're using that as directly from the president lips, he's practically out-communicating his predecessors.
WALKER: And you think that's OK that is --
THOMAS: I do. I like hearing from the president unvarnished. Sometimes good, sometimes bad.
BEARMAN: But how is Twitter a measurement when it's a new technology? You can't compare that to past presidents when it's new.
THOMAS: The difference is going through a flack that has completely whitewashed the whole situation, hearing directly from
BEARMAN: We, of course, love to hear directly from the president on Twitter because it gives us endless fodder to talk about. We get to hear his unfiltered thoughts from 6:00 in the morning, which is wonderful, and horrible when it comes to things like policy and interacting with our allies.
VAUSE: With that in mind, clearly, that's causing a few problems in the latest trump saga, lawyer Jay Sekulow, trying to explain that when the president said, "I'm being investigated," the president actually did not mean I'm being investigated. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: So the president said, "I am under investigation," even though he isn't under investigation?
SEKULOW: That response on social media was in response to "The Washington Post" piece. It's that simple. The president is not under investigation."
WALLACE: First of all, you've now said he is being investigated after saying that --
WALLACE: You just said, sir --
SEKULOW: No, he's not being investigated.
WALLACE: You just said that he is being investigated.
SEKULOW: No, Chris, I said that the -- let me be crystal clear so you can completely understand. We have not received, nor are we aware of any investigation of the president of the United States
WALLACE: Sir, you just said two times that he's being investigated.
SEKULOW: No. The context of the tweet - I just gave you the legal theory, Chris.
Why don't you pick up the phone and get the answer and then you could actually say, I asked Mueller, he said no, I'm not.
SEKULOW: Look, you're asking me to up the phone on an investigation that we don't know exists. There's not an investigation. And there --
WALLACE: This isn't right. This is weird.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: I'm glad he put that out there because Trump has put his own lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, is not seek as being good on television.
I guess, we get to the point, John, where someone says, let me be crystal clear, what he means is let me --
THOMAS: Yeah, yeah. Let me try to unpack this --
THOMAS: -- which he could. It looks like the president is -- I mean, I don't know what the truth is in this circumstance -- but it looked like the president heard publicly that he was being investigating, he fired off a tweet without consulting with his legal team, and now they have to walk it back.
WALKER: Watching that, I was thinking, who has the worst job, his lawyer or Sean Spicer.
BEARMAN: Great point. But, look, this is the lawyer doing what lawyers do well, which is he's paid by a client to represent the client. He is doing the best that he can to represent his client. As observers, we're watching and saying this is horrible. And by the way, he said twice -- Chris Wallace was right, he said he's being investigated.
[01:40:25] BEARMAN: It was amazing.
VAUSE: Yeah. And when he doesn't reference a "Washington Post" article, he was talking about a "Washington Post" article.
VAUSE: We have now finally heard from the busiest man in politics in Washington, Jared Kushner. He does have a voice, the son-in-law --
-- and senior White House advisor. I was disappointed that he didn't sound like Darth Vader.
But, anyway, he actually --
VAUSE: This is the guy who is about to head off and try to broker a Mideast peace. He's got so much of the White House, the biggest portfolio of anybody in recent memory.
Yet, John, this is the first time we've actually heard him speak. This guy is out there and no even taking any questions. He has a very, very important, prominent role.
THOMAS: I watched his press briefing today and I thought he delivered a message well.
VAUSE: -- before now, surely.
THOMAS: I agree. But, look, they're just trying to get their act together, John. They are going through staff changes. I think the last thing -- and you saw this on the campaign trail, too. Kushner wasn't out in front on the campaign trail. I think were a couple of profile pieces on him. He kept a relatively low profile. I think that's worked for him. Now stepping out onto the fray. We'll see if it lasts. I don't know.
WALKER: He's basically in charge of everything, isn't he, secretary of pretty much finding peace in the Middle East, addressing reforming criminal justice, he's a liaison to China, to Mexico. How effective can he be?
BEARMAN: And on top of it all -- it's interesting if you listen to John's answers through this whole conversation. The administration hasn't hired the right people, the administration is understaffed, the administration lost the communications director, the administration is relying exclusively on Jared Kushner. Well, I thought for being the big businessman who is such a successful billionaire, this president would have known how to hire good people and put the right people in the right positions, and that's exactly what hasn't happened. So Jared Kushner, who is underqualified for every single one of the things that you just mentioned, is now in charge of them?
THOMAS: Part of the problem when you're draining the swamp is a lot of the traditional Republican operatives aren't going to work for you because they don't like you and you don't like them. So it's made the talent pool a lot more shallow.
BEARMAN: I think you and I know some people who should have been hired and thought they were hired, yet somehow didn't get hired by the Trump administration.
VAUSE: And on that, thank you both.
WALKER: Thank you.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing growing pressure as the U.K. begins its Brexit negotiations with the E.U.
VAUSE: She's already dealing with a lot right now, the recent terror attacks in London, and also the Grenfell Tower fire.
CNN's Nic Robertson has our report.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This morning, our country woke to news of another terrorist attack on the streets of our capital city.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): On this big Brexit day, a terror attack. More pressure piled on the P.M. from the get-go.
MAY: Today, we come together, as we have done before, to condemn this act.
ROBERTSON: As her top negotiator kicked off long-awaited talks in Brussels to get Britain out of the E.U.
UNIDENTIFIED BRITISH SECRETARY: We will do all we can to ensure we deliver a deal that works in the best interest of all citizens.
ROBERTSON: May was meeting those affected in an overnights attack on London's Finsbury Park mosque.
MAY: Today's attack falls at a difficult time in the life of the city, following on from the attack on London Bridge two weeks ago and, of course, the unimaginable tragedy of Grenfell Tower last week.
ROBERTSON: Pressures on the P.M. have been mounting up. Her rapid outreach today, speedy in contrast to the tower fire tragedy, for which she was heavily criticized. Directly back from the mosque, May greeting the new Irish prime minister, Leo Veradkar, later than anticipated and the meeting shorter, about an hour. Veradkar not happy with May's pick as powerbroker in Parliament, Northern Ireland's DUP.
LEO VARADKAR, IRISH PRIME MINISTER: On the issue of marriage equality, I've had the opportunity to meet with our ambassador to the DUP last week in Dublin and I have expressed my very strong view that marriage equality shall be permitted in Northern Ireland. I can appreciate many in the DUP have a different view on this matter.
ROBERTSON: Pressure on May, too, on Brexit, how it could affect Ireland's $1.3 billion a week business with the U.K.
MAY: We want that comprehensive free-trade agreement which enables us to have a seamless and frictionless border as possible to continue the trade that has been so beneficial to us in the past.
ROBERTSON: Mays hands have rarely been this full. Some in her party still clamoring for her to step down. On this day, a principal rival for leadership in Europe backing her on Brexit.
[01:45:03] BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: In the long run, this will be good for the U.K. and good for Europe. That's all I have to say.
ROBERTSON: Between now and that day, plenty of pressure on whomever is Prime Minister.
Nic Robertson, CNN, London.
WALKER: It is every kid's nightmare. No Smartphone until you're 13. Why one doctor is fishing for new restrictions based on his own experience as a father.
VAUSE: When the late Steve Jobs was running Apple, he was famous for being a showman. His keynote presentations when he introduced new products were as much a part of the company's success as the products themselves. He painted a picture and shared a vision. Like this moment back in 2010 announcing the iPad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEVE JOBS, FORMER CEO, APPLE: Do we have what it takes to establish a third category of products. And awesome product between a laptop and a Smartphone? The bar is pretty high. It's got to be far better at doing some key things, like these. We think we got the goods. We think we've done it. And we are so excited about this product.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: But what Steve Jobs didn't say was he wouldn't let his kids use an iPad at home. After that big launch, a "New York Times" reporter asked, "So your kids must love the iPad," and Jobs replied, "They haven't used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home."
In the book, "Irresistible, the Rise of Addictive Technology," Steve Jobs apparently goes even further talking about the potential for an iPad to actually become addictive.
The issue isn't so much the iPad but rather the unfettered access to the Internet and everything that comes with it, including a deluge of stimuli available at fingertips. A number of recent studies have backed up those concerns, in particular, a warning of the dangers to young children when it comes to the instant gratification of a Smartphone, which these days can pretty much do everything an iPad can.
Now, in Colorado, there is a move to prohibit the sale of Smartphones to children younger than 13. It was started by Dr. Tim Farnum, whose own real-world experience with his kids was the motivation.
And Tim Farnum joins us from Denver.
Doctor Farnum, good to see you.
And, Doctor Farnum, you are an anesthesiologist. You're not a child psychiatrist. So this is mostly being driven by your experience as a day?
DR. TIM FARNUM, ANESTHESIOLOGIST & AUTHOR: That is correct, yeah. I'm not trained as a psychologist but I come at this first as a father. As a physician, I really wanted to research the issue. If you look at the body of evidence it shows a tremendous amount of potential for harm, and harm in lot of our children.
VAUSE: But there is recent data showing the average age that children are getting their first Smartphone is falling. It was 12 just a few years ago. Now the average age is 10. And anecdotally, many even younger than that. So it is a problem that many parents just aren't aware of the problems with the Smartphones and kids?
[01:50:19] FARNUM: I think there's a huge awareness problem. People are addicted to their own phones and they don't -- really there's no incentive for the education to be put out there. The corporations are pushing the technology and the apps and the phones. There is no incentive for them to tell them there's any harm, is what I'm trying to say. So we're trying to raise awareness of the issue. VAUSE: Which brings us to the draft ballot initiative, which you and your supporters are putting out there.
VAUSE: This is part of it, "Initiative 29 prohibits retailers from selling or permitting the sale of a Smartphone to a person under the age of 13 or to any person who indicates that the Smartphone will be wholly or partially owned a person under the age of 13."
At the end of the day, the criticism is that you are trying to shift responsibility away from the parents onto the retailers and the government. What do you say?
FARNUM: I think we're trying to help parents and I think it's good that it's in a state where we can vote on its as individual citizens, so it's not coming from one party or another. So hopefully, it doesn't become politicized. But I think, as parents, were in a trap where every other parent seems to be doing it, maybe absentmindedly, but trying to control your own child is nearly an impossible gauntlet, because there's so much technology out there. And so if we could just get this one piece of legislation on the books then parents would be able have some ability to tell their kids, no, we can't get you that phone until a little bit later. And hopefully, there will be some more carefree youthful years for these children.
VAUSE: If it happens, Colorado will be the first state in the U.S. they also are trying other laws in other countries around the world, too.
So I wish you the best of luck.
FARNUM: Thank you very much for having me.
VAUSE: I suspect you were on your Smartphone during that time, weren't you?
VAUSE: What the studies show is that the kids using the Smartphone, it releases the dopamine thing. It's like an addiction. For many kids, it actually has huge developmental issues if they're exposed to a Smartphone too soon, because they get used to it, addicted to it. And one thing you see, when you take a Smartphone away from a kid, the doctors said earlier, it's like trying to take away crack from a crack addict.
WALKER: I believe it. Especially when it comes to the impairment of social ability.
WALKER: All the teenagers text each other and they don't know how to pick up the phone and have a conversation.
VAUSE: But this is specifically with the development of the young mind, and that's where the problems are.
All right, we'll take a short break on CNN NEWSROOM. President Trump's son-in-law finally finds his voice. When Jared Kushner speaks, out Jeanne Moos listens. That's next, after the break.
[01:55:12] WALKER: Jared Kushner has been called the U.S. president's secretary of everything, but have you ever heard him speaking?
VAUSE: Mr. Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor spoke publicly on Monday. Twitter went wild.
And our Jeanne Moos was all ears.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He has been seen but not heard. Silently watching President Trump sign orders. Jared Kushner is usually in the middle action but publicly mum.
TRUMP: Well, thank you very much.
MOOS: Sitting at the president's side, but never a peep out of him.
JOHN OLIVER, HOST, LAST WEEK TONGIHT: Have you ever heard him speak? Seriously. What does his voice sound like?
MOOS: We now know the president's son-in-law doesn't really sound like Gilbert Gottfried, because at a session with technology leaders Monday, Jared Kushner finally used his vocal cords.
(on camera): So without further ado, drumroll please --
MOOS: -- we present the actual voice of Jared Kushner.
KUSHNER: The Department of Defense, for example, still uses eight- inch floppy disks.
MOOS: No wonder nobody focused on what he was saying.
KUSHNER: The Trump administration got it done.
MOOS: "I don't believe it. This is like finding out mermaids have legs," tweeted someone stunned to find Kushner has a voice.
Others drew parallels. "Jared Kushner's voice sounds like a young Michael Sere (ph).
MICHAEL SERE (ph), ACTOR: I'm Mr. Manager.
MOOS: Kushner's silence was mocked on "SNL."
ALEC BALDWIN, COMEDIAN & ACTOR: And I'll send in my little kush-ball, Jared Kushner.
BALDWIN: I know you don't like talking but why don't you take it away.
BALDWIN: God, he's such a cute little twink.
BALDWIN: We're live from New York, it's "Saturday Night."
MOOS: Kushner is the guy with a twitter account but no tweets. A cover story in "Time" with no interview.
He once tip-toed past his wife as she was being interviewed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on, Jared. There he is.
TRUMP: Come on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, Jared, you can't just walk in and not say anything.
MOOS: The silence sidekick has finally found his voice.
KUSHNER: It' working and it's very exciting.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --
MOOS: -- New York. (APPLAUSE)
VAUSE: The strong, silence type.
WALKER: Twitter was aflutter though.
VAUSE: Oh, yes.
WALKER: They went crazy about his voice.
You are watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Amara Walker.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause.
We'll be back with more news after a short break.