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Trump Unconvinced of Russian Meddling; At Least Nine Dead in Suspected Human Trafficking Case; U.N. Security Council Set to Meet; Mounting Pressure over Judicial Reform Bill in Poland; Afghanistan Conflict; British Princes Open Up about Their Mother's Life and Legacy. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired July 24, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:08] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. President is still not convinced that Russia alone hacked the presidential election. That's according to his new communications director.
Plus, U.S. Marines return to enemy territory. CNN follows American troops into a Taliban stronghold.
And remembering Princess Diana -- Prince William and his brother Harry open up about their late mother.
Thank you for joining us -- everyone.
I'm Cyril Vanier, live from the CNN NEWSROOM in Atlanta.
We start in Washington where the Russia investigation is going to take center stage again on Monday as President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is due on Capitol Hill. He's going to answer questions from Senate investigators about the Trump campaign's alleged ties to Russia.
We won't see or hear any of it, as the meeting will be behind closed doors. The interview comes as the White House is casting new doubts on whether the President believes that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Somebody said to me yesterday, I won't tell you who, that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those e-mails, you would have never seen it. You would have never had any evidence of them, meaning that they're super confident in their deception skills in hacking.
My point is, all of the information isn't on the table yet. But here's what I know about the President --
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Wait, wait, wait -- Anthony, Anthony.
SCARAMUCCI: Let me finish. Let me finish. TAPPER: Anthony --
SCARAMUCCI: All right. Go ahead.
TAPPER: You're making a lot of assertions here. I don't know who this anonymous person is that said that if the Russians had actually done it, we wouldn't have been able to detect it.
SCARAMUCCI: How about it was the President -- Jake.
TAPPER: Ok. It's the --
SCARAMUCCI: He called me from Air Force One and he basically said to me, hey, you know, maybe they did it, maybe they didn't do it. I'm going to maintain for you -- hold on a second.
TAPEPR: This is exactly the issue here. We have experts. The U.S. Intelligence agencies unanimous -- both Obama appointees and Trump appointees, the Director of National Intelligence, the head of the National Security Agency, the head of the FBI -- I mean, all of these intelligence experts saying Russia hacked the -- Russia hacked the election. They tried to interfere in the election.
No votes were changed, but there was this disinformation and misinformation campaign. President Trump is contradicting it. And you're siding with President Trump.
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I didn't say that I was siding with President Trump.
TAPPER: But this is exactly the point. Because here you have a bill, legislation that was passed 98-2 in the U.S. Senate; the House is about to pass it, it will probably also be an overwhelming vote to sanction Russia.
And President Trump told you that he still doesn't believe that Russia was trying to interfere in the election even though the overwhelming body of the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by Republicans and his own intelligence experts are telling him the opposite. You're saying you're going to side with the President. Don't you owe a duty to the truth?
SCARAMUCCI: What about the conversation are you missing -- Jake? There are checks and balances in the system for a reason, ok? The President will make that decision when he makes the decision. You're telling me that something is true, that in fact could in fact be true.
I don't have the information in front of me. Once I've cleared my security clearances. And I've looked at the stuff, if I think it's true, a behind closed doors, I'll turn to the President every directly and say, sir, I think this stuff is true. But I don't have it in front of me right now.
TAPPER: My question right now is about the fact that a geopolitical foe of the United States, Russia, interfered in the U.S. election according to every intelligence expert -- both under the Obama administration and under the Trump administration. The one person in the government who says it's not true is President Trump.
SCARAMUCCI: Again, one of the reasons why he is upset about it is that this sort of -- the mainstream media position on this, that they interfered in the election, it actually in his mind -- what are you guys suggesting, you're going to delegitimize his victory? Is that going to make his victory illegitimate?
SCARAMUCCI: Is that the point of it. Well, you know what, he legitimately won the presidency.
TAPPER: Yes. Absolutely.
SCARAMUCCI: Right. Do we both agree on that?
TAPPER: He legitimately won the presidency, absolutely.
SCARAMUCCI: Ok. So at the end of the day, let him make the decision. And as I said to you, once I've got a security clearance and I meet with those people myself, if I think it's true, I'm going to turn to the President very honestly -- we have a great relationship -- and say, sir, I think this is true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: There's little evidence that Mr. Trump might change his mind. On Sunday he tweeted, "As the phony Russian witch hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold -- Democrats and Russians.
Let's bring in our CNN political commentators. Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is a professor at Temple University. John Phillips, also with us, is a talk radio host and a columnist for the "Orange County Register".
[00:05:02]John -- the first one to you.
Mr. Trump was elected eight months ago now -- just a little over eight months -- and he hasn't made up his mind apparently whether Russia meddled in the election or not. Your thoughts?
JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, in my mind, there's no question the Russians were meddling as the Russians always do. The Russians, if you go far back enough, are responsible for many of the JFK assassination conspiracy theories. They're always trying to push their interests.
And I think that what we're seeing play out here is not largely in the greater body of politics, a denial that Russian tried hacked into the DNC or hacked into the DNC or things like that.
It's that this election was not legitimate. That Donald Trump should not be the President of the United States. That if it weren't for Russia, Hillary Clinton would be president, and Donald Trump would be back at his office in New York.
And I think that Trump takes umbrage to that insinuation and that's why he pushes back. And that's why we see him get a little bit testy sometimes when this subject comes up.
VANIER: Yes. Marc -- it seems that Mr. Trump is going back and forth on this. When he was in Poland, he was pressed on this matter of whether or not Russia did indeed interfere in the U.S. election, he seemed to have crossed that line and he seemed to be positive that it had. And now apparently he's not clear anymore.
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: For him, I think it's very much an ego play. It's very much an attempt to protect his mandate and also sending a message to voters that somehow he is not as worthy a president as his predecessor. And that's important not just for Trump's ego although I don think that's a big issue.
I think it's also important that he's trying to hold on to some level of support from his voting base. His support is one of the lowest -- if not the lowest -- approval rating in American history at this stage of a presidency, one of the highest disapproval ratings. That's the key issue for him.
But then a final piece of this, which also I think needs to be part of the conversation, is that Trump doesn't want to continue to create connections between himself and his administration and Russia.
Because at the same time that we're having the hacking-meddling conversation, we're also having a conversation about back channels. We're having a conversation about Jared Kushner. We're having a conversation about Donald Trump Jr. We're having a conversation about attempting to leverage secrets on Hillary Clinton in exchange for some sort of favor.
All of these things range from urban legends and conspiracy theories to legitimate smoke and fire. And so Donald Trump doesn't want any Russia talk because Russia talk is not good for his presidency, it's not good for his leadership, and it's not good any future reelection plans.
VANIER: Yes. And look, Anthony Scaramucci, the incoming White House communications director says all the information isn't out there yet.
But I do want to show our viewers what the intelligence community believes. This is what two prominent members said just 48 hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS HOST: Can you just tell us, is there any dissent within the intelligence community oversee on the question of whether the Russians interfered with the American election?
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: There is no dissent. And I've stated that publicly.
HOLT: Everyone's on board. Coats and I stated that to the President.
MIKE POMPEO, DIRECTOR, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: I am confident that the Russians meddled in this election as is the entire intelligence community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: All right. So that was Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence; Mike Pompeo as well, head of the CIA -- those are two Trump appointees. So John -- back to your point earlier, it seems the President is viewing what should be a national security concern for the U.S. and an important one through the lens of politics and how it reflects on him.
PHILLIPS: Well, Donald Trump is a guy who cut his teeth on the media and the New York tabloids. And he knows that perception is reality. And if Democrats continue to push the perception that he's an illegitimate president, then that is going to hurt his standing when we look back at him in the history books.
So he's providing some pushback there. He's not trying to get in the way of either one of Congress' investigations here. He's not trying to stop the FBI from doing this -- even the previous FBI director admitted that much when he was testifying.
VANIER: Who he fired, by the way. You say he's not stopping the FBI director for looking -- for the FBI from looking into this. He fired the previous FBI director.
PHILLIPS: Right. But I'm talking about the investigation into Russia. He never -- he was asked point-blank that question, did Donald Trump ever do anything to try to impede or stop this investigation? So we're going to figure out just exactly what happened.
But again, you know, the optics of Donald Trump being an illegitimate president will cause him to continue to provide pushback in the media. He's always operated that way. He'll always continue to operate that way.
VANIER: Marc, what do you make of the fact that Congress overwhelmingly wants to tie the President's hands when it comes to Russia. Not only do they want to impose more sanctions on Russia for what they see as election meddling, but also they want to limit the President's ability to undo them.
HILL: Yes. I mean it's incredibly important. One -- because there's just an era (ph) of signing statements and executive orders from Bush to Obama to Trump. There's just not enough check on executive power.
[00:09:59] But it's also a concern about Trump's relationship to Russia because it's so confusing because at best it's blurry and at worst it's incredibly dishonest.
We don't want a situation where Congress imposes sanctions for election meddling and then Trump comes in and eases the sanctions because there's a belief that Trump has a backdoor behind the scenes, relationship with Russia that he would simply do that. So it's very, very important to make sure that that doesn't happen.
And to the previous point, I think what's incredibly important, Trump wants to limit the scope of the investigation because, you're right, it can become a fishing expedition. But it's a hard sell to Congress and it's a hard sell to the American people to say, hey, I'm going to limit what the investigators can do, because they may find something that I did that's illegal, just not related to Russia.
I mean it may be a legitimate point with regard to scope. But it's a hard argument to the American people to accept.
VANIER: All right. Gentlemen -- great talking to you today. Thank you very much.
CNN political commentators Marc Lamont Hill and John Phillips -- thank you.
PHILLIPS: Thank you.
HILL: Thank you.
VANIER: Human trafficking in Texas now. Nine people are dead after a truck was found in a parking lot in San Antonio. The city is honoring the victims.
More than a hundred undocumented immigrants may have been crammed inside that truck. The suspected driver is in custody. The case highlights the dangers that immigrants face when crossing into the United States.
CNN's Ed Lavandera has more from San Antonio.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Homeland Security investigators and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents say that the driver of the truck was 60-year-old James Bradley from Clearwater, Florida. He's really the centerpiece of this investigation, as investigators try to figure out what they describe as a human smuggling operation. And the key to that is to figure out who else was involved, where this truck came from, and where it was going.
The acting ICE director says that at some point during the journey, there could have been more than a hundred people inside the back of this trailer truck. And when it was discovered here just after midnight it was somebody from the truck had approached a Wal-Mart employee asking for water. And that is what led the employee to make the discovery and call police here to the scene.
Eight people were found dead inside. A ninth person died in the hospital on Sunday. The death toll numbers could change. There were nearly 20 people in critical condition throughout the day, receiving treatment in various hospitals around San Antonio -- so a horrifying and gruesome discovery.
The fire chief says that at some point he believes that the temperatures inside that trailer reached more than 150 degrees.
CHARLES HOOD, SAN ANTONIO FIRE CHIEF: The units arrived. Found the trailer stuffed with victims in the back. And again, very hot, kind of like being in an oven if you can imagine.
A lot of them have suffered the symptoms of heatstroke. And so with heatstroke a lot of times you have neurological deficits that you're never going to be able to recover from.
So again, for those people that survived, they took a beating. And with our temperatures yesterday, we had temperatures of over 100 degrees. So you can imagine the temperature in that -- the back of that semi loaded up with people was probably 150 degrees.
And so the ones that we took out, all the pulse rates were about 130; they were hot to the touch.
LAVANDERA: A highly dangerous volatile situation inside that truck. And of course, all eyes really kind of focused on James Bradley, the driver of this truck, who hasn't formally faced any criminal charges filed just yet.
But that could change dramatically here this Monday. Bradley is expected to make a court appearance Monday morning in San Antonio. So the criminal charges could change here in the coming hours so we'll continue to monitor that.
But this Wal-Mart where this truck was discovered is just along Interstate 35 in southwest San Antonio. It takes a direct shot, about a two-hour drive to the Texas/Mexico border.
And in this part of south Texas, these kinds of human -- this kind of human smuggling operation is very common oftentimes undocumented migrants are moved in truck loads like this. So, you know, very dangerous situations like this have unfolded in the past. And sadly this is just all too common in this part of the United States.
Ed Lavandera, CNN -- San Antonio, Texas.
VANIER: Now, this is something that's very important to CNN. And in fact, we've been investigating cases of human trafficking in the U.S. and across the world for a long time with the CNN Freedom Project.
Next hour, we're going to start a special week of investigations to expose the use of children and laborers in Cambodia. We will reunite with three girls whom we first met in 2013 after they had been trafficked for sex.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First they took me to the hospital for a blood test. The next day, they examined me again and then they made me have sex with the man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought if I ran away, it would cause trouble. So I decided to stay.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was said. I went to the bathroom and cut my arm.
[00:15:03] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The children we met then are women now. They work alongside other survivors in a factory run by anti- trafficking nonprofit, Agape International Missions or AIM.
They earn their own money by their own hands. Their lives are better and they're even stronger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Hear their incredible stories and their message to others in about an hour on CNN. Also, join us each day this week on a special "CNN FREEDOM PROJECT" series.
Coming up after the break on CNN newsroom, the White House responds to the latest Israeli-Palestinian violence. How the U.S. President's son-in-law hopes to bring peace to the region.
And thousands of protesters say they're fighting for their freedom in Poland. They're calling on the president to strike down controversial new legislation.
Plus this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Marines are leaving. This is only supposed to be a short mission. They come, they go, they come back again each time hoping the Afghan security forces they leave behind them will be able to do their jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: 15 years into the war in Afghanistan and the U.S. Marines are still facing challenges. We'll go to Helmand Province where they're struggling to bring an end in sight.
[00:20:13] VANIER: There's been a deadly shooting inside the compound of the Israeli embassy in Amman, Jordan. Officials say one person was killed -- a Jordanian national. Two people were also wounded, another Jordanian and an Israeli.
Police say the Jordanian victims had gone into the building to do carpentry work. It's not clear at this stage who carried out the shooting and why.
The U.N. Security Council is set to meet in the coming hours over the latest violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Muslim faithful, as you see there, were praying near Jerusalem's old city during a weekend of clashes with Israeli forces. Four Palestinian were killed on Friday and Saturday and three Israelis were stabbed to death in the West Bank.
Here's Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Israel has installed security cameras near the entrance to one of the holiest sites in the region, especially in the old city of Jerusalem known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and the Jews as the Temple Mount.
The security measure is on top of metal detectors installed about a week and a half ago in response to two Israeli police officers killed at that site. But Palestinians and the larger Arab region see that as an attempt by Israel to take over the holy site and to impose Israeli sovereignty on the holy site unilaterally.
And that's why this is so sensitive. It's not about metal detectors. It's not about security cameras. It's about control of a holy site.
Now there are a lot of moving parts here. The Arab League has said Israel is playing with fire here, and shouldn't make these unilateral moves. Meanwhile, the U.N. has urged all sides as well as the Middle East Quartet which also includes the E.U. the U.S. and Russia has urged all sides to do everything possible to deescalate the tension in the region, to take measures to reduce the tension here and to bring both sides together to get out of this essentially as quickly as possible as that tension stands at a critical point here.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his weekly government meeting said they're evaluating the security situation and they will make their decisions accordingly. Meanwhile Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has frozen coordination and cooperation, critically that includes security coordination with the Israelis in protest of the metal detectors and other Israeli measures at the holy site.
That is an unprecedented step that hasn't been seen in years here, the freezing of security coordination but that's an indication of how seriously the Palestinians and the Arab world view these steps.
What happens now is critical as to how tensions go. Do they increase, and could we see the beginning of another round of violence? It's certainly possible. Or are steps taken by the Israelis and Palestinians with the help of the international community to deescalate the tension and to get out of this without a continuation of violence?
Oren Liebermann, CNN -- Jerusalem.
VANIER: And the White House is signaling it wants to end the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian violence. A top official tells CNN that President Trump's senior advisor Jared Kushner is working the phones behind the scenes and has already spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He's also looking to work with Jordanian officials.
The Turkish president heads to Qatar on Monday on a diplomatic mission to the Persian Gulf. Recep Tayyip Erdogan is trying to ease tensions between Doha and some of its gulf neighbors. He met with Saudi Arabia's King Salman and also traveled to Kuwait on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed sanctions on Qatar last month accusing it of supporting terrorism, allegations which Qatar denies.
Meanwhile, the Turkish government continues its crackdown on opposition detaining dozens of protesters in the capital of Ankara. The demonstrators rallied to support two teachers who have been jailed for going on a hunger strike over the crackdown.
Police used pepper spray and water cannons on protesters, and were seen dragging some of them away.
Poland's president is expected to meet with the head of the country's Supreme Court Monday morning. We've been following the political crisis in Poland for several days now. Andrzej Duda faces growing pressure over a controversial reform bill that would put the Supreme Court under government control.
Thousands of protesters are demanding a veto. Critics say it's the latest power grab by the President and his right wing party.
Muhammad Lila has more from the capital.
MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another evening, nor large protest here in Warsaw, the Polish capital -- protests taking place not just here in the capital, but in many locations right across the country.
As you walk through this protest, you feel a sense of hope but also a sense of anger. You see a lot of Polish flags -- a Polish flag, a large one there erected just in front of the presidential palace. You also see a lot of E.U. flags as well.
Now the protesters say they're willing to stay here for as long as it takes but in order for their demand to be met. And their demand right now is very simple.
[00:25:02] They're calling on the country's president to exercise a veto over a controversial piece of legislation that would allow the country's ruling party, the Law and Justice Party, to replace all of the country's Supreme Court judges, with judges that they themselves have handpicked.
In fact, you see a sign over here, this sign in Polish calling on Andrzej -- that's Andrzej Duda the president to exercise his veto and reclaim or restore his good name among the people. Now, the E.U. has already expressed its concern about this legislation. The U.S. State department has expressed its concern about the legislation as well. We know that the president has roughly three weeks to decide what he's going to do. Is he going to approve the legislation or is he going to listen to the will and the show of force of people on the streets, and veto that legislation?
In fact, one of the loudest cheers and chants that we've heard is a chant that's very simple. And all it says is (inaudible) which means "we want a veto".
Muhammad Lila, CNN -- Warsaw.
VANIER: Coming up after the break, U.S. Marines are back in one of Afghanistan's most violent regions.
And later this hour --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE HARRY, BRITISH ROYALTY: Our mother was a total kid through and through. When everybody says to me, you know, said she was fun, give us an example, all I can hear is her laugh in my head. And that sort of crazy laugh of where there was just pure happiness showing on her face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Princes William and Harry open up about their mother like we've never heard before -- a look at the new documentary on the life and legacy of Princess Diana.
Stay with us.
[00:30:10] VANIER: And welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier with your headlines.
VANIER: A deadly friendly fire incident in Afghanistan is now under investigation. U.S. and Afghan officials say a U.S. air raid targeting Afghan militants in Helmand province instead killed 16 Afghan police officers and wounded two others.
U.S. forces say the officers were gathered in a compound when the strike hit on Friday.
The U.S. Defense Secretary said the Trump administration is close to finalizing a plan on Afghanistan. But for U.S. Marines returning to Helmand for another tour, it's a continuing challenge. CNN's senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh talked to them about what they're facing. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here we are again, but it's been going on so long, these guys have left and then come back, Afghanistan's Helmand and America's Marines.
When does it end?
A year ago, the Taliban were at the gates of this key city, Lashkar Gah. Now it's not good, but it's better because the Marines, even though there's only 300 of them, have brought huge firepower with them.
Afghan troops just now retook one district. The Marines, not at the front but advising on base instead and congratulating them indoors.
Nothing lasts forever here, except maybe the war and the triumph soon fades.
A rocket has just hit, landing about 20 meters from us outside; a total of three, indiscriminate; an 8-year-old boy wounded in the attack.
President Trump is now weighing his first move in a war that, for men like Colonel Reid, whose birthday is September the 11th, is absolutely nothing new.
He was last here seven years ago but then with thousands of Marines, so fewer now.
COL. MATTHEW REID, DEPUTY COMMANDER, TASK FORCE SOUTHWEST, U.S. MARINES: We have around 300 still. Those are the troops that ran the chow hall.
WALSH (voice-over): Now they have to do it all over again.
REID: It's discouraging, right, I mean, a lot of blood on the ground.
WALSH: You feel like an extra sense of heaviness when you try and take it on again?
REID: There is a definite feeling of a sense of obligation to get this right because of those that have gone before us, for sure.
WALSH: So how many friends did you lose here?
REID: I don't think I've ever bothered to count. Too many between here and Iraq.
WALSH (voice-over): Some Marines advise near the front, where you can just make out the Taliban's white flag.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is all Taliban country, all of it. So there's Taliban that come through here on a daily basis.
WALSH (voice-over): But the Marines aren't meant to fight them. The Afghans are. And they aren't as many here as there's supposed to be.
Listen to how these 45 Marines almost double what's meant to be a 500- strong Afghan unit here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's only about 200 that are assigned right now.
WALSH: By assigned, you mean that actually exist?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That actually exist.
WALSH: -- they have 500, but they have --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.
WALSH: -- they have 200.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of those 200, there's about 100 of them that aren't even here.
WALSH (voice-over): Some on operations or on patrol, say 50 to 100 Afghans actually here.
This Marine unit pulls back after a week.
WALSH: The Marines are leaving, but this is only supposed to be a short mission. They come, they go, they come back again, each time, hoping the Afghan security forces they leave behind them will be able to do their job, to hold the Taliban back.
The question is, with only 300 of them here, Marines this time, what has changed? -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Helmand, Southern Afghanistan.
(END VIDEOTAPE) VANIER: Let's get some more insight into this with our CNN military analyst, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, who's with us.
Lieutenant (sic), I saw the Marines pack up and leave six years ago in that very area that Nick Paton Walsh went to. And now they keep having to come back.
In military terms, is that a failure?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, that's a great question, Cyril. I'm not sure I would classify it as that. It's just been an extremely tough fight. This area of Afghanistan, the Marines sometimes call Marineistan --
HERTLING: -- because they've been there so many times, it is the largest province in Afghanistan, Helmand is. It is not the most populous. It has probably about 900,000 citizens throughout this 20,000-square-mile area. But the farming communities and the small villages there produce about
40 percent of the world's opium. So it is a cash cow for the Taliban and for other terrorist groups who go through there.
So they have the farmers produce this drug and they're able to sell it on the market and it supports their operations. So it is an extremely critical province.
But you're right, you saw Marines leave there, in -- I guess in, oh, gee, I think it was 2014. They had close to 20,000 Marines in this province. And when you're talking about 300 now, that's a significant reduction.
There was the hope that the Afghan army could -- and security forces could take up the fight. Some of them have. But truthfully, some of them have not. And because of --
VANIER: And, General, is that ever going to happen?
Will the Afghan defense forces ever going to be able to stand on their own two feet?
HERTLING: Well, there have been some that have. Some of the armies in that region have stood on their own two feet. But because of the corruption and the literacy rate that is so low there and the lack of jobs and the ability to get money from the corruption, it's going to be extremely difficult.
When you talk about the analysis of the province, there's some Afghan forces that are fighting hard. There's some that are not. But there's also a requirement for continued counterterrorism operation. And that's where the Marines help quite a bit.
VANIER: But I suppose the Taliban haven't been rooted out of their strongholds like Helmand province after 16 years of fighting. Perhaps that means there's no military solution.
HERTLING: Well, yes, and then you ask yourself the question, what is the solution?
It's a combination of strong Afghan government. They have not been able to have the representation in Kabul from this southern province. It's the southern-most province in Afghanistan, as you know. There is some contention between the warlords in that area and the different sects and tribes.
So it's challenging. In order to get this under control, you do have to have the focus of not only the Afghan government but their ability to put strong Afghan security forces there to take the fight to the Taliban and they haven't been able to do that quite yet.
VANIER: Yes, absolutely, and it does speak to the political problem that Afghanistan, the enduring political problem that Afghanistan has and especially among different ethnicities, the Tajiks, the Pashtuns in particular, in some level of conflict right now, politically in the capital back in Kabul.
General, great to speak to you. Thank you very much.
HERTLING: As always, thank you, sir.
VANIER: Still ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, the British princes open up about the final conversation they had with their mother, Princess Diana. Why William and Harry say it's something they'll regret for the rest of their lives -- next.
VANIER: Nearly two decades after her death, Britain's Prince William and Prince Harry reveal they have deep regrets over the last time they spoke with their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Nina dos Santos has more on a new documentary about the life and legacy of Lady Di.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Almost 20 years since Diana, Princess of Wales, died, her sons, Princes William and Harry, have given what is probably their most candid on-camera interview yet.
Here are some highlights of this very moving interview.
HENRY, PRINCE OF WALES: Our mother was a total kid through and through.
When everybody says to me, you know, so she was fun?
Give us an example.
All I can hear is her laugh in my head. And that sort of crazy laugh of where there was just pure happiness shown on her face.
Once she said to me, be as naughty as you want, just don't get caught.
She was one of the naughtiest parents. She would come and watch us play football and smuggle sweets into our socks. I remember walking back from the football match and having five packets of Starbursts. The whole sock was just bulging with sweets. I started looking around at the top box, throw it in and lock it up.
PRINCE WILLIAM, DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE: There are a couple of memories I have that are particularly funny. Just outside this room, where we are now, she organized, when I came home from school, to have Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell waiting at the top of the stairs. I was probably a 12- or 13-year-old boy. I have posters of them on my
wall. And I went bright red and didn't quite know what to say. And sort of fumbled and pretty much fell down the stairs on the way out. I was awestruck. That's a very funny memory of her loving and embarrassing me and her being sort of a joker.
DOS SANTOS: The princes talk about the mischievous side of Princess Diana. That was one of the surprises she was famous for throwing for them.
But aside from the heartwarming moments, there's also a very poignant moment in this film and it is when Prince Harry, in particular, says that he doesn't really remember what the last words he said to his mother were on the night she died, only that he will regret for the rest of his life cutting the conversation short because it seemed as if the princes were playing with their cousins and they didn't like spending too much time on the telephone to their parents.
So the conversation was briefer than they would have liked.
These are just some of the snippets that have come out as the two princes have said this is a one-off occasion where they're going to be opening up their feelings and their memories of their mother so that the rest of the country and the rest of the world can remember her, too, in August -- Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.
VANIER: We're done for now. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. I'll be back at the top of the hour with more news from around the world. Stay with us.