Return to Transcripts main page


Venezuelan Opposition Leader Arrested in Twin Raids; Kenyan Election Official Killed Days Before Vote; Scaramucci Ousted as White House Communications Director. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 4, 2017 - 14:00   ET



[14:01:40] FRED PLEITGEN, CNN HOST: Tonight, Venezuela lurches towards dictatorship. The head of the opposition-led national assembly tells me

they must keep up the fight for democracy.

Also, the death of an election official in Kenya is casting a shadow over this Tuesday's presidential vote.

This week, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro won an election giving him unprecedented powers. His controversial new assembly has now been sworn

in, and will give him the power to rewrite the constitution.


Maduro called it a victory. The U.S. and other governments call it a sham. An emboldened Maduro wasted no time in solidifying his power.


The next slide, two leading opposition leaders were dragged from their homes. Antonio Ledezma's daughter posted this video of her father as he

was taken away.

Leopoldo Lopez's wife showed her husband being bundled into the back of a vehicle. And on Twitter she wrote, 12:27 in the morning, the moment when

the dictatorship kidnaps Leopoldo at my house.

The government said both men had broken the terms of their house arrest. The new assembly now has the power to abolish the opposition-led national

assembly. Its leader, Julio Borges tells me the only path forward is true democratic elections.


JULIO BORGES, VENEZUELAN POLITICIAN: It's very clear that the government has said in the past weeks that they are looking for peace in Venezuela.

And it's amazing that the first step that they did after the supposed election this Sunday is to take Leopoldo and Antonio and taken them to the

jail. This is very clear that this is the answer of an undemocratic government that is only looking through fear to keep what they called peace

in Venezuela which is none other thing than violence.

PLEITGEN: How concerned are you for also your situation. The situations of others who are currently in the assembly? Because the assembly itself

was under attack just earlier this year.

BORGES: Absolutely. We have had many attacks, violent attacks, against the parliament in Venezuela. And today, I had a session of the parliament.

I am very, very grateful, because many ambassadors went with us to the national assembly, and they were joining the session of the parliament and

to us it was very important support that pushed against any attack to the government.

PLEITGEN: Now the opposition obviously boycotted on Sunday, but it still went through. You know, this new assembly was elected.

What are your options now to try and maintain at least some of democracy?

[14:05:00] BORGES: Well, our option is to be in the streets, making demonstrations. Our option is to be in the parliament, making resistance

in order to fulfil the desire of the freedom and democracy in Venezuela.

Our option is to call for the international community in order to help Venezuela. Not only with condemnation but also with concrete actions in

order to push for a democratic outcome in Venezuela.

So we have to struggle in order to keep and to achieve a freedom and democracy in Venezuela and social justice. That's our concern. That's our

fight. It's the chief aim of our struggle.

PLEITGEN: How big is the danger of the protest? I mean, we've already seen so many people killed over the past couple of months in Venezuela.

Are these protest getting out of control and even more than they have already, and the violence, you know, becoming an even bigger issue.

BORGES: Yes, it's something very painful. Now we are speaking. We have been in the street for more than 120 days. Unfortunately, 120 people has

been killed. Thousands of people have been arrested. Most of them are under military trial, which is unacceptable. And what I want to be very,

very clear with you is that we are not in a civil war in Venezuela.

We don't have to ban two countries facing each other. That's not the problem in Venezuela. What we have is one country, one Venezuelan people

united against a minority, which is kidnapping democracy in Venezuela.

PLEITGEN: At the same time, President Maduro has said that he's the one who is empowering the people. He calls the folks in the assembly the

oligarchs. That he says he's taking power away from them.

Where do you even start or try to start some sort of political negotiation process in that kind of environment?

BORGES: Well, I think that Maduro is right now in a corner. He has no political answer for the people. You have to see that we have not only

political problems in Venezuela. The economic and social problems are big and that they are bigger than the political problem.

We have the highest rate of inflation of the world. We have the most violent country because of personal crime in the world. We have the

companies and industries. They are leaving Venezuela. So Maduro has no answer for Venezuelan people. And the constitutional assembly will reap

the problems of Venezuela.

So we have to keep our fight in order to have a Democratic country with an open economy, with solving the social issues in Venezuela. And I hope and

I'm sure that we are near of that possibility of a Democratic outcome in Venezuela.

PLEITGEN: And so far Nicolas Maduro has laugh off the new sanctions levied on him by the Trump administration.

What do you think the U.S. should do? What do you think the OAS could potentially do and other countries, what they should do in a concrete way

other than condemnation?

BORGES: Well, I really feel that we are already living sanctions in Venezuela. Venezuelan people are undergoing the worst economic situation

in history. So Maduro have to be blamed for the suffering and the pain of Venezuelan people.

Maduro has build this situation of isolation of Venezuela. Maduro has built the rhetoric of anti-international relationship of Venezuela. So

Maduro wants to transform Venezuela in another Cuba.

So we are already living in a situation in which I think that it's impossible to be worse than what we are living now. So I think what other

countries, what they are doing is only answering the politics of Maduro to isolate Venezuela.

PLEITGEN: How can the situation be solved? Because everybody, internationally, if you talk about this, it's absurd that a country as

rich, as cultured as Venezuela should be in the kind of situation that it's in right now.

BORGES: Well, for me the solution is easy. And I am not being simplistic. It's very easy. It's to put Venezuelan people, the constitutional right to

do the elections, to follow the rule of the constitution, to have real check and balance in Venezuela, to have the protection of human rights, to

respect the national assembly.

So it has to be a real political will to make democracy, to govern Venezuela right now. So the real solution, it will be healed by

Venezuelans through elections, through human rights, through the recognition of each other.

PLEITGEN: Julio Borges, thank you for joining the program.

BORGES: Thank you very much.


PLEITGEN: When we come back, we look to Kenya where a murder of an election official has raised fears of violence. We have a special report

on the country's vote. That's next.


PLEITGEN: Welcome back.

On Tuesday, Kenyans will go to the polls to vote for their next president. The run up to the vote has been mostly peaceful, but there is new concern

after the torture and murder of a senior election official.

Chris Msando's body was found dumped on the outskirts of the capital Nairobi. His brutal death raising fears of turmoil ahead of this Tuesday's


Kenyans saw their 2007 election descend into ethnic violence although the last polls in 2013 passed off peacefully.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was seeking a second and final five-year term in office is running against the veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Farai Sevenzo reports.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): In Nairobi's Kibera slum, one of Africa's largest, mother of five Evelyn is making chapati to sell.

Here in Kenya, this fat bread dish is popular with everyone. But when it comes to politics, Kenya takes a far more bearing.

Eight candidates are running for president, but polls show the real race is between two long time rivals whose own fathers lead Kenya into independence

nearly 55 years ago, as president and vice president.


SEVENZO: It is the name of the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta which reigns largest on this particular street.

55-year-old Kenyatta has served one term as president and he's going for a second. 72-year-old Raila Odinga has failed three times of the post and

he's going for the presidency for a fourth time.

The race is tight enough for him to hope that this time, the outcome will be different.

(on camera) This has been a fiercely contested election. These two men are fighting for a share of 19.6 million votes. And no matter where you go in

Kenya, people want to know, will this be a free and fair election? And will it be peaceful?

And the question of the hour is of course, who will it be?

(voice-over) Evelyn tells us that the two main candidate are ready to win, and this worries her because she says, neither of them is ready to lose.

Even though Kenya's election in 2013 was peaceful, she says the violence have followed the disputed post in 2007 when over 1,000 people were killed,

still scares her.

But she's determined to vote for the opposition, Raila Odinga.

EVELYN ACTORIA, VOTING IN UPCOMING ELECTIONS: At least give another person another chance. We can't continue with somebody who is making our lives

miserable and continue with him again and again and again.

SEVENZO (voice-over): The word "peace" is everyone's mind. Go into the center of Nairobi and you will hear it again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let us have a peaceful election, then at the end of the day whoever wins, it will be fine.

SEVENZO (voice-over): Make no mistake, this is a wealthy nation, popular with tourists. But Kenyans are worried about the cost of living. And how

this incredible wealth does not tend to trickle down to everyone.

President Kenyatta is promising to create more jobs and to keep Kenyans safe from terrorism. Mr. Odinga is promising to support the poor and to

end the corruption that many acknowledge has blighted development here.

When two bull elephants clashed, they say in these parts, it is the grass that suffers. Kenyans are hoping there will be no suffering. And that

their country will roll out an election without incident come the 8th of August.

Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi.



[14:15:00] PLEITGEN: And Kenya's ambassador to the United Nations is Macharia Kamau. He joins me now live from the United Nations in New York.

Your Excellency, thank you for joining the program.


PLEITGEN: Sir, this murder that took place off Chris Msando is obviously something that really overshadows an election campaign that was already

very fierce. How does it change things as far as the public discussion is concerned? How does it somewhat maybe also undermine trust in the process?

KAMAU: Well, first of all, I think it's fair to say that the murder was obviously very unfortunate and it's a tragic thing to have happened. But

Kenya has always been a country of stability and democracy in Africa. And we are now in our 12th election cycle. Four of which have been multiparty


The last election cycle as you know went off very peacefully. In 2017 when we -- in 2007 rather when we had the unfortunate incidences with the post

election violence. This has come to characterize much of what is perceived as the problem of our democracy in Kenya.

However, since 2007, we've had huge reforms that have taken place in the country. The new constitution, new independent commissions, a stronger

judiciary, a free legislature. So we are in much stronger position now to have what we believe will be a transparent, free, and fair election.

PLEITGEN: At the same time, I think we saw in that report from our own Farai Sevenzo there that the lady is saying that one thing she's afraid of

is that neither of the two main candidates are willing to lose. That seems to be something were people do think back to 2007 and some of the events

that happened there.

KAMAU: Well, I'm sure they'll agree with me that nobody goes into an election with an intention to lose. Everybody goes in with the intention

to win. But the president has said in his campaign that he will step down should he lose. And this has been a very powerful signal to the


But of course the intention of everybody is that their candidate will do their very best to win the election because that is why they are voting for


PLEITGEN: One of the big issues that people keep talking about is fighting corruption. One of the things -- I mean, we've seen, Kenya is a very

wealthy nation. Strategically so important in the east of Africa.

How far is the country come in fighting corruption? What still needs to be done?

It is a very important issue for voters there.

KAMAU: I agree and for all of us Kenyans, corruption is a very important issue. It is an important issue. In fact it's a perennial issue even in

most other countries of the world.

In the case of Kenya of course, as I said, we've seen a huge effort being undertaken by the government, by the people of Kenya actually to push the

government to put in place systems that can create a better, more transparent form of government, a better more transparent form of managing

our resources, and a stronger judiciary that pursues cases of corruption much more vigorously.

This is something that I think we take very seriously and corruption, yes, is a critical issue but it is something that everybody in Kenya wants to

see tamed.

PLEITGEN: And two things were also a big issue. I know that they have in this time as well. That's tribalism and ethnicity.

We've talked about some of the reforms that are taking place. And yet, the candidates we saw in the runoff to this, they do speak to their ethnic and

tribal constituents more than anyone else.

That's also something the next president needs to tackle and also something that this vote needs to address as well, doesn't it?

KAMAU: Well, absolutely. And I think if you look at the parties and the Jubilee Party for example, it has brought together 12 different parties

which cut across the entire nation. This was an attempt to try to bring unity within the nation.

I think the voice of the government has been very forthright on this issue. The tribalism, ethnicity and anything that divides the country is something

that we want to put aside.

But let's be fear to us as Africans, we will always be the people who we are. We see ethnicity everywhere in the world in Europe and if it's race

in other parts of the world, it's a very difficult things to untangle quickly.

But you're right. They do need to be dealt with and the institution that have been put in place now are looking to ensure that we minimize the

effects and the impacts of ethnicity and tribalism. Not just in our politics but in our business relations, in our interpersonal relations.

And if you look at the young people in particular, this issue has definitely subsided. It isn't the big issue that we've seen capturing the

imagination of people over the last, I would say 20 to 25 years. Young people now are seen beyond this issue in very dynamic ways.

PLEITGEN: I want to talk to you about one thing that's obviously very important to us as a media outlet. And that is the role of fake news in

this election process.

You know that there been fake CNN reports, fake BBC reports that had been shows to be such.

This is also a much more digital election as far as the campaigning is concern than we've seen before. What can be done to combat any sort of

effect of fake news? Because this is something where a lot of people in the runoff have said that they were confronted with phony reports.

KAMAU: You know, fake news has become a phenomena on earth. It is something that is really a testament of the age in which we live. The age

of the Internet, the age of social media. The age of, you know, 24/7 accessibility to these channels.

It is something that we are also confronted with. The effort has been put in placed. Remember, fake news cuts both ways. And the challenge is how

to ensure we minimize it. And, personally, I think that the main media channels have to work a lot harder to make sure that their reporting is

much more balance than much more representative of everybody so that people don't feel any urge to end up going anywhere else to find information but

trust that the main media will give them the best, most transparent news that they can get anywhere.

PLEITGEN: And of course they have to trust the process and the institutions as well. And I guess one of the big question that came after

Chris Msando's murder is, are other election officials safe now, and what's being done to ensure their safety.

KAMAU: You know, as I said when I started this, this murder was a tragic thing. The timing could have not been worse. But let's be clear. This is

not something that I think is been orchestrated to undermine the election.

I think we have to wait for the investigation to take place. We have to understand that anything could have caused this particular unfortunate

incidence. And I think all our election officials have been guaranteed security, support. And whatever back-up they need from the government has

been guaranteed.

Even the police has now -- the police commissioner has said that they'll be given even greater protection. So I think that everybody should feel very

confident that we are on track for a free, transparent, and a very participatory and of course, very competitive election as it's the

character of Kenyans.

PLEITGEN: Ambassador Kamau, thank you for joining the program.


PLEITGEN: And after a break, a life in politics sure can pass by in the blink of an eye. We imagine a world where it's a lot faster for some than

for others. We bid farewell to The Mooch. That's up next.


PLEITGEN: And finally tonight, imagine arriving at the White House with great fanfare only for it to be mooch ado about nothing.

That was the fate of former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci a.k.a. "The Mooch."

President Trump's colorful communications director made some pretty wild headlines in his brief tenure as Randi Kaye reports.


ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: The Navy S.E.A.L.S will tell you that if you want to eat an elephant, you've got to

eat it one bite at a time.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was bizarre from the beginning with a hint of what was to come.

[14:25:00] SCARAMUCCI: There's been some speculation in the press about me and Reince so I just want to talk about that very quickly.

KAYE: From day one, Anthony Scaramucci addressing what was about to become a very public battle between him and then White House chief-of-staff Reince


SCARAMUCCI: Reince and I have been personal friends for six years. We are a little bit like brothers, where we rough each other up once in a while,

which is totally normal for brothers.

KAYE: By the fourth day, Scaramucci was making changes allowing cameras back into the press briefings announcing it with this tweet that read

simply "TV cameras are back on."

Then things got -- well, weird. After "The New Yorker's" Ryan Lizza broke the news last week that Scaramucci and others were dining at the White

House with the president and First Lady, the newly installed communications director unleashed a profanity-laced rant at Lizza about some of the

president's key advisers.

On Reince Priebus, "Reince is a blank paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac."

On White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, "I'm not Steve Bannon. I'm not trying to suck my on blank."

Scaramucci also suggested that Priebus was leaking confidential White House information, which Priebus later denied to CNN. Scaramucci finally telling

Lizza he had to go so he could start tweeting some blank to make this guy crazy, meaning Priebus.

(on-camera) The voter tirade made headlines everywhere. On Thursday, Scaramucci's 7th day on the job, he was trying to turn the page on CNN's

"New Day," telling Ryan Lizza, he was just teasing him on the phone.

SCARAMUCCI: I want to reset at zero. I just spent about 15 minutes on the phone talking with the president of the United States, who has given me his

full support and his full blessing.

KAYE (voice-over): Scaramucci still trying to play tough with the leakers.

SCARAMUCCI: As you know from the Italian expression, "The fish stinks from the head down. But I can tell you two fish that don't stink, OK? And

that's me and the president. So if Reince wants to explain that he's not a leaker, let him do that."

KAYE: The very next day, on Friday, Priebus was out of a job. It was also the day "The New York Post" reported Scaramucci's wife had recently filed

for divorce, something her lawyer confirmed to "The New York Times."

Scaramucci then kept a low profile over the weekend seemingly unaware he was on the chopping block. On day 11, Scaramucci showed up for work. He

even attended Monday morning's swearing in of the new chief-of-staff. The same chief-of-staff demanding his ouster.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


PLEITGEN: And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can listen to our podcast, see us online at Thank you for watching and

goodbye from London.