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Significant Step In Russia Meddling Probe; Trump Calls Russia Story A Total Fabrication; Probe Focuses On Possible Financial Crimes; Special Counsel Issues Grand Jury Subpoenas; Senior ISIS Commander Sent Bomb Parts; Flames Scorch Dubai's Torch Tower; Phone Call Transcript Leaked; Yazidis In Iraq Mark Third Anniversary Of Genocide; Transcripts Show President's Heated Calls With Allies. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired August 4, 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] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Subpoenas issued, and a grand jury impaneled; the investigation into possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign takes a significant step. Meantime, leaked transcripts of the president's calls with world leaders; he scolds, he (INAUDIBLE). And that border wall? Well, he says it's not that important. Plus, a former money man of Kim Jong-un shows us the smuggling operation that's providing the cash to prop up the North Korean regime. Hello, and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.
The U.S. Justice Department is sharpening its focus on potential Russian ties of the Trump campaign. Here's what they tell CNN, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, has issued grand jury subpoenas related to Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russia lawyer last year at Trump Tower. The e-mail setting up that meeting promised dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. Trump Jr. says the lawyer talks about adoptions, not the campaign. President Trump in West Virginia, Thursday, repeated his claim that the Russia story is a total fabrication.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There were no Russians in our campaign, there never were. We didn't win because of Russian, we won because of you, that I can tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, meanwhile, CNN has learned Mueller's team is looking closely at financial ties between Russia and Mr. Trump, his family, and the Trump organization. The President has warned that's the red line Mueller shouldn't be allowed to cross. CNN's Pamela Brown has the details.
TRUMP: Does anyone really believe that story?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Russia investigation continues to widen. But all investigators explored the potential financial ties that President Trump and associates to Russia. Sources tell CNN, financial links could offer more concrete pad to any potential prosecution. Investigators are delving into possible financial crimes, including some unconnected to the election.
For the president, that's going too far. He's warned that delving into his businesses is a "violation." Trump has maintained, there's no collusion and he has no financial ties to Russia.
TRUMP: And I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia, I have no loans in Russia, I don't have any deals in Russia.
BROWN: Now, one year into those complex probes, the FBI has reviewed financial records related to the Trump organization, the president himself, as well as his family members, and campaign associates. The CNN has told investigators have combed through the list of shell companies and buyers of Trump branded real estate property. They've scrutinized the roster of tenants at Trump Tower and Manhattan, reaching back several years. And officials familiar with the investigation tells CNN, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has examined the backgrounds of Russian business associates connected to Trump.
ANNOUNCER: In Moscow, is Miss Universe 2013.
BROWN: And in fact, to the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant, in Moscow.
ANNOUNCER: Thank you to Aras Agalarov and the focus group for their amazing hospitality.
BROWN: CNN could not determine whether the review has included Trump's tax return. But even investigative leads that had nothing to do with Russia but involved Trump associates are being referred to the special counsel to encourage subjects of the investigation to cooperate.
TRUMP: The entire thing has been a witch hunt.
BROWN: President Trump, keenly aware of the increased financial focus regularly denounces the investigation.
TRUMP: Russia is fake news. This is fake news put out by the media.
BROWN: Trump's team, seeking the limit -- Mueller's investigation.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president's point is that he doesn't want the special counsel to move beyond the scope, and outside of its mission. And the president's been very clear, as have his accounts and team that he has no financial dealings with Russia. And so, I think we've extremely clear on that.
BROWN: CNN has learned new details about how Mueller is running his special counsel team; more than three dozen attorneys, FBI agents, and support staff. Experts in investigating fraud and financial crimes, broken into groups, focused separately on collusion and obstruction of justice. There is also a focus on targets like Paul Manafort, Trump's former Campaign Manager, and General Michael Flynn, his fire National Security Advisor. CNN has learned that investigators became more suspicious of Manafort when they turned up, intercept the communications that U.S. Intelligence Agencies collected among suspected Russian operatives, discussing their efforts to work with Manafort to coordinate information that could hurt Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House, according to U.S. officials.
[01:05:07] In Flynn's case, the focus is now on his lobbying work for the Turkish government, which he failed to initially disclose as required by law. While both men deny any wrongdoing, the approach to the Manafort and Flynn probes may offer a template for how the focus by investigators on possible financial crimes could help gain leverage and cooperation in the investigation. The president's attorney, Jay Sekulow, said to CNN in a statement, "The president's outside legal counsel has not received any request for documentation or information about this. Any inquiry forms the special counsel that goes beyond the mandate specified in the appointment we would object to." And for contacts, investigators don't have to go directly to the president's lawyers to get financial information, investigators can issue subpoenas to the financial institution and get records from the Treasury Department. Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.
SESAY: Well, joining us here in L.A.: CNN's Senior Political Analyst and the Senior Editor for the Atlantic, Ron Brownstein; and Criminal Defense Attorney, Bryan Claypool. Gentlemen, welcome. Ron, I want to start with you. And obviously, the expansion of this investigation is expanding to taking in the president's financial records alongside his family and the Trump organization. Take a listen to Kellyanne Conway as she spoke to our own Chris Cuomo a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: We know that these types of -- these types of endeavors and of being fishing expeditions, they are very broadly cast net. And I would remind everybody that in terms of President Trump, he has said that he has no financial dealings with Russia, whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: You know, Ron, she makes a point about, you know, these -- these types of special investigations being fishing expedition. Now that it has expanded to include the president's financial dealings, is this his worst nightmare?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST AND SENIOR EDITOR FOR THE ATLANTIC: Yes. No, he's certainly has signaled, you know, this is the line he does not want the special counsel to go over. Now, we see the Senate Republicans, I think, unlike the House Republicans, but the Senate Republicans at least are signaling very clearly there's a line they don't want him to over in terms of dismissing the special counsel. You know, Kellyanne, you know, is right that often these things evolve beyond where they, where they start.
But in this case, I think the question of a financial relationship between President Trump and others in his circle, until proven otherwise is relevant to the question of what are their links to forces -- do individuals and institutions in Russia that may have involved. For example, the meeting with the Russian attorney that Pamela Brown talked about. Where do that start? That started with the Russian business figure who partnered with the president on the beauty pageant in Moscow. So, to say that to look on any financial ties is inherently kind of becoming a fishing expedition, I think isn't justified by facts.
SESAY: Bryan, to that point, the expansion, if you will, of this investigation, the impaneling of a grand jury -- talk to me about what it says to you about the investigation, what signals it sends.
BRYAN CLAYPOOL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Isha, being a politician and being a president is an inherently dangerous job. If you're a sharp legal mind, you're familiar with the Miranda Rights we have here in the United States: everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law unless you invoke silence. Well, in this case, everything that Donald Trump and his family have said and done over the past, what, decade or 20 years is going to be open for investigation, and can and will be used against him not only in the court of public opinion but possibly in the court of law.
And what I mean by that is just what you've said: a grand jury investigation does cast a wide net. The good news and bad news is this, the bad news first for President Trump is: it is very broad, you can subpoena records that are generally unrelated to the core of the Russian investigation. And you're kind of like, like, it was said, you're like, like if you're fishing and trying to catch some crabs.
CLAYPOOL: You've put on -- you're trying to get as many as you can on that net, and that's the downside of the grand jury investigation. Now, the good news though, is there is a stark difference between a grand jury that might indict President Trump or any of his family members, and actually proving in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt.
SESAY: So, the indictment is one thing if that ever came.
BROWNSTEIN: You know, the Office of Legal Counsel and the Justice Department, both under Nixon and Clinton. Now, admittedly, two presidents who had caused to have this conclusion reached. You know, twice, the Office of Legal Counsel has concluded that a sitting president cannot be indicted criminally. So, if Bob Mueller wants to challenge that at any point, you know, there's a whole other question of going down that road and what would be required to overturn those earlier guidance from the Justice Department. You know, I think most people also think it's more likely, if he finds cause against the president he is more likely to refer it to Congress, and in essence putting it in their lap.
[01:10:06] SESAY: Let's hear from the president himself. He had that rally in West Virginia, and he didn't address, you know, these developments with Mueller directly but he did speak to the Russia story as a whole. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They can't beat us at the voting booths, so they are trying to cheat you out of the future and the future that you want. They're trying to cheat you out of the leadership you want with a fake story that is demeaning to all of us. And most importantly, demeaning to our country, and demeaning to our Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Ron, there are so many lines there that speak to his base and --
BROWNSTEIN: It's so revealing. That is, I think -- that little sound bite is a soul to the essence of what his strategy, in many ways, has been since taking office, which is to equate attacks on him with attacks on his supporters, to say that any questioning of him is an attempt to suppress them. And it has helped, I think, to kind of reinforce that base. But that -- you know, the base is shrinking. I mean -- in the polls. He is significantly down among several groups, including those non-college wages in the kind that we, you know, a state like West Virginia is very prevalent.
He is facing other questions. I mean, that's the funny thing, and he is that you know, Russia did not decide the election, and yet the White House seems to think that Russia is behind the fall he is as president. In fact, I think why he's suffering as president are the very different reason, this questions about his comportment, the way he's approached the job, and also the bad reactions to the Republican health care bills. So, he is kind of, you know, seizing on Russia. He's basically saying, this is why I'm facing all of these head wounds. It is a head wound for him, but it's not the principal one he's facing.
SESAY: Bryan, I want to very quickly put up on the statement from Special Counsel to the President, Ty Cobb. Take a listen to what he had as we got this word of this grand jury. He said that "Grand jury matters are typically secret. The White House favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work, family." You know, this is what he said, "The White House is fully committed to cooperating with Mr. Mueller."
Ty Cobbs is a fully committed to cooperating with Mr. Mueller. The fact that the grand jury now is in place, do they have any choice? Are they all --
CLAYPOOL: What baffles here -- bewilders me, is we just heard President Trump say this is a witch hunt.
CLAYPOOL: And why are you doing this? And that his special counsel is saying, we're fully going to cooperate with this investigation, which signifies that it's OK to investigate this and let's get to the bottom of this. So, they -- those two are directly at odds. When you --
SESAY: But the word has been all over the map on this.
BROWNSTEIN: Just real quick. I mean, here's anything else that happened over the past week, some Republicans have said they're staying in session to prevent him making any recess appointment on the attorney general. The House and Senate voted to, you know, impose these Russia sanctions with very limited ability for him to overcome them. The Senate Republican -- two different Senate Republicans are working with Democrats on legislation to protect the special counsel.
So, you look at all of these things that are happening, you are seeing efforts to draw lines around this, and as well Senate Republican Leaders have said they are taking health care again even after he's asked them to. So, whatever he is thinking about what his red line is with the special counsel, you have red lines being drawn all around him, I think, at least by the Senate Republicans at this, but not clear about the House. And that creates kind of also the political trip wires whatever the legal ones are.
SESAY: Bryan, I'll give you 10 seconds.
CLAYPOOL: He answered the question. President Trump and his family have to cooperate during this investigation. They can assert their Fifth Amendment right, but they have to cooperate. If they asserted that right of self-incrimination, that would be a (INAUDIBLE). So, I think you agree with that.
SESAY: Gentlemen, fascinating conversation. Ron Brownstein, Bryan Claypool, thank you.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
SESAY: All right. Turning to Australia now, new details have emerged in the alleged terror plot to bomb an airline. Police say, ISIS was behind it, and on its senior commanders sent bomb parts. The device was reportedly assembled in Australia and fully functioning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL PHELAN, DEPARTMENT COMMISSIONER, AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE: The investigation was in relation to an allegation that an Australian based individual was planning to undertake preparations for an attack against Australian aviation targets. It is alleged that this individual was receiving information, being a spy indirectly for ISIL in Syria.
This advice was coming from a senior member of Islamic State. This is one of the most sophisticated plots that is ever been attempted on Australian soil. And if it hadn't been for the great work of our intelligence and seasoned law enforcement, a draw of a very quick period of time, then we could very well have had a catastrophic event in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP) [10:15:04] SESAY: Well, after raids across Sydney, two men have been
charged in the case. Officials say, they targeted the flight on July 15th but didn't go through with it. They've also been charged in the second plot. Authorities say they've tried to make a device to spread poisonous gas. Well, residents of one of Dubai's tallest buildings are assessing the damage after a major fire; flames spread up at the side of the 84-storey high rise, two hours before fire fighters put them out.
Eyewitnesses recorded video of showers of burning debris falling to the ground. And dozens of apartments were engulfed, but the scale of the damage is still not clear. The building is only six years old, but this is already its second major fire. And its name the torch tower is disastrously ironic. Thankfully, no was injured in either event.
Next in NEWSROOM L.A., what really happened in phone calls Donald Trump makes to key allies just days after he took office; the transcripts are out and they tell quite the story.
SESAY: Well, three years ago, ISIS fighters launched a genocide campaign in Iraq against religious minority known as the Yazidis; thousands of people were killed. On Thursday, the Yazidis' marked the anniversary of the start of a brutal campaign. The CNN's Michael Holmes reports, the group situation has improved but their ordeal is far from over.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A dramatic rescue in the desert. Desperate families climbed aboard a chaotic helicopter flight to safety. The face of a young girl overcomes with emotion and exhaustion. This is how much of the world was introduced to Iraq's Yazidi population three years ago. CNN's Ivan Watson was there as Iraq's air force delivered aid and rescue those many people as they could, who were trapped on Sinjar Mountain. This, after ISIS, began what the U.N. called a systematic genocide against the Yazidis -- a small religious minority (INAUDIBLE) descent. ISIS killed thousands of Yazidi men and women, thousands more were kidnapped; many forced to become sex slaves or fighters. Those who survived, fled their ancestral homes, some across the border into Syria, others lived in refugee camps while Iraqi forces battled ISIS.
Now, the city of Sinjar has been liberated. And on Thursday, hundreds of Yazidis marked the third anniversary of the start of the genocide. Many dressed in white carrying signs and banners marching on a local shrine -- a sacred site. One sign called it, the humanity died. Another refers to, the darkness in the desert. Three years later, the wounds inflicted by ISIS are still fresh.
ELIAS FARIS, SINJAR RESIDENT (through translator): Honestly, I don't know where to start when talking about this. Do we talk about the abductions, or the masked raids, or the enslavement of women, or the rapes? It is a truly painful memory. [01:20:13] HOLMES: All of this young Yazidis say, they have a family member or friend killed or abducted by ISIS. This 11-year-old girl recalls the horrifying story of how ISIS captured her family and pointed a gun at her father's head. The story ends in tears. And while the Yazidis' pain continues, many say their situation is improving.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): A bit better now, but we're still frightened. Some are suffering from psychological issues. We're still frightened of the Islamic State.
HOLMES: Much of Sinjar remains a city in ruins, but the streets and playgrounds are starting to see signs of life. Some families are returning home, and the others reluctant to come back -- fearing the city could again fall to ISIS. And still thousands of Yazidis remain captives of ISIS; their ordeal, far from over. Michael Holmes, CNN.
SESAY: Now, troubling new details have been leaked about President Trump's private phone conversations with two U.S. allies. We've heard how contentious this phone calls in January; one was with the President of Mexico, the other was the Prime Minister of Australia. Now, the Washington Post has obtained transcripts of those conversations and a reflection of Mr. Trump is not flattering. CNN's Jim Acosta has the details.
TRUMP: Who's going to pay for the wall?
(CROWD RESPONDING: MEXICO)
(CROWD RESPONDING: MEXICO)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It was a key campaign promise pushed by then-candidate Donald Trump time and again, not just a wall on the border with Mexico, but a wall that Mexico will fully fund.
TRUMP: We're going to build a big beautiful wall, a big beautiful wall. And we're going to have a door on the wall, and people are going to come into our country, but what are they going to do? They're going to come in legally. Who's going to pay for the wall?
(CROWD RESPONDING: MEXICO)
TRUMP: Who's going to pay for the wall?
(CROWD RESPONDING: MEXICO)
TRUMP: Who's going to pay for that wall?
(CROWD RESPONDING: MEXICO) ACOSTA: But in transcripts of President Trump's January phone call with Mexican President, Enrique Pena Nieto, obtained by the Washington Post, it's clear there are cracks in that promise of a wall. In the call, Mr. Trump says, "If you're going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that. I'm willing to say that we will work it out, but that means it will come out in the wash and that is OK. Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we're talking about. But politically, this might be the most important."
Pena Nieto stood firm saying, "But my position has been and will continue to be very firm saying that Mexico cannot pay for that wall. The president's response, "But you cannot say that to the press. The press is going to go with that, and I cannot live with that. You cannot say that to the press because I cannot negotiate under those circumstances."
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
ACOSTA: The president also appears to chalk up his victory in the New Hampshire primary to the states' opioid drug crisis. Mr. Trump tells the Mexican president, "I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug infested den." That comment drew bipartisan criticism from New Hampshire officials, with the states' GOP governor saying, "The president is wrong. It's disappointing his mischaracterization of this epidemic ignores the great things the state has to offer." Democratic Senate, Maggie Hassan, was even tougher.
SEN. MAGGIE HASSAN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: His words were disgusting; they're an outrage. And my message really is this: he should stop insulting people, and instead work with us to get the resource into our state and states all around the country, who were also challenged by this epidemic.
ACOSTA: Another leak transcript comes from the president's call with the Australian prime minister that reveals the two leaders' bickering over an Obama administration plan to welcome refugees from Australia. During the conversation, the president says he had a much friendlier call earlier in the day with Russia's Vladimir Putin, "It is an embarrassment to the United States of America, and you can say it just the way I said it. I will say it just that way. As far as I'm concerned, that is enough, Malcolm, I have had it. I have been making these calls all day and that is the most unpleasant call. Putin was pleasant, this is ridiculous." The president had said that any reports of a testy call were fake news. A tense exchange leaked earlier this year made a splash on "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm tired and cranky, and I feel like I could just pick out on somebody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then maybe, you should call Australia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for still accepting our refugees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On you say, what? No refugees. America first. Australia sucks. (INAUDIBLE), prepare to go to war. ACOSTA: As for about those leaked transcripts, once again, an aide to the president said the White House won't be commenting on those conversations that an official did reiterate the opioid crisis remains a concern for the president. Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.
SESAY: Well, Prime Minister Turnbull is downplaying the leak officer in conversation with President Trump saying he enjoys a "warm relationship with the U.S. media." CNN's Anna Coren joins us now from Sydney with the very latest. So, Anna, OK, Prime Minister Turnbull is saying, you know, things are rosy in the relationship with President Trump, but how is all of this going over with the general public there in Australia? I mean, what's their takeaway?
[01:25:23] ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha, it's interesting and I think too many people stand up to Donald Trump -- that's certainly what Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull did back in January. And we knew that back then because it was a heated exchange that ended abruptly. There, obviously, these leaked transcripts certainly fill in the holes. Malcolm Turnbull today is being applauded for standing up for Australia, but he's also being criticized for not being truthful to the Australian public.
When he presented these deal to the Australian public, he said that this was not swapped. That basically, America was going to take these 1,250 refugees who tried to get here illegally by boat, which is why they're not allowed to stay; Australia has a very hardline immigration policy, but he didn't set up. As a matter of fact, Australia was going to be taking refugees from America, from Central America. So, this is a bit of a problem for him today. I think the other problem for Malcolm Turnbull is the line in this transcript where he says, "We'll take anybody you want."
So, a bit of (INAUDIBLE), obviously, Malcolm Turnbull is trying to please Donald Trump during a very testy conversation. But as you say, today, when he addressed the media, he maintained that the two men definitely have a warm relationship. Let's have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALCOLM TURNBULL, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: That's always been up in -- these conversations remain confidential but I've got no, I kind of haven't got any further comments to make it. It was a, as I said, it was a curious, frank conversation. President Trump said, we're both adults and we've had a -- I stand up for Australia's interest; he stands up for America's interest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: And Isha, what's interesting during this address to the media, Malcolm Turnbull thanked Donald Trump for honoring that refugee deal. Well, we have spoken to some of those refugees who are at Nauru, in that detention center where they have been for the last three years, living in hideous conditions waiting to be moved. And they say that, well, some of them have spoken to U.S. authorities for that vetting process, certainly no one has left the island. So, we are obviously closely following that development there, Isha.
SESAY: Anna Coren, joining me live from Sydney. Anna, I appreciate that update, thank you. Coming up, presidential candidates in Kenya takes flight; trying to attract voters any way they can for their presidential campaign. Ahead, the latest for the campaign trail.
[01:30:27] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
The headlines this hour.
SESAY: Meanwhile, Kenya's presidential race is tightening in its final week of campaigning. Incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta, is hoping to win a second term in office. But long-time rival, Raila Odinga, is fighting until the end.
Our own Farai Sevenzo joins me from Nairobi, Kenya.
Farai, good to see you.
With this race entering its final ages, how is it looking, what are the expectations for these closing hours? Set the scene for us.
FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Isha, it's been an amazing campaign, as you know. When we spoke yesterday, we were talking about the unfortunate death of an official who met a terrible end. And that investigation is still ongoing. But at the moment, everybody is keenly awaiting the election to begin on Tuesday, the 8th. In fact, I'll show you, this is headline in this morning's paper, "All eyes are on Kenya." They have 5,000 observers. Politicians can still campaign up until tomorrow.
How they are campaigning and how much they spent is a very interesting way to look at Kenyan society. And we went out looking for that and to find out how they're doing it, and this is what we found out.
SEVENZO (voice-over): Politicians hoping to pull in a crowd in this Kenyan nation, a helicopter may just be the thing.
SEVENZO: At this opposition campaign rally in the middle of Kenya's Mesai (ph) country, people can't decide which helicopter to run to. As yet another chopper makes a landing, kicking up dust and drawing people in.
They're used for efficiency in this vast country. And of course, flair. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not something normal here, so we're very
happy to see them come here.
SEVENZO: Kenya's 2017 general election is approaching the final stretch. The race is tense.
SEVENZO: Helicopter after helicopter carrying politicians across the political divide lift off into the Nairobi skies.
(on camera): There are more helicopters right now in this country than at any time in Kenya's history. And why is that? Because campaigning by chopper has become all the rage in this Kenyan election.
(voice-over): Politicians pay an average of $3,000 an hour to rent one.
Politicians landing where people's whose votes they covet earned half of that in an entire year.
And the presence of so many choppers has produced a worrying trend. They're calling it the James Bond effect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The James Bond is a figure of speech. The individuals who decides they want a free ride in a helicopter and they think it will be fun.
SEVENZO: One James Bond chopper grabber told CNN that he hung on to the chopper because others had been given something and he had missed out.
[01:35:06] SEVENZO: Kenya's aviation authority noticed the number of these stunts rising and made a public service announcement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shall not accept to see ever again a James Bond. If you see something that looks dangerous, please, inform us.
SEVENZO: One by one, the metal birds lift, off leaving the voters bemused. As they wave the politicians away, beneath the departing choppers there is no sign of a James pond for now.
SEVENZO: And there you have it, Isha. It's been an interesting campaign. It's been a rich campaign. This is a wealthy nation. But everyone now wants the election to go ahead peacefully without incident. And that's what Kenyans will be hoping for, too -- Isha?
SESAY: That's what we all hope.
Farai Sevenzo joining us there from Nairobi, Kenya. Thank you so much.
Coming up, from fake currency to drugs, North Korea is relying on smuggling to make money. We'll get an inside look at the criminal network from a defector.
Plus, Israeli police have laid out allegations involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. We'll have details later this hour.
SESAY: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been named a suspect in two bribery and breach of trust investigations. Police presented a legal document about the allegations to a court on Thursday. The first case alleges he wrongly accepted gifts from overseas businessmen. The second case alleges he struck a deal from a leading Israeli newspaper to get softer coverage from them in return for reducing the circulation from a rival paper. Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Weapons, drugs, even counterfeit American dollars make up the illegal criminal network run by North Korea. A defector speaking to CNN about Pyongyang's smuggling and how it helps prop up the government financially.
Our own Brian Todd has the story.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): August 2016 a freighter called the "Jie Shun" is intercepted heading to the Suez Canal. Underneath 2,000 tons of iron ore onboard, around 30,000 rocket- propelled grenades made in North Korea, part of what a North Korean defector describes as a spider web of smuggling to line the pockets of Kim Jong-Un.
(on): How do North Korean smuggling operations work? Are there people, with false names, are there ships with false names being moved around?
RI JONG HO, NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR (through translation): The smuggling is conducted by any and every means you could imagine. Larger items are mostly done using ships, for example, by filing the cargo list where what is written is different from what is really being shipped.
TODD (voice-over): For decades, Ri Jong Ho was a top wrangler of cash for kim Jong-Un's regime. He says he would sometimes hand bags of cash to ship captains leaving from China where he was stationed for North Korea
Ri defected in 2014. He says he worked mostly in legal imports and exports, but also gave us insight into North Korea's smuggling operation, which he describes as being almost unstoppable.
[01:40] HO (through translation): On the open sea, the Yellow Sea, there are hundreds of fishing boats, both from China and North Korea. And all the smuggling is done by these so-called fishing boats. Instead of fishing, they are involved in smuggling. And it's very difficult, even for China, to stop these hundreds of fishing boats.
TODD: According to the U.N> and outside analysts, Kim's regime sells weapons on the black market, uses its diplomates to move illegal drugs, like methamphetamine. They've trafficked in counterfeit American dollars, fake Viagra, even endangered species.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kim Jong-Un really sits atop a criminal network that would make Don Corleone or Tony Soprano proud.
TODD: New U.S. sanctions are aimed at tightening limits on North Korean shipping to stop the flow of illicit goods leaving and arriving in North Korea. Those might include luxury items for Kim and his inner circle, like that well-known Mercedes limo, which the supreme leader is often seen stepping out of.
HO (through translation): the Mercedes Benz, for example, that are provided for the leader, they're not legally imported. They're being smuggled in.
TODD: The cash that Ri was so good at getting to his boss, experts say, pays for Kim's weapons and buys off top generals and others to keep them from turning on him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has to maintain political loyalty and so he needs sort of walking-around money to hand out.
TODD (on camera): North Korean officials at the U.N. have denied that their government engages in smuggling.
As for our interview with Ri Jong Ho, a North Korean official says the defector is telling lies to make money and to save his own life.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
SESAY: And finally, a U.S. court has sentenced a woman to 15 months in prison after she urged her boyfriend to commit suicide in hundreds of text messages. Michelle Carter encouraged 18-year-old Conrad Roy to take his life. She was convicted of involuntary manslaughter earlier this year. Roy locked himself up in his pickup truck, dying from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2014. Carter was on the phone with him as he suffocated, never telling him to stop, or calling police for help.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
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