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Rex Tillerson And The Russian Foreign Minister Meet For The First Time After Sanctions Have Been Placed To Russia And Was Reported To Be Lengthy And That The Russian Fm Was Disappointed Saying The Sanction Is Unfriendly And Dangerous. China Claims They Have Been Reaching To North Korea To Stop Missile Test Yet Some Experts Say China Is Even Supplying And Facilitating North Korea's Missile Tests. Aired 2-3pm ET

Aired August 6, 2017 - 14:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday, I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Encountering an adversary, the two top diplomats --


WHITFIELD: -- from the U.S. and North Korea attending the same summit in the Philippines today, that meeting taking place just hours after the international community asserted a powerful rejection of Pyongyang' recent missile tests.

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to impose a new round of sanctions against North Korea, restrictions that could cost the country $1 billion annually. And while Russia was one of the nations to sign on to those sanctions, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his country is still grappling with their own set of punishments from the U.S. He described a tense but necessary conversation with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the summit.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIA FOREIGN MINISTER (through translation): We felt the readiness of our U.S. colleagues to still continue dialogue. I think there's simply no alternative to that.


WHITFIELD: CNN's senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is in the Philippines with the latest.

IVAN WATSON, CNN'S SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is supposed to be a gathering of diplomats from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and some affiliated countries like the U.S., Russia, South Korea, Japan. But the big topic of discussion right now is North Korea.


WATSON: Its two intercontinental ballistic missile tests that were carried out in July in contravention of many United Nations Security Council resolutions and the Security Council's decision on Saturday to slap new sanctions on North Korea banning its exports of coal and iron --


WATSON: -- and even seafood, something that the U.S. government argues will cut at least a third of its export revenues.

The Chinese foreign minister says that he put pressure on North Korea during his meeting with a North Korean counterpart here in Manila.


WANG YI, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER (through translation): We have indeed conducted in-depth discussion; China urged North Korea to treat the new resolutions by the U.N. Security Council regarding North Korea in a calm manner and not to conduct missile tests and nuclear tests, which violates U.N. Security Council resolutions and the desire of the international community.

Of course, we will also urge all other parties, especially the United States and South Korea, not to further escalate the tension. I think the Korean Peninsula situation has reached a critical point of crisis. But at the same time, it is also a turning point for decision-making and negotiations.

WATSON: The U.S. government says that it wants to use this international conference to further isolate North Korea but the ASEAN nations have indicated that they do not want to go through with the U.S. proposal to expel North Korea from the --


WATSON: -- Asian regional forum, one of the few international gatherings that a top North Korea official does attend. This, just one of several thorny issues to be discussed here, including conflicting territorial claims to the South China Sea, something that China claims almost in all its entirety. Ivan Watson, CNN Manila.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Ivan. So, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is also weighing in on these latest sanctions on North Korea; she spoke to CNN's Ana Cabrera who asked her if the U.S. was expecting sanctions to bring a different result than in the past.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, I think what everybody needs to understand is the revenue that goes into North Korea doesn't go into feed its people, who are starving. Instead, what it's doing is it's going to fund the reckless nuclear program. So, if we reduce the hard currency, we're reducing the funding that allows them to do that.

Secondly, we hope that they take note. We hope that they realize this was the international community speaking in one voice saying that this activity has to stop. They now have a decision to make. This was a gut punch to North Korea today. They can either now take heed and say, OK, let's stop. Let's start being responsible and let's see another avenue. Or they can continue what they're doing and the international community will continue to respond.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Is preemptive military action on the table right now?

HALEY: That is all up to North Korea. At this point, they really have some serious decisions to make. What I will tell you from the United States' perspective is, we're prepared to do whatever it takes to defend ourselves and to defend our allies. And the ball is in North Korea's court; they now have to decide where they want to go from here.

We hope that they will go the route of peace and security. We hope that they will go the route of focusing on human rights and --


-- feeding their people. We hope that they will go the route of stopping modern slavery that they do in terms of sending laborers overseas and then taking the money from that situation.

But again, all of this now is in North Korea's court and we will see how they respond.

CABRERA: Well, we've seen how they respond to the sanctions of the past and that is, with more aggressive action. Kim Jong-un is accused of orchestrating a murder of his own brother. Can sanctions or diplomacy stop him?

HALEY: Well, I think we did what we could in the U.N. and that was basically speak with one voice. He is now on an island. North Korea now has to look at the rest of the world and see that they are all telling him to stop the reckless activity and they need to respond to that, and they need to respond in a good way.


WHITFIELD: Add President Trump is weighing in from his working vacation in New Jersey tweeting this --

TEXT: The United Nations Security Council just voted 15 to zero to sanction North Korea; China and Russia voted with us, very big financial impact.

WHITFIELD: Let's talk more about the implications of these new sanctions and meetings with Gordon Chang, author of 'Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World'. Good to see you, Gordon.

So, will these new sanctions put an end or in some way impact North Korea's missile program?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR: Yes. Fred, they will not put an end to the missile or nuke programs. You know, in the past, we had the luxury of ineffective resolutions but now we don't. You know, in about a year, the North Koreans will be able to reach us with a nuke.

And so, one of three things is going to happen at that time. We're going to determine either that Kim Jong-un can be deterred, we are going to initiate the use of force or Kim Jong-un could start a chain of events that could end up in history's next great war. So, we need a much greater sense of urgency, because these resolutions, as stringent as they are, are not going to change the calculus in Pyongyang.

WHITFIELD: The counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway, also spoke out this morning. This is what she said about the matter.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: A unanimous rebuke of North Korea, the greatest economic sanction's package ever levered against and it will cost them about a billion dollars. Even allies in the region like China, Japan, South Korea, all agreeing with the United States that North Korea and its nuclear capabilities must be stopped.


WHITFIELD: So $1 billion in exports. What specifically are we talking about?

CHANG: Well, we're talking about coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore, seafoods and there's also this restriction on the export of labor. But you know, if it's only 1 billion out of 3 billion, the obvious question is, how come the U.N. sanctions don't cover all of North Korea's export revenue? Because as we just heard from Nikki Haley, they use everything that they get from the shore to actually help build their missiles and their nukes and keep the regime in power.

And then the other question we need to ask is, how come these resolutions don't stop China and Russia from supplying oil to the North Koreans, much of it on concessionary terms? There's all sorts of issues here that weren't covered by these resolutions. And because of that, they're not going to change Kim Jong-un's mind.

WHITFIELD: So then, what does it mean to you? You mentioned Russia and China; they signed on. What do you interpret here?

CHANG: Well, I interpret that as China basically understanding that these aren't going to change North Korea's mind. Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, can talk about all of his conversations with North Korea and how he doesn't want the North Koreans to launch missiles. But those intercontinental ballistic missiles that were launched last month, on July fourth and July 28th, they were brought to the launch sites by Chinese vehicles.

And also, North Korea's most sophisticated missile, more sophisticated than the ones that we saw launched last month, they look to be Chinese in origin. We have a lot of questions we should be asking Beijing about how come the North Koreans have an arsenal that looks Chinese in origin?

WHITFIELD: President Trump has been very critical of China and its inaction against North Korea, particularly in recent weeks, but do you trust that China's foreign minister kept America's interests in mind when a meeting with North Korea's foreign minister?

CHANG: Well, absolutely not. Because the Chinese have an interest which is very different from ours. We want to disarm the North Koreans. The Chinese have been arming the North Koreans and making them a real threat to the international community and they do that for a number of reasons.

But one of them is, because every time North Korea does something provocative, we go to Beijing and plead for their cooperation and China gets concessions from us. And also, we stopped talking about the things that are important to us like South China Sea, predatory trade practices, human rights, you name it.

WHITFIELD: All right. Gordon Chang, thank you so much.

CHANG: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Some pretty strong language, unfriendly and dangerous. I'm quoting now. That's how Russia's Foreign Minister --


WHITFIELD: -- Sergey Lavrov describes U.S. sanctions imposed on Moscow for meddling in the 2016 presidential election. This comes as Lavrov and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met for the first time since President Trump signed the sanctions bill.

[14:10:00] Shortly after that meeting, here's how the foreign minister described their conversation.

LAVROV (through translation): We had a lengthy meeting with Rex Tillerson. He was primarily interested, that was what he started with, in details of those decisions that we grudgingly made in response to the law on anti-Russian sanctions taken in the congress of United States of America.

He provided an explanation. Actually, this explanation was based on the interview of Vladimir Putin to Channel Russia, everything was said in detail there.


WHITFIELD: All right. That's all about sanctions, whether about North Korea or even Russia, while meeting in the Philippines there. So CNN's global affairs correspondent Elise Labott joins me now. Elise, how does this set the stage for ongoing relations or lack thereof?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Fred, Secretary of State Tillerson really wants to kind of get the relationship back on track with Russia to discuss all of the critical issues that they need to cooperate on. And we're talking about, they're at this meeting in ASEAN on North Korea. So that means North Korea, that means Syria, that means the conflict in Ukraine.

But this whole issue of sanctions against Russia, what Rex Tillerson has called "irritants" in the relationship are really kind of clouding that. And Foreign Minister Lavrov put out a statement shortly after talking to journalists that I just want to read to you from what he said he told Tillerson that --

TEXT: U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia become another link in the chain of steps unfriendly and dangerous for international stability and struck a powerful blow for the prospects for bilateral cooperation. At the same time, we're ready to normalize the dialogue, if Washington stops the confrontational approach.

LABOTT: So, Fred, some of this was kind of entrained, obviously, before these two ministers met. You had this issue of the Russians kicking out U.S. diplomats, about 755 U.S. employees not able to work at the embassy in Russia. That was, you know, a recrimination for steps that the Obama administration took.

The congress had have these sanctions entrained. Now the question is, will the two countries be able to put this aside and work together on some of those national security issues? Foreign Minister Lavrov said, look, you need to stop this kind of Russia bashing and we can work together. It remains to be seen if congress and the American people will be able to do that.

WHITFIELD: So Elise, Tillerson had some advantage, right? Because he had prior relations with Russia and certain counterparts, but is he in a position where he has to kind of start all over?

LABOTT: Well, I think him and Lavrov have a good relationship. Certainly, he had a good relationship with President Putin. President Putin had kind of given this great award when he was the chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil.

But this relationship between the U.S. and Russia and all of these issues of Russia meddling in the U.S. election continue to dog the election. I think it's very difficult for Secretary Tillerson and Foreign Minister Lavrov to tune that out and cooperate. But I think even as we see all of this rhetoric going on, there is cooperation between the U.S. and Russia on Syria, on Ukraine.

I think the U.S. is looking for Russia to become a more productive partner in these relationships but certainly, it's not as if the U.S. and Russia aren't cooperating, it's just very hard when those two leaders are meeting and this is the real elephant in the room, if you will.

WHITFIELD: All right. Elise Labott, thanks so much from Washington. So, as we continue to learn more about the meeting between Tillerson and Russia's foreign minister, the investigation into the Kremlin's involvement in the U.S. election heats up.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to lead the Russia investigation is speaking out saying it is not a fishing expedition. He also discussed what grand jury subpoenas could mean for the case.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: In general, Chris, it doesn't say anything about the lack of indictments because we conduct investigations and we make a determination at some point in the course of the investigation about whether charges are appropriate.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX HOST: And what's the advantage in terms of the investigation of taking the case to a grand jury?

ROSENSTEIN: Many of our investigations, Chris, involve the use of the grand jury; it's the appropriate way to gather documents, sometimes you bring witnesses in to make sure that you get their full testimony. It's a tool that we use like any other tool in the course of our investigations.


WHITFIELD: All right. Let's bring in CNN's Boris Sanchez from Washington. So, do his comments kind of display a real difference between the way he sees the role of Bob Mueller and the way the president sees it?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, for very different viewpoints on this investigation, sometimes from different sides of the aisle and sometimes from the same side of the aisle, at least when it comes to the president and other Republicans. You heard the deputy attorney --


-- general there call this or say, rather, that this is not a fishing expedition. Many Republicans have come out speaking in support of Bob Mueller; though the president continues to call this a complete fabrication.

As you heard, the deputy attorney general there say that convening a grand jury is not necessarily an indication that the special counsel is going to recommend charges against anyone.

Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, was actually on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper earlier today echoing those comments saying that this is just a natural part of the investigation; going on to say that the press is blowing this news out of proportion.

On the other side of the aisle, Democrat Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee actually said that, no, this is an indication that there is some evidence that needs closer examination. He says that this investigation has been going on for about a year now, and the fact that it hasn't gone away but continues to move forward is an indication of something. Listen to more of what Schiff told Jake Tapper this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Instead, if these allegations are true, it's moving into a new phase with the impaneling of a grand jury. So that special counsel can subpoena witnesses and documents. That wouldn't be taking place, if there was really in evidence, no evidentiary basis to move forward.


SANCHEZ: And meantime, Kellyanne Conway was making the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows echoing the president's position, that there is no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia; going on to call it, a complete fabrication.

And Fred, taking a shot at Adam Schiff on the way out saying that he spends more time on television than actually interviewing witnesses, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez in Washington, thanks so much.

All right. To that effect of the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a supporter and friend of President Trump, well he says Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer during the campaign was a bad idea. CNN's Jake Tapper asked Governor Christie about the White House standing behind President Trump's role in drafting his son's initial misleading statement about that meeting. Listen.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Do you agree that any father would help his son withhold information in this way?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Well, I agree with you up until the very last part of it, Jake. You're assuming that the president knew about that last piece that you talked about. I don't know that he knew that and neither do you.

But the fact of the matter is as I've said before, this meeting was ill-advised. This is not something that should've happened. And I believe if dad reached out to Don McGahn, the campaign attorney, now the White House Counsel, he would've told them that. And so, I think that everybody in retrospect knows this is a bad idea.

But let's not jump ahead of ourselves. We don't know that the president knew about those E-mails or about the content of those E- mails. And so, we don't know what his own son told him about that meeting.

So, my view on this is, this is why we have people looking into it. It's not for us to make conclusions beforehand, it's to let Bob Mueller and his team do the investigation and then let's have the facts come out. And I think everyone will be better served by that, including the people of the country who actually want their government to work and do something about fixing health care, reforming the tax system, rebuilding our infrastructure. All the things that the president talked about during the campaign; it's time to get to work.


WHITFIELD: All right. Up next, pence for 2020?


WHITFIELD: The vice president called the idea absurd, and puts out an official statement. Details on the "New York Times" report that says he's eyeing a run for the oval office. Stay with us.



WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. The White House is issuing a stern rebuke to the "New York Times" today after --


WHITFIELD: -- the paper proposed that Vice President Mike Pence might launch a 2020 presidential bid, should Trump not seek a second term. The "Times" report noted Pence is aggressive political schedule and fund-raising operation. And in an official statement from the White House, Pence called the story quote --

TEXT: "Disgraceful and offensive to me, my family and our entire team. The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this administration."

WHITFIELD: And then the statement goes on to say quote --

TEXT: "Whatever fake news may come our way, my entire team will continue to focus all our efforts to advance the president's agenda and see him reelected in 2020. Any suggestion otherwise is both laughable and absurd."

WHITFIELD: All right. Let's bring in two CNN political analysts to talk more about all of this: Julian Zelizer, a historian and professor at Princeton University and Patrick Healy is the Deputy Culture Editor at the "New York Times". Good to see both of you this Sunday.

All right. So, Patrick, you first because the "New York Times" is reporting that multiple advisers to the vice president say that Mike Pence would run if Trump does not. And it did not take long before we saw a written statement with the White House heading from the vice president's office. So, what are your thoughts as to why the vice president so quickly responded in this manner?

PATRICK HEALY, CULTURE EDITOR, "NEW YORK TIMES": I think being out of line of loyalty in the Trump White House is seen by the president as a real sin.

And I think Vice President Pence was reacting very much sort of to that kind of going on the offensive against an article. The problem is, is that, the reporting by Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns in the 'Times" is so string and so overwhelming they interviews 75 Republican party officials, advisers, donors, consultants, all of whom in this very plugged-in world --


--understand what Mike Pence is doing, and what the people around Mike Pence is doing.

And what they're doing is, they realize President Trump is one of the most unpredictable figures in modern politics. There's no crystal ball clarity about what his future looks like. It would be political malpractice for leaders of the Republican party just to sort of sit around and hope that this was going to be kind of an unfolding of politics of usual to 2020.

President Trump may say he's running for reelection but nobody knows what he's going to tweet next week, no one knows where Bob Mueller's investigation is going.

So, you see Vice President Pence holding many different events with major donors, with early nominating state's officials for the 2020 nomination, and sort of a key nuance that the vice president's statement really just sort of ignored here is that the article doesn't say that Vice President Pence is planning to run for president in 2020.

What it says is that if President Trump for some reason does not run or for whatever reason chooses not to run, Vice President Pence is doing what any kind of Republican leader would do, which is build up a national portfolio further and get ready.

WHITFIELD: Yes, the inference is, it's kind of like the backup plan. And while it may seem a little early to campaign or state a claim of the next race, in this "New York Times" report it says members of the Republican party have begun shadow campaigns for 2020. And A, would that be very unusual at this juncture to have shadow campaigning or is it in-step with a very unpredictable administration thus far?

JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: I think Republicans are exaggerating if they say this is too early. We have an ongoing campaign, regardless of whether President Trump was in office. And so, there really isn't too early anymore. So, I'm not surprised people are starting to gear up.

But at the same time, what Patrick said is true. This is an unpredictable president. It's a president under a pretty serious investigation. And equally important, it is a president who by the end of last week was hearing from many Republicans about how profoundly unhappy they are with the way things went going into the summer, leaving without any legislation, leaving with a lot of tension between a Republican congress and a Republican president and leaving with people like Senator Jeff Flake writing books saying Republicans need to be more open in criticizing the president of the United States.

So it's not surprising to hear that Republicans are starting to think about, you know, a challenge in the primary or worst-case scenario, alternatives to run if there's a vacancy. WHITFIELD: And so, Patrick, despite what could be whispers or open

talking about that very scenario that Julian was talked about, how much more difficult would it make it for Pence to even consider to even contemplate a run for 2020, especially if many within the Republican party have expressed or have talked among themselves about so much disappointment? No major legislative wins thus far, for example?

HEALY: It's so delicate, Fred. And this is one of the hardest things the vice presidents face. Basically, how much daylight to start creating with a sitting president and incoming president when you're thinking -- the vice president is thinking about his own future and his ambitions.

When you saw that sort of in a tortured way with Al Gore during the Clinton administration and you saw it both with Hillary Clinton and to some extent Joe Biden during the -- really during the second term of President Obama. It's very tricky. You don't want to get out there in front.

And Mike Pence has been very, very loyal to this president. He has been sort of his biggest cheerleader, his biggest defender. That vice-presidential debate last fall that I covered, I mean every question there was basically asking Mike Pence to defend Donald Trump including some statements that were terrible.

WHITFIELD: Maybe even a stabilizer. Is it fair enough to call him a stabilizer?

HEALY: Absolutely. And for a lot of Republicans, they would like to see Mike Pence, frankly, replacing Donald Trump. But most of all, they see Pence, despite the lack of legislative accomplishments like Julian referenced, they do see Pence as kind of a very much stabilizing force in a chaotic White House.

WHITFIELD: I wonder, Julian, what a challenge it is for the vice president to continue his loyalty come cross with his unified front, but at the same time, there is a distinction between he and the president. I mean, he has to continue to embrace that if not showcase that distinction, doesn't he?

ZELIZER: Absolutely. Many vice presidents have been in this kind of position where either they have ambitions about what comes next or more common, they're frustrated with what's going on in the White House but they have to remain silent.


Famously, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who is the vice president for Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s, you know, didn't say much about Vietnam, even though he really had strong feelings that a lot of what the administration was doing was wrong.

And ultimately, in 1968, Humphrey loses in part because of the baggage of Lyndon Johnson. So, someone like Vice President Pence is aware and thinking about this, but in the end, they have to remain loyal. And I think if you are not, this administration, this president and his advisers, will come down very hard on Vice President Pence. So, it's not surprising to hear a quick press release saying this is not true.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: I mean, that's almost record time. I don't think we received a release from the White House that quickly just within hours of the distribution of a publication. All right. Julian Zelizer and Patrick Healy, we'll have you back soon. Thanks so much.

All right, next, the president launches what he calls the real news to combat mainstream media. How the new project underscores Trump's message to his base, next.



WHITFIELD: President Trump is now presenting an alternative to traditional media outlets and what he considers fake news.


KAYLEIGH MCENANY, FORMER CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Hey, everybody. I'm Kayleigh McEnany. Thank you for joining us as we provide you the news of the week from Trump Tower here in New York.


WHITFIELD: OK. So, this is President Trump's Facebook page today with a 90-second video featuring former CNN contributor, Kayleigh McEnany. She referred to it as the real news, as you heard.

The video highlights the better than expected jobs report, record- breaking highs on the stock market. No mention of the Russia investigation, failure to repeal Obamacare or staffing shake-ups in this administration.

Brian Stelter, CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" joining me now. So, Brian, what do you make of this? Is this the president's way of controlling the message and kind of circumventing mainstream media?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Maybe it's the newscast that he wishes to see on television. So, instead his reelection campaign they're producing it on Facebook.

This is notable, Fred, because just yesterday Kayleigh McEnany announced she was leaving CNN. Of course, she is one of the best known pro-Trump voices here on this channel for the past couple of years.

Sometimes, a little secret in this business. Sometimes networks like CNN drop these people, ask them to go, but not in this case. McEnany actually asked to leave CNN in order to take on this new role. So, she was able to get out of her contract. Now she is going into this new role either with the re-election campaign or the RNC. That part is a little unclear, but what we know is this video is the first of many that she's going to be appearing in, showing up on President Trump's Facebook page.

That means it could reach many millions of people and it's not altogether new or unusual to see a president or a politician producing a flashy video. We saw the Obama White House do things like this.

The difference is that the president, President Trump and his aides, tried to delegitimize the real news media by calling it fake so when you see them putting on something that looks like a newscast, it makes you wonder about the broader strategy.

WHITFIELD: Now is this government funded or is this strictly campaign, you know, like a propaganda tool or what?

STELTER: You know, it seems like it's campaign funded. Hoping to get details on that. But this is something that is coming from his Facebook page and appears to be a part of his re-election campaign. Filled out paperwork for his 2020 re-election almost as soon as he was inaugurated.

Part of a technicality in order to raise money and so on. I think what's notable in the segment that she's doing, the kind of fake newscast that she's doing, the tone is, of course, very pro-Trump. Let's take a look at one part of it about the economy.


MCENANY: The unemployment rate is at a 16-year low and consumer confidence is at a 16-year high. All while the Dow Jones continues to break records. President Trump has clearly steered the economy back in the right direction.


STELTER: The tone there is that the president has turned things around. Most economists would say that Trump is building on really President Obama's economy and success in the later years of the Obama presidency.

In some cases, Trump has been able to super-charge that, but I think it's notable that the tone of these videos the way it looks like a news cast but isn't really a newscast.

WHITFIELD: OK, and Brian, you know, there's been some expressed concerns that the White House would want to one day get rid of kind of the live press briefings in front of the White House press corps.

Is there any feeling that this might in some way be a replacement for that or is it a message towards that in any way?

STELTER: Not directly, but I think it's the latest example of President Trump and his allies presenting an alternative media universe. What I mean by that is supporting and nurturing and in some case, creating outlets to present a very rosy view of this presidency.

If you're on Facebook, if you're watching certain shows on Fox News, and listening to certain right-wing talk show hosts, all you're going to hear is the best possible news about the president. That might be a nice feeling.

It might be something people like to do, but it's not a whole portrait of what's going on. It just causes journalists to step up their games even further I think and make sure we're giving the full picture, the good and the bad about what's going on in Washington.

WHITFIELD: All right, Brian Stelter, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

All right, a federal court has found him guilty of fraud charges. So why is Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical CEO claiming victory? That's next.



WHITFIELD: All right. His nickname is Pharma Bro and on Friday, Martin Shkreli was convicted of two counts of security fraud stemming from his time as the manager of a New York hedge fund.

Shkreli came to national attention when he bought Turing Pharmaceuticals and raised the price of its key lifesaving HIV drug from around $13 to $750 per pill.

CNN's Brynn Gingras has been following the story. So, Brynn, he is taking an interesting turn.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He certainly has, and he's a big fan of social media. He loves to go on Periscope. He loves Facebook, Twitter. He was actually using those social media platforms while he was actually on trial, a federal trial for eight fraud charges.

Now he has been cleared on all but three, but he still went online and said, it's a victory and here's how he celebrated.


[14:45:02] GINGRAS (voice-over): Hours after leaving a courthouse --


GINGRAS: Martin Shkreli cracked open a beer and made predictions with his internet fans about the punishment he could face on three federal fraud

SHKRELI: I don't think I'm going to prison, by the way. Just so you now. GINGRAS: The FBI accused the 34-year-old Shkreli of orchestrating a Ponzi scheme. Cheating investors out of millions by mismanaging money at hedge funds he ran. After five days of deliberations, a New York jury found Shkreli guilty on less than half the charges, the most serious count, securities fraud.

SHKRELI: This was a witch-hunt of epic proportions and maybe found one or two broomsticks. But at the end of the day, we've been acquitted of the most important charges in this case, and I'm delighted to report that.

GINGRAS: This wasn't the first time Shkreli called his case a witch- hunt posting this on Facebook during the trial, "My case is a silly witch-hunt perpetrated by self-serving prosecutors."

Ending that post with "Drain the swamp. Drain the sewer that is the DOJ, MAGA," a reference to President Trump's slogan "Make America great again."

In January, the "Pharma Bro," as Shkreli nicknamed himself was kicked off Twitter and Periscope for making unwanted advances toward a magazine editor. When asked about his continued social media use, his lawyer said they were having ongoing discussions about that.

BENJAMIN BRAFMAN, MARTIN SHKRELI'S ATTORNEY: Martin is a brilliant young man, but sometimes people skills don't translate well.

GINGRAS: Shkreli first gained notoriety two years ago when he hiked the price of a life-saving drug for AIDS patients by more than 5,000 percent. He was dubbed the most hated man in America, though, they had no relations to the federal case.


GINGRAS: Now, it's unclear how long he'll go to jail, if he'll go to jail because a sentencing date hasn't been set as of yet. But, Fred, he could get up to 20 years in prison for those three convictions.

WHITFIELD: All right. Brynn Gingras, thanks so much.

All right, stuffed in a suitcase and held hostage for days, and (inaudible) auctioned off on the dark web, a 20-year-old model lives to tell her terrifying story. Details, next.



WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. We are following a shocking story out of Italy involving kidnappings, pornography, and the dark web. Police say a British model was abducted and held captive in Milan.

They say her kidnappers threatened to sell her to the highest bidder on a pornographic website inn a hidden part of the internet.

Barbie Nadeau has details of an arrest and the investigation.

BARBIE NADEAU, JOURNALIST: What we know the police are looking for at least one other suspect who was involved in the original drugging of this young woman before she was taken into this hiding place near the French border on the Italian side of the French border.

The suspect they have in custody who is polish, he claimed to be part of a group called the "Black Death Group." There's a letter in some of his belongings that the Italian police have released to us.

That indicated that they decided to release her because she was the mother of a young child, and that was against the so-called company policy in terms of selling sex slaves, according to this letter.

And Italian police are investigating whether or not that group exists or whether or not that letter is authentic or not. But let's take a listen to what the Italian police had to say about this particular aspect.


PAOLO STORARI, MILAN PROSECUTOR (through translator): Analyzing his e-mails we understand that this person was, or said that he was, part of a group called "Black Death Group." Now, whether this group exists or not I quite frankly don't know, but there is a euro poll report from 2015 that notes the existence of this group in the deep web, the hidden web.


NADEAU: Now, of course, that's all to be verified by the Italians police as they look into this. One of the big problems with cases like this is, anything on the dark net or the so-called deep web, these are all unindexed websites that aren't even available through standard browsers.

So, it's very difficult for people to get to the source of these websites. This particular man apparently told the model that he'd made 15 million euro on the selling of women for sexual slavery on the deep web. Obviously, that isn't confirmed either.

Even just the allegation of that is very disturbing. Police are very, very concerned, though, that there may be other women like this young model, who are being held captive and who are being sold for sexual slavery on the deep web.

WHITFIELD: Gosh. That is so creepy and scary. Barbie Nadeau, thank you so much for that. And we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: Tonight, the CNN original series "The Nineties" takes a look at how one of the world's most celebrated events turned into tragedy on home soil. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was one place that officials decided people should be able to go and not have to worry about checkpoints, and that was Centennial Olympic Park.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At 1:25 this morning thousands of revelers at an open-air rock concert in Centennial Park.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden, I felt a big boom, a blast. Heat came and then it knocked me off the wall, blew my pants off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move off the street!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Authorities said the device appeared to be a pipe bomb loaded with nails and screws designed to penetrate human flesh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than 100 people have been injured. Two are dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before this device explodes, Security Guard Richard Jewel notices a backpack, alerts a law enforcement officer and they begin to evacuate the area. If not for his quick thinking, there probably would have been many more casualties.


WHITFIELD: You can catch the full episodes "The Nineties: Terrorism Hits Home" tonight at 9:00 only on CNN.

We got so much more straight ahead in the "NEWSROOM," and it all starts right now.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We're prepared to do whatever it takes to defend ourselves and to defend our allies, and the ball is in North Korea's court.


WHITFIELD: The international community is staring a powerful objection of North Korea's recent missile tests. A new round of sanctions could cost the country $1 billion annually.

This coming just hours before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attends a crucial meeting with his North Korean counterpart in Manila. Tillerson also meeting with Russia's foreign minister whose country is still grappling with new --