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Former Presidents Lament State Of American Politics; Trump Calims Perfect "10" On Puerto Rico Response; Questions Persists About Death Of U.S. Soldiers; Death Of U.S. Troops Under Investigation; Slain U.S. Soldier Reportedly Separated From Team. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired October 20, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. A head this hour, the White House chief of staff gets emotional defending Donald Trump and his controversial call to a military widow. John Kelly's story something to match what the president's been saying. Well, the (INAUDIBLE) ignored by the European Union, Catalonia's bid for independence could be coming to an end. And later, to sing the mania; the 37-year-old with the rock star following set to become New Zealand's youngest prime minister ever. Hello, everybody! Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. You're watching NEWSROOM L.A.

It was a day like no other in U.S. politics, and that's saying something. Two former presidents -- one a Democrat, the other Republican, emerging from self-imposed political seclusion to warn the count it's being torn apart by division and old hatred. In separate and unrelated appearances, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama did not mention Donald Trump by name, but there was no need. They left little doubt, this was all about the current president and his divisive leadership.


BARACK OBAMA, 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The world counts on America having its act together. The world is looking us -- looking to us as an example. The world asks what our values and ideal are, and are we living up our creed.

GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples. While judging ourselves by our best intentions, forgetting the image of God that we should see in each other. We see nationalism, distorted in the nativism.


VAUSE: And while he was being harshly rebuked by his two immediate predecessors, Donald Trump was basking in his own praise for the government's recovery efforts in Puerto Rico hit hard by Hurricane Maria.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, between one and 10 how would you grade the White House response so far to the -- DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'd say it was a 10. I'd say it was probably the most difficult -- when you talk about relief, when you talk about search, when you talk about all of the different levels. And even when you talk about lives saved, you look at the number -- I mean, this was -- I think it worse than Katrina.


VAUSE: And then, there's the ongoing feud with the grieving family of the U.S. soldier, killed in action in Niger. The family said the president was insensitive during his condolence call, but White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly, defending remarks that President Trump has repeatedly denied, ever making and he did so again just a few hour ago with a tweet.


GEN. JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning. I'm broken-hearted at what I saw a member of Congress is doing. A member of Congress who listened in on a phone call from the president of the United to a young wife and in his way of trying to express that opinion. He's a brave man. A fallen hero. He knew what he's getting himself into because he enlists when there's no reason to enlist. He enlists, and it was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be, with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken. That was the message.


VAUSE: OK. A lot to get to. And CNN Political Commentators Dave Jacobson and John Thomas are with us, alongside with Professor of Political Science at Cyprus College Peter Matthews. Good to have all of you for what will, you know, pretty lengthy discussion. OK. Peter, first to you. President Obama was out campaigning for Democrats, but what could be the reason for George W. Bush to end almost a decade of staying silent, of staying out of the political prey of not criticizing, you know, a sitting president. What could be a reason that he's come forward at this point in time?

PETER MATTHEWS, PROFESSOR, POLITICAL SCIENCE AT CYPRUS COLLEGE: Well, two things. One, of course, is the country itself, and he sees the country in such danger from some of the actions of the present president, but also the party, the Republican Party in which George Bush still has -- had a lot of affection for, I'm sure. He doesn't want that to be destroyed by this president. And one more thing, you know, President Obama talked about the example that America sets.

The world looks to America for the certain type of thinking and culture and political culture -- it's called soft power. Professor Joe and I talked about from Harvard, soft power it the type influence that we have in the world based on our example our ideals and the world looks up to us. And that lessens the need for just hard power, just pure military power when you have a large amount of soft power. And I think Donald Trump has been squandering our soft power to sort of extent that the way he's doing things. VAUSE: OK. George W. Bush drafted that speech himself. He clearly had a lot to say, especially about the last nine months. List, to this.


[01:05:05] BUSH: Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication. We've seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it could seem like the forces pulling apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. The argument turns so easily into animosity; disagreement escalates into dehumanization.


VAUSE: You know, John, the politics of division did not start with President Trump. The criticism, though, that his words and his action had made that division much deeper, turn them into chasms and he is benefiting from it politically.

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, many people argue that the reason George Bush got pummeled in his second term, in his approval ratings. And we lost the election to Barack Obama is because George Bush never fought back against the liberal media, the Democratic tax, and if he had bend a little bit more like Trump in terms of not letting people bully him around, then we would've won in 2008 and 2012.

So, it's clear that President Bush: number one, has a different perspective on how you should be a leader -- there's no question about that. But also, the Republican Party -- there was a referendum on the Bush family, the Bush legacy when Jeb Bush ran in the -- for the Republican nomination 2016. And I think Republican spoke pretty clearly that they're ready to move beyond George Bush's failed leadership.

VAUSE: But that doesn't rule out the president's right to speak out.

THOMAS: And he has a complete right to do that. We also have a right not to agree with him.

VAUSE: Dave?

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, Democrats are grateful that, like Republicans are standing up. Obviously, we disagree with them on policy, but I think it's incumbent upon Republican leaders like John McCain, George Bush, Mitt Romney, Jeff Flake, and a number of other leaders. You know, these are folks who fundamentally like believe in the ideals of our country. And we may disagree on policy and on politics but on the basic, you know, ideas of common decency, optimistic views of the future.

I mean, that's what we can agree on, unlike Donald Trump has a very negative worldview -- everything is bad and wrong, and he's the only person that can save us. And I think that's the disconnect between what you see with Republicans who have served in office and Democrats and Donald Trump. It's almost like he's creating his own party. And I think that's the --

THOMAS: Bush also spoke out against Trump's immigration policies as huge division.

VAUSE: Yes, he sounded the speech in Spanish which is notable.

THOMAS: Right.

VAUSE: OK. A former Bush White House Advisor, Peter Wehner, helped with the speech even though President Bush dropped it (INAUDIBLE). And Wehner told New York Times that President Bush is not looking for a fight with Donald Trump, but he had this: "There's enough political food fighting going on. He doesn't want to be part of that; he's not part of that. What we need is people with some authority in American life to educating a vision of the common good and the moral good, and a vision of America."

So, Peter, to you, President Bush may not want a fight, but he may not have any choice in this. President Trump is a well-known counterpuncher.

MATTHEWS: Absolutely. I think what Peter said in that quote there was absolutely correct, that President Bush is trying to create a vision of unity, and a bit of understanding between all of America because we're part of the country. And yet, you know, Donald Trump is right -- I can't let President Bush get away with what he said because, like you said, he counterpunches very well, and Trump can help him solve when tries -- when he decides to counterpunch. It's almost a natural inclination for him. So, let's wait and see what he's going to say tomorrow --

VAUSE: Absolutely. John, these does go go this civil war that's been ongoing within the Republican Party for quite some time. And it does seem like, now they've brought out, you know, the big guns. Where does this all end up?

THOMAS: I think what you're just seeing is as -- fault lines between the establishment Republicans that -- the never-Trump class that just can't take it. And I think it was remarkable that President Bush did speak out today because he bit his tongue when Barack Obama was President. And you know he disagreed with everything that that president did. He bit his tongue pretty much until the election cycle, even though his brother was on the ballot. So, this was the establishment's, I feel like, their final punch to try to bring things back to where they want to. I don't think they're going to prevail. The Republican Party has fundamentally shifted, and they hate that swamp.

JACOBSON: Often times, former presidents are sort of above the fray when it comes to politics, sometimes -- and I think this was one of those moments. And I think it's going to have an impact in the 2018 election, particularly, perhaps, not with the Trump voters, right? The 38 percent of Americans approve of President Trump's performance, they're going to stick with him. But when it comes to independent voters, more establish or Republicans voters, perhaps Reagan Democrats who previously voted for Barack Obama but then peel the way to Donald Trump, I think it's going to have an impact and an effect in the 2018 election with those folks, and that can really, you know, give Democrats a leg up when it comes to potentially taking back the House.

THOMAS: (INAUDIBLE) Democrats run on George Bush. That would be great.


[01:10:05] JACOBSON: Well, I think it's the broader message of both the presidents, both political parties --

VAUSE: Occupying the middle in being centrist and that kind of stuff. You know, President Obama was (INAUDIBLE), you know, Democrats have let that, you know, Barack Obama is incredibly popular, everyone loved him. That doesn't tend to translate down the ticket. Even so, he did, at this campaign rally, he talked about the events in Charlottesville and about White Nationalism. Listen to this.


OBAMA: We saw what happened in Charlottesville. But we also saw what happened after Charlottesville, when the biggest gatherings of all rejected fear and rejected hate, and the decency and goodwill of the American people came out. That's how we rise. We don't, we don't, we don't rise up by repeating the past. We rise up by learning from the past.


VAUSE: So, John, I'm trying to put my finger on how Barack Obama's remarks on the violence in Charlottesville were different to President Trump's remarks after the violence in Charlottesville. How would describe it?

THOMAS: Well, it's also easy to look back in hindsight and criticize the president. He could've been smoother in his actions, there's no doubt about it. But look, the president is playing partisan politics at a campaign rally in, where was it? New Jersey for a Democrat?

VAUSE: It's in New Jersey or Virginia.

THOMAS: Yes, yes, or Virginia. Yes. Look, President Obama still remains popular. I think the biggest thing is that the elector doesn't seem to follow him besides giving him re-election that he needs. He had massive loses in the House in 2010. And so, he can bark all he wants, and he's got rile up his base because Democrats have a base problem too. They didn't turn out because they don't like Hillary Clinton or the Democratic policies they're putting forth.

JACOBSON: And I would also say that, like, Donald Trump was playing politics when he made -- when he equated White Supremacist with anti- White Supremacist protesters. The fact is, Donald Trump, emboldened the alternative right -- the White Supremacist, the neo-Nazis. That's part of his base. That's what propels him to the White House. At the end of the day, he didn't want to alienate those folks. VAUSE: I want to ask Peter this question, though. Peter, what impact

does it have, when you have the president of the United States in one sense talking like Barack Obama did about the violence in Charlottesville. And compared to what you had with the current President, Donald Trump, talking about, you know, blame to go around on both sides, some of these people were very fine people. You know, that kind of thing. So, what impact does have on the country?

MATTHEWS: It was like day and night hearing the two different men's response to Charlottesville, with President Obama today just uplifting people and looking at the high-ground and trying to get us that point -- the better angel of our nature. And I think this is a very good job doing that. President Trump is not a natural public speaker, you can tell that. And you know, when he reads the teleprompter, he's not so bad; when he goes off the cuff, it seems to me that he does not try to appeal to the highest any of the wall of our natures, but instead to his 35 percent, by the way, base. I'm not sure it's 38 percent -- it's 35 percent, well, I think. And that's not going to get him re- elected or cause the country to come together. I wish he would shift gears and try to unite the people with whatever talent he has. Well, Obama has a lot of talent and be able to do that verbally, especially.

VAUSE: Do you think Donald Trump knows what, you know, the term "our better angels"? Appealing to our better angels. Do you think he understands what that --

JACOBSON: I mean, I think it goes back to the idea that, like, Donald Trump doesn't think that he can do anything wrong; like Donald Trump thinks he is smarter than the generals, he's got the best brain in the world. I mean, the fact is, that's why he doesn't apologize because he doesn't think that he's doing anything wrong. I mean, this an egomaniac. And so, that's the challenge that we're grappling with on a regular basis and it's scary.

THOMAS: But it's easy to sit there from the podium and just give great soaring rhetoric and talk about when they go low, we go high. But in function, Democrats, you know, are holding Donald Trump's bloody head on a magazine cover. It's -- well, my point is, there is blame to go around on both sides. It's not as if it is singularly Donald Trump, it is a statement of our politics.

JACOBSON: But let's not forget that Donald Trump's campaign, like, started with the birth of our movement. He was the founder of it, essentially. And he is a guy who has sowed the seeds of discord in this country over the last few years.

VAUSE: OK. Well, on the flip side of all of this, the White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly, he delivered this emotion and compelling defense of his boss. I can say this accusation from a war widow who found his remarks to be insensitive during that condolence call, in particular, that the husband knew what he had signed up for, is what the president actually may or may not have said to Mrs. Johnson.

General Kelly had a much kinder, gentler spin on he knew what he signed for. This is what he said.


KELLY: Well, let me tell you what my best friend, Joe Dunford, told me as he was my Casualty Officer. He said, Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that one percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we're at war. And when he died, and in four cases we're talking Niger and my son's case in Afghanistan. When he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth, his friends. That's what the president tried to say to four families the other day.


[01:15:40] VAUSE: And Dave, you know, with all due to General Kelly, who obviously has, you know, given his life and his family to serve the country. He's a soldier, he's been in combat, those words he's probably before, and, you know, he dealt with those -- actually, a lot easier than a young pregnant mother of a couple of kids who's just found out that he husband is dead.

JACOBSON: Especially, like with the message coming from a president who deferred service five different times. Look, the fact is John Kelly wouldn't have been up on that podium today, and we wouldn't be having this conversation if Donald Trump didn't politicize the issue about fallen service members, and lying, essentially, from the rose garden saying that Barack Obama never called fallen soldier's families.

THOMAS: No, no. He went up on the podium because of the Democratic congresswoman from Florida, just who is in the car and heard the conversation, decided to go public, and pick a fight.

VAUSE: But he still doesn't know how he said it -- this is the thing.

THOMAS: Which is a mistake.

VAUSE: They're talking about -- I'm clarifying what he said. Because, just an hour or so ago, we had this tweet: "The fake news is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson, who was secretly on a very personal call and gave a total lie on content. OK. So, if the president is the telling the truth, does that mean that John Kelly isn't telling the truth? Where is the lie?

THOMAS: I mean, the president is making a mistake. Whatever he's doing, I think Kelly is going out there not because he was ordered to. I don't think anyone orders General Kelly what to do. I think he's there because of service. But Kelly's point to the press corps was he's disgusted that we're having this debate over a fallen soldier. These are private conversations. And whatever the president said whether it was artful or inartful is not for public debate.

VAUSE: Let's give the last minute to Peter, because, you know, General Kelly did want to make that point that the death of servicemen and women should be something which is about politics. And this is where we're at right now, it's not.

MATTHEWS: It's certainly wasn't the way Donald Trump can live. In fact, the words that General Kelly spoke about, is his officer telling him about his son. We're very different in what, apparently, Donald Trump said to that the lady, the women, the wife of the soldier, the pregnant mom, and this congresswoman on what she said, it's very different. He basically said, you know, he knew what he's getting into -- very insensitive in saying. At the very least the president should be more compassionate, showing a few the woman's feelings over losing her husband, and, you know, having a (INAUDIBLE) child coming up. It's really amazing how the president, over the top, and has come out and said, well, he knew what he's getting into.

VAUSE: And didn't remember La David Johnson's name --

MATTHEW: Didn't remember his name, even. He said that guy, your guy.

VAUSE: Yes, your guy.

MATTHEW: That's not right.

VAUSE: OK. I think we'll leave it there. Peter, Dave, and John, as always, good to see you. You are -- and it's amazing how at the end of the week, all these converses end up being all about President Trump, anyway.

JACOBSON: Just the way he likes it.

VAUSE: OK. Thanks, guys. A short break. When we come back on NEWSROOM L.A., the political controversy remains on Thursday, the question about what happened in that attack in Niger; what we know and what we don't know about this deadly ambush (INAUDIBLE). And later, Venezuela in crisis; how a crowded psychiatric hospital has become a virtual prison for its patients.


[01:21:02] VAUSE: Well, the attack which killed four U.S. soldiers in Niger is stirring up political controversy and raising questions about exactly what happened on the battlefield. The investigation is now underway amid demands for answers from top officials. For more, here's our Pentagon Correspondent, Barbara Starr.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Green Berets were leaving. The 12 men came on a visit to village elders. They had done 29 routine patrols in the area over the last six months. This time, it was all-out combat.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Because the reason we have U.S. Army soldiers there and the peace corps because we carry guns, and so it's a reality, it's part of the danger that our troops face from these counterterrorist campaigns.

STARR: According to initial reports, the soldiers had just left the meeting, and were back near their trucks to meet up with those who had stayed behind. They walked right into an ambush. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A firefight is unlike any other human endeavor.

It's confusing. It's loud. It's terrifying. There's blood, screams, danger all around.

STARR: A military investigation is underway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Had we anticipated this sort of attack, we would have absolutely devoted more resources to it, to reduce the risk. And that -- that's something we're looking at right now.

STARR: But what is known is disturbing. The troops had been told it was unlikely there would be opposition in the area. Now the U.S. believes it was 50 ISIS fighters who attacked them. ISIS was armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade; the Americans had their rifles. The U.S. troops fought back running for cover calling for help. 30 minutes later, French jets flew over the battlefield trying to scare off the ISIS fighters, they had no authority to fire on them. It was close to an hour before French military helicopters and a U.S. contractor aircraft came in to evacuate the dead and wounded, U.S. officials say.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Did they know what was going on in the area? Were they sharing it with the right people? Did the African countries know something that the U.S. advisers did not know and they didn't share? That's another area. The third area might be how do you evacuate if you have potential casualties.

STARR: Tough questions now face the Pentagon and the president: what happened during the firefight? How did Sergeant La David Johnson get left behind? Was he killed instantly? What does the White House know? All important questions to understand what went wrong. Especially, how did Sergeant Johnson get separated from his fellow soldiers? When the evacuation aircraft took off, they were one man short. No one can yet say why Johnson wasn't picked up.

MATTIS: The U.S. Military does not leave its troops behind, and I -- with (INAUDIBLE) do not question the action to the troops who were caught in the firefight and question whether or not they get everything they could in order to bring everyone out at once.

STARR: Because nobody knew if he might be alive still, plans where secret Navy SEAL rescue mission was made. Sergeant Johnson's body was found nearly 48 hours later nobody can say why and how he was left behind.

Administration officials are telling me the reason you were seeing White House officials Secretary of Defense Mattis and others out of podiums talking about this is many inside the administration felt they had been losing control of the narrative, and they wanted to get it back. Barbara Starr, CNN, The Pentagon.


VAUSE: We're joined now by Michael Crouse, former U.S. Marine Captain, and State Department Contractor. OK. So, obviously, all the fact has yet to come yet. But at the moment, the way you look at it is there anything about this patrol, I think, that carried out 29 patrols and all of this beforehand, nothing had gone wrong. Anything about this one which stands out as to what led up to this ambush?

[01:25:01] MICHAEL CROUSE, FORMER U.S. MARINE CAPTAIN AND CONTRACTOR FOR STATE DEPARTMENT: No, not at all. This -- it really just comes down to this; this is combat in a war zone. In Afghanistan, we maybe want to patrol to a village five times and get ambushed. You may go there 50 times and get ambushed. In this particular area, it's a permissive environment. And like I said, in the earlier segment, the enemy gets to say what happens. Maybe they were watching the Green Berets and the Nigerian forces for 29 patrols, and that gave them an idea, OK, this where we need to lay our track. We just don't have the proper reconnaissance.

VAUSE: OK. Part of the investigation is, you know, the story border facts. Explain what that is.

CROUSE: Basically start to finish. When the mission began, when they'd left Ford Operating Base, whatever base they had at the time. They get on the site where they had the meeting with the village elders and what not. When they extracted, they were leaving when they actually got in and ambushed. How long the firefight took place? And then, when they actually got back to the FOB and had all the bodies and all the individuals. Think of it -- in terms of a storyboard effect, think of it like a movie from start to finish. And this is what General Mattis is going to be jumping into.

VAUSE: Right. So, up to just sort of two weeks.

CROUSE: Two weeks.

VAUSE: That sort of border facts is not complete. I've heard some reports saying that senior officials within the Pentagon say that -- suggest that an element of incompetence again.

CROUSE: No, not at all.

VAUSE: No, why not?

CROUSE: You have a lot of moving parts, especially this isn't Iraq or Afghanistan, we have a large American military presence. We have like 800 troops there. In this particular Green Beret or the A-attachment, or A-team as they call it. You had maybe eight to 12 guys, and the rest were Nigerian forces. So, you're going to have to interview all those individuals -- you're going to interview the survivors, you're going to have to interview the French forces that came to -- the aide of our forces, whether it's the pilots, the helicopter pilots, and if there are any CIA assets in the area, and things like that to get the complete picture of what took place.

VAUSE: You know, there've been comparisons with Bengasi -- four dead Americans, four dead Americans. Is it the problem here that the White House has known about this, the president was briefed, and hasn't said any of this -- there's been nothing said public for, you know, extend period of time, which creates a vacuum, which creates some kind of conspiracy theory, which has people wondering: well, hang on, why aren't they being honest and transparent about what happened in Niger? And then people start wondering if it's a cover-up or is there something more going on there? So, the White House, should they put out more information that they can, that obviously is declassified.

CROUSE: I don't think there is information that is declassified that they can let out right now. My contacts that are Green Berets, they weren't able to tell me certain things because of operation security -- OpSec is what you call it. I trust Mattis to do a thorough investigation because his goals are to make sure that something like doesn't happen again. Now, we could learn all the facts and realize there isn't anything that we do differently. As I said, we're fighting al-Shabaab, we're fighting ISIS, we're fighting whatever different al-Qaeda they want to call themselves throughout the region. They get to say in what happens on the battlefield.

VAUSE: Very quickly, and when the president says to the widow of fallen soldier: he knew what he signed up for.

CROUSE: Poor choice of words.


CROUSE: I think General Kelly kind of --

VAUSE: Said it better?

CROUSE: He said it better. It is very difficult -- and I've been to funerals, I've been to a funeral at Arlington over a fellow marine of mine whose wife is pregnant during, you know when he was killed. That's very difficult. Sometimes you don't say the right thing. And I know President Trump doesn't have that experience. Would I say different words? Yes.

VAUSE: Mike, thanks.

CROUSE: Thank you, John.

[01:28:45] VAUSE: I appreciate you coming in. OK. A short break here. When we come back, Spain's political crisis continues to get worse; Madrid takes its biggest step yet to stop yet to stop Catalonia's bid for independence.


[01:31:21] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause, with the headlines this hour.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is defending President Donald Trump and his phone call to the widow of a U.S soldier killed in action in Niger. He confirmed Mr. Trump had indeed said what was reported, that Sergeant Johnson knew what he signed up for when he enlisted. But the President has -- was contradicted by Kelly before, saying he denied those in saying those words.

A U.S. company says, it will restart the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370. Ocean infinity has agreed it won't benefit financially if it doesn't find the plane. The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared March 2014 with 239 people onboard. And Spain is moving to South Catalonia's independence bid. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says the process of taking over the administration of the region will be on Saturday. The Catalan President threatened earlier to declare independence unless Madrid agreed to negotiations.

European Council President Donald Tusk is also weighing in on Spain's escalating political crisis. He told reporters on Thursday, Europe is keeping its hands off the Catalonia issue.


DONALD TUSK, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COUNCIL: I'm, of course, (INAUDIBLE) for many reasons, and the permanent contractor said Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, there's no hiding to the situation in Spain is concerning, but I position -- I mean, the institutions and member states are clear, there is no room, no space for any kind of mediation or international initiative or action.


VAUSE: A European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas joins us now with more on this. You know, it's interesting listening to (INAUDIBLE) because it's hard to imagine a major European issue the last 10 years. We see E.U. has not been involved in. It seems, you know, especially tough in this circumstance to even rule out the possibility of talks of negotiations.

DOMINIC THOMAS, PROFESSOR AND CHAIR OF FRENCH AND FRANCOPHONE STUDIES, UCLA: Right. I mean, I think that perhaps the European Union in this particular case, the one thing it knows is that looking at elections over the past two years and looking at the ways in which Euro-skeptic parties have fastened on the idea that the European Union is overreaching, whether they're far-right parties, whether they're far- left parties, or nativist, or populous, or radical parties, that the last thing they want to be seeing is intervening in the national problems of a sovereign country within the E.U.

But having said that, it seems to be picking and shooting when it does intervene and when it does not, and Brexit would be one particular example over the question of E.U. nationals living in the U.K. which the European Union has been very vocal over.

VAUSE: There's also an article to the E.U. treaty which deals with the rights of the minorities. It says, "The Union is founded on the values of respect to human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non -discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity, and equality between women and men prevail." Except when it could lead into igniting cessations movements across the Union. Or doesn't actually add that but that's kind of what they're saying. Right now, it's like, well, you know, you've got rights there but we're not interested, you know -- THOMAS: Right. I mean, you've got to be -- yes, you've got to be careful. Like at what point is, you know, is it a right, is it a minority population, is it a language that has to be protected in this particular case? I mean, the European Union has witnessed egregious demonstrations of power by a central administration, Madrid in stopping people from going to the polls. Now, fair enough, I think as far as the government is concerned, these were illegal and unconstitutional though everybody knew this was going to deteriorate and disintegrate into violence.

[01:35:05] VAUSE: And then you have the Russian President Vladimir Putin saying, you're a bunch of hypocrites.

THOMAS: This was really, yes, incredible. The question of Kosovo and Serbia and so on.

VAUSE: Yes. The --


THOMAS: Right. And so, of course, they do -- it does, the hypocrisy. The other thing to remember as well is the broad European contacts and Rajoy's connection to Angela Merkel, for example, because his party, the People's Party sits with the CDU/CSU in the European people's party at the -- at the European Union. And not only that, but Jean- Claude Juncker, the head of the E.U. commission was picked by that party as their candidate. So, you can also see how they are reluctant to get involved.

VAUSE: Very incestuous.

THOMAS: Right, very incestuous. And they're very concerned about down the road, people getting involved in their national issues and that's --

VAUSE: OK. You stay out of my back and I'll stay out of yours.

THOMAS: That increasingly seems to be the case.

VAUSE: You mentioned German Chancellor Angela Merkel and she seems to have had a new turn a little bit as well. Listen to what she said.


ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): We are monitoring the situation very closely and support the position of the Spanish government which is also a cross-party position. Of course, this is concerning and we hope there are solutions here which are based on the Spanish constitution.


VAUSE: You know, the reference to the constitution I thought was interesting.

THOMAS: Back again and as we have talked about previously, the whole question of the constitution Article 155 which has never been invoked is rather vague, and the consequences of invoking it in terms of galvanizing folks in the Catalonia region because, once again, it would look like Madrid overreaching and using these particular powers. And it's interesting, I think, to hear, you know, Merkel talking about this having emerge from this election, her German election, with her own powers, were considerably weekend.

VAUSE: I mean, right now, the situation with Madrid and Catalonia, it seems like it's a political and legal problem and that's ultimately the expectation is how it will be resolved.

THOMAS: Right.

VAUSE: But, is there a real concern that it escalates beyond that to a violent confrontation.

THOMAS: Well, economically, is already one of the ways in which it could escalate. And clearly, Rajoy's threat to the fact that he will announce or trigger Article 155 instead of deescalating which is the responsibility of the sitting prime minister, it' going to escalate. And of course, the outcome of this will set a precedent for other areas or regions of Europe that may be dealing with these kinds of problems. And of course, the European Union gathering right now in Brussels to talk about its priorities is even though this was not an agenda item, there's more focus on this than on the four priorities they outlined in the document they released today.

VAUSE: Which we have not --

THOMAS: Because this is a big distraction. Right.



THOMAS: Exactly. That they're focusing on this and they've got to be talking about it. There are meetings in the back rooms with Macron and Rajoy and so on, too.

VAUSE: And of course, Saturday is the day and we'll find out what happens after that.

THOMAS: Well, that's it, more.

VAUSE: More (INAUDIBLE) Dominic, good to see you. Thank you.

THOMAS: Thank you.

VAUSE: OK. Move over Justin Trudeau of Canada, there's a new rock star Prime Minister in town. Cyril Vanier introduced us to New Zealand's new leader.


JACINDA ARDERN, INCOMING PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: I want to start by saying that is an absolute honor and a privilege to have the ability as the leader of the New Zealand's Labour Party to form a government for all New Zealanders.

VANIER: Jacinda Ardern has upended New Zealand's politics to become the country's next Prime Minister and youngest leader in more than 150 years. Three months ago, this was not the result any New Zealander predicted. The left-wing Labour Party was failing in the polls, and the conservative National Party expected to hold on to power.

BILL ENGLISH, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: Hardworking New Zealanders are not an ATM for the Labour Party.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: But then Jacinda Ardern took over the embattled Labour Party in August, and Jacinda Mania hit. A wave of support for Ardern catapulted the Labour Party's popularity.

ARDERN: I want to build a country where every child grows up free from poverty and is filled with hope and filled opportunity.

VANIER: A former D.J. who was once Mormon, Ardern is the closest thing New Zealand has had to a rock star politician in years.

ARDERN: Are you with me?

VANIER: Attracting mass crowds at rallies and making headlines with her youth and charisma. She once lashed out to the media for questioning her ability to juggle the job with potential future children.

ARDERN: You for other woman, it is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that a woman should have to answer that question in the workplace. It is a woman's decision about when they choose to have children and should not predetermine whether or not they are given a job or have opportunities.

VANIER: New Zealanders saw an opportunity in the unconventional leader to fight the status quo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People want change, you can feel it when you're outdoor working or on the farm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people want a change, don't you --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think change will be good.

[01:40:02] VANIER: In the end, it was her association with reform that pushed Ardern to the helm. After a close result in last month's election, it came down to the support of one minor party acting as de facto Kingmaker to decide who lead. After weeks of guessing, they backed Ardern's bid to become Prime Minister, thus ending the center- right National Party nine-year grip on power.

WINSTON PETERS, LEADER, NEW ZEALAND FIRST PARTY: (INAUDIBLE) the people of this country regardless of what a lot of people say did want change. And we've responded to that.

VANIER: Cyril Vanier, CNN.


VAUSE: Well, when we come back, we'll head to Venezuela and a hospital where patients have been left virtually abandoned as the country spirals deep into chaos.


VAUSE: Well, the Senate (INAUDIBLE) continues to struggle with an ongoing political and economic crisis. A state-run psychiatric hospital just outside the Capital of Caracas, struggling to treat and even feed its patients. Now, this report now from reporter Guillermo Galdos.


GUILLERMO GALDOS, CNN REPORTER: Pampero Hospital is home to some of Venezuela's most vulnerable residents, tucked away from the political chaos spilling into the streets of Caracas. A heartbreaking mental health crisis is quietly stealing what's left of these patients' humanity.

Nurse Evila Martinez works tirelessly with little to no resources to tend the needs of her patients.

EVILA MARTINEZ: In 28 years, I have never seen anything like this.

GALDOS: The state-run hospital like much of the country is running short of supplies, medicine, and even food.

MARTINEZ: We are living under constant panic right now. We are in an institution that nobody care for or even respects.

GALDOS: The situation is so dire that these mental health hospital hasn't even had a psychiatrist on staff for four years. But Evila who essentially runs the show here refuses to give up on those who help the most. One of her most immediate worries, malnutrition.

"This man already dangerously thin has lost another half kilogram in two months." Evila does what she can to stretch the food they do have as far as she can. But now, she will have to stretch it even further.

MARTINEZ: This month we have three more patients.

GALDOS: And the amount of food is the same?

MARTINEZ: They should increase the amount of food they give us, but they haven't yet.

[01:44:58] GALDOS: Many of these patients have been forgotten by family members and society. Butt Eligo (INAUDIBLE) is one of the lucky ones. His mother, Lucilla, is one of the few family members who visit their loved ones. He says the hospital is buckling under the weight of a country in crisis.

LUCILLA: In reality, they are lacking many things. They used to have good food, good medicine, good treatments. GALDOS: Lucilla now must use her pension to Eligo the medication he

so desperately needs.

LUCILLA: So far, Eligo is stable, but there is an undeniable deterioration. Look, some of these boys were handsome and then they changed. You can see the malnourishment in their faces.

GALDOS: One of the most troubling she sees is the lack of security for those living behind these walls.

Armed thieves have broken through the Pampero Psychiatric Hospital more than 17 times in the last few years. They have stolen drugs, air conditioning units, and even the patients' Christmas dinner. These days, the nurses that work in here, they have to lock themselves up alongside the patients.

This nurse was mocked on her way to work and not for the first time either.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were all robbed. Cell phone, money, food, everything we had.

GALDOS: The situation has become so unstable surrounding the hospital that police now patrol the perimeter. Facing off against the criminals who still trying to breach the hospital walls to get what they can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They notice it's only the two of us, and since there are way more of them, they try to ambush us and take our weapons and steal anything of value we have. It is a really hard place to work at.

GALDOS: Losing supplies is hard enough, but Evila says this state of fear that her residents live under is far worse.

MARTINEZ: Robbers do whatever they can to take things away and in the process, they take the most valuable things in life.

GALDOS: So, how does Evila cope with these seemingly insurmountable odds?

MARTINEZ: There is sadness and pain because we would like to give the patients the care they deserve. I always say we have God on our side, and he has a lot of mercy for these patients.

GALDOS: Undeterred by thieves, lack of resources, specialists, and even the most basic necessities for living, Evila and her staff solder on.

MARTINEZ: We keep fighting and try to accomplish our objective with love, and dedication.

GALDOS: Doing what is in their power to care for the souls that many have already long forgotten. Guillermo Galdos, Venezuela for CNN.


VAUSE: Another woman has come forward accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. The Los Angeles Police say it's looking into this instance, possibly from 2013. The accuser has told the Los Angeles Times Weinstein showed up at her hotel without warning, bullied his way in her room. In the last two weeks, more than 40 women have accused the disgraced movie producer of sexual harassment or assault. Weinstein, though, has denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex.

[01:50:11] And of Weinstein's closest collaborators is apologizing for his silence on the scandal. Oscar-winning director Quentin Tarantino worked with Weinstein's company on big hits like Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. Tarantino told the New York Times he heard of at least one allegation more than 20 years ago. "I knew enough to do more than I did. There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn't secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things."

Great. Well, at first, I'll criticize for ignoring the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and now, for the late-night television comedians, there seems to be a right way and a wrong way to talk about a man accused of serial sexual misconduct. For many, "Last Week Tonight" on HBO with John Oliver hit the mark.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She says while she was sleeping on a boat at the Cam Film Festival, Weinstein broke into her room and masturbated in front of her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I told people on the boat, I told people at the dinner I was at, and everybody was like, oh, that's just Harvey.

JOHN OLIVER, HOST, LAST WEEK TONIGHT: What the (BLEEP). So, everyone knew and they went with it. Oh, yes, Harvey is going to burst into your room and masturbate. That's just Harvey. He's like a sex criminal version of the Kool-Aid Man.


VAUSE: And here's James Corden on the late, late show on CBS, and apparently, how not to do it.


JAMES CORDEN, COMEDIAN: It has been weird this week, though, isn't it, watching Harvey Weinstein in hot water. On any of the women you've watched and take a bath, it's weird to watching Harvey Weinstein in hot water.


VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) is with us from San Francisco. A lot of talks about here. OK. So, let's start with James Corden. A lot of outrage over his comments. And (INAUDIBLE) one of the tweets that sum up comes from our own Anthony Bourdain. He says, "James Corden reveals snickering Hollywood in all its grotesquerie. It's not about masturbation, A-hole. It's about rape."

OK. Did he get it wrong because he punted down?

WILL DURST, POLITICAL SATIRIST: Corden was wrong. He tried a joke, it doesn't work, you move on. You try a different tact at it. Oliver is funny, Oliver has got a clever sense. And his sense of outrage is correct. Oh, that's just Harvey. You know, I think the next horror movie is serious. It's going to come out, it's going to be like Harvey Weinstein kind of a -- who enters your room late at night unbeknownst.

VAUSE: Kind of like Harvey Weinstein "Weekend At Bernie's" mixed in with a whole bunch of other kind of --


VAUSE: What do -- what do you make of these people? So, we're getting that there's actually a Melanie Trump body double out there. There was a tweet. This is it. This is not Melania. To think they would go with this (INAUDIBLE) trying to make us think it's her on T.V. It's my body. It makes me wonder what else is a lie (INAUDIBLE) @joevegas who is the guy. So, clearly, this is a good source.

DURST: I'm looking forward to the body double because I don't know if you saw the naked photos that the New York post printed last summer.

VAUSE: Oh, yes.

DURST: Yes, that's a pretty good body to double. I would -- I would be in -- she will be the first First Lady that teenage boys will collect photos of.

VAUSE: Do you have a first and second lady then? How does it work?

DURST: No, not the second lady. No, not Mrs. Pants. No.

VAUSE: OK. All right. OK. Also, seems the president, you know, he could have a fake Renoir. There could be two of these Renoirs out there. It's just that don't tell him apparently that the Renoir he has is fake. There it is behind either the real Melania, or the fake Melania, I'm not too sure. Apparently, the real one is hanging up in Chicago. And Tim O'Brien, which is the guy who wrote "Trumpnation" actually tried to tell Donald Trump it's a fake, but Donald Trump wouldn't believe it. Listen to this.


TIM O'BRIEN, AUTHOR (by telephone): I asked him about the painting and Donald said, "That's an original Renoir." And I said, "No, it's not, Donald." And he said, "That's the original. That's an original Renoir." I said, "Donald, it's not. I grew up in Chicago. That Renoir is called 'Two Sisters on a Terrace' and it's hanging on a wall at the Art Institute of Chicago." (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And he kept saying, "No, mine is real, mine is real." And kept saying it to this day.

DURST: Oh, poor, baby.

VAUSE: What does say about the President?

DURST: It doesn't matter if you have the real thing as long as you think and other people think you have the real thing. Of course, that's true of all art, isn't it?


DURST: You're getting into Providence and is it beautiful because of the imagery or is it beautiful because it's worth money? And for Donald Trump, I think it would be the latter.

VAUSE: Right. But also saying about -- you -- when people accuse him of not telling the truth or maybe lying or distorting reality, maybe he -- that is his reality.

[01:55:05] DURST: Yes. I don't think he has a firm grasp on this thing that we call reality. And he is his own worst enemy, Mr. Vause. I mean, the man who shot himself in the foot so many times, I'm surprised he has knees left.

VAUSE: OK. Well, he's got a pretty good jump shot, because he was in Puerto Rico about a week or so ago, I lost track of time. And he was throwing the paper towels out to the people in the humanitarian assistance. And the President gave himself high marks for, you know, the efforts in Puerto Rico, 10 out of 10, he said. What do you -- what do you think? Could it have been higher if those (INAUDIBLE) a bit better?

DURST: You know, when he said that he'd give himself a 10, I was sure he was talking about on a scale of one to 100. And then he said 10 out of 10. And the Governor of Puerto Rico is right there with them and he can't say anything, even though he was chastising towards Puerto Rico, you're costing us a lot of -- I mean, it was like he was blaming Puerto Rico for having a hurricane. You know, how dare they -- this child -- this red-headed stepchild that just bugged him, it was --

VAUSE: And so -- and so --

DURST: I have to say he really does (INAUDIBLE) out a curve.

VAUSE: Yes. And it was so awkward, though, because the President was like, "I did -- I've done a marvelous job. Now, Governor, tell me, how marvelous do you think the job was that I -- that I carry out there in Puerto Rico? It was so awkward.

DURST: Well, you came, and you were there, and it was early, and there was a (INAUDIBLE) he finessed that very well. He's a much better politician than Trump is.

VAUSE: Excellent. Will, always good to speak with you. Thank you for coming in.

DURST: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Cheers! OK. Baseball's L.A. Dodgers heading to the World Series for the first time in 29 years. They absolutely destroyed the Chicago Cubs. Another one to win the (INAUDIBLE) getting chance of ridiculed. Dodgers now will wait for winner of the American League Championship series. That will be the New York Yankees or the Houston Astros. OK. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. Please, follow us on Twitter, CNNNEWSROOMLA, there you could find highlights and clips from the show, and I will be back with more news after this.


VAUSE: Well, this is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.