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Civil War Shaking the Republican Party; Xi Jinping's Rise to Power; Social Media's Role in Politics; Strict Rules After Travel Ban Lifted; Addicts Getting Their Life Back to Normal. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired October 25, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: China's powerful president signals he may stay in his role for some time, revealing a leadership team with no obvious successor.

Republican angst. High-profile senators from the U.S. president's own party openly denounce his leadership.

And later, the consequences of a crisis. How one sick boy suffered because of Venezuela's crumbling health care system.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN Newsroom.

Well, the biggest event on China's political calendar is over and indications are President Xi Jinping's hold on power may extend beyond 2022. He unveiled the new members of the powerful politburo standing committee earlier and the line-up does not include an obvious successor to the president.

There are five new members of the seven-member committee who will help rule the country for the next five years.

Well, Matt Rivers joins us now from Beijing with more. So Matt, China's new leadership team revealed no obvious heir apparent. That's a break from tradition, isn't it? What might it signal?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, frankly, it opens the door f speculation that Xi Jinping wants to stay on past 2022. I mean if you look at the people that walk out on stage this morning here in Beijing behind President Xi Jinping, what you saw was a group of six men in their early 60s. We should note no woman has ever served in the country's top decision-making political body.

But you saw five men, six men, rather, who are loyal to Xi Jinping. The fact that some of them go back with him for decades, going back to his time in his 20s and his 30s as a provincial party chief, and some men who have spent the last couple years gaining Xi's trust, winning him over, but it's a group of people who are definitely in lockstep with President Xi Jinping's agenda.

The other clue there in terms of not having an obvious successor here is their age. Generally speaking when successors have been presented in these forums they have been in their mid-50s.

Look at Xi Jinping himself, when he was presented as the heir apparent as we'd call it. He was in his mid-50's and al1 of these men are in their early 60s. So, what does that mean? Well, no one can say for sure exactly what it means.

Xi Jinping didn't get up there and say none of these men are going to succeed me but chances are there is no obvious successor at this point and what does that mean in 2022 when traditionally he would step down? It could mean that even though he might not be president of China anymore, that's a state position. He could remain in the top leadership position in the communist party and in China that's where the real power lies.

If you run the party, then you are the most powerful political figure in the country. We don't know what's going to happen in 2022. Five years is a long time. A lot can happen in between then. But the signals that we're getting right now this morning here in Beijing that Xi Jinping really wants to keep power for a long time.

CHURCH: So what is ahead for Xi Jinping now that he's consolidated his power, announce his new leadership team? What his big vision for China?

RIVERS: In a way, Rosemary, it's whatever he wants it to be. Because he has the unique position, the kind of position we have not seen since Mao Zedong, frankly, where he has the political power, the political capital to do whatever he so chooses.

But if we're looking it to exactly how he plans to use the power you have to look at what he's done over the last five years. And that would be really become a strong man, an authoritarian figure in China that has done things like embrace the international stage a little bit more, having a big role to play in the climate accord in Paris, for example.

Expanding China's military, becoming more aggressive in the South China Sea. But you also see him doing things like cracking down on any political dissent, ruthlessly jailing human rights activists and human rights lawyers, creating lots of online censorship, controlling the narrative in state media.

These are the things that a strong man does. And President Xi Jinping, granted it's under the auspices of the communist party, but he is running this country like an authoritarian and he will likely continue to do so over the next five years.

CHURCH: All right. Our Matt Rivers bringing us that live report from Beijing, where it is just after three in the afternoon. We will have more on China later in the program. Thanks so much.

Well, now to Washington. A source tells CNN President Donald Trump is in high spirits despite a blistering attack on him by two fellow republicans. The source says the president is relishing a big political victory after Senator Jeff Flake announced on Tuesday he will not run for re-election. [03:05:05] On the Senate floor Senator Flake forcefully denounced Mr.

Trump, calling his behavior reckless, outrageous, and undignified. And he urged fellow republicans to stand up to the president.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE, (R), ARIZONA: I rise today with no small measure of regret, regret because of the state of our disunion. Regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics. Regret because of the indecency of our discourse. Regret because of the coarseness of our leadership. Regret for the compromise of our moral authority.

And by our, I mean, all of our complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.


CHURCH: And Flake isn't the only republican senator criticizing the president. Bob Corker, who heads the Senate foreign relations committee, bluntly told CNN that Mr. Trump has difficulty with the truth and seems to be purposely dividing the country.

Well, like Flake, Corker has also decided he won't run for re-election next year.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more now on what the two senators are saying about the president and if any of their colleagues may follow their lead.

JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump on Capitol Hill trying to sell his tax plan and revive the agenda of a fractured Republican Party. But only an hour after leaving with a wave and a smile republican senator Jeff Flake delivered a stinging rebuke of the president.


FLAKE: We must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal.


ZELENY: Flake's announcement that he would not seek re-election and his blunt concession that he's no longer comfortable with Trump's Republican Party.


FLAKE: There is an undeniable potency to a populist appeal by mischaracterizing or misunderstanding our problems and giving in to the impulse to scapegoat and belittle -- the impulse to scapegoat and belittle threatens to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking people.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZELENY: It came on the same day the republican picked a new fight

with Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the foreign relations committee. It was an extraordinary moment for a party in power.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called Flake's decision to leave the Senate good news and blasted his speech as inappropriate.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I notice a lot of the language I didn't think was befitting of the Senate floor.


ZELENY: She also defended the president's fight with Corker.


SANDERS: He's a fighter. We've said it many times before. The people of this country didn't elect somebody to be weak. They elected somebody to be strong.


ZELENY: After Corker said in a round of morning television interviews the president should leave details of the tax plan to Congress, Mr. Trump launched a searing attack on Twitter. The president said Corker, who couldn't get elected dog catcher in Tennessee, is now fighting tax cuts.

Seven minutes later the president added, "Corker dropped out of the race in Tennessee when I refused to endorse him, and now it's only negative on anything Trump. Look at his record."

The senator fired off this rebuttal. Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president. Hash tag, alert the day care staff."

The extraordinary exchange from a republican president and one of the party's senior statesmen devolved from there. Corker who also decided against seeking re-election next year said the president did not refuse to endorse him.


SEN. BOB CORKER, (R), TENNEESEE: No, it's not accurate. You know, nothing that he said in these tweets today were truthful nor accurate and he knows it. People around him know it. I would hope the staff over there would figure out ways of controlling it.


ZELENY: When asked by CNN's Manu Raju if the president is a liar, Corker had this to say.


CORKER: The president has great difficulty with the truth of main issues.


ZELENY: Asked whether he would support him again, Corker did not hesitate.


CORKER: No way. No way. I think that he's proven himself unable to rise to the occasion.


ZELENY: Taken together, the decision by Flake, who also has called repeatedly with Mr. Trump underscored the challenges facing the GOP and potential complications to the president's agenda.


FLAKE: Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as telling it like it is when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and dignified -- and undignified. And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. It is dangerous to a democracy.


ZELENY: The move stunned republicans and overshadowed discussion of a tax plan the party still hopes will be the one major legislative accomplishment of the year.

[03:10:01] House Speaker Paul Ryan was among GOP leaders trying to extinguish the unusual and to many the unseeingly civil war.


PAUL RYAN, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: So all of this stuff you see on a daily basis on Twitter this and Twitter that, forget about it. Let's focus on helping people.


ZELENY: As republicans watch this widening civil war inside their party the question is what effect will it have on legislating? Will they still be able to get the tax cut plan through with or without the help from some of these republicans who are now disenfranchised from the president?

Once again, the White House message overshadowed by all of this fighting.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers joins me now talk about all of this. And always great to have you on the show, Kirsten.


CHURCH: We saw two republican senators rebuking President Trump Tuesday. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake questioning the president's leadership style. Let's just take a listen to part of what Senator Corker had to say.


CORKER: I don't know why he lowers him to such a low, low standard and debases our country in the way that he does but he does.


CHURCH: Kirsten, neither Senator Corker nor Senator Flake is seeking re-election. Is that what it takes to get to the real truths these days? And encumbered politician and how more republicans feel the same way perhaps?

POWERS: Well, I think many feel the same way. I don't know that they'll come out and say anything. Yes, to a certain extent I guess the fact that they're not running for re-election has freed them up. But they made these decisions to not run for re-election.

And in Senator Corker's case if he had run again he almost definitely would have won. So this is something a decision that he made based on principle that he just could no longer work in this Republican Party, that he does not recognize that is being so supportive of Donald Trump.

And Jeff Flake on the other hand was somebody who had he gotten on board with Donald Trump during the election and then post-election I think he would have been OK. But what happened was he was critical of President Trump and the Trump supporters didn't like it and he started to see his support going down. And then he wrote this book, "Conscience of a Conservative," which really went after Donald Trump and Trumpism.

And that's when he saw his support drop precipitously. And that point it became clear he couldn't run again. But he did have a decision to make there. And I think that he make a decision based on principle also that he couldn't stand by and not say anything about Donald Trump.

CHURCH: Yes, you mentioned Senator Flake that he was of course scathing in his criticism of the Trump presidency when he took to the floor of the Senate. Let's listen to a portion of what he had to say.


FLAKE: I'm aware that there's a segment of my party that believes that anything short of complete and unquestioning loyalty to a president who belongs to my party is unacceptable and suspect. The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong or undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters. A notion that we should say or do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is a historic. And I believe profoundly misguided.


CHURCH: The undermining of American values, global relationships threatened by the presidential tweets, complicity, disregard for truth, degradation of politics. I mean, this was incredibly scathing. Does it represent the beginning of the end or will we see President Trump rise above this chaos just as he's done before?

POWERS: I don't think it is the beginning of the end. I think what it is, is that you're seeing a few senators who are stepping aside basically or will be not running for office again and so then will be stepping aside.

But no, I don't think this is the start of something bigger. I think most of the politicians are keeping their mouths shut and thinking they want to get their conservative agenda done and Donald Trump is going to help them do that.

One thing that's really important to understand about Senator Flake is that he is a very conservative senator, so this is not as though he's somebody who perhaps was, you know, a little moderate republican, who didn't like Donald Trump.

This is someone who's extremely conservative down the line on almost every single issue and whose difference with Donald Trump isn't as much over policy as it is over all the things that you just described.

I think the things the way that the president behaves and, you know, and such a poor example for the rest of the country. And he asked today by Jake Tapper, basically Jake said but you're so conservative, so what's the problem? And he said it's not enough to be conservative anymore, the republican voters want you to be angry.

[03:14:55] And so that's what we've come to. It's basically unless you're going to play the game that Donald Trump is playing, which is the name calling and the nasty tweets and backing him up on all of those things, then you know, you really can't be a senator in the Republican Party.

CHURCH: And of course Tuesday was supposed to be time to talk about the tax plan. What impact will President Trump's feuds with Jeff Flake and Bob Corker likely have on the Trump administration's agenda?

POWERS: Well, I think that both of these men are -- you know, they're professionals. And I don't think they're going to vote against a tax plan because they're angry at the president. I think the president's problems are more that there are at least in Senator Corker's case some substantive complaints about the tax plan. Senator Corker wants a tax plan that isn't going to add to the deficit.

And the way Donald Trump is talking it would at this point probably to the deficit. So, in the end if they can reach some sort of agreement that I think works on the substance, then I would expect the senators to vote for it. I don't think they're going to be petty and vote against it based on a personal disagreement with the president.

CHURCH: Kirsten Powers, always great to talk with you and get your perspective on these matters.

POWERS: Thank you.

CHURCH: I appreciate it. And Senator Flake talked to CNN shortly after his blistering Trump rebuke on the Senate floor. We will have that later this hour.

Onto other news and to Iraq now. The Kurdish regional government says it won't act for now on the results of last month's referendum, which overwhelmingly favored Kurdish independence.

In a statement, the KRG says the move is meant to ease tensions between the people of Kurdistan and Baghdad. They're also calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Kurdish region and more talks. So far no response from the Iraqi government.

Well, after weeks of near total silence on the deadly bush on U.S. soldiers in Niger, we are finally getting a clearer picture of what the team was doing when they were attacked.

Plus, officials fear the Russians did it in the U.S. and now in the U.K. as well. British lawmakers want to know whether Russia used Facebook to influence the Brexit referendum.

We're back in a moment.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. The Trump administration is now letting refugees from all countries into the Unites States. But there will be new enhanced vetting rules. The move comes as the controversial refugee ban expired.

Under the new rules the administration will collect more biographical data on refugees and take a close look at their media counts.

Our Tal Kopan has more now on the changes.

TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: There's a lot we don't know at this point and may never know about what these vetting measures entail. In fact, administration officials are citing law enforcement sensitivity.

And in not knowing what those measures entail one of the big question is how much time this could perhaps add to the refugee application process, which as many of your viewers know is probably already a lengthy period of time, several years for most refugees.

[03:20:09] And so, in addition to that, there are 11 countries which again, the administration is not naming but they cite as high risk that will be subject to even further scrutiny and that applicants may apply from but have to demonstrate that their application is in the national interest and they pose no security risk. And we don't know how much those additional measure will add on to

individuals from those countries. So we do know that applications can resume but there may be some substantial slowdown of the process for those applicants.

CHURCH: A senior administration official who spoke to CNN says the new rules show the president is committed to protecting Americans and is not anti-immigrant.

Well, more information is now emerging about the deadly ambush in Niger which killed four U.S. soldiers. U.S. military officials tell CNN the troops were gathering intelligence on a terrorist leader when they were attacked.

Our Michelle Kosinski has the details.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, WHITE HOUSE CNN CORRESPONDENT: Three weeks after a firefight in Niger left four U.S. soldiers dead, only now are details beginning to emerge about what they were doing and how this escalated.

Military officials now tell CNN the 12-man special operations task force working with an additional 30 Nigerian troops had been on a mission to gather intelligence on a senior terrorist leader in the area, not to kill or capture but to seek information.

And according to other officials this particular U.S. team had only been in Niger for a matter of weeks. It's with their first or second patrol. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford alluded to in a wide-ranging press conference their mission may have kept them movement somewhat fluid. Dunford himself has questions about the course they took and decision-making.


JOSEPH DUNFORD, UNITED STATES JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: Did the mission of U.S. forces change during the operation? Did our forces have adequate intelligence, equipment, and training? Did they decide to do something different than the original patrol with department forces? Those are some of the key questions that the investigation is looking to uncover.


KOSINSKI: He did share some more elements of the timeline. On the morning of October 3rd, one day before the ambush, the U.S. and Nigerian team left Niger's capital on Niamey on the route to an area near the village of Tongo Tongo for an intelligence gathering mission.


DUNFORD: They did not expect resistance from this particular patrol at least when they first planned it.


KOSINSKI: The next morning October 4th, the troops felt the villagers were delaying their departure, perhaps the first indication something was wrong. By mid-morning the U.S. and Nigerian forces left the village and were heading back to their operating base when up to 50 ISIS-affiliated fighters attacked them with small arms and rocket- propelled grenades. The U.S. soldiers fought back but were in unarmored vehicles and only had light weapons such as machine guns. They requested help an hour later.


DUNFORD: My judgment would be that that unit thought they could handle the situation without additional support.


KOSINSKI: A drone arrived overhead within minutes and captured video of the scene. French jets swooped in an hour later. So two hours after the firefight began but did not drop bombs because they couldn't tell the enemy at friendly forces apart.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something that you also can't underestimate is how chaotic an incident like this.


KOSINSKI: The firefight was tough lasting several hours from mid- morning into the evening of the fourth. Still unclear why and how Sergeant La David Johnson was separated from his team and not found until two days later by Nigerian forces.

Dunford says U.S. troops were involved in that search from the moment Johnson was missing until the end.

Also now an official tells CNN that this team had made a stop in a second village as they were on their way back to their base, something that the Pentagon made no mention of in their description of this timeline.

In fact, right now, there are many even basic questions that the Pentagon cannot answer, at least not publicly. Things like, where exactly was this team when they were attacked. How far away were they from their base? Were they wearing body armor?

But someone who is likely to get some answers soon is someone who's been extremely vocal about needing more information. That is Senator John McCain. He and the Senate armed services committee are going to be briefed by the Pentagon on Thursday although it will be classified.

Michelle Kosinski, CNN, the State Department.

CHURCH: Twitter is introducing a new policy promising to be more transparent about political ads. This comes as officials who are investigating whether Russia used social media to influence elections in the United States and in Europe. [03:24:54] Twitter says it will now label political ads that refer to

a specific candidate with a purple dot. Users will be able to see who paid for the ad and how much they spent.

However, the majority of Twitter ads Russia reportedly bought were about divisive issues, not candidates. And those ads are harder for Twitter to flag under the new policy.

Well, meanwhile, British lawmaker are asking Facebook for information about ads linked to Russia bordering last year's Brexit referendum.

Our Samuel Burke explains from London.

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This has all the makings of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. But this revolves around the 2016 Brexit referendum here in the U.K.

The chairman of the U.K. parliamentary committee has sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg asking for examples of all ads purchased by Russian- linked accounts. Examples of all pages set up by Russian-linked accounts and information regarding the targeting of these ads and pages.

The M.P. leading this inquiry told me what pushed him to send this letter.


DAMIAN COLLINS, MEMBER, BRITISH PARLIAMENT: Now Facebook have analyzed that elsewhere in the world, they've done it in America and they've done it in France. Around the French presidential election they took down 35,000 accounts that they thought were linked to spreading this misinformation.

There's not been the same sort of deep dive done in the U.K. from their data, And that's why I think it's important that we ask the company whether they have any suspicions based on day to day how looking at the behavior of users of their own service.


BURKE: Now this M.P. has also sent a letter to Twitter asking for information about accounts run by buck that may have affected the Brexit referendum. Twitter says they're adapting their approach as patterns of malicious activity evolve and that their automated systems are now catching double the amount of suspicious activity.

What's lacking now is any type of public evidence of Russian social media accounts affecting the Brexit referendum. And while it may seem far-fetched, now Mark Zuckerberg also dismissed the notion that the platform he design had any effect on U.S. presidential elections until his own company found evidence to the contrary.

Samuel Burke, CNN, London.

CHURCH: Well, now that China's new leadership has been announced we will take a closer look at what it means for the future.

Plus, a key member of the republican establishment says he will not run for re-election next year. Senator Jeff Flake tells CNN what prompted his decision and why he took to the Senate floor to blast the president.

We're back with that in just a moment.


CHURCH: A very warm welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour.

[03:30:00] two republican senators delivered blistering rebuke of President Trump Tuesday. The same day he was on Capitol Hill to push tax reform.

Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker both of whom are not running for re-election next year are accusing the president of degrading the country.

Military officials tell CNN the U.S. army team ambush in Niger was gathering intelligence on a terrorist leader ahead of that attack. A U.S. official also said it was quite probable that someone in the village notified ISIS-affiliated fighters of their presence. The attack left four American and five Nigerian soldiers dead.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has revealed the new members of all- powerful politburo standing committee. There are no clear successors to Mr. Xi among the new members, suggesting he may seek to stay in power beyond the next five year term.

And for more on this we are joined by Frank Ching in Hong Kong. He is a China political commentator and columnist. Thank you, sir, for being with us.

Glad to be here.

CHURCH: Now that we know who Xi Jinping picked for his leadership team, what do his choices reveal to you and why do you think there appears to be no obvious successor here?

FRANK CHING, COLUMNIST: Well, I think his choices show that he's picked people that he can work with and there's no obvious successor because I think he's not ready to step down. And he would not be ready to step down in five years' time when his term ends.

I think that they're talking about a new era beginning with Xi Jinping. So I think in the new Xi era he is not bound by old rules from the old era and therefore, he does not have to step down after two terms.

There's nothing in the law books about having to step down after two terms as head of the party, just as head of state. So the only problem is if he won't step down as head of the state and not have the party they will have to make some other arrangements.

CHURCH: Right. And Xi Jinping has highlighted the issues that he wants to focus on and fighting corruption is right at the center of that vision. What's been the biggest success of his leadership so far, do you think? And what might we see happen during his next five years of leadership and perhaps beyond as you point out?

CHING: Well, I think he will continue the fight against corruption, that has proved to be very popular of the Chinese people. And I don't think he will let up. And the fight against corruption has also always been very helpful to him in that he's been able to get rid of people who may not be on his side.

I'm not saying that people -- those people were not corrupt. The thing is with the Chinese leadership almost everybody is corrupt. So you can target almost anyone you want to. And what Xi has done is to get rid of a lot of very important people. This has never happened before in the history of the People's Republic of China.

So, you had a lot of people not only in the party, the government, and the military. This has won him a lot of popular support, and I don't he is going to let up. He will continue this drive into his second term.

CHURCH: So how influential does China expect to become on the international stage under the leadership of Xi Jinping? And did they see themselves as becoming the next superpower? Is that where this is all going?

CHING: Well, I think what has happened is that in the last era -- they talk about three eras. The era of Mao, Deng, and Xi Jinping. Now what Mao did was establish state, the People's Republic of China. What Deng did was he developed the economy. He made China wealthy.

And what Xi is doing or plan to do is to make China powerful. They've been talking about wealth and power, wealth and power since the 19th century. And now I think that they have wealth the next target is power. And I think that Xi is all wound up to do this.

And they have recently opened the first military base overseas in Djibouti, in Africa. And I think it would he doing more such things. China is present now all over the world. And I think that as the U.S. recedes, especially as Trump withdraws the U.S. from certain areas, China is going to move in and fill the vacuum.

So I think that China is going to become more powerful, not just more influential but more powerful in the coming five years.

CHURCH: Interesting. And of course as we've been reporting Xi Jinping's thoughts on socialism are being enshrined in the party's Constitution. It's the first time this has happened since Mao Zedong.

[03:35:01] So why has Xi been so successful do you think as China's leader in these recent years? What is it about him that sets him apart from other leaders there? CHING: Well, I think in part this is a reaction to his predecessor,

to Hu Jintao. Hu Jintao was so bland, so non-assertive, and I think a lot of people in China felt that they needed a stronger leader.

In Hu Jintao's predecessor, Jiang Zemin, really wanted power. He did not want to let go of power. But Hu Jintao is a different kind of person. He didn't appreciate the fact that his predecessor kept interfering while he was supposed to be in charge and he decided, and he was going to step down and he would just step down in one goal.

So he gave all of his offices up on the first day and Xi Jinping inherited all his power immediately. He did not have to go through what Hu went through in the first few years of his administration. And I think a lot of Chinese officials wanted China to be more assertive, more influential globally, and this is exactly what Xi wanted.

So the groundwork had actually been laid for him by his predecessor I think unwittingly.

CHURCH: Frank Ching, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your perspective with us. We appreciate it.

CHING: Thank you.

CHURCH: An extraordinary scene unfolding on Capitol Hill Tuesday shortly after President Trump had lunch with republican senators to sell his tax reform plan. Republican Senator Jeff Flake announced he won't seek re-election next year. Then he delivered a scathing attack on Mr. Trump on the Senate floor. Take a listen.


FLAKE: Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as tone it like it is when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and dignified -- and undignified. And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. It is dangerous to a democracy.


CHURCH: Despite the rebuke, a source says the president is in high spirits over Flake's exit next year. The right-wing Breitbart news says Steve Bannon, who was instrumental in helping Mr. Trump win the White House has claimed another scalp in his crusade against the republican establishment.

Fox News' Sean Hannity was equally blunt.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS: Good riddance. Happy trails. Don't let the door hit you on the way out of town.


CHURCH: Well, Senator Flake talked to CNN's Jake Tapper right after he made that speech slamming the president. Take a listen.


FLAKE: It's not enough to be conservative anymore. It seems that you have to be angry about it. And the politics of resentment have come into play. And I just, I can't go there. If we're going to solve the big problems that we have as a country we're going to have to work together, republicans and democrats.

But in this environment that's difficult to do and it's difficult to win a republican primary these days if you disagree with the president on anything or if you countenance his behavior, which I don't think that we ought to normalize. And so that's what I spoke about today.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And explain what you mean because your colleague, Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, he had similar comments earlier today. Explain what you mean when you say you don't think we should be normalizing the president's behavior. What behavior specifically are you objecting to?

FLAKE: Well, during the campaign I spoke out first when he launched this campaign and referred to Mexicans crossing the border as rapists. And when he referred to John McCain, he couldn't call him a war hero because he'd been captured. Or referred to the judge who had Mexican ancestry, said that he couldn't judge fairly because of it.

And then obviously the Access zero -- or Access Hollywood tape. I just asked on which of those points should I have not spoken out. But speaking out on those issues certainly got the ire of the president. And it's difficult to move forward in a republican primary if you have been critical of any of the behavior that's going on.

And I think for the long-term health of the Republican Party and our political discourse we, republicans certainly can't countenance tha kind of behavior. We ought to stand up and say this is not right, this is not us, and this is not conservative. And so that's why I've taken the stand that I have.

TAPPER: If that's how you feel, why not take that argument to the republican voters of Arizona and fight for that belief? You seem to be confident that history is going to judge you well but that maybe the republicans of Arizona won't.

[03:40:00] FLAKE: Yes, I think that that's the case. I think that this fever will break. I don't know that it will break by next year. Right now the vast majority of those who vote in republican primaries seem to be OK with the president's policies and behavior.

I do agree with the president sometimes. I disagree with him other times. That's what I've done with republican and democratic presidents. But now it seems that, you know, if you deviate at all from the president's positions or if you fail to condone his behavior then you're out of step with the party. Or at least a segment of the party that votes in republican primaries.

So, yes, I think history will look back and say, you know what, why didn't we stand up? And I hope that more of us do.


CHURCH: And that was republican Senator Jeff Flake after announcing he won't seek re-election next year. Meanwhile, the White House is not shedding tears for Mr. Flake.


SANDERS: I think that based on previous statements and certainly based on the lack of support that he has from the people of Arizona it's probably a good move.


CHURCH: Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in that briefing also criticizing the Washington Post, saying she wouldn't use it as a source. But a few hours later she tweeted a story the Post broke about the now infamous Russia dossier. Sanders called it, quote, "the real Russia scandal."

CNN has previously reported the research for that dossier was first paid for by republicans who opposed then candidate Donald Trump. Well, now a source tell CNN that the tab was later picked up by Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

The dossier contained allegations about President Trump' connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin. President Trump denies those allegations.

Earlier, CNN spoke with Brian Fallon who was Hillary Clinton's press secretary during the campaign. He said he didn't know about the research but I think some good could come of it.


BRIAN FALLON, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: In my view if any of this is corroborated, Bob Mueller's investigation turns out to be able to verify some of these details and it leads to shoes dropping in this investigation, then I think that that's important for the public to know and to me, there's no shame in the fact that the campaign sponsored this.


CHURCH: Venezuela has been in a state of chaos and disrepair for months now, and it's hurting some of the country's most vulnerable people, sick children.


CHURCH: Opioid addiction and drug-related arrest are filling up jails across the United States. One judge in New Hampshire came up with a new approach to the problem, opening drug courts to treat addicts instead of keeping them behind bars. [03:45:05] CNN's Chris Cuomo has more.


CHRIS CUOMO, HOST, CNN: He's just spent three days in jail on Judge Nadeau's orders for being dishonest about his relapse (Ph).


TINA NADEAU, JUDGE, NEW HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT: Hi, there. You know I feel sad when I see somebody show up in the handcuffs.


CUOMO: During his spent in jail Ron had to share a cell with other inmates going through opioid withdrawals.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a horrible weekend.

NADEAU: Right. So you were actually in jail watching people detox?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I actually had a Bunkie in my cell detoxing. So I haven't really slept all weekend. I'm quite tired myself and cranky, irritable.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I'm just looking to stay positive and keep going forward.

NADEAU: Why don't you tell me what you think is going on here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think what it is I'm kind of kidding myself really. The whole honesty thing is big, key.

NADEAU: Yes. A slip-up doesn't mean the wheels have to fall off the bus, and it sounds like you get that.


NADEAU: OK. Good. I look forward to seeing you next time.


NADEAU: In drug court they are definitely told, you know, you're going to struggle, we don't expect you to be perfect on day one. They will see somebody who uses and is honest about it and will get a treatment adjustment, someone who is dishonest about it will get a sanction.

CUOMO: So, judge, you have criticism coming at you two ways with this one.

NADEAU: Sure. CUOMO: You have one, soft on crime.

NADEAU: Right.

CUOMO: Punish them, they did something wrong.

NADEAU: Right.

CUOMO: And then you have the other side saying, well, you just said they're an addict put them in treatment.

NADEAU: Right.

CUOMO: Why do you believe that this satisfies problems with both of those ideas?

NADEAU: The studies show if we treat that offender they're going to re-ascend at a rate at about 25 percent versus 70 percent if they go to jail or prison. So it saves money and it reduces crime.

CUOMO: She says taking the drugs may have started as a choice but by the time they're in this program 90 percent are full-blown opioid addicts.

NADEAU: We don't turn people away from hospital doors when they get lung cancer because they've chosen to smoke and we shouldn't be doing that for people who are deeply addicted to opiates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all about choice. It's all about necessity and you need it.

NADEAU: People start using because the euphoria is 100 times better than the most pleasurable experience. And then the euphoria goes away and the only way they can stay off of the horrific feeling of the detox is to keep on using.

CUOMO: Ron is escorted back to the jail to gather his things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got my phone in my hand. Social media. I smoke a cigarette. It's always a good feeling.

CUOMO: It's place where he spent a lot of time in the last few years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got my high school diploma in this building back in December.

CUOMO: He has lofty goals for his future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to college and everything.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I'm going to be a social issues counselor.

CUOMO: But before Ron can help others he's going to have to figure out how to help himself. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I have four years to get this right.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to go home, do some schoolwork. Obviously I'm behind on schoolwork now because I just spent the weekend in jail. I work on how to stay sober this time.


CHURCH: All right. Well, opposition politicians in Venezuela broke rank with their coalition this week in a troubling signal of major rifts within the opposition. Four newly elected state governors agreed to be sworn in by the by the constituent assembly led by President Nicolas Maduro.

The opposition movement loudly rejected that body saying none of its candidates would kneel before it. But four did with just one hold out.

The turmoil in the assembly just adds to the country's political and humanitarian crises, soaring inflation, a deep recession, and widespread shortages of medicine, food, and other essentials have brought thousands of people onto the streets in mass -- en masse, I should say, protests demanding a change of government.

Well, the chaos is exacting a very real toll on so many and as always seems to be the case. It's the most vulnerable who are paying the biggest price.

Our Paula Newton reports on the dying children of Venezuela. And a warning here some images in this piece are disturbing.

[03:49:57] PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The searing reality of Venezuela's upheaval reveals itself right here, in a tender moment between mother and son. Both know it's his only comfort. There is precious little else here to help him.

Davis Perez is a very sick 14-year-old boy. Yes, he's 14. He lost 22 pounds in two months in hospital. Painful ulcers in his mouth, meaning he can only take in liquids. Spot that hurt like severe burns cover his body.

"He can't sleep. He can't even touch his skin," his mother tells me. "It hurts so much he's like a burn victim. It's very bad," she says. "There's no medicine." Davis is in renal failure and needs dialysis to survive. Dialysis that in this hospital is not compromised by old filters and contaminated water.

He is now suffering from a bacterial infection that his mother Sandra says has spread. There is no replacement catheter or even a surgical theater to do the procedure. This is Davis as a healthy teenager now barely recognizable and clearly in pain.

"I have to find strength where I don't have it," Sandra tells me. "It hurts to see him like this. I never thought he would go through this. I tried to give him strength to go forward with me." She tells me, "I want everyone to see what's happening with us here."

We visited this pediatric hospital in downtown Caracas a year ago. Hospital staff was improvising, lacking everything from antibiotics to surgical gloves. Even the ceilings in intensive care were crumbling. A symptom of plunging oil prices which took Venezuela's economy with it, making things like food and medicine a luxury.

The government denies the crisis and said it is exaggerated by the media. And this year when we returned conditions had only gotten worse. The director of this pediatric kidney unit tells CNN infected children including Davis were isolated and that is infection was under control.

However, she said they lack basic supplies and Venezuela's ministry of health has not responded to the hospital's request for those supplies. The ministry did not respond to CNN's requests for comment.

The director says eight children have died so far this year and Davis is one of them. A few weeks after we left his bedside he died of hypo bulimic shock. His blood levels were too low. His mother says he was in pain to the last and she blames the government. Sandra says she's sad, angry, and has an enormous emptiness in her heart and her soul.

Paula Newton, CNN, Caracas.


CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. American rapper Eminem has won a lawsuit over a New Zealand campaign ad which used a version of his song "Lose Yourself."

New Zealand's high court ruled Wednesday the country's national party infringed on Eminem's song copyright in the 2014 commercial. Eminem was awarded more than $400,000. "Lose Yourself" was from the movie "Eight Mile" and won an academy award for best original song in 2003.

[03:55:04] Well, daycare workers in the U.S. are probably wondering how they got dragged into a bitter political feud between the U.S. president and a senator from his own party.

Senator Bob Corker used the hash tag "alert the daycare staff."

And our Jeanne Moos noticed how it went viral.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump has bragged about using tweets to defeat his enemies.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm able to go bing, bing, bing and I take care of it.


MOOS: Well, now the president is getting binged back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a shame the White House has become an adult daycare center.

MOOS: With a hash tag created by republican Senator Bob Corker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hash tag, "alert the daycare staff."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hash tag, "alert the day care staff."

MOOS: Hash tag of the year, crowed Trump critics. Best hash tag ever. It unleashed a barrage of baby-centric imagery. From the president escaping from daycare, to a cartoon outfitting him in dog cones to keep him from tweeting.

Pacifiers were plentiful, including a binky adorn, with a presidential seal. Though, Trump supporters told Senator Corker to stick a cork in it, with pacifier pictures of their own. Children also came up in a question the senator was asked about the president.


RAJU: Do you think he's a role model to children in the United States?



MOOS: But maybe somebody should have alerted the daycare last year, when Senator Corker was introducing then candidate Trump.


CORKER: The reason you love him so much is because he loves you.


MOOS: And Trump called Corker...


TRUMP: Great guy. Great guy. Great person.


MOOS: Their hug was a bit stiff, and their handshake was a classic Trump grab and yank. Sort of like this Twitter feud. The daily show enabled fans to experience Trump's Bob Corker tweet storm the way it's meant to be read in a child's scrawl. They call it make Trump tweets eight again. While, Seth Meyers imagined him tweeting on a typewriter.


SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN: I hate losers. Sad.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York. CHURCH: Everyone is getting in on the act. Thanks for your company

this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. I would love to hear from you.

The news continues now with Max Foster in London. You're watching CNN. Have a great day.