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Trump Fires Back After Critics Revolt; Ex-Clinton Press Secretary Denies Knowing Of Campaign Dossier Link; Haunting Rape Claims Against Harvey Weinstein; U.S. Team Was Collecting Intel On Terror Leader; U.S. Ambassador To U.N. Warns Of Escalating Conflict; Donald Trump's Refusal To Apologize. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired October 26, 2017 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, Republican senators, the U.S. president at a lovefest with standing ovations. Donald Trump's words to describe the support from his party except for a few who he said was just hurt and wounded.

SESAY: A new Harvey Weinstein accuser comes forward; her haunting rape account. Plus, the problem with non-disclosure agreements: do they create an unfair climate of silence?

VAUSE: And child rape: a horrific weapon being used, and what the U.N. has the ethnic cleansing of Myanmar.

SESAY: Hello, and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. This is NEWSROOM L.A.

SESAY: Well, U.S. President Donald Trump is painting a picture of party unity, despite his open war of word with two retiring Republican senators. Mr. Trump stopped to talk to reporters as he heads into a fundraiser on Wednesday.

VAUSE: His scathing words for Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker -- both have been outspoken in their criticism of the president's behavior and leadership. We get details now from Jim Acosta, reporting in from the White House.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Don't tell President Trump there are divisions in Republican Party.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have actually great unity in the Republican Party.

ACOSTA: As for GOP Senator Jeff Flake's speech, sounding the alarm on the president's harsh rhetoric?

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: It is dangerous to a democracy. Such behavior does not project strength because our strength comes from our values. It instead projects a corruption of the spirit and weakness.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump hurled more insults.

TRUMP: Well, look, look, he was against me from before he ever knew me. He wrote a book about me before I ever met him before I ever heard his name. His poll numbers in Arizona are so low that he couldn't win. I remember the first time I saw him on television, I had not really been -- nobody knew me in terms of politics. But the first time saw him on television I said, I assume he's a Democrat; is he a Democrat?

ACOSTA: Talking to reporters before heading to a fund-raiser in Dallas, the president blamed the media for the mounting criticism that he simply lacks the civility to sit in the White House.

TRUMP: I think the press makes me more uncivil than I am. You know, people don't understand, I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student. I did very well. I'm a very intelligent person. You know, the fact is, I think -- I really believe, I think the press creates a different image of Donald Trump than the real person.

ACOSTA: But when pressed on why he insists on mocking another GOP critic, Senator Bob Corker, as little, there was a big dodge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Liddle Bob Corker, L-I-D-D-L-E.

TRUMP: You know what, I hope Bob -- and I really believe that Bob Corker's going to do the right thing also.

ACOSTA: The president said he was also perfectly polite to the Gold Star widow of La David Johnson, one of the four soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger this month, insisting he remembers the sergeant's name with a little help from his aides.

TRUMP: I was really nice to her. I respect her, I respect her family, I certainly respect La David, who, by the way, called La David right from the beginning. Just so you understand, they put a chart front in front: La David, says La David Johnson. So, I called right from the beginning, there's no hesitation, one of the great memories of all time. There was no hesitation.

ACOSTA: The president was jubilant over reports that Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee had paid for the opposition research that led to the now infamous dossier of allegations about Mr. Trump and Russia.

TRUMP: Well, I think it's very sad what they've done with this fake dossier. It was made up. And I understand they paid a tremendous amount of money. And Hillary Clinton always denied it; the Democrats always denied it. And now, only because it's going to come out in a court case, they said, yes, they did it, they admitted it, and they were embarrassed by it. But I think it's a disgrace.

ACOSTA: And the president seemed to concede some of that opposition research was initiated by his Republican rivals during last year's primaries. TRUMP: It might have started with the Republicans early on in the

primaries. I think I would know, but let's find out who it is. I'm sure that will come. I think I would have -- if I were to guess, I have one name in mind. Well, I'd rather not say, but you'll be surprised.

[01:05:06] ACOSTA: As for the president's claim that the dossier is fake, it should be noted that portions of that opposition research have been corroborated. Jim Acosta, CNN, The White House.


VAUSE: Joining us now is CNN's Political Commentators Dave Jacobson, a Democratic Strategist; and John Thomas, who a Republican Consultant; also with us is Jessica Levinson, a Clinical Professor of Law and Governance at Loyola -- can you say it for me?

SESAY: Loyola.

VAUSE: Thank you. Law School.

SESAY: You're welcome.

VAUSE: OK. Let's just pick up from Jim's last point in there about more Republican defections which could be on the way. There are indications that this Republican civil war is spreading from Washington. The speaker of the Texas House, Joe Straus, he announced he is retiring. He has close with the Bush family. He took up the hard-liners within his party, and like Senators Corker and Flake, Straus has a flight over fight. So, Jessica, if that trend continues, it would only accelerate the Trump takeover of the GOP.

JESSICA LEVINSON, CLINICAL PROFESSOR OF LAW AND GOVERNANCE AT LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: Well, I think that's right. And I think a lot of people are kind of scratching their heads, because, I think that there are a lot of Republicans who are in office, and a lot of Republican voters who just don't agree with this president. And generally speaking, the to show that you want to change the system is what we hear a lot of people is I want to run for office, I want to be a difference -- and these are people who have already obtained the position of higher office.

And now, they're saying, you know what, I'm out. And so, for a variety of reasons, I think it means the Republican Party will increasingly look like the party of Trump, and I don't think that's good for a lot of the voters who are frankly more in the center of the political spectrum than either the candidates on the left or on the right. And again, this is a snapshot in time. So, I would say it might be a little early for to us say the Republican Party is now the party of President Trump, period.

SESAY: So, Dave, I think to that point, bearing in mind what Jessica said, it is a snapshot. Can Democrats find that compelling message to take advantage of the moment and those who don't feel that this is the party for them?


SESAY: You're the strategist.

JACOBSON: Right. Look, as a national party, we haven't come up with that social and economic justice message that I think really strikes the right chord, that can, you know, win back those Obama voters who voted for Donald Trump, right. Those union households in Ohio, right? Like, that's the target audience. That's the persuadable audience. And so, I think we as a party nationally, have to come up with a better sort of economic justice message, because at the end of the day, like the biggest issue here: unemployment's low, we're creating jobs. We've got income inequality on a massive scale. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer; the working-class folks are struggling to get by. And so, that's an issue the Democrats have to keep --

VAUSE: Even if you had a message, could you get it out? Because Trump dominates every minute of every hour of every day of the news cycle.

JACOBSON: I think as we get closer to the 2018 election, coverage of Democrats versus Republicans is going to intensify, but the House and Senate level and that's the opportunity.

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: But you didn't see in the special elections where -- in Georgia -- where they've had unbelievable amounts of money to buy every single television ad. They had an opportunity to drive their message, and it didn't work. Now, those again, are snapshots in time. We'll see if it sticks. What's interesting to me about why you're seeing these retirements of these moderate elected, is typical: if somebody didn't agree with the president in power in their own party, the most the president would ever do would be snubbing them by not showing up at rallies, and not raising them money. This president, these candidates, our elected officials know it, will pick fights with them and take them down.

VAUSE: Well, Hillary Clinton weighed in on all of this a few hours ago. One of the GOP has been taken over by those with malevolence intentions.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Republican Party is imploding. It is becoming a far-right captive party to ideological, religious, and commercial interests. It is at the mercy of its financial backers and a cabal of leaders who are doing things like shrinking the electorate, gerrymandering, and taking every step, they can to maintain power on behalf of themselves and those who are like-minded.


VAUSE: Jessica, it seems in many ways, it's the promise of tax cuts which is holding the Republicans together, at least for now. If they don't get those tax cuts through, what happens then? LEVINSON: Well, I think that that's going to be a big and difficult

loss for the Republicans. So, one thing I would say with respect to what Hillary Clinton just said, we have structural reasons in our country that she kind of alluded to, campaign finance, redistricting. The way we run elections that, I think, is causing this polarization which most voters frankly don't feel; they feel it in our elected officials.

[01:10:01] In terms of the tax cut, we have a Republican in the House, the White House, we have a Republican Congress, we have a Republican Senate. If they can't push through tax cuts, which is a signature part of the Republican Party platform. I think a lot of people are going to be saying: can you point to one legislative achievement? If you think of the big kind of new -- substantive news items that have come out of this administration, they've really been in the form of executive orders. We haven't seen that big piece of legislation. I think that tax reform is an easier and much more likely get that, for instance, healthcare reform.

SESAY: So, John, to you. Let's say they get this deal, but it comes at the price of affecting 401(k)s, retirement funds, pension funds. I mean, how is that going to play with the base who, you know, all for these tax cuts until you get to the fine print? And that could happen.

THOMAS: Sure, it could. And if it does, voters are going to hold them accountable. I mean, it can't have a net negative for -- especially Trump's voters. They'll hold him accountable. Then, they're not just going to just walk through walls. But I would say to the Hillary Clinton thing, she is absolutely delusional. Did she not see the 2016 cycle? She's saying the Republicans are beholden to the establishment, to big donors, you heard of Trump? I mean, it's the exact opposite of what's going on. It's the anti-establishment wing and the Republican that is taking over right now, not the establishment.

JACOBSON: Well, you're right. They're taking over because last night, actually --

SESAY: I was about to say.

JACOBSON: Yes, they've voted against class action lawsuits that consumers put forth. Yes, against big Wall Street banks; fat cats on Wall Street.

THOMAS: Well, they're trying to allow businesses to grow.

JACOBSON: Well, look, and CNN put out a poll, I think, six or seven days ago: only 34 percent of Americans support the GOP tax plan. At the end of the day, like if the Republicans are going to give big tax giveaways to millionaire and billionaire folks --

THOMAS: They're talking about the tax.

JACOBSON: Well, they're talking about doing away with the estate tax, because of the wealthiest Americans. THOMAS: Which is a double tax.

JACOBSON: Whatever. It's the one percent, at the end of the day, when you've got rising income inequality; those aren't the people who need a tax cut, it's middle-class.

VAUSE: OK. We also know that Hillary Clinton believes that Russian and U.S. is one of the big factors which cost her the election, and we have now learned that a data company associated with the Trump campaign approached WikiLeaks during last year's election campaign to try and find the 33,000 e-mails that were missing from Hillary Clinton's time as Secretary of State.

And Jessica, this is yet another connection between the Trump campaign and Russian hackers. You know, WikiLeaks, U.S. intelligence, anyway got the Podesta e-mails, the John Podesta e-mails, which were all published from the Russians. You know, Julian Assange denies that he got it directly from the Russians, but whatever. This is -- you know, it does seem an incremental move he has, is there anything beyond that?

LEVINSON: I think it's another chapter in the story of Russian interference with the election. And I think it's important to remember that some of the interference looks like political interference, and then we also have a Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, who are looking at whether or not there was impermissible legal interference. And I think in the conversation about this, we tend to kind of muddle those two things. But in terms of the WikiLeaks, I think what is show is the Trump Campaign being potentially amenable to working with WikiLeaks, who was potentially working with the Russian government.

But notice how many times along the way I said "potentially." So, I think again we're still in the information-gathering phase. What we do know is that there is unanimity among the intelligence agencies that said, yes, there was Russian meddling, and nothing about this changes that conclusion.

SESAY: And let's just remind our viewers: one other thing we know is what Julian Assange tweeted today. He did confirm on Twitter, in a post, he said this, let's put it up on screen. He said, "I can confirm an approached by Cambridge Analytics prior to November last year and can confirm that it was rejected by WikiLeaks." This he tweeted giving, you know, confirmation to the story that they came after him for his help.

Obviously, the other point made here is that no one from the Trump campaign, none of the Trump folks we're copied on these e-mails that this guy, Alexander Nick sent reaching out to WikiLeaks. Dave, is that going to cut it in terms of plausible deniability? The fact that nobody in the campaign was on the e-mails?

JACOBSON: Not necessarily. Look, if these entities are subpoenaed, we could see that potentially some of the e-mails were forwarded perhaps, and we, perhaps, don't know necessarily who from the Trump campaign may have gotten additional information. So, I think like the jury's still out on that. But at the end of the day, this adds credence to why we need Bob Mueller to further investigate. This will figure out sort of what ties are out there. And I think it's the drip, drip, drip that continues to rain on Donald Trump's parade as it relates to Russia.

VAUSE: And John, sadly we're out of time. So, we'll move on to Clinton and the DNC financing that -- no, seriously.


VAUSE: Just freaking you out on this one.


[01:15:05] VAUSE: This is not exactly a new revelation. This is sort of an I'll-keep-you-around-for-a-while. There's always this, you know, everyone -- it's been out there for a while that Clinton and the Democrats financed at least part of this dossier on Trump, you know, this infamous one. But you know, why is it that the Republicans now see this as possibly the tide-turning in the Russian investigation?

THOMAS: Well, I just think it's a pot-meet-kettle situation for the Clinton an all the ex-Clintonites that gallivant around cable television stations. All are saying that the Trump Campaign colluded with Russia, how could they? And they banked essentially so much on this. Yet it turns out that the Clinton Campaign and the DNC were paying for -- to work, allegedly, with the Russian government to attack, to allegedly colluding to hurt Trump. So, it's just this glass house situation. But when they talk about it it's opposition research, but when Trump might have done it, collusion.

SESAY: Let's give the last words to Jessica.

VAUSE: Explain the difference.

SESAY: Yes, explain the difference, and not only that, to of the point of difference: Hillary Clinton's post-election narrative has been all about, you know, Russia and the interference, and, you know, I lost because of their involvement. Does this involvement of the DNC and the Hillary Campaign, does that impact that narrative she has used on the road since she lost?

LEVINSON: Well, I think like so many things, we just basically hear a couple of terms and then we equate them. So, we hear like Russian involvement. And then, we say well both sides do it. But I think it's important to separate those two things. And so, what the Clinton campaign asked for was opposition research and they employed an ex- British intelligence agent, who may have then contacted Russian officials. That's very different from saying the Russian government was trying to sway the 2016 election in favor of one of the candidates.

And if you look at what came out of that potential opposition research, we also see that it is very different. Now, whether or not this has long-term damaging effects for the DNC, I think because we increasingly think in tweets, and in headlines, people are going to hear these two things, and we're going to equate them but they are separate. And again, it's important to keep our eyes on the prize of the legal investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the unanimity among the U.S intelligence agency. a community that there was some sort of interference here.

VAUSE: John, I hope you were taking notes.

THOMAS: But it strips the Democrats their moral high ground in this debate.

VAUSE: We're out of time. You get the last word.

SESAY: You did. Jessica, he took it from you, I'm sorry.

LEVINSON: No problem.

VAUSE: Thanks, guys.

SESAY: Thank you. Quick break here. Actress Natassia Malthe is the latest woman accusing Film Executive, Harvey Weinstein, of sexual assault. How he allegedly took advantage of her, coming up.

VAUSE: Also, had Harvey Weinstein and non-disclosure agreements. So, he's legally binding contracts which have silenced many alleged victims, but that might be coming to end.


[01:20:25] SESAY: Yet another actress is accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. Natassia Malthe says the film executive raped her in a hotel room in 2008, and later tried to involve her in another sex act. On Wednesday, Malthe described a graphic detail what happened.


NATASSIA MALTHE, NORWEGIAN MODEL AND ACTRESS: He said that he could give me a movie part in an upcoming film with the implication being that I had to sleep with him in order to get it. At some point, I remember telling him that I do not do the casting couch. I also told him that I do not give blowjobs in response to his asking for one -- this was after he had taken out his penis and was masturbating in front of me.

I was sitting on the bed talking to Harvey when he pushed me back and forced himself onto me. It was not consensual. He did not use a condom. However, he did not ejaculate it inside me. After having sexual intercourse, he masturbated and ejaculated. I was completely grossed out. I believe I disassociated during that time he was having sex with me. I laid still and closed my eyes and just wanted it to end. I played dead.


VAUSE: Malthe says her friends encouraged her to come forward and she wants her son now to understand how to respectfully treat women. SESAY: Now, Malthe's Attorney, Gloria Allred, is proposing the film

company bearing Weinstein's name create a fund to compensate Harvey's alleged victims.

VAUSE: More than 40 women have accused Weinstein of appropriate behavior ranging from sexual harassment to rape. He had denied allegations of non-consensual sex, but admits to some improper behavior and has apologized for it.

SESAY: Well, CNN Legal Analyst, Areva Martin, is also a Civil Right Attorney, joins me now to talk about the broader picture. You know, put it together, the totality of all these cases, and the first civil case to be brought in all of this, which is brought by an actress Dominique Hewitt who has also presented to the world, and by Gloria Allred on Wednesday. Now, she alleges that there was a sexual assault that took place in an L.A. hotel back in 2010. She's now suing Harvey Weinstein's former company, as he's been fired. The Weinstein Company, accusing them of negligence.


SESAY: Talk to me about that. She's claiming that the company had prior knowledge of Weinstein's repeated acts of sexual misconduct with women. On the face of it, how strong is her case?

MARTIN: Well, she has a couple of hurdles to overcome, some significant legal challenges: one the statute of limitations for sexual harassment or this kind of case in the civil courts is two years. So, we know this case is outside of that statute of limitations. Her lawyer, though, has a novel theory -- and the theory is that because all of this new information has just come forward to the Weinstein Company's knowledge of Harvey's activities and his actions, that therefore the statute starts over again.

SESAY: And does that hold water? Have you seen it play before like that?

MARTIN: It's a difficult theory, and we should expect that the defendant, in this case, is going to put up a very rigorous, you know, opposition, and it could be thrown out. But I think the lawsuit is important, nonetheless. There are so ma allegations that have been made. And we expected to see a barrage of civil cases and perhaps even some criminal prosecutions. We know that the Los Angeles Police Department, the New York Police Department, and even London are talking about investigating possible crimes have may have been committed. So, whether this particular civil case makes it or not, there are going be others.

SESAY: I want to pick up on you talking about how it might get thrown out. Because of a lawyer out of D.C., a woman called Debra Katz, she specializes in sexual harassment cases; she was quoted by the L.A. Times, and this is what she said after reviewing the complaint. She said, "This is going to get kicked out of court. As a practical matter, they're trying to say the Weinstein Company had a duty to protect every actress and every woman in the world from sexual misconduct by Weinstein, and that's just not going to fly." Explain. MARTIN: It's going to be difficult. This woman did not work for the

company. There would be a different calculus if she was an employee, because, then there would be a clear argument that they, as the employer, had an obligation to keep that workplace free of sexual harassment and sexual assault. And that he was an agent, he was an employee of the company, so there would be a very clear argument. Again, putting the statute of limitations aside, if she worked for the company. Some of these women had no affiliation with the Weinstein Company.

SESAY: So, their duty of care, so speak.

[01:25:07] MARTIN: Their duty of care did not extend to every woman that he meets at a restaurant, someone he meets on a movie set. So, it's a very difficult theory, I agree with the attorney. But again, I think these lawsuits are important. The company may be compelled, as we see Gloria Allred is suggesting that a fund is set up to compensate these women whose claims are outside of the statute of limitations. We haven't seen that done. I don't expect them to do that. But sometimes, filing a lawsuit creates an opportunity for settlement.


MARTIN: Each side is going to make arguments about the strength of their cases. And if they believe that this case can go far, if they can get into discovery, if they can start taking depositions, there may be some incentive to enter into some kind of pretrial settlement. So, lawsuits have value even if they don't go the distance.

SESAY: Speaking of settlements. I want to talk about the use of Non- Disclosure Agreement because what we've seen is these settlements, and at least eight, according to the New York Times have been made between Harvey Weinstein and women. And then, they are closed down, all the information is sealed in these Non-Disclosure Agreements.

MARTIN: Yes, yes. Very commonly used in these kinds of cases.

SESAY: Has to be said a lot of these women, all of them under these NDAs. But Harvey Weinstein's assistant, Zelda Perkins, who also had an NDA has broken it -- she has broken it, speaking to the Financial Times. And I want to ask you, how much legal jeopardy is she in for breaking an NDA?

MARTIN: So, let's talk about these agreements. There are -- essentially, I file a lawsuit against a company, they want to settle the lawsuit, they pay me a certain amount of money, and in exchange for paying me that money, they ask for a Non-Disclosure Agreement. You can't talk about the settlement of this case. All you can say is that we reached an amicable resolution. You can't talk about how much money or any of the other terms of the agreement.

And essentially, that prevents anyone from talking about it. So, other women in the workplace who may suffer the same harassment don't know that you have filed a lawsuit, and this person has a history harassment. When you break it, usually there's a clause that says if you break, you have to pay damages -- money damages, and sometimes those damages may be more than the amount that you've in the settlement. So, the consequences of a breach are civil damages.

SESAY: OK. Breach, civil damages. Gretchen Carlson, who filed that suit against Roger Ailes, the former boss of Fox News. She's now come out as an advocate fighting against these NDAs. She said very much what you said that it leaves these women on their own, kind of basically dealing with -- in fact, I can read what she said.


SESAY: Let's be accurate. She said, "We have chosen as a culture to silence the victims either with settlements where you are gagged from ever saying what happened to you or and forced arbitration which is a part of employment contracts now, and here's the key -- it's secret." Basically, secrecy basically keeps this under wraps and allows people to suffer in silence.

MARTIN: So, if someone can have ten of these lawsuits, one person in one company and no one knows anything about it. So, when you get ready to file a lawsuit, if you have the, you know -- if you have facts, you may not know that your co-worker, that other co-workers, that former employees have had similar claims against that same employee.

SESAY: What are the chances these things will be prohibited? I mean, that's the big question there.

MARTIN: Well, we know the state of California, a senator says she's going to be introducing a bill before the California legislature in January to make certain kinds of Non-Disclosure Agreements and certain sexual harassment claims illegal in the state of California. And if that bill passes, we know as California goes, so does the rest of the country. So, we could see legislatures all over this country introducing similar bills and making these agreements null and void.

SESAY: Yes. We will be keeping a very close eye on that. Victims should not be suffering in silence.

MARTIN: Absolutely not. This -- the number of people that have been forced either to resign or make some kind of apology since the story has broken is just as -- every day there's a new person who's come forward.

SESAY: Every day.

MARTIN: The culture is changing, which is a good thing.

SESAY: And the list is growing longer. Areva, thank you.

VAUSE: Chances are, we haven't hit the bottom yet either. OK. A short break. Next, on NEWSROOM L.A., we'll explain why Kenya's opposition is telling voters to stay home and boycott the presidential election underway at this very hour.

[01:29:21] SESAY: Plus, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. evacuated from a refugee camp in South Sudan after protests get out of hand.


[01:31:55] VAUSE: Welcome, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour, a day after he was on the receiving end of scathing criticism from two Republican Senators, U.S. President Trump insists the party is united. He called Tuesday's meeting with senators on tax reform, a love fest.

VAUSE: A senior North Korean Official says the world should take its threat to test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean literally. The official tells CNN's Will Ripley, North Korea has always brought its words into action.

SESAY: U.S. President Donald Trump is planning a big meeting Thursday on the country's opioid crisis. He says, he'll soon declare a national emergency which would free up federal funds and resources to fight the epidemic. President Trump used the words, national emergency, for the crisis back in August, but he's yet to make it official.

Well, Kenya's controversial presidential election is now underway and August's election was annulled because of the accusations of irregularities by the opposition. Critics say this new vote won't be fair either. The Kenya Supreme Court failed to hear their challenge because not enough justices showed up to a hearing on Wednesday to make a ruling.

U.S. officials say the military was seeking authority to arm its drone in Niger before the deadly ambush that killed four U.S. soldiers earlier this month. The drones came to that firefight within minutes but without weapons, they weren't able to fire on the attackers. Now, there's a higher urgency to get arms clearance. Still part of a widening operation in Niger, which until a few weeks ago, most Americans had never heard of this operation. Even before U.S. troops dead, the details surrounding the deadly ambush remained murky. U.S. President Donald Trump says the operation wasn't his idea.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a dangerous business. I have to say, it's a dangerous business. So what -- no, I didn't. Not specifically. But I have generals that are great generals. These are great fighters, these are warriors. And I gave them authority to do what's right so that we win. That's the authority they have. I want to win. And we're going to win. And we're beating ISIS very badly. You look at what's happened in the Middle East. We have done more in eight months than the previous administration has done in many years.


VAUSE: This isn't the type of mission, though, which a President would personally authorize. It w supposed to be routine, but ended in disaster.

SESAY: Well, CNN has dispatched a team to Niger to investigate how an intelligence-gathering mission went so wrong? Our David McKenzie has more from the Nigerian capital.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just a few hours from where I'm standing here in the capital is where that deadly ambush took place, on the border regions between Niger and Mali. So, many questions about what exactly happened and how the American Special Forces got into harm's way. The Nigerian authorities are not commenting on what happened. But we are getting word from U.S. officials that the group might have been looking for a high-value target or information on a high-value terror target in the lead up to that deadly ambush. The American Forces have been in Niger for some time. In fact, they're building a $100-million drone base here in the country.

[01:35:05] Niger is seen as a critical ally in the fight against terror and the U.S. is engaged in an advisory and assist role mainly, and looking to help with intelligence gathering, and that's been going on for some time though. Now, of course, it's in the public eye because of the tragic death of these American soldiers. David McKenzie, Niamey, Niger.


VAUSE: It was some harrowing moments for the United States' U.N. Ambassador, Nikki Haley, was visiting a U.N. refugee camp in South Sudan on Wednesday when protest became rowdy, forcing her to leave.

SESAY: Well, Haley also had some choice words about terrorism for the country's President. CNN's Global Affairs Correspondent Elise Labott is traveling with the ambassador.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Nikki Haley had a blunt message for South Sudanese message Salva Kiir that not only is his violence against his people creating a humanitarian disaster, it could also create a vacuum and instability that extremists could exploit.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, getting a firsthand look on the ground in South Sudan, trying to prevent Africa's next safe haven for terrorists, weeks after the ISIS ambush in Niger that killed four Americans.

NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: A government that's ignoring its people leads to conflict, and we're seeing that situation deteriorate. And what happens is, when that conflict hits, it also becomes a breeding ground for extremist groups. And that's what we don't want.

LABOTT: A sentiment echoed by the top U.S. commander in Africa, Thomas Waldhauser who in Africa this week with Haley said, "With all the challenges with the youth bulge, the poverty, the lack of governance, the wide open spaces, these are areas where extremists like ISIS or Al Qaeda thrive." Haley warned President Salva Kiir his actions in the brutal civil war were seeing his own country descend into chaos.

HALEY: The United States has invested a lot in South Sudan and they've invested a lot in him. Over $11 billion was invested into a country, and this isn't what we asked for in return. We didn't ask for rapes, we didn't ask for people to be fearful of their government. We didn't ask for the hunger, we didn't ask for all of the violence that's happening. And so, it was a tough message of we need this to be fixed.

LABOTT: With 4 million people displaced from their homes, South Sudan's refugee crisis being compared to that of the Rwandan genocide. Devastation Haley witnessed at a refugee camp in neighboring Ethiopia, where hundreds of thousands have fled the violence. Peacekeepers guard this protection camp in South Sudan's capital Juba with the cries of, "Down with Kiir," and "Kiir is a killer," are mixed with, "Welcome, Donald Trump," and pleas for U.S. help Haley was forced to leave the camp when the protests grew intense. But ISIS ambush of U.S. forces in Niger has put in sharp focus how a region riddled with political chaos, violence, and famine draws extremists that can threaten the U.S. The terror threat the U.S. is facing in Africa is immense.

In Somalia, the U.S. military is helping local forces defeat al- Shabaab which is responsible for many terror attacks. General Waldhauser saying, "In places like the Sahel, in places like Somalia, ISIS continues to look for location, looks for place to establish itself." And Haley told the few journalists traveling with her that unless something is done right away to stop the violence and help the hundreds of thousands of children affected by the conflict that those kids will grow into adults with no future, no job, and resentful of the United States for not doing more to help. That's exactly the kind of people that extremists in Africa are looking to exploit. Elise Labott, CNN, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.


SESAY: Well, the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar has been described by the U.N. human rights chief as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. More than 600,000 Rohingya, a Muslim minority in Myanmar, have fled the country since August. In that time, relief workers say they've seen cases of sexual assault on girls as young as nine and gang rape perpetrated by the Myanmar military.

VAUSE: U.S. lawmakers say hundreds of men, women, and children have been driven from their homes and systematically killed. Meanwhile, Rohingya refugees are now struggling to survive in camps in nearby Bangladesh.

SESAY: I want to bring in Matthew Smith. He is co-founder and CEO of the human rights group Fortify Rights. He visited one of the refugee camps last month and joins us now from Bangkok, Thailand. I should also say Matthew has been following the situation with the Rohingya for a long time. Matthew, thank you so much for joining us. As you know, the group Doctors Without Borders is working in those camps in Bangladesh with these Rohingya who have managed to flee Rakhine State. And some of their medics reporting that they're treating Rohingya children, some under 10, for rape. You and your group have spent a lot of time documenting what is happening. What can you tell us about the systematic targeting of women and girls?

[01:40:10] MATTHEW SMITH, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, FORTIFY RIGHTS: Thank you for having us. It is a -- it's an enormous problem. And we have been documenting it for several months. Myanmar army soldiers targeted women, Rohingya women, and girls. We documented rapes and gang rapes in (INAUDIBLE) settings, in some cases in schools, in front homes, in homes, in forested areas. And these -- really, the rapes started on a systematic scale back in October of 2016. And we've seen various waves of it since then. And unfortunately, we don't have an accurate figure of the number of women and girls who've been affected by this, but it is -- it is staggering.

SESAY: Yes, it is. It's hard to believe. I want to read from a piece you wrote for Time magazine about what came out of the interviews. You did of victims and witnesses of that earlier crackdown back in 2016 that you were referencing. It will actually be a year ago this month that it took place in Rakhine State.

You wrote this, you said, "What struck us the most was the systematic nature of it all. Soldiers from different battalions committed similar violations in a similar fashion across disparate geographic locations. These were not spontaneous outbursts of violence or random crimes by rogue soldiers. It was a systematic attack on civilians. And it was more than that. State security forces appeared intent on destroying Rohingya." Matthew, what you are -- what you are stating, what you are describing there is essentially genocide.

SMITH: That's right. And at this point, we sadly -- it is not unreasonable to be talking about the crime of genocide. Based on what we're seeing on the ground, what we've been documenting in these latest waves of violence. Certainly, ethnic cleansing that we've collected evidence of crimes against humanity, and we can say confidently at this point, there's mounting evidence of genocide.

SESAY: So, this is another point I think is absolutely crucial for our viewers and you make it in this piece. I want to read this to everyone, and you know, it might seem complicated to hear it at first, so I want you to explain it for us. You say this, "The intent to destroy must not be confused with motive. While some perpetrators may be motivated to forcibly clear the Rohingya population from Rakhine State, meaning to say, ethnic cleansing, they can achieve that by committing the crime of genocide. And that's exactly what's happening now."

So, in the context of the U.N. saying that what we're seeing is, you know, a textbook example of ethnic cleansing, why are the saying ethnic cleansing and not genocide? Kind of give us some perspective on what we're looking at here.

SMITH: Yes. Well, I mean, perpetrators can be motivated by any number of things. They could be motivated by racial hatred, they can be motivated by a desire to take over land. And if they -- if they seek to achieve those motivations through acts of genocide with the intent to destroy part of the group, which inarguably that's what's taking place, then we're talking about both ethnic cleansing and the crime of genocide. With regard to the United Nations and others, internationally, I think taking that step to allege genocide coming from the United Nations. Like right now, there's a fact-finding mission. The U.N. is collecting as much information as it can and will make some sort of -- presumably some sort of determinations soon.

And we certainly don't expect anybody to make some sort of determination whether it's ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, or genocide, without collecting proper amounts of evidence. We feel at this point that we have collected enough evidence to make -- to at least be extremely concerned about the crime of genocide if not to say explicitly that it is, in fact, taking place.

SESAY: Matthew, from everything you have learned from the many months that you have been documenting this, and all the pictures we see, all the stories we hear of the horror, the pain, the loss, the suffering, what do you make of the level of diplomatic pressure being brought to bear on Myanmar? I mean, is it what you would expect? Is it commensurate in your view?

SMITH: I think the international community can and should do a lot more right now. The diplomatic community in Myanmar has traditionally been very cautious in its dealings with the Myanmar authorities, always attempting to stay within the Myanmar authorities' good graces. And unfortunately, this approach has come at the expense of the rights of the Rohingya population and other ethnic populations in Myanmar as well.

[01:45:03] We have seen some conversations at the Security Council. I've participated in an informal briefing for the U.N. Security Council in early September. We saw the Security Council have a public session on this, an open session in which many Member States condemned the violation that are taking place. That's positive. Unfortunately, it was not followed up with action. And right now, what's desperately needed is action. So, there are a number of steps the international committee could take. For example, sanctioning those who are responsible for these atrocities. We're also advocating for the Security -- the U.N. Security Council to work towards a referral to the international criminal court, to investigate, try and prosecute those who are responsible. Until there's some accountability for these violations, we are worried we're just going to see more mass killing, more mass rape, mass gang rape and other violations.

SESAY: We're all worried with you. Matt Smith, thank you so much for joining us and bringing your valuable insight into the terrible situation facing the Rohingya. Thank you.

SMITH: Thank you so much.

VAUSE: We will take a short break. When we come back, the U.S. President and the hardest word to say, he never seems to back down, never apologizes that helps him in the short term but could cause some big political problems down the track.



ELTON JOHN, SINGER: It's sad, so sad, why can't we talk it over? Oh, it seems to me that sorry seems to be the hardest word.


VAUSE: And it was 1976 when Elton John apparently sobbing with regret, recorded that mournful ballad, putting to music. The emotional struggle of righting wrongs and accepting responsibility for the pain and hurt our actions can sometimes inflict on others. For the U.S. President, though, there seems to be no such inner turmoil because being Donald Trump apparently means never having to say you're sorry. The more Mr. Trump claims he's a church-going (INAUDIBLE). In 2015, he said he'd never asked even God for forgiveness.


TRUMP: I'm not sure I have. I just go and try and do a better job from there. I don't think so. I think I -- if I -- if I do something wrong, I think I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't.


VAUSE: As a candidate and now a president, Donald Trump has fought and bickered with the widow and the parents of U.S. soldiers killed in action, the pope, judges, senators, football players -- the list goes on -- they're often the target of unproven accusations or outright falsehoods. He belittles insults and never expresses a moment of regret, never corrects the record when he is wrong. Instead, he'll often just pretend he never said it or blamed others for the mistake.

[01:50:08] Trump biographer and CNN Contributor Michael D'Antonio is with us now from New York to try and explain why the U.S. President always starts so many fights and all of these feuds but why does he keep them going and can never back down? So, Michael, in the Donald Trump universe, what's the point here, these never-ending conflicts?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the point is in part, to be in conflict, I think he sees this as a wonderful, dramatic opportunity, so at any given moment, he's fighting with someone. And once he runs out of things to fight about with you, then he'll fight with me. So, this is something that keeps him in the news. I actually think it energizes him, and it's also a way of not dealing with the great many issues. So, if everyone is focused on the terrible things you're saying, they may not pay attention to the terrible things you're doing.

VAUSE: If you take Trump at his word, he seems to think he's never done anything wrong. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Why -- what do I have to get a repent, what do I have to ask for forgiveness if you're not making mistakes?


VAUSE: Does he really believe that he's always right and he really doesn't owe anyone an apology ever?

D'ANTONIO: Well, he never has actually apologized that I'm aware of. And when you were reading the introduction to our time here together, I think you mentioned that that song was from 1976 and I was going to just -- I was thinking, well, has he apologized since 1976? I don't think he apologized prior to 1976 either. So he really does believe that he is always correct, or he can make himself correct.

VAUSE: OK. Having said all of that, we did find one example from Donald Trump when he was a candidate actually saying the words, I apologize. It didn't sound like he meant it, but it came after the infamous Access Hollywood tapes where he was recorded talking about groping women. This is -- this is what he said after the tapes came out.


TRUMP: I've never said I'm a perfect person nor pretended to be someone that I'm not. I've said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.


VAUSE: OK. Well, a lot of people said that just lacked sincerity. It was wooden. And ultimately, you know, he was politically motivated for his survival as opposed to any regret, right?

D'ANTONIO: Well, precisely. And I was aware of that particular apology. I wasn't quite sure if he then went on to qualify it. I can't recall. But this is just how he is, and it worked for him in life if you measure success the way he measured it and it was money and publicity, and it worked for him as a politician, obviously.

VAUSE: Yes. If I recall correctly, he did go on after saying I apologize, to say how terrible Hillary Clinton was and that she was much worse than he is. And it's interesting the point you make that it had to reach that absolute pinnacle of his political survival, the survival of his marriage, you know, the respect of his children to make, you know, a less than sincere apology to the nation. What was interesting, though, is during the campaign, Trump picked fights with easy targets, rival politicians, he went after the media, in some ways, it was strategic, it worked well as you say. It seems now though he's picking a lot of fights that doesn't seem that he can win them, or is he picking fights -- so many fights that it sort of becomes toxic?

D'ANTONIO: Well, I do think there is going to be some kind of blowback for the President in all of this. I don't think you can go around fighting with everyone and also lying about them. A good example is Senator Corker. He said that Corker begged him to endorse him for re-election. That never happened. He said Corker was supportive of the nuclear weapons agreement with Iran. That wasn't true. So, eventually, it may leak into his base of support, and I think the miscalculation that he and many political observers make is that they talk about his 80 percent approval rate among Republican voters. But we have to understand that Republican voters represent only about a third of the electorate. So if you have 80 percent of one-third, that's not really a great number to take into your re- election pursuit which will be starting after 2018.

[01:55:07] VAUSE: OK. And I'm sure there'll be a lot more fights between now and then. Michael, thanks for being with us. Good to see you.

D'ANTONIO: My pleasure.

SESAY: I like some Elton John.

VAUSE: Oh, it was good, wasn't it?

SESAY: Really great/

VAUSE: 1976, great year, not that I --

SESAY: Yes, you were. Yes, you were. We're going to take a quick break. The Houston Astros won (INAUDIBLE) a classic here in Los Angeles a short time ago. A riveting game two in the World Series.

VAUSE: You were, too.

SESAY: No, I --


VAUSE: It was the stuff October baseball is known for. That's the Houston Astros won a thriller to even the World Series at one game apiece. It came down to the11th inning and this home run from Astros' outfielder George Springer.

SESAY: Well, Houston came back from two runs down to the game in the night against the Dodgers (INAUDIBLE) from their both teams trading punches and a slugfest. This game featured eight home runs, the most in any World Series game ever.

VAUSE: Wow. Game three, Friday, in Houston, and if it's anything like what you just saw, you could probably watch it (INAUDIBLE)

SESAY: I have no idea what's happening, so --

VAUSE: Oh, come on. It was good fun. (INAUDIBLE) baseball you only get like one home run if you're lucky. That was eight (INAUDIBLE)

SESAY: Scintillating. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. We'll be back. Stay with us.



TRUMP: Well, I think it's very sad what they've done with this fake dossier which made up --