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Trump Embarks Soon On His First Official Asia Trip; Special Counsel Probe Widens Its Scope; Trump Calls For Death Penalty Following New York City Terror Attack; Nightmare In Raqqa: One Family's Harrowing Story; Europe Wide Warrant Sought For Puigdemont; House Of Cards Crew Members Speak Out; Apple iPhone X Hits The Shelves; Top 10 CNN Heroes 2017 Announced. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired November 3, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, Donald Trump heads to Asia for the first time as U.S. president, and before leaving couldn't resist one more threat aimed at North Korea. Plus, Kevin Spacey accused of predatory behavior. Some of the actor's closest associates are now cutting ties. And later, the latest iPhone in its Apple store shelves, we're looking at whether the 10, the X if you want, lives up to its $1000 price tag. Hello and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.

U.S. President Donald Trump is about to embark on his first official trip to Asia since taking office. He'll travel to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and The Philippines. Many important issues are on his agenda, but looming over them, is the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. South Korea spy agency says Pyongyang appears to be preparing to conduct more missile and nuclear tests. The U.S., South Korea, and Japan have been conducting joint military drills in the region for weeks. U.S. B1 Bombers made a flyover of South Korea on Thursday with an escort of fighter jets. President Trump has warned of dire consequences if North Korea does not change course.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have one problem that's a very big problem, it's called North Korea. North Korea's a thing that I think we will solve, and if we don't solve it, it's not going to be pleasant for them, it's not going to be very pleasant, I guess, for anybody.


SESAY: Well, CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us now live from Seoul, South Korea. And Paula, the president's word sure to raise tensions ahead of his departure for Asia, and it makes that question of how North Korea might respond, how they might act during his time in the region?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Well, it's a big question here what kind of response, if any, will North Korea have? Will there be a missile test? We heard from the intelligence agency here in South Korea just on Thursday, briefing lawmakers that they said -- that they see some preparations, some increased activity at a missile research facility saying that there could well be a missile launch in the future. Also saying, that they believe the third tunnel at the underground site where they've been carrying out their nuclear test is ready to go if they wanted another nuclear test. They said that still excavation wasn't needed on tunnel four.

Now, none of this is radically new. The fact that most experts, most officials will tell you there will be another missile test from North Korea. There will probably be another nuclear test as well. The North Korean leader making it very clear he has no intention of stopping this incredibly rapid development of his nuclear and missile program. But that's just the intelligence we're hearing behind the scenes here. So, the question is, of course, what will happen when Donald Trump is in the region? The -- whether there's a missile test, what kind of direction that missile is directed in, what kind of trajectory, what kind of range it has? There are many questions and many unknowns, but certainly, there are some who are a little on edge to see what kind of reaction there could be from North Korea. Isha?

SESAY: Yes. And indeed, if they were to take such a step, what the reaction would be from the United States while the president is there in the region. More broadly speaking with the president taking this five-country trip which will span 12 days, I mean, what's your sense of how Donald Trump will be received on these five stops?

HANCOCKS: Well certainly, the main thing he will be talking about for the first three stops is in Japan and South Korea and China, is North Korea. But it's also trade, so there's a number of issues when it comes to trade with the United States, but all three of those countries' trade deals are being renegotiated that's being pressure from the U.S. president, in these countries when it comes to trade. So, certainly, publicly, officials are saying that they are very welcoming of the U.S. President.

I think there will be some concern as to how much pushback they will feel from that trade. And of course, the personal relationships are very important to U.S. President. He gets on very well with the Japanese prime minister. It appears as though, he doesn't have such a quite close relationship with the South Korean president, and of course the Chinese premier. They always -- the president, they always talk about just how close that relationship is, and that's what we'll be looking at as well. And, of course, there will likely be a protest in each country.

SESAY: You're going to be very busy, Paula Hancocks. We appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much. Well, with me now Democratic Strategist, Caroline Heldman; and Republican Strategist, John Phillips. Thank you for being with me once again. Caroline to you first. We just had the president, you know, basically, sending another threat in North Korea's way, saying, you know, if they can't solve it, it's not going to be pretty -- if they can't solve the issue of North Korea. And then you play a program. Again, bring up the question of the president's rhetoric, his tone, what is presidential, and what is beneficial to the situation. His Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was asked about the issue of the president's language on Thursday. Take a listen to what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[01:05:27] H.R. MCMASTER, ADVISOR, NATIONAL SECURITY: The president will use whatever language he wants to use, obviously. And what the president has done is clarify in all of his discussions, his statements on North Korea are a determination to ensure that North Korea's unable to threaten our allies and our partners, and certainly the United States.


SESAY: Caroline, you heard H.R. McMaster there saying the president's going to use whatever language he's going to use. The question is, are they underestimating the threat from North Korea while you're dealing with someone like Kim Jong-un who is relatively unstable in this context.

CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think that that's indeed what's happening. I mean, we've had unstable leadership in North Korea or threatening leadership, if you will, in North Korea under now three presidents. And President Obama told Donald Trump this will be a big challenge. It is not a challenge that Donald Trump has risen to; he's actually, and probably inflamed the situation.

Certainly, if we just look at the number of the missile launch and missile test that have taken place in North Korea, his fiery rhetoric, which, you know, McMaster says has clarified things, I would argue that it hasn't. It's kind of -- you know, it's threatening but it's not specific. So, it's unclear whether or not, you know, we are using all of our diplomatic means, whether we're using sanctions, so what is next? A ground war, an air war, decapitation, removal of the leader? Like, what is he suggesting? And is his rhetoric actually accelerating tensions with North Korea? I would say the answer is yes.

SESAY: And John?

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: We've been using the Queens' English for decades and where has that gotten us? It looks like the fourth of July over there; he's shooting something up in the sky every time he turns around. I think the biggest statement that Trump is making to Kim on this trip, is the travel itinerary. He's going to meet with all of our allies. He's meeting with South Korea, Japan, China, others. He knows there's a united front: where if he attacks us, or he attacks one of our allies, he's going to get lit up like a Christmas tree. And that's something that needs to be reinforced over and over and over again, and I think Trump has done a magnificent job of letting him know that we mean business.

SESAY: Magnificent in what regard? I mean, if the proof if you will of his rhetoric is that he has, you know, led North Korea to rethink its position. Well, if that's the case, he's failed if North Korea continues to send things up in the sky.

PHILLIPS: Kim is a gangster; he's not a diplomat. So, you need to talk him like he's a gangster. We need to be realistic about this here.


PHILLIPS: It's not like dealing with any other normal head of state. This guy is a thug, and you need to talk to him like he's a thug, and you need to talk to him in a language that he understands. And I think for the first time in a long time, we're breaking through.

SESAY: OK. And Caroline, the president heads to the region. Obviously, North Korea's top of the agenda, along (INAUDIBLE), but he is a president going to a region beset by a number of problems at home, sagging poll numbers, of course, the special counsel investigation. Going to regions where three of those leaders, at least -- South Korea, Japan, and China -- are very strong, have a huge mandate, widely supported by their base. What does that mean for what Trump can achieve? How weakened is he, so to speak, going off to China and to Asia?

HELDMAN: I think anytime a U.S. president travels to Asia, we're in a pretty strong position given our trading status. I do think that it is a diversion that comes at, you know, a key time in the Mueller investigation. This is the start of the unraveling of possible charges with collusion as well as obstruction of justice. We know that that is a real threat, and, yes, his poll numbers are the lowest of any president at this point since we've been taking poll numbers since the '30s. So, I actually think this trip is really well-timed. The location is ideal because he's talking about things that I think all Americans can get behind. So, I actually think this trip will do well for Trump's image.

SESAY: All right. We're going to hit polls because you did mention the Russian investigation. Let's bring our viewers up to speed on that and I'll come back to you for our conversation. Special Counsel Rober Mueller's Russia probe appears to be widening its reach quelling in more of the president staffers, including members of his inner circle. Our Brianna Keilar reports from Washington.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Carter Page, one of President Trump's former Campaign Foreign Policy Advisers was on the Hill. He finally met with the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors, and so did Ike Kaveladze, one of eight people in the room with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and employee of a Russian oligarch at Trump Tower back in June of 2016. All of this as the president's former campaign chairman made his case to a judge.

President Trump's former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort in federal court. His attorneys, arguing he should not be confined a house arrest because he has been traveling legally and returning home since August when he was first aware he would be indicted. Monday a judge deemed Manafort a flight risk because of his history of deception and the 12 federal charges he's facing, including conspiracy against the U.S. and fraud, which carry a maximum penalty -- a more than 15 years in prison. [01:10:29] Prosecutors have noted that Manafort has three U.S.

passports with different numbers, and recently traveled abroad while using a phone and e-mail registered under an alias. Manafort's lawyers contend his $10 million bond and his strong family and community ties are sufficient to ensure he won't flee. They also argue Manafort is now one of the most recognizable people on the planet given the substantial media coverage around him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a restless desire for revival that I am certain to come January 2017, Mr. Trump will invoke.

KEILAR: Meanwhile, there are growing questions about what Attorney General Jeff Sessions knew about the Trump campaign in Russia. Amid revelations, he was in a meeting when according to court filings, former Trump Campaign Foreign Policy Advisor, George Papadopoulos, suggested Trump meet with Russia President Vladimir Putin. A person in the room at the time said Trump did not rule out the idea. But Sessions who was then Chairman of Trump's National Security Advisory Committee rejected the suggestion.

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Stretch my -- wreck my brain, and make sure I could answer any of those questions correctly.

KEILAR: Sessions failed to tell Congress about the proposed Trump- Putin meeting during his confirmation hearing. And again, during recent congressional inquiries into Russian election meddling.

SESSIONS: The idea that I was part of a "continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government" is totally false.

KEILAR: The Papadopoulos revelations are placing other Trump associates under fire. Sam Clovis, Trump's pick for a chief scientist at the Agriculture Department has within drawn his name from consideration. The unsealed court document show Papadopoulos contacted a campaign supervisor, who was Clovis, about a potential trip to Russia to meet with the Russian official. Clovis encouraged Papadopoulos to take the meeting.

In a statement address to the president, Clovis said he didn't want to be a negative distraction. Writing, "The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position. The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases an intensity each day. The Clovis pick was already controversial since he doesn't have a background in science and has a history of racial divisive and homophobic comments. He will, though, remain as a Senior White House Adviser on the Agriculture Department. Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


SESAY: Well, Caroline Heldman and John Phillips are still with me. And we have an addition to the team, Defense Attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez. Ambrosio, good to see you. Let me start with you in the context of this investigation. We got these comments over President Trump -- speaking on a radio show and expressing some frustration with the separation of powers. Take a listen.


TRUMP: The saddest thing is that because I'm the president of the United States I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I'm not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I'm not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing. And I am very frustrated but --


SESAY: Ambrosio, you are our legal mind here, you hear that from the president (INAUDIBLE) of the special counsel investigation underway, which, you know, he doesn't directly reference. I'm just saying, with that as the mood music, you hear that and you think what?

AMBROSIO RODRIGUEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That he got it completely wrong. I mean, it is a complete misstatement. The president of the United States has obviously the power and authority to appoint attorney general, deputy attorney generals and set the policy for the Department of Justice. What he doesn't have in order to protect the integrity of our Justice System is the ability or the power is involved in with the actual investigation, and try to determine who to prosecute and what is the job of career attorney and prosecutors that make the determination as to whether or not there's probable cause for investigation and who to investigate. We don't want a system where a president of the United States for political reasons investigates or prosecutes people. That's why we have civil servants and career prosecutors make those decisions. So, he's just wrong; that's just a misstatement of the law and his job.

SESAY: Well, Caroline, it sounds more like wishing, if you will and that things were different. You know, you hear the president say, you know, I'm not able to do the things that, you know, I really want to be doing. I mean, what is he getting at here? How are you interpreting those statements?

[01:15:07] HELDMAN: Well, I think it's pretty clear that he's bringing it up at a time when his campaign manager has been indicted and Gates, the Deputy Campaign Manager. And Mueller has turned Papadopoulos -- it's obvious that he is working with him. And so, it's a matter of time before more people are indicted. So, I think the president is lamenting the fact that he isn't a dictator over the Department of Justice, over the FBI. He specifically lamenting the fact that he can't actually meddle in investigations. And I think we've seen this a lot with him, right? That he has these dictatorial tendencies. He though the president was king, perhaps, you know. It would've been great 240 years ago, though we actually established a democratic republic with an elected president who is contained by the Constitution. And I'm glad to see that Donald Trump is discovering that, and he's being obvious about the fact that he doesn't like it.

SESAY: John, the president may not be able to do what he would like with the FBI and the Justice Department, but he can needle James Comey. Take a look at this tweet that he put out early on, on Thursday, citing Tucker Carlson: "Tucker Carlson's opening statement about our once cherished and great FBI was so sad to watch. James Comey's leadership was a disaster." He puts out the tweet. He -- we hear these comments about wanting to be more involved. What is the president exactly up to?

PHILLIPS: Yes. I think that's a bipartisan assessment of James Comey; ask Hillary Clinton what she thinks about --

SESAY: None of it is bipartisan; it's same motivations.

PHILLIPS: James Comey is one of the many different groups of people that Hillary Clinton blames for her loss in her boat that's out, and someone she's called out by name on many occasions on her book tour. I think the primary issue -- well there are two issues: one, the separation of powers for someone who comes from outside of the political world is a bit of a pill and a bit of problem; you have to learn your way through it because there are three branches of government. The other thing, I think, that is top of mind is he's still angry at Jeff Sessions for recusing himself because if Jeff Sessions didn't recuse himself, there'd be no Robert Mueller and no investigation. He sees this Russia investigation as one big distraction of taking him away --

SESAY: How can he still say that after the George Papadopoulos plea agreement? I mean, this -- surely this week, this investigation became mighty real for this White House.

PHILLIPS: There's still no proof of collusion. I mean, there's still -- the whole Paul Manafort charge has nothing to do with Russia collusion, that has to do with him not filling out the proper forms with the Treasury Department and try to hide money from the IRS.

HELDMAN: It has to do with the fact that multiple people in the Trump campaign have lied or covered up their involvement with Russia.

PHILLIPS: It has nothing to do with Russian collusion, which is the reason that Bob Mueller exist. The other thing, I think, that's causing him headaches with the Department of Justice right now is Rod Rosenstein is still a bit of a mystery, not just to Trump but to a lot of the political people in the West Wing of the White House. And so, they feel that the guy that they picked to run the Justice Department isn't the guy that's calling the shots. And I think that he's going to have a lot of hard feelings for Jeff Sessions for a long time.

SESAY: OK. Ambrosio, to you quickly. This is the day, Thursday, that we learned that Jared Kushner handed over documents to the special counsel and that questions are being asked in about Jared's involvement in the firing of James Comey. Does that suggest to you that Mueller is building an obstruction of justice case here?

RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely. In these -- look, when the FBI and the federal government goes after an organization and does an investigation, they flip people. They begin where the can and they move up the ladder. That is, they start with someone like Papadopoulos and see what information he provides in order to move up the chain. I mean, look, we just have to look at Watergate. It began with a break in with people that the White House claimed that they had no knowledge of and no involvement with, and it went up the chain to the attorney general at the time, and eventually into the oval office.

So, we are still at the beginning of all of this. But obviously, everything that's happened with -- that we've seen in the news for the last year involving Russia. And especially, I think, the most important thing is the number of times that Jared Kushner has gone back and re-filed his disclosure, that to me is a big indication of where this investigation is going, and what Robert Mueller is talking about. And just briefly about John's point that the separation of powers is a bitter pill to swallow. Look, I was taught in fourth grades in civics that the separation of power is one of the greatest things about this country, and what makes it so special, not a bitter pill to power.

PHILLIPS: Well, I mean --

SESAY: You have ten seconds, only because we have a break to get to. But --

[01:20:03] PHILLIPS: How many presidents would've lined item vetoes? This is not something that's new. I totally agree with the separation of powers that we have is the best form of government on planet Earth. But it's a frustration, not just this president, of many presidents.

SESAY: All right. We have to hear it, of course. Please stay with me. We're going to come back after a very quick break. Next, on NEWSROOM L.A., President Donald Trump is calling for the death penalty against the New York terror suspect. Plus, ISIS says that suspect was one of its soldiers; the terror group's claims, next. We're going to discuss all of this when we come back.


SESAY: Hello, everyone. ISIS claims the New York terror attacker is a soldier of the caliphate. The claim was just posted online by the group's weekly newspaper, (INAUDIBLE). ISIS did not provide any credible evidence that it had knowledge of the attack before it happened all that it was involved in the planning process. The terror group also did not claim direct responsibility for the attack or specifically name the suspected attacker.

Well, the name of the attack is Sayfullo Saipov, and he still has not even entered a plea to federal terrorism charges. But already President Trump is calling for the death penalty. In a tweet, he said, "New York City terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed eight people, badly injured 12. Should get the death penalty!"

Well, my guest Caroline, John, and Ambrosio are still with me, and they're here to discuss the president's death penalty comments. Ambrosio let me read you some tweets that the president put out just a couple of days ago, yesterday, I believe, with regard to the suspect in this terror attack. The president said this: "Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo, but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the federal system."

He goes on to say, "There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast death penalty." Ambrosio, you're our legal man, I mean, what does it mean for the case here against Saipov, that you have the president of the United States openly calling for the death penalty. Some would say that he's prejudicing the case before it's even got off the ground.

RODRIGUEZ: Right. He made a tough job, a hundred times tougher. The defense team will file two types of motion: one is to change venue, that means to move the trial out of New York City. Because of the president of the United States, and not just the president of the United States but a resident of New York City, and it's most famous at the time, said that he should get the death penalty.

Now, how -- they will argue to the judge that it is impossible for him to receive a fair trial in Manhattan because of the president's tweet. Moreover, they will also argue that he should not be eligible for the death penalty because now the president of the United States has come out and said before he knows anything about the case, other than what we know from the news. Because there are other defenses, other than just factual offenses.

[01:25:05] I'm sure there's going to be a mental health defense, maybe an insanity defense, but the fact that the president has done this, has tweeted this, it gives the defense ammunition that they didn't have before. Now, they might not succeed, but it makes the job of career prosecutors -- and look, as someone who has as a prosecutor tried death penalty cases; and as a defense attorney, defended death penalty, it is -- there's nothing like a death penalty case. It is the most difficult thing an attorney does.

It requires the best of the best. The judges are highly qualified. So, to kind of put this in the courts to bring this tweet, that kind of makes a sideshow of to -- of whether or not this gentleman should be tried in New York City and whether should get the death penalty, it just causes more chaos and distraction one of the most disciplined -- most disciplined parts of being a lawyer, which is death penalty litigation. It's just a shame that he just couldn't keep it to himself.

SESAY: And John, let me come to you on that point, the president couldn't keep it to himself, as you heard Ambrosio put it. Weighing in, called the death penalty, he did the same thing in terms of weighing in on the Bowe Bergdahl case, the U.S. Army soldier who deserted in Afghanistan. As the judge actually said, basically, that he will give him a lighter sentence, if you will, because of the president's comments. I mean, we have a real-world example of the impact of speaking out ahead of a trial, and he's done it again.

PHILLIPS: This is why we have the death penalty for people like this. And I wouldn't be too worried about making the jury bias, considering the fact that the guy committed this crime on television at high noon. So, I think we all know where the jury is going to go with this anyway. I'd execute twice if we could. And this one thing where Trump --

SESAY: He's still entitled to the norms and the due process, and is entitled to a fair trial. That is what this country is built upon, right?

PHILLIPS: Absolutely, and he'll have a trial. But the fact of the matter is, is that we're so used to having presidents that when something like this happens, the first thing we do is we get lectured to about, don't anybody get mad, don't anyone do anything rash, or do anything, you know, wrong here. Instead of anger at the person who perpetrated the crime. I'm happy, we finally have a leader that's coming out and throw a little, this guy's way.

SESAY: It is interesting that in the case of White Supremacist in Charlottesville who ran his car into Heather Heyer and claimed her life, which was also capture on camera. The president did not come out and say death penalty.

PHILLIPS: And this guy is going to get prosecuted and they're moving forward with that --

SESAY: No, no, but let's just stick to the fact that the president -- no.

PHILLIPS: -- people were criticizing him about Las Vegas, too.

HELDMAN: He has a double standard, right? When it comes to a person of color driving into a crowd, which I am -- I agree with you, I'm glad he condemned it. I think it was stupid to use death penalty because it does weaken the case. But he didn't do the same thing with Heyer in Charlottesville, right? He said there are good people on both sides. Where was his condemnation of the Las Vegas shooter? Why didn't he call for the death penalty there?

PHILLIPS: Because the guy was dead.

HELDMAN: He's got a double standard -- oh, sorry, you're right; you're absolute -- but why didn't he call out that shooter? Why didn't he say that there was -- condemn it?

PHILLIPS: The difference between Las Vegas and this one is with this one, we know the motive of the shooter, with Las Vegas, we still don't know the motive of the shooter.

SESAY: Well, let me make it clear the correlation between Charlottesville and what happened in New York in that case. Because if that's the case, hate is hate. I mean, (INAUDIBLE) admittedly. But on the face of it, hate is hate. But the president's response was different.

PHILLIPS: And he condemned that. He absolutely did.

HELDMAN: He didn't condemn what happened in Las Vegas. He did not condemn what happened in Las Vegas.

PHILLIPS: There was one person that was killed there. This was a terror attack that killed multiple people.

HELDMAN: It was a terror attack in Las Vegas. He didn't do that. SESAY: We must hit pause. Ambrosio, I want to say thank you for

joining us and giving us your legal insights. We very appreciate it. Thank you.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

SESAY: Just one quick point to put to my guest in the studio, that would be the bombshell that Donna Brazile threw into the House of Democrats on Thursday, by basically revealing that there was indeed a deal during the primary. She said the primary was rigged. Let's share with our viewers some of what she said in this upcoming book.

Basically, it's this agreement that was made between Hillary Clinton and the DNC and this I what Donna Brazile is saying, "Specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party's finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would the party communication director."

And she goes on to say, "and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC was also required to consult with the campaign about all of the staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings." Basically, Hillary Clinton, according to Donna Brazile was running the DNC. Caroline.

HELDMAN: Well, I would say a couple of things. As, you know, someone who voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary, I wouldn't say this is news. I think it was pretty obvious at the time that the DNC was in a bag of Hillary Clinton. And in fact, the financial agreement that she signed in 2015 -- Hillary Clinton being signed with the DNC -- was public knowledge, as was the agreement that Bernie Sanders signed.

[01:30:12] Hillary Clinton raised a lot of money for the party, she raised a lot of money for the party. She raised a lot of money for down ticket candidates. Bernie Sanders didn't do that.

So in some sense, I see this as being a very positive thing for Hillary Clinton. Donna Brazile is, I think, framing it in a much of a dishonest way. The parties actually are there to support the candidates they think is most electable. It didn't change the outcome of this.

Hillary Clinton was the most electable candidate. She would've been elected regardless of whether or not this was signed --

ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: (INAUDIBLE) join because I'm running out of time. I'm sorry, Caroline. And he's bursting.

HELDMAN: Oh, let John have his moment.

SESAY: He is bursting. You have --


SESAY: You have 30 seconds though. PHILLIPS: This deal was cut in 2015 and I feel like sending Debbie Wasserman Schultz an edible arrangement because this was obvious to everyone in the world. And it's not the fact that she prevented Bernie from winning domination because he had no chance in the general election. It was the fact that everyone knew the DNC was behind Hillary so early on that people like Joe Biden didn't get in. And Joe Biden was a threat.

SESAY: All right. Well, thank you for minding the time there, I appreciate it. You are just (INAUDIBLE) and Caroline, don't (INAUDIBLE) us, we appreciate it. Thank you. We're going to take a very quick break here on NEWSROOM L.A. We'll be back with more news after this. Stay With us.


SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm Isha Sesay. The headline this hour, U.S. President Donald Trump leaves for Asia in the coming hour. He's hoping to find the solution to threat post by North Korea. South Korea spy agencies says Pyongyang is prepared to conduct another nuclear test at any time and has prepared another missile test.

The U.S. official said the regime is working on an advanced missile capable of reaching the U.S. And as Special Counsel Robert Mueller Russia probe continues to intensify, President Trump says he's frustrated by his inability to implement the Justice Department and the FBI. On a radio show Thursday he said he wishes he could make them pursue charges against Hillary Clinton.

ISIS claimed the New York terror attacker is the soldier of the caliphate. The claim was posted online a short time ago by the group's weekly newspaper Naba. ISIS did not provide any credible evidence that it had knowledge of the attack before it happened. All that it was involved in the planning process.

The terror group also did not claim direct responsibility for the attack. It's an existence most of us could never imagine, airstrikes, bombed-out homes being used as human shield and protecting children from becoming sex slaves in porn. But now that ISIS has been driven from Raqqa the joy and the relief are pouring out. CNN's Arwa Damon has one family story.


[01:34:59] ARWA DAMON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She rips open her black abaya and is almost hysterical in her relief. She and her children threw themselves at their savior's feet. It's a miracle they're alive. An airstrike hit the five-story building they were in during the last days of the battle for Raqqa.

When we meet Najah Al-Hamid from 10 days after they got out, the family is still in the same clothes.

NAJAH AL-HAMID, RAQQA RESIDENT: All my neighbors thought we were dead. They were shocked we are alive. DAMON: They are now at the main refugee camp but kept in an isolated segment under armed guard along with others who were the last to escape. Many of them were suspected being the families of hardcore ISIS fighters. Najah says she and her family had nothing do with ISIS, that they tried to flee so many times. Five-year-old Mays mimics what the ISIS fighter would say.

MAYS: I swear to God, I will put a bullet in your head.

DAMON: They say they were held as human shields as Raqqa crumbled around them, terrified, under siege, with barely anything to eat. ISIS kept any available food for themselves.

AL-HAMID: My daughter, this is one, she would go to the burnt-out cars and suck the gasoline out with a hose so we could bake bread.

DAMON: You did that?

AL-HAMID: Yes, tell her.

DAMON: Haneen is just nine years old.

AL-HAMID: What did you use to bring us?

HANEEN: Water and food. And gasoline.

DAMON: And you weren't afraid? No?

AL-HAMID: All the kids were afraid, but she would go

DAMON: One day she somehow managed to beg a tiny piece of meat off of ISIS. Just the sight of it made the children shriek with joy. It's such a heartbreaking depiction of just how deprived they were of even the most basic of things.

Haneen would also scrounge through abandoned often bombed-out homes looking for food. Haneen had to go not just due to her bravery but because Najah says her older children couldn't. ISIS was conscripting youth and 15-year-old Shaimaa had to stay hidden. An ISIS fighter had already tried to take her as his bride.

SHAIMAA: My mother went to the kitchen and confronted him. She said, "Either you leave or I will kill you."

DAMON: You pulled a knife on him?

AL-HAMID: It's my daughter, what was I supposed to do?

DAMON: You pulled a knife on him?

AL-HAMID: Yes, and I wasn't scared and I won't be scared. It's my daughter. My daughter. What could I do? I would die for her.

DAMON: The fighter even offered $10,000. She said she would never sell her daughter no matter what cost. In the last weeks, the children's father says ISIS asked for his 11-year-old. The family stayed hidden with no electricity in pitch darkness once night fell, yet somehow still able to giggle despite the horrors.

A handful of photos show how they tried to pass the time, even playing dress-up. Najah who says she never prayed in the past, spent her time reading the Quran. She's an avid smoker, something banned under ISIS and now she relishes every drag.

But where and how do they even begin to find that comfort and stability of home? Their lives, their reality have been so upended, they don't even know how to begin to come to grips with all they have endured. Arwa Damon, CNN, Ain Issa, Syria.


SESAY: The Spanish prosecutors are seeking Europe wide arrest warrant for ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont. On Thursday he failed to show up in a Madrid court when either of his cabinet members were detained without bail over the region's independence split. He lashed out at the imprisonment in a video message taped from Brussels.


CARLES PUIGDEMONT, OUSTED CATALAN LEADER (through translator): As the president of the legitimate government of Catalonia, elected in the polls on September 27th, I demand the release of the members of my cabinet and the vice president. I demand the respect for all political options and I demand the end of the political repression.


SESAY: Well, thousands of people also protested in Barcelona after the Catalan leaders were taken into custody. Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., after nearly a week of public harassment allegations, Kevin Spacey's House of Card's co-workers have a lot to say about him.


SESAY: Hello, everyone. Eight people who work or have worked on the hit Netflix show House of Cards say Kevin Spacey turned the set into a toxic place. One former production assistant claims the TV star assaulted him in a car after he previously complained to his superior about harassment. The former employee says, "I have no doubt that this type of predatory behavior was routine for him and that my experience was one of many, and that Kevin had few if any qualms about exploiting his status and position.

It was a toxic environment for young men who had to interact with him at all in the crew, cast, background actors." Meanwhile, production on the final season of House of Cards has been suspended. Spacey's publicist and representing agency CAA have dropped him and he is seeking unspecified treatment. Let's get more in all of this, let's get straight to my guess Rebecca Sun, senior reporter for "The Hollywood Reporter".

Rebecca, you have never been busier covering all of these stories and it is -- it is truly shocking when you pause and take note of the scale. Let's talk specifically about Ken Spacey and what's coming out now about the situation on set. What are you learning?

REBECCA SUN, SENIOR REPORTER, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: It's right, you know, I mean, the first few accusations against Kevin Spacey occurred decades ago, you know, when he was a stage actor, sort of, emerging on screen. But today, the eight, you know, people who have come forward this is very, very recent. This is, you know, he was -- they were saying that he was sexually harassing them on the set of House of Cards.

You know, and that the production company was aware of an earlier incident and he had already gone through, you know, sort of this sexual harassment training, so --

SESAY: This is the incident from five years ago.

SUN: Correct, correct. Like during the beginning of the series run. And so they said, you know, he went through the training, he was very cooperative. So he was warned, you know. And yet, you know, seven other people, you know, and so, you know, and so that took a lot of swift indecisive action.

And I think that was what led CAA and his publicist to part ways with him today.

SESAY: I mean, but it comes back to this whole situation, you know, each individual is separate in their actions but the Harvey Weinstein and the Kevin Spacey thing, you come back to, what did people know?

SUN: Yes.

SESAY: I mean, why didn't they do more? Because it sounds as if -- I don't know what your reporting is telling you, that it was another open secret, at least that's the allegation.

SUN: Right. You can definitely go online and see the, you know, multiple accounts. You know, many anonymously sourced and sort of couched these rumors and whispers that, you know, Kevin Spacey has always had an appetite for younger men. You know, there were rumors about his sexuality for a very long time which I will emphasize, are different from the allegations of sexual assault and especially of minors.

But, you know, I think that there was such an ingrain culture of almost normalization that this type of behavior is (INAUDIBLE) in Hollywood. It's part of paying your dues. It's part of, you know, just how things "work". And so be -- when you -- when that kind of -- when this type of conduct becomes normalized it really silences people and just sways them from coming forward.

In some cases, you know, if you have an accusation against the money maker you might be the, you know, literally say, well, this will be bad for your career and you can get sued, and silence that way.

[01:45:00] SESAY: Yes. The show itself, what now? How's the casts had already -- they halted production on season six.

SUN: Correct.

SESAY: Is -- I mean, is it done? I mean, what are you hearing? Can it come back or is it the spinoffs now?

SUN: There is a chance that House of Cards as we know it, the production has been halted indefinitely. You know, there's not return dates scheduled. You know, there are -- there are spinoffs in the works that, you know, they have already been discussing regarding some of the supporting characters who have become fan favorites.

You know, Claire Underwood, you know, spoiler alert, but you know, Robin Wright's character becomes president. And so, you know, could dramatically rewrite whatever they were planning season six to be and write-out Kevin Spacey's character. It's too early to know exactly what they've done.

And certainly, you know, production was already, you know, full steam ahead with him part of it when this all came down.

SESAY: And quickly, any chance of any legal steps being taken here and what is the -- what's Netflix, what's MCR -- MRC, Media Ratings Council, also behind the show, what are they saying about addressing what happened? And will there be any further attempts to address what happened?

SUN: Right. So Netflix and --


SUN: Right, Netflix and MRC have both -- have both said that they're throwing all of their resources behind, you know, sort of supporting the casts and crew and making sure they have, you know, the, sort of, the emotional support and counseling and anything that they need. They are a little bit caught on their hind legs knowing that, you know, they said, "Yes, we had one allegation that we knew about before and we took swift action."

But the fact that this was such rampant behavior, you know, people felt -- there were employees who said, you know, "We had assigned sexual harassment sort of training (INAUDIBLE) and the star was -- just had free reign. And so they're definitely going to have to continue to really prove that they are being diligent going forward.

SESAY: Yes. Rebecca Sun, thank you for joining us once again to talk about this. I knew you're going back to the office because you have more to be written on this --

SUN: It doesn't add --

SESAY: -- on "The Hollywood Reporter". Rebecca Sun, thank you.

SUN: Thank you.

SESAY: All right. Quick break. Next, on NEWSROOM L.A., it's finally here, Apple's most expensive new phone hits the shelf and we get an inside look. We'll share it with you. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Depending on how you feel about animated poop emojis, yes, I did say that, poop emojis and enhanced selfies, you may be excited to hear that Apples newest, shiniest, most expensive phone, the iPhone X is in stores worldwide. In Australia, hundreds of eager customers get about thousands of the phone on launch day. People who pre-ordered online should start seeing their phones arriving in their mailboxes.

But here in the U.S. the Apple site has sold out pre-ordered that shift Friday. So if you order now, you may have to wait weeks to get your phone -- your -- to get your phone -- get your hands on the phone. CNN money, tech reporter Heather Kelly has gone to play with the phone since Monday and you are a woman in demand, Heather, because you have been playing with the iPhone X. Tell me -- only tell me as someone who doesn't care about it, but still tell me, how good is it.

HEATHER KELLY, CNN MONEY AND TECH REPORTER: You know, it's very beautiful. It's nice to hold. I feel kind of special having one, but, you know, I've been touching iPhones for a long time and this is the first one that I'm going to -- I'm going to actually hesitate a little to recommend to regular people. I mean, partially the --

SESAY: Why? Please tell us why.

[01:49:58] KELLY: Well, partially the price, like, a thousand dollars, you know, you pay $200 to $300 less for the iPhone 8, or 8 plus which just came out as well. And the, you know, the big draw is the face ID, right? It looks to your face and it locks.

And it's very futuristic and it's fun to do, I just don't know that it's necessary that it was really something people were demanding. And having spent some time using it, it works most of the time. Sometimes it doesn't and it just -- it feels a little slower than using a fingerprint, honestly.

SESAY: Oh, when that -- now, that -- that's not music to the ears of my producer who I think is crying right now in my ear.


SESAY: As he -- he's already ordered his. So you're saying that the face recognition bit it works some of the time. I mean, what's the -- what's the glitch if it -- if it (INAUDIBLE)

KELLY: It works almost -- I would say almost all of the time, like, it is really amazing, you can, you know, put on glasses, put on makeup, put on a wig, it knows it's you. But there just been a few occasions where it'll get kind of hung up, maybe because of lighting. And I really believe it's user error but if I can't get it right all the time, I'm kind of worried about regular users.

SESAY: Yes. Well, Tim Cook, you know, Tim Cook said, you know, that he justified the price by saying it's a value price actually for the technology you are getting. Does it -- does that sound -- now that you guys who played with the phone, do you feel like you're getting a whole lot more technology for a thousand dollars?

KELLY: You know, a thousand dollars does not seem unreasonable for the camera that's in there. It is a wonderful camera, and also the front-facing camera (INAUDIBLE) me a lot better on the (INAUDIBLE) thanks for the face ID technology. So your selfies will look amazing.

That might be worth a thousand dollars to some people. It's also faster, and the biggest draw for a lot of people is going to be that it's got the bigger screen and the smaller body. So people who wanted the powerful camera of the -- of an 8 plus but didn't want to carry around this giant camera, this is -- this is definitely out there for them.

SESAY: Well, as you know, Apple has faced stiff competition in China and they need to continue to grow it in China, but obviously they have better homegrown brand out of China like Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo, will this phone be able to break through and continue the growth that Apple needs?

KELLY: You know, it's -- I'm not entirely sure. We actually sent out kind of an intern in Hong Kong, there you'll see the lines today and they reported back that there wasn't really that much excitements at least there, like there was in Australia where it first went on sale this morning. But, you know, it could -- it could break in there, I mean, it -- it's a impressive phone and I think it will appeal to a lot of people.

SESAY: OK. So I mean, really, other than the facial recognition and of course, it's beautiful and the camera is great, I mean, obviously it's all about distinguishing your brand from the likes of Samsung, of course, who are doing really well also in this -- in this type of phone market. I mean, they should -- it -- should Samsung be worried or -- when you look at the -- I mean, has Apple really outpaced them and set themselves apart?

Because that's what Apple supposedly stands for, right? Being out there, being bold and being at the front of the pack. Did they pull it off with this?

KELLY: I think they definitely -- they definitely still have the superior hardware. You can get, you know, competing products from companies like Samsung so much less which is part of the reason that's more appealing to people. But also the developer ecosystem, like the people are going to make apps for Apple products.

They tend to be a slightly higher caliber. And developers can use this face ID technology in their own apps. And one of the cool early examples is there's going to be an update to the Snapchat app that will overlay masks your face that look like they're completely really there, augmented reality.

And I think that could actually make it or break it for this phone, it's what those developers do with this really interesting new technology.

SESAY: That's really interesting. We shall be watching. Right now I will not be buying. It's a thousand dollars.

And thank you for playing with it. Thank you for coming to tell us all about it. We shall see and my producer is still crying in my ear I'm sure.

KELLY: Oh, but they can borrow mine.

SESAY: Thank you so much.


KELLY: OK. Thank you.

SESAY: Thank you. All right. Well, you might have heard a giant gasp around the social media world Thursday. It was caused by U.S. President Donald Trump's Twitter account going down for 11 minutes.

Twitter users saw just this when they went to @realDonaldTrump, "Sorry that page doesn't exist." But fear not, the page is back now. You can sigh the sigh of relief.

Twitter blames human error by an employee on his or her last day of work. The staff member was not named. Well, here at CNN we are proud to share stories of people making a difference. We call them CNN heroes.

Everyday people changing the world. Throughout the year we've received thousands of nominations, some good people doing great work. And now we honor our top ten CNN heroes of 2017. Here is our own Anderson Cooper.


Anderson Cooper, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Anderson Cooper. For more than a decade we've been introducing you to some truly remarkable individuals changing the world. And this year is no different.

[01:54:59] It's time to announce the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2017. Here they are.


COOPER: From Missouri, pitmaster Stan Hays and his team of volunteers have responded to dozens of natural disasters providing nourishment and comfort to survivors and first responders. Samir Lakhani from Pittsburgh recycles and distributes distorted bars of soap which held across Cambodia improving hygiene and creating jobs. Amidst violence in Chicago Police Officer Jennifer Maddox gives young people in the south side a safe haven to learn, grow, and succeed.

Mama Rosie Mashale is raising a generation of abandoned and sick children in her impoverished South African community. Many who have lost parents to AIDS. Iraq War veteran Andrew Manzi's free surf camps on the South Carolina beaches brings therapy and healing to fellow vets and their families. In memory of her son Leslie Morissette provides computers and robots to children battling serious illnesses, keeping them connected to school and friends.


COOPER: Mona Patel helps fellow amputees rebuild their lives through peer support, resources, and transformative athletic activities. Khali Sweeney's Books Before Boxing Program provides mentorship and academic tutoring guiding kids from Detroit's toughest neighborhoods towards a brighter future.

In Southern California, Aaron Valencia teaches car restoration to young people in need, given them great skills, guidance, and hope. And finally, Amy Wright. Through her nonprofit coffee shop in North Carolina, she's creating jobs to community for young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Congratulations to the 10 CNN heroes of 2017. Now it's time for you to decide who will be named CNN Hero of the Year and receive $100,000 to continue their work. Just go to to learn how to vote for the CNN Hero who inspires you the most.

And be sure to tune in to this year's CNN Heroes, an all-star tribute. Once again, I'll be co-hosting with Kelly Ripa as we celebrate all of the honorees live from New York Sunday, December 17.


SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) always a great night. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I am Isha Sesay. Be sure to join us on Twitter @CNNNewsroomLA for highlights and clips from our shows. We'll be back with more news right after this.


[02:00:12] SESAY: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --