Return to Transcripts main page


Zimbabwe Military Takes Over The Country, Says President Mugabe Is Safe; 3 UCLA Players Back From China After Trump Intervened; Salvator Mundi Expected To Fetch $100 Million. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired November 15, 2017 - 02:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN HOST: Hi, everybody, great to have you with you with us for the third hour (ph). We'd like to welcome our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause.

ISHA SESAY, CNN HOST: And I'm Isha Sesay. We're following the breaking news out of Zimbabwe. The military there is intervening in the political crisis over who will succeed President Robert Mugabe after 37 years in office. In the past few hours, the military spokesperson interrupted state-run television to deny they're carrying out a coup.


SIBUSISO MOYO, MAJOR GENERAL, ZIMBABWE DEFENCE FORCES: The situation in our country has moved to another level. Firstly, we wish to assure the nation that His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Comrade R. G. Mugabe and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed. We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.


VAUSE: This comes amid a political crisis in Zimbabwe over who will take over from Mugabe. The Vice President was seen as a likely successor but Mugabe fired him last week. And many others believe the 93-year-old President is clearing the way for his wife Grace to succeed him.

SESAY: Well joining us once again is Farai Sevenzo who's following the story for us from Nairobi, Kenya. Farai, what are you hearing about the situation in Zimbabwe right now? And also, what do we know about the whereabouts of President Mugabe and his family?

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well what we're hearing is that Harare is quiet. People are staying at -- at home and away from what is obviously a military take-over. Let's look at what they've done. They have taken over the state broadcaster -- Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. They have confined, as far as reports are concerned, the head of the state to his residence in Borrowdale just outside of Harare. And of course, we know that they've given that very fulsome (ph) and forthright statement of why they're doing this, to arrest so-called criminals around Mr. Mugabe's circle. So at the moment, Harare is quiet. But to all intents and purposes, this looks like a military coup and in any description, it is a coup.

SESAY: OK. Farai, is there any resistance expected to the move made here by the military? I'm thinking about the -- the forces that guard the -- the President. I'm thinking about Zanu-PF (ph) the youth faction (ph). I mean, what if your sense of what could happen in the hours ahead?

SEVENZO: Well the military were very -- I'm just going to dig it out here for you, they were very forthright in saying to everybody involved, especially the other military forces, he said, "To the other Security Services -- we urge you" excuse me, "to cooperate for the good of our country. Let it be clear that we intend to address the (ph) security threats in our country and we will meet force with force."

So the people -- Constantine Chiwenga, the head of the Army, and the people who have initiated this takeover are warning the other Security Forces in particular, I suppose, the Presidential Guard that this is going ahead. The sense here at the moment is that this is a pre- emptive action by the Army to stop Mrs. Grace Mugabe's faction -- the G40 faction to taking over political control of the country. Remember they fired the President last week -- the Vice President, I beg your pardon, last week and this has initiated this response by the Army.

SESAY: Farai, are -- are we hearing anything from other nations in the region -- other southern African nations? We're hearing, I think, from South Africa. What are we expecting in terms of some kind of regional intervention? Is that an expectation?

SEVENZO: That is a very much an expectation, I'd say. At the moment, we know that the wheels of diplomacy are working overtime, especially for the Southern African Development Corporation, SADC, which Zimbabwe is a prominent member. And we know, of course, South Africa, the neighbors to this country up to their north, is very much involved in -- in trying to -- to make sure that there isn't any bloodshed, that won't be any sort of violent outcome which lead many, many people to cross the border into South Africa.

So we are expecting, in the next few hours, some kind of a statement. And indeed, the Zimbabwe opposition, as fractured as they are, will obviously try and have their say as well.

But for the moment we know that Mr. Robert Mugabe, a 37 year rule in Zimbabwe, is on the verge of teetering. And we expect to hear from the army about which way forward for the Zimbabwe nation.

SESAY: We'll all be watching it very, very closely. Farai Sevenzo, great reporting. We appreciate all the insight and analysis. Thank you. VAUSE: And we're watching and waiting for a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Myanmar leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Tillerson is in Myanmar to talk about the violent crackdown on Rohingya Muslims. He also met earlier with the commander of the country's armed forces. Suu Kyi has been under fire for the handling of this humanitarian crisis.

SESAY: (INAUDIBLE), senior CNN international correspondent, Ivan Watson, joins us now from Hong Kong. So Ivan, as we await that press conference between Secretary Tillerson and Aung San Suu Kyi, the president has to be whether the tough talk that we've heard so far from Mr. Tillerson will be accompanied by a willing to back it up with tough action to bring about an end to the violence there in Rakhine state.

IVAN WATSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, and some people have floated the scenario of possible sanctions. Of course that's something that Washington has not yet indicated, that they might make do.

But what's very clear about this short visit that Tillerson is making to Myanmar, only about four hours, is that human rights is at the top of the agenda.

And that's striking considering that during his whole trip around Asia,12 days, President Trump hardly spoke about human rights. But it's front and center in this relationship with Myanmar.

At what's even stranger about that is that it was only 2012 that the U.S. restored full diplomatic relations with Myanmar, after the military began a transition to civilian rule.

It was only October of 2016, barely a year ago, that the outgoing Obama Administration lifted all remaining sanctions against Myanmar.

And now the U.S. is in the position of potentially chastising the government for this appalling situation where more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims from this minority, are believed to have fled across the border to neighboring Bangladesh, telling horrific stories of atrocities that they alleged have been carried out by the Burmese Security Forces.

On top of that, you've got human rights organizations, the most recent of them being the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which has alleged genocide. Take a look at this statement from that museum; quote, "We are gravely concerned that Myanmar's military and civilian leadership may be responsible for atrocity crimes, including crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. We're also concerned about mounting evidence of genocide against the Rohingya."

Now, the Myanmar government, the military and Aung San Suu Kyi herself, she gave a speech on this subject in mid September, that I heard in the capital. They have all denied these allegations of systematic atrocities. They argue that they're fighting against, what they describe as

terrorists from within the Rohingya minority group, though Aung San Suu Kyi has indicated that she would be willing to repatriate some of the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled, if they go through a verification process.

So we'll have to look closely at what the U.S. Secretary of State will have to say alongside the government of Myanmar in this anticipated press conference. Sesay.

SESAY: Ivan Watson joining us there from Hong Kong. Thank you so much. Appreciate it. We're going to check back in with you when that press conference begins. Thank you.

VAUSE: The U.S. President Donald Trump has made a brief mention about Myanmar's humanitarian crisis. It was at the ASEAN Summit on Tuesday, (inaudible) time. He spoke about the Rohingya during his 12 day long trip to Asia.

SESAY: Donald Trump says more than 600,000 people have fled their homes after attacked by vigilantes and security forces. Most of that violence has happened in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

CNN's Clarissa Ward shows us a small part of this mass exodus into Bangladesh. Here's her exclusive report.

CLARISSA WARD, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: At first light, you can see them dotted along the coastal road, homeless, stateless, huddled in the cold dawn.

They are known as the most persecuted minority in the world. The distance they have come is not far, but the journey is long. For many, it begins on this river. That's Myanmar on the other side.

Every day, hundreds of Rohingya Muslims try to cross it to safety. So we can see now, coming towards the shore, one, two, three, four, five, six different rafts, all of them have at least 20 to 30 people on them.

Crudely made of plastic and bamboo and laden with whatever belongings could be salvaged. They're not welcome on this shore. The Coast Guard waves them further on. So we wait out to talk to them.


WARD: How are you? How many hours have you been on the boat?


WARD: Since early in the morning? Do you know how to swim?


WARD: No one does. Yet the raft is full of children. Of course we are worried. Look, she has two babies, this woman tells us. The kids were practically slipping off the raft. The U.N. says that scores of Rohingya have died making this crossing. But that hasn't stopped them from trying.

We can't follow them any further. So they drift on down the river, unsure of what awaits them. Their best hope is that they end up in one of these camps that aid workers have called a massive slum in the jungle. Bangladesh is struggling to cope. Another 200,000 refugees are expected in the coming weeks.

For the Rohingya, life here is a constant battle. Dignity is hard to come by. These are refugees with no refuge. As dusk approaches, we happen upon a group who made it to shore. Tell us (ph) they crossed at 2:00am to use the cover of night.

Where will you go from here?


WARD: We will go wherever they will take us, she says. But whatever happens, we won't go back. Dependent on the mercy of a world that has so far shown them none. Clarissa Ward, CNN, on the Bangladesh Myanmar border.


VAUSE: That's just sad. OK. OK, we'll take a short break. When we come back, it was a day the U.S. Attorney General might prefer to forget and if his testimony before Congress on Tuesday is any indication, he probably already has. The very bad memory of Jeff Sessions, especially when it comes to all things Russia. That's next.

SESAY: And staying in the fight. Why the Republican senate candidate from Alabama says he's waging a spiritual battle.


VAUSE: A bit of breaking news, Zimbabwe's military is denying it has carried out a coup. I mean (ph) a political crisis over who will succeed President Robert Mugabe after 37 years in power. A military spokesman says they have intervened to prevent violent conflict. And the 93-year-old President and his family are safe.

SESAY: Well, the military backs the former vice president, but Mr. Mugabe fired him last week. An analyst believed the President is clearing the way for his wife, Grace to succeed him.

VAUSE: In a marathon hearing on Capitol Hill, U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, insisted he did not lie to Congress about contacts between the Trump Campaign and Russia.

SESAY: For General's (ph) confirmation hearing for (ph) last year, Sessions denying having any communications with (ph) Russian. After the media reports, Sessions acknowledged meeting with the then Russian Ambassadors to the U.S.

VAUSE: Last month, Sessions denied knowing about any conversations between Trump campaign officials and Russians before the election. And again, after some of these reports, Sessions said he remembered a meeting last year, which campaign advisor, George Papadopoulos, said he could arrange a meeting - or help arrange a meeting between candidate Trump and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. But the Attorney General doesn't actually remember any of the specifics. Some law makers, Democratic lawmakers, were openly skeptical.

LIEU: Let me ask you two simple questions, as innocence, you've already answered it. You did have communications with the Russians last year, isn't that right?

SESSIONS: Repeat that.

LIEU: You did have communications with the Russians last year, isn't that right? Just a yes or no.

SESSIONS: I had a meeting with the Russian Ambassador, yes.

LIEU: Great. That's exactly the opposite answer you gave, under oath, to U.S. Senate. So again, either you're lying to U.S. Senate, or you're lying to the U.S. House of Representatives.

SESSIONS: Well, that's unfair --

(GOODLATTE): (CROSSTALK) The time of gentleman has expired. The witness can answer any further, if he chooses to.

SESSIONS: I won't repeat it, Mr. Chairman. But I hope the Congressman knows and I hope all of you know that my answer to that question, I did not meet with the Russians was explicitly responding to the shocking suggestion that I as a surrogate was meeting on a continuing basis with Russian officials and the implication was to impact the campaign in some sort of nefarious way.

VAUSE: A lot to talk about there and joining us here in Los Angeles is political analyst, Michael A. Genovese, and CNN legal analyst, Michael Zeldin, is with us in San Francisco. Thanks to you both.

Michael Zeldin, to start with you, did Jeff Sessions make it easier or harder for prosecutors to charge him with perjury?

ZELDIN: Well, I don't think he's actually chargeable with perjury. I don't know that he made it easier or more difficult. The nature of the questioning by Congressman and the types of answers the people give in that setting really don't lend themselves to perjury or false statement persecutions. They're not really specific enough questions to meet the legal standard of perjury.

What he did do was to convince Democrats that his memory is conveniently faulty when it doesn't suit him, and specific when it does suit him. What he did to Republicans is to reinforce the view that he's got honest failures of recollection, and that he's doing his darnedest to answer the questions fully and appropriately.

So it's the man hears what he wants to head and disregards the rest as Paul Simon sang in The Boxer. You go in with the point of view and probably come out with the exact same point of view.

GENOVESE: So it's good to get a full reference.

SESAY: This early in the show, absolutely. Michael, turn this over to you. You heard what Michael Zeldin said that, that basically this doesn't rise to a legal situation of perjury, but in the (ph) course of public opinion, it does lead to this general impression once again, of an administration that can't quite get its story straight on Russia.

VAUSE: And since we're quote great songwriters of all time -

SESAY: Sinatra.

VAUSE: Bob - Bob Dylan said you don't need a weatherman to know which ways the wind blows.


VAUSE: There's been a incredibly convenient migration of memory on this case. I don't remember, I don't remember. I don't remember. I didn't do it. I didn't do it. I didn't do it. More things revealed and now he says oh, I do remember, but only remembers exculpatory information. How bad does he think our B.S. meters are? This just doesn't hold water.

GENOVESE: Should we recall you memories from chat now?

VAUSE: OK. Michael, now (ph). I'll go back to you. After the hearing, Democratic Congressman, Ted Lieu, who had that exchange between Jeff Sessions that we just heard, he tweeted this.

"You can believe Jeff Sessions' testimony under oath before the U.S. Senate. Or you can believe Sessions' testimony under oath before the U.S. House. But you cannot believe both because they contradict each other." So clearly there's politics in all of this, but it is a simple binary choice as Ted Lieu is making out?

ZELDIN: No, not in my estimation and certainly not legally. If you go back to the Franken session exchange in the Senate, Al Franken was reading a report that CNN has just published indicating that there was ongoing and regular communications between the Trump campaign and Russia.

And, he asked a question of Sessions like if this were true what would you do about it. And, Sessions answered by saying well I'm don't know anything about this, I certainly didn't have those sort of conversations. And then, you fast forward to today and he asks did you have any meetings with Russians and he said yes, I met with Kislyak the Russian ambassador in my office.

Sessions answer to Franken is in the context of ongoing communications between the Russians and the Trump campaigns according to Sessions. And so, it's not binary because he thought that he was answering the question of an ongoing communication sort of strategy between the campaign and Russians whereas in the House he was asked about one specific meeting. So, that's what I say, as a law question it doesn't really lay up as

perjury. It's not binary. But, again, you bring to it what you want to hear and some people will say Sessions knew exactly what Franken was asking and is being sort of cute by one half and others will say no he was answering it in the context that he believes it was related to ongoing communications.

SESAY: Michael Genovese, it was remarkable to hear him say - Jeff Sessions that is, over and over again I don't recall, I don't recall, I don't recall which really was the headline from this entire gathering. Can you ever remember a time where you've seen someone under oath say I don't recall that many times without invoking executive privilege or some kind of constitutional protection?

GENOVESE: Well, the attorney general doesn't want to go as far as executive privilege. That's kind of the end game. You hold that in reserve until you really need it. He's trying to convince people that his memory is so bad about so many important things that happened so many times that he must believe that we're too stupid to figure out that how dumb can he be.

He's not dumb. He's smart as a whip. And, I can't believe his memory is this bad. The sheer volume of reporting on connections between Trump folks and Russians is just so overwhelming and it gets bigger and bigger every day. It's just hard to believe that he doesn't recall -

VAUSE: You'd also think he would prepare for this hearing knowing that the Russia question would come up. It was clear on Tuesday that republican lawmakers are pushing Sessions to appoint some kind of special investigator or special council into this uranium deal where Russia bought 20 percent of the uranium. Hillary Clinton was secretary of state at the time.

This has been on ongoing issue for the rightwing media in this country. But there was this incredible moment on Fox News and it came from anchor Shepard Smith.


SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Even so, the accusation is predicated on the charge that Secretary Clinton approved the sale. She did not. A committee of nine evaluated the sale, the president approved the sale, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and others had to offer permits. And, none of the uranium was exported for use by the U.S. to Russia. That is Uranium One.


VAUSE: Michael, I think Shepard Smith pretty much broke it down fairly succinctly. But apart from that and apart from the fact there is no there there (ph) it's a pretty high standard for the appointment of a special council and I think that's the point Sessions actually tried to make.

ZELDIN: Yes. I think that was Sessions shining moment when it was clear that the White House and some of the republican members of the House Judiciary Committee were really pressing him to essentially give in to the president's desire that there be an investigation, a special council investigation of Hillary Clinton probably just to deflect from Mueller's investigation.

And, Sessions said, "not unless there's evidence to support it." And, in fact, of course, under the special council rules, there is no need for a special council even if there was a there there (ph) and I think Shepard Smith has it exactly right. There is not there there (ph) but even taking a worse case scenario that there was some there there (ph) then the Justice Department in the ordinary course could investigate that.

There's no need for and in fact a special council rules wouldn't even authorize the appointment of a special council. So, this is a lot of politics and it relates to the president's desire to intervene in Justice Department affairs with respect to specific matters.

And that is what is at the heart of the obstruction investigation that Mueller's got underway and the president is not helping himself by continuously trying to inject politics into this. But I want to say one other thing which is in respect to the questions "I don't know," and does that rise to the level of legal jeopardy, in the Watergate case, Haldeman, one of the President Nixon advisors, was, I believe, indicted for saying "I don't remember, I don't remember, I don't remember," when in fact there were clear tapes that proved that he did know exactly that.

So you can get yourself into a legal sort of crosshairs of a prosecutor if they believe that you're asserting that "I don't remember" disingenuously to avoid answering a question.

VAUSE: Michael (ph), we're almost out of time, but I just want to get to Roy Moore because this is an issue which the Republican Party continues to struggle with what to do with Roy Moore, he's a Senate Candidate for Alabama to replace Jeff Sessions. He has made it perfectly clear, despite accusations, that he essentially sexually assaulted young women, as young as 14, he's not getting out of the race, he kept going, just a few hours ago.


ROY MOORE, SENATE CANDIDATE: I'm now facing allegations, and that's all the press want to talk about. But I want to talk about the issues. I want to talk about where this country's going. And if we don't come back to God, we're not going anywhere.


VAUSE: Michael Kennedy (ph), is this starting to be more about politics and any kind of legality here as far as the Republican Party is concerned? It seems they don't have a lot of options here in forcing Roy Moore out of the race and he's got plenty of support in Alabama.

UNKNOWN: That's right, and that's a divide between the sort of modern wing of the Republican Party and the medieval wing. I teach a course in ethics and there's a really good way to try to sort of disentangle these political and ethical questions. And here's how you do it, it's a simple formula. Imagine, if you will, that you don't know who the person is that's being accused, you don't know his party, you know nothing but the facts.

And if you can just go to the facts, divorced of partisanship and tribalism which interferes with our judgment, if you just go to the facts, then that's how you make the judgment. And I think in this case, the judgment is pretty clear on Roy Moore.

VAUSE: You idealist.

UNKNOWN: Thank you.


I appreciate that.

SESAY: Thank you, Michael (ph).

UNKNOWN: I resemble that remark.

VAUSE: Absolutely. Michael (ph), absolute. Thank you so much for being with us (ph)...

UNKNOWN: And - and he quotes Bob Dylan, an idealist who quotes Bob Dylan. You can't have a better combination.


VAUSE: Exactly. OK, good start, thanks, guys.

SESAY: Thank you, thank you very much.

VAUSE: Time for a quick break. State of America with Kate Baldwin is coming up next for our viewers in Asia. For everyone else, celebrations across Australia after the country gave the green light to legalize marriage equality. We'll have more details of what comes next after the break.


[02:30:16] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour. Amazing, our top story for you. The militants in Zimbabwe denies taking over the country, they say, the (INAUDIBLE) they're going after those causing the country's social and economic problems. The general also says President Robert Mugabe is safe. The county is facing a political dispute of who will succeed the 93-year old President after 37 years in office.

VAUSE: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions denies lying about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. Sessions told the Congressional Committee on Tuesday, it was only after a news report that he remembered a meeting with campaign adviser George Papadopoulos last year but still didn't recall the specifics, Papadopoulos offered to arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and the Russian President.

SESAY: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Myanmar to address the humanitarian crisis involving the Rohingya of island crackdown has driven more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims from the country. Mr. Tillerson has been meeting with leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the header of the military. Well, Francesco Rocca joins us now from Rome, he is the President of the International Federation of the Red Cross. Mr. Rocca, thank you so much for being with us. As you know the number of Rohingya refugees continues to grow in Cox's Bazar and there in Bangladesh and on the border. You are recently there in Bangladesh taking a look at the camps. Can you describe the situation as you found it?

FRANCESCO ROCCA, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE RED CROSS: Right. The situation of suffering is -- for me is something that I didn't experience before. The level of suffering of desperation is really (INAUDIBLE) experience. You actually mentioned a count of 600,000 people build up in only few weeks but there is no electricity, no water, no facilities, the situation is something really unbelievable.

SESAY: Mr. Rocca, as you talk about this unbelievable level of suffering, what level of assistance is the Red Cross able to provide such large numbers living in such awful conditions?

ROCCA: Look, first of all, we (INAUDIBLE) water regularly, so, we decided to set up field hospital, we deployed several mobile clinics working together with the Bangladesh Red Cross Center and, so just to avoid especially for the most vulnerable situations could be even (INAUDIBLE) and this is what our priority. Then we are distributing a lot of items and we are wishing tens of thousands but we are fully aware that this is not enough.

SESAY: Not enough. What's the greatest need?

ROCCA: The greatest need is food, water. There was a very high risk of cholera but we did (INAUDIBLE) strong campaign of vaccination but especially for the children, the situation is really, really difficult. And a lot of young children that are malnourish, that is something that is very sad to see in our country. Again, we are having the experience of this kind of diseases, break diseases. So, it's really something how to live in the freedom. We are very proud of the nurses and the medical doctors there every day. Sometimes they have to walk for one hour, one hour and that's just to reach the farthest part of the camp.

SESAY: Mr. Rocca, it's not as if the world pictures doesn't see the pictures. It's not as if the world isn't aware of the suffering, you know, thanks to the social media, people are seeing the stories and what these people have been through, they're seeing the awful conditions and the camps and yet we see the international community slow to take action and to put the pressure on the Myanmar authorities to stop the violence. Matthew Smith from Fortify Rights described this as a global moral failure. How do you account for the way the international community has responded to this crisis?

ROCCA: No. This is -- again (INAUDIBLE) going to be another failure of international community. We got some time (INAUDIBLE) away, the international community doesn't want to look to the suffering of the people and this is another occasion we're in and which we are heading this kind of experience. So we are -- we are calling to all the nationals, all the most powerful nation to support the humanitarian action of our organization, of all of the organization that go in the -- in the field.

[02:35:07] It's really a shame what is happening under our eyes.

SESAY: Is it time for the international community to speak with one voice and to take the steps to call this a genocide? Because as you know, that would trigger a compulsory action on the part of the international community, on the part of the U.N. to intervene here?

ROCCA: Yes. But let me tell you, Isha. How many -- how many times we are asked that to speak with one voice to the international community but never happened again because it's not going to give now that we are living in Bangladesh but we have seen this in many places of the world. I hope this time and maybe would be the last one and the international community really will respond to the -- to these cries of help that is coming from 600,000 people, from thousands and thousands of children. It's unacceptable this way to face the challenges that these people have to live every day, every day.

This is -- I only want to get something, can you imagine the night with no electricity in this immense camp made by only little houses built up in few hours with these children and thousands of these children with no relatives, no parents. This is something we don't know what is happening there in the night. It's a shame the international community is not supporting The Bangladesh government in building up better condition of life for these people and of course in making pressure to all the actors to restore the dignity that they deserve.

SESAY: Mr. Rocca, you are the President of the International Federation of the Red Cross, you are in the room with these people who make these decisions. I mean, what do you say to them? What do they say back to you when you put the situation? I know that you recently took the position of President but I guess I'm just trying to understand what is going on in the heads of international stakeholders that they're not doing anything.

ROCCA: The level of dialogue that -- the level of dialogue that is always apparently very fair because of course, we ask you very demanding to support our role in the world of all humanitarian actor on the field. But then, when you look at the concrete answer, and when they look at you, for one person that you are able to reach there are three, just maybe you are not able to reach. This makes a level of frustration very high. So what we can ask the user and thanks to you, this opportunity just to let all of the people to know what is happening in -- what is happening to thousands and thousands of human beings. These are not numbers, of course, we talk about 600,000 but behind these 600,000, there are 600,000 stories, 600,000 of people who are human beings that are suffering. This is not (INAUDIBLE) this is unfortunate, this completely happens now.

SESAY: Francesco Rocca, I want to thank you for taking the time to speak to us. It's important the world hears your voice as you say these are not numbers, these are 600,000 people with stories and lives that have been turned upside down. So we thank you for speaking to us and for shedding lights on this.

ROCCA: Thank you for the opportunity, thank you.

SESAY: Thank you.

VAUSE: Gosh, you could hear the anger and the frustration his voice when he answer us firsthand.

SESAY: First hand. And, you know, and to the point, you know, I discuss it a lot the pictures are there. We hear the stories, it's not --

VAUSE: What else, what other evidence is needed at this point. OK. We'll switch gears now. Australians have voted overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

SESAY: Gay rights supporters across the country cheered following the announcement, at least 61 percent of Australians voted in favor overlying marriage equality in the national postal survey. Parliament could begin the process of legalizing these marriages within in weeks. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is calling on lawmakers to get on with it.


MALCOLM TURNBULL, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: They voted yes for marriage equality. They voted yes for fairness, they voted yes for commitment. They voted yes for love. And now it is up to us here in the Parliament of Australia to get on with it, to get on with the job the Australian people have tasked us to do and get this done this year before Christmas. That must be our commitment.


VAUSE: Another celebrating this historic moment, one of Australia's greatest Olympic legends, swimmer Ian Thorpe, he came out just a few years ago, he tweeted this, Thank you, Australia. #yes.

SESAY: And American comedian, Ellen Degeneres tweeted, It's a good day, way to go, Australia. #marriedequality.

VAUSE: Australia joins us now Melbourne. good to see you.

[02:40:01] As Parliament now begins its process of legalizing same-sex marriage. Is it a done deal right now or is it one last play for these lawmakers who are opposed to marriage equality, can they stop it or water down whatever law is passed?

ANNALIESE NIELSEN, SKY NEWS AUSTRALIA REPORTER: Absolutely not a done deal at all and I think that comes with the fact that it was a postal survey and not a referendum story which is what the government was originally hoping for but there has been a bill introduced into Parliament here in Australia, in to the Senate just a short time ago which would see this become law. But we saw even earlier this week one Senator introduced a bill which would have changed the marriage act to include a definition which would allow same-sex marriage but it also had a lot of protections for what he said with the people who were conscientiously opposing to same-sex marriage to protect against the (INAUDIBLE)

I think we've seen a lot in the United States in particular about bakers who don't want to bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples but that hasn't gone over very well in the electorate in Australia and what we have seen, it's just as very strong result today with 61 percent. It doesn't like a strong majority but when you take that to be the number of people who are eligible to vote indeed it is quite a strong majority and it's exactly what this campaign really was hoping for today.

VAUSE: And a majority in every state and territory as well which is significant. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is saying as, you know, a key (INAUDIBLE) he supported marriage equality for a long time but he now has to get this legislation through Parliament without the support of his coalition government. Are there political consequence with him?

NIELSEN: Absolutely. And I think the fact we have this postal survey shows he really didn't have the numbers and the discipline in his party to get it done in the first place. The point of this survey was to play (INAUDIBLE) of his party, in particular, the really conservative branch to really pushing the known message. But what you can't figure is just there's also this conservative party -- or sorry, this conservative group within the labor party in Australia and many of the opponents from against the same-sex marriage. Law changes did come from the labor party. And in fact, what we're seeing with the results today, is there's many working-class suburbs that traditionally want labor, had been the one voted no in this survey.

VAUSE: You mentioned that non-binding postal survey, he's our comedian John Oliver from last week tonight sums it up.


JOHN OLIVER, BRITISH COMEDIAN: Polls already exist showing around two-thirds of Australian to support to it. So Parliament could simply pass it into law but instead, they are inexplicably holding a non- legally binding voluntary postal vote at a public cost of $120 million which is the way this waste of Australian movie since every Baz Luhrmann movie ever made.


VAUSE: OK. Given the huge cost of this, $120 million and the result, so overwhelmingly in favor. A question to be asked now about, you know, why that money was spent in the first place.

NIELSEN: Oh, absolutely. And to correct John over there, with 122 million that they're telling us about, there's any chance that it could have cost a lot more. It has gone over like a led balloon particularly with younger voters and what's really going to be quite interesting when we got -- we do eventually have an election is with all these younger voters now, we had update to the enrolment to be able to participate in this postal ballot. Now, voting is from compulsory in Australia, but if you don't vote the fine is often something like $20 or $60. And so many young people it just falls by the way side, if they're not quite passionate but it really has really gotten a lot of young people quite passionate about it and we're at a time in particular where with young people there's a lot of issues with housing affordability in Australia. So to see the government spent this huge amount of money on what essentially an opinion poll and nationwide opinion poll has gone over quite badly.

VAUSE: Annaliese, we're out of time. So, thank you so much. Before you go, though, I just (INAUDIBLE) this is the country's which have actually approved marriage equality around the world. Australia is still not there yet, still in the company of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China, Russia. So, you know, when this legislation gets through, welcome to the 21st century. Thanks for being with us, Annaliese.

NIELSEN: We might be there by Christmas.

VAUSE: Good luck.

SESAY: In case you're not setting your watch then for Christmas.

VAUSE: Oh, I mean though (INAUDIBLE) through Parliament and there is just really good action by a couple of lawmakers (INAUDIBLE) water it down. So, you know, there's some haggling to be done.

SESAY: Let's take a quick break, shall we?

VAUSE: We shall.

SESAY: If you're going to get accused of shoplifting in the foreign country --

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) accused in the first place.

SESAY: Yes. But it does help you if you have friends in other places though after college basketball players are now back home after the U.S. President intervened.


[02:46:42] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. We'll recap our top story, Zimbabwe's military is intervening in the country's political dispute over who will succeed President Robert Mugabe after 37 years in office. Military spokesman denied staging a coup and says the 93- year-old president and his family are both safe.

SESAY: And the military is backing the Vice President, but Mr. Mugabe fired him last week. Many analysts believe the President is trying to clear the way for his wife, Grace, to be his successor.

VAUSE: While three UCLA basketball players are back home from China but it seems only because of intervention, direct intervention from the U.S. President Donald Trump. The college freshman LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill were arrested last week on suspicion of shoplifting.

SESAY: Mr. Trump said he asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help resolve the situation while he was in Beijing, and that appears to have done the trick. Their plane landed in Los Angeles a few hours ago.

VAUSE: Andrew Stevens live with us now from Beijing. So, Andrew, still not entirely clear how all of this was resolved. There is a statement from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, he specifically mentions Donald Trump. We want to thank the President, the White House, and the U.S. State Department for their efforts towards resolution. So, what else is known about how these three students avoided jail time?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: Well, not much at this stage, John. Larry Scott going on to say that the issue had results to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities but he didn't say what the actual resolution was. He was speaking or he said those comments at a -- in a news release, so he wasn't actually questioned about that. So, all we know at this stage is that as you say Donald Trump did intervene, he brought it up with President Xi Jinping during that two-day trip to China. Listen to what Donald Trump had to say on his way back from his Asian trip to report us on Air Force One.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The basketball players, by the way, I know a lot of people are asking, I will tell you when I heard about it two days ago, I had a great conversation with President Xi. What they did was unfortunate. You know, you're talking about very long prison sentences. They do not play games. He was terrific and they're working on it right now and hopefully, everything is going to work out.


STEVENS: Yes, Donald Trump did say that to President Xi. He was very helpful in also resolving that case. We don't know exactly what the Chinese leader told Donald Trump when he brought that up, though we have a quote from the Washington Post, quoting an unnamed U.S. official saying that President Xi told Donald Trump that the case would be handled fairly and expeditiously. But we don't know, John, whether these three actually indeed faced charges. They were arrested on suspicion of shoplifting sunglasses in a Louis Vuitton store. We know that they were detained in a hotel while the Chinese went about the legal process. We don't know whether those charges became apparent and whether they have actually paid any fines or whether they have paid any compensation. So, there's a lot of questions here to be resolved. It's difficult to get to the bottom of this without hearing from the three. And we certainly hadn't heard from them yet, even though they did land to a fairly big media scrum in the U.S. just a few hours ago, John.

[02:50:09] VAUSE: And they will be at (INAUDIBLE) news conference in the next 24 hours. Andrew, it does seem incredibly rare for this high-level intervention from a U.S. President for three U.S. citizens who are accused of shoplifting. Was it simply a case, the right place, right time Donald Trump just happened to be in China when all this happened?

STEVENS: Well, difficult to second guess what Donald Trump would have done had this been brought to his attention while he's in the U.S. But certainly, I mean, it's not uncommon for a U.S. leader to bring up individual cases but they usually do with prisoners of conscience, political prisoners, human rights issues, not as you point out for a case which involves fairly sort of common shoplifting. But Donald Trump did bring this (INAUDIBLE) as we know he's being very keen to let the world know his involvement with it, and since his involvement with it, those three have been released and come home. So, in Donald Trump's view, perhaps, John, this was another of his successes here in Asia.

VAUSE: Yes, he intervened on behalf of three college students, but yet he didn't do anything about 600,000 Rohingya Muslims who are fleeing a country in the face of widespread ethnic cleansing. Andrew, thank you.

SESAY: Well, it's not every day you got a chance to buy a Leonardo da Vinci painting.

VAUSE: Speak for yourself.

SESAY: This one is going on the auction block, how much it could cost you, John --

VAUSE: At least $100. Maybe 120.

SESAY: What, in chocolate coins?

VAUSE: Yes, out of my piggy bank.


SESAY: Well, if you ever wanted to buy your own Leonardo da Vinci painting, now is your chance.

VAUSE: Oh, yes. The Salvator Mundi goes to auction on Wednesday. Going at $100 million, $105 million, $110 million sold to the lady of the blue dress. Yes, that's right, this could go up to more than $100 million. That is, in fact, the opening bid. This incredibly rare work of art is expected to become the world's most expensive piece of art as well. Here's Nick Glass.


NICK GLASS, CNN REPORTER: Manifestly painting with an aura, a presence. CNN was among the first to see it after scholars gave it their blessing in 2011. Jesus Christ, Salvator Mundi, savior of the world by Leonardo da Vinci. For a collector, it's obviously a trophy work of art, the rarest of the rare, one of fewer than 20 known Leonardo oil paintings. It was first publicly displayed in London's national gallery in a Leonardo exhibition in 2011.

RICHARD STEMP, ART HISTORIAN: It's a wonderful ghost of a painting. That is, of course, because it's highly damaged. The surface is clearly being stripped back. You still get this wonderful mysterious presence gazing out from the darkness towards you.

GLASS: In advance of this week's auction, Christie's took it on a world tour and naturally, it attracted crowds and a lot of mobile phones.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think da Vinci is just a magic name.

GLASS: Frankly, there are better-preserved Leonardos. You could see that in the National Gallery Exhibition in 2011. When you compare it with the Mona Lisa painted pretty much at the same time in about 1500, you can see that it's lost some of its detail and color. The quality of the painting is most visible in its lower half. Christ's blessing and the crystal orb in his left.

[02:55:09] The upper half was heavily overpainted. Christ once had red hair and a beard and needed delicate cleaning and restoration. Dianne Modestini spent six years off and on working on it in her studio in New York.

DIANNE MODESTINI, CONSERVATOR OF OLD MASTER AND NINETEENTH-CENTURY PAINTINGS: It was very important to help it as much as you could and not in any way suppress this extraordinary spiritual quality that it had.

GLASS: Hard to part with it?

MODESTINI: Oh, terrible. It was like break -- it was like a breakup. Yes.

GLASS: Since Modestini let it go, the Savior of the World has been exposed to some of the murkier wheeler-dealings of the art market. Truly, some people saw dollar signs spinning in those misty eyes. Here's a brief history. 2005, acquired in the state in Louisiana by an American dealer for a bargain $10,000 or less. The work was listed as a Leonardo copy. Eight years later, 2013, as an authenticated work by the master, this sold privately by (INAUDIBLE) $18 million. The new owner, a Swiss art agent Yves Bouvier was a man with an eye for a quick profit. Within a few days, he sold it on for a whopping $127- 1/2 million to an old client, Russian billionaire art collector, Dmitry Rybolovlev. In 2014, the Russian found out about the hefty size of Mr. Bouvier's markup. He took legal action in 2015. The case is still ongoing.

Christie's recently approached Mr. Rybolovlev to sell the painting, he agreed. So, the Savior of the World originally commissioned by a French King, Louis XII, once owned by an English one, Charles I is destined to find a new owner. It's already guaranteed to sell for at least $100 million. And that would set a new world record auction price for an old master painting. It's unlikely to be eclipsed for some time. Nick Glass, CNN in London.


SESAY: It's beautiful.

VAUSE: And just to add into this whole world gone mad thing, Christie's is putting out there that it could go for $2 billion.

SESAY: Yes. The world has indeed gone mad.

VAUSE: Nuts.

SESAY: On that note of madness, you've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. The news continues with Max Foster in London.

SESAY: He's sane.

VAUSE: You reckon? You're watching CNN.

SESAY: You're watching CNN.