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Campaign of Rape in Myanmar; Al Franken Apologizes after Woman Says He Groped Her; Opposition Leader Calls on Robert Mugabe to Resign; Sexual Harassment Scandals; President Trump, Deflector in Chief. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired November 17, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:10] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: A campaign of rape -- the horrific flight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

VAUSE: From comedian to senator to a man who gropes -- Al Franken was quick to apologize but could his political career now be coming to an end.

SESAY: And following a military takeover in Zimbabwe, President Mugabe resisting calls to resign.

VAUSE: Hello everybody -- we'd like to welcome our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us.

I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

VAUSE: Over the past few months nearly one million Rohingya refugees have fled persecution and violence in Myanmar and we continue to learn about the horrors many have endured.

SESAY: A new report by Human Rights Watch accuses Myanmar's military of carrying out a vicious campaign of rape against Rohingya Muslim women and girls in the country's Rakhine state.

Earlier this week, a U.N. envoy said sexual violence was being commanded, orchestrated and perpetrated by the armed forces of Burma. Its militia released a report on Monday denying all allegations of rape and killings by security forces.

VAUSE: And the general in charge of Rakhine state has also been replaced.

CNN international correspondent Clarissa Ward has been in the refugee camps in Bangladesh, home now to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims and she spoke to a lot of women who described being raped.

This is part of her exclusive series of reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLARISSA WARD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rashida Begim rarely speaks these days.

But she does tell her story. She speaks quietly and mechanically as if trying to recount what happened without reliving it.

"We were five women with our babies", she says. "The military grabbed us, dragged us into the house and shut the door and they raped us."

She tells us they stabbed her and tried to kill her. She survived by pretending to be dead.

"It will be good if I had died," she says because if I die then I wouldn't have to remember all these things."

Stories like Rashida's are all too common in the Bangladesh camps that now host nearly one million Rohingya Muslims. Every tent it seems has a story of agony, shame and death inside it.

When the military came to (AUDIO GAP) her husband fled, leaving her alone with five children.

"Two soldiers stood guard in front of my door," she says, "another came in and pointed his gun at me. He raped me."

Did he say anything to you?

"He punched me and ripped off my clothes. He said if you move, I will kill you. If you scream, I will kill you. And he covered my mouth with his hand," she says. "I felt so awful, he did it so roughly. He did it without mercy".

Human rights groups say that rape is one of the Myanmar military's most feared weapons. While it's difficult to estimate how many women have been assaulted, hundreds of cases have been reported.

These Rohingya women are learning songs to offer support to the victims. "Rape can happen to anyone," the lyrics go. Within three days of rape you need to consult a doctor. The program developed by Doctors without Borders is headed by midwife Aerlyn Piell (ph).

She claims that beyond practical concerns many victims are struggling to reclaim their dignity.

AERLYN PIELL, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: The piece for me that is kind of the most heartbreaking is that the women coming in are still wearing the same skirts. Just heartbreaking that three months later, you're still putting on the same skirt that someone assaulted you in.

WARD: For Ayesha (ph), the pall of shame still hangs heavy. "When I remember what happened, tears come to my eyes. Why did they do this to me," she asks. "Why did they rape me?"

She finds peace in reading the Koran. For many here, faith and ritual provides some solace amid the squalor. Rashida's anger still burns.

What do you want to see happen to the man who raped you?

"If we get the opportunity then t we must take revenge" she says. "We'll be pleased if the military who raped us and killed our parents are hanged."

[00:04:58] But for now, survival takes priority over justice. There are mouths to feed and a new generation to protect from the horrors of the past.

Clarissa Ward, CNN -- in the Kutupalong camp, Bangladesh.


SESAY: Well, journalist Poppy McPherson joins us from (INAUDIBLE) Myanmar. Poppy -- thank you so much for being with us. Given your location --


SESAY: Hi there. Given your location I want to start by asking you to share what you know about the current situation in Rakhine state?

MCPHERSON: Well, obviously, it's very difficult because, you know, since August we haven't had independent access to Rakhine state. And there have been a few very select government-controlled tours.

But the information that we get trickles out from the few Rohingya who have stayed behind, the few and people who are supplying information to human rights groups. And that paints a very bleak picture of the situation there.

Hundreds of villages have been burned down completely. People are still trapped. There are thousands of people trapped on beaches, trying to make their way across to Bangladesh to safety.

These people are starving, as some news reports recently have highlighted. And they're basically trapped and unable to cross into Bangladesh.

SESAY: You have crossed the border to Bangladesh and you've witnessed firsthand the conditions in Cox's Bazar in the camps there. We have heard endless tales of the suffering, the misery, the appalling conditions.

As someone who has seen it for herself, what stood out for you?

MCPHERSON: It's just -- it's truly horrific. And every single person that you speak to has a story. Every single family can say something that has happened to them or a very close relative.

It's very visible. The trauma on people's faces is absolutely visible. You know, you walk into a tent and there's somebody that's just lying on the ground prostrate or somebody staring into the distance and you ask people around what happened. And then they say, that man his whole family were killed.

And then, you know, when you do start to speak to people, it's just, you know, floods and floods of tears. And yet the Myanmar government and many people in Myanmar say the people in Bangladesh are actors, the Rohingya are making up stories, that they're performing for the cameras. Which is really, when you're in Bangladesh and talking to people it's really a horrific accusation.

SESAY: You know. I'm glad you touched on that because that was my next question to you. What the view of this situation is there in Myanmar and is it wholesale? Is it monolithic? Do the ruler and the elite, who obviously are not Rohingya, do they all view this in the same way?

MCPHERSON: It's very -- it is quite monolithic. The government, the military and the people are broadly united or seen from the outside to be united.

But the Rohingya, you know, I've been covering Myanmar for a few years. I mean the Rohingya have long been absolutely hated. We've watched rhetoric kind of escalating against them coming from state media and ordinary people. And they're absolutely loathed as illegal immigrants. And now people view them as terrorists because of this new insurgency which has grown up.

And so the view here is a state of denial about, you know -- and frustration, there's all the frustration with international community and the media. You know, a lot of people say that the reports are fake news. That it's false or that it's just acting. And that everybody, or most people who have fled to Bangladesh are terrorist or terrorist sympathizers.

SESAY: With that as a backdrop of that view held by the majority, as you paint that picture, is it realistic to hold out hope that those who have fled to Bangladesh will be able to return home any time soon?

MCPHERSON: I mean personally, when I was in the camps talking to people I found the talk of repatriation quite strange because many people -- you know, the vast majority of people that I spoke to said that although they long to be back in their homeland they really want to go back to their mother country.

At the moment they are extremely traumatized. And they don't want to go back until they're recognized as citizens. And citizenship is the kind of root of this crisis because the Rohingya are not considered citizens.

[00:09:58] A lot of the problems that they were facing before this crisis and lack of access to proper, restrictions on freedom of movement -- those were traced back to that statelessness.

So unless they can return as citizens, I think a lot of people are - and be kind of given guarantees of protections which, you know, haven't -- historically in Myanmar, guarantees of protection to communities like these have not been, you know, very strong.

SESAY: Yes. It's an endless tale of horror, and the stories just seem to continue.

Poppy McPherson -- thank you. Thank you for the work you're doing to tell the story.

MCPHERSON: Thank you.

SESAY: Thank you for joining us.

MCPHERSON: Take care.

VAUSE: The latest sexual harassment allegations, which started in Hollywood and swept across the country, have now reached the U.S. Senate with Democrat Al Franken accused of sexual misconduct. While he was quick to apologize some in Congress including Franken himself are calling for an ethics investigation.

SESAY: Well, radio host Leeann Tweeden said the former "Saturday Night Live" comedian groped her and forcibly kissed her in 2006 while they were on tour entertaining the military in the Middle East.

She released a photo of Franken with his hands over her chest while she was asleep. And here's what she says happened while they were rehearsing a skit.


LEEANN TWEEDEN, RADIO HOST: He just mashes his mouth to my lips. And, you know, wet and he puts his tongue in my mouth. And you know, my reaction was just sort of a -- you know, I pushed his chest away with my hands and I'm like, if you ever do that to, again -- I was so angry, I was in disbelief, really.

And I just sort of, you know, my hand -- to this day I talk , about it, my hand clenches into a fist because I think my initial reaction is that I wanted to hit him.


VAUSE: Joining us now, CNN political commentators -- Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and Republican consultant John Thomas. Ok. John -- let's check out the front page of Friday's "New York Post". There it is up on the screen. "Franken Slime" -- I think we've got it, eventually. Ok. It's a big picture of Al Franken -- it's coming, there we go. "Franken Slime" with that photograph.

Ok, politically, how happy are Republicans right now?

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think anybody's happy about this -- John. It is --

VAUSE: Honestly?

THOMAS: No. I mean, look --

VAUSE: Not the fact that it happened but politically.

THOMAS: Well, politically, there could be massive consequences. Remember he only won by what -- 400 votes.


THOMAS: So, I guess the seat could be in play if he resigns. But I don't even think partisans are there yet. I think we're relieved in a sense to start seeing a clearing of the air in the Senate.

Look John -- this is a bipartisan problem. And we're going to see both sides getting it in the coming days. I guess the difference here is, I feel like Al Franken is getting -- even though we're talking about it, he's getting more of a pass because he apologized.

But he has a history of talking about these things and he says, oh, as a comedian -- but oftentimes comedy mirrors real life.

VAUSE: Ok. Well, right now, most Democrats believe that this should all be handled by a Senate Ethics investigation. Listen to this.


SENATOR CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO (D), NEVADA: I'm very disappointed. I support an ethics investigation of this kind of conduct. It should not be tolerated by any public official.

MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you think this could lead to his expulsion?

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: I wouldn't want to prejudge anything at this point.

RAJU: I mean that's -- I mean that's pretty serious to say -- an expulsion, you can't shut the door on expulsion.

WHITEHOUSE: The senate will take this up through proper procedure and will work its will. Don't you prejudge it and I won't prejudge it either.

SENATOR JEFF MARKLEY (D), OREGON: He said that he's going to cooperate with the ethics committee. That's the right place to handle this question.

RAJU: Could he be expelled from the Senate, do you think?

MARKLEY: I think the right place to address this is the ethics committee. I don't serve on that committee. I will leave it to the appropriate process.


VAUSE: And Dave -- to John's point, is there a double standard here demanding Roy Moore, you know, the Senate Republican nominee or candidate from Alabama demanding that he should step down and resign and get out of the race while giving, you know, Al Franken the chance to essentially have a hearing.

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: John -- this is a tough issue for me because yesterday I was having conversations. We were speculating about presidential contenders for 2020 --

VAUSE: And he was in it.

JACOBSON: -- and Al Franken was on the short list. And I thought he would be a great candidate. But honestly I think Democrats have a real opportunity to make this a defining issue. And the fact is we're going to look like hypocrites if we don't call on Al Franken to resign.

And that's tough for me to say. I'm a fan of his. I've read his books for years. I followed him as a comic. I think he's led the charge in some really progressive, forward-thinking policies in the senate.

But the fact is what he did was inexcusable and for Democrats to not call for him to resign, we're going to come off looking like frauds and hypocrites.

[00:15:04] THOMAS: And here's the bigger problem. The Senator talks about the appropriate procedure but we just talked the other that the procedures are bupkis.

VAUSE: There's no procedures there.

THOMAS: The bigger thing I want to see now is I want to see Congress unmask --

VAUSE: Right.

THOMAS: -- these names of all those millions that have paid in settlements and the NBAs (ph) that were signed because we as a taxpayer have a right to know where our dollars are going and reelecting probably these members of Congress.

VAUSE: There are -- there are differences here obviously between --

JACOBSON: For sure.

VAUSE: -- what's happening with Roy Moore and Al Franken. Al Franken put out a very terse initial statement. He followed up with a longer second statement. His part of that and focused on that photograph. He said "I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture and it doesn't matter. There is no excuse., I look at it now, I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate. It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture and what's more, I can see how millions of women would feel violated by it, women who had similar experiences in their own lives. Many fear having those experiences women who have helped me, women who count on me."

You know, this is the difference here. This is one woman accusing Al Franken, you know, of inappropriate behavior which is pretty awful but it's not multiple women and there are not minors involved, you know.

THOMAS: There was a second woman today that accused him of inappropriate -- of harassing her three times and she had to threaten to call the police to get him to stop so.

I mean look, this is what's good about this process is time typically tells because generally if somebody is a pervert or a harasser they do it multiple times and people will feel emboldened just like you saw with Roy Moore.

JACOBSON: Well, I do think you're onto something though. There is obviously daylight between what Al Franken did, which was absolutely wrong and inexcusable --


JACOBSON: -- but like he's not a child molester.

VAUSE: Right.

THOMAS: Yes. He just drugs these women and molests them.

VAUSE: Drugged them?

THOMAS: Well, he talked about giving them pills in his comedy routine and taking pictures of them.

VAUSE: Donald Trump is yet to weigh in on the issue with Roy Moore but he is tweeting about Al Franken. Here's one of them in the last couple of hours. "The Al Frankenstein picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go on pictures two, three, four, five and six while she sleeps?"

You know Dave -- does this tweet about Franken make his silence on Moore just sort of been more telling or more worse than it really is.

JACOBSON: Yes. For sure, I mean this -- the President looks like a hypocrite just like Democrats will look like a hypocrite if they didn't ask for Al Franken to resign.

I mean Donald Trump should probably resign because of what he did, right. I mean he forcibly kissed women -- we know that, right.

Or if you remember the p-bomb situation that he threw. I mean the fact is like Donald Trump should be held to the same standards that any U.S. Senator should, that any man in powerful positions whether it's in politics or the entertainment industry.

THOMAS: I think there's a couple of key differences here. First of all, the President definitely lives in a glass house on this issue.

JACOBSON: For sure.

THOMAS: But the President was bragging on an "Access: Hollywood" tape about how his celebrity allows him to do anything he wants essential without consent. There was no consent with Franken. And here's the real defining difference because we could parse that, I know.

VAUSE: Sure. THOMAS: The defining difference is the American electorate knew full well what Donald Trump had bragged about on Access: Hollywood and they still voted him in.

VAUSE: That's true.

THOMAS: Americans didn't know about Al Franken and we now know about Roy Moore and we have an opportunity to throw him out.

VAUSE: One thing we talked (INAUDIBLE) is because now we heard from the White House spokesperson, Sarah Sanders saying, you know, the President believes the voters of Alabama should decide.

Ok. So listen to this Fox News opinion poll -- the Democrat Jones is now up by, I think by eight points --

JACOBSON: They're deciding.

VAUSE: -- he's leading. So they are deciding.

I wonder if the President's silence up until this point has been because he's worried that if he puts pressure on Roy Moore to get out he would have and there would be another loss for him -- for Donald Trump.

JACOBSON: And there's also the fact that Donald Trump actually like endorsed Roy Moore. And he hasn't revoked his endorsement.

VAUSE: Right.

JACOBSON: Like we haven't seen that yet. He still has that option, right.

VAUSE: I mean the last words we've heard out of Donald Trump's mouth about Roy Moore is that he ran a good race and is a good man. And that's what standing out there right now -- John. So he does have -- I think an obligation to correct the record.

THOMAS: I think he should correct the record. Politically-speaking I think the President doesn't want to demand he get out because he knows he doesn't have the power to do it.

And I think he also knows that, look, this seat is likely going to a Democrat and no amount of cajoling. The only thing that's putting his heavy hand in this race will do is upset Republican voters across the country to say, look, the establishment is trying to, you know, electioneer here.

VAUSE: This is the turnaround though. It was looking like it was going to be Moore up until this point. This is only in the last day or so that --

THOMAS: But the thing is even if he does get elected in some way --

VAUSE: Right.

THOMAS: -- the Senate is going to throw him out. I don't see a scenario where that doesn't happen.

VAUSE: Ok. Dave and John -- good to see you.

JACOBSON: Likewise.

THOMAS: Thanks.

VAUSE: Thanks -- guys.

SESAY: All right. Some breaking news to bring you now -- it's just coming in to us here at CNN.

Dramatic scenes from a nursing home fire in the U.S. State of Pennsylvania. Local news reports say the blaze started about an hour ago in the town of Westchester. That's just outside Philadelphia.

[00:19:59] We're hearing the nursing home has now been evacuated but it is not clear at this stage if anyone is unaccounted for at this point. And of course, we all know investigators will be looking into what caused the fire. We don't have any details of that right now.

Again -- a major fire at a nursing home in Westchester, Pennsylvania. We're going to bring you more information as it comes in to us here at CNN.

VAUSE: That is well and truly alive.


VAUSE: That will be there for a while.


We're going to take a quick break now. Coming up, the latest on an apparent military coup in Zimbabwe and what a major opposition figure says should happen to President Robert Mugabe. That's next.


SESAY: Hello, everyone.

The future of Zimbabwe's embattled president remains unclear. Armored vehicles and soldiers still control the capital of Harare after an apparent military coup on Wednesday.

VAUSE: President Robert Mugabe remains under house arrest but he's seen smiling and shaking hands with the head of the military in this recent photographs. That's the same general whose forces now control the streets.

No official word if the President will step down but the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been called on him to resign.

SESAY: All right. Let's bring in CNN's Eleni Giokos. She is following all of this for us from Johannesburg.

Eleni -- we just showed those pictures of a smiling Robert Mugabe. Where do things stand right now with efforts to resolve this crisis?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems the status quo is in fact still in place. So the military seems to have control. Robert Mugabe is still under house arrest. We know that negotiations and talks have now happened.

Let's talk about the regional body, South Africa came out with a comment saying that they haven't found a solution as yet. They're talking about getting leaders from the entire region to convene in an emergency summit to try and find a solution. The key words there however is that a coup is unconstitutional and democratic processes need to take place.

The South African envoy we know is on the way back to the country. It's interesting they've negotiated, they mediated -- whose side did they take? Who did they ask to step down? How did they embark on that?

So many questions to be answered there but the fact they're on their way back without any kind of key outcome that we know about is quite interesting. And then, of course, the conversations that are happening on the ground.

Robert Mugabe was never really going to stand down quickly without resistance. From what we understand he is resisting all those calls and he's not heading to those calls. It's a man that has shown a lot of endurance as we know. He's been in power for almost 40 years.

So it will be interesting to see what is going to take him to either to step down or engage in conversation about a transitional government. Is he going to want to stay on until his term finishes, until the next elections come about? These are the kinds of things that many people are questioning.

And of course, the regional aspect is just as important.

SESAY: It absolutely is.

Eleni -- we absolutely appreciate it.

And as you mentioned those elections and they're due next year, I think August at the latest. So he still does have some time on his term. We shall see what happens.

Eleni Giokos there in Johannesburg -- thank you.

[00:25:004] VAUSE: Still to come on NEWSROOM L.A., the sexual harassment scandal which began with Harvey Weinstein continues to grow into what many believe is a seismic cultural shift in women's rights.

SESAY: For many people it may feel the earth is shifting on its axis as more and more women speak out and name names. We're going to take a political look at this historic cultural moment and what it means for the future.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay.

The headlines this hour.

New photos show Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe in talks with the country's military chief. He was placed under house arrest on Wednesday in an apparent military coup. There's no official word if Mr. Mugabe will step down but opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has called on him to resign.

VAUSE: U.S. Senator Al Franken has issued a lengthy apology after a radio host says Franken groped her and forcibly kissed her while they were on a USO tour ten years ago. Franken has asked for the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate.

SESAY: New polls in the U.S. state of Alabama show embattled senatorial candidate Roy Moore trailing his Democratic opponent Doug Jones. The latest numbers have Moore down by eight points among likely voters. He's been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women who were teenagers at the time including one who was 14 and he was 32.

VAUSE: It's only been six weeks since the movie heavyweight Harvey Weinstein was outed by "New York Times" as a serial offender who allegedly used his powerful position to harass, abuse and intimidate. He's accused of preying on young hopeful starlets and Hollywood royalty alike.

And with that revelation the floodgates were breached. From the U.S. Congress to the Britain's parliament; from Alabama's Senate race and Roy Moore to the California state house, women are speaking out and going on the record accusing powerful men of acts ranging from inappropriate to repulsive to criminal.

In recent weeks the list of those accused reads like a who's who. Actors Kevin Spacey, George Takei, Dustin Hoffmann, comedian Louis C.K., directors Oliver Stone and James Toback; movie producer Brett Ratner; former U.S. president George H.W. Bush; journalist Mark Halperin, Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar.

It's been a relentless onslaught of harrowing stories often filled with the smallest details only a victim would remember. And with each passing day there are new allegations, new denials and the occasional apology. And many are asking when will all of this stop?

Joining now is CNN legal analyst Areva Martin and sociologist Anna Akbari who is in Bali, Indonesia.

[00:30:01] So Anna -- often, you know, it's hard to know when you're in the middle of a historic cultural moment but we seem to be in one now.

How far will this go to try and correct the sins of the past? ANNA AKBARI, SOCIOLOGIST: Yes, you know, I do think that it is a social revolution and at this point there's no going back.

And I don't think there is a limit how far back and how long (INAUDIBLE) because while we might but while we think there is some kind of growing fatigue about hearing about these stories, you know, we have to remember that this is really the first time that these issues have been (INAUDIBLE) discussed and victims have felt safe to come forward.

So I think that's just going to continue regardless of time or numbers. But in terms of the (INAUDIBLE) historic cultural moment, I think we need to recognize that this is really more than just men behaving badly.

I think this is highlighting our current crisis of masculinity, which stems from a lot of men, starting in the 20th century, not really understanding what their current role is supposed to be if it's not of provider and protector.

So we're seeing a lot of that masculinity expressed in sex, sexual aggression and in violence. So I actually don't think this rampant sexual harassment is unrelated to the (INAUDIBLE) mass shootings either, it's all related to the (INAUDIBLE) masculinity.

VAUSE: It's an interesting point.

Areva, to you, there's now this long overdue realization of what is and is not acceptable in terms of behavior, but there are still (INAUDIBLE). There's still questions, like is there a sliding scale of bad behavior?

Is a man guilty until he's proven innocent?

Should it be a firing offense automatically if he's accused or if he's actually done, guilty of sexual harassment?

Is there a statute of limitations?

So how do you see it?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think we shouldn't conflate some of the issues.

One, the standard of guilty until proven innocent beyond a reasonable doubt, those are courtroom standards. And until these cases get into the courtroom, I don't think that's the applicable standard.

It doesn't matter that you may have this standard in a legal case. The issue that we're seeing now is about integrity, character and leadership.

So when we look at Al Franken, he doesn't have to present his case as if he were in a court of law. We have to ask ourselves, do we want someone in the United States Senate who has acted in the way that he has acted? That's the question with respect to Franken. That's the question with

respect to Roy Moore and it's the question with respect to Donald Trump. I heard one of your Republican strategists say that Trump is different because we knew about the allegations and we still elected him.

I beg to differ with that. We knew about the allegations and, first of all, he didn't win by the popular vote. He won by the electoral vote. But Congress still could have acted to remove him from office in the same way that Mitch McConnell is saying if Roy Moore is elected, the Senate is going to remove him from office.

So just because someone is elected into office doesn't mean that we, as an entire country has to normalize and accept that kind of conduct.

VAUSE: Are you saying there is a double standard in politics?

Oh, my goodness.

Anna, one of the defining features of this right now, you talk to a lot of men, they are going back in their minds and trying to remember past events, thinking, am I guilty of sexual harassment?

Is there anything which I've done in my past which I need to apologize for?

AKBARI: Yes, I think there are a lot of scared men right now. And men who know that it could very well be them that we're all talking about right now. It could be them that's part of this news cycle, based on their behavior in the last few decades.

So I actually predict that we may see a few brave step forward and reactively speak out on the topic. Maybe they'll acknowledge some of the behavior that they know they've engaged in and (INAUDIBLE) very well come out in the coming weeks and months and apologize to victims.

Because a lot of the comments that we have heard from these men so far have been kind of not apologies and that hasn't really been going over so well. So I think this would be a really bold alternative.

VAUSE: And, Areva, when we look at the victims, it's women aren't just the victims here. Actor Kevin Spacey, for example, he's recently been accused of harassing 20 men during his time as director of London's Old Vic theater and then apologized. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Old Vic apologizes wholeheartedly to the people who have told us they've been affected. We've learnt that it's not enough to have the right process in place. Everyone needs to feel that they can speak out, no matter who they are.


VAUSE: And, Areva, just on that last point there, providing an environment where people feel safe to speak out, that seems to be possibly the most important thing here, moving forward, above almost anything else, people need to be able to feel safe and secure if they feel that they've been a victim of this.

MARTIN: That's so true, John. And we hear it over and over again, as women and men come forward. And people ask, why did it take you 10 years, 20 years, 30 years?

And what we keep hearing is that the shame, the humiliation, the fear --


MARTIN: -- the fear that their careers will be completely ruined, the fear that they will be ostracized, that they will be isolated. And that's something that we have to change.

As we're looking at how do we create safe workplaces it starts with creating a process by which any victim, female or male, can come forward, tell their story when it happens, not feel that they have to wait 10, 20 years until there are literally dozens of people that have come forward.

But there needs to be a vehicle through which women and men can come forward, report harassment, report abuse and there needs to be swift and severe consequences to anyone that engages in this type of behavior.

VAUSE: And, Anna, we're now six weeks into this. And nothing really lasts six weeks in the news cycle unless it's called Donald Trump these days.

So where do you see all of this heading?

When do you think it'll all sort of settle into some kind of normalcy?

AKBARI: Well, I do think we're just now scratching the surface because, keep in mind, these are just the celebrity and national public figures that we're hearing about, that are guilty of this behavior.

So we can only imagine how many everyday individuals have been harassed by less well-known men. So I actually think the next phase of this is going to be coming at the local level, the bosses, the coaches, the civic leaders, the athletes.

I think these men are now going to be given sort of a call to action and that will be the new -- that's where the normalcy will set in, is where we're talking about this amongst the people that we actually know.

VAUSE: Yes, a single mom working at a factory who's harassed by their supervisor, that kind of thing.

Areva, I don't know if I'm going to say this right so I apologize in advance if I don't get this right. But are there any issues in applying 2017 standards in terms of sexual

harassment and treatment of women to a culture and a society of 30 or 40 years ago?

And so, essentially, you know what I'm asking you.

Can people be judged in the past by what we're looking at now?

MARTIN: I think would ask that question differently if we didn't have decades of federal anti-harassment and antidiscrimination laws that have been in place in this country. We have to go back to 25 years ago, with the Anita Hill hearings, when Clarence Thomas was being reviewed for his place on the Supreme Court.

So these laws aren't new. We've known that sexual harassment is unlawful. We've had laws that have prevented employers from creating hostile work environments. So this isn't as if, all of a sudden now we're holding predators to a new standard.

Some of these allegations against Roy Moore, these are crimes. These are criminal actions. There have been statutes on the book for decades that have prohibited statutory rape, adults having sexual interaction and sexual relationships with minors.

So I can't give you a pass based on this theory that somehow we're holding you to a new standard because the standard has been there. We perhaps are causing you to be held accountable in ways today that we didn't 10 years ago but shame on us for not doing it 10 years ago.

VAUSE: That's a good point to end on.


VAUSE: Areva and Anna, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

MARTIN: Thanks, John.


ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, she did. She did.


SESAY: Coming up, the U.S. president is many things, (INAUDIBLE) chief, commander in chief and, in a lesson enrolled (ph), deflector in chief. We will explain when we come back.





SESAY: It's a time-worn political art form, doing whatever it takes to avoid the questions you just don't want to answer.

VAUSE: U.S. President Donald Trump seems to be a master of the art of ignoring, sometimes literally running from the hard questions. Here's Jeanne Moos.




JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The art of ignore. Translation, don't ask. President Trump was mute when it came to Judge Roy Moore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should Roy Moore resign, Mr. President?

Do you believe his accusers.

MOOS (voice-over): With a wave...


MOOS (voice-over): -- with a thumbs-up, the president thumbed his nose at the questions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe the accusers of Roy Moore, Mr. President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should Roy Moore drop out, sir?

MOOS (voice-over): Why has the president dropped out of answering?

MICHAEL GRAHAM, "THE BOSTON HERALD": Look, for anyone who doesn't know why Donald Trump is reluctant to talk about Roy Moore's allegations, I have an "Access Hollywood" tape I'd like to sell you.

MOOS: But at least the president hasn't actually run. When it comes to getting answers, running down a stairwell doesn't bode well.

If nothing else, Alabama congressman Mo Brooks got a good workout.


STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Running away from your problems in a downward spiral, I think we have got a new Republican metaphor.

MOOS (voice-over): The subject was sure a conversation killer for Republican leaders when the story first broke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe these women who have made on the record allegations against Roy Moore, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Can they see me if I don't move?"

MOOS (voice-over): Of course, all politicians dodge. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple of questions on two critical issues that you were discussing today. (INAUDIBLE).

MOOS (voice-over): At least President Trump hasn't resorted to Ronald Reagan's tactic of blaming his ears.

Hear no evil, speak no evil. When it comes to Judge Moore, apparently less is more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should he resign?

MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should Roy Moore drop out, sir?

MOOS (voice-over): -- New York.








SESAY: Thank you for watching CNN live from Los Angeles.


SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Stay tuned. "WORLD SPORT" is next.