Return to Transcripts main page


Zimbabwe Military In Control As Mugabe Awaits Fate; U.S. Senator Apologizes For Groping Woman; Moore Denies Allegations, Not Dropping Out Of Race; U.S. Lifting Ban On Some Elephant Trophies From Africa; Old Vic Theatre: 20 Allegations Against Spacey; Israeli Women Call Out Sexual Harassment; Pope Francis Signs Lamborghini For Auction; Justice League Races To Catch Up With Marvel. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired November 17, 2017 - 01:00   ET


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

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, Zimbabwe's military out in force and still in control. And with the president under house arrest, it's still not known if he will step out or fight back.

SESAY: Plus, the political world rocked again by claims of sexual misconduct, this time it's a sitting U.S. senator accused of going too far with a woman.

VAUSE: An elephant (INAUDIBLE), well, so many around the world. There's widespread outrage after the Trump administration removes a ban on big game hunters bringing home elephant remains as trophies.

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

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Good to have you with us. This is NEWSROOM L.A. The president of Zimbabwe's nearly40-year-long rule may be coming to an end. Robert Mugabe remains under house arrest after Wednesday's apparent military coup. The military says it is in contact with him and has made significant progress on a way forward, say it will advise the nation on the outcome of those talks as soon as possible.

SESAY: New images show Mr. Mugabe, meeting with the country's military chief -- the same general whose troops seized the streets. These were images that emerged on Thursday. You can see the two men shaking hands and smiling there, but a source tells CNN transition talks are underway.

VAUSE: By now, what that transition might look like is still unclear.

SESAY: Our David McKenzie spoke to the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, about what he thinks should happen in this report from Harare.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The cautious drive reveals a new reality here. There's some serious firepower over here from the army, and it's quite extraordinary because all of this is parked right outside the headquarters of the presidential guard. That's really a sign. They're hemming them in. And -- look, there's some more military over here. A checkpoint. Let's just be careful.

The presidential guard once said it would die for Mugabe. But now, like the rest of the country, it takes its orders from the army. The question: how long will the soldiers remain on these streets?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, ZIMBABWE OPPOSITION LEADER: I think it would appear that he has lost all --

MCKENZIE: Opposition leaders like Morgan Tsvangirai are asking, will free elections ever happen? Is this a coup that's happened in Zimbabwe?

TSVANGIRAI: The military said it's not a coup, it's not a military takeover.

MCKENZIE: But the tanks are on the streets.

TSVANGIRAI: Yes, but what I can say is that it is unconstitutional. Whatever you want to describe it, it's unconstitutional because you, you can't force the change of government by any means other than through the ballot box.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you from the CNN?

MCKENZIE: Yes, we are. How are you, man? In the capital, Zimbabweans are holding their breath. Steven, how are you? How are you? What do you think -- what do you think what's happening right now in the country?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know --

MCKENZIE: You don't know what's happening?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- what is happening. What we know is that the military is in control.

MCKENZIE: Robert Mugabe has been in power longer than most Zimbabweans have been alive. Any dissent was stamped out, while Mugabe presided over a near collapse of this economy.

TSVANGIRAI: As far as the people -- they didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

MCKENZIE: For so long, they've seen desperation. So, they dare not hope for too much. Do you think Mugabe should leave?


MCKENZIE: Just something better. David McKenzie, CNN, Harare, Zimbabwe.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SESAY: For more, we're joined by Johnnie Carson who served as the

U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe from 1995 to 1997, he also served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the Obama administration. Ambassador Carson joins us from Washington. Thank you so much for being with us. The Zimbabwean military moved to take control of the Southern African nation in the early hours of Wednesday. Since then, little light has been shown on what they plan to do next. What does it say to you, Ambassador Carson, that the military leaders have still not publicly outlined their plans?

JOHNNIE CARSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ZIMBABWE AND FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR AFRICAN AFFAIRS UNDER OBAMA (via Skype): Let me say first of all that Zimbabwe is in the first stage of a major political transition that will likely bring President Robert Mugabe's 37-year rule to an end. Negotiations appear to be underway to get him to stand down as president, and to turn over his leadership to his former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, or, at least to another senior leader in Mugabe's political party. Although the military seized power and has placed Mugabe under house rest, they do not appear to want to want to retain power.

[01:05:23] Military leaders are eager, I think, to relinquish power and control to civilian authority and return to the barracks. Negotiations appear to be underway between Robert Mugabe and the Army Commander and Chief of Staff, General Constantino Chiwenga, and also negotiations with the Catholic Archbishop. There's a military spokesman there have indicated that they do not hold this a coup d'etat. They have insisted that they're only intervening to end corruption.

SESAY: That's what they have said, indeed, though, many would say, you know, if it looks like a coup, unfolds like a coup, then it definitely is a coup. That's certainly the view among some political watchers. Nevertheless, we saw on Thursday those pictures of a smiling Robert Mugabe who was seemingly calm standing alongside the head of the defense forces you just mentioned there, Commander Chiwenga. He was there in the room and statehouse alongside other individuals. As you already mentioned, you know, all the reports suggest that they're trying to get him to step down to retire. You were ambassador to Zimbabwe, you have great knowledge of the country and of President Mugabe. Do you think he'll acquiesce and let go of power without a fight?

CARSON: I think he's 93 years of age, increasingly frail and weak in health, and starting, according to some, to lose his mental facilities and capacity. Clearly, he is a survivor. He is a leader who has governed for -- close to four decades after spending nearly 20 years in prison. So, he does have an iron backbone and an iron will. But time does run out, even on the best of people, and I think that probably there are people around Robert Mugabe in his party who would like to see him step aside. They certainly don't want to see his wife take over.

SESAY: How big a blow is this to efforts to turn the page on Africa's history of coup d'etats and military interventions? How do your view of this moment in the context of, you know, African commitment to, you know, democratic norms, and just basically, you know, democracy strengthening on the continent?

CARSON: I think, as I mentioned earlier, the military, I believe, are eager to turn over power to a civilian authority and, therefore, are trying to negotiate with Robert Mugabe or someone to come in and take over. I think that the military recognizes this. I think the leaders around Mugabe recognize this. And I think that we'll see pressure put on this military group to relinquish power. I think those negotiations that are underway clearly are intended to get the military out of statehouse and back into the barracks.

SESAY: Ambassador Johnnie Carson, great to have you with us. Thank you so much for the insight and perspective. Thank you.

CARSON: Thank you, Isha.

VAUSE: For weeks, leading Republican lawmakers in the U.S. have been struggling to deal with Judge Roy Moore, the Senate Candidate for Alabama, accused of sexual harassment and assault by at least seven women. Now, the Democrats have their own scandal. Senator Al Franken has been accused of and apologized for sexual misconduct.

It happened in 2006 when he was a comedian and not an elected official. Radio Host, Leeann Tweeden, says she was groped by Franken and he forcibly kissed her while they're a part of USO Tour. Franken had written a skit which had him kissing Tweeden. During rehearsal, Tweeden claims Franken kept insisting they needed to practice that kiss. Here's what she says happened next.


LEEANN TWEEDEN, ACCUSING AL FRANKEN OF SEXUAL ABUSE: It all happened so fast. He comes in and, you know, at the last second, we're coming in and he just -- he puts his hand on the back my neck and he comes in so fast and he just sort of -- you know, it's like that, you know, there was no finesse to it at all, let's put it that way. And he just mashes his mouth to my lips and, you know, it was like wet and he puts his tongue in mouth. And, you know, my reaction it 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 me again -- I was so angry.


[01:10:25] VAUSE: Tweeden also released this photo of Franken with his hands over her chest while she was sleeping. Franken issued a lengthy apology, saying in part: "I certainly don't remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn't. I shouldn't have done it." And President Donald Trump, can't resist, he's tweeting about this, saying: "The Al Frankenstein picture is really bad. Speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures two, three, four, five and six while she sleeps?"

Joining us now, CNN Political Commentators and Democratic Strategist, Dave Jacobson; and Republican Consultant, John Thomas; also with us, CNN Legal Analyst, Areva Martin. OK. So, right now there seems to be some disagreement among Democrats about whether or not Al Franken should be dealt with in the same way as Roy Moore, the candidate from Alabama. Listen to this.


REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: The conduct like that, whether you're Roy Moore or Al Franken, should be treated the same way.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Roy Moore's situation should not be conflated with Al Franken's. In terms of the number of complaints, the kinds of complaints, the two are different. We can argue about one being more serious than the other. But the point is each of these instances has to be assessed on its own terms and its own facts.


VAUSE: To you, should that be treated as similar incidents and treated the same or is there a difference here, and should the outcomes be different?

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I don't think the outcomes should be different but I think there is daylight like there's -- it's one thing to, like, be a child molester and to prey and be a predator on 14-year-old girls. It's another thing to engage in sexual misconduct and sexual harassment and take advantage of -- by forcibly kissing a woman or taking advantage of her body when she's sleeping. Both are wrong. One's worse than the other. Both are inexcusable for somebody who wants to be in public office, but also any professional or any American citizen.

But I think, like, Al Franken at this point, like, I think it's clear that he has to resign. I think if Democrats don't come out and call for him to step aside, we're going to look like hypocrites. And I think this is an opportunity for us to step up to the plate and look like we're on the moral high ground. But also, similarly, Roy Moore needs to step aside and he needs -- or if he wins, he should be expelled from the Senate.

VAUSE: So, John, how do you see it from a Republican point of view?

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: I think I see it similarly as Dave. It looks like the voters of Alabama are probably going to make the right decision and not elect Judge Roy Moore. But if they do, I think Republicans have been pretty clear from leadership that they're going to toss this guy out.

VAUSE: But in terms of this behavior, is Franken as bad as Roy Moore and should the same outcome be for both?

THOMAS: I mean, this is a terrible conversation to even have. Pedophilia is obviously some of the worst, but so is taking advantage of a woman while she's sleeping. And in his comedy routine, he jokes about potentially drugging women and doing something similar. I think time will tell if there are more women. We saw a second accusation come out earlier today referring to him -- Franken harassing a woman and she's having to threaten to call the cops. So, I think if more women come out, it's clear that the Senate should force him out. But the senator should do the right thing and just resign.

VAUSE: Areva, we'd like to ask you from a legal point of view, how do you see this? You know, who's done the worst acts here -- I guess, is the easiest way of putting it?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, both acts, Roy Moore, Franken, and I've got to keep talking about Donald Trump. So, I just don't understand how we can have this conversation about Moore and Franken but Donald Trump, who had 16 women accused him of everything from rape, and that was with respect to a 13-year-old girl to groping, to sexual harassment. We had the "Access Hollywood" tape.

So, if we're going to set standards by which we're going to judge our elected officials, and I agree, we absolutely should, they have to be applied consistently. And we can't take sides. We can't give a pass to someone because they are in one office versus another office, and we can't take sides based on the political party affiliation.

So, from a legal standpoint, if these women had come forward with respect to Trump, Franken or Moore during the statute of limitation time period, they may have been subjected to criminal charges, and most definitely they probably would've been sued for civil damages. And now, from a leadership standpoint, all three of them need to go.

VAUSE: OK. You did mention President Trump who is not going anywhere, but he has actually commented on the Al Franken situation as opposed to weighing in on what's happening with Roy Moore. This is what he said about Franken: "To think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women. Leslie Stahl tape?" John, to you, clearly the White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly has gone to bed -- that tweet went out about quarter past 10:00 at night. No one was around to tell the president that's not a good idea.

[01:15:23] THOMAS: Yes. I mean, the president definitely lives in a glass house on this issue. I would disagree with Areva. The difference between the Franken issue and Trump's issue is the American voters, that was front and center right in the home stretch of the election. They saw the "Access Hollywood" tape. We were -- we did television about that. And they still decided, Areva, yes, the electoral college decided, that they decided to elect him president.

MARTIN: John --

THOMAS: With Judge Roy Moore, it looks like the voters are going to make the right decision, and we're also talking about pedophilia versus bragging about the power of celebrity.

VAUSE: Areva?

MARTIN: You're parsing that way too thinly. First of all, Trump was accused by 16 women, including a 13-year-old who says he raped her. So, that is statutory rape no matter how you cut it. And with this argument, you're making about the American public elected Trump, your argument and Mitch McConnell says if Roy Moore is elected, we should expel him. Trump was elected. The Congress has the ability to impeach Trump. So, I don't understand the hypocrisy of your argument.

VAUSE: OK. I mean, it is a good argument, but, I think, we need to focus on Franken right now. Because, you know, Al Franken has been seen as champion and a supporter of women's rights. Here he is talking about the Harvey Weinstein scandal.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last question: what do you make of the Harvey Weinstein scandal? It's been an interesting time.

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: It's a horrible thing. Unfortunately, sexual harassment happens in every profession, and I think that we need to do something legislatively to make it easier for women to not only go to court but so that this isn't secret.


VAUSE: Dave, I don't know if that helps him or hurts him.

JACOBSON: I think justified or not justified, or right or wrong, like, timing is everything in politics. The wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, everything has changed. It's been flipped on its head. I think had Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton been on the ballot today, Donald Trump probably would've lost the electoral college. I think this is an issue that --

VAUSE: Would've, could have -- I mean, you can't go down that road.

JACOBSON: Yes, but here's my point: like, had this happen, like, two years ago with Al Franken? Like, he probably wouldn't be in a position where a lot of folks would start to say, you know what, you've got to step aside, you've got to resign. So, timing is everything.

THOMAS: The photo evidence is also --

VAUSE: Yes, the photo seems to be a big difference here as well, especially between the Roy Moore story and the Franken story. Leeann Tweeden talked about what seemed to be, you know, sort of, her ah-ha moment. Listen to this.


TWEEDEN: People are coming out now. Congressman Jackie Speier came on our radio show here in Los Angeles, and she told about her story when her chief of staff, when she was a congressional aide when she was in her 20s, did the same thing. And when I heard her talk about that on our radio show entire of the morning right here on KABC in Los Angeles, and she said he pinned me up against the wall, put his hands on my face, kissed me and stuck his tongue in my mouth, I went -- that was Al Franken. He did that to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Areva, the Franken story is getting a lot of attention, but

could these revelations that Congress has paid out over, what, $17 million over the years, 260 settlements, could that have far repercussions? You know, it seems unlikely that Franken will be the last lawmakers refused to sexual misconduct.

MARTIN: Yes. I think this is just a tip of the iceberg, John, we're going to see women be empowered the way Leeann talked about hearing Jackie Speier's story encouraged her to come out. And that's what we're hearing from all of these victims is that they are feeling that there's strength in number. They previously felt intimidated, and, you know, they didn't feel that they could come forward and tell their stories without suffering severe consequences.

But I think after we heard the story tonight about Al Franken, we may hear more stories from more women talking about people in Congress. And we know from the hearings they held on the Hill that there are at least two lawmakers: one Republican and one Democrat that Jackie Speier herself says they know have been involved in sexual harassment or sexual abuse, even though she didn't name names. So, we may learn the names of those perpetrators.

VAUSE: John, one of them could be Al Franken, we don't know.

THOMAS: Yes. What I think Congress should do, because they have the power to do it is in these settlements of using our taxpayer dollars, by the way.


THOMAS: I think we as taxpayers have a right to know who are their harassers. You know, I think Congress should change the rules and unmask themselves so that we have an opportunity not to see where our dollars are going, but weigh that in our decision of whether to re- elect these people.

VAUSE: Dave, 30 seconds.

[01:20:01] JACOBSON: Well, I think bottom line, I think the silver lining is that you're seeing Democrats and Republicans, like, agree on this issue in a time where you've got extreme political polarization in this country. This shouldn't be a partisan issue.

VAUSE: Finally we can agree that pedophilia and sexual assault and harassment is back. OK. Thank you all. Thank you, Areva, actually. We'll say goodnight to you, but Dave and John, you'll stick around for the next break. Thanks, guys.

SESAY: And after the break, Roy Moore -- Roy Moore, rather, Roy Moore's senate campaign marches on as he denies multiple accusations of sexual harassment, but new polling shows that may not save him on election day.

VAUSE: Also, a famous (INAUDIBLE) in London uncovers years of alleged misconduct by actor Kevin Spacey, issues a blanket apology for everyone affected. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Huge flames in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania as firefighters battle a blaze at a nursing home. The fire started about two hours ago in the town of West Chester outside of Philadelphia. The facility has now been evacuated. But CNN affiliate KYW reports at least three people were injured. There's no word yet on what caused the fire.

Well, a new polling from Fox News has Alabama Republican Roy Moore trailing the Democratic candidate by eight points in his campaign for the U.S. Senate. At least seven women are now accusing him of sexual harassment in the past including one who was 14-years-old when he was 32.

VAUSE: Moore's strategy has been to deny the allegations entirely while blaming the Washington machine, even his own party leaders for a political hit job.


ROY MOORE, REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE: Many of you have recognized that this is an effort by Mitch McConnell and his cronies to steal this election from the people of Alabama, and they will not stand for it. They overcame $30 million and voted me in the primary. And now, they're trying a different tactic.


VAUSE: Back with us, Dave Jacobson and John Thomas. OK. So, right now, I want to note with Roy Moore, there seems to be -- you know, he really does know where he stands in U.S. politics. Certainly, what his place is at the moment. Listen to this.


MOORE: One thing I would like to see happen in our country is unity. I said I wanted to see unity. I never dreamed that I would succeed even before I got elected, but I have unified the Democrats and the Republican in fighting against me because they don't want me there.


VAUSE: John, that's not entirely true, because he still has the support of Alabama's Republican Party. They've decided to stick with him. So, explain this disconnect between Washington and --

THOMAS: Yes, he's trying to cherry-pick his facts. I mean, the thing that is most disappointing besides, of course, the ad that the pedophilia acts he did are how pathetic his response has really been. I mean, I think he's just making a crass political calculation that he's able to blur the lines and tap into what, you know, Alabamans hate Washington, D.C. in the swamp. He's trying to conflate the two and trying to hope that the electorate is already set in motion. But it appears, thank goodness, that voters are wising up and they're not with him.

[01:25:19] VAUSE: But, Dave, can Republicans in Washington -- can they really distance themselves from this guy? Whatever they say?

JACOBSON: They can't because, like, if you're the average voter, like, you don't know the difference between the Alabama GOP and the Washington GOP establishment and the Trump wing. Like, if you're an average voter who doesn't really focus day-to-day on politics, all of this political noise doesn't really, you know -- you don't see these different factions at the end of the day. And look, this rubber stamp that the GOP and Alabama gave to Roy Moore is going to give political fodder to Democrats moving forward.

VAUSE: But --

JACOBSON: I think the -- yes, go ahead.

VAUSE: Because I just want to -- you know, if they can say what they in D.C. Like, I believe the women, he should go -- but talks cheap. Why are they endorsing the Democrat? Where's the ride-in campaign? The RNC only just stopped funding his campaign, you know, a day ago. So, where's the action?

JACOBSON: Right. And like, even if they were -- even if the Republicans, which they never would, like, endorse Doug Jones. Like, the fact of the matter is, as we move to 2018, Republicans across the country and battleground districts are going to be attached at the hip to Moore. Like, it's going to be a political missed opportunity for Democrats if they don't, like, inject this guy into television ads and direct mailers and attacks against Republicans all across the country.

THOMAS: It is bad for the brand, and that's all about it. That's why, I think if he managed to get elected, which it looks like he won't, but if he does, McConnell's going to throw him out. They have to, and they have to do that immediately for the brand if nothing else.

VAUSE: OK. That latest Fox News poll, Democrat Doug Jones up by eight percent -- could very well be the next junior senator from the great state of Alabama. And John, you know, I think we're talking a couple days ago and one of the options, the outside options of trying to get, you know, Roy Moore, you know, from ever getting into the Senate was, OK, well, maybe the Democrat would win, and we're all in ha-ha-ha-ha, if that's going to happen. But now, it could, so what's going on here?

THOMAS: Well, it's the power of multiple, multiple accusers. Because, you know, you -- I remember sitting here it's going well, 30 years ago, timing is suspect, it's one actual accuser. As they keep coming out, you start hearing that they knew at a local mall that this guy was, like, on a no-fly list. It becomes undeniable and voters got it.

VAUSE: Yes, death by a thousand accusations. Dave, take a close look at these numbers. Jones has opened up this huge lead among women voters. And look at that, is that indicative of what could happen across the country if Republicans don't handle this correctly?

JACOBSON: Well, I think it's indicative of what we saw last Tuesday in the Virginia governors' race, where there's this massive swing where Democrats picked up more votes in a governors' race than Hillary Clinton won in Virginia. So, I think if you read the tea leaves, I think, we are at the very beginnings of a potential wave. Look, Democrats only have to pick up 24 seats to win back the house. There's 25-plus Republicans who have already --

THOMAS: Let's flashback to the last segment that you don't handle the Franken situation properly --

JACOBSON: Oh, for sure. Absolutely.

THOMAS: -- this whole thing is flipped.

JACOBSON: Hands down. The defining moment for the party and they've to push him aside.

VAUSE: John, I want you to explain these next numbers. This is support coming from evangelicals for Roy Moore. I mean, it's incredible, 73 percent. I mean, 73 percent of evangelicals, which is what, two-thirds of the state, at least in Alabama, would rather vote for a pedophile or an accused pedophile, than the Democrat. How does that -- again, you know the state, how does that work?

THOMAS: Yes, I have run many races there. It speaks to, if you are an evangelical, being right to life is the number one issue. I mean, you're talking about -- it's terrible, but murder versus pedophilia. I mean, that's how they judge that.

VAUSE: Right.

THOMAS: And remember, Judge Roy Moore, to his credit, has been outspoken on religious issues consistently throughout his career -- and that's what these voters know him as.

VAUSE: Dave, how badly have Democrats screwed up in the South, and in particular in Alabama? Again, to those numbers that, you know, 73 percent of the Evangelicals, only 20 percent of Evangelical, you know, would actually go for a Democrat over an accused pedophile.

JACOBSON: Well, can I just say, like, what baffles me is, like, what happened to the party of, like, family values? I think this is going to do irreparable damage to Republicans across the country because this guy is going to be attached at the hip to every vulnerable Republican in the House and the Senate who's up in 2018. And I just don't see how Republicans can repair themselves from this? This guy is toxic.

VAUSE: This is like Todd Akin and --

JACOBSON: It's worse than Todd Aiken. It's 10 times worse.


THOMAS: It's ironic because Trump and the establishment did not want this guy from the outset, and now this guy runs the risk of defining us. VAUSE: That was what Steve Bannon did. Well done, Steve. Good call.

JACOBSON: There's a Republican strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who called this Steve Bannon special.

THOMAS: Even now, Bannon has distanced himself.


VAUSE: Too late. He's yours, Steve. Live it up. OK. John and Dave, thank you.


[01:30:08] SESAY: Time for a quick break. A decision by the Trump administration would let American big game hunters, like the president's son, legally bring some elephant trophies from Africa to the U.S. We hear from both sides of the issue, next.


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, Zimbabwe's military says it's currently engaging with embattled president Robert Mugabe. New photos show him meeting with the commander of the country's defense forces. Mr. Mugabe remains under house arrest following an apparent coup on Wednesday.

VAUSE: The wave of sexual misconduct allegations has reached the U.S. Congress. Senator Al Franken is apologizing for a 2006 incident. A radio personality says he forcibly kissed her and grabbed -- and groped her rather during a USO tour. Franken called for an ethics investigation and said he will happily cooperate.

SESAY: The U.S. Security council included another resolution in the coming out, it's regarding the system used to investigate alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria. And attempt to pass the U.S. proposed resolution was (INAUDIBLE) by Russia on Thursday and the inspection is mandate, partly in placed and set to expire. Syria has repeatedly denied it has any chemical weapons.

VAUSE: Well, animal rights advocates have been left outrage while some hunting groups are quite pleased after a decision by the Trump Administration. It's announced that hunters would soon be allowed to bring their elephant trophies home from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

SESAY: Well, Zimbabwe rules restricting the importation of the remains of the big game animals were meant to protect dwindling elephant populations. Tom Foreman reports.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pictures for some are brutal. Wild African elephants killed by people paying tens of thousands of dollars to pull the trigger. Donald Trump Jr. has traveled to Africa to hunt many times and defends it.

DONALD TRUMP JR., AMERICAN BUSINESSMAN: Once you get exposed to it, you realize it's not this, like, you know, savage thing.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And the new rules from his father would allow more Americans to hunt the elephants and return home with their trophies, tusks and all. The money from their sport in theory helping to protect other elephants. As Safari Club International put it, "Hunting is beneficial to wildlife and these range countries know how to manage their elephant populations."

And it fits neatly into President Trump's promise to cut the government restrictions.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want regulation for environmental. We want regulation for safety. But the regulations are massive and we --

[01:35:01] FOREMAN (voice-over): This one was killed seems just a few days ago even. However, the move stands in stark contrast to Obama era efforts to stop elephant poaching by cutting off the world ivory trade. In 2015, a joint deal was struck with China, the biggest ivory market, to ban virtually all ivory imports and exports.

REP. GRACE MENG (D), NEW YORK: In New York, a ton of illegal ivory was crushed. The U.S. is the second largest market for ivory in the entire world.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Some elephant hunting was still allowed under Obama but outrage over this broad change of plans has been swift. Chelsea Clinton, infuriating. "Will increase poaching, make communities vulnerable, and hurt conservation efforts." Habitat loss and hunting have had devastating effects.

At the start of the 21st century, there were 3 to 5 million African elephants according to the World Wildlife Fund which says only 400,000 remain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if you want to generate the economic activity in Africa, in Zimbabwe and Tanzania and Kenya and South Africa, keep the wildlife alive.

FOREMAN: President Trump's plan does not open all of Africa. It just expands hunting opportunities in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Places, where advocates move, say they feel that elephants are doing comparatively well. Still, for critics, it is a colossally bad idea for a species that's been under so much pressure for so long.


VAUSE: Well, joining us now, Elly Pepper with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Good to see you. And just quickly before we, you know, get into what this is all about, at first there's White House press briefing, spokesperson Sarah Sanders, she kind of indicated that this might not be a done deal, this is what she said.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Actually, there hasn't been an announcement that's been finalized on this front but at this point, I defer you to the Department of Interior.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you think that -- they said that they have drafted what's going in the Federal Register tomorrow, so --

SANDERS: Oh, again, there hasn't been an announcement. Until that's done, I wouldn't consider anything final.


VAUSE: So, Elly, had you ever thought that the Trump Administration might actually reverse course here?

ELLY PEPPER, WILDLIFE ADVOCATE, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: I don't think so. I've actually seen the final version, and furthermore, I called the Fish and Wildlife Service because I thought there was a slight chance it could be fake news. But they assured me that it was not.

VAUSE: OK. So I think we kind of need to be clear exactly, precisely what we're talking about here when it comes to sports trophies because basically the remains of the animal, the body parts and in the case of an elephant, it could be the head, it could be the tusks or, you know, the tail, which is what Donald Trump Jr. was holding in that photograph, you know, in the past, how does that been allowed to be -- import those remains providing the animal was murdered during a regulated hunt and the revenue for those hunts was used for conservation efforts, right?

PEPPER: Yes. The U.S. Endangered Species Act requires that for species listed under its protection to trophy hunt -- to import the trophy from that species, you have to be able to show that you enhanced the survival of the species. So elephants are listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. So the government has to show that it enhances the survival of the species to keep them.

VAUSE: OK. So that brings us, sort of, three years ago when the Obama Administration ordered a ban on Zambia and Zimbabwe in particular because they couldn't prove essentially that the money from the hunts was helping the endangered species survive. So we're now at this point where the Trump Administration says about Zimbabwe, in particular, a country which is in the middle of a military coup, they did a great job with the elephant herd.

PEPPER: Yes, you know, it's absurd, and the timing is impeccable. The -- Zimbabwe, nothing has changed with regards to management of their population. I think that the government is claiming that they've written a few more documents than they had under the Obama Administration.

And, you know, documents were (INAUDIBLE) don't really matter when a country, as you said, is undergoing a military coup and can't enforce any of those words. There's also just a lack of desire, I think. Zimbabwe is historically one of the worst countries, most corrupt when it comes to trophy hunting. I think most people remember when Cecil the lion was killed, that was in Zimbabwe.

And even wildlife rangers, those who are supposed to protect the wildlife in Zimbabwe have been found to be allegedly entering ivory into trafficking and poaching elephant.

VAUSE: OK. So this position held by the U.S. Government that hunting an endangered species can actually help that species survive. But a report by Congressional Democrats last year focused on five endangered species in four countries in Africa and found that, "Trophy hunting is managed well in some areas and poorly in others.

[01:40:02] In many cases, the laws, institutions, and capacity necessary to make trophy hunting benefit conservation are lacking." So given that, instead of maybe lifting this Obama-era ban, is there a good case to make that -- perhaps it should be permanent?

PEPPER: Yes, I would definitely make that case. In my opinion, and the opinion of the Natural Resources Defense Council, any hunting of an endangered species is unsustainable and shouldn't be happening. Elephants are in crisis right now, and globally and in Zimbabwe, despite this, the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species does came out with a recent report showing that elephant populations continue to decline. So we need to do everything we can to save the species.

VAUSE: And just a reminder, because it, you know, it recently come out, you know, that elephants are, well, recently year -- in recent years, that they're much smarter than previously thought. They live in family units. When a family member dies, they grieve. They communicate with each other.

They show signs of empathy. It raises a question, why are we shooting them in the first place?

PEPPER: Yes, I really don't know. You know, I -- one thing I learned recently about one (INAUDIBLE) herd of elephants is also a memory of elephant and I just love that. To the -- to me that says everything there is about elephants. They're incredible creatures.

Watching them, you know, whether you're watching them on the Discovery Channel or you're watching them, you know, in Africa, it's just incredible. And I sincerely hope my children are able to see them. I don't want to see them go extinct. And that's the world we're facing.

VAUSE: Yes, they have empathy. So many others do not. Elly, thanks so much. Good to see you.

PEPPER: Thank you.

SESAY: It's a remarkable moment.


SESAY: It's a remarkable moment that this -- that this could be happening, this reversal of this --

VAUSE: Oh, makes no sense.

SESAY: Nothing.

VAUSE: I mean, everyone was outraged. Remember Cecil the lion?




VAUSE: Anyway.

SESAY: Next on NEWSROOM L.A., Kevin Spacey's old relationship with the top London Theater under a new scrutiny. More than a dozen alleged instances of inappropriate behavior by the actor have now come to light.


SESAY: Despite the fact that Kevin Spacey had a long relationship with London's Old Vic Theatre and served as its artistic director for more than a decade, now the theater may be wishing they had never heard of him.

VAUSE: The Old Vic has uncovered several unverified accounts of inappropriate behavior by the actor going back to the 1990s. We get this story now from CNN's Hadas Gold.


HADAS GOLD, CNN REPORTER: The Old Vic Theatre here just behind me today released the results of investigation into actor Kevin Spacey's behavior while he had relationship with this theater. Spacey was artistic director of this theater from 2004 until 2015.

[01:45:01] But today the investigators say that they found 20 separate incidents of allegedly inappropriate behavior, some reaching as far back as 1995.

In 14 of those cases, investigators have encouraged the individuals to go to police with their allegations. Kevin Spacey have thus far not commentated on the results of this investigation. The theater directors are apologizing to their staff members saying they did not realize that Spacey had this sort of cult of personality around him where staff members felt as though they could not go to their superiors with this allegedly inappropriate behavior.

KATE VARAH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE OLD VIC THEATRE: The Old Vic apologizes wholeheartedly to the people who have told us they've been affected. We've learned 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. GOLD: Now they're instituting reforms, including a new training regimen and appointing specific people they're calling guardians who they hope people can go to in the future if they ever see anything inappropriate again. They hope that these reforms will not only change the culture at this playhouse but also to the theater community worldwide. Hadas Gold, CNN, London.


SESAY: Well, the Harvey Weinstein effect is spanning the globe as women began speaking out against abuse and harassment.

VAUSE: Now Israeli women are joining the Me Too campaign with one of the country's most famous (INAUDIBLE) is leading the way. Here's Oren Liebermann.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Israel's brightest Hollywood star Wonder Woman Gal Gadot on empowering figure for women trying to bring the message off the silver screen as well. In the growing Me Too campaign, Gadot tweeted support for women coming forward. "Bullying and sexual harassment is unacceptable.

I stand by all the courageous women confronting their fears and speaking out. Together we stand, we are all united in this time of change." Gadot confirming on NBC's "Today" show, Producer Brett Ratner had been removed from highly anticipated sequel.

Ratner has been accused of sexual misconduct by half a dozen women, allegations Ratner's attorney denies. Ratner has also filed suit against one of the accuser's malicious.

GAL GADOT, ACTRESS WONDER WOMAN: But the truth is you know, there's so many people involved in making this movie, it's not just me, and they all echoed the same sentiments.

LIEBERMANN: The Me Too campaign has now reached Gadot's native Israel. Channel 10 anchor Oshrat Kotler was initially skeptical of Me Too, a viral social media campaign empowering women to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and assault.

TEXT: My first instinct was to say why now, where were you until now, why weren't you speaking up, what is this hypocrisy?

LIEBERMANN: Kotler changed her mind as she reflected on why she sounded difficult to tell her own story 25 years ago.

TEXT: When I try to evade and suggest lunch, he clarifies to me, "No, no, dinner, and make sure you keep the evening free too." Then I tell him "Mr. Gilady, I'm really flattered that you invited me for dinner, but you know I'm married." Then he explains to me, "What has that got to do with it? Don't you know how they advance in TV in Hollywood?"

LIEBERMANN: Kotler was accusing Alex Gilady, president of Israeli media giant, Keshet and a member of the International Olympic Committee. She says it was an indecent proposal that didn't go any further. But Gilady stands accused by at least three other women of rape or sexual misconduct.

Gilady has temporarily stepped down from his position, he says to focus on proving his innocence. In a statement given to CNN, Gilady's lawyer said, "Mr. Gilady denies all accusations and will vigorously defend his name and his reputation in any relevant proceedings."

MERAV MICHAELI, ISRAELI POLITICIAN: They know, they're just -- could not dare speak about.

LIEBERMANN: Politician Merav Michaeli is an outspoken advocate for Women's Rights. She sees here an opportunity for progress, even at the risk of backlash.

MICHAELI: What you see in Israel now is yet another wave, which is extremely important, as it is in the States. But it's not over yet. It's not the end. It's just another wave which will move us forward and we will also have to suffer backlash and deal with it. But that's how we go on.

LIEBERMANN: Defense attorney Leo Epstein warns about the goal of this cultural process.

TEXT: If claiming is for the purpose of sanctioning, for the purpose of annihilating a person, then I see it as a lynch per se, a virtual lynch. But if this process is there in order to float and to clarify and to say we were living in a sick norm and we are building a now norm and we are powerful enough, we will not collapse from it.

LIEBERMANN: Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.


VAUSE: Well, next on NEWSROOM L.A. the reviews are in as the Superheroes of D.C. Comics team up for their first movie (INAUDIBLE) and memorable to being totally forgettable.


VAUSE: Well, they already had the Pope mobile. Now the pontiff has a new ride, special edition Lamborghini.

SESAY: It will --

VAUSE: No, it's my turn. Race (INAUDIBLE) turns out the dollars. But, you know, the Pope doesn't want to keep it, so I think they're going to plan to sell it off. One used Lamborghini driven by a man to church on Sundays (INAUDIBLE) something.

SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) the proceeds will be going to three charities. One of them will help rebuild homes in Iraq. The second helps victims of sex trafficking, and the third, funds development projects in Africa.

VAUSE: That's why Pope Francis is the between -- best pope of all. SESAY: That's a pretty cool car.

VAUSE: It's a pretty cool pope. OK. There's a new superhero team in town, but can it compete with likes of Ironman and The Avengers. D.C.'s Justice League releases this week.

It seems to do very well in the box office, we'll tell you about that in a minute.

SESAY: I'm not sure by that positive voice there. In the film, Batman and Wonder Woman team up with a new crop of heroes when evil forces threaten us. The new recruits include D.C legends Cyborg, never heard of him.

VAUSE: No, nothing.

SESAY: Aqua Man, never heard of him.

VAUSE: I've heard of him.

SESAY: And Flash. Take a look.

VAUSE: Well, I don't like him.


BARRY ALLEN: What are your superpowers again?

BRUCE WAYNE: I'm rich.


VAUSE: That's probably one of the best lines they've ever done in all of this. OK. Meanwhile, the rival Marvel's newest release is still hammering -- get it, the competition after three weeks. Thor has made more than $660 million worldwide.

SESAY: What is with the strange voices?

VAUSE: Absolutely, you know, Will is going mad.

SESAY: Oh, gosh. Joining us now is film and entertainment journalist, he is the one wearing the Superman t-shirt, that's him.

VAUSE: There were go, subtle.

SESAY: Yes. Sandro Monetti being the -- hello.

SANDRO MONETTI, FILM AND ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: You know, I'm about to see Justice League and like a lot of people --

SESAY: You haven't seen it?

MONETTI: -- going to -- going to the midnight show and like a lot of people are going to a D.C. film, my attitude is, oh, I hope this doesn't suck like so many of the others. VAUSE: Well, apparently it does.

MONETTI: Well, yes.

VAUSE: It's not sound as bad.

MONETTI: But this is the problem. I think they've done it all wrong compared to Marvel.

SESAY: How so? How so?

MONETTI: Because Marvel, they did standalone movies with these characters and then they brought them together as The Avengers.

VAUSE: So you got to know the characters.

MONETTI: You got to know them, you got to love them and you got to be excited about seeing them all together. D.C. Warner Brothers are just trying to take the shortcut to success. And it's a $300 million gamble.

VAUSE: Having to say that people know -- and you know, people know --

SESAY: I know.

VAUSE: -- what's the other one?

MONETTI: Exactly.

SESAY: Yes, you know --


SESAY: I know. OK.

MONETTI: Well, this is not type of view --


MONETTI: D.C., they have about five characters that have succeed on film despite the many hundreds of comic book characters. Marvel have got dozens of them to choose from. And they are now 17 films into what we call the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And they have established, you know, a template.

It's fun. You mentioned Thor in the intro, you know, that was -- that was as much a comedy film as it was a superhero film.

SESAY: Yes, absolutely.

MONETTI: Everyone had a great time. And the D.C. films have tended to be too dark. And so that is the -- that is the main -- the -- though, this one is apparently lighter, but, you know --

SESAY: I hear the script is awful.


SESAY: I hear the script is really, really bad.

MONETTI: And, you know, so it's always the mistake, isn't it? You know, with these blockbusters, you know --

SESAY: How about Wonder Woman? And, you know, what kind of review is she getting?

MONETTI: Wonder Woman is just in the right direction, you know --

SESAY: But what kind of review is she getting in this film? I mean, is she the -- can she save the --

VAUSE: Well (INAUDIBLE) she can't save.

[01:55:01] SESAY: No, no.


MONETTI: Yes. Well, that -- she can't do it all on her own, but her solo movie was great.

SESAY: It was amazing.


VAUSE: We always leave it up to the woman to do the work.


SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) it never ends for us, does it?

VAUSE: Look, at the end of the -- who cares what the critics say? Who cares what we think? Because the projection is $110 million weekend box office in the U.S. and what, more than $300 million worldwide. And, you know, we know in Hollywood, money talks.

MONETTI: Well, because the marketing costs and other expenses were so high, the movie will have to take $600 million just to break even.


MONETTI: That's how rich this play is. So, of course, it will do huge money first weekend because there is a fan based, including me who will go and see it, even though I dread. But it's that repeat business that needs to get it to that $600 million level, so it has to be good.

SESAY: And there's been some talk about the reviews for this and how Rotten Tomatoes that a lot of people go to --

MONETTI: Thirty-seven percent.

SESAY: But they didn't even initially put that out. And some speculated it's because Warner Bros. owns a share at Rotten Tomatoes and that's why there's all this cloak and dagger because it's so bad and they need to get people in the seats.

MONETTI: Yes. And it shows how important that is because it is the kind of thing that people look at first when they make their decision. Now as I indicated before, there are a group of people, enthusiasts like me who will go and see anything with a -- with a superhero in it.

But the ones who are indecisive will look at these -- well, these reviews and that will make all the difference. And that's why this bad word of mouth is so important.

VAUSE: What's the deal with Superman -- don't want to spoil it here, yes, Henry Cavill, and the -- and the mustache?

MONETTI: Well, Henry Cavill has been doing another film and he had it in his contract that he had to keep the mustache throughout the whole making of that one. So when he was --

VAUSE: He looked like 1970s Superman.

MONETTI: When he was needed back for this film, and I'm not -- exactly, I love it. When he was needed back for this film, and I'm not saying whether he's --


MONETTI: -- whether he's been resurrected or whether it was in flashback sequences, they had to digitize out the mustache. And that's why the budget goes as high as $300 million.

SESAY: It's all Henry Cavill's --

MONETTI: It's Henry Cavill's mustache.

VAUSE: Originally, you know, they said (INAUDIBLE) for 5 million.

MONETTI: Oh, yes.



SESAY: Well, maybe the mustache will win the Oscar.

MONETTI: Well, who knows?

VAUSE: It got the special talent to (INAUDIBLE) $300 million to come up with a stinking pile of a movie like this. OK.

MONETTI: Hey, it's a talent.

VAUSE: It's a talent. Sandro, thank you.

SESAY: Come back here once you've seen it. We won't put you on, but come back anyway. You're watching NEWSROOM L.A. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. We'll be back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:00:09] SESAY: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

VAUSE: Ahead this hour, political upheaval in Zimbabwe and anxious waiting scene --