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Mugabe's 37-Year Rule Ends In Zimbabwe; Trump Breaks Silence, Defends Roy Moore; Moore Denies Allegations Against Him; Rouhani: We Await The Day Of Victory Over ISIS; Young ISIS Fighters Go Through Anti-Extremism School; U.S. State Department Defends Soldier List Exemptions; CNN's Freedom Project; Mugabe Resigns After 37 Years As President. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired November 22, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, the fall of a dictator. Zimbabwe celebrates an end to the rule of Robert Mugabe, but will a new president bring a new era of democracy and freedom?

The deafening silence is over. Donald Trump endorses the accused child molester, Roy Moore, as the Republican Senate Candidate for Alabama.

Plus, ISIS taught these them to kill, but now these children have to learn how to be kids while dealing with deep emotional wounds. Thanks for being with us, everybody. I'm John Vause this is NEWSROOM L.A.

A week after an apparent military coup and the only president Zimbabwe has ever known has stepped down. Robert Mugabe resigned on Tuesday after 37 years in power. His rule began when Zimbabwe won independence from Britain in 1980. His resignation brought jubilant celebrations to the capital, Harare.

Demonstrators posed for pictures with soldiers and armored vehicles in the streets. The Former Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is expected to be sworn in as president by Thursday. CNN's Farai Sevenzo is in Harare, the Capital, he joins us now live. It was quite the celebration for so many. Now, though, with daylight comes the realization and a new reality, and lot of uncertainty at what comes next.

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, John. I mean, there is a lot of uncertainty. The headlines are still carrying the mood of the previous night. They say things like "tata" and things like, you know, "Goodbye Mr. President", "Mugabe is gone." They're very, kind of, jubilant. At the moment, we are standing just outside Zimbabwe's parliament. People are going to work as normal.

VAUSE: And I guess, the question is, what are we looking here over the next 24-hour period as Mnangagwa, the, you know, the next president, as he arrives in the country? What preparations are being made? Is there actually any kind of schedule for how all of this is expected to play out?

SEVENZO: Well, there's very much a schedule. I mean, you know, remember, we're dealing with two Constitutions, John. The Constitution of ZANU-PF as a party, as the ruling party of this country for the past 37 years. And they are -- they have already rubber-stamped at a central committee meeting on Sunday.

And, of course, they were very much part of the threat to impeach Mr. Mugabe. And they were dealing with the Constitution of the country, so on Thursday, within 48 hours, you know, the new president, after the resignation of another has to take office. So, we already have a date, we're talking about tomorrow. We don't know where Mr. Mnangagwa is, but definitely, he's coming over to take over the reins of power.

VAUSE: At this point, is there any indication of what role the opposition and Morgan Tsvangirai might actually play in this transition?

SEVENZO: You know, we've heard a lot from members of the opposition, including from the former Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, and Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai himself -- he spoke directly to CNN. And basically, they are -- everyone is talking about a government of -- a transitional government, a government of national unity, a government of all the Zimbabwean Talons that exist. And that has to be taken -- that's what the people seem to want from every rally we've been to, every march that we've seen over the last week because no one quite trusts placing the government in -- the country into ZANU-PF's hands after such a calamitous dismissal of their previous leader.

But at the same time, bear in mind, John, the country is headed for elections in 2018. So, at the moment, we look at Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Former Vice President, being sworn in as president. He has upon, what, where are we now, November. Just, you know, just over a month to get his party into election mode and try and be elected by the people rather than his party. So, there's very much a program in place, because of events that cannot be avoided. But at the same time, the army as well who have been so loyal to Emmerson Mnangagwa. People are not quite sure whether they are going to leave the streets and when the police, the ordinary police, that they are the people who give you the fines and who arrest you for a broken tail light, when they are going to be back on the street, John.

[01:05:16] VAUSE: Yes, it's interesting. Farai, it's about five minutes past eight there in the morning. We can see that there is this sort of normality returning back to the capital. Is that -- do you know if that's being repeated across the rest of the country, in particular in those areas, I guess, which were more pro-Mugabe than anti-Mugabe, if you like?

SEVENZO: Good point, John. Very excellent question. I mean, yes. To answer your question, yes, they are being repeated. Someone said last night, this is a very Zimbabwean coup in its politeness and calmness, and polite -- a very polite coup, but people are used to this.

You know, after 37 years, especially the last 10 or 15 years or so, they have to get on with their lives, life is hard here, John. People have to put food on the table. And no matter what these political circumstances are, and if you have a job to go to, you get up in the morning and you go.

That's just how it is. And you have to pay school fees. So, there's been some kind of indifference to the political life in Zimbabwe for many, many people. The politicians will fight and talk and battle, but people just need to survive, and they're feeling the pinch of a very, very terrible economic downturn, and a kind of uncertainty about who it is that they should go to when they have problems and needs.

VAUSE: There's also billions and billions of dollars which are unaccounted for, which would go a long way to helping that economy right now. Farai, you've had some very long hours, and it's very much appreciated, you sticking with us. Thank you.

SEVENZO: My pleasure, John.

VAUSE: And then -- thank you. Mnangagwa spent years by Mugabe's side. They call him: "The Crocodile", because of his reputation for ruthlessness and political stealth. We get more now from Robyn Curnow.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's the end of an era in Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe steps down after 37 years. This man, its next leader. His name is Emmerson Mnangagwa, AKA the Crocodile -- a nickname he earned for his tough political game.

The 75-year-old politician has been, for years, thought to be biding his time, ready to take over from the world's oldest leader. He's a strong following among the country's elite and was a key strategist for Mugabe in past elections. But earlier this month, Mugabe accused his closest aide of disloyalty and fired him, a move considered to be a plan for his wife, Grace, to take succeed his presidency.

Instead, it set the stage for a historical political shakeup. The military stepped in, placing Mugabe under house arrest. The ruling ZANU-PF Party demanded his resignation, calling for Mnangagwa take over. Some say the man poised to take Zimbabwe into its new future is a shrewd reminder of its past.

Mnangagwa has been part of Zimbabwe's authoritarian regime for almost three decades. He's implicated in a massacre of thousands of Zimbabwean civilians in the mid-1980s, and he was described in late- 2000 by a U.S. diplomat stationed in Harare as "wildly feared and politically even more repressive leader than Mugabe. Now, a new stage is set. Robyn Curnow, CNN.


VAUSE: Joylene Malenga is a Teacher and Social Activist. She's with us via Skype from Harare. Joylene, thank you for being with us. Help me out here, because -- explain to me what it is that you are now allowed to do today in terms of freedoms and liberty that you were not allowed to do last month with Robert Mugabe in power?

JOYLENE MALENGA, TEACHER AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST (via Skype): Wow! Thank you for having me, John. Well, I think the first thing is, we can have this interview and I can be sitting, you know, here in Harare and talking to somebody, and basically anybody who's anybody as who's -- anywhere can hear me and possibly share the same sentiments at me, and we can use words like freedom. And, you know, there's no -- there are no repercussions on that. We can even say Mugabe's name without getting into trouble, without fear of getting into trouble for uttering it, and possibly using -- you know, saying it with a negative tone following the name.

VAUSE: Because people say, you know, Mugabe, he ruled with iron fist, but it just, sort of, rolls off the tongue, and you don't understand what that means in a day to day sense. So, now that he's gone, there is this optimism that maybe there will be this new era of freedom and democracy, but everybody seems to be placing their faith in a man whose nickname is The Crocodile, why is that?

MALENGA: Well, I think it's -- I think it's got to do with the transition. It's got to do with Bob, Uncle Bob, Mugabe, not being the face of ZANU-PF, because he's the face that we attach all our fears and anxiety and our futureless tomorrows to, you know, we attach that to his face. And I think, right now, just this very, very moment in -- with just what has happened over the last seven days, Mnangagwa, General Chiwenga, those are the faces that we're attaching to this -- to our hope.

[01:10:36] You know, we've got a little window where our hope is just bursting right through. Yes, so, that's why Mnangagwa is quite important. I mean, that's not to say that there isn't anxiety, we have obviously underlying anxiety. We're worried about -- well, you know, in a few weeks, in a few months, watch this -- him be the interim president going to bring for us. But right now, right now, seven days into, into this transitional phase; seven days, I think, the euphoria is well earned, and we're probably just going to go with it just for, just for a little bit longer.

VAUSE: Look, after 37 years, who can blame you? But I guess the question is: this coup wasn't really out bringing democracy and reform, it was about a leadership transition within the ruling political party or Robert Mugabe. So, how do Zimbabweans now seize that moment and actually make it about democracy and about reform, and try and push this beyond what the military, I guess, initially intended?

MALENGA: Well, I think, you know, prior to last week, Zimbabwe is gathering together to possibly just even talk; just say, hey, guys pretty, you know what, I'm pretty unhappy at the moment; guys, things aren't working about something; guys, you know, my future's not looking so great as long as things remain this way. That wasn't allowed. That was a pretty dangerous move on your part.

We've seen opposition, solidarity marches to use a very Zimbabwean term -- happening, and those have been broken up, you know, by a malicious element that has been thrown in just to come and wreak havoc. And said that for the first time, the Zimbabwean, the Zimbabweans care not across all walks, across all ages, color, creed -- you know, all came out, and we got to speak together. So, I think in as much as the transition, you know, is also a power transition in terms of political party, I think for us, as a people, just realizing how powerful our voice is, just how powerful our hope is, our optimism is, you know, that optimism is too good an opportunity to waste.

I think we've, we've just been re-awakened in a way that we possibly for a long time hadn't believed that, like, we matter, you know. And together, we can make things happen. So, think going forward, the nation itself is prepared to challenge power structures in a way that hasn't happened in 37 years, you know. And it was safe, it's been so safe for the last few days, unbelievably so.

VAUSE: Joylene, I have to say, your smile and your happiness is infectious. The smile on your face matches your name. It was great to talk with you. We wish you all the very, very best. Thank you.

MALENGA: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. Have a pleasant day.

VAUSE: It's been a pleasure. Good luck.


VAUSE: Well, the United Nations Command says North Korea violated its armistice agreement with South Korea -- violated it twice, in fact. This all happened last week, the soldiers chased a defecting soldier. First, they fired more than 40 rounds across the DMZ, and then a North Korean soldier briefly crossed that military demarcation line as he ran after defector. The U.N. Command has notified North Korea for these violations, asking for a meeting. The soldier is the third member of North Korea's military to defect this year.

[01:14:10] We'll take a short break. When we come back, the U.S. president has turned away from his party leadership, he's weighing in a controversial Senate candidate. We'll tell you what Donald Trump is finally saying about Alabama's Judge Roy Moore.


VAUSE: Well, after ducking and weaving better than Muhammad Ali, Donald Trump has actually spoken out for the first time publicly about the U.S. Republican Senate Candidate for Alabama, that would be the accused child molester, Judge Roy Moore, and he's all but endorsed him. Several women say Moore pursued them when they were teenagers, and Moore was in his 30s and the district attorney. They have accused him of sexual assault. President Trump said Moore's repeated denials, that's good enough. And then he went after Moore's Democratic opponent, Doug Jones.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can tell you one thing for sure, we don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones. I've looked at his record. It's terrible in crime. It's terrible on the border. It's terrible on the military. I can tell you for a fact, we do not need somebody that's going to be on crimes, bad on borders, bad with the military, bad for the second amendment. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And the president says, he'll decide next week if he will actually campaign for Judge Moore. Joining us now, CNN Political Commentators, Democratic Strategist Dave Jacobs; and Republican Consultant John Thomas; also, David Siders, a Senior Reporter for Politico. OK. So, there you have it, the standard bearer of the Republican Party would prefer an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate than a Democrat. The Moore campaign has been quick to turn this, Donald Trump's words and his endorsements into campaign materials; it was Facebook, it was on Twitter, it was all over the place. So, John, how does your party unring this bell?

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: It' not what I would've prescribed whatsoever. I thought he actually was striking the right tone prior to this, which is just let the voters decide. You know, he's not going to weigh in on this, but -- I mean, look, it's not the first time a politician has made a fallacy on a bargain. Democrats did it with the allegedly rapist, Bill Clinton.

You know, there are times this has been done. Here's the thing, I don't think it's going to make a difference. I mean, Trump's hardcore voters, just their mindset, were probably with Moore anyway. I don't think this puts him over the edge, and it certainly causes brand challenges for the Republican Party. So, look, he took a big gamble today, and if Moore doesn't win, I mean, there's zero upside for him.

VAUSE: Totally. Yes, he has to blowback, right?

THOMAS: Yes, and it's one of those things, where smart Democratic strategists are going to beat us over the head with it throughout the midterms.

VAUSE: Well, speaking about smart Democratic Strategists, Dave Jacobson.


VAUSE: OK. The President's Daughter and Advisor, Ivanka Trump, she had made it pretty clear what she thought about Roy Moore. Now, those words are being used by the Doug Jones campaign, also using words from other Republicans. Take a look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On Roy Moore's disturbing actions, Ivanka Trump says there's a special place in hell for people who prey on children. And I have no reason to doubt the victim accounts. Jeff Sessions says I have no reason to doubt these young women. And Richard Shelby says, he will absolutely not vote for Roy Moore. Conservative voices, putting children and women over the party. Doing what's right.


VAUSE: Dave, I think that ad is running in Alabama. I think there's a similar one running in a couple of other states as well. We touched on this last week. Is this -- you know, will Roy Moore essentially be everyone's running mate, come the midterms? Is this a preview of what we'll see?

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. And I think Donald Trump has glued the Republican Party to Roy Moore. I think that was an extraordinarily compelling ad and shame on Democrats for not taking advantage of this. We have a child molester who could potentially be in the United States Senate.

VAUSE: Accused.

[01:20:11] JACOBSON: Accused, right. But I think, also, earlier today, Michael Steele, the Former Republican National Committee Chairman called Donald Trump's move stupid and sickening, and it's something that could potentially prevent the Republican Party from repairing itself. Because he stepped in and rather than, like yesterday, the talking point was: let the Alabama voters decide. Like, by stepping into the mud on this issue, like, he's anchored himself, and thus, by being the leader of the Republican Party, like his party, to Roy Moore.

THOMAS: Now, the flip side is if Moore manages to squeak it out, the Republicans can oust him from the Senate, kick him out. You have, you know, a temporary replacement like a Luther Strange, or (INAUDIBLE) of Republican hands. I mean, that is the scenario.

VAUSE: David, I just want to ask you that. I mean, now that Roy Moore has this sort of quasi-endorsement from Donald Trump, how hard will it be for, you know, this Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to not seat him? How hard will it be for the Republicans to actually do anything to stop him from running? It seems it's going almost impossible. $

DAVID SIDERS, SENIOR REPORTER FOR POLITICO: Well, I think that the president's clearly thrown Roy Moore a lifeline here, but I'm not sure that it changes the political calculation for folks in Congress. There have been divisions between Republican leadership there and the president well before Roy Moore, and I think it will exist after that. I think it's worth pointing out here that this may not be an entirely political calculation by the president.

You know, my colleagues have reported that in the last couple of days, the president had been talking privately with his advisers about some of the similarities he sees in his opinion, between accusations that he faced in the 2016 campaign and the accusations against Roy Moore. So, I think it's fair to say this is a president who isn't always motivated by, you know, a purely rational political calculation, and there may be some personal feelings here as well.

VAUSE: Yes. John, I asked Ben Shapiro about this the last time. You know, we're getting into it, but just to David's point, you know, Roy Moore has denied all the allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against him.

Donald Trump did exactly the same thing. Roy Moore is, you know, down in the polls, he's losing momentum, he's meant to lose. He's not getting out of the race. Donald Trump was down in the polls, he was meant to lose, he didn't get out of the race, he stuck it through.

Donald Trump does not identify with Mitch McConnell. Donald Trump identifies with Roy Moore type of characters, because, you know, they're disrupters in the scheme of things. I mean, how do you see this?

THOMAS: Yes. I guess those comparisons are fair, but I would also remind you that he didn't back Roy Moore in the primary, he backed Luther Strange.

VAUSE: One thing (INAUDIBLE) to call though, to go with this done with some candidate.

THOMAS: Yes. But I'm just saying, he didn't identify with Roy Moore on day one. So, it's not like, you know, they're long lost brothers on this instance. I see this more as Trump is hoping, feels like he said in that statement, that he simply cannot elect a Democrat, and it's because he sees that he's going to need that vote on tax reform of repealing the individual mandate. And I think Trump understands from a larger picture, I'm going to have to disagree with David on this one, that if he doesn't get tax reform done and his legislative agenda, backing a pedophile will be the least of his problems as we get into the midterms.

VAUSE: But, Dave, explain this because, you know, a week ago, White House Aide, Kellyanne Conway was saying, no Senate seat is worth a child. Well, I guess a Senate seat is now worth a child, right? If tax cuts are in the balance?

JACOBSON: Honestly, John, I was, like, really struck with the juxtaposition between what Kellyanne Conway said yesterday and what Donald Trump said today. I mean, if you look at her interview on "Fox and Friends" where she basically said Doug Jones is soft on crime and soft on immigration.

Donald Trump's remarks were a carbon copy of that, like, it was almost verbatim talking points. And I wonder, like, if there was perhaps a conversation internally with the White House where they said, hey, Kellyanne Conway, go out and be the mouthpiece of the White House, and, like, test the waters and see what kind of, like, backlash potentially this is going to create. And perhaps, they thought it didn't create a lot of backlashes, and so they have the president come out today.

But, look, I think fundamentally, like, the president had no good options. He could either: A. said that he sided, you know, he believes the women and he, you know, would do the same thing essentially that Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan have done, but then, it would, like, beg the question of, like, OK, what about the women who are accusing Donald Trump, number one. On the flip side, you know, I guess the alternative was endorsing, essentially, which is what he did today, Roy Moore, and hoping that perhaps he wins and that would validate him.

VAUSE: The president, it was a four-minute long conversation with reporters as the president was heading down to Florida for Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving, Republican Party from the president. He was asked repeatedly if he thought the women who were accusing Moore were, in fact, telling the truth or if they were liars. This is what he said.


TRUMP: Look, he denies it. I mean, if you look at what is really going on, and you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours, he totally denies it; he says it didn't happen. And you know, you have to listen to him also.


[01:25:05] VAUSE: You know, David, there are denials, and then there are allegations. And then, some denials are believable, and some aren't. We had, you know, Roy Moore not doing a very convincing job with Sean Hannity week or so ago. The thing of the allegation, after allegation, after allegation, filled with some of the most smallest, minute details from years ago, which still seem to have so much credibility. This seems to most people to be a fairly simple choice.

SIDERS: Well, to Republicans in Congress, anyway, to the Republican leadership, I mean, they've looked at these and said that the allegations are so credible, that they not only don't have a reason not to believe the allegations but that this is somebody they would have trouble seating. So, clearly, it's a break here between the president and what you see Republican leadership on Hill doing on their assessment.

VAUSE: You know, it also seems the president is less consistent when it comes to believing women who say they're the victims of sexual harassment when it comes to former President Bill Clinton. Listen to this, this is from last year when he took those four women to the last debate. These are the four women who accused Bill Clinton of various sexual misdeeds, and this is what Donald Trump said back then.


TRUMP: You can say any way you want to say it, but Bill Clinton was abusive to women. Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously; four of them are here tonight.


VAUSE: I guess, David, you know, Donald Trump never seems to worry about being called a hypocrite?

SIDERS: No. But I would say that the president isn't the first politician to be accused --

VAUSE: Yes, sure.

SIDERS: -- of doing that. And I think that the idea of using or casting these kinds of allegations in a certain light depending who party you're coming from seems to be the, you know, standard course today. VAUSE: Yes. Just very quickly, David, but, you know -- clearly, you

know, there is this issue with Bill Clinton about sexual harassment, and Hillary Clinton defending him when she was first lady and secretary of state, and, of course, more recently. This is a problem for Democrats, right, and it keeps coming back?

JACOBSON: Yes, for sure, and timing is everything. I think we talked about this the other day, but, like, if the Al Franken issue had happened two years ago, perhaps it wouldn't have had the same impact that it's having now. But I think, like, Democrats need to move swiftly on this. Like, they need to internalize this issue, digest it, and they need to come up with solutions, and I think they need boot all the scumbags who are --


THOMAS: Well, the bigger challenge you have is if you -- you know, we want to focus on Roy Moore and let's discuss it. But if you look at the ledger there are more Democrats, you know --

JACOBSON: There's also massive degrees of, like, separation here.

VAUSE: OK. And they seemed to start so well. You know, we had the turkeys, it was the presidential pardon, we had Donald Trump out there, we had the Baron. You know, in the T.V., the traditional lives of presidential kids looking just really annoyed at being there. The First Lady Melania was there. Last year, you know, President Obama granted clemency to Tater and Tot. This year, it was Manafort and Flynn -- oh, I'm sorry, no, that's not right. The turkey was actually called Drumstick. Here's the president.


TRUMP: As many of you know, I have been very active in overturning a number of executive actions by my predecessor. However, I have been informed by the White House Counsel's Office that Tater and Tot's pardons cannot under any circumstances be revoked. So, we're not going to revoke them.


VAUSE: Yes. David, it's funny, because it's true. Many a word said ingest, right?

SIDERS: I think that's true. You know, the comment of what Obama clearly was picked up, but I thought what was so striking about the coverage almost unanimously of these was that reporters who follow the president day to day saw here, I think. What they were surprised to see, a president enjoying himself, with all the tumult and difficulty he has in his job, here was something he could control. And I guess it came out without a hitch.

VAUSE: And very quickly, you know, Dave -- or John, rather, this does seem to be one moment where the president actually smiled.

THOMAS: He's having a good time. I mean, it's fun. Drumstick? Are you kidding me? It's a great time.

VAUSE: Manafort and Flynn. OK. The greatest moment in turkey pardon history never really happened, because it was on "The West Wing", with C.J. Cregg, and President Jed Bartlett, look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry to ask you this, sir, but --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not too late to stop yourself

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need you to pardon a turkey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I already pardoned a turkey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need you to pardon another one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didn't I do it right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You did great, but I need you to come out here and pardon another one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I going to get a reputation for being soft on turkeys?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, can you come out here and just get this over with?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm not going to just get this -- what the hell is going on?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They sent me two turkeys. The more photo- friendly of the two gets a presidential pardon and a full life at a children's zoo. The runner-up gets eaten.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the Oscars were like that, I'd watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just buy the second the turkey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They already sold it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's not much I can do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can pardon the turkey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The turkey hasn't committed a crime.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: C.J., I have no judicial jurisdiction over birds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I know that, and you know that, but Morton Horn doesn't know that. He's the high school kid from the turkey place. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's in high school and he doesn't know I can

pardon a turkey?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what I've got.



[01:30:13] VAUSE: That's how you pardon, right?


VAUSE: I agree with that. David, you want to weight on the "West Wing" at all?

DAVID SIDERS, SENIOR REPORTER FOR POLITICO: No, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the clip. Thanks so much. Go, President Bartlet.

VAUSE: Yes, the old liberal dream of a U.S. president. OK. David, Dave, John, thanks so much.


VAUSE: Happy Thanksgiving, guys.

THOMAS: Same to you.

VAUSE: OK. We'll take a break here. Next on Newsroom L.A., a former ISIS fighter, some are just children, are trying to reclaim their lives and change their futures. We have an exclusive report from Syria.

That's coming up in a moment. Also officials at the U.S. State Department are objecting to a list of nations that actually use child soldiers, where they that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may actually be breaking the law by leaving three countries off that list.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour. Zimbabwe is expecting to (INAUDIBLE) a new president by Thursday after the resignation of Robert Mugabe.

The 93-year-old stepped down one week after an apparent military coup. The news brought celebrations to the capital. Former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to take over.

Donald Trump has broken his silence on Roy Moore. He is defending the Republican senate candidate who's been accused of sexual abuse by a number of women. But the president said Moore's denied -- has denied the allegations and that he doesn't want a liberal democrat to win that senate seat. And we're waiting on the verdict of former Bosnian Serb general. Ratko Mladic is accused of orchestrating the massacre of more than 7,000 Muslims in Srebrenica in the 1990s. The International Criminal Tribunal is expected to deliver his sentence in the coming hours.

Iran's prime minister says from a military perspective, the Islamic State has been defeated in Iraq, but Haider al-Abadi won't declare final victory until every ISIS militant is removed from the country's desert and border areas. The last remaining town under ISIS control fell to Iraqi forces on Friday. And Iran's President Hassan Rouhani who has sent forces to the front lines in both Iraq and Syria echoed al-Abadi's message.


HASSAN ROUHANI, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): God willing we will announce very soon after the end of the purification operations victory over Daesh in Iraq. From a military perspective, we have ended the presence of Daesh in Iraq.

[01:34:59] And Iraqis have the right to celebrate the day of victory over Daesh. So I am waiting for the final reports in order to declare the day a victory over Daesh.


VAUSE: Well, despite the fall of ISIS's self-declared caliphate, a greater persistent threat remains, and that's the terror group's warped ideology. Arwa Damon has this exclusive report on the young men trying to rejoin the world they were conditioned to hate.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Khalil is the youngest of the class. He says he ran away from home to join ISIS about a year and a half ago when he was 13 or maybe even 12. He's not sure. He is sheepish, shy, and struggles to verbalize what he was thinking and feeling.

Their lecturer who doesn't want to be filmed is dissecting and disproving ISIS's interpretation of Islam and their draconian rule as part of a fledgling rehabilitation program.

TEXT: After you get out of here, reflect on everything. Don't lose your mind and don't let others manipulate you.

DAMON: Khalil is categorized as level two, an active fighter. He says his mind was blank his first time in battle.

TEXT: I just wanted to advance, there is no retreat.

TEXT: And who was with you on the frontline?

TEXT: They were all my generation.

DAMON: A unit of children, teens at best, used as cannon fodder on ISIS frontlines in al-Bab. They would get ferried to a fight and just told which direction to shoot. Khalil was wounded within a day. The bullet went through is chest and out his armpit.

TEXT: I stayed home within a week and then I went back to the front.

TEXT: And what did your mother say?

TEXT: She was crying and said don't go but I didn't respond.

DAMON: Again, within days, he was shot, this time through the leg.

TEXT: You're not afraid of death? You didn't want to live?


TEXT: Why?

TEXT: They, ISIS, would talk about heaven.

DAMON: At the Syrian center for anti-extremist ideology, he's with other ISIS members, battled, hardened fighters and level three detainees, the foreign fighters. Most from Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The wives of the foreigners live in the same compound along with their children. Little Amida was born in Iraq.

Her mother said she had no idea what they were getting in to. She's Russian born in Ukraine. Her husband is from Kiev, a comfort to Islam and they ended up in Tal Afar where he was assigned to the frontlines with a Russian speaking unit. Her husband claims he's turned away from ISIS and its twisted beliefs, but behind bars, they all say the same thing.

Khalil was once a kid who just loved history and geography. He still has the demeanor of a child, one who regrets his actions and is desperate to rejoin a world that may not accept or forgive him. Or it could very well push him back towards a brutal way of life.

The center's leaders say it's the ISIS ideology that is the most dangerous, its grip on a person psyche more profound than imagined. Combatting that is a necessity, but it's also unchartered territory. Arwa Damon, CNN, Marea, Syria.


VAUSE: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is with us now, she's a CNN National Security Analyst and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. OK. Gayle, just to follow on from Arwa's report there, ISIS is not the only one guilty of using child soldiers. But for ISIS, it seems, this isn't just a battlefield tactic. This is -- it is or at least was, you know, a key part of their propaganda, right?

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, this is an effort to take the most vulnerable and turn them into lethal weapon. Right? I mean, if you look across both in the classroom and then on the battlefield, this was a shocking use of children. And there's a London researcher who was talking about -- that she was writing about, you know, you take some of the Hitler youth fascism and mix it with extremist ideology, and this we have not seen before.

VAUSE: Wow. And the kids are young, right?

LEMMON: Oh, they're little. I mean, we interviewed one young man which is now 18. And I said to him -- he's from Raqqa, and I said, "Why didn't you join ISIS? Did you have a lot of friends who joined ISIS?" And he said, "Everybody I knew."

And I said, "What about you, why didn't you?" And he said, "My mom."

VAUSE: Oh, gosh. I mean, and -- but for those kids who, you know, who were also recruited, there's a happy end to this because -- well, there can be. Because in the past, kids who, you know, were mixed up with the Taliban, if they can get rehabilitation, if they can get the attention they need, they can go back to a normal life.

Because if they don't get that attention, child terrorists can grow up to be adult terrorists, right?

[01:40:03] And they can pose a real risk.

LEMMON: Absolutely. And the challenge is, we are so used to think this is a kinetic fight but if you talk to senior U.S. military leaders they will say it is much easier to kill a terrorist than to slay an ideology.

VAUSE: Right, yes.

LEMMON: And so you have to invest resources in reconciliation and rehabilitation and it does not get either the attention or the dollars that it should from a world which really needs to invest in the stability and security of the (INAUDIBLE) one.

VAUSE: OK. At the same time, there's a situation going on at the U.S. State Department. The secretary of state has been accused of breaking U.S. law. He decided to unilaterally by -- on his own, essentially -- I can't talk tonight.

I've got this horrible cold. He's removed these countries from a list which basically names and shames those countries which use child soldiers. He's removed Iraq, Afghanistan, and Myanmar. These accusations are coming from within the state department.

Here's the spokesperson trying to explain exactly what happened.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you saying that they were left off the list because they have a smaller number or --

HEATHER NAUERT, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: I'm not -- I'm not -- I'm not saying that. I'm just saying --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or is it because they're making improvements which was noted --

NAUERT: Well, another -- that's another thing where improvements can be made. So we look to those governments as taking -- as they take better steps in the right direction.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But in the law, it doesn't say if they're taking those steps that they can be left off the list.

NAUERT: Again, I'm sorry. I don't have the law in front of me. I should have it in front of me. Unfortunately I don't.


VAUSE: OK. So apart from the confusion, what's actually going on here? What message is this sending to the rest of the -- these countries that still use child soldiers and they're not being called out by the U.S.?

LEMMON: In Tillerson view is that they get an A for effort even if they get a C for it's still challenge, right? When it comes to child soldiers. Afghanistan and Iraq are two places also where U.S. forces are right now. And I think that the question for a lot of folks is this part of the overall unhappiness within the state department with secretary Tillerson and the morale challenges that they're facing.

I spoke with somebody who recently left the state department, who was telling me that they actually really liked the secretary as a person, but it is an incredibly challenging environment and there is a sense that a former CEO really is finding it challenging to adopt to the culture of foggy bottom and we see this rarely used dissent channel being used to express this, right, it goes straight and that link to writers.

VAUSE: It was set up actually, you know, more on existing (INAUDIBLE) a dissent and basically, you know, if you'd (INAUDIBLE) back, I guess, this list, though -- if a country's on this list it means it's not entitled to military aid. But there are exceptions to that. Listen to this.


NANCY MCELDOWNEY, FORMER U.S. FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICER: The irony here is that the law gives flexibility to designate that child soldiers are being used and simultaneously or shortly thereafter to issue a waiver so that the military assistance that would other by -- otherwise be restricted could go forward.


VAUSE: OK. Is it possible that the secretary of state was unaware of this procedure, he didn't know how the process work? Those around him didn't inform him and that's how this all started or is this something?

LEMMON: Many things are possible, and I think there are a lot of the verdict depends on where you sit. Right? I mean, from the -- VAUSE: Often does.

LEMMON: Right. Exactly. And from the secretary's perspective, this -- it's his prerogative, right? If you look at people who said, "Could you challenge this decision in court?" most folks would say, "No, this is the secretary's prerogative."

However, do people inside the state department find the decision troubling? Clearly, yes. And so they went with the dissent channel, which we last saw used in Syria policy. And they -- somebody miraculously leaked it to the media, knowing that you and I would be talking about it.

VAUSE: Right. And maybe something gets done. Gayle, good to see you. Thank you.

LEMMON: Great to see you.

VAUSE: OK. Short break here. Next on NEWSROOM L.A., CNN's Freedom Project takes us to a safe house that is helping survivors of sex trafficking in Haiti.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. This week's CNN's Freedom Project is focused on human trafficking in Haiti. In that (INAUDIBLE) series we learned about a special safe house and the survivors who live there. CNN's Michael Holmes has the story.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A child and her child. Just 14 years old, she says this is not what she had planned for her life.

HOPE (through translator): When I think about it, I'm a young girl with a young baby, without a father, and it makes me cry.

HOLMES: For her safety, we're not showing her face or using her real name. We're calling her Hope. She's one of the countless victims of both modern day slavery and child sexual exploitation in Haiti.

HEATHER, DIRECTOR, RAPHA HOUSE: Sex trafficking here in Haiti often doesn't look like the traditional sex trafficking that you see, say, in Southeast Asia where children are being sold into brothels, but it is very prevalent.

HOLMES: Heather is the director of Rapha House, a safe house for survivors. We're not using her full name for security reasons. She says most sex trafficking cases she sees involved children living in a restavek, a domestic servitude system common in Haiti where children from poor families are sent to live with a distant relative or sometimes even a stranger.

HEATHER: That family is supposed to care for them, send them to school, provide for their basic needs, and in exchange, the deal is that they help with some household chores. But often it turns into a situation of extreme exploitation.

HOLMES: Hope became restavek after both of her parents died. She said he was forced to do all the household chores, was not sent to school, and was sexually abused by a member of the family.

HOPE (through translator): I first suffered as a restavek, and then I suffered rape.

HOLMES: Hope lived there for nine months before she managed to run away, not even realizing she was pregnant. She was taken to police by a kind stranger and wound up at Rapha House. Here, Hope receives not just the basics like food, shelter, medicine, and education, but also therapy and the loving, supportive environment.

Something most of these girls have never experienced. This 12-year- old spent her entire life in domestic servitude. She's now the mother of twins after being raped by someone in her restavek family. And this little girl, just five years old, is also a survivor of child sexual exploitation, the youngest Rapha House has seen since it began operating in Haiti four years ago.

HEATHER: When we moved here to do this work, there was literally no one else to collaborate with. The word trafficking, most people didn't know what it even meant.

HOLMES: There has been a growing awareness since then but anti- slavery advocates say progress is slow, a sentiment shared even by Haiti's top anti-trafficking official.

FILS-LIEN ELY THELOT, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL COMMITTEE AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING (through translator): I've personally experienced it where I found authorities, well educated people who say this thing called human trafficking doesn't exist in Haiti.

HOLMES: The government is working to change that. Three years ago, Haiti passed a new anti-trafficking law and in June 2017 held the country's first national anti-trafficking conference.

HEATHER: We have seen efforts that are being made, but it takes time. It takes time for those things that are just being talked about in meetings to kind of trickle down to the real world on the ground.

[01:50:06] HOLMES: Hope says she's found healing through motherhood, and today she is focused on her future and the future of her daughter.

HOPE (through translator): I'm leaving what happened to me in the past and I'm moving forward. I never thought I could feel this way again.

HOLMES: Michael Holmes, CNN.


VAUSE: And on the next CNN Freedom Project we'll introduce you to Fedna, a young girl in Haiti we met in 2011. She was rescued from restavek system, a form of domestic servitude common in Haiti. Here's a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's doing work that's beyond her physical strength, that's beyond her capabilities, work that the adults should be doing.

HOLMES: Fedna was just eight years old, living as a domestic servant in her grandfather's house. Like most restavek children, she had never been to school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's never been to school.

HOLMES: Most restavek children, especially the girls, do not attend school. Through negotiations with an advocate from the non-profit Restavek Freedom Foundation, Fedna's grandfather agreed to let them take her to school the next day.


VAUSE: Well, join us tomorrow to find out more about Fedna's life, it's part of CNN's Freedom Project series. Watch it all this week right here on CNN. Well, Zimbabwe could have a new president and a new future within days.

Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., a look back at how Robert Mugabe went from being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize to an international pariah. Also, he made teenage hearts swoon in the '70s, but now David Cassidy has died. We will remember the pop idol after an untimely death.


VAUSE: Well, celebrations in Zimbabwe for the end of Robert Mugabe's 37 years in power. The president resigned Tuesday one week after an apparent military takeover. Some danced in the streets, others climbed on armored vehicles, or posing for pictures with soldiers.

Well, in the 1960s and the 1970s Zimbabwe was known as Rhodesia. A former British colony under white minority rule. Robert Mugabe led a long and violent struggle for freedom.

Eventually he went from hero to oppressor, ruining a once vibrant economy and sending it into the ground. Here is David McKenzie.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After nearly four decades in power, perhaps inevitable that it would come down to this in Zimbabwe. People have heard that Robert Mugabe has resigned. It took a while for people to get the word on the streets here.

JACOB MUDENDA, SPEAKER, ZIMBABWE PARLIAMENT: I, Robert Mugabe, hereby formally tender my resignation as the president of the republic of Zimbabwe which immediately effect.

MCKENZIE: With these words, the end of an era. Robert Mugabe seemingly forced aside by his military, after trying and apparently failing to turn his dictatorship into a dynasty. Grooming his wife, nicknamed Gucci Grace for her opulent tastes to succeed him, a step too far for many powerful rivals. His legacy is dominated by violence and oppression.

[01:55:03] And then economic collapsed so bad money became worthless and millions fled.


MCKENZIE: So it's easy to forget that at first, many likened Mugabe to Nelson Mandela. Preaching reconciliation after a brutal liberation struggle that he helped lead. Repairing bonds with the former colonial master, Britain. He was even nicer.

The young Zimbabwe became the envy of the continent. Mugabe trained the teacher presiding over an education revolution and a thriving agricultural powerhouse. But Mugabe like to say he had a degree in violence and from the start he squashed political dissent.

MUGABE: They will get arrested and get bashed by the police.

MCKENZIE: When his power became threatened at the ballot he sanctioned violence attacks in white-owned farms by so called war vets to strengthen his hand. And he crushed a rising opposition using his hold on state security. Mugabe was abandoned by the west and its aid. And the country never fully recovered.

MUGABE: Robert Mugabe is here and during the last -- his people decide to change him.

MCKENZIE: It seems his military, if not, his people have finally made that decision for him. David McKenzie CNN Harare, Zimbabwe.


VAUSE: David McKenzie reporting there. Before we go, we'll check in with Beirut and Lebanon, because the Independence Day celebrations are just getting underway. Just getting to 9:00 in the morning there on Wednesday. And the former Prime Minister Saad Hari has -- also has arrived at this parade.

It's to mark the country's independence. And, of course, we know Saad Hari has been out of the country since November 4th, he resigned from office while he was visiting Saudi Arabia. He has also promised to make some kind of national address later today to explain all the reasons behind that very unexpected and very sudden decision to step down as prime minister.

We'll continue to watch the situation there. We'll bring you the very latest as we get it. In the meantime, you've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

Please join me on Twitter @CNNNEWSROOMLA. There you can find highlights and clips from the show. Isha Sesay will take over, yes, she's here after a quick break. You're watching CNN.