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Trump Retweets Anti-Muslim Videos; News Anchor Matt Lauer Fired; More Women Accuse Lauer of Sexual Misconduct; U.S. Ambassador Pyongyang Bringing World Closer To War; Trump's Fitness For Office Being Openly Questioned; War Criminal Swallows Poison In Courtroom. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired November 30, 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, retweets are endorsements and the U.S. president just gave his approval to Britain's version of the Ku Klux Klan, sharing their anti-Muslim videos with millions.

SESAY: Plus, perhaps the most famous news anchor in America is the latest to face allegations of sexual assault. We have details of what Matt Lauer is accused of doing.

VAUSE: And later, from a courtroom to the crime scene, after his 20- year sentence was upheld. A Bosnian war criminal swallows a deadly dose of poison while proclaiming his innocence.

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

VAUSE: Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. You're watching NEWSROOM L.A. The U.S. president set off a firestorm on Wednesday and is often the case, it all started on Twitter.

SESAY: Donald Trump retweeted three violent and inflammatory anti- Muslim videos. Two of them claimed to show Muslims attack people; one shows a man destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary.

VAUSE: The tweets were originally posted by Jayda Fransen with the far-right group, Britain First. (INAUDIBLE) anti-Muslim stance. Fransen has a conviction for harassing Muslim women and notably, she thanked President Trump for the retweets. And once again, the White House has been drawn into a controversy and has been left struggling to defend the president.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Whether it's a real video, the threat is real. And that is what the president is talking about, that's what the president is focused on, is dealing with those real threats. And those are real, no matter how you look at it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SESAY: Well, British Prime Minister Theresa May quickly responded.

Her office saying in part: "British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudice rhetoric of the far-right, which is the antithesis of the values that this country represents -- decency, tolerance, and respect."

VAUSE: Donald Trump was not going to let that slide, so he replied with a tweet to the British prime minister: "Don't focus on me, focus on the destructive radical Islamic terrorism that's taking place within the United Kingdom. We're going just fine."

SESAY: Well, let's bring in European Affairs Commentator, Dominic Thomas; and Attorney Omar Noureldin, Vice President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Gentlemen, good to have you with us again. Omar, in your view, why is President Trump retweeting these kinds of anti-Islam videos?

OMAR NOURELDIN, ATTORNEY AND VICE PRESIDENT OF THE MUSLIM PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCIL: Well, first of all, it's reckless, and it's reckless and indifferent. That's to give the president the benefit of the doubt -- is reckless indifference. But, really, what the president is doing here is part of the concerted effort to sow division, fear- mongering, and create and break down the social cohesion of this country. And he's done it with Muslims, but Muslims are just one of his targets. He's done it with the LGBTQ community. He's done it with Mexican-Americans. He's done it with African-Americans. And actually, trying to pit communities against each other.

SESAY: Because it's good for his political standing? It fires up his base?

NOURELDIN: It fires up his base and it feeds into this narrative that there is an existential threat to whiteness in this country, to Christian values in this country. For example, he released -- his administration released guidelines that allow for religious exceptions, which is really a license to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals. I mean, the Muslim ban, the Muslim travel ban is another example of this.

SESAY: Dominic, Jo Cox, as you all know, the British M.P., who was stabbed to death just before the Brexit vote by a man who yelled Britain First -- you know, is an example of how, you know, dangerous ideas, you know, aren't just word in isolation; they claim lives. To make the point, though, even if the man yelled "Britain First", it's not known, it's not as if he had a connection to this group behind these videos. I want you to listen to what her husband, Brandon Cox, had to say about the president's actions.


BRANDON COX, HUSBAND OF JO COX: He was retweeting a felon. You know, somebody that was convicted of religiously aggravated harassments of an organization that is a hate-driven organization on the extreme fringes, the far, far right of British politics. This is like the president retweeting the Ku Klux Klan, you know. This is not a mainstream organization. And for the president of the United States, our greatest ally as a country to be retweeting, to be providing a microphone to those voices.


SESAY: I mean, Dominic, it is hard to overstate the significance of what the president did in retweeting these videos, and giving Britain first exactly what they wanted.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CHAIR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FRENCH AND FRANCOPHONE STUDIES AT UCLA: Right. It's the oxygen that feeds the rhetoric of these political groups in a country in which freedom of speech regulations are very clear about threats and insults and incitements to racial hatred. And this has been a particularly serious issue since the Brexit referendum, since the London Bridge and Westminster attacks, where attacks hate crimes which are fueled prejudice and have been targeted against ethnic minorities and Muslims in the United Kingdom. And, of course, the authorities and people are trying to deal with this, you know, in a country where there are approximately three million Muslims, who are doctors, and lawyers, and teachers, and healthcare workers, and so on.

[01:05:36] SESAY: And policemen, and firemen.

D. THOMAS: Policemen and make immeasurable contributions to this diverse society. And so, this is exactly in the broader context of Brexit and of the European Union -- the kind of oxygen that far-right political groups certainly should not be benefiting from, and that Donald Trump, given the fact the United Kingdom is one of the most important allies, should be very careful about how he goes about dealing with these questions. And, of course, there are precedents in his attack on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who is himself a Muslim and an ethnic minority.

SESAY: Omar, I mean, just as we made a point that the Muslims in London apart and are woven into fabric of life there, it's the same here in the United States that Muslims serve in the army, and they're policemen, and farmer, and doctors, and all the rest of it. They are part of the American -- in fact, they are American. I mean, that's, you know, in the case of many, in the case of millions. And yet, groups like Britain First spout this notion that there is this kind of rising threat and crouching threat in Islam about to -- to kind of wipe out Western civilization. And then, you had Sarah Sanders, the White House Spokesperson, essentially saying, it doesn't matter if the videos are real or not, because the threat is real. So, speak to that, that notion.

NOURELDIN: Well, I want to make a point that also Britain First has analogist organization right here in the United States -- and that's Act for America. And their founder, Brigitte Gabriel, a few months ago tweeted outside the White House, you know, like a selfie, I'm going to have my moment at the White House. So, not only is the president retweeting these sorts of individuals, they also now have a place in the White House.

I mean, the President's Former Adviser, Sebastian Gorka, which was also been linked to far-right nationalist groups and neo-Nazi groups in Europe, was a senior adviser in the White House. So, this isn't just -- you know, retweeting is one of the most public ways of doing it, but this type of idea is entrenched within this administration.


NOURELDIN: And you know, Huckabee Sanders -- what I would call it is actually a post-text. A lot of the stuff they've tried to do is give a pretext for discrimination. She now, you know, wasn't allowed that pretext.


NOURELDIN: So, she's trying to get a post-text. And you can't just slap national security on anything and that makes it all OK, right?


NOURELDIN: National security is a real issue. And Americans -- all Americans, American Muslims care about the security of our country. We care about the security of our cities, of our schools. We want our kids to be able to go to school without being bullied. I think what gets lost here in the national security part is the national -- who are we as a nation? And I think Donald Trump doesn't get that.

SESAY: I mean, Dominic, the politicians across the aisle of every stripe in the U.K. came out and rapidly, swiftly condemned the president's actions in retweeting these videos. I want to put up for you a tweet by David Lambie, British M.P., so we can see what he said. He said, "Trump sharing Britain First, let that sink in. The president of the United States is promoting a fascist, racist, extremist hate group whose leaders are being arrested and convicted. He is no ally or friend of ours." I guess the question is: are there long-term implications for the U.S.-U.K. relationship here?

D. THOMAS: Yes, there are. And every single time he steps in and makes these kinds of derogatory comments about the United Kingdom or about the United Kingdom's treatment of domestic issues, whether they are concerned with terror, security, respect and so on, and it further impacts this relationship. So, of course, the question of his state visit to the United Kingdom is becoming, you know, an incredible, really, problematic issue.

And I think, or even in the case of Theresa May, the initial proximity that she had with this new Atlantic president is becoming a liability for her. And here, what we're seeing really is a complete, sort of crisis American leadership of how to engage with one's partners around the world. And to play the role of the president whose function is to about respect, and values of tolerance, and so on and so forth; not to provide the fuel that exacerbates these tensions and has dramatic impacts on societies that are trying to deal with very complex questions of understanding and so on.

SESAY: Yes. It is a significant moment. And Dominic Thomas, and Omar Noureldin thank you so much. We appreciate it.

NOURELDIN: Thank you.

SESAY: Thank you. VAUSE: Until now, Britain First was seen as an appalling small fringe group with few followers. Now, the U.S. president has exposed their anti-Muslim message to millions of his followers, and no one can explain how it was that Mr. Trump came to see their videos in the first place. It's just another example of his recent behavior which seems erratic and reckless. After sparking international outrage, the president then went on to deliver a speech promoting tax reform when he made this demonstrably false claim about his achievements in office.


[01:10:28] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've already made tremendous progress, far greater than I would've thought. I will tell you this in a non-braggadocios way --


TRUMP: -- there has never been a 10-month president that has accomplished what we have accomplished, that I can tell you. That I can tell you.


VAUSE: This speech was all about the -- key minor speech is all about promoting tax reform, when Mr. Trump unexpectedly insulted North Korea Leader, Kim Jong-un.


TRUMP: These massive tax cuts will be rocket fuel --


TRUMP: The little rocket man. Rocket fuel for the American economy.


TRUMP: He is a sick puppy.

VAUSE: And this week began with the president attacking a political opponent with the word, which is used to insult Native Americans, and he did it while he was honoring Native American war veterans.


TRUMP: I just want to thank you because you're very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here. Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas. But you know what, I like you because you are special.


VAUSE: And there are a number of reports which say President Trump is questioning the authenticity of the "Access Hollywood" tape -- you know, the one where he made those all comments about grabbing women. Comments which he actually apologized for on the same day the tape came out. And The New York Times, also reporting Mr. Trump is again heading to birther land, asking questions about Barack Obama's birth certificate.

And joining us now is CNN Political Commentators, Democratic Strategist, Dave Jacobson; and Republican Consultant, John Thomas. John, what's going on with the president?

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, the Pocahontas thing, I mean, people say that he was there to use a racial slur but he was actually trying to draw a distinction between people who use race to, you know, exploit for personal gain, and people who are actual heroes --


J. THOMAS: That's exactly what he did.

VAUSE: Look at the whole. I mean, the whole picture. A lot of people are now saying is he unhinged? Is he losing his grip on things? Is he cracking under the pressure of the Mueller investigation? What's happening?

J. THOMAS: I mean, I don't think there's been a moment whether it was on the campaign trail or during this presidency where we've had tranquility.

JACOBSON: That's true.

VAUSE: That's right.

J. THOMAS: You know, I don't really know -- certainly a lot transpiring. But it's also just an of D.C.s. I don't think the president's unhinged. Look, we're on the verge of passing a major legislative achievement.

VAUSE: His first.

J. THOMAS: Right. So, if he gets that done, I don't know if he's necessarily unhinged. And the fact that the president does go off- script and maybe -- definitely has off-script conversations behind closed doors -- that's not a surprise here. So, I just think it's another day in Trump White House.

VAUSE: Dave, it's pretty clear that no one can control the president at his Twitter account. But can the White House continue to ignore this type of thing when it's impacting foreign policy and foreign relations? And we're not talking relations with Britain. You have to imagine what impact this would be on U.S. allies, in the Middle East like U.S.-Saudi Arabia, for instance -- you know, a key ally in the Middle East.

JACOBSON: Right. And like, this goes to the point that John Kelly had made, you know, weeks ago where people were asking about the tweets, and he said I don't believe (INAUDIBLE) doesn't really impact my job on a day-to-day basis, essentially, and now it does. Now, it's a national security issue because when it comes to working with and collaborating with key allies like you mentioned Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, like, those are folks who are helping us combat terrorism across the globe, and that's going to have a direct impact on the United States back at home. And so, it raises real issues of, like, whether or not if John Kelly is actually going to step up to the plate and do something about it. I don't think he is.

VAUSE: Yes. You know, John, the White House is arguing that it doesn't really matter -- the videos that he retweeted -- if it's real or fake, you know. The issue is that the president's bringing him tension too, you know, security of the country and that kind of stuff. But, you know, among other issues, is this administration using fake evidence to prove a point?

J. THOMAS: Beyond crowd size?


JACOBSON: I was going to say.

J. THOMAS: No, no. I mean, look, it does matter. You shouldn't retweet fake things.

VAUSE: Which you also shouldn't say it doesn't matter if it's fake, either.

J. THOMAS: No, they're trying to walk back something --

VAUSE: But he has got no other --

[01:15:02] J. THOMAS: That can't be -- yes, that's the position they find themselves in, but he shouldn't have retweeted it. But look, by and large, I know Dave probably disagrees, I like his Twitter account by and large, because I actually get a real honest account of what the president's thinking, for better or for worse depending upon your perspective. But these kinds of retweets, I know I've been guilty not of retweeting extreme stuff, but, you know, accidentally thinking it's a real account, it's a parody account. But nonetheless, the president's got to tighten it up.

JACOBSON: I'm sorry, I don't think I'm crazy to say that, like, there should be some sort of, like, the vetting process for the leader of the free world, the president of the United States. Like before the tweets goes out or before there's a retweet, there needs to be some systemic, like process internally. Unfortunately, we're not going to see that, but I'm sure like other White Houses like Obama administration is doing --

J. THOMAS: So much so --

JACOBSON: I'm sure there were multiple people who --

J. THOMAS: -- gets watered down I never would read them. VAUSE: You know, beyond the impact this could have on U.S.-British

relations, it will be (INAUDIBLE), probably. Beyond destroying whatever low credibility the White House had left. You know, retweeting these anti-Muslim videos could be used by lawyers if they're trying to block the president's travel ban. And to make matters worse, when a reporter asked the deputy press secretary on Wednesday if the president thought Muslims were a threat to the U.S. He replied, "the president has addressed these issues with the travel order." John, that's a pretty big rake that they've stepped on here.

J. THOMAS: And that really is the, to me, the risk of these tweets in things he says off cuff -- is there are legal ramifications to it? I mean, I don't see an upside there that they undermine their cause legally. And look, there's a lot of people that disagree with the president, especially Democrats, whether they're trying to block him from appointing people in his own administration. So, words do have legal consequence. I think we're going to continue to suffer from those, those, and it's going to undermine his agenda.

JACOBSON: Well, and I'm not a lawyer, but, like, let's also go back to like the campaign rhetoric, right? He wanted to ban all Muslims from coming in the country. And so, the question is, like: are those going to be incorporated into a legal case?

VAUSE: And could have used those words in restraining orders or putting the travel ban on hold, that kind of stuff. OK. This is the president, as you actually said he on the verge of getting his tax cuts through Congress -- first big win of the administration. Part of the sales pitch, though, seems to include a great big fat lie.


TRUMP: We're also going to eliminate tax breaks and complex loopholes taken advantage of by the wealthy -- who are they, I don't know. I think my accountants are going crazy right now. It's all right. Hey, look, I'm president. I don't care. I don't care anymore. I don't care.


TRUMP: Some of my wealthy friends, care. Me, I don't care. This is a higher calling. Do we agree?


VAUSE: You know, Dave, if his accounts' going crazy it's because, you know, he's about to get a really big tax cut. And that's big proof.

JACOBSON: Yeah, of course. I mean, and he should also talk to his Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, who said just weeks ago that doing away with the estate tax was going to, you know, be a win for the wealthiest Americans out there. But look, if you look largely at this tax bill -- first of all, it's got 25 percent approval rating according to Quinnipiac's latest poll. That's a lower approval rating than President Trump's. It's amazing, right?


VAUSE: -- number one. Number two, like, this gives permanent tax cuts to big Wall Street corporation from 35 percent to 20 percent permanently. It only lowers taxes for --

J. THOMAS: I think that Barack Obama agree that the corporate tax level needed to be --

JACOBSON: Well, and lastly, it actually raises taxes on millions of Americans. Take California, for example -- our population is 1/10 of the U.S. population. It raises taxes on people who pay high local and estate taxes.

J. THOMAS: You're right. But, you know, Trump was being partially truthful there in the sense that he has a home in New York --

VAUSE: Right.

J. THOMAS: -- and the exemption is limited. And so, he will suffer in that environment.

VAUSE: I want to finish up with this. This is a report from The Washington Post explaining, possibly, the president's behavior: "Trump has internalized the belief that he can largely operate with impunity, people close to him said. His political base cheers him on, fellow Republicans leaders largely stand by him. His staff scrambles to explain away his misbehavior, or even to laugh it off. And the White House disciplinarian Chief of Staff, John Kelly, has said it is not his job to control the president." So, John, no consequences so far, but could there be consequences for all of this come to the midterm elections?

J. THOMAS: It's possible. I mean, there are warning signs of danger. Virginia was a warning sign.

VAUSE: New Jersey.

J. THOMAS: The generic ballot that we look at historically is lopsided in favor of Democrats. It's still a ways' out but there are some warning signs. I think the president is going back to what's worked for him in the past. I mean, look, the president was himself, and now he's the president. So, that's what he's relying upon. I tend to think members of Congress will actually be able to have their cake and eat it too. They're going to embrace him when it's useful and distance themselves when it's also useful because Trump is thought to be his own person.

VAUSE: Right.

J. THOMAS: He's an own -- you know, a unique breed of politician.

VAUSE: Speaking out there.

J. THOMAS: Yes. So, I actually think Republicans will be able to parse that. But it certainly is not the traditional playbook.

[01:20:04] VAUSE: 30 seconds to finish it off, Dave.

JACOBSON: I go into John's point: the generic ballots has Democrats leading by double digits. That's significant. The fact that this tax bill may potentially get through -- it's got 25 percent approval rating. Democrats are going to glue Republicans to it and hammer them over the head with it.

J. THOMAS: I hope so. I hope so.

JACOBSON: And then, lastly, if Doug Moore --

VAUSE: Roy Moore.

JACOBSON: -- pardon me, Roy Moore, pardon me, actually wins the election, that is going to build and enshrine a very toxic brand when it comes to the GOP and Democrats are going to capitalize on.

VAUSE: Healthcare plan, rated 17 percent.

JACOBSON: Right, even worse.

VAUSE: Dave and John, as always, thank you.


J. THOMAS: Thank you.

SESAY: Quick break here. Another U.S. personality is fired after allegations of sexual misconduct. This time, it's NBC News morning show veteran, Matt Lauer, and the stories that are emerging about him and much more coming out. More when we return.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody! Allegations of sexual misconduct against Matt Lauer, a veteran anchor of morning television in the U.S., who is abruptly fired on Wednesday by NBC. Variety Magazine and New York Times reported multiple women are now accusing the high- profile morning show host of harassment. On Tuesday, Lauer was fired for "inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace."

SESAY: Well, Lauer was making millions of dollars a year and was one of the network's biggest stars before his dismissal. Here's how his visibly shaken co-host announced the bombshell news.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, for the moment, all we can say is that we are heartbroken. I'm heartbroken for Matt. He is my dear, dear friend, and my partner. And he is beloved by many, many people here. And I'm heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story, and any other women who have their own stories to tell.


SESAY: Well, NBC released this statement to CNN: "We can say unequivocally that prior to Monday night, current NBC News management was never made aware of any complaint about Matt Lauer's conduct." Well, CNN Legal Analyst Areva Martin joins us now. Areva, always good to have you with us. So, another powerful man showed the door after allegations surfaced of misconduct. The thing that strikes me is that when you look closely at some of the statements that Matt Lauer had made in public, on camera, when you look close to them, they're not quite right. Take a look at this exchange with Kelly Clarkson, the singer.


MATT LAUER, FORMER NBC ANCHOR: She's out with her second album. It's got a new sound. And she has a hot new look as well. The album is called "Breakaway." Kelly Clarkson, good morning, nice to have you back.

KELLY CLARKSON, AMERICAN SIGNER: Good morning. Have I a hot new look? That's exciting.

LAUER: Well, I'm back from vacation and you got my attention in a hurry, I'll tell you that.


SESAY: And then, take a listen to his former co-host Katie Couric talking about their interactions.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You co-hosted "The Today" show with Matt Lauer for 15 years, what is Matt's most annoying habit?

[01:25:06] KATIE COURIC, NBC HOST: He pinches me on the ass a lot.


SESAY: And when you think about it, it clearly barely raised a ripple at NBC. I mean, these intercept publicly, so it was normalized?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think that's what the issue is we're seeing, Isha, with this story, and the story of Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, we can go through the list, is this culture. We keep talking about the culture. And those statements are reflective of the culture we're talking about, where powerful men and not so powerful men can make statements, they can touch women, they can engage in conduct that crosses the lines. But yet, no one says anything about, no one does anything -- it's accepted. And, in fact, men are -- if you think about it, they're applauded for being promiscuous. They're applauded for their sexual prowess.

SESAY: He's a guy.

MARTIN: Yes, and he's a man.

SESAY: He's a man's man. MARTIN: He's a woman's man. He's a womanizer. And what -- one of the anchors I saw today on CNN talked about the fact that she did a call of her former colleagues that had worked with Matt, and 50 percent of them said we all knew.


MARTIN: We knew he was, you know, a womanizer. We knew he had affairs. We knew he chased women. And that was known in the newsroom, but yet, another 50 percent said they were shocked at the allegations. And I think we have to come to groups with this. This conduct, that men engaged in, that we have for decades applauded them for, passed them on the back for, that's some of the same time that then leads to the predatory conduct that we now are talking about almost daily in this country.

SESAY: The other element to all of this that has come out, and the reporting about Matt Lauer and these allegations is just how powerful a force he was within NBC News, which makes you really feel for the women who have come out and told these stories and made these allegations that they were victims of that, and somewhat powerless to respond. And it also makes you think of the bravery --


SESAY: -- that it is being showed, the courage for them to come out and speak.

MARTIN: What we know in the Variety article, there's a statement that said women tried to come forward, they tried to report some of the conduct to the higher-ups, the executive team, the management team at NBC and they were dismissed. Now, we've seen the statement from NBC that says no current members of their management had any knowledge of this.

And this is something I've been talking about a lot, we don't have to wait. The law doesn't require employers to wait for courageous women to come forward. Employers have an absolute affirmative obligation to weed out sexual harassment, sexual abuse in the workplace. So, if there are rumors in the workplace about anyone, Matt Lauer, the janitor --

SESAY: Yes, absolutely, anyone.

MARTIN: -- you know, the window washer, the company has an obligation to investigate and to determine if someone is engaging an improper behavior. They don't have to wait for women to have the courage to come forward.

SESAY: So, you are calling for speed? What do you make of the speed with which they've acted with now?

MARTIN: It was clear, to me, this morning. It was in the air at 6:0a.m. before we had the details in the Variety and the New York Times article that the allegations had to be severe. Because there was a whole range of disciplinary actions that the company could've taken, from a suspension, or the motion -- a change from the, you know, the morning show to MSNBC or one their sister statements. But the fact they fired him said to me that the allegations were severe and that they were corroborated. That these weren't just statements made by one woman, but they had done enough of an investigation to determine if the allegations were true.

SESAY: I want to read you a tweet that CNN's Ana Navarro, one of our political contributors put out here. She said that -- let's put it up on screen: "Matt Lauer lost his job. Charlie Rose lost his job. Mark Halperin lost his job. Glenn Thrush lost his job," Glenn Thrush from the New York Times, who hasn't, he's been suspended, but we take her point that he's in the spotlight.

MARTIN: Right.

SESAY: "Billy Bush lost his job. Harvey Weinstein lost his job. Kevin Spacey lost his job. But in politics... Conyers is still in Congress. Moore's still running. Trump's still president." How do we, as a society, reconcile those facts that there's a reckoning -- and we're seeing in the pages being turned. But on Capitol Hill...

MARTIN: They're not reconcilable. And it's really shameful, I think, the way Congress has responded, the way women, if you are in, working in Congress. If you have been harassed. The complaint process -- that 90-day, very laborious, very difficult and onerous process that women --


MARTIN: The (INAUDIBLE), absolutely. You have to sit down across from your accuser. You have to work in the same office. You have to have this cooling off period. All of those things make it incredibly difficult. The fact we haven't had more women and men in Congress, the Senate calling out Donald Trump for the 12-plus women that accused him of sexual harassment and that "Access Hollywood" tape, that we don't have more daily talking about Roy Moore who's been accused of molesting a child?

[01:30:04] And that we don't have them calling even for iconic John Conyers, as much as I love him, grew up idolizing him, we can't have a double standard. If we're saying -- the predators have to go if they are in the White House or they're in the Hollywood, then they have to go across the board.

SESAY: Zero tolerance.

REVA: Zero tolerance.

SESAY: Zero tolerance.

REVA: Absolutely.

SESAY: All right. Reva, appreciate it. Thank you.

REVA: Thanks, Isha. VAUSE: Zero tolerance through dismissals it seems in congress. Everyone's getting fired. OK. Next on NEWSROOM L.A., it started as a punchline, became a whisper, and is now being open and talked about. Is Donald Trump mentally fit for office?


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. Pope Francis is on his way to Bangladesh after three days in Myanmar. Before he left they held a youth mass.

The pope has been criticized for not mentioning the Rohingya refugee crisis during his trip. He's expected to meet with members of the persecuted community in Bangladesh.

VAUSE: Veteran morning show anchor Matt Lauer is facing more allegations of sexual misconduct a day after he was abruptly fired by the U.S. network NBC for inappropriate sexual behavior at workplace. Current management at NBC News says they had no knowledge before today of any inappropriate behavior by Lauer and no formal complaints were made. There's been no comment so far from Lauer himself.

SESAY: U.S. President Donald Trump sparked outrage by retweeting three inflammatory anti-Muslim videos from a British far right side. Among those speaking out, British Prime Minister Theresa May. Mr. Trump later tweeted criticizing Mrs. May for speaking out against him.

VAUSE: Well, the U.S. is wondering once again if North Korea starts a war the regime will be utterly destroyed. Pyongyang's latest intercontinental ballistic missile launch prompted President Trump to tweet this. "Just spoke to President Xi Jinping of China concerning the publication -- provocative actions, rather, of North Korea.

Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled." Paula Newton joins us now from Seoul, South Korea.

So, Paula, the U.S. wants China especially to stop all the oil exports to North Korea. Beijing is unlikely to agree to that. But what would be the impact if it did?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Likely catastrophic. You know, the regime gets about 80 percent of its fuel from China. Probably likely the rest comes from Russia. And that's what they can't detect and what they don't know that they might be getting subversively from someone else.

Having said that, look, John, you know more than anyone, China does not have any interest in seeing a collapse of that regime. It would lead to catastrophic effects in terms of refugees perhaps going over Chinese borders, but more to the point, they do not want a United Korea. [01:35:06] They do not want more influence for the U.S. on the Korean peninsula. Up until really this latest regime and so many missile tests being conducted in the last year, China was happy with status quo likely. And it's interesting that the United States at this point in time is again, asking China to do what it can knowing that it does have that lever of those energy exports to North Korea.

Reminding everyone again that in 2003 when that was done briefly for three days and the Bush Administration was in power then North Korea immediately went to the negotiating table.

VAUSE: Good point. Paula, thank you. Good to see you. Well, at first the mental stability of the U.S. president was mostly a punchline for the comedians on late-night television.


JIMMY KIMMEL, AMERICAN TELEVISION HOST: I feel like I can say this with reasonable certainty, the president is completely unhinged. The wheels are off the wagon and hurtling toward the moon."

SETH MEYERS, AMERICAN TELEVISION HOST: No matter what else happens, Donald Trump will surely go down as our neediest and most insecure president. With the possible exception of Millard Fillmore whose first State of the Union speech started with, "Do you guys think I'm fat?"


VAUSE: Recently, though, the talk has shifted to questions about stability, temperament, mental health in among lawmakers what was once quietly whispered.


SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND: I think -- I think he's crazy. I mean, I don't say that --

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: No, I'm worried.

REED: -- lightly and as a kind of a, you know, a goofy guy. Oof. And you know, the -- the trick -- this thing, you know, if we don't get a budget deal, we're going to be paralyzed. DoD is going to be paralyzed. Everybody is going to, you know --

COLLINS: I know.

REED: -- be paralyzed. And hasn't said one word. Nothing.

COLLINS: I don't even think he knows that there is a BCA or anything, I really don't.

REED: He was --


VAUSE: Well, it's now being said publicly with seriousness and concern.


SE. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: The president has not yet -- has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.


VAUSE: Well, joining me now for more on this, Psychoanalyst Dr. Bethany Marshall. Good to see you. Thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: OK. I wanted to kick off with what former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, David Axelrod, said about the concerns he has about Donald Trump's behavior. Listen to this.


DAVID AXELROD, POLITICAL ANALYST: I sat next to the oval office for a couple of years. I saw the kinds of issues that come across that desk. I know the power that is reposed in that office. And if the person who sits there is delusional that poses all kinds of very, very frightening scenarios.


VAUSE: You know, the word delusional keeps coming back over and over again. A lot of people are talking about it given his behavior in the last couple of days, in the last couple of weeks. Have we now reached the point where it is a fair question to ask, is Donald Trump losing his grip? Is he unhinged, or, you know, is there something worse?

MARSHALL: Well, I would say he has always lost his grip, that this is chronic problem we're just seeing it more clearly. You know, Trump is not my patient but if I had a patient with this set of personality characteristics, I would diagnose them as having something called anti-social personality disorder. It's not something I've made up, this disorder.

It's in the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. And it's really reckless lack of concern and disregard for the rights and safety of others, impulsivity as characterized by failure to plan ahead, relating to others on the basis of power rather than affection, promiscuity, parasitic lifestyle.

Very -- things that would be very benign to you and me make them very angry so they become very, you know, nasty, vengeful, and mean.

VAUSE: OK. So what were the -- we're hearing from people who spent a lot of time with the president and had a chance to observe him up close like Maggie Haberman from "The New York Times". You know, she, you know, has been there for a very long time.

And according to her, she's seen a change recently. This is what she said.


MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Something is unleashed with him lately. I don't know what is causing it. I don't know how to describe it. If the president --

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, you see a different -- you see difference in the past, what, days, weeks?

HABERMAN: I think the last couple of days' tweets have been --

CAMEROTA: Unhinged?

HABERMAN: -- markedly accelerated in terms of seeming a little unmoored.


VAUSE: Yes. And yes, we had this report that in private, you know, Donald Trump explodes with rage and he sees something on television that he doesn't like. He's bringing up old conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, the birth certificate, questioning the authenticity of, you know, the "Access Hollywood" tapes.

[01:40:01] And what does this all indicate to you?

MARSHALL: Well, first of all, people with anti-social personality disorder have very poor judgment. They make poor decisions. Then they bring bad results into their life which then makes them understandably paranoid.

As I said earlier, very benign events make them feel insulted, persecuted, and then they become combative and angry. But I would say primarily Trump kingdom was very well organized before President Trump became the president of our country. So he probably was sounded by yes people so nobody questioned him in any way.

Well, this is a whole new game for him. He is not used to people watching him, speculating on his behavior, or questioning him in any way. So I think the so-called meltdown or crazy behavior is that he's not surrounded by people who are gratifying him all the time.

VAUSE: OK. This administration far from, you know, people praising him, this administration, which is under investigation, multiple investigations, the special counsel looking into Russia seems to be getting closer to the oval office with each passing day. Jared Kushner his son-in-law, you know, is one of the focuses of all -- a focus of the investigation I should say.

So too Donald Trump Jr. and his daughter Ivanka works in the White House as well. Could all this increased pressure be something like trigger which would explain what has been days of recent, sort of, erratic behavior?

MARSHALL: Well, that's a very nuanced question and I'll give you a nuanced answer, is that people who fall into this spectrum of personality disorders they become paranoid because as I said earlier, they do things that bring bad consequences into their lives but they are not anxious. They are not anxious people. Lack of anxiety is at the core of the disorder.

That's why they lie so easily. That's why they're never tongue-tied. That's why they -- that's why they break the law. That's why they abuse the law, because they don't imagine the bad things will happen.

Then when the bad things happen they're completely taken by surprise.

VAUSE: Yes. So someone with those personality traits, someone who would be not dealing with the pressure, I guess, of multiple investigations and being in the spotlight, we bring it back to actually background to the president and I know we can't do this diagnosis and there's a whole different discussion about that. But just from a distance, is that somebody who would be struggling right now, who -- whose behavior would be erratic and could have some serious sequences in a bigger picture?

MARSHALL: Well, if you've ever heard of the term narcissistic injury, it means that something somebody else says strikes you to the core. And people with his personality characteristics are always narcissistically injured. Everything hurts their feelings, makes them feel diminished.

When they feel diminished they feel angry. When they feel angry they go on the attack. That's really the behavior we're seeing, it's a -- it's a chronic attack.

VAUSE: Well, he's someone who has that, sort of, the -- those issues, should they have access to the nuclear codes, I guess?

MARSHALL: Never. Never.

VAUSE: Well, he doesn't (INAUDIBLE) Bethany, good to see you, thank you.

MARSHALL: Thank you.

SESAY: Well, as more high-profile personalities are accused of sexual misconduct our next guest after the break wants to know are some men just clueless about sexual harassment? Is this even a fair question to ask? Stay with us.


SESAY: Another name has been added to the list of powerful men brought down by accusations of sexual misconduct. In what seems like a blink of an eye, studio mogul Harvey Weinstein, comedian Louis C.K., Fox news host Bill O'Reilly, veteran news man Charlie Rose, political journalist Mark Halperin all gone. And now to this ignominious stable we can add Matt Lauer.

Lauer, the decades-long host of the "Today" show in NBC, one of the most valuable properties on U.S. television was shown the door on Tuesday night after his NBC bosses received the "detailed complaint" from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace. For Lauer, one of the most powerful men in television with a salary amounting to tens of millions of dollars, the fall was swift and his descent has shaken the television industry. In the hours following his firing, more women have come forward with fresh allegations involving the decades-long "Today" host.

So far, no public comment from Matt. But as another high and mighty man bites the dust the question on the minds of many is, what's going on in their heads? Why this kind of behavior which has been exposed as rampant across the length and breadth of society?

Joining me now to discuss this is Dr. Peggy Drexler. She's an author, writer, and research psychologist and recently penned an article on this topic for She joins me from New York. Peggy, welcome.


SESAY: Well, as I said, we're all trying to make sense of this widespread behavior that's been uncovered. In your view, what's the explanation to this kind of behavior by men?

DREXLER: I think there's many. I don't think there's one. One major one is -- came from Charlie Rose where he said he thought the feelings were mutual.

And I think men who have achieved that level of success and power and have that many people listening to them really develop a grandiosity if they haven't had it before, a sense that the rules don't apply to them and that they in fact can do anything they want.

SESAY: You also wrote something that caught my eye in this piece on and I want to put it up on the screen for our viewers. You said this, "Setting aside the flat-out predators who walk among us, this misunderstanding of men's roles may lead some men, especially those in the throes of sexual attraction to let their desires override their intellect and their knowledge of what is wrong and what is right." Will you explain what you mean by that?

DREXLER: Sure. There -- first of all, there was a study, and NPR talked about it, that men think they're supposed to catcall women, that -- or that men are dogs and women are cats and that it's part of being masculine to be able to find a woman and scream out to her. I mean, that's at the lowest level.

And then there was a study that was done that said men really don't understand if you say no, if you say -- and this is -- this is to dates, to drinks. And if you repeatedly say no that you mean no. And so they continue to ask women out.

And I think that in our society it's still a sexist society and that women -- and that men don't really understand this. I will say one thing that surprises me a lot, and that is the primitive nature of these big powerful men and the way they go after the women, that as a psychologist the behavior is so similar, wanting to be watched, wanting to be seen, wanting their private parts to be admired, is something that I think comes from a young age.

You talked about, you know, as you talked about, you know, the complications of it, the complexities, rather, of it, and this needing to be, you know, admired and how deep-rooted it is. That -- and that's what I'm getting from you. And there was this piece written in "The New York Times" a couple of days ago by Steven March and it's been quite controversial and you might have seen it.

He wrote this particular line that a lot of people are considering and I'd love to get your take on it. He said, "Men arrive at this moment of reckoning woefully unprepared. Most are shocked by the reality of women's lived experience almost all uninterested or unwilling to grapple with the problem at the heart of all of this, the often ugly and dangerous nature of the male libido.

[01:50:13] Peggy, he posits the argument that male desire, it inherently brutal, do you agree with that?

DREXLER: Well, I think it's an interesting point, but, you know, what motivates it? Why is it like that? I mean, I do think men are aggressive. And -- but I don't think it's the libido.

I think that they have an active libido, much more active than women. But I think the sense of rejection about any kind of sexual overtures that they make are really, really damaging to their sense of self. And they need constant, constant approval about who they are as men. And I think, in fact, that that's another very big factor.

SESAY: So, I guess, my question to you is this. And this is about power, which I think many people will say plays a large part in all of this. Power, the needs for validation, the needs for admiration. If that is the bedrock or the root of this, if that's the case, for as long as we live in an unequal society, you know, and men get -- men get paid more than women and, you know, all the rest of it, they sit on more boards and all of that.

For as long as that's the case, are we naturally always going to be -- I don't want to say naturally because it's not natural, but are we always going to be in a space where these kinds of behaviors are carried out?

DREXLER: Well, let's hope not. I mean, we have on television the bachelor and the bachelorette, and that's a step. But I think we have a long ways to go. Look, we elected a man who was much less qualified than a -- than a woman, and many, many women voted for him.

And many educated women. So I think that the sexism is very strong and I think a lack of respect for women, among women, and how women are treated is a big factor in all of this too.

SESAY: Yes. Dr. Peggy Drexler, it' so good to speak to you. It's quite clear that there's a long way to go.

The unveiling, the revelations is just the first step. You know, an actual, real meaningful conversation still has to be had, and I appreciate you speaking with me this evening. Thank you. DREXLER: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, next on NEWSROOM L.A., a 20-year prison sentence is a bitter pill to swallow. So war criminal chose to swallow poison instead, right in the middle of the court.


VAUSE: Well, the International Criminal Court in The Hague found a Croatian commander guilty of war crimes appeared to take his own life as the judge was upholding his conviction.

SESAY: Now many are asking how he got a vial of suspected poison into the courtroom. CNN's Lynda Kinkade shows us how it all unfolded.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR: A dramatic end to the life of a convicted war criminal. Just seconds after the United Nations Court upheld his 20-year sentence for war crime Slobodan Praljak refused to sit, instead proclaiming his innocents.

[01:55:04] SLOBODAN PRALJAK, RETIRED CROATIAN ARMY GENERAL (through translator): Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal.

KINKADE: And then the retired Croatian army general pulled a small vial from his jacket, tipped his head back, and drank the liquid, telling the court it was poison.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop, please. Please sit down.

KINKADE: A short time later an ambulance arrived, taking Praljak to a Dutch hospital where he died. The 72-year-old was sentenced in 2013 for his role as commander of the Croat forces during the Bosnian war, a war which lasted from 1992 to 1995. Leaving more than 100,000 people dead, more than 2 million displaced. He was one of six former Bosnian Croat political and military leaders found guilty for crimes against humanity, which included the rape and murder of Bosnian Muslims. The Croatian prime minister slammed what he called the injustice of the U.N. Court and expressed his condolences.

ANDREJ PLENKOVIC, CROATIA PREMIER MINISTER (through translator): I along with all members of the government who are here sincerely regret this act.

KINKADE: The courtroom is now a crime scene, and the big question is, how did the convicted criminal manage to get that vial of poison into The Hague where security is tight? Metal detectors are used and electronic equipment including cellphones as well as food and drinks are prohibited. The Dutch police are now investigating. Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


SESAY: I have so many questions about that and how that happened.

VAUSE: Yes. Well, he's dead.

SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Please follow us on Twitter @CNNNewsroomLA for highlights and clips of the shows. But there's still one more hour to go.

SESAY: We'll be back.


VAUSE: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --

SESAY: President Trump retweets ultra nationalist anti-Muslim videos and after strong condemnation instead of apologizing he blasts British Prime Minister Theresa May.

VAUSE: And Donald Trump is back to name calling, referring to Kim Jong-Un as Rocket Man and a sick puppy a day after the North Korean test fire an ICBM capable of reaching Washington.

SESAY: Plus, NBC's Sunrise anchor and his much darker side. Matt Lauer fired for sexual misconduct.

[02:00:01] Hello, welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.