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Clock is Ticking on Rex Tillerson at State Department; New North Korean Missile; Pope Urges Decisive Measures for Refugees; British Prime Minister Admonishes Trump; Trump's Retweets Putting Strain On U.S.-U.K. Relations; Media Personalities Toppled Not Politicians; Prince Harry And Meghan Markle Wow Nottingham Crowds On First Joint Visit. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired December 1, 2017 - 02:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Ahead this hour. Time may be running out for the U.S. secretary of state. What the White House may be looking to gain by shaming Rex Tillerson.

VAUSE (voice-over): Pope Francis in Bangladesh set to meet with Rohingya Muslims who fled neighboring Myanmar after a military crackdown.

SESAY (voice-over): Later, it's a scandal that has already claimed the careers of several big names in media and entertainment. But how have America's political leaders survived allegations of sexual misconduct?

VAUSE (voice-over): Double standards?

Hello, everybody. Thank you for joining us. I'm John Vause.

SESAY (voice-over): I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.


SESAY: Rex Tillerson is the United States top diplomat with a full plate of challenges in front of him. But it is looking more likely that his days of secretary of state may be numbered.

VAUSE: Multiple government officials tell CNN that Tillerson will likely be replaced by the current CIA director, Mike Pompeo. There's no word on the timing of the (INAUDIBLE).

SESAY: During (INAUDIBLE) at the White House Thursday, reporters asked President Trump if he wanted Tillerson to stay or go.


REMNICK: Mr. President, should Rex -- do you have Rex Tillerson on the job, Mr. President?



VAUSE: And for more, joining us now, CNN's Paula Newton in Seoul, South Korea. Also here in Los Angeles, national security analyst Rebecca Grant, an expert on international relations.

Thank you for both being with us.

Rebecca, let's start with you. Rex Tillerson, he's been a dead man walking for a while. The only question has been, when will they bury the body.

But if these reports are true, why would any administration, not only force out the secretary of state but then replace him with the director of the CIA?

These are two crucial departments in the midst of a crisis, a nuclear standoff with North Koreans.

REBECCA GRANT, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it's a question now still of when and if, so, people that have left the Trump cabinet have typically left on a Friday night. So that would be tomorrow. But what we are hearing this is a plan that is going to take place over a period of weeks.

And there are others like, Jim Mattis at the Pentagon, who say, don't make anything of it. So I think it is a little too early to say for sure that Tillerson will go.

Tillerson is a bit of a cipher. He's very contained, very different personality from the president. And he may just not like Washington. But you raise a good question.

Why, in the midst of the North Korea tensions, is there some political motivation here?

I think we have to hear a lot more about what is going on with Tillerson before we start counting the days.

VAUSE: Be cautious. OK. We'll run with that.

Paula, the biggest problem of all it seems, Rex Tillerson, when it comes to world leaders, is that they just don't believe that he speaks for the U.S. president.

Is that how it's perceived there in Seoul and I guess even more importantly in Pyongyang?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm not sure Rex Tillerson believes that he can speak for the president, especially given the double speak. It doesn't matter if I'm in Moscow or if I'm in Seoul. You hear that every time, from the diplomatic corps here. In terms of what is going on here, the relationship between South

Korea, Japan, China and the U.S. military is solid. Those lines of communication are all open. What you see, though, is a growing frustration with the fact that Rex Tillerson and that diplomatic track does not seem to be working in any kind of functional way.

Now to prove that he did have some insight on this issue, Rex Tillerson around this crisis has said there will be a diplomatic summit in Canada, in Vancouver in early January. That was to appease the South Koreans to say, look, all defenses put aside. We can talk about anti-defense missiles until we are blue in the face.

But we want to know, how we are going to bring North Korea to the table. To that end. Rex Tillerson set up this summit. The problem is now if you are South Korea, you are wondering, if he's leaving, is the summit going to go on?

He's the only sponsor of it. We haven't even really heard from the White House about this summit. So it definitely is incredibly unsettling for allies, especially when you get to the situation with North Korea and such advancements in that ICBM.

VAUSE: Rebecca, with that in mind, who is actually going to sit down and have a serious conversation now even if the story isn't true. It is out there. Tillerson, undermined for undermined for months by the president.

So which (INAUDIBLE) will have a serious conversation with Rex Tillerson now?

GRANT: I think there are a lot of world leaders that will have these serious conversations with Tillerson and with others in the U.S. And it's going to take a group effort by world leaders to eventually talk with North Korea.

I expect this still to end in talks. We are really waiting now to see if there is any sign that North Korea might be ready to talk at some point.


GRANT: Now that Kim Jong-un declared his arsenal to be complete. I was interested to watch South Korea's response. We are hearing that Trump and Moon have talked a couple times. South Korea has very carefully said they didn't think that ICBM test crossed any red lines.

I hear that meaning that they're still trying to leave the door open for some negotiation. Of course, we are hoping China is going to make some of the talks happen, too.

VAUSE: With regards to that, Paula. With more time to save the images which were released by the North Koreans of the ICBM, it seems there is a lot more revealed about just how far advanced this technology is. Listen to part of Brian Todd's report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL EBERMAN (PH), FORMER ROCKET ENGINEER: Now you have two, which provides double the thrust, which means this missile can carry a much larger payload to a longer distance. In other words, it can threaten the entire United States with a nuclear warhead.


VAUSE: This is a new a navigation system as well. This greater lift. They actually had a dummy warhead which was meant to replicate a nuclear warhead. So, Paula, there seems to be an almost collective gasp by many in the U.S. and now (INAUDIBLE) how quickly this missile program is advancing.

NEWTON: Everybody has been walking on it, especially because predictions did not prove true. We didn't think we would be talking about it at this point. Even though they haven't nuclearized that warhead yet, miniaturized that warhead yet, look, even South Korea is saying this could happen by the end of 2018.

What does that mean?

It means exactly what Rebecca said.

What is the program here?

What is the opening for North Korea to go to that table? And for that, it's going to take a lot of diplomatic heavy lifting from China, Japan. But obviously, principally, the United States. And you're left wondering who is left to do that.

VAUSE: Rebecca, the missile flew 10 times higher than the International Space Station, which is 500 miles higher than any previous missile test. It was in the air for about 15 minutes. That's eight minutes longer than the previous launch.

So how can those advances have come in less than a year?

GRANT: We have to remember, this is frightening stuff. But it is still 1960s technology. They have done under Kim Jong-un, they've done over 50 tests of these missiles. So there's some things we don't know. We don't know how good the burn rate is in boost phase. We don't know if they can do a standard trajectory. We've only seen a loft trajectory.

We don't know if they can have a warhead survive reentry. So we know that what they may have right now is just a great big missile that they can launch and that we can intercept with our interceptors in Alaska, should they try it.

You look at the lines of the range. It covers everything. It covers Canada, the U.S., it covers all of Europe. I think that's why we see such a strong, international coalition at the U.N. saying we have to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

We still have a lot to do. We have a jar full of military and diplomatic options. We are still using sticks. We may have to start with the carrots. But I do expect this to end in talks. We have keep the military pressure on. And we have to keep the pressure on China until that happens.

VAUSE: Just curious, are the North Koreans getting help from another country. Maybe from Russia or Iran? Here is the tweet from one missile expert in the U.S. He shows the launch vehicle, the transporter launch of the missile. He says it's a big one. But you take a look at the vehicle, it has nine axles. The North Koreans say they made these trucks themselves. But they're probably Chinese trucks which have been modified.

So, Rebecca, that's one example of the Chinese helping out the North Koreans.

Could they be getting something else?

GRANT: Oh, absolutely. Yes, the Chinese have helped a lot. Most of this starts with Russia. They have Chinese technology. Not only in their military forces. There have been rumors for a long time about assistance from Pakistan. But again, this is 1960s technology. They've mastered it.

But we need to stop it before they go out and develop or procure something worse like cruise missiles or hypersonics. No question they're getting some help. They're still carrying on a little bit of their international arms trade. The U.N. is really trying to pinpoint the firms that are involved and the financial mechanisms to shut down the last of North Korea's arms trade, that helps them get in some of the money and the expertise for this missile program.

VAUSE: OK. Rebecca, thank you ,Rebecca Grant there, with us in Los Angeles.

Also, Paula Newton in Seoul, South Korea.

Thanks to you both.

Mo' Kelly is host of "The Mo' Kelly Show" (INAUDIBLE) commentators Alexandra Datig, editor in chief of "Front Page Index" with us here.

Welcome, good to see you guys.


VAUSE: OK. So the report that we have is that the White House has floated this story about Tillerson in an attempt to humiliate the secretary of state. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was put out, really in an effort to essentially --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- say to Tillerson, whether you do it yourself or we do it for you, it will be happening by the year. And to lock in the president, so he doesn't change his mind.


VAUSE: Alex, is this the right time for "Game of Thrones" tactics at the White House?

What message does this send to the North Koreans?

ALEXANDRA DATIG, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: I think the message is that 11 months of trying to reorganize the State Department hasn't been helpful. I think there seems to be a lot of chaos going on in that State Department.

I'm also concerned about the fact that secretary of state Tillerson has called the president "a moron." And I really don't know if we are talking about public shaming. Because, at this point, in my view, he should have been gone ready.

VAUSE: And that's a fair point because right now, the State Department, only 10 of the top 44 political posts have been filled. Right now in the midst of the crisis with the North Koreans, there is no U.S. ambassador to Seoul, no assistant secretary of state for East Asia, Pacific affairs, no undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs.

But who owns that?

Is that the responsibility of the secretary of state? Or is it -- does the president (INAUDIBLE)?

KELLY: It's not either/or, it's both. We had the president say on FOX News in the past 24 hours that I'm the only one who matters.

VAUSE: All about me, I think he said.

KELLY: Right. In terms of diplomacy and foreign policy, which is concerning to me. But then you still have the secretary of state, who is responsible for all of those who are under him, in this case, Rex Tillerson, to have a coherent strategy and policy, which the rest of the United States may understand as far as the direction in which they're moving.

I don't think anyone really knows what we are doing in North Korea. Or with North Korea at this point.

VAUSE: You know, as you say, Alex, Tillerson called the president "a moron." (INAUDIBLE) he doesn't deny calling the president a moron. The president has undermined him continually with tweets. Like this one, saying, it it's a waste of time negotiating with the North Koreans.

So, Alex, if these two men actually had a better relationship, maybe, could they be more effective in dealing with the crisis out of Pyongyang?

DATIG: I really don't think so. I think we are looking at two different philosophies completely. I think trying to control the Middle East with Saudi Arabia alone through oil. I don't think that is the answer and I think cutting off oil supplies to Korea, North Korea, I'm not sure if that's the answer, either.

I think that the more pressure we put on North Korea and the more the president tries to smoke out Kim Jong-un, the more he's going to be revealed as a coward. And I think that there's a lot of smoke and mirrors going on. We've always had problems with North Korea. This is nothing new. I just think that it is elevated right now because we have a lot of provocation in the Middle East. We had ISIS, we had problems with Iran. Chanting "Death to America."

So I think Kim Jong-un just wants to kind of gain a lot of negative attention. Besides which, why would he, why would he sacrifice his own people like that?


VAUSE: He may be erratic but he's not suicidal.

KELLY: Here is the thing. We know Kim Jong-un wants the attention of the world stage. He knows, we know that he wants that credibility. But I would say the president unfortunately has played into that with the tit-for-tat response, the insults and now Kim Jong-un I think is a bigger player than ever before.

What has not been discussed is how the president has devalued the role of State Department in affairs like these. If you had the people in place, the envoys, the ambassadors, then you could have the back channel communications at least develop a relationship and rapport, which could be more effective.

VAUSE: OK, apparently Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, he's going to happy for a while. But he was especially unhappy with the president retweeting those anti-Muslim videos, posted by a far right group called Britain First. And the former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, he said it was reckless.


GEN. JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: These things have a way of inciting, although, he may think they're innocuous, in certain parts of the world, they are not. And tweeting is a great way to communicate. I just wish the president would exert more discretion and have people fact-check things before he tweets them out because some of these -- and, to me, this is -- smacks of recklessness.


VAUSE: Alex, we hear this over and over and over again. You know, but they don't want the president to stop tweeting because people love it. Well, some people love it. A lot of people love it. But there just needs to be another layer of control.

Why wouldn't Donald Trump agree to that? DATIG: I'm not always sure if he is the one doing the tweets.

VAUSE: I think he is.

DATIG: Sometimes I wonder. But --


DATIG: -- I do think that one of the reasons I voted for Donald Trump, and he is my president, is not because of so much what he says but what he does. I believe he is a man of accomplishment in many ways. In terms of the videos, yes, I do think a little fact check would have helped there. I do have to agree with you.

But, I also think that one of the videos, which was authentic, two of them were not. One was.

VAUSE: Which one was authentic.

DATIG: The one with the virgin Mary.


VAUSE: Yes, that was ISIS, wasn't it?


DATIG: But for me, that rang very real because when I was a child, when I was a minor, I was in Egypt. I had my gold necklace taken from me from a Bedouin, who molested me in Cairo. So I think it's very real.


KELLY: We're talking about tweeting without context.

And we're also talking about these are unfiltered responses and tweets which are going out to all of the world without any type of vetting.

VAUSE: Quickly, the president has also been taking a lot of heat for his tacit support of Roy Moore, he's the Republican Senate candidate from Alabama. He's been accused of sexual misbehavior, also molesting a child. Now the Roy Moore campaign is using the president's words in this television ad. Watch this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): A vote for Roy Moore means securing the border, defending the Second Amendment, tax cuts and conservative Supreme Court judges. And Doug Jones, well, we'll let President Trump tell you about Doug Jones.

TRUMP: We don't need a liberal person in there. Jones, I've looked at his record. It's terrible on crime, bad on borders, bad with the military, bad for the Second Amendment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Roy Moore, the right choice.


VAUSE: CNN has now confirmed that the president will (INAUDIBLE) campaign rally on Friday in Florida, about 25 miles from the state border, the state line with Alabama.

So, Mo, along with the allegations of sexual misconduct, Moore is homophobic. He is Islamophobic and also seems he is being embraced by president Trump.

KELLY: You can go one step further. You can look at a tweet that he sent out last night regarding the registering of felons, which is legal within Alabama and then putting a photo with it of two African Americans, I would say that's #racebaiting. And you can throw that into the mix as well.

It's almost like President Trump doesn't want to be too close to Roy Moore. But at the same time, he wants to seem like that he's supporting the Republican Party in that regard in that state.


Want to go all in because --

DATIG: I don't like Roy Moore. You and I had the conversation. I really don't think the people of Alabama should choose him.


DATIG: I think the president didn't all out come out give him a full- fledged endorsement. He really didn't. He said he endorsed Luther Strange. He didn't come out and say, hey, support him. He didn't say that. A lot of people wish he did. A lot of people are trying to say he did.

VAUSE: He came awfully close.

DATIG: Yes, but he didn't.


VAUSE: -- conservative in the House, (INAUDIBLE) Republican. He's the only Republican running.

DATIG: Roy Moore loves the Constitution. So we should check the Article I, section 5.

So you know, the one about the two-thirds vote to kick him out.




SESAY: Still to come, In Bangladesh, Pope Francis mentions Myanmar's refugee crisis. Would he say the word everyone is focused on?

VAUSE: Also Britain's favorite newly engaged royal couple make their first joint appearance on Friday and their choice of venues says a lot about who they are and what they value.





VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) Pope Francis is expected to meet with 18 Rohingya Muslims, refugees who fled Myanmar.

SESAY: Earlier in Dhaka he urged the international community to solve the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar. More than 600,000 Muslims have fled since August. The pope spent the day celebrating mass and ordaining priests in Dhaka. Our Delia Gallagher joins us now from Dhaka with more on the pope's trip.

Delia, this is a wide ranging trip for the pope but primarily focused on diplomacy.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. It seems to be that the Vatican's effort here is twofold. One on trying to help along a political solution for the Rohingya refugee crisis without saying the word "Rohingya," the pope making a calculated decision, it seems, to use the terminology which is accepted by the government and military of Myanmar in order to help further that dialogue rather than shut it down by using the name "Rohingya."

The other aspect of it is bringing attention to the humanitarian crisis. The pope called on the international community to provide immediate material assistance he said to Bangladesh to help in this refugee crisis.

I was speaking with one of the directors of the camps there, he's from the community of Santa Judia (ph), which is a community in Rome that helps the Vatican with a lot of their charity outreach. He was telling me that they really do need to have more money put into it, that it is a drastic situation as of August with 600,000 more coming in.

Now what they are actually seeing, Isha, is that some Bangladeshis are coming as well to the camps because there is food there, there is health care there as well. They don't make the distinction obviously between who they're helping.

But the pope's trip here is really putting the international spotlight on that, all of the local papers this morning here in Dhaka are saying that the pope has come. And he's bringing international attention to the plight of refugees here.

SESAY: I know that the pope will meet with 18 Rohingya shortly.

What do we know of the meeting, the way it will be orchestrated, so to speak?

GALLAGHER: That meeting is taking place at the end of a larger meeting with religious leaders from different religions. There will be three families of Rohingya from Cox's Bazaar, which is the main area, main refugee camp here, 18 of them that will go up on stage and meet the pope after that meeting.

Presumably they will have time to have a little bit of private conversation with him. We are not expecting any public remarks from the pope. But you never know with Pope Francis. So we'll be watching closely -- Isha.

SESAY: You make the point that spokespeople have said the pope is focused on the long game here, when it comes to the Rohingya, and this is about laying the ground work, if you will, for ensuring talks here.

Is the Vatican giving any indication of what the pope will do once he leaves Bangladesh to keep this issue in the spotlight?

GALLAGHER: Clearly they're not under any illusion that the Vatican can solve the problem. What the pope generally does is bring international attention, call on the international community, by which he means the U.N. or perhaps other East Asian states here to come together and try to help resolve this politically.

Obviously the Vatican is involved diplomatically. They generally offer, you know, their kind of diplomatic help. But the best way they help, they think, is by letting the pope come here and speak about it from here.

So they think that is probably the best kind of political aid that they can give. Of course, by not closing down that dialogue, by not offending one of the main people that you need at the table, the terminology is really important when you want to have dialogue on any conflict.

So that's why we've seen the pope being so cautious with what he says -- Isha.

SESAY: Delia Gallagher, joining us there from Dhaka, Bangladesh always appreciate it, thank you so much, Delia.


VAUSE: Next on NEWSROOM L.A., reaction in the U.K. to the president's retweets of a British hate group. Now the calls are getting louder for that state visit by the president to be canceled.



SESAY: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Here's a check of the headlines.


VAUSE: Quentin Peel is an associate fellow with the British think tank Chatham House. He joins us now live from London.

Quentin, thank you for getting up early. I think we've all become a little bit desensitized to the U.S. president and these kinds of controversies.

So how would you describe the reaction there, not from the politicians but from the people in Britain?

QUENTIN PEEL, CHATHAM HOUSE: Well, it's really remarkable, actually, the way this has united the country right across the political spectrum in saying this was really a step too far. And I mean, to retweet these, these, videos, these anti-Muslim videos from a very extremist organization which has attracted attention to the organization.

And this, this -- its called Britain first. I mean, those were the words that the man shouted who assassinated a British member of parliament, Jo Cox, at the time of the Brexit referendum. This is really beyond the pale.

VAUSE: Theresa May hasn't had many wins lately. She has had none. Is it fair to say that Donald Trump actually may have given her her best day since she became prime minister?

PEEL: Well, she has been able to take a veryclear position. I mean, the use of that one word, this was wrong to retweet these videos. And she made that very clear.

[02:30:00] Having said that, she's still in a run of the difficult position because she stuck her neck out right at the beginning of her time as Donald Trump's time as President when she said we want you to come on a state visit. Everybody said it was premature. This was unwise. Now, she's stuck with the position that she's -- he's invited, he said yes. He's coming and she won't know how to get out of it. I think she's going to have to have him. And they could be huge demonstrations against him.

VAUSE: He says, chickens are coming home to roost on Air Force One. You know, Donald Trump it seems, does have at least one friend in Britain. The (INAUDIBLE) Leader of you know, the right-wing U.K. party, Nigel Farage. This is what he said about these retweets from the U.S. President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NIGEL FARAGE, LEADER, UK INDEPENDENCE PARTY: It is the President himself, that does his tweets. Somebody is saying, well, maybe somebody on the Trump team made a mistake. I don't believe that. I'm absolutely certain he does all his own himself. And yes, I do think these videos are in very bad taste and he has shown poor judgment.


VAUSE: OK, look, it was muted, you know, but it was criticism and l was quite surprised by that. Were you?

PEEL: Yes. But the truth is that Nigel Farage is part of the U.K. Independence Party is very anxious that it should not be seen as neo- Nazi or racist. So they actually have a rule, that anybody who's ever joined this Britain First Movement should be banned from joining their party. So they're very anxious to distance themselves from this sort of extremism.

VAUSE: Seems like a good policy. You know this retweet row, the general consensus is it will -- it's unlikely to have a lasting impact on the bigger U.K.-U.S. relationship. But what would happen if the Prime Minister actually did cancel Trump' state visit? It would make her very popular. Is it, likely to happen? You think that she just has to go through with this?

PEEL: I don't think. I think it will eventually go ahead. It is possible that, that Donald Trump himself might say, I don't want to be confronted by rowdy demonstrators on the streets of London. That does not suit me. I don't like that sort of thing and might cry off. But I think it will go ahead. The suggestion here at the moment is they might try and reduce it to a rather bland working visit where he comes I think it's February. The American Embassy here, the new embassy is due to be opened. He could come in February, cut the ribbon and disappear pretty fast. And they might try and get over it. So that's one suggestion.

VAUSE: Could they just leave it hanging, not set a date and just sort of you know, push it, a year on from now?

PEEL: Yes, a bit like what might happen with Brexit. So they constantly postponing the --

VAUSE: Kick it down the road a bit.

PEEL: Yes, does seem to be a way politicians behave these days. And that's certainly possible. But you've got rather a lot of big things coming up. I mean, look, you've got Prince Harry, and, Meghan Markle 's wedding coming up. That's just the sort uh thing that Donald Trump would like to attend.

VAUSE: But he probably won't be invited.

PEEL: Well that's the point, yes.

VAUSE: We'll see.

PEEL: We're back to the queen' dilemma.

VAUSE: Quentin, it's been -- it's been grand. Thank you so much. It's so good to see you. We really appreciate it.

PEEL: Thank you, bye-bye.

SESAY: Let's see if he get the invite?

VAUSE: I don't think he will.

SESAY: He hasn't tweeted the conversation yet.

VAUSE: Nothing. He tweeted about everything else. Not a word.

SESAY: Not a word.

VAUSE: Nada.

SESAY: Next on (INAUDIBLE). Matt Lauer is the latest celebrity out of a job and apologizing after allegations of sexual misconduct but top politicians facing similar accusations seemingly aren't going anywhere. Is there a double standard?

VAUSE: You bet there is.

SESAY: Rhetorical question.


[02:35:00] SESAY: Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey, the list goes on and is growing ever longer. All once powerful men in entertainment and media brought done by allegations of sexual misconduct.

VAUSE: And over on -- in the political arena rather, it's different scenario. Roy Moore, Senator Al Franken, Congressman John Conyers and President Donald Trump, they've all faced allegations of sexual misconduct but either running for political office or still clinging to it with both hands. So why the rules are different for politicians? Cyril Vanier takes a closer look.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Congressman Conyers should resign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just to clarify. You did just call for Conyers to resign.

PELOSI: I said he should resign.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Only a few days ago, Nancy Pelosi refused to say those words. The leading Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives gave John Conyers, a fellow Democrat and the oldest serving member of the House a benefit of the doubt despite multiple accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment. PELOSI: Just because someone is accused, and, was it one accusation,

is it two, I think there has to be -- John Conyers is an icon in our country.

VANIER: But with the accusations mounting and the political cost of supporting Conyers' rising, Pelosi distanced herself shining a light on the uncomfortable choices facing Democrats and Republican alike as accusations against their members pile up. Al Franken, a Democratic Senator has been accused of groping by multiple women and forcibly kissing a former colleague. There's even this picture. His response contrite that he's not stepping down.

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: I have a long way back to win back the trust of the people of Minnesota. I have let the people down.

VANIER: On the Republican side, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is not bowing out of the race despite accusations of child molestation.

ROY MOORE, GOP SENATE CANDIDATE, ALABAMA: The truth is this is not really odd at all. This is simply dirty politics.

VANIER: And of course, there is Donald Trump himself. Elected President after 12 women accused him of sexual misconduct. Allegations against U.S. politicians have been both humorous and detailed. Yet so far, there has been little measurable consequence. This stands in stark contrast with the private sector where similar allegations have ended careers in a matter of hours. In the media, U.S. Anchors Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose are out. In entertainment, Pixar's John Lasseter has stepped down. And music mogul Russell Simmons is gone. All in the last few days. Prompting the question, how long will elected officials be able to hold themselves to a different standard? Cyril Vanier, CNN.

SESAY: Well, Rebecca Ruiz is a Gender and Equality Reporter for Mashable. She joins us now from San Francisco, California. Rebecca, welcome. You wrote great piece for (INAUDIBLE) entitled Matt Lauer is What Happens When Men Who Are Terrible to Women are Given Every Benefit of the Doubt. In the piece, you describe how journalists like Lauer have monetized to great gain the appearance of being unimpeachable news authority. And you go on to say this, we're going to put it on the screen. They have operated in the system that handsomely rewards the perception of objectivity which is perversely both something that men feel they are the arbiters of and something that only men of certain background can claim. I guess my question now is what type of background are you referring to?

REBECCA RUIZ, WRITER, MASHABLE: Sure, I think that's a terrific question. I hope that's a conversation that we continue to have about objectivity, especially in journalism. And what I mean by that is that typically we often think that you have to have a certain background or certain point of view which is neutral or that you see the both side of every argument.

[02:40:04] And while that is an important trait to have in being fair and being honest about your views, and the way that they might affect the things that you see, I don't think anyone is truly objective. And yet men often especially white men can come at either audiences and come at their bosses insisting that they have no stake in the game, that they can be completely removed from everything that's going on.

SESAY: And with that -- with that sense of entitlement if you've will, which is supported by the surrounding culture, you get moments like this. I want to play this for you, Rebecca. This moment with Matt Lauer and the Actress Anne Hathaway.


MATT LAUER, FORMER HOST, NBC: Anne Hathaway, good morning. Nice to see you.

ANNE HATHAWAY, ACTRESS: Good morning Matt.

LAUER: I've seen a lot of you lately.

HATHAWAY: Sorry about that.

LAUER: You were --

HATHAWAY: I'd be happy to stay home but the film.

LAUER: Let's just get it out of the way. You had a wardrobe malfunction the other night. What's the lesson learned from something like that other than that you keep smiling which you always do?



SESAY: I mean, Rebecca, to see it now, it's shocking. And I mean, it was shocking then but people just didn't grasp it and put it in this proper context. I mean, the kind of abhorrent behavior Matt Lauer is accused of carrying out in private was clearly bleeding into his public professional life. And according to the experts, you cite in your piece that's not surprising.

RUIZ: That's exactly right. I think as the expert I talked to, the psychologist I talked to said it's impossible to keep a facade up between what your private behavior is, such as what Matt Lauer was -- is accused of doing, and into the workplace, behind the camera, when he is off camera, and when he's interviewing women. And not interviewing itself is -- I mean, I am cringing just listening to it. I've already watched it but even listening to it again makes me cringe because there are elements of shaming. Anne Hathaway making a joke of it and you can tell she feels compelled to sort of apologies. And yes, it's true. It's awful to watch now knowing what we know.

SESAY: What do you make of the fact that in the case of Matt Lauer and of course Charlie Rose, you know, these men swept out of their respective network leaving the female co-host to be the face of the cleanup to mend the bridges between the networks and their audiences which are principally female at that time of day.

RUIZ: I think if we're honest, it's a savvy move by those in charge. And I can't ascribe anything to their motivation, it's only a guess, to be able to put a softer, you know, characteristically, softer face on the fallout. It makes sense from a commercial point of view. It's obviously and I've heard from other women that it's upsetting to see them have to you know, clean up that mess.

SESAY: So, Lauer went Tuesday night. The world found out Wednesday. And as we processed the unseemly allegations involving the Today Show host, Fox News Host, Geraldo Rivera tweeted this. Let's share this with our viewers. "Matt Lauer, great guy, highly skilled and empathetic with guests and a real gentleman to my family and me. News is a flirty business and it seems like a current epidemic of sexual harassment allegations, maybe criminalizing courtship and conflating it with predation. What about #GarrisonKeillor?" But he doesn't done, Rebecca, there was more. "Sexual harassment allegation should require one, made in the timely fashion-say within five years. Two, some contemporaneous corroboration, like witnesses, electronic or written communications. With money settlements in multi-millions slight chance exists some victims are motivated by more than justice." Rebecca?

You read those and my take away was A, Geraldo Rivera thinks women are stupid and counsel the difference between courtship and predation. And there's nothing in the accounts alleging Lauer's behavior that would be ascribed to courtship. And B, that he thinks greed is motivating women who speak out. So his view is let's make it difficult for them to speak. What is your takeaway?

RUIZ: My takeaway, I'm not going to listen seriously to anything Geraldo Riviera has to say about how we should treat victims of sexual harassment or assault. I think it as simple as the that particularly given that as we've been reminded in the past 24 hours. Bette Midler, the Actress accused him of groping her I believe in the 70s. So I don't really think that, Geraldo Riviera is who we should be looking to in this moment for guidance and wisdom about how we should be handling these cases.

SESAY: I think it's a very good point. I think the question is, is the representative of a viewpoint among men rather than listen to his specific recommendations. Rebecca Ruiz, a pleasure to speak to you. We (INAUDIBLE) speak to us soon. Thank you.

RUIZ: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well next here on NEWSROOM L.A. Prince Harry, he was one of most eligible bachelor in the world. But those who know his fiance, Meghan Markle say he is the one who's marrying her.


[02:46:36] VAUSE: Well, it doesn't seem like it's a coincident that Britain's Prince Harry and his new fiancee Megan Markle will make their first joint public appearance on World AIDS Day. We've been following the footsteps of Harry's mother, the Princess Diana. She spent much of her life in charities (INAUDIBLE) and her embrace of patients with HIV changed attitudes around the world. SESAY: Well, on Friday the royal couple will visit a number of charities in North England's East Midland to join a celebration of World AIDS Day to bringing attention to the disease.

VAUSE: And it's Prince Harry's humanitarian work which Megan Markle says she found most attractive.

SESAY: As an accomplished actor and philanthropist, Markle herself is no shrinking violence. Stephanie Elam takes a look at her roots.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The spotlight on Megan Markle was already hot. Now it's intense after her engagement to Prince Harry.

MEGHAN MARKLE, AMERICAN ACTRESS: Yes. As a matter of fact, I could barely let you finish proposing. Can I say yes now?

HENRY CHARLES ALBERT DAVID, PRINCE OF WALES: She didn't even let me finish.

ELAM: But Markle, a Hollywood native is no stranger to attention.

MARKLE: Why would you do something like that in the first place?

ELAM: A regular on USA Network's series Suits, she grew up around television. Her father worked on the hit T.V. show, Married With Children. Markle often visited the set telling esquire it was "a really funny and perverse place for a little girl in a Catholic school uniform to grow up. The all-girl school behind that uniform Immaculate Heart nestled on the Hollywood hillside. How many of you plan on getting up in the middle of the night in May to watch the wedding? What do you think?


ELAM: The students here are thrilled that one of their own is now making her mark internationally.

BECKY DOYLE, IMMACULATE HEART SENIOR: It's just super cool that she came from here like L.A. and just spread out all over the place. And, you know, who doesn't love a good love story?

MARIA POLIA, IMMACULATE HEART TEACHER: My first reaction was he is so fortunate to have found her.

ELAM: Markle's former teachers say she was a standout on stage and in the classroom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A person like that who isn't just beautiful and smart and an actress but has this depth. That's what Prince Harry saw in her.

ELAM: At an early age Markle yearned to help others. She volunteered on L.A. Skid Row at just 13 scared but determine, she turned to a teacher for advice on how to do it. Markle said in Harper's Bazaar, "I remember one of my mentors, Mrs. Maria Polia told me that life is about putting other's need above your own fears. That has always stayed with me.

POLIA: That has helped her is -- to do the great things that she has been doing and will continue to do. It's immensely humbling but it also demonstrates the kind of heart that she has.

ELAM: After high school, Markle left L.A. for Northwestern University outside Chicago.

HARVEY YOUNG, CHAIR, NORTHWESTERN THEATER DEPARTMENT: There is a presence, you know, that make you aware of this person as being smart, intelligent, hardworking, decent to succeed.

ELAM: Professor Harvey Young recalls Markle embracing her biracial roots. Speaking openly during his class on Contemporary Black Theater in 2003.

YOUNG: And that stand out. You know, the fact that she's a person who was willing to reflect upon her experiences and to share that perspective of the life that she lived.

ELAM: After graduating, Markle remained focused on human rights and women's rights.

MARKLE: This has to change.

ELAM: A topic she addressed before the United Nations in 2015.

MARKLE: Women need a seat at the table. They need an invitation to be seated there. And in some cases where this isn't available, well then, you know what, then they need to create their own table.

[02:50:10] ELAM: Philanthropy is one thing the royal couple says drew them together. Now they shared the scrutiny of a worldwide press. Harry (INAUDIBLE) typing British tabloids for racially charged headlines about Markle grew up. In reality, this is Markle's family home, in a desired historically black neighborhood in L.A. What do you want to see the most?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her personality.

ELAM: Hometown excitement of a local girl turned star now getting the royal treatment. Stephanie Elam, CNN Hollywood.


VAUSE: As long as they've been making films in Hollywood, they have been whitewashing as well like in the 1930s when a Swedish-American Warner Oland was cast who else as Detective Charlie Chan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Pop come here quick. Hurry up. Hurry up. Right down there. Look. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: NC23R. Undoubtedly missing plane. Go to the nearest telephone and notify (INAUDIBLE)



VAUSE: And he got lots of roles. In 1945, Rex Harrison playing at (INAUDIBLE) his role in Anna and the King of Siam.


REX HARRISON, ENGLISH ACTOR: You do not look like scientific person for teaching of school. How old shall you be?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am 150 years old, your majesty.


VAUSE: Oh, that was awesome. OK. But this is -- this is by far the most horrendous of them all. Legendary actor Laurence Olivier playing Othello in the 1965 movie. He did it in blackface.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your wife, my lord. Your true and loyal wife.

OLIVIER: Cut, spirit (INAUDIBLE) being like one of devils themselves should fear to (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, heaven does truly know it.

OLIVIER: Heaven truly knows that thou art false as hell.


VAUSE: And no one said a word. The old time said, oh, it's adventurous because it was black instead of brown. OK. They're among the most egregious examples but racially insensitive casting actually continues to this day. It's a little more subtle, it's a little more nuanced but it keeps going. I mean, now in what has been through a major breakthrough, a major breakthrough. Disney cast, a Chinese actress, Liu Yifei also known as Crystal Liu In the lead role of a Chinese heroine Mulan in the live action movie based on the Chinese legend. OK. There's a trend here. Rebecca Sun broke the story from The Hollywood Reporters. She is with us now here in Los Angeles. Oh my god, it was just horrendous (INAUDIBLE) OK. Stay with me on this. OK. So we have Chinese actor, Chinese role, Chinese story. This seems to be pretty obvious but somehow, you know, this is like Disney went all out on this, that is like a big deal?

REBECCA SUN, SENIOR REPORTER, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Yes. I mean, this is definitely I guess a triumph, a victory.

VAUSE: Thank you.


SUN: Yes. I know. And Disney to their credit where they were very adamant. Not only about casting an Asian actor in this case but they were -- they were like she has to be ethnically Chinese. This is such a classic legend, this is a --- you know, we all know it from the 1998 cartoon.


SUN: But this is a pretty beloved folktale from China. And so they really, really definitely did have to get it right.

VAUSE: So that's why everyone sort of breathing and sighing of relief. It's like, oh, thank god they didn't like cast Angelina Jolie or something.

SUN: Well, you know, it's funny because some of the immediate snarky Twitter reactions were like, oh, Scarlet Johansson unavailable, Emma Stone busy, you know, so, it's an history.

VAUSE: Adding to that, there was this petition, more than 100,000 people signed it demanding the lead rule in Mulan, was it whitewashed? OK. Look, the fact that Disney listen to this kind of topic is notable. But how much of this decision based on, you know, doing the right thing and finding the right actress and how much is it based on the decision to appeal to the Chinese market which is booming and getting bigger and the revenue just continues to increase year on year?

SUN: Yes. I think definitely both. You know, I've had conversations with the studio where they were definitely very concerned with the public perception. They didn't want to get slammed the way that Paramount was slammed for Ghost in the Shell, you know, doing a Japanese anime starting Scarlet Johansson. You know, nowadays with the social media climate, there is a lot of really bad publicity you can get. However, in this case, yes, the Chinese market, they want Mulan to be a success in China and that's one of the reasons why they tapped Liu Yifei who is one of the brightest current stars there now.

VAUSE: What about the man lead, Matt Damon available for that?

SUN: Yes, yes. Hopefully, it'd be, you know, not quite right. Age rise as well ethnically, but, you know, there was an original script for Mulan that the cause of controversy last year that did feature a white male lead.

[02:55:03] That quickly got slapped down. Disney said that they will have all of the lead characters will be Chinese.

VAUSE: OK. But some of the -- some of the forums out there on social media. Chinese movie-goers, they're not that impressed with Liu. Here is some of the reaction. Oh, Disney, you fail. She is the most famous box office poison in China and sucks in acting. Liu Yifei is bad but it could have been worse. I actually found this very encouraging because they're talking about her ability as an actor. Not by getting into the racial issue. So, it's a -- I feel like the conversation is going forward.

SUN: Yes. I mean, I think that -- so, Chinese netizens, that's what they call like --they make American --


SUN: It's like one billion people. So, you know, you're going to get reactions from all kind of (INAUDIBLE) but I do think that they would have had a problem if they didn't cast anybody Chinese.

VAUSE: Right.

SUN: In this role specifically.

VAUSE: We should say that there has been some positive, you know, remarks about the taping cast in this role. She's got a pretty good resume in China already and that was one of the reasons why Disney went with her.

SUN: Yes. She's really popular in China. I mean, although everybody has detractors. I mean, she has --

VAUSE: Especially in China.

SUN: Especially in China. But she's got the luxury brand partnerships. So she's a popular spokesmodel. The other crucial thing is she English. So Mulan, the live action film will be in English. And so she was one of the actors -- I mean, Disney looked 1000 candidates.

VAUSE: In a lot of places.

SUN: In a lot of places, all over the world. And she speaks fluent English. She's done -- she did a Jackie Chan, Jet Li movie about 10 years ago where she acted in English. So she can do it.

VAUSE: You know what. Take what you can get.

SUN: We'll take it. One step at a time.

VAUSE: Rebecca, good to sigh you. Thanks for coming in. Let's see Lawrence Olivier again.


VAUSE: This is just unbelievable. This is 1965 and --

SESAY: He looks like the Hulk.

VAUSE: Yes. He looks like the creature from the black lagoon or something. And the common thread in all of these soon movies over the years up until sort of very recent point in time, they called a good review.

SESAY: I know. I know. And the notion that actual people from that community could play those roles.


SESAY: You know.


SESAY: Yes. It's a lot and it's not good. But you have been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Stay with CNN. A lot more news right after this.