Return to Transcripts main page
Ali Abdullah Salehi, Former Yemen President, Killed In Sanaa; Environmental Groups Angry Over Trump Decision; Australian MP Proposed To Same-Sex Partner In Parliament. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired December 5, 2017 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN HOST: This is CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour.
ISHA SESAY, CNN HOST: Going where no U.S. president has gone before despite pleas from allies and Middle East leaders, Donald Trump may soon announce that U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
VAUSE: The former president of Yemen shot dead by Houthi rebels as mayhem sweeps the capital Sanaa.
SESAY: And, running out of room for refugees in Bangladesh, some Myanmar authorities try to rewrite history and claim the Rohingya never even existed in that country. Hello, welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Welcome to the third hour of Newsroom L.A. The U.S. president is widely expected to make good on a controversial campaign promise even though key U.S. allies are saying don't.
SESAY: As soon as Tuesday he's expected to announce that the U.S. is recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and that he's moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Now, this would be a politically seismic move. Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital.
VAUSE: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey all warning this could harm fledgling (ph) peace efforts and they're urging Washington to hold off but not Jerusalem's mayor who took his message to the White House, out side the White House on Monday.
NIR BARKAT, MAYOR OF JERUSALEM: In Jerusalem, we don't care if the pressure and we don't let threats or violence stop us from doing what is right. President Trump, I encourage you to do the right thing. Recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and bring the U.S. embassy home to Jerusalem.
VAUSE: Well, joining us now CNN Political Commentator Democratic Strategist Dave Jacobson and Republican Consultant John Thomas. Dave, it seems on the surface at least the president could be giving away major leverage here with the Israeli's here if he does move the embassy or if he declares Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
The only possible exception to this would be if there is some sort of secret diplomatic negotiation underway that we don't know about given that White House advisor and son in law Jared Kushner is charge of that sitting (ph) at the Mid East peace efforts it's seems pretty unlikely it's the case right?
DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think you're right. And, Jared Kushner gave a presentation with Haim Saban who's a prominent American who supports Israel obviously and they were talking about the Middle East peace process. Look, it's clear that the president wants to deliver on this campaign promise because he hasn't delivered on much else in terms of what he campaigned on.
The wall, infrastructure bill, a range of other issues and his tax bill, by the way is the hand out to corporation to the establishment not to hard working families.
JACOBSON: But anyway, since let me get back to Israel, like at the end of the day this could be some sort of negotiation tactic that the president's executing on. But at the end of the day he's going to need his allies as part of the peace process and when you're alienating France or Saudi Arabia, that's going to be a big issue.
VAUSE: John, is the president looking to take boxes before the end of the year? He made his campaign promise. You know, Congress passed this lawmaker 9095 which requires the U.S. embassy to move to Jerusalem but there was a six month waiver which Donald Trump signed when it first came up.
So, he actually doesn't have to do anything here, he just has to sit on his hands and he can say to his base, did it (ph).
JOHN THOMAS, REBPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: But he's walked in back in the sense of we were expecting this announcement a couple of days ago and now he's saying - advisors are saying it may come anytime but he is buying himself a little bit of time to figure out the ramifications here. But there's no doubt he campaigned on it. He's under immense pressure from not just his donors but remember he ran on being pro- Israel.
And so, he's saying how can I show the fact the United States truly stands with Israel versus other administration that more talk about it. But, you're right. It does remove a key piece of leverage in the Mid East peace talks that Jared Kushner is supposed to be hitting up.
JACOBSON: Well, that's the big issue, right, perhaps it eliminates the idea that there is no pathway to peace. And so, this is the only thing that he can actually do in terms of like achieving some sort of deliverable.
VAUSE: OK. I think the way it (ph) came up December 1 which was a Friday and because there's some leeway in how long the president actually has to sign that. But, there is obviously another issue for Donald Trump, it's the accused child molester in Alabama Roy Moore who's running for the Senate seat there. It is now official, the president is backing the accused pedophile.
He - Roy Moore tweeted this out a short time ago, "Go get em, Roy, President Trump. Just got off the phone with President Trump who offered his full support, and said he needs a fighter to help him in the U.S. Senate. "I look forward to fighting along side the president and make America great again.
OK, a little over three weeks ago the Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, he actually found a spine when it came to watching it with (ph) Roy Moore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roy Moore is very unpredicting (ph). I said that with that (inaudible).
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY): I did. I think he should step aside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or do you believe these allegations to be true?
MCCONNELL: I believe the women, yes.
VAUSE: But it didn't last long. Over the weekend, he lost his fight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that judge Moore should be in the Senate?
MCCONNELL: I'm going to let the people of Alabama make the call where this election has been going on a long time. They've got a lot of discussion about it. They're going to make the decision a week from Tuesday.
VAUSE: So, John, we're back to letting the voters decide. Moore's in, right? No matter what happens it looks like he will (inaudible) if he wins this election.
THOMAS: Well, not - yes, not necessarily. It looks like he's favored to won the electorate. It looks like enough republicans are coming back home to get him across the finish line. I think he's at 49 percent right now.
VAUSE: He's two points behind Doug Jones.
THOMAS: But remember, he was saying a port by price (ph), a standard, generic republican should be 20 points ahead right now -
VAUSE: Right. THOMAS: - in a red state of Alabama, so the fact that it's even a wobbler is interesting. But yes, what's more remarkable is if Roy does get elected, and it does look like he will, the Senate may not oust this guy -
THOMAS: - which poses a huge brand challenge for republicans going into (inaudible).
VAUSE: And the Republican National Committee is back in Alabama spending money supporting Moore.
THOMAS: Well, but they tend to follow the frenzy, so -
VAUSE: Yes, exactly. Everyone's following the frenzy. (ph). OK, Billy Bush, Donald Trump's partner in crime on the infamous access Hollywood "Grab Them By the" tape. He wrote a compelling OPID in New York Times over the weekend. He repeated (ph) a short time ago on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He told Stephen Colbert why he is speaking out at this point in time.
BILLY BUSH: He, last week, for some reason came out with "that's not my voice on the tape." Like I said, you can't say that. That is your voice, I was there, you were there. That's your voice on the tape.
VAUSE: And Dave, so if Donald Trump actually hadn't come out and said "I don't think that's my voice," we wouldn't be talking about this right now.
JACOBSON: Precisely. I mean Donald Trump, this is another example of him being divorced from reality. Period. This is a guy who lies, who misleads the American people on a daily basis, and it's disheartening for our country and it's dangerous for our country frankly when we're -
THOMAS: Well that was on background, so we're not entirely sure that he said it.
VAUSE: Right, sure. Very quickly, Rachel Crooks who is one of the accusers of President Trump, accused him of sexual harassment. Here's what she said.
We're forgotten by politician who think it's more convenient to keep Trump in office and have him just sweeping his in discussions under the rug. I think we're forgotten by the people who want to party above all else, and that's sad because this should be bigger than politics.
(END VIDEOCLIP) VAUSE: And John, finally to you. We're almost out of time. Everything she says is valid, and it's happening on both sides of the aisle. It's not just republicans (ph).
THOMAS: Yes, I couldn't tell if she was talking about Nancy Pelosi or President Trump -
THOMAS: - but you're right. I mean certainly you're seeing on both sides of the aisle. I think democrats are pushing some of these folks like out of the way only after they call them icons and undergo - and Al Franken is still there groping his way through the Senate.
VAUSE: OK, Dave and John, thank you both. Good to see you.
THOMAS: Thank you.
VAUSE: OK, there are new details in the Russia investigation, namely what President Trump knew about his former National Security Advisor's light, and more importantly when he knew. Sources told CNN the White House Chief Lawyer told the president, January, Michael Flynn had misled the vice president and the FBI about a meeting with the Russian official and that Flynn should be fired, but Trump still kept Flynn on the job until mid-February.
Jessica Levinson joins us now. She's a professor of law and governance at Loyola Law School. Jessica, thank you for being with us. A lot of this now goes back to the allegation of if the president's guilty of obstruction of justice here, but his lawyers come up with this new defense. John Dowd told Axios this, "the president cannot obstruct justice because he is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer under the Constitution's Article II, has every right to express his view of any case."
So this is basically about Trump asking the former FBI Director, James Comey, to drop the investigation, go easy on Flynn. Does Dowd's logic actually hold any water here?
JESSICA LEVINSON: In a word, no. So there's a couple things we need to unpack. The president is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer and he can express his opinions on cases, but he can't do so illegally and he still can't engage in obstruction of justice. So the statement is a little vague, but what it comes down to is potentially two different things. On the one hand, is he saying the President can't obstruct justice period, just as a structural matter in the constitution and that clearly cannot be the case because of a single phrase we all know, which is no man including the President is above the law.
Now, he may separately, more specifically be saying, this President in this case can't be obstructing justice because he has the power to hire and fire the FBI Director and he has the power to say, I think you should pump the breaks on this investigation.
That is also true but notify it means you're obstructing justice. Ad so if he said with a corrupt intent to James Comey, I really think you should have stopped this investigation, then we have a problem. If you think about kind of take in to its logical extreme, how could this statement be true? Just because the president has the authority, let's say to tell people to create deal.
He doesn't have the authority to say I think you shouldn't engage in bribery. So to answer your question in a world, no, that cannot be the case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, charging someone with obstruction of justice and getting a conviction is extremely difficult so this will probably come down to a political question of where there is a basis for impeachment like it was for Bill Clinton back in 1998, had he went on trial in 1999. Here's what the now leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell sad during Clinton's trail.
I am completely and utterly perplexed by those who argue that perjury and obstruction of justice are not high crimes and misdemeanors. Will those word come back to haunt Senator McConnell?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, the department of irony is close because they just have too any complaints right now. And so, look, it's not just Mitch McConnell who has these problems where there's a statement that comes back to haunt him.
But I think it's important that President Clinton and President Nixon, if he were alive would be hugely surprised by the idea that the President cannot be subject t obstruction of justice charges because of course, the both famously did have impeachment proceedings ran up against them and part of the charges were obstruction of justice.
Now, Mitch McConnell seems in many ways to be wearing a Teflon suit and so I'm not sure exactly what coming back to haunt him means but he is clearly on the record as saying this is a high crime and misdemeanor. We all know, as you said, that impeachment is really a political calculus and I think despite everything we've been taking about, we have not nearly reached that threshold of looking and drawing up articles of impeachment when it comes to the makeup of this House and the Senate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And just as another note, I think the department of irony was burned to the ground about six months ago, Jessica (ph), thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is fair enough, thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, a political gamble for Yemen's former strongman leader proves fatal and the fate of millions of civilians is now in question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Houthi rebels killed former President Ali Abdullah Saleh as he tried to flea the fighting in the capital of Sanaa on Monday. He supported the Houthis in 2014, switched sides over the weekend, calling on Saudi Arabia and its allies to end the war. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: While the video showing Saleh's lifeless body appeared on social media and we must warn you, the image is disturbing. Saleh once compared governing Yemen to dancing on the heads of snakes and he managed to do that for more than three decades. We'll fall more on all of this, Ben Wedeman joins us now from Beirut.
So, Ben, Ali Abdullah Saleh killed by his one time allies. How does this affect the calculus of this conflict?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN REPORTER: Well it really it sort of makes it all the more intractable at this point. Now, the Saudi led coalition which is opposed the Houthis and was opposed to Saleh before he switched sides, had hoped that when you had this dramatic split between Saleh and the Houthis that this would open the door for some sort of breakthrough in their war against their enemies in Yemen.
But what we saw was that the Houthis, after initial surprised that Saleh decided that he wanted tot urn a new page and become all cozy with the Saudi led coalition. They acted quickly, regained much of the territory in Sanna itself, that the Sanna and loyalist were able to take. And just after two days were able to kill Saleh and suddenly the Saudi hopes for some sort of breakthrough have been dashed.
Now, they have a rather stark choice. Either they're going to the Saudis and their Golf allies are going to have to redouble the military effort to defeat the Houthis who they've underestimated yet again or they're going to have to somehow come to the table with them, come to some sort of peaceful solution but a we've seen in the past, the Saudi crowned price, Mohammad bin Salman acts rather rashly in these situations and may go for the former option which means more death in a country that's seen more than 10,000 people killed in the violence and perhaps as many killed by starvation, disease and malnutrition in this conflict that's been going on since March of 2015.
AMANPOUR: Yes, that's right. Seven million people -- seven million people on the brink of famine. Ben Williamman (ph) joining us there from Beirut. Thank you so much for the insight. Appreciate it. And joining us now from Istanbul is Tawakkol Karman. She's a journalist, human rights activist and politician who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, the first Yemeni to win the award.
She's known as the mother of the revolution and is a member of the Nobel Women's Initiative. This is a group united to increase the visibility of women working for peace, justice and equality throughout the world. Tawakkol thank you so much for joining us.
TAWAKKOL KARMAN, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST, NOBEL WOMEN'S INITIATIVE: Thank you, (inaudible). Thank you for telling me to be with you. (ph)
AMANPOUR: No, well we're (ph) grateful you were able to join us. Tell me, what does the killing of Ali Abdullah Saleh mean for this long-running conflict?
KARMAN: Really, it's a tragedy. Really didn't wish this end for him. We made a great peaceful revolution, struggling peacefully against him, forcing him to live docility (ph) peacefully. We give him immunity with billions of dollars he's stolen from our country during his 33 years of ruling our country. But unfortunately, he made alliance with the militia of al-Houthi and he lead coup against the religious dignitary (ph) authority and against transitional period.
And yes, unfortunately, he used to dance with the snakes and now he been killed by the snakes. And this a -- it's a tragedy, really. But now, the question -- the most important question now, what is next after Ali Abdullah Saleh's death (ph) what Yemeni should do. It's a new era for Yemeni to do something, to stop war, to stop the coup. So here, from CNN, I call that we all Yemeni should united enough to stop this war and also to stop the coup lead by the militia of al-Houthi and former president, Ali Ali son. (ph)
I call now -- we need, really, the GPC, which is the part of the ousted president (ph) Ali Saleh. They have to be national party, national party that have a national agenda, a national program, not be inherit by the -- by the family of Ali Abdullah Saleh, not following the agenda of Ali Abdullah Saleh. This is the third thing that we need after the death of Ali Abdullah Saleh. And there is two things that is very, very important that we need now for negotiating.
We need for dialogue with all Yemeni people.
AMANPOUR: But do you...
KARMAN: They have to do it together, they have to -- yes?
AMANPOUR: No, I just want -- and I understand that what one hopes is that with Saleh out of the picture, that there's a road to peace, there's a road to the negotiating table. That is your hope. But do you see either side, whether it's the Houthis or the Saudi-led coalition, do you see them being willing to compromise and come to the table to make a deal, Tawakkol?
KARMAN: It's very important to do that. For Houthis, they have now to be convinced that they should throw their weapons, they should hand over their weapons within a process that will withdraw all the weapons for all -- from all the groups, the militia, from all the arm -- armed groups (ph) and making the state to be the only body that's on the -- there will be -- that is very important for the peace in Yemen.
And also, there -- it's very important for our (inaudible), for our (inaudible) government, for all Yemeni parties to open the dialogue, to make this -- the door open, to don't close it. So it's very important now to make some kind of transitional justice, some kind of dialogue with all Yemenis.
KARMAN: This is -- this is -- (inaudible) you know, the Houthis. But what we -- what -- what is -- what is the beauty of Saudi and emirates (ph) that now that they lead the coalition in Yemen, there's a very important thing that they should do. They should stop, you know, the war. They should -- we have now -- Asia (ph), we have now more than 70 percent of the liberated land. It's under the control of Saudi and Emirates. They have, if they are really supported our (legitimate) President, they have to allow him to return to the temporary (inaudible). They have to leave the islands because the airports they (could buy). They have also (inaudible)
SESAY: Well, let me ask you that.
KARMAN: ...human to...
SESAY: So let me ask you, as talk about the humanitarian situation, I know you know how bad it is. More than 100 children a day dying. Water, health, sanitation facilities all destroyed, decimated. You're speaking to people in Yemen, what are the telling you about life? How they're coping, the decisions they have to make very single day?
KARMAN: It's a catastrophe. It's really the most -- it's the worst human experience right in the world. Yemeni people now live in the big prison. Yemeni people suffering everyday from death, every day from hunger, from famine, from lack of education, from lack of access to water, access to (inaudible), Yemeni people is suffering from the whole (inaudible) against Yemen in the air, in the land, in the sea, it is a -- this will -- because of the Saudi Emirates coalition from one side and from other side it's from militia forces that supported from Iran.
Most of them, they are putting Yemeni people and it's a big, big prison. So, they have to stop the war and the international community should do something for Yemeni people. Yemen is a (focusing) land now, should still be (war) and now -- yes, they can do a lot but unfortunately they focus Yemen, they be silent, they keep silent against all the crimes that happen here, all the violation, all the hunger, all the humanitarian crisis (inaudible) community, security counsel...
SESAY: They need to do more.
KARMAN: ... they should do more for Yemen people.
SESAY: Tawakkol Karman, thank you so much. As I hear it in your voice, your Yemen, I cant' image what it is like to see your country go through this moment. Thank you for speaking to CNN, thank you for shining a light on what is happening in Yemen. We appreciate it.
KARMAN: Thank you so much.
VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, wheels of diplomacy continue to turn and try and solve a North Korean crisis with a rare visit to Pyongyang by a senior U.N. official. At the same time though, a powerful display of military might with U.S. sending some of it's most advanced fighter planes to hold war games with South Korea.
SESAY: Plus, an exclusive look into what it took to save a North Korean defector who was shot five times as he fled.
(COMMERICAL BREAK) VAUSE: Well a senior U.N. official will visit North Korea for the first time in more than six years. It's still unclear though if he'll actually met with leader, Kim Jong-un. UN political affairs chief, Jeffrey Feltman who is from the United States was invited by North Korea to speak with senior government officials. (Just) a few hours ago arriving in Beijing heading off to Pyongyang.
SESAY: Meanwhile the US and South Korea are practicing how to attack the north if it ever comes to that. The US sent some of its most powerful war planes to join the annual drills on the Korean Peninsula. That includes stealth fighter jets which could be key to any potential military strike.
VAUSE: And North Korea's latest defector, a young soldier is in the focus of international attention after a death defying escape to South Korea. He was shot several times as he fled across the border and medical teams worked for days to try and save his life.
SESAY: Well CNN was given exclusive access to the video of what unfolded in the operating room with the permission of the solider. We warn you some of these images may be disturbing to you. CNN's Paula Newton has the story.
PAULA NEWTON: You are watching the U.S. Blackhawk chopper touchdown as a South Korean trauma team gears up to save the life of Oh Chong Song. This is an exclusive look at the harrowing efforts to save a North Korean defector shot five times as he escaped over the DMZ, already bleeding out he is turning blue and having trouble breathing.
DR. LEE COOK-JONG: Mr. Oh was here, right here as where.
NEWTON: He is now in the protective care of trauma surgeon, Dr. Lee Cook-Jong. He takes us through his crucial medical mission, minute by precious minute. And at this point he had already lost more than half his blood.
LEE: Much more, much more because yes ma'am. His vital signs were so unstable, he was dying of low blood pressure; he was dying of shock.
NEWTON: I'm watching all the transfusions of blood; one, two, three.
LEE: Yes that's right.
NEWTON: Utterly composed and deliberate, Dr. Lee shows us a 30-minute epic effort to keep Mr. Oh breathing. Something he can see on any given day in Dr. Lee's state-of-the art trauma bay. It's the key to Mr. Oh's miraculous survival.
LEE: As you can see here, we have been doing this kind of job every single day.
NEWTON: Mr. Oh stabilizes; he's ready for the next battle of grueling five-hour surgery. Dr. Lee is methodical dealing with bullet holes and an intestinal system dangerously riddled with open wounds. The American-trained trauma specialist is ready for that, but not this. Parasites, worms squirm out of Mr. Oh's body, a sign of severe malnutrition.
LEE: After the operation, he was transferred here. This is --
NEWTON: For Mr. Oh the nightmare isn't over. Dr. Lee says he was terrified when he woke afraid he was still in North Korea.
LEE: He actually asked me is it really South Korea or something, so I actually answered him back hey; have a look at that flag.
2NEWTON: And he knew immediately he was safe.
LEE: Yes ma'am.
NEWTON: The North Korean defector remains somewhere in this hospital under heavy security. Dr. Lee is very protective right now; he won't even let the South Korean government speak to him fearing it will compromise his recovery. You obviously have a fondest for him, you like him.
LEE: Yes ma'am, yes ma'am, oh yes I'm really proud of him because he fled from North Korea to -- seeking for liberty and much more freedom.
NEWTON: From his daring escape, to the airlift, to the trauma and surgeries, Mr. Oh's survival is stunning by any measure. He's still got a long road to recovery, at least now he's walking, talking and free, his luck landing him in a place that seems ready and waiting to give him a whole new life. Paula Newton CNN Ajou University Trauma Center South Korea.
SESAY: Just remarkable, shot five times.
VAUSE: Yes, he weighs 135 pounds and he's 5 foot 5 tall so -- and with everything else that he went through, very determined.
SESAY: Very much so. Still to come, Myanmar stands accused of trying to rewrite history and erase the existence of the Rohingya.
[02:32:11] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour. Houthi rebels killed Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Monday. He was trying to flee the Capital Sana'a rather. Two days earlier he ended his alliance with Iranian backed Houthis and warm Yemen has put the country on the brink of famine and displaced more than two million people.
VAUSE: Brexit negotiators failed to reach a deal on Monday on the future of the Irish border, a major sticking point in these talks. It appears a concession to allow Northern Ireland to keep some E.U. rules did not go through. British says, E.U. officials are still hoping to reach an agreement before next week's E.U. Council Summit.
SESAY: The U.N. Human Rights Council will hold a special session Tuesday on the violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. In the meantime, rights groups are urging Bangladesh to allocate more land for Rohingya refugee camp. Last week, the country approved a plan to move refugees to an isolated flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal. The Amnesty International calls the island uninhabitable. For more on this, we're joined by Matthew Smith. Matthew is a co-founder and CEO of the Human Rights Organization, Fortify Rights. Matthew, good to have you with us once again.
MATTHEW SMITH, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF FORTIFY RIGHTS: Thank you, Isha. It's good to be here.
SESAY: Well, over the weekend, The New York Times published a piece in which they say, there is a concerted effort by authorities in Myanmar to rewrite history and claim the Rohingya never existed in that country. The article cites a report released in October by the Office of the United Nations, the high commissioner for human rights which said, Myanmar's security forces had worked to listed up on the screen, "Effectively erased all signs of memorable landmarks in the geography of Rohingya landscape and memory in such a way that a return to their lands would yield nothing but a desolate and unrecognizable terrain." Matthew, I'm wondering what goes through your mind when you see that, when you read that?
SMITH: Well, I think what we're seeing are certainly the landmarks or the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing but also the crime of genocide. And we've documented eyewitness testimony of the Myanmar military razing entire villages which that quote speaks to, but beyond that also full- scale massacres, killings of men, women, and children. So this is systematic attempt to effectively destroy or drive out the Rohingya population.
SESAY: And according to the same U.N. report the crackdown in Rakhine had, "Targeted teachers, the cultural, and religious leadership, and other people of influence in the Rohingya community in an effort to diminish Rohingya history, culture, and knowledge." Matthew, I guess my question is, what's the stop that Myanmar authorities from succeeding given the lack of meaningful intervention on the international community?
[02:35:20] SMITH: Well, that's just it, Isha. In some respects, the authorities have succeed and as much as they have perpetrated thus far these atrocity times with impunity driven out, you know, more than at this point in the last year more than 700,000 new refugees into Bangladesh effectively destroying many aspects of Rohingya culture, let alone the Rohingya as a group. So right now, the international community needs to act. We've seen too much inaction over the last three months over the last year. And it's important, it's essential right now that governments band together and have a concerted strategy to not only end these atrocities but also to hold the perpetrators accountable. SESAY: In the midst of all of these, we're now getting details of the
Memorandum of Understanding signed by Bangladesh and Myanmar for the repatriation of those Rohingya who fled the violence in Northern Rakhine State. Matthew, I'm just going to put up on screen some of the key points obviously that's going to follow along, no forcible returns, no restrictions on numbers of returnees, no legal consequences for those who return unless they've been involved in terrorism, all possible measures will be made to ensure returnees will not be settled in temporary places for a long time.
Freedom of movement in Rakhine State will be allowed in conformity with existing laws and regulations. Myanmar will verify Rohingya for return and the eventual issuing of identity cards will be based on evidence of past residence in Myanmar. Matthew, should Rohingya be heading back to Myanmar on the basis of this agreement? I mean how confident is anyone that they won't be in turned in camps and once again subjected to systematic persecution?
SMITH: Well, in many ways this agreement is a divisionary tactic. It's diverting attention away from the fact that there is still things ongoing campaign of persecution against the Rohingya population. There are still a hundred and twenty thousand Rohingya who have been confined to more than 35 internment camps in eight different townships of Rakhine State for the last five years. And there are still Rohingya fleeing across the border into Bangladesh. I was just there weeks ago and there were thousands of people still crossing over the border into Bangladesh. So the idea that the authorities would start repatriating Rohingya soon is a farce. And on top of that, Rohingya refugees are telling Fortify Rights that they would rather die on the border with Bangladesh than be forced back to their village under the current conditions.
SESAY: Wow. That is stock indeed and really puts it in respect the first just how afraid they are that they'd rather endured that hardship. So all of that being said on Tuesday, the U.N. Human Rights Council is calling a special session on the Rohingya crisis. Do you expect anything substantive to emerge?
SMITH: We're hopeful. We do hope that U.N. Member States will prioritize the need for accountability. Our biggest fear right now, Isha, is that we will see more mass killing in Rakhine State and until there is a meaningful effort towards accountability for the perpetrators toward holding the Myanmar military soldiers and commanders who are responsible for this. Until they're held accountable, until there are movements to hold them accountable, we fear that we may see more mass killing. And so what we hope is that U.N. Member States will understand that, will take it seriously, and will make some serious advancements towards ending the impunity.
SESAY: Yes. We certainly hope that, Matthew. We're going to keep telling this story. We're going to keep getting the stories out. We appreciate you speaking to us once again.
SMITH: Thank you, Isha.
SESAY: Well, still to come on the CNN NEWSROOM, These breathtaking views are at The center of the biggest environmental fight in the U.S. right now. A move by President Trump could open up millions of acres for drilling and mining.
[02:41:07] VAUSE: Well, two sprawling U.S. monuments are shrinking bigly. In a historic move, U.S. President Donald Trump is slashing protected land in Utah by more than 800,000 hectares.
SESAY: President Trump announced the change Monday, it strips away protections the Obama Administration put in place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've come to you to take a very historic action to reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land to your citizens. The families and communities of Utah know and love this land the best. And you know the best how to take care of your land.
SESAY: Well, soon after he gave that speech, environmental groups filed a lawsuit alleging Mr. Trump overstepped his authority in his decision. The president says, the moved actually reverses federal overreached by letting the state control its own natural resources.
VAUSE: Well, the fight over this controversial decision is just getting started. And for some, it's personal.
SESAY: While Native American Tribes with deep roots in this region know what it's like to battle for their land. Our own Bill Weir talk to folks on both sides.
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let me show you of the epicenter of what is the biggest environmental fight of the day. Yes. There they are. You see those two beauts? Those are the Bears Ears. But they are just a tiny piece of this huge fight because Bears Ears National Monument is 1.35 million acres. That is over 2000 square miles of the wild western vistas holding a potential fortune in oil, gas, and uranium. Underneath, tens of thousands of Native American ruins. For folks like Mark Maryboy, these sites are worth more than any mineral. To the Navajo and Hopi, Zunian youths, these canyons hold the spirits of loved ones.
YVON CHOUINARD, CEO, PATAGONIA: They live among us just like you and I were communities.
WEIR: These are your neighbors living?
WEIR: The person who carved this art 12,000 years ago signed all their work with a wolf paw. The equally striking are the modern bullet holes just one sign of attention that goes back to the first Mormon wagon trains. CHOUINARD: They didn't want to work with us. In fact one of the
county commissioners says, you guys lost the war. You have no business talking about land claiming process.
WEIR: For generations, native sought protection for this land, but it wasn't until the five tribes put aside their differences rally the support of rich outdoorsman like Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard, and lobby the feds that they got their wish. Weeks before leaving office, Barack Obama declared Bears Ears off limits to any new drilling or mining, and while some cheered the prospect of a new tourist economy, others saw it as pure tyranny.
CHOUINARD: This is like a -- kind of a sucker punch. It didn't feel right and it hasn't felt right for a year.
WEIR: Phil Lyman is among therapy Trump supporters who spent the weekend cheering the president's decision to shrunk Bears Ears by more than 80 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by nearly half. They point out that the biggest poorest county in Utah already has four other parks and monuments. They don't want to leech using their backyard as a playground. They just want to control their own destiny.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL LYMAN, SAN JUAN COUNTY COMMISSIONER: By designating a monument, what you're doing is you're using a tool that will bring hoards of people to a place that is very sensitive. There is nothing that we want to unprotect. There's 13 layers of protection on artifacts, and species, and wildlife, and vegetation.
JOSH EWING, FRIENDS OF CEDAR MESA: There are loopholes in those rules that you can drive an oil rig through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEIR: Josh, you didn't came from Nebraska to climb rocks?
EWING: Painted sure that's a rim of the bull.
[02:45:13] WEIR: And fell so hard for the landscapes in history, he formed an advocacy group and he's building a visitor center with whatever donations he can raise online.
EWING: If this place was anywhere else but Southern Utah, I don't care if it was Mongolia or Zimbabwe, it would have been protected as a national park a long time ago. But because of the politics of Utah, this place is still a debate.
CHOUINARD: Well, I think the only thing this administration understands is lawsuits.
WEIR: And the head of Patagonia says he's ready for a long, legal fight.
CHOUINARD: We're losing this planet. And we have an evil government. And, you know, not just the federal government and wacko politicians out of Utah and places -- I mean, it's evil. And I'm not going to stand back and just let evil win.
LYMAN: And what's his net worth, billion dollars, $2 billion. So, you've got Patagonia here, you know, waving the flag of environmentalism while he just completely exploiting the outdoors for industrialized tourism.
WEIR: If these rocks could talk, they'd tell us centuries of bloody human conflict before the United States decided to set aside the special corner.
For we the people, this is your land, but Bear Ears is a reminder that how it is used all comes down to how you vote. Bill Weir, CNN, near Bluff, Utah.
VAUSE: Well, the Web site for the outdoor retailer Patagonia spells it out in black and white: The President Stole Your Land. I'm joined now by the company's Director of Environmental Campaigns and Advocacy, Hans Cole. Thank you for coming in.
HANS COLE, DIRECTOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL CAMPAIGNS AND ADVOCACY, PATAGONIA, INC.: Thanks. Thanks for having me.
VAUSE: There does -- there does seem to be a lot at stake here. This looks to be set to go down as an historic legal battle. And it'll determine the fate not just to Bears Ear but also The Grand Staircase. But all government land protected under the Antiquities Act which is, you know, that sets up these monuments in the first place, right?
COLE: Yes, absolutely. This is a -- this is an unprecedented moment here in the history of public lands. You know, we've never seen this quantity of land unprotected, where the protections have been taken away at one time. You know, we're talking about millions of acres of land that are being stripped from the Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase Escalante. And you know, it's shocking, really, to see the impact.
VAUSE: You know, many opposed to this have argued that Donald Trump as President does not have the authority to significantly change monuments which were declared by his predecessors, OK? But other Presidents like Woodrow Wilson and FDR, they did just that. So, this is never actually really being challenged in court. So, what's your argument to say that Donald Trump can't do this?
COLE: Yes. Well, it's true it hasn't been challenged in court. And that's the main thing. You know, we -- our belief is that the Antiquities Act leaves that control to reduce or change the size of a national monument up to Congress. It's not in the hands of the president, it was never granted to that office. And so, we see this act by the President and his administration as illegal. And absolutely, you know, something will have a huge impact on all American citizens. This is public land that belongs to all us. VAUSE: Yes. When listening to the President making this announcement, he was almost speaking poetic at times about giving the land back and the unbreakable bond between the land and the people, clearly, he wasn't talking about the Native-American tribes that asked for this, you know, monument initiative in the first place. But he did say a few things which I'd like you to fact-check. He said the Antiquities Act is bad for the economy. He said, states do a better job of land management, and he also said this would be a win for local communities. A lot of that doesn't ring true, right?
COLE: It's true. You know, the -- it's so amazing to think, you know, this idea, this false narrative that protected public land is bad for the economy. It's out there, it's being perpetuated by the administration, by other folks, the Utah Congressional delegation, this is one of their favorite narratives. But the fact of the matter is, protected public lands are good for local economies. They bring in tourism, they bring in visitation from all over the world to places like this which brings in jobs and new measures of economic prosperity. And what they found is when control of public land is transferred to the state, which is oftentimes a goal with these types of actions, oftentimes 70 percent of that land is actually sold off to the highest bidder.
[02:50:00] COLE: Which is not -- you know, that's not good for people.
VAUSE: I'm just worried because the Bureau of Land Management announced also on the same day, what, 300-parcel of land of Utah may close two national monument and these other protected areas, are they going to be made available for leasing for the oil and gas industry? Is that what's set for Bears Ear and the staircase -- Grand Staircase?
COLE: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante both have resources that could be extracted in terms of fossil fuels and mining.
VAUSE: Mining -- and mining, yes.
COLE: And these are -- you know, these are impacts if you come in and frac or mine or drill, it absolutely changes the landscape.
VAUSE: Wait. I have a question. Wait, just very quickly, are we certain that's what's going to happen here, the only likely outcome of this?
COLE: Absolutely. That's one impact that we'd likely see when these protections removed.
VAUSE: OK. Hans, thank you so much.
COLE: Thanks, John. Appreciate it.
SESAY: Well, a developing situation just north of us here in L.A. to tell you about, a massive wildfire is growing quickly, threatening hundreds of homes and forcing mandatory evacuations. VAUSE: The fires burned around 4,000 hectares fuelled by very strong Santa Anna winds. More than 60,000 customers have lost power. One person was killed in a car accident while trying to evacuate. Right now, the flames are pushing towards the coastal City of Ventura. Many more homes could be threatened and those winds, those strong winds are likely to continue until Thursday.
SESAY: We're going to keep watching the story for you and bring you details as they come into us. We're going to pause here for a quick break. Australia is getting closer to legalizing same-sex marriage. And a member of parliament made history by doing something special on the House floor. That moment, next.
VAUSE: Well, there will be a final sixth season of "House of Cards," and it will star Robert Reich. It will not star Kevin Spacey because he was fired following a series of sexual assault allegations.
SESAY: The season will be shorter only eight episodes instead for the usual 13. Netflix announces this would be the last season after the allegations against Spacey came out, but insisted the decision has been made months earlier.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) went off the rails.
SESAY: I stopped watching.
VAUSE: Yes, first season is the best. OK. Now, to a very touching, very human moment in a place usually home to knock them down, drag them out, nasty as it gets political battles. On Monday, history was made when an Australian lawmaker proposed to his partner on the floor of Parliament House.
SESAY: And it came amid the final debate on legalizing same-sex marriage in the country. CNN's Lynda Kinkade has details on how the big moment unfolded.
LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR: It was a history-making proposal, the first time a member of the Australian Parliament had popped the question on the House floor, perhaps the most important question during the final debate on legalizing same-sex marriage.
TIM WILSON, AUSTRALIAN MP: There is only one thing left to do. Ryan Patrick Bolder, will you marry me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should let hand side note to record that that was a yes, a resounding yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Resounding yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.
KINKADE: Tim Wilson, the 37-year-old Member of Parliament likened the same-sex marriage debate to the struggle he and his partner had experienced.
WILSON: This debate has been the soundtrack to our relationship. We both know this issue isn't the reason we got involved in politics. Give us tax reform any day.
[02:54:57] KINKADE: Last month, Australians voted overwhelmingly for same-sex marriage in a nationwide nonbinding postal vote. The bill passed through the Senate last week without amendment after it was agreed that it included enough religious freedom provisions, which is still being debated in the House.
Now, it could pass through the House of Representatives by the end of this week. And same-sex marriage in Australia could become a reality before Christmas. Lynda Kinkade, CNN.
VAUSE: He's sweet. Nice.
VAUSE: OK. Well, this is not nice. This year's sexual misconduct allegation sparked an online movement, but this is the good part, that movement is out, one of the finalist for Time Magazine's person of the year which is a little odd (INAUDIBLE) to the person but we get the idea.
SESAY: Oh, you have the idea. The Me Too campaign represents millions of people who filled a worldwide discussion about sexual harassment and assault. Other contenders include Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos, who became the richest man in the world this year, I think it was something like 100 billion. And the DREAMers, undocumented U.S. immigrants whose parents brought them to the States when they were children. Now, facing an uncertain future under the Trump administration.
VAUSE: Has Amazon (INAUDIBLE) turn the profit yet? How can that guy be with that much? OK. The director of "Wonder Woman," Patty Jenkins broke box office records and North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un makes the list, there you go, with his threats of nuclear war.
U.S. football player Colin Kaepernick started a movement himself against racism and police brutality in the U.S. simply by kneeling during the national anthem, and Robert Mueller, special counsel investigating the Trump campaign's ties to Russia.
SESAY: And Mohammed bin Salman is Saudi Arabia's new Crown Prince. He's promising a more moderate Islam to his country.
VAUSE: Don't hold your breath.
SESAY: The U.S. President Donald Trump, the 2016 person of the year, is also in the running --
VAUSE: But he doesn't want it because he said not interested, doesn't want to -- he's already got one. You got plenty other of
SESAY: It's fine. And Chinese President Xi Jinping reporting his status as the country's most powerful leader in decades or emperors shall we say?
VAUSE: She -- my money is on Xi Jinping.
SESAY: No never. It's going to be MeToo or it's going to be Colin Kaepernick. It's got to be MeToo, a life who are going to take some (INAUDIBLE) he doesn't want him there. People are already saying that.
SESAY: OK. So you heard our predictions here.
VAUSE: Yes, I'm probably wrong. I'm always wrong.
SESAY: OK. Yes, he is. You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm always right, I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm always wrong, I'm John Vause. Follow us on Twitter or follow Isha on Twitter. News continues.
SESAY: Max Foster is in London.
VAUSE: Follow Max Foster on Twitter. It's Foster.
SESAY: Full ahead (INAUDIBLE)
VAUSE: He's in London. He's also on Twitter.
MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, Donald Trump's personal lawyer suggests the President is above the law amid new --