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Trump To Recognize Jerusalem As Israeli Capital; Russia Banned From Winter Olympics; High Winds And Dry Conditions Fuel California Wildfires; Trump To Recognize Jerusalem As Israel Capital; White House Defends Roy Moore Endorsement; Debate Over Effect On National Security. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired December 6, 2017 - 01:00   ET


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

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, Arab leaders warn it could threaten regional stability and undermine any hopes for Middle East peace, but that may stop Donald Trump from recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

VAUSE: Well, it might be the harshest punishment ever handed out to an Olympic team. Russia, banned from next year's winter games for state-sponsored doping.

SESAY: And dry conditions combined with fierce winds are fueling several fast-moving wildfires right here in Southern California.

VAUSE: Hello, everybody, great to have you with us I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay, this is NEWSROOM L.A. Well, Donald Trump is expected to make a major announcement in the coming hours that could have a devastating impact on the prospects for Middle East peace. The U.S. president plans to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

VAUSE: Mr. Trump spoke on Tuesday with the Palestinian and Egyptian presidents, and the kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Also, they were opposed to this move, warning it would undermine regional stability. Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital will also see the U.S. embassy located from Tel Aviv. It's not known when that would actually take place.

Joining us now here in Los Angeles is Dalia Dassa Kaye, a Middle East Expert with the RAND Corporation; and in San Francisco, Arash Aramesh, a National Security and Foreign Policy Analyst. Good to have you both with us. You know, there was one moment, which really stuck out during the White House briefing on Tuesday with Sarah Sanders. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it safe to say other than Israel, which thinks that this move is 22 years overdue, that all of the feedback that he's been getting from world leaders is overwhelmingly negative about this idea?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, again, he spoke with five leaders that's hardly indicative of everybody across the globe. But certainly, you know, he's going to continue to have conversations with different leaders from across the world, and we'll keep you posted as those calls take place and we'll let you know when the president's made a decision.


VAUSE: Dalia, would it be fairly safe to say that those five leaders are, in fact, very indicative of what many believe around the world?

DALIA DASSA KAYE, MIDDLE EAST EXPERT WITH THE RAND CORPORATION: I think so. The U.S. is fairly isolated on this issue. Even our closest allies in the Arab world are vehemently opposed to this move. There's reason U.S. presidents in the past, Republican or Democratic, have not supported a move to recognize Jerusalem as that full capital of Israel. There is recognition that de facto West Jerusalem is the Israeli capital, but without recognizing East Jerusalem, there's a concern that that would undermine the peace process. So, all of the regional neighbors are opposed to this, and most -- I think most concerned would be Jordan, which is a critical U.S. ally on other issues in the region, counterterrorism and so forth. So, I think it is fair to say that we would be isolated the regionally and globally on this issue.

VAUSE: And Jordan has a special interest in what happens to Jerusalem.

KAYE: Yes.

VAUSE: Here's the front page of Wednesday's Daily Star in Lebanon with the headline: "No offense, Mr. President, Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine." That's pretty tame, considering what's to come. The U.S. State Department issued travel warning for Americans in Jerusalem. Widespread calls for demonstrations breeds, beginning to send a (INAUDIBLE) in the West Bank. U.S. government employees and family are restricted from personal travel in the alt city, the West Bank, and avoid crowds on areas with increased police military presence. But also, American embassies around the world, they're beefing up security. Arash, given everything that's to come, where is the payoff here for the U.S. in terms of diplomatic goals?

ARASH ARAMESH, NATIONAL SECURITY AND FOREIGN POLICY ANALYST: Well, there is a big payoff from President Trump. This has been a key campaign promise of his, and knowing President Trump has not been able to keep a lot of his campaign promises, this is something, at least rhetorically, that he can deliver tomorrow. But in actuality, tomorrow, when the president makes that announcement and says the U.S. actually, in fact, accepts Jerusalem as the whole capital of Israel and announces the move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, that's not going to happen overnight.

There has been this 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. This is the law of the land that the U.S. has recognized and has accepted Jerusalem as Israel's capital. But every president since, that's Clinton, then Bush, then Obama, for every six months, they come and sign a waiver so they waive U.S.'s obligation to move the capital, to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, knowing there's going to be repercussions. And knowing that if we do that, we're no longer going to be viewed as a neutral and objective mediator between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

About a third of Jerusalem's population -- that's mostly in east Jerusalem -- are Palestinian Arabs. So, you're going to have security concerns there. But for, sort of, long-term prospects for peace, there had been two sticking points, two key issues for the Palestinians. One has been the issue of dividing Jerusalem and accepting East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital of a potential Palestinian state. And the second issue, obviously, is the right of return for the refugees.

[01:05:26] So, we're pretty alone in this. And, again, President Trump is making this decision unilaterally without the support of any of our allies. And unfortunately, this is going to put our great friend and ally Israel at much greater risk. I feel like he's throwing a lifeline to Prime Minister Netanyahu now in Israel who has embattled a lot of his allies or embattled with corruption charges, and corruptions scandals. And he's throwing himself here in the U.S. another lifeline, taking attention away from waves of investigations about the Russia investigation and so on and so forth.

And, again, it doesn't look good for a president who has a 35 percent popularity rating here. But he is going to appeal to his base, especially to Christian Evangelicals who've been very adamant pro- Israel, and he's speaking to them. Again, not much in action, but in rhetoric, he's going to appeal to them but weakening the U.S.'s position globally.

VAUSE: You know, Dalia, the Arab league secretary says this now raises questions of Washington's role as a peacemaker. Listen to this.


TAYSEER JARADAT, PALESTINE'S DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER (through translation): Any recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by any party will be a breach of international law, customs, and historical logic. It will be an infringement to feelings of the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic people, and also those who love peace in the world.


VAUSE: There is an argument out there, though, that, you know, this is actually a good move by the U.S. president if nothing else. By keeping this campaign promise, it gives him credibility, it shows the world that he keeps his word. Is there any merit to that argument?

KAYE: No, I don't think so. I think global leaders, regional leaders, fully expect U.S. presidents to continue deferring this decision to the actual peace negotiations should one resume between Israel and Palestinians. This is not an issue that anyone supports the U.S. unilaterally, imposing on the parties. So, I think it actually does the reverse, it undermines his credibility, and I think, you know, it really raises the question of why doing this?

Another self-inflicted crisis with very, you know, few strategic gains, if any; at great risk and high costs with potential instability. The issue of Jerusalem, you cannot underestimate how important this issue is emotional to the national identity of both the Israelis and the Palestinian people, and to the broader Muslim world. This is playing with fire. I think it's an incredibly destabilizing move that will undermine U.S. interests in the region.

VAUSE: Arash, just very quickly, if you think back to 2000 to Camp David, to the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Leader, Yasser Arafat, they tried everything to try and solve this issue over Jerusalem. They've decided that there wasn't enough of the city to go around, so they would expand the city. Simply talk of dividing Jerusalem sent thousands of Israelis onto the streets. Is it now an argument, which I think has been put forward, is it a valid argument, I should say, being put forward by the administration? For 22 years they've tried everything, this is now a reality. It's now time to do something out of the box and see what happens.

ARAMESH: No, I simply think the Trump administration is not serious about a Middle East peace deal. And I think Dalia's right, this is going to jeopardize stability. I'm not just worried about what's going to happen in Jerusalem, but I'm worried about what's going to happen around the globe. Other U.S. embassies can be bigger targets now. There could be demonstrations, there could be violent demonstrations around the world from Indonesia to Pakistan, from Morocco all the way down to Mauritania. So, this could jeopardize American security and also U.S. embassy security around the world.

But, also let's not forget, one of the reasons -- in addition to Yasser Arafat not being a very honest broker for the Palestinians, but one of the reasons that the 2000 peace deals sort of fell apart was Ariel Sharon visiting Temple Mount at that time. He went to Jerusalem, he visited Temple Mount, and then he had the second (INAUDIBLE). That sort of sank not only the peace deal and the peace process, but also Ehud Barak's prime ministership, and the premiership. And then, you have Sharon becoming prime minister.

So, you have a whole host of issues. But again, the biggest problem here, the biggest issues in the region are sort of this proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. And if the U.S. is siding with the Saudis against Iranian expansionism, alienating the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the Emiratis, the Turks, you go on and on, and Jordanians is not going to help us contain what Iran has gained now in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen, in Lebanon, and so on so forth.

[01:10:09] VAUSE: You know, we're out of time, but it does make you wonder if Kushner did some kind of deal in Riyadh over the last couple of weeks with the Saudis, that they can have their way in Yemen and the Israelis will get this announcement of Jerusalem. But I guess, we will never know. Dalia and Arash, thank you for being with us. Most appreciated. KAYE: Thank you.

SESAY: Well, Russia won't be competing in next year's Winter Olympic. It's an unprecedented decision by the International Olympic Committee as punishment for Russia's state-sponsored doping in the 2014 Winter Games. The IOC announced the ruling, Tuesday, after a 17-month investigation. Officials say the evidence was overwhelming.


THOMAS BACH, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: The report clearly lays out an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic games and sports. The report includes, in particular, the manipulation of the anti-doping laboratory at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi 2014. The IOC executive board after following due process has issued proportional sanctions for this systemic manipulation while protecting clean athletes.


SESAY: Well CNN Correspondents are following the story. Clare Sebastian joins us from Moscow, and Paula Newton is there in Seoul, South Korea, for us. Ladies welcome once again. Clare, to you, this is an unprecedented penalty as has been made clear by many leveled against a country where the sport is inextricably bound with its own sense of national pride. What should be made of the fact that in the immediate aftermath of this IOC decision, we didn't hear from the Kremlin?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha, I mean, that is certainly unusual when it comes to this doping scandal. You know, I've been watching this story, covering it for a while. And certainly, the precedent is that the Kremlin has been fairly vocal on this, fairly quick to comment. Having said that, we do expect to hear from them at some point today on this.

But certainly, there was a sense of dismay, even anger from other political quarters. One politician called this a humiliation and an insult, another called this a political provocation. The foreign ministry spokeswoman, in a long and, frankly, complicated statement that, you know, they're trying to prove the absurdity of our way of life, our culture, our history and now sport. She said we will survive. So, a sense of defiance.

You know, we spoke to Russians on the street. They also said, you know, they thought this was unfair and politically motivated. But going forward, there are still major questions: could they boycott, could they appeal? How many athletes will go and compete under the neutral flag? The Kremlin did suggest before this ruling happened that a boycott wasn't on the cards. And we do expect that athletes would take part in a meeting altogether on December 12th and come to their own decision. So, you know, the way forward is still, is still unclear. A lot of questions, Isha.

SESAY: Yes, indeed. Paula, to you, how much is all of this take the shine off the South Korean games? I mean, what's been the reaction there?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is something to worry about, isn't it? Certainly, they have been surprised. I think they were hoping in the last few days that the IOC would back off of this kind of a ban. I'll give you the official statement first. This is from the organizing committee here in Korea: "We accept and respect the decisions of the IOC executive board that Russia may compete under a neutral flag. We will work with the IOC and other relevant stakeholders accordingly to ensure that all athletes and officials attending games as part of this team are given the best possible experience."

So, of course, that means they will try and make the best of it, but they are really caught in the middle of a lot of politics here, something you do not want to mix with the Olympics. This is already games that suffer from a certain amount of enthusiasm. Ticket sales have picked up a little bit. But it's still a problem. And, of course, Isha, as we talk about all the time, they are already dealing with a security problem on the Korean Peninsula given the actions of North Korea and tourists numbers are already down. So, in terms of losing the marquee participant, Russia, in these games, it's going to be a big blow.

SESAY: Yes, certainly. Clare, back to you. I guess one of the big questions here as we look forward, what are the long-term implications here for cleaning up the sport in Russia?

SEBASTIAN: Well, Isha, if you ask Russian sporting officials, certainly they will say, you know, that they've already done it. I was at the RUSADA, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, a few days ago and they were telling me that they've completely changed the way they operate, they've overhauled their management, hiring 100 new doping control officers, but it's interesting in the immediate aftermath of this decision by the IOC. I spoke to Vitaly Stepanov, he is a former employee of RUSADA -- one of the original whistle-blowers whose evidence shed light on this culture of doping in Russia. It was his evidence that led to the initial Wada report on this. I spoke to him at where he is now, in the United States, and I asked him whether he thought things would change. Take a listen.


[01:15:22] VITALY STEPANOV, FORMER EMPLOYEE, RUSADA: Today's decision, and then continuous enforcement of the anti-doping rules in Russia, will bring that change that the doping culture in Russia changes. I don't know how long that would take. It's still a long fight ahead of us. Still, a lot of people in Russia that are still currently running sports in Russia must be punished for what they were doing. But, at least, I'm glad that the IOC decided to do that and to fight that -- this fight.


SEBASTIAN: So, certainly, Vitaly Stepanov told me this day is bittersweet for him. Sad that you know, some clean Russian athletes are affected, sad that this is still going on. But certainly, he has hope for the future in the wake of this decision.

SESAY: Thanks for that, Clare. Paula, to you, and, really, I guess staying in the same ballpark, and this question is the future and doping. I mean, what is the sense as yo speak to people, as this is a story you've covered a great deal also. What is the sense in terms of whether this penalty will actually deter the use of banned substances in Olympic sports? I mean, because there this sense that the IOC is perpetually playing catch-up, and that the dopers are always one step ahead.

NEWTON: Yes, and I think there is a sense that as much as they tried, they are still one step ahead. You know, Professor McLaren, who was the man who wrote the report on this. It was a bombshell report, Isha, as you remember. In the coming out of Canada at the time, it was -- the implications were if, really, they went to these lengths.

And I think in terms -- everyone will remember, there was a little hole in the ceiling and they were literally swapping samples of clean urine for a urine that was obviously compromised. When you think of the scope of that, and then think about the sophistication and the timing, there is a lot of skepticism as to whether or not they can keep the games clean. And that is definitely something else that is hanging over these Olympics.

I just want to point out quickly, though, that, you know, at the heart of this, are these athletes that train for so many years for their moment in the spotlight. Evgenia Medvedeva, who is a star figure skater, two-time defending world champion, is now having the mull over whether or not she will compete in these games. She doesn't want to do it unless she can do it for Russia. And again, going back to the implications for South Korea here, to be missing that kind of a figure skating star, if that what she decides, again sports being contaminated with all of this politics and it just leads to a lot of cynicism about the games themselves.

SESAY: Yes, absolutely. And as you made the point, we must not forget the athletes, you know, the honorable one who's have trained long and hard with the dream of competing at the Olympic games. Clare Sebastian in Moscow; Paula Newton in Seoul, South Korea, we appreciate it. Thank you.

VAUSE: Still to come here, for the second time in just eight weeks, California battling raging wildfires. They're growing at a terrifying pace fueled by powerful winds, destroying homes and buildings and forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes.

SESAY: Plus the music world is mourning the death of French rock and roll icon, Johnny Hallyday.


[01:20:38] SESAY: We're following the latest wildfires and what has been one of California's worst fire seasons. Dry winds are fueling at least five fires right now, quickly burning north of where we are in Los Angeles. VAUSE: Not far away, actually. At one point, the biggest of the

fires was destroying an acre of land every second. That's almost the size of a football field going up in flame every second. Cal Fire Battalion Chief, Mike Mohler, joins us now; he's on the phone. Mike, it was only eight weeks ago, we were talking about the raging fires in the southern part of the state. This has been a particularly bad fire season. So, what's the latest now, especially from Ventura County, northwest of here? The last we saw the flames jumped the 101 Freeway.

MIKE MOHLER, BATTALION CHIEF, CAL FIRE (via telephone): Yes, that's correct. And unfortunately, here we are again. We talk about it all the time: fire season is year-round in California. And unfortunately, yes, the Thomas fire has expanded. It has jumped the 101 Freeway. The fire right now, that 55,000 acres, and unfortunately, we'll see that grow with the upcoming wind event.

VAUSE: 55,000 acres. I think, what, zero percent contained, so far?

MOHLER: That is correct. On all -- there are three major fires, the Thomas, the Creek, and the Rye. We have zero percent containment. And, again, the reason for that is these unprecedented wind events, the Santa Ana wind event that's really striking all of Southern California.

VAUSE: I belie those winds are expected to quiet down Thursday, maybe Friday, towards the end of the week. If that happens as expected, what's the timeframe here that you think you can bring these fires under control?

MOHLER: You know, again, that's what we're looking at right now. These winds -- we're working with the National Weather Service. Thursday was when they were supposed to really quiet down, but we're looking at unfortunately they may extend into Friday, but we're going to have between all of the fires that are burning in Southern California, it's going to take us at least a week or more to put what we consider containment line around these fires with the amount of acreage that we have.

VAUSE: The fire in Ventura seems to be the worst, and authorities there have imposed this 10:00 p.m. curfew that went into effect about 20 minutes -- 22 minutes ago. Why was that decision taken?

MOHLER: It was because, just with the type of weather that's expected, that we're going to see those winds kick up again. And for us, that was the best decision to make.

VAUSE: I guess that means what we're looking at 150 structures destroyed in Ventura alone. Once you get in there and do a proper assessment, obviously, that number is going to be a lot higher.

MOHLER: That's correct. And here we are again, we're talking about not only with it happening in Northern California but Southern California. At this point, we know there is a confirmed 150, but right now these are active fires. And we really don't have the opportunity to get in there and do a proper damage assessment until we can make these areas safe and firefighters can physically get in there and knock down all of these flames.

VAUSE: And so far, no fatalities, which is the one blessing. Mike, good to speak with you. And we wish you luck.

MOHLER: Thank you, sir.

SESAY: Let's go now to our Meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri, who's tracking the conditions of Southern California and joins us now with more. Pedram, how is it looking? What are these winds doing right now?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's not looking very good. You know, just as looking at the models going almost towards Christmas Eve, this is an incredible pattern when you think about the longevity, the duration of this event that how long this could stick around as dry weather, gusty winds in the Santa Ana in and of itself. Here's what's going on, you look 700 kilometers the Earths' surface, look down Southern California, you can clearly see from the NASA imagery here from space what it looks like as the winds are blowing everything offshore.

That's the primary problem, right? We're getting winds that are coming from higher elevations compressing, warming by compression as they go downhill, downslope, and really funneling through these canyons that allow these fires to really have explosive behavior. And officials are saying, this particular fire will have everything it needs for continued growth.

And the concern is with that, with that said we're not going to see anything in the way of changing this pattern or just brief periods where you have a chance to get the upper hand on it, and then once again, the winds will take over. So, the fire will have continued favorable conditions. So, here's what's going on when you look at 55,000 acres now consumed, that is about 202 square kilometers of land or 20,000 hectares. That is by comparison, is the size of the city of Seattle. This all happening within a 24-hour period when it consumed that much land.

[01:25:07] In fact, another sort of (INAUDIBLE) metric to look at is that it was consuming at its peak, consuming the amount of land that is equivalent to the area of New York, the island of Manhattan, every 15 minutes. That's how much land it was encompassing every 15 minutes. And it's believed that it is still doing that because, of course, we know containment sitting at zero percent. But over 20 million people on a scale of one to three, sitting at a level two, which is a critical concern, that's for Wednesday, we're expecting that to go up to an extreme concern, the highest level of a threat come Thursday.

Now, the winds initially were forecast to decrease at little, Thursday, it is now being pushed towards Friday, potentially, so this could be an extra day to deal with. In fact, look at the verbiage from the National Weather Service saying, "Upon ignition, these fires will have the extreme growth potential; they'll burn intensely and will be uncontrollable." So they're putting to the south there that the fires will have the upper hand no matter how much manpower they put on top of these flames. And unfortunately, the elements you need for fire-spreading are -- you need dry weather, it has not rained weather from September into October and to November, and now going into December.

You need dry weather in place with that, of course, low humidity, down as low as 10 percent. And you need an ignition source, that's already been in place, so any additional fires will expand rapidly. And you take a look at the perspective across this region, that's unfortunate because we know the growth potential is going to be as high as we've seen it since 2007 to be particular as far an even that could be this expansive, guys. So, we're going to watch this for a long time, I think.

VAUSE: I thought we had put this behind us.

SESAY: So did I.

VAUSE: But I guess not.

JAVAHERI: Yes, yes.

VAUSE: Pedram, thank you.

SESAY: Thank you, Pedram.

VAUSE: Johnny Hallyday, France's rock and roll icon has died. He was 74. The cause of death has not been released. But, last month he announced he was being treated for cancer. Hallyday's career spanned more than half a century filling stadiums and selling millions of records. He's known as the French Elvis. France's President Emanuel Macron expressed his condolences, saying the public today is in tears and the whole country mourns.


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

VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us. I'm John Vause. We'll check the headlines this hour. The International Olympic Committee has banned Russia from next year's Winter Games -- punishment for systemic doping. Athletes, though, who can prove they're clean will be invited to compete in South Korea, but not for their country. Officially, they'll be an Olympic athlete from Russia.

SESAY: Firefighters are battling at least five wildfires spreading very quickly north of where we are in Los Angeles. Tens of thousands of residents have been evacuated. The fires are being fueled by dry conditions and strong winds, forecast to continue until around Thursday.

[01:30:09] VAUSE: Donald Trump is expected to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday, reversing decades of U.S. policy. Palestinians who claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future homeland are calling for three days of rage. Mr. Trump also intends to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But for more on this, we're joined now by former L.A. City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel and CNN political commentator and Trump supporter, John Phillips. OK. Just quickly on this whole issue of Jerusalem, Wendy, you know, given the almost instant outrage and anger and concern that we're now hearing from around the world, and this is coming from U.S. allies, key U.S. allies in the Mid-East, why would the President decide that now is a good time to do something what the past three Presidents all decided was a bad idea?

WENDY GREUEL, FORMER COUNCILWOMAN, LOS ANGELES CITY: I think all past three Presidents had said that they were going to -- you know, that their idea was that they would move it to Jerusalem but they didn't take action on that necessarily. I think it's all about its implementation and building some kind of support to make it happen. The question people are asking today is why now? It is a campaign promise that he made, but I think you see some Republicans and Democrats who are supportive of this move. The question will be is Donald Trump and his administration ready and able to do this in a way that brings people together?

VAUSE: Yes. Well, is it just ticking boxes for the achievement report, you know, come the end of December. You know, John, as we've said that Donald Trump is a day trader, he acts from moment-to-moment and you know, that can have serious repercussions in terms of domestic politics. But the consequence of a decision like this one that the President is about to take and apparently without a lot of groundwork being laid before he makes this decision, the consequences of this will be felt around the world for decades to come.

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He's not a day trader, he's a builder. It takes a builder to show up to Israel with a U-Hall and a gift card at Office Depot and move that office to Jerusalem. This is not something that should come to anyone as a surprise. It was an issue that he campaigned on.

VAUSE: But as what he said the other Presidents have also campaigned on and realized it was not the best decision.

PHILLIPS: Well, look, I mean, just because they broke their promises doesn't necessarily mean that he should do that with his. And it's not just the presidents, too. There are members of the Democratic Party in leadership positions like Chuck Schumer who support this move. There's a bipartisan consensus currently in this country to supporting the State of Israel, and in many cases, to move this embassy to Jerusalem. I don't think this is as controversial as everyone is saying. These people can threaten three days of violence or three days of rage or whatever it is that they're claiming to do, we shouldn't be bullied by a mob.

VAUSE: OK. Well, to my point about being a day trader with little regard to consequences, the President continues to give his support to the Senate candidate and the accused child molester from Alabama who is running for the Senate seat there, Roy Moore. Listen to this.


do very well. We don't want to have a Liberal Democrat in Alabama, believe me. We want strong borders, we want stopping crime, we want to have the things that we represent, and we certainly don't want to have a Liberal Democrat that's controlled by Nancy Pelosi and controlled by Chuck Schumer. We don't want to have that for Alabama.


VAUSE: You know, Wendy, if Roy Moore is of such questionable dubious character that he was not allowed into, what is it, the Gadsden Mall in Alabama, shouldn't the U.S. Senate at least have the same standard as the Gadsden Mall and not allow him in? Because right now, what we're hearing from Mitch McConnell, the Senate -- Republican Senate Leader, is that we'll let the voters decide in Alabama.

GREUEL: Well, you know, absolutely, and I think it is, you know, disgusting to me that they are supporting an accused child molester who was identified by many as someone, you know, don't let your kids kind of go near him. And they're supporting him as their poster boy for the next Senator from Alabama. And, you know, you saw even today, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said in the White House briefing, you know, well, there are serious concerns. We're going to let the people of Alabama decide. But President Trump has been out there --


GREUEL: -- campaigning and supporting him. So, I don't think that really meshes to me.

VAUSE: Implying -- allow the voters to decide implies a neutral stance which has not been the case. You know, the retiring Republican Senator Jeff Flake who has had a big dose of truth serum, he tweeted out this photo of a check to the Democrat Doug Jones who's running against Moore. John, you know, apart from the fact that, you know, it's pretty cheap, it's only 100 bucks, if all those Republican lawmakers who just a few weeks ago were saying Roy Moore, he should drop out of the race, you know, he shouldn't be seen in the Senate, if they're being true to their word, shouldn't they be doing what Jeff Flake is doing and support the Democrat?

PHILLIPS: Well, I think it's possible to not want the Democrat in the U.S. Senate and also acknowledge that Roy Moore is a creep. Look, if you're too creepy for the --


[01:34:59] PHILLIPS: -- in the Forever 21, you're too creepy for me and you're too creepy for the U.S. Senate. And I think that that's a fair statement to make. That being said, political science is a science of one-time occurrences. And whether we want to admit it or not, politicians are very Machiavellian about how they handle these situations. They don't do it with moral clarity. The Senate is right now split 52-48. This vote actually matters to both parties, so they're going to fight tooth and nail. And if they have to get in bed with this guy, they'll get in bed with this guy. Here in California, the Democrats have a two-thirds majority in the state legislature. We have some people who've been accused of doing some pretty horrific things. They're still in good standing in the state legislature because they need those votes. It's an ugly reality but it's the reality.

VAUSE: Speaking of a lack of moral character, former White House Strategist Steve Bannon hit the campaign trail for Roy Moore. He went really all -- he went hard against the former Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Listen to this.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: You ran for commander in chief, you had five sons, not one day after service in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have 7,000 dead and 52,000 casualties, and where were the Romneys during those wars? You want to talk about honor and integrity, brother, bring it, bring it down here to Alabama.


VAUSE: Bannon is ready for a fight. So, Wendy, I guess, what, you know, pull up a chair, get the popcorn, sit back and watch the Republican Party tear itself apart.

GREUEL: Tear itself apart. And I think, you know, there is something that you should be above politics. And when you he a child molester, when you have somebody who does not represent the moral characters that whether you're Republican or Democrat should not be in the U.S. Senate. And it really I think is going to diminish for the future for decades to come the Republican Party.

VAUSE: Do you want to weigh in on that?

PHILLIPS: Yes. People say frequently that we're still refighting the 2016 Presidential election. I agree, but I would add the caveat that we're also still fighting the primaries. And what you saw play out on your television screen right there was the Republican primary playing out a second time. I would note that the Democrats are having the same problem. If you looked at the battle for the chairmanship of the Democratic Party nationally and in many of the states, if you see Bernie people and the Hillary people going head-to-head.

VAUSE: It's still ahead. Yes.

GREUEL: But it's not about -- it's not about child molesters. Just so that --

VAUSE: Sure. Good point. OK. On the Democrats side there is Representative John Conyers who's been accused of a number of times of sexual harassment. He has announced he's retiring effective immediately.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you still maintain that the allegations that have been leveled against you are false? REP. JOHN CONYERS (D), MICHIGAN: Whatever they are, they are not accurate, or they're not true. And I think that they are something that I can't explain where they came from.


VAUSE: OK. John, you know, Conyers gets to announce his retirement, he gets to leave with his perks, he gets the pension, he gets to walk away. Where is the accountability?

PHILLIPS: Well, it's a safe seat so a Democrat will be able to take over that seat, which is why I think they all eventually threw him under the bus. But it was obvious from the very beginning that this guy had a lot of problems and Nancy Pelosi went on "Meet The Press" and gave that train wreck of an interview where she called him an icon.

VAUSE: Icon. Yes.

PHILLIPS: And the blowback was so severe that they had to pull the plug on him. And then when he went to the hospital, it made it an easy call.

VAUSE: Right. Well, there's also this issue, Wendy, that Conyers is talking about, protecting his legacy. You know, this will all be -- this too shall pass. I think he talked about the allegations. And he's endorsing his son for the seat like this is some kind of Game of Thrones handed down from father to son to grandchild.

GREUEL: I think in this day and age, you know, that kind of passing it down to someone should not exist. Everyone has to compete for that kind of position and I think you'll see others that will run for that. We're at a time in our, I think, in our history where individuals are going to really look at what kind of elected officials we want to have in the future. Sexual harassment and sexual harassers will not be accepted and that people are going to have to pass the test as to whether or not they're going to fight for the people.

VAUSE: Yes. It's a -- it's a bad look when you're using the same system that Kim Jong-il used in North Korea to Kim Jong-un.

PHILLIPS: And by the way, if sexual harassment is the reason that dad got knocked off, I don't know if nominating the rapper son is --

VAUSE: Yes. Well, the way to go.

PHILLIPS: -- the way, yes.

VAUSE: Good point. But we should not get into that right now. But Wendy and John, thank you very much.

SESAY: Thank you. Probably best not to.

VAUSE: Best not to.

SESAY: Best not to. Let's take a break here. VAUSE: For the reason and dictate.

SESAY: Let's take a break. Still to come, reports of rampant abuse including slavery have led the U.N.'s migration agency to remove thousands of migrants from Libya.


[01:41:56] VAUSE: Well, the U.N. plans to fly 15,000 migrants home from Libya by the end of the year.

SESAY: The move follows reports of abuse in squalid living conditions in Libyan detention centers. Plus, CNN's exclusive reporting which showed a dozen men being sold as slaves outside Libya's capital.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 400. 700. 700? 800. The numbers roll in. These men are sold for 1200 Libyan pounds, $400 apiece.


SESAY: Truly shocking. Meanwhile, thousands of migrants cross Libya's borders every year searching for a better life in Europe, but they're often exploited by smugglers who don't care whether these people live or die. William Spindler with the U.N.'s refugee agency, joins us now from Geneva, Switzerland. And William, thank you for being with us. Some are questioning the veracity of CNN's reporting of that Libyan slave auction. UNHCR is operating there in that country of Libya. So, let me start by asking you what your organization knows about these kinds of practices and the treatment of migrants and refugees in Libya.

WILLIAM SPINDLER, SPOKESPERSON, UNHCR: Reports about appalling human rights abuses of refugees and migrants, especially by human traffickers, have been coming out of Libya for some time. We ourselves have been able to visit some of the detention centers where we have found people are being held in terrible conditions.

SESAY: All right. People are being held in terrible conditions. I mean, give us some context as what you have been able to discover about. Is a treatment of migrants and refugees in Libya, is it different from the experiences they're having in other North African countries? Is Libya an outlier?

SPINDLER: Well, the situation in Libya is, as you we know, very unstable. It's characterized by fragmentation of the country, also by instability and insecurity. So, that power vacuum has created conditions in which these abuses have flourished. What we are trying to do is to visit people in detention, giving them basic assistance, medical assistance, hygiene kits, clothes, and other things to alleviate the worst of their suffering. But also, very importantly, we have able -- been able to secure the release of many refugees this year, over 950 refugees have been released from this detention. But conditions even outside detention in Libya continue to be very dangerous for refugees and migrants. And therefore, we and the possibility of giving them protection is very limited.

[01:45:00] So, for this reason, we are starting to evacuate refugees. We started with a pilot recently. We he have acquired 25 very vulnerable women and children to Niger. And we hope that in the next two months, we'll be able to likewise evacuate between 700 and 1,000 of the most vulnerable refugees out of Libya.

SESAY: And what's the definition for the most vulnerable?

SPINDLER: We're talking about women, children, elderly people, people with disabilities, people who have been subjected to torture, to rape and so on.

SESAY: And as we talk about torture and rape, from UNHCR's own investigating and the conversations you have had with people in detention centers, how widespread is that?

SPINDLER: Well, we know that abuses do take place and they are prevalent, particularly committed by traffickers and smugglers. And what is very important here is to help the Libyan authorities prosecute those responsible for these terrible abuses so that they are judged and punished.

SESAY: OK. As we -- go ahead.

SPINDLER: At the same time, we need to also warn refugees and migrants of the dangers of going to Libya, so that -- and often them alternatives so that they find protection or in the case of economic migrants, better opportunities before they take these dangerous journeys to Libya.

SESAY: I want to ask you very quickly about the issue of accountability and ending the impunity. How much is known about those who are responsible for the buying and selling of these desperate people in Libya?

SPINDLER: This traffic of human beings of this appalling treatment is carried out by criminal gangs. We know that this is a multibillion- dollar business. And it needs to be combatted very firmly by the international community. But without providing legal alternatives, legal ways for refugees to find safety through resettlement, through family reunification so that they can travel safely and legally and find protection in Europe and North America and other parts of the world, this situation will continue.

SESAY: One last question before I let you go, the Libyan representative to the United Nations told the U.N. Security Council that its country is a victim of a large-scale media campaign of defamation. He also said that the country can't be held responsible for the appalling treatment of migrants and refugees given its instability. I guess, with that as the backdrop, where does that leave the credibility of any investigation the Libyan government says it's going to launch into the practice of slave trading and the buying and selling and appalling treatment of migrants and refugees?

SPINDLER: Well, the report by CNN has shocked all of us and caused outrage all over the world, including in Libya. Many people in Libya are appalled by this situation as well. So, it is very important that the international community helps the Libyan authorities to carry a thorough investigation of this and that this appalling practices are brought to an end.

SESAY: All right. William Spindler joining us there from Geneva from the UNHCR, we appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

SPINDLER: Thank you, Isha.

VAUSE: All week long, CNN's "FREEDOM PROJECT" is exposing cases of modern-day slavery inside the migration crisis.

SESAY: Our next story highlights some Nigerians who wanted to relocate to Europe but they say they were sold into slavery and sexually exploited in Libya instead. Our own Arwa Damon reports.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sad because when I went to Libya, I was not like this.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Physically, at least, 28-year-old Edie is finally free, but the pain of what she endured, it's still so raw.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He used to hurt me, apart from the work.

DAMON: She was sold into sexual slavery in Libya.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And especially, they hate us, we especially Nigerians. When you tell them that you are from Nigeria, they will treat you -- treat you like a slave. They treated us like a slave and as if nothing -- we are nothing. So, we went through a lot there.

DAMON: Now back in Nigeria, she sits beside 18-year-old Jennifer who is too traumatized to talk. They are kept here with other rescued women where the hum of an overhead fan and a soap opera on T.V. are the only comforts in this temporary home. They're all waiting to be reunited with their families.

[01:50:01] The young women are kept in a safe house in an undisclosed location and the authorities say that as more and more return, the clearer the picture of just how vile and abusive the situation in Libya is. It's not just prostitution and human trafficking, many returnees describe what sounds like an open-air slave market where people are just bought and sold. And anyone who tries to resist is often killed and their body just dumped in the desert.

They were trying to get to Europe where the promise of work has driven record numbers of Nigerians on the dangerous journey across the desert towards the Mediterranean. And Women, they are especially vulnerable along the way. Edie says she spent three days crossing the desert. One person in her convoy died along the route. When she reached Libya, she said a prayer of thanks, thinking the worst was behind her.

He sold you?


DAMON: Were they buying and selling a lot of people?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. That is how they do there. When they're finished paying their money, if you are staying with a wicked somebody, he will sell you to another people so you will start all over again.

DAMON: Little did she know that like so many others, her goal, her dream of a better life would end in the increasing lawlessness of Libya. Arwa Damon, CNN, Benin City, Nigeria.


VAUSE: And CNN's five-part "FREEDOM PROJECT" series continues tomorrow when Isa Soares speaks to a young Nigerian woman who made it to Italy in search of the European dream only to find herself forced into prostitution, paying off an impossible debt to her traffickers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This place will make money. But you have to sleep with men. (INAUDIBLE) better to bring 200 euro back to your madam. Maybe if you must (INAUDIBLE) the highest he can pay you is 30 euro. (INAUDIBLE) how many men are you going to sleep with to get 200 euros?

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Your whole life is going to be tied to this debt?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You keep paying, paying, paying. It never gets finished. Everybody wants to be here, everybody wants to see what it's like, but it's not what they think it is.

SOARES: It's clear for all to see what it actually is, a new slave trade of human trafficking and human misery.


SESAY: Well, join CNN Thursday to see Isa's full report at 6:00 p.m. London and 2:00 p.m. in Hong Kong. We'll be right back with more after this.


SESAY: For the U.S. President, social media is a direct line to his base and to world leaders.

VAUSE: For better or for worse, there is now a debate underway within the intelligence community if those tweets, for example, are helping or hurting national security. Here's Brian Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: November 11th, seemingly unable to let

a put-down from North Korea's dictator go unanswered, President Trump tweets, "Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me old when I would never call him short and fat?" Kim's regime responds, calling Trump a, quote, hideous criminal. The CIA Director asked if his boss's tweets make his job harder has a surprising answer. The President's tweets, Mike Pompeo believes, have sometimes helped U.S. intelligence.

MIKE POMPEO, DIRECTOR, CIA: Our adversaries responded to those tweets in ways that were helpful to us to understand command and control issues, who's listening to what messages. What -- how those messages are resonating around the world?

[01:55:04] TODD: Contacted by CNN, the CIA declined to give specific examples. A former CIA analysts says it's possible U.S. intelligence could benefit from the President's tweets.

AKI PERITZ, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Kim is annoyed by the fact that our President calls him short and fat, so if you can needle somebody, you can see how they behave, you can motivate them in certain ways, you can see how they respond in crisis situations, so that's actually quite important.

TODD: But Aki Peritz and other former American spies are also warning about the dangers to national security from the President's Twitter account.

The unfiltered nature of it, how does that help a foreign intelligence adversary?

PERITZ: A foreign intelligence adversary knows what motivates the most powerful man in the world. He knows what he likes, what he dislikes, what annoys him, what pleases him. We know what T.V. show he watches, what he doesn't watch. They would look into what those things are and create a mechanism to understand how to manipulate the U.S. President.

TODD: That's information rivals might not have about Vladimir Putin or Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran because they're so secretive. A former CIA Director says those adversaries might be eager to exploit President Trump's tweets.

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN (RET.), FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: If I'm the head of a hostile or even friendly intelligence service, I've got a new office over here. Follow that account. Tell me what this man is saying. It's tremendous revealing.

TODD: February 24th, President Trump tweets, the FBI is totally unable to stop the national security leakers that have permeated our government for a long time. They can't even find the leakers within the FBI itself.

PERITZ: I would take finite resources via a foreign intelligence service and I would push it toward the FBI, try to recruit as many FBI special agents as possible because they're willing to talk. TODD: And conversely, former CIA spies say America's friend in foreign intelligence are probably holding back on what they share with the Trump team, fearing the President might blurt it out on Twitter.

The White doesn't respond to the most recent criticism of the President's tweets and the possible damage to national security, but a source close to the White House recently told CNN the President's aides have given up on the idea of stopping him for making inflammatory remarks on social media. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: Oh, there we go. We now know. OK. You've been Watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. Be sure to join John on Twitter @cnnnewsroomla for highlights and clips from our shows. We'll be back with more news right after this.


[02:00:11] VAUSE: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour.

SESAY: Proudly --