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Rare Access Inside Yemen's War; Donald Trump Goes On Damage Control; Moore Calls Election Tainted, Does Not Concede. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired December 14, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, CNN gets rare on-the-ground access inside Yemen's war where it's not bombs and bullet that are killing the most people.
Plus, Donald Trump goes on damage control after his preferred candidate's stunning defeat in the Alabama Senate race.
And the latest "Star Wars" movie, blasted the theaters that after three movies in three years can't simply getting a franchise for Steve.
Hello, and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.
The Saudi-led airstrike in the capital of Yemen killed dozens of people on Wednesday. A Houthi defense official tells CNN, at least 35 people died in the attack on the military police facility; another 20 people are missing. Houthi officials say, the building held hundreds of prisoners at the time.
For the past two years, Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Trump administration says it will provide evidence on Thursday that missiles recently fired into Saudi Arabia from Yemen was supplied to the Houthis by Iran.
Well, the Trump administration also says, it will urge Saudi Arabia to immediately lift its blockade of Yemeni ports that allow humanitarian aid into the country. Our Clarissa Ward got rare access to a hospital and the port city of Aden, to show just how desperate the situation really is, especially the children.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yemen is unraveling. In the north, airstrikes pound Iran-backed rebels' stronghold. Among their recent targets, the presidential palace in the capital Sanaa. In the south, the streets are run by a patchwork of militias. It was unclear who is actually in control. Some are loyal to their sponsor in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, others to extremist groups. All vying for control of Aden's port and precious oil resources.
Life here is dangerous and chaotic. But surprisingly, it's not the bombs and the bullets that are killing the most people, it's the humanitarian crisis that is growing by the day as Yemen edges closer to becoming a failed state.
Outside the Sadaka Hospital, medical wastes fester in the hot noon sun. Al-Qaeda graffiti still dogs the walls. Inside, the situation is hardly better. The hospital is in desperate need of everything from ventilators to basic antibiotics.
Dr. Nahala Arishi started working here 24 years ago.
DR. NAHALA ARISHI, DOCTOR: This is the worst situation now. It is aggravated now.
WARD: Because of the war?
ARISHI: Because of the war, yes. We are trying -- we are -- our doctors are trying, but this is possibilities, this is what is in our hands.
WARD: 3-year-old Hazar has been sick with a serious lung infection for weeks. When did you come to the hospital? His mother, Jamal, only brought him to the hospital three days ago. She says, the journey from her village was too far and too expensive.
"Life is hard since the war, disease has spread," she tells me. "He's my only child."
Chicago Pediatrician, John Kahler, is here to try to help. A rare visitor from the outside world. On this day, he's visiting the neonatal ward.
DR. JOHN KAHLER, PEDIATRICIAN: Where's the soap?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: None.
WARD: There is no soap. Just bottled water.
KAHLER: So, in addition to (INAUDIBLE). And so, they're going to get water therapy.
WARD: The newborn have to share an incubator -- increasing their risk of infection. Doctors and nurses are also in short supply. Leaving mothers to step in and lend a hand.
KAHLER: At this point in time, even if we got more beds here to fill the numbers of patients, we don't have the staff.
WARD: When you look at doctors like Dr. Nahala, who could be overseas, are you impressed?
KAHLER: I'm not just impressed. I'm all inspired by them. This is a passion to them. The doctors that person these hospitals, those are the real heroes.
WARD: Heroes armed with little more than determination and resilience. What goes through your mind when you see a child die because you don't have the right equipment to care for that child?
[01:05:13] ARISHI: I can't speak. Also, I am a mother, I am a mom, I have three kids. But this is what's in our hands, this is our facilities. And we are daily peaking, but no one heard us.
WARD: A cry for help, but for Hazar, it is too late. He dies the day after our visit. Another death that could've been prevented in Yemen's forgotten war. Clarissa Ward, CNN, Aden.
SESAY: Joining me now is Fadia Najeeb Thabet. Fadia is a Yemeni Human Right Activist and Child Protection Officer, she joins us now from Vermont. Fadia, thank you so much for being with us.
FADIA NAJEEB THABET, YEMENI HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST AND CHILD PROTECTION OFFICER (via Skype): Thank you for having me.
SESAY: In the days leading up to the killing of former Yemeni leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, there was an intensification in the violence in Yemen. What are you hearing about the situation right now?
THABET: We still have a lot of blockades that happened from the coalitions, 100 percent. And we have a lot of shortage of medical supplies. We have the (INAUDIBLE), and cholera, and malnutrition that organizations are trying -- they couldn't even just, like, tackle it because of the -- because of the diseases that has spread all over the country. But the thing is, with all the recent incidents that happened -- for the former President Saleh, it's really hard to prevent what's next.
It's really hard to predict what might just like look like tomorrow and after tomorrow. All the social media have been blocked recently. A lot of assassinations and abductions and force (INAUDIBLE) that happened to Saleh at night. So, whatever now happening, it's kind of like a revenge from the Houthis group against anyone who was allied with the Saleh.
SESAY: Yes. The level of suffering in Yemen is staggering. The U.N. says, 8.4 million Yemenis are just a step away from famine. And according to aid workers, the continuing Saudi-led blockade -- which as we all know began in October in response to a missile fired by Houthis at Riyadh. The blockade is limiting vital supplies of fuel, food, and medicine. So, I guess the question at this stage has to be, Fadia: whether the limiting of these essential items is being used as a tool of ward by the Saudi-led coalition. I mean, what do you make of it?
THABET: Well, that currently is only impacting the civilians who've been suffering so far from this crisis. I was a humanitarian aid worker in the past, and I never witnessed something impacted the whole country. 26.5 million people is impacted by the whole (INAUDIBLE). So, whatever that we try, just like, punish the Houthis, by the blockade, all this humanitarian aid, we are actually punishing a whole country. 26.5 million people that we are trying to block any humanitarian assistance from them. And that's one the hardest thing -- actually, the Saudi is doing.
But also, at the same time, when we are looking to a different part of Yemen, for example like Taiz or other cities, they are under siege. Since that -- the Houthis took control in 2014, so the whole crisis is not just only coming from one side, we have also the Houthis that's taking control and blocking humanitarian aid, and targeting humanitarian civilians and humanitarian workers on the ground. So, for -- to make it short, what are we going to expect next? We don't know what we expect next. We are going to -- through the darkest time ever in this war.
SESAY: Yes. It's staggering and hard to fully comprehend, really. You've spoken specifically about what is happening to children in this crisis. Describe for our viewers the reality that they are facing.
THABET: It's really hard to describe it for someone just, like, worked in the past in a small company that happened from al-Qaeda or another terrorist, or even from the government. But for children, I was supposed to have the really peaceful life, was supposed to enjoy their childhood. They're being recruited -- from the government or even from the Houthis. Everyone involved by just like -- targeting customaries is part of the war, but I guess, the thing that we are going to face in Yemen, the way that we are going to supposed to address the reconciliation.
If something would happen in the future to bring all the parties together in order to have a justice and reconciliation process. Although that I would believe that if we will have that, we have to have grassroots engaging in this process. (INAUDIBLE) that needs to be part of it, and the reconciliation process and engaging them in the community -- it's part of the whole process.
SESAY: Fadia, last question to you. If this conflict is not resolved for the foreseeable future, what is at stake for Yemen?
[01:10:05] THABET: Everything. Our future. Our hope. Our dreams and hope for our kids. Everything. We need to have the -- we to have the intentions. We need to well just like step forward to take this negotiation, and being on the table. And someone was -- who was in the ground, and someone who just like to command a lot of human rights activist. Women need to be engaging the peace talks. Women suffered a lot, and they took a lot of positions when their man -- just like went to the frontlines fighting. The thing is a lot of, a lot of peace talks and awareness happening in the grassroots when women are engaging. But the thing is, that is a miscommunication when this is happening though. A government or a proxy, as an efficient proxy is --
SESAY: Yes. I absolutely agree. The key to, you know, a sustainable, satisfactory peace deal is to include all parties, including women who've suffered a tremendous amount in this conflict. Fadia Najeeb Thabet, thank you so much for speaking to us. Thank you.
Well, two-and-a-half-years of conflicts in Yemen have led to one of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Access for western journalist there is extremely rare. CNN Clarissa Ward gets firsthand look at what has been called the world's forgotten war. It's where families are struggling to survive in the middle of a proxy war. Sickness and famine are rampant, almost a million people have cholera -- one of the largest outbreaks in the world. And medicine and food are in short supply.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WARD: So, they have some bread.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WARD: Some onions.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WARD: No meat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, you can watch close this full report at this tomorrow; 6:00 in the morning if you are in London, 2:00 in the afternoon for those of you in Hong Kong. We're going to take a very quick break here. A new snag for Brexit negotiations: the British prime minister's defeat in parliament explained. And the Republican defeat in Alabama has the U.S. president trying very quickly to change the subject.
SESAY: A day before British Prime Minister Theresa May travels to Brussels to meet with E.U. leaders, parliament dealt her a setback. Lawmakers narrowly voted to have final say on a Brexit deal before a withdrawal can begin. The prime minister had promised members of parliament of what she called "a meaningful vote on the agreement."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I'm very happy to confirm to right honorable friend, that we've all put the final withdrawal agreement between the U.K. and the E.U. to 13 best houses of parliament before it comes into force. As we have said, we expect the U.K. parliament to vote ahead of the European Parliament, so we fully expect parliament to vote well before March 2019. So, to be clear, the final deal will be agreed before we leave and right honorable and honorable members will get a vote on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[01:15:01] SESAY: But, that wasn't enough for opponents. The parliament voted against government on any final deal. The prime minister could be forced to renegotiate with Brussels, and that could lead to the U.K. leaving the union without a trade deal. Stakes are very high. But Washington is dealing with the aftershocks of Alabama's stunning
Senate election. One source, close to the White House, called Republican Roy Moore's defeat an earthquake. Now, President Trump is trying to put the focus back on his tax plan. Jim Acosta reports.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Trying to stir a wound Republican Party back on message. President Trump touted the GOP's tax plan -- that appears on its way to final passage.
TRUMP: Our current tax code is burdensome, complex, and profoundly unfair. It has exported our jobs, closed our factories, and left millions of parents where that their children might be the first general to have less opportunity than the last.
ACOSTA: The GOP plan is expected to lower the corporate tax rate to 21 percent, from the top rate for individuals to 37 percent, reduced the mortgage deduction for homeowners, and repeal the individual mandate and Obamacare. A holiday gift the president claims for taxpayers.
TRUMP: We want to give you, the American people, a giant tax cut for Christmas. And when a giant, I mean giant.
ACOSTA: But the president received an early lump of coal in his stocking in the form of the Alabama senate race -- where Democrat Doug Jones pulled off a major upset of Mr. Trump's endorsed candidate Roy Moore. It was a defeat for the president who defied warnings from fellow Republicans -- who rejected Moore -- instead of listening to his former Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon.
TRUMP: A lot of Republicans feel differently. They're very happy with the way it turned out. But I would've -- as the leader of the party, I would've liked to have had to see. I want to endorse the people that are running.
ACOSTA: President engaged in some revisionist history. Tweeting, "I said, Roy Moore, will not be able to win the general election. I was right. Roy worked hard, but the deck was stacked against him." But that ignores the fact that the president put his full weight behind Moore, who has been accused of child molestation.
TRUMP: He says it didn't happen. And you know, you have to listen to him also.
ACOSTA: Even touting Moore's candidacy just across the Alabama border in Florida.
TRUMP: This guy is screaming: we want Roy Moore. He's right.
ACOSTA: Republicans who have clashed with the president were celebrating Moore's defeat.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: And that we're supposed to cheer for our side of the aisle if you will, but I'm really, really happy with what happened, for all of us.
ACOSTA: While Democrats argued, the Senate should wait for Jones to be seated before a new vote on the GOP tax plan.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: I think that's the right thing to do because the people of Alabama have spoken who they want to be representing them.
ACOSTA: Others in the GOP pointed fingers at Bannon, accusing the conservative firebrand of leading the party into a disaster.
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: He's not even as much as a political issue, almost as a moral issue. This guy does not belong on the national stage. He looks like some disheveled drunk that wandered onto the political stage.
ACOSTA: Bannon's response to Moore's loss: no apologies.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER CHIEF WHITE HOUSE STRATEGIST: That's because the Democrats hustled, and, you know, people have got to understand, you don't turn out, they're going to turn out. They did, you know, hat tip to these guys at the DNC.
ACOSTA: But the election in Alabama wasn't the only source of turmoil for the White House as a top aide and former star of Mr. Trump's show "The Apprentice", Omarosa Manigault, abruptly left her position. A reminder of the mountain of melodrama the president has brought to the West Wing that feels like a flashback.
TRUMP: Omarosa has to go. You're fired.
ACOSTA: Republican sources close to the White House and up on Capitol Hill tells CNN, the president is being warned to stay away from Steve Bannon heading into the 2018 midterm elections. In the words of one source, the president has egg on his face because he listened to Bannon. Jim Acosta, CNN, The White House.
SESAY: Well, for more in all of this: Political Analyst, Michael Genovese, joins us once again. So, Michael, the president is being warned to stay away from Steve Bannon. The question is: will he do so?
MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think he can. I think they're kind of drawing it at the hip. They both believe that there's a deep state, they're both paranoid about that deep state, how to get them.
SESAY: This deep state being this kind of coterie of Democrats or critics of the government out to undermine the Trump administration.
GENOVESE: It's more like the permanent (INAUDIBLE) in the intelligence establishment, old money, the establishment period.
SESAY: At the ball? GENOVESE: And Donald Trump's inaugural address attacked them, and that comes straight out of Steve Bannon. And so, the two of them, drawing at the hip, and while they are going to have a rough road of it because the establishment Republicans don't want Bannon anywhere near them. The president's going to keep pulling them in.
SESAY: What is the legacy of the Roy Moore candidacy for the GOP brand? He lost. So, those who are relieved, the president can take a somewhat sanguine view of things now. But, really, when you look at this, you look at, you know, midterms around the corner, what's the fallout from this?
GENOVESE: Well, because we're lost, the Republicans may just try to bury him.
SESAY: But can they? Can you bury someone who the president gave full throttle endorsement here?
[01:20:04] GENOVESE: Donald Trump has the way of stealing the center of attention away from whatever the story is, with the new shiny object. And so, to the extent that the Democrats try to make more an issue, he will try to do a distractive -- distracting tactic and just does it very well. It works. And we turn to the new shiny object.
SESAY: Very clear. I want to talk about the tax plan, which they are -- it seems they're trying to move heaven and Earth to get it passed before Doug Jones is seated. I mean, this according to economist and, you know, varies, tax (INAUDIBLE) is a bad plan -- this is what people are saying. It's going to add something like 1.4 trillion to the debt, it only increases the economy by, like, 0.4 percent as opposed to the three to five percent that they've been saying. If they pass this in a hurry, will there be blowback for the GOP? I know the president's trying to turn the page, but is it a risky move?
GENOVESE: It's risky only in a sense that if you don't do it, the president runs the risk of being as being a failure for the entire first year. He's had no major legislative successes. So, I think no matter what's in this bill, he wants it passed. And so, yes, it may be a terrible bill in the long run; yes, it will add to the deficit; and yes, the middle-class tax cuts are going to be eliminated in a few years. It's a boondoggle for the wealthy, but it's something.
And I think the president, being kind of a day trader wants to get a win, no matter what the win is -- and he'll suffer the consequences when? Eight, ten years from now. And so, in a short run, it would be a victory for him. And if he wins this, which it looks like he will, it's going to be unusual because of Mitch McConnell, when Obama was president, kept on saying, well, we don't want to vote for the Supreme Court nominee.
GENOVESE: Because, you know, the people need to speak in the election. Well, you could use the same logic, and say, well, let's wait until the new senator from Alabama is in office. They're not going to do that. They're going to rush it through, they're going to get something done. Probably by the end of the week, beginning on next week, they'll pass something.
SESAY: Well, the people of Alabama spoke and they elected Doug Jones. And we have to take a listen to how he described the effort of getting that win. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG JONES, DEMOCRATIC SENATE-ELECT FOR ALABAMA: We knocked on 300,000 doors, we ranged 1.2 million phones across the state. We knew what we were doing. We knew the importance of minority votes, and we reached out. So, I think they responded. But I also believed this: I think we had a lot support from the leadership and the African- American community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: All right. So, he's talking about, you know, their muscular get out the vote operation. I mean, were you surprised at how it played out in terms of this effort. I mean, it's truly impressive when you hear some of the details -- that they put billboards in places where African-Americans would actually see them a bit. They went into colleges. They gave people a ride. I mean, why hasn't the Democratic Party kind of pull this kind of effort out before, if you understood what I mean, in the south.
GENOVESE: Right. Barack Obama did this. He had a very sophisticated ground game. The problem was, it was Barack Obama's ground game, it wasn't the Democratic Party's. And I think to fault President Obama, he did not incorporate the two together. It was a personal victory. And so, the Democrats is kind of reinventing the wheel. The only reason they were able to do this in Alabama is because they ran against a poor candidate who had such a -- so many negatives.
SESAY: I'm going to push back on that to you.
SESAY: Because we just had Michael Harris on a (INAUDIBLE) who is from Alabama. And he actually said, Doug Jones is something of a hero, you know, amongst Black voter of Black Community, for everything he did in prosecuting the clansman for this bombing of the church in 1963. So, I mean, bad candidate? I mean, beloved, and beloved by enough people to win.
GENOVESE: I think Doug Jones was a good candidate for the Democrats. I think he was a very good candidate because of his affiliation with the African-American community. But had you been running against any -- almost any mainstream Republican, this all his efforts would have been in vain. He would have lost. He won partly because of great organization, because of money, because of the message, because he was an attractive candidate. But that was only made possible because the door was opened when Moore was given the nomination -- when he won the nomination and he became such a liability to the Republicans.
SESAY: Does Doug Jones changed the type of candidates fielded by Democrats in raises to come. GENOVESE: That's a great question and the answer is: it should hopefully do so. You need to have people who are really linked to your community, and who have a track record with the African-American community, because, as you know, the African-American community says, you come to us -- Democrats -- every four years, you want a vote, where are you on those in-between years? Don't come to us every four years. And so, someone like Jones who has a demonstrative record of work for African-American issues. That's a big, I think, plus for any Democrat running in the south. And I think that coalition that you saw developed in this race, millennials --
SESAY: Yes, very much so.
[01:25:06] GENOVESE: -- very strong. Educated White women started to pull away from every Republican. African-Americans, that kind of a coalition might be the new south coalition for the Democrats, but it's still going to be an uphill battle for them. The south is red.
SESAY: The south is red, and Roy Moore is still fighting. Take a listen to what he has to say on Wednesday. He's not giving -- that's a clue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY MOORE, FORMER REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE: This election was tainted by over $50 million from outside groups who want to retain power in their own corrupt ideology. No longer is this about Republican or Democrat control, it's truly been said there's not a dimes' worth of difference between them. It's about a Washington establishment, which will not listen to the cries of its (INAUDIBLE), and the battle rages on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: OK. So, who is he trying to rally there?
MOORE: Oh, he's a Tea Party Republican. They comprise a big chunk of that party. They go out and ring doorbells. They donate money. They go out and march. They go out and protest in favor of their candidates and against the opposition. So, he's popular with the Tea Party folks -- so is Donald Trump.
SESAY: So, that's for Donald Trump, and it's not for him, because, you mean, the RNC said this race is over. So, is he trying to rally and for what cause? Is it for personal gain or something bigger?
GENOVESE: I think just he's unable to accept the truth. I mean, he's lost. Everyone knows he's lost the race. Appealing to God as he did. I don't think that's going to help very much. I think he just has to appeal to the voters, and he failed to do that.
SESAY: I want to talk about polling now because the president -- not only for that stunning upset in Alabama with the GOP losing the Senate seat, but also have to look at numbers like this. A new poll out by among those university that puts the president's approval at a new record low of 32 percent. To put in context for our viewers, that is down from 40 percent in September. So, now, you look at that disapproval number. It's now standing at 56 percent. Back in September, it was 49 percent. So, it has grown. I guess, my question is: does the Alabama defeat present itself, or is it a crack in the armor for Donald Trump and his base? Are we going to see numbers like back it was?
GENOVESE: No, that armor was already cracked, and he's been hemorrhaging support. He's unable to move beyond his base, and he's even weakening in terms of some of the polling numbers in his base because he's not delivering. He's delivering on deregulation. He'll deliver on tax cuts. There's a lot of promises he made that he's not delivering on. And so, as long as this battle with the Republican Party between the establishment, and the Tea Party folks goes one, Donald Trump's not going to be able to break out of that one-third support level. And you can't govern effectively if he's not with Congress if you one-third support in the country, and your party has 51 votes in the Senate and a slim majority in the House.
SESAY: But the point -- the question should be asked: is he interested in building beyond that base? Has he shown a sign to being interested in building beyond?
GENOVESE: He'd like to build a personal base. It's all about him. He wants to win. And I think he believes that at the end of the day, going back to your bases, going back home -- those are the people who welcome you. And he's been unable to make inroads elsewhere. And unless he wants to change and become the president for the country as opposed to the president for his base, he's going to suffer the same fate -- which is defeat after defeat, after defeat. He's not going to get his agenda through.
SESAY: Michael Genovese, always insightful. And we always appreciate it, thank you.
GENOVESE: Thank you.
[01:28:42] SESAY: Thank you. All right. Next on NEWSROOM L.A., disturbing new allegations against Russell Simmons, Harvey Weinstein, and many others. We will have the latest.
[01:31:15] SESAY: Hello, everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour: At least 35 people were killed on Wednesday by a Saudi-led airstrike in the capital of Yemen. Another 20 people are missing. Houthi officials also say the building attacked was a military police facility, which was holding hundreds of prisoners at the time.
(INAUDIBLE) British Prime Minister Theresa May key setback on Brexit, it narrowly approved an amendment giving parliament the final say on the eventual agreement before the U.K. leaves the European Union. This comes less than a week after the U.K. and E.U. worked out a deal that allows negotiations to move to a second phase.
U.S. Senate-elect Doug Jones says he has an invitation to visit President Trump at the White House. The Democrat says the President called him after his stunning win in Alabama special election. Through this victory, it shrinked the Republican majority to just one in the Senate.
Another big name actress has joined the list of Harvey Weinstein accusers. In a New York Times op-ed, titled "Harvey Weinstein is My Monster, Too." Salma Hayek writes about repeated instances of sexual harassment while Weinstein had control over her movie, "Frida." Hayek writes this, "He had taken a chance in me, a nobody. He had say. Little did I know it would become my turn to saying no. No to me taking a shower with him; no to letting him watch me take a shower; no to letting him give me a massage. No, no, no, no. And with every refusal came Harvey's Machiavellian rage. I don't think he hated anything more than the word, no." Weinstein has not responded to her story.
And more allegations against music mogul Russell Simmons. Los Angeles Times says five more women have come forward, one accusing him of rape. And the New York Times reports on three other accusers. The allegation spanned three decades. Simmons is denying the claims, telling the L.A. Times, quote, I have never been violent or abusive to any women in any way at any time in my entire life. Well, Jasmyne Cannick is a social and political commentator. And she joins us now. Jasmyne, good to see again.
JASMYNE CANNICK, SOCIAL & POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hello.
SESAY: These new allegations against Russell Simmons -- I mean, first of all, let's just make clear to our viewers, Russell is called "The Godfather of Hip-hop." So, given his status in the music industry, given the status in hip-hop, what's been the reaction?
CANNICK: In terms of what I've heard, very little. I think the media is making a bigger deal out of it than I feel women are right now. And I don't know that could change. These things happen in waves. But then again, we're talking about hip-hop, where violence against women is sort of a given, it's sort of accepted. So, there's no telling what the reaction is going to be because I'm sure Russell Simmons isn't the only one when you talk about hip-hop.
SESAY: Yes. Can you just -- can we stay with Russell for just a second? When you say it's hip-hop and, you know, people aren't responding in outrage, how were they squaring it? What are they telling themselves that because it's hip-hop, this is OK, or these allegations aren't bad, what are they saying, how do you -- your understanding of it? What's the rationale?
CANNICK: They're artists, you know, again, when you talk about violence, what is -- what is what is violence to a person like Russell Simmons, right? Who comes out of the hip-hop industry, who has been around for decades, right? So, maybe he didn't consider what he's being alleged of done as being violent or violence, while a lot of women today probably would, you know? Again, we're talking about an industry where it is accepted to act a certain way towards women, to speak to women a certain way. [01:35:05] And to some extent for quite some time, women have allowed
it to try to move forward in the hip-hop industry whether it was to be a hip-hop artist, to be in a video, to work for someone like Russell Simmons. And so, when we talk about MeToo, I would say #MeToo, what next now, right, in terms of let's move this conversation into the music industry, and particularly, the hip-hop industry.
SESAY: So, you wrote about this. And again, just for our viewers, if you're just joining us, Russell Simmons has denied these allegations and said he's never been violent to a woman at any point in his life, what he's stating. But I also want to read this piece that, Jasmyne, that you wrote that's on your blog, jasmineonline.com. And you said this, let's put it up on our screens. "While it's no secret that the film industry has an undeniable problem with complicity when it comes to the sexual harassment and abuse of women, less talked about is the music industry's complicity and role in adding to the stories of MeToo," the obvious question is why the difference?
CANNICK: I don't know why there's a difference, but we have got to talk about hip-hop and we have got to talk about the violence in hip- hop, the misogyny in hip-hop, we have to talk about what our values are as women, right? So, I don't want to be at a rally talking about MeToo women jumping in my car and throwing on someone like R. Kelly or some other rapper who is demeaning me and degrading me and bouncing along to it, right? That's a little hypocritical. But we have to move into that conversation. Perhaps Russell Simmons will be the gateway into that conversation, being that he is the godfather of hip- hop. But this has been going on quite some time.
SESAY: And to that point, because sadly, we're almost out of time, I do want to touch specifically on the R. Kelly situation because that is one worth pausing to take note of.
CANNICK: It sure is.
SESAY: He is a man who has faced -- do you have account of how many allegations and how many years this has span? And yet, he continues to tow, he continues to be --
SESAY: -- to sell-out. Why are these allegations not outraging people? Why has his career not come to a stop? Why does he still have a career? Or because other people are losing their livelihoods and jobs on the bases of allegations.
CANNICK: You're absolutely right.
SESAY: So, why is it different for R. Kelly?
CANNICK: I really don't have an answer for that. I do know that R. Kelly is where he is at because of women who look like you and me. We are the ones who are buying his albums and selling out his concerts. And that's really troubling and it's --
SESAY: Very. CANNICK: You know, it's one of those things where, again, as black women, we need to figure out what our values are and not blame the victims. I mean, look, this man married Aaliyah, and Aaliyah was underage at the time. So, this has been going on quite some time.
SESAY: And is quite reported. Why (INAUDIBLE)
SESAY: The conversation must continue. We will certainly do our part to keep it going. Jasmyne Cannick, appreciate it always. Thank you.
CANNICK: Thank you.
SESAY: Thank you for the honesty. Thank you. All right. A quick break here, net neutrality could soon be a thing of the past in the U.S. Why is that so unpopular with the American public, next.
[01:40:22] SESAY: The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is set to vote Thursday on revoking net neutrality protections. That's despite a widespread public outcry among people who say the rules ensure a free and open internet. A repeal would allow internet providers to slow down or block access to certain content and even charge more so long as those practices are disclosed. Lawmakers who opposed the move include Jay Inslee, the Governor of the State of Washington. He says he's taking action to protect his constituents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: Washington State will act under our own authority and under our own laws and under our own jurisdiction to protect the very important measure of net neutrality for all Washington citizens. We're here to say that we are not powerless today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: For more, we're joined by Washington Governor Jay Inslee. Governor Inslee, welcome.
INSLEE: Thank you.
SESAY: So, we're going to get to the steps your state is prepared to take to protect net neutrality in just a moment, but first, I want to -- I want to read part of the letter you wrote to the Federal Communications Commission, urging rejection on the proposal to repeal net neutrality. You said this and we're going to put it up on the screen for our viewers: "The internet has become an unparalleled economic engine generating millions of new jobs while providing even the smallest businesses in the United States access to a global marketplace. We should not be taking steps that undermine its core purpose. This is as critical as freedom of speech."
Governor Inslee, many consider the freedom of speech to be one of the bedrocks of American democracy. Do you really see the issue of net neutrality as being that important to this country?
INSLEE: I certainly do because if any internet provider can block your message because it doesn't meet their ideological demands, if they can slow down your speeds because you aren't willing to pay the charge that they want to extract from you. If you can't communicate, you can't speak. Communication itself, a system of communication is necessary to speech. So, this is both a speech issue and a freedom issue, it is also an economic development and an innovation issue that is critical. And the thing is, this has been such a marvelous endeavor in the Internet that while we've had freedom from restriction has worked, it is really disappointing to me that during the Obama administration, we created these freedoms and protections for Americans to have President Trump come in here and yet again, sell out consumers and small businesses, this is most disappointing. Now, what we did today is to act on this.
SESAY: So, we did -- and you did. And before we get to that, I want to pick up on Ajit Pai, the FCC commissioner says about, you know, this move to repeal net neutrality because he too clearly sees it in terms of, you know, having economic -- in his cases, benefits he would argue, and also sees it as a development issue. But he says, you know, the current net neutrality rules make it hard for telecoms to expand their network, which in turn, leads to less innovation in business plans, and would eventually harm the economy. And as he lays it out, where are the holes in his argument?
INSLEE: Well, the holes are gigantic because there hasn't been any articulated reason why these companies cannot grow their businesses. In fact, they're growing their businesses by leaps and bounds. And there is such a hypocrisy in this argument because, at the same time, these -- the opponents of net neutrality, the companies who wish to violate net neutrality, they are used simultaneously that you need to get rid of this rule so we can expand. And they also argue that they won't do anything to violate net neutrality if they were allowed to do so. It is clear that they have a business plan which would generate billions of dollars with a B for them if they were allowed to slow down our access, block our access in order to take care of favored customers, either economically or ideologically.
So, let's be clear, we can't be so naive to think these companies are going to spend millions of dollars lobbying against protecting net neutrality, and then think they're not going to violate it if the rule is removed. You know what the game is here and it can't be allowed. Now, that's why my state is moving forward, I hope we can talk about what our state is doing.
[01:45:06] SESAY: No, absolutely. I mean, I want to quote one of your senators said, Democratic Senator Reuven Carlyle, who's also been a leader in the fight for net neutrality, and this is how he framed the battle: "It is our right as a state to prevent a reckless and power-intoxicated federal government from handing over access to the free flow of information to the largest corporations on this planet. Net Neutrality isn't a department down the hall or a footnote by a nameless, faceless bureaucracy in Washington D.C., it's a 21st-century version of America's Town Square, and we're here to defend democracy itself." Governor Inslee, if net neutrality was to be repealed and left unchallenged, what would it mean specifically for states such as your own?
INSLEE: Well, the most important message from our state today is that we are not powerless. States maintain the ability legally to embrace a whole sweet of things that will protect net neutrality. So, we're going to act in my state if this rule is repealed, we are going to take action to protect my consumers and my businesses, and we're going to do several things. First, we're going to make sure that consumers knows that they're not being abused through inappropriate slowing of their service and make sure that representations, in fact, are followed by the ISPs. Second, we are going to use our procurement power. My government, the government I run is the largest purchaser of these services in the State of Washington. And we will tell the ISPs, if you do not provide net neutrality to all 7 million people in Washington, you're not going to have a customer in the State of Washington. We're going to use our procurement power.
Third, there are measures we can use to not give the benefit of access to our telephone poles for stringing wire by using a protocol we have established. If you're not a good corporate citizen that provides net neutrality. Of course, we're going to look through a whole suite of measures that can effectively replace the federal net neutrality standards. We're going to have to read the specific rule if it comes out tomorrow to see how to do that. But we believe we continue to have jurisdiction to be able to provide our own state-based net neutrality protocols. And we intend to use to the maximum. And we will not be intimidated by the Trump administration on this, we're going to act.
SESAY: So, let me ask you this, as you layout all those steps that you will take if indeed net neutrality is repealed, how far would such steps go and actually countering the steps taken by the federal government? In other words, how much of a difference can you make in this battle by taking your own state-wide steps?
INSLEE: It's my belief looking at what the ability of states are that we should be able to emerge as the victor in this battle for freedom and economic growth and net neutrality. Both are freedom of speech or democracy and the ability to maintain this incredible pace of innovation or stake in this regard. And we heard from some great business people today talking about that, including the creative genius as Guinness (ph) music. We had a person from Sub Pop Records who says, this is going to choke out ability to get creative talent from the music industry as well. So, it's a battle worth fighting. By the way, the American people are with us on this. There are huge majorities against this. This is yet another case where the president is ignoring public sentiment in favor of a fair shake for consumers.
SESAY: Well, the vote will take place on Thursday. We'll all be watching it very closely, there's no doubt, there's a lot at stake. Governor Jay Inslee, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
INSLEE: Thank you. You bet.
SESAY: Well, White House adviser Omarosa Manigault-Newman last left the White House. The official word is that she resigned but there are reports that had departure words were rather dramatic. CNN's Randi Kaye has the details.
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Her departure can only be described as abrupt. The official White House line is that presidential aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman resigned to pursue other opportunities. But there may be more to it. Turns out, she was escorted off the campus of the White House, Tuesday evening. The Secret Service denies they were the ones to remove her. In a statement, White House Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders saying simply, "Her departure will not be effective until January 20th, 2018. We wish her the best in future endeavors and are grateful for her service."
Omarosa, one of Trump's most high-profile African-American supporters joined the administration as Director of Communications for the White House office of public liaison.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Omarosa is actually a very nice person, nobody knows that.
KAYE: To call Omarosa polarizing would be an understatement. Her White House job, at least on paper, was to rally support for the President's agenda.
OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEWMAN, FORMER DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS FOR THE WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF PUBLIC LIAISON: The President made a commitment, he made a promise, and he will keep that promise --
[01:50:02] KAYE: But once General John Kelly took over as Chief of Staff, there were more questions about her role.
There was no organization, no calendar, nothing, one former official told POLITICO, and in the New York Times, recently, one person close to the White House compared the Office of Public Liaison to the island of misfit toys, a dumping ground of sorts for Trump allies, says POLITICO.
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No one has known what Omarosa's duties were. Here she's making $180,000 of taxpayers' money and no one knew what she was doing.
KAYE: What also reportedly got under Kelly's skin was Omarosa's impact on the President's mood.
RYAN: The President would be in a good mood, they say. And then, she would go in and point out an article or something, a news piece, and would turn the President's mood.
KAYE: This certainly wouldn't be the first time Omarosa had been fired by Donald Trump.
TRUMP: But Omarosa, you're fired.
KAYE: The two first met around 2004 when she became the star villain on Trump's hit NBC show, "The Apprentice."
NEWMAN: Where being disrespectful is not good leadership.
KAYE: She also worked on his campaign, but in the White House, Omarosa found trouble. The New York Times says she was on what's called General Kelly's "no-fly list," a list of aids unfit to attend serious meetings, yet she reportedly showed up anyway, and was on the phone with the President late at night offering advice and senior aides will never forget how she showed up in the White House in April with her 39-person bridal party for a wedding photo shoot in the Rose Garden. Media reports say the White House banned her from posting any of the photos citing security concerns. The Apprentice, it turns out, was a good lesson from Omarosa, no job is safe not even at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
SESAY: Next on NEWSROOM L.A., the newest chapter of the Star Wars saga has started opening in theaters around the world, will it live up to expectations from fans and the box office? We'll take a close look.
SESAY: A medical miracle in England, a baby born with her heart outside her body has survived surgery to put it back into her chest. Vanellope Hope Wilkins is three weeks old, and her parents couldn't be happier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAOMI FINDLAY, MOTHER OF VANELLOPE HOPE: She came out kicking and screaming.
DEAN WILKINS, FATHER OF VANELLOPE HOPE: And then she got (INAUDIBLE) didn't she?
FINDLAY: It was -- it was a beautiful moment. One absolutely beautiful. If you saw her when she was first born to where she is now and what they've done. It's --
WILKINS: A miracle, isn't it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: It certainly is. It took three operations and 50 medical professionals to save her life. Doctors say she's the first baby to survive this kind of operation in U.K. history. Another girl in Houston, Texas survived this procedure back in 2012. She's a very lucky little girl.
Well, Star Wars fans have waited two years to see "The Last Jedi," the latest film in the epic outer space franchise. The previous movie in the series, "The Force Awakens," smashed box office records, leaving Death Star-sized expectations. Those are pretty big expectations. CNN's Anna Stewart reports.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Inside me has always been.
[01:54:59] ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: The old characters are back. And the nasty new ones. Not to mention rumored stormtrooper cameo performances from Prince William and Prince Harry. The trailer has been dissected, the red carpet rolled up, now as the clock strikes midnight, fans in London and much of the world are finally able to see "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" for themselves.
Well, all film in this series was "The Force Awakens" and it was a huge success at the box office. It had the highest grossing opening weekend of any film ever in the U.S. However, that film was the first after a decade. This "Star Wars" movie is the third in three years, which has leaned many people to question whether or not fans are going to start to get franchise fatigue.
BOB IGER, CEO, DISNEY: We think the way they're releasing it is the right way, so that the trilogy, in this case, is every other year, and we build in the middle with something that is not part of the trilogy, so we don't think we're overdoing it at all.
STEWART: Since buying Lucasfilm in 2012, Disney have bought some superhero strategy for galaxy far, far away.
Ironman, Captain America, and Thor have all been hugely successful Marvel standalones. Star Wars' anthology movie, "Rogue One" was well received. But box office returns where nowhere near "The Force Awakens."
KEVIN QUIGG, CHIEF STRATEGIST, ACSI FUNDS: The last move was sort of a test case on how the new franchise with J.J. Abrams would do. People bought into it. It was very successful so that increases the likelihood that they're not just seeing if they like it, they know they like it, they're going to go and see it again to continue the story.
STEWART: Yes, Disney's galactic ambition for the franchise has divided some of the fan empire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I liked "Rogue One" I cried like three times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not interested in watching like a Han Solo film or something like that. I just want, you know, the main -- the main story. I'm not really interested in spinoffs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since Disney kind of took the franchise over, they've done a really good job with it, so I personally think it's great.
STEWART: If the turnout here is anything to go by, the force will be strong at the box office. Anna Stewart, CNNMoney, London.
SESAY: And I'm very excited. You're watching NEWSROOM L.A., I'm Isha Sesay. Much more news right after this, so do stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[02:00:05] SESAY: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore releasing a new video, still not conceding he lost while the rest of Donald Trump's party --