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Trump's Twitter Rant and Gold Round; Russia Conducts Aggressive Military Maneuvers; Has the Me Too Movement Gone Too Far? Aired 1-2a ET
Aired December 27, 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: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, a holiday Twitter rant: President Trump takes aim at the Russia investigation and the FBI, then he goes and plays golf.
Cold and crammed -- Rohingya children and refugee camps are in desperate need of international aid, so why isn't enough of it coming?
Plus, from slave auctions in Africa to Saudi -- women behind the wheels, to the nuclear standoff with North Korea. We'll show you our top international stories of 2017.
Hello, and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.
Well, we begin with President Trump, wrapping up 2017 with new criticism of the FBI and the Russia investigation. He took specific aim at the now infamous Russia dossier, tweeting this: "Wow, 'Fox and Friends, dossier is bogus, Clinton Campaign and DNC-funded dossier. FBI cannot, after all this time, verify claims, in dossier, a Russia- Trump collusion, FBI tainted.' And they used this crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for the going after the Trump Campaign.
The president also played some golf on the day he promised to get back to work, and that gave fact-checkers some time to look over his tweets. CNN's Jessica Schneider reports.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The president has tweeted that the Russian dossier is "bogus", but, really, that's not entirely accurate. So, it is true that the most salacious allegations contained in the dossier have not been verified, but the broad assertion on the dossier that Russia waged to the campaign, to interfere in the U.S. election in 2016, that is now accepted as fact by the U.S. intelligence community. And it is important to note that U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials, they did their own works; separate and apart from a dossier that supported their findings that Russia tried to meddle in favor of President Trump.
Plus, CNN reported earlier this year that other aspects of the dossier like communications between senior Russian officials and other Russians mentioned in memos. Those actually didn't take place as well. And sources do say that the FBI last year used the dossier as part of the justification to win approval to secretly monitor former Trump Campaign Associate, Carter Page. Now, the president also claimed on Twitter that the dossier was the basis for investigating the Trump campaign. Now, that, again, is not entirely accurate, in fact, the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, they have used the dossier as part of the investigation, but it is not the entire basis for Mueller inquiry, and he has his team, it has its own investigation.
In fact, in the four people who have been charged so far, there has been no reference to the dossier or its findings in any of those indictments. So, Mueller's team, though, it didn't meet this past summer with the author of the dossier, the former British Spy, Christopher Steele -- that's according to sources. And it is possible that information from Christopher Steele could help investigators determine, whether contacts between people associated with the Trump Campaign and suspected Russian operations. Whether they broke any laws. Well, otherwise, this dossier, as we can tell, it continues to be a subject, a debate, and criticism, and parts of it have been corroborated but this dossier will likely to continue to be a talking point as we head into 2018. Jessica Schneider, CNN Washington.
SESAY: Well, joining me now, Michael Genovese is the President of the Global Policy Institute at the Loyola Marymount. Thank you so much for being with us, Michael, always good to see you.
MICHAEL GENOVESE, PRESIDENT OF THE GLOBAL POLICY INSTITUTE AT THE LOYOLA MARYMOUNT: My pleasure.
SESAY: So, I mean, obviously, neither you nor I was in the president's head, but you do have to wonder how he is just defying these attacks on the FBI. I mean, how do you see it?
GENOVESE: Well, it's part of this lengthy, ongoing obsession he's had. It started as a slow-burning, and it's now reached almost wildfire proportion, and I think it's because as the Mueller investigation goes further and further, the news -- he feels it tightening around his neck, or his family's neck, or the administration's neck. And so, if you're innocent, you would want these stories to come out.
If you're guilty, would want to discredit the source. And so, the president, I'm not saying he's guilty because I don't know.
SESAY: Sure. Nobody knows.
GENOVESE: But I do know he's acting like he's guilty. And so, he keeps on screaming -- tweet, tweet shouts about this person, that person, and it's got an obsessive quality that is unnerving to people who read it, who thinks is this guy getting unhinged?
SESAY: I mean, to have the president call the FBI tainted, is to seriously call into question the credibility, the integrity of the agency, and we've seen him do this before. We saw him take on the judiciary in a similar way. When he is displeased, he calls into question the integrity of the opposing party. [01:05:15] GENOVESE: Right, and is partly the old Trump against the deep state debate. That Steve Bannon and Trump working against the deep state which is the Central Intelligence Agency, FBI, permanent bureaucracy, all of whom he sees as against him, and he takes it very personally. And this has been going on for a long time. You remember his inaugural address was an attack on the establishment. And so, he keeps on pounding away at that. The impact it has is that it will create some doubt amongst his base as to the credibility of any story that comes out later that is very damaging -- and that's really the object here.
The way Richard Nixon did in Watergate when he sent his vice president to criticize the (INAUDIBLE) of negativism than the news. You try to undermine their credibility, try to discredit them preemptively before the report comes out. And when the report comes out, you say, see, I told you so.
SESAY: I want you to take a listen to what Michael Caputo said, Michael Caputo of the Trump Campaign. He spoke to CNN on Tuesday, and this was his take on the president's tweets. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL CAPUTO, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT AND MEDIA CONSULTANT: I know that's disappointing for some people, but the president is highlighting this bias to the American people for a good a reason. If there's going to be an investigation, it must be unbiased.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: He says the tweets are an insurance policy. I mean, just to take that in for a moment, you know, as a historian, to have a president go on the attack in this way, I mean, what does it mean for the presidency, the institution of the presidency, the standing of it?
GENOVESE: It sets up to three branches, tri-part system, as one against two. As the presidency against everyone else, it sets the presidency apart. And by doing so, you undermine the credibility of the American system, American's judicial affairs. It's the media. The Congress, even, is going to be up first. And now, the intelligence gathering is also being criticized. And so, you basically say, it's me against the world. It's me against the establishment. I'm the guy who's trying to wreck the establishment, and their being defense is they're now doing things to get me. And so, I think from Trump's perspective, it's -- these were all the bad guys trying to get me. I think, but if you look at it from a little distance, you think, wait a minute, he's undermining everything that we've grown to respect and admire, and that the world is drawn to admire about American -- a free judiciary, a free press, an adversarial political party system. All those things that make us stable and democratic are the things that he's now starting to say, need to be undermined, need to be soft.
SESAY: Some would say it's -- some would say it's ironic as his motto and his campaign slogan was "make America great again." Some would say, these are the very things that make America great -- these institutions. That his actions are -- he's eroding trust in these very institutions.
GENOVESE: But he has eroded trust because that trust, in those other institutions, is going to be the thing that he's going to have to counter if in fact, the Mueller investigation produces some really damaging information. If the congressional committees come up with something really damaging, he has to start now softening those institutions, so that when he does, if he does need to attack them when it comes down to war, he needs to have said, I knew from the beginning, I told you from the beginning, this is what they're going to do, now they've done it.
SESAY: There's another line of thinking here. I don't know where you stand on it, there are those critics of the president who say this is about softening the ground and laying the work for pardons. That is if, in the event that these investigations result in prosecutions and judgments against convictions of aides, family members --
SESAY: -- possibly, that this is what he's doing. He's working to laying a framework for, do you agree?
GENOVESE: I think he's got bigger fish to fry. I think the pardon thing is always there for him. I think the Joe Arpaio pardon a few months ago, was a signal to everyone around him, be loyal, don't spill the beans, you'll get pardoned if you get in trouble. So, I think he was playing that game from the very beginning. But I think this is much bigger than just the pardon game, it's about a sense of where you position yourself vis a vis the American traditions, the American institutions, the American values. He's standing apart from those things and saying to the American public, come with me. Now, the American public is saying, no, we rely on these institutions, this is what made us great, this is why we are great; not being great again, this is why we are great. And so, you're going to see Donald Trump in constant conflict with the establishment and with our traditions. Who's going to win? I put my mind on the establishment.
[01:10:01] SESAY: Michael, stay with us because we also want to talk about Russia and North Korea. Russia's offering to mediate talks in the nuclear standoff between the U.S. and North Korea -- if both sides agree. Moscow is urging the U.S. to make the first move and start negotiations as soon as possible. The U.S. has said, it first wants Pyongyang to show it wants to return to the negotiating table. Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, told U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, that Washington should stop hyping up the tension, and tone down the rhetoric.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is hoping new sanctions pressure Pyongyang by targeting to officials believed to have improved North Korea's nuclear weapons. The U.S. says Ri Pyong-chol has been crucial in developing the regime's intercontinental missile. And Rocket Scientist, Kim Jong-sik, was key in creating a missile that can be launched faster. Analyst believed, leader Kim Jong-un has high confidence in both men.
Michael, back to you. You know, listen, again, there are two schools of thought: there are those who say, just use the stick when it comes to North Korea. That's all they deserve. That's all that will bring about a change in behavior. But there are others who say, there's got to be some carrot in there somewhere. And right now, I just see a lot of stick.
GENOVESE: Well, you know, in fairness to President Trump, it is the problem he inherited. And the last -- in the last year, North Korea has made significant progress in both developing its nuclear capacity in weaponry, and in delivery systems, and so it's happened pretty quickly. I think the president's instinct is to talk tough, to rely on the stick because he feels more manly, more macho, more in command. And I think his, his sense of the carrot is that's for people who are weak, for losers. But a creative policy brings in both. You try to balance out, you know, the carrot and the stick, the lure of something that you offer with the threat of something you possess. Thus far, it's been -- what is it -- fire and fury that people unleash. I'm not sure that that has as much of an effect because they've already keep ratcheting up the sanctions, entire appropriate but having a very little impact. And so, you know, the question is: OK, if the sanctions and the pressure isn't working, what might? Well, Rex Tillerson said, well, I'll talk to the North Koreans with no preconditions -- of which the point the president said, no, no, no, we're not.
SESAY: And how much is that undermining all of the mix messaging?
GENOVESE: Well, it undermines U.S. secretary of state who's trying to get them to the table, who's trying to get the dialogue going. And it's clear that Trump is less interested in dialogue, and more interested in ratcheting up the rhetoric. And maybe, he was the fire and fury, maybe he thinks that's what's going to solve the problem. I think with North Korea, though, this is kind of the -- the one thing that they want more than anything else, and this is what they think as an insurance policy against, you know, the early access of evil and they feel threatened.
GENOVESE: Whether they really are threatened or not is a different question. They feel threatened.
SESAY: They feel threatened.
GENOVESE: And so, we have to deal with that perception that they have. And so, as long they feel threatened, the nuclear option is the one that they're going to pursue at all cost -- and I mean that as liberally.
SESAY: How much is the president's pressure or this administration's effort to get them to the table undercut by the fact that the president effectively tossed out the Iran nuclear deal.
GENOVESE: Well, if you're North Korea, you're sitting there saying, can I trust this guy? If they make a deal, do they keep their word? You'd be suspicious. And I think that's all the more the reason why North Korea says, no, we've got to keep pushing fast, and hard, and furious to get this not just ready, but deliverable with confidence. They're probably not ready to deliver a nuclear weapon to the United States mainland with any confidence. That will happen though in 2018. They'll get to that point.
SESAY: You feel all about that?
GENOVESE: I think most of the experts say that -- some say that they are now, but most say they're on their way and will be there this year, and I think that's pretty accurate. And so, we've got a little of time but not a lot of time. The president has to say that what I've done for the last year hasn't worked, should I try something else?
SESAY: That is the question. Michael, always appreciate your great insight. Thank you.
GENOVESE: Thank you.
SESAY: All right. Well, the British government says, Russia units have been getting increasingly bold -- traveling too close to U.K. waters. On Christmas Day, a British frigate escorted a Russian warship through the North Sea. And a day earlier, another British ship followed a Russian intelligence-gathering ship in the same general area. Barbara Starr reports Washington is watching closely.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A British Royal Navy helicopter's infrared camera tracks a Russian warship, Christmas Day, as it sailed close to U.K. territorial waters. The latest in what the British government is calling an upsurge in Russian warships too close to its coastline.
It's all part of a message from Moscow to Washington, the Russian Military will be a force to be reckoned with in 2018.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Russians are certainly pushing the envelope, a lot of their activities in the naval and aerial arena are certainly hard-edged in their design to push us to the limits.
[01:15:06] STARR: The question now, how much confrontation will President Trump risk? He has taken an unexpected step, allowing the export of anti-tank weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian-backed rebels in the country where pro-Russia rebels frequently clash with Ukrainian armed forces.
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: It is important for the United States to tell the Russia that we will support Ukraine's ability to defend itself.
STARR: But it's also a risky step.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Putin decides that this is sort of a hostile act and a new U.S. policy to push back on Russia, Russia has everything from covert operatives across the region in Ukraine, and they're able to push back and escalate very significantly. STARR: Vladimir Putin's military has also flown aggressively against
the U.S. pilots in Syria. The Pentagon openly calling it deliberate violation of an agreement to prevent accidents. After that, Moscow appears to have backed off a bit. Putin personally challenging the president's new national security strategy.
TRUMP: We also face rival powers -- Russia and China -- that seek to challenge American influence, values, and wealth. We will attempt to build a great partnership with those and other countries, but in a manner that always protects our national interest.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translation): Diplomatically speaking, if I can put it in two words, it is of an attacking nature. And if we use military terms, it's no doubt aggressive. We need to take that into account in our practical work.
STARR: There is some U.S. leverage -- Moscow maybe nervous that new congressionally-backed sanctions could be strengthened even further. Barbara Starr, CNN, The Pentagon.
SESAY: OK. We're going to pause. A quick break now, a widespread protest in Peru after controversial pardon and a former president who received that pardon asked for forgiveness.
Plus, refugee children with no warm clothes or blanket as winter weather move in. How one aid group is rushing to help hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees next.
SESAY: Well, polls are now closing in Liberia and vote counting has begun in the West African country's long-awaited presidential run-off. The election picks the current Vice President Joseph Boakai, here on the left, begets former Football Star George Weah. Tuesday's vote follows more than a month of political tensions and delays fueled by claims of fraud and irregularities in the first vote. A court eventually dismissed those complaints. Both candidates now appear confident that they will emerge the winner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WEAH, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF LIBERIA: I'm not associated with (INAUDIBLE). This, this victory is second. And I'm going to win. Boakai cannot win or George Weah. (INAUDIBLE) and what happened cannot happen again.
JOSEPH BOAKAI, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE OF LIBERIA: (INAUDIBLE) test of democracy. We won in one time. There were 20 of us, now we're reduced to two. We have delayed. We've gone through a difficult process. This is what the presidents have produced, and we're willing to live with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SESAY: Well, the winner will succeed to Africa's first female head of
state, Nobel Prize Winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Final official results are expected on Friday.
Well, days after he was pardoned, Peru's former president is asking his country to forgive him, Alberto Fujimori, who was serving a 25- year sentence for human rights abuses says the controversial pardon took him by surprise. But critics say, it was part of a shady political deal. Here's Amara Walker.
AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Convicted of bribery, abuse of power and authorizing the killing of civilians by death squad, the former Peruvian leader looks frail in a hospital bed, asking for forgiveness for his crimes.
ALBERTO FUJIMORI, FORMER PRESIDENT OF PERU (through translation): I'm aware that what resulted during my administration, on one hand, was well received, but I recognized that. On the other hand, I've also disappointed other compatriots. To them, I asked forgiveness from the bottom of my heart.
WALKER: From his hospital bed, Alberto Fujimori also thanked the current president, who unexpectedly issued a pardon on Christmas Eve in the midst of Fujimori's 25-year prison sentence. It was a move that led to outrage.
WALKER: Angry Peruvians packed the streets outside of Fujimori's hospital -- some chanting traitor and the pardon has to go. Protesters and authorities clash in the country's capital. Riot police throwing tear gas at the crowd. President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said it was humanitarian pardon justified because Fujimori's health is failing.
PEDRO PABLO KUCZYNSKI, PRESIDENT OF PERU (through translator): I am convinced that those of us who consider ourselves democrats cannot allow Alberto Fujimori to die in prison. Justice is not vengeance. All pardons are by nature controversial. There's an important number of Peruvians who are opposed to the pardon. My decision is especially calm, quite some difficult, but it is my decision.
WALKER: His decisiveness may have thrown insult on the wounds of an already grave political crisis. News of the pardon led several members of Kuczynski's own party to resign. And last week, he narrowly dodged impeachment over a corruption scandal. It was the abstention votes by 10 lawmakers, including none other than Fujimori's son, Kenji Fujimori that allowed the president to stay in power.
Angry cries from the street of Lima not only protest the pardon but the idea that a deal may have been done between the former and current leader.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reality is that this, sadly, was a political agreement between the Fujimorists and the current government of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. So, we're coming out to reject all that.
WALKER: Now, there's a new twist to contend with. Fujimori's doctor says, his condition has improved. The once brutally authoritarian leader has moved out of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and depending on his progress, may soon be released as a free man. An event that could sow more discord in the streets of an already divided Peru. Amara Walker, CNN.
SESAY: Well, two reporters arrested while investigating the military crackdown on Rohingya Muslim in Myanmar are being detained for another two weeks. We're just getting that update from the Reuters News Agency. The journalists were detained earlier this month and are accused of violating Myanmar's Official Secrets Act.
Meanwhile, things are getting worse for the Rohingya refugees as winter weather moves in. They desperately need warm clothes, blankets, and stronger shelters. It has been four months since violence escalated in Myanmar's Rakhine State, forcing more than 600,000 Rohingya to flee across the borders of Bangladesh. Most of them are now living in overcrowded refugee camps, sleeping on the floors of flimsy make-shirt shelters. Some have thin blankets; many others have nothing to keep in self-warm at night.
The aid group said, the children and kids are running around in bare feet wearing only shorts and t-shirt, and many of those children are malnourished, putting them even more at risk of getting sick as the cold weather moves in.
Let's bring in Beatriz Ochoa, she is an Advocacy Manager with Save The Children. As these conditions suddenly worsen for these children in these camps, what are they telling you about what they're going through?
[01:25:01] BEATRIZ OCHOA, ADVOCACY MANAGER WITH SAVE THE CHILDREN (via Skype): Thanks so much for the invite, yes. Children are telling Save The Children that they are incredibly cold at night. You might not think that there's actually winter in Bangladesh but it can actually get quite chilly. So, they are telling us that when they are sleeping, they are shaking. When they are waking up in the morning, they have to out and fetch water, they have to go and collect goods, but they cannot wake up, that they cannot move, that they want to stay closer to their parents because it's just so cold. And you might not think it's actually that cold, but it is -- as (INAUDIBLE), but I want people to imagine that you are in a sleeping in a forest, in a structure -- very simple structure made out of bamboo and covered with plastic, and that the only thing that you have between your body and the soil is plastic again. So, like that, 10-degree Celsius or 50- degree Fahrenheit can be actually really, really cold.
SESAY: Yes. It is, it's, it's just awful what this community is going through. How is Save The Children helping them? What are you doing to lessen these awful conditions they are enduring?
OCHOA: Yes, we're helping them across all sectors, and I'm going to in a bit, but I want to focus first on what we are doing regarding on what we call winterization. So, we're distributing 7,000 winter kits to help 30,000 most vulnerable families. These winter kits contain mattresses, blankets, gloves, pull-overs, so the most basic equipment for the children and their families to actually stay a bit warm in winter. And for the other responses, we're working across different sectors of health and nutrition, and we're also distributing food baskets and we're establishing -- already, we have established over 30 spaces where children actually can have a time to be children again, say, to relax, to have some counseling in case they need, and just like to be child again.
SESAY: Yes, which is so desperately needed. I mean, the concern is, when winter coming in, with the temperatures dropping, kids not being warm enough that they're going to fall ill, that there's going to be an uptick in respiratory illnesses. I mean, that the odds are high that there will be some kind of uptick in illnesses just because of the conditions they're in. I mean, are people in place to help to meet that health need if should so arise?
OCHOA: Yes, we are deploying large themes on the health sector. We have something called Emergency Health Unit and we have established already seven health centers, and we're going to establish two more. So, in total, we're planning for nine. We're deploying more people. We're training more people here. A lot Bangladesh national. But, of course, the need is huge and we need more resources, we need more funding, we need the support from the international community to be able to meet all these massive needs.
SESAY: So just as we talk about winter coming and the conditions, we know that the Bangladeshi government is making plans to move the Rohingya to a lower-lying uninhabited island, which as I understand, it is also prone to flooding. I mean, what would such a location mean for these families? For these people?
OCHOA: Well, Save The Children does not support the movement to the island, because this, as you said, it could get flooded. So, there are still discussions going over there, and we're going to try to keep Rohingya refugee safe in a piece of land that is actually safe for them. Otherwise, they could actually be much vulnerable.
SESAY: What is the greatest concern as we look ahead as the temperatures drop. What's your greatest fear here?
OCHOA: One of the greatest fear is just getting more children ill. A lot of children actually are malnourished. So, for children on their (INAUDIBLE) so one in each four children older five are malnourished. So, when this is the case, the bodies are much more prone to any disease. So, with malnourished children and the temperature dropping, we're afraid that there would be a rise in respiratory tract infections and all other diseases because children are so vulnerable to anything that -- anything could happen to in terms of health.
SESAY: Yes. There's a lot to be worried about. But, you know, thank you for making time to speak to us and for giving us an update on conditions there in (INAUDIBLE). Beatriz Ochoa, thank you so much.
[01:30:03] OCHOA: Thank you.
SESAY: Well, from North Korea's missile test to the fall ISIS. It's been a big year in international news. Up next, 2017's top stories from around the globe.
SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour: Donald Trump's Twitter pledge to get back to work the day after Christmas apparently meant golfing. He also found time to tweet his disapproval of the Russia investigation, calling the FBI tainted and saying the now infamous Russian dossier is a pile of garbage. Russia is open to meeting and talks between the U.S. and North Korea if both sides agree. The Russian foreign minister told the U.S. Secretary of State to fast-track negotiations with Pyongyang. Sergey Lavrov also told Rex Tillerson that aggressive rhetoric from Washington is not helping.
Meantime, the U.S. is slapping more sanctions on North Korea, targeting two chief figures of the country's missile program. The U.S. says the official on the left has been crucial in developing intercontinental missiles, and the rocket scientist on the right was behind fuel technology to launch missiles faster.
We want to show you some dramatic video out of Syria. The country's armed forces say a military plane was shot down. It happened in the countryside of Northern Hama. This video reportedly shows that moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, Syrian say (INAUDIBLE) armed terrorist group shot down the aircraft and that the pilot was killed. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is reporting that there were two pilots on the plane and that the second one was taken captive. A second video shows the body loaded into the back of the truck. An Al-Qaeda-linked has claimed responsibility for the downing of the jet. CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of either the video or the report about a possible second pilot.
Our international Red Cross volunteers are evacuating critically ill people from a rebel-held suburb of Syria's Capital Damascus. The Syrian Red Crescent says the operation is a result of months of long negotiations. Four people were evacuated Tuesday and another 25 will be evacuated in the coming days to Damascus. About 400,000 people are living in Eastern Ghouta. The U.N. has warned that children in the area are suffering the worst cases of malnutrition since Syria's civil war began in 2011.
Well, as the year winds down, we're taking a look back at our top international stories that shocked, alarmed, and sometimes, even inspired us. Here's our own Clarissa Ward.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) [01:35:09] CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT:
It's our job as CNN Correspondents to take you to foreign shores, to front lines. We at CNN go there, and in 2017, that journey unveiled the unthinkable, ethnic cleansing, countries collapsing, human beings sold like commodities. These are the stories that changed the world.
Our first story, a CNN expose.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our crew traveled into Libya to track down a dark secret and they found it.
WARD: Fleeing their homes, some of the most people on earth think they found a passage to safety but instead, they find themselves in the hands of predators.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Captured and sold like cattle as Nima Elbagir witnessed firsthand.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 700, 700, 800, the numbers roll in. These men are sold for 1200 Libyan pounds, $400 apiece.
WARD: The CNN reports sparkling self-reflection in Europe and the U.S. about the West's own response to the migrant crisis. In Saudi Arabia, a powerful prince is shaking things up. Bolstered by good relations with the Trump White House. 32-year-old Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince better-known as "MBS," embarking on a series of reforms. Arresting many of his own cousins in a sweeping crackdown on corruption.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has swept away a generation of elderly and experienced ministers.
WARD: While also taking on the kingdom's powerful clergy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's only one country in the world where women can't drive and soon they'll be none.
WARD: But as he tries to take on an increasingly assertive Iran, things get complicated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As Defense Minister, he initiated airstrikes on neighboring Yemen.
WARD: Involvement in a war that has brought 8.4 million people to the brink of famine. 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.
In Venezuela, a perfect storm of economic and political crises.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Venezuela's President has finally admitted that his government can no longer afford to take (INAUDIBLE) Venezuela maybe just hours away now for more violence and chaos ahead of the controversial election.
WARD: Maduro's party wins the election. The opposition and the U.S. claimed fraud.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Politicians who spoke out against current President Nicolas Maduro were yanked out of their homes by authorities in midnight raids.
WARD: A CNN team goes undercover and is stunned by what they find.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This food truck breaking down for mere seconds before it was looted. Basic food is scarce. Virginia has been doing this for 18 months to feed her five kids.
WARD: Farms bringing with them a war crime so sickening, it is difficult to put into words. From his rooftop, he quickly sees this is no ordinary strike. I warn you, the pictures you are about to see are graphic.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
ANDREW CUOMO, CNN HOST: We are following breaking news. Reports of a gas or some kind of chemical attack in Syria killing dozens --
WARD: All around him, people are foaming at the mouth. Convulsions racking their bodies. The horrifying scenes shocked the world. Victims, some of them just children gasping for their final breath.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Syrian Government had dropped a Sarin Bomb on its own people.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Chemical attack in a Syrian town led to the first American military strikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
WARD: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remains defiant.
In 2017, two words would shock the world, "ethnic cleansing."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Armed government forces are attacking their own minority citizens.
WARD: In Southeast Asia's Myanmar, a pariah state turned fledgling democracy, the unthinkable was happening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They are beating us, shooting at us and hacking our people to death.
[01:40:04] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And 600,000 of them have fled to neighboring Bangladesh.
WARD: The crisis raising questions about the country's de facto leader who accused of doing nothing to stop the violence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Growing criticism of NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi over her handling of human rights abuses against the Rohingya Muslims. WARD: Coming in at number two, the fall of ISIS. Since three years after the terror group surged to infamy with staggering conquests across Iraq and Syria, it's defeat came with a whimper, not a bang.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The Syrian Forces taking to the streets and officially declaring the terrorist group's self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa has been totally liberated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, Syrian and Kurdish flags fly over the city replacing the black flag of terror.
WARD: The historic Syrian City of Palmyra, where ISIS fighters were filmed destroying ancient artifacts reclaimed with the help of Russia. In Iraq, ISIS desperately tries to hold its ground in the country's second-largest city of Mosul.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senior commanders take us in, in the calm before their final storm.
WARD: Their ambitions to build a caliphate crumbling as small pockets of ISIS militants are flushed out.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The Iraqi Prime Minister is declaring full victory over ISIS in Mosul, saying, the entire war-torn city has been liberated from brutality and terrorism.
WARD: In 2017, ISIS loses all of its major strongholds. But beyond the borders of Iraq and Syria, lone wolf attacks in the name of ISIS ensured their global reign of terror is still far from over.
July 4th, U.S. Independence Day, North Korea lights up the sky with its own frightening milestone.
CUOMO: North Korea releasing new video appearing to show the successful launch of its first intercontinental ballistic missile.
WARD: Nuclear-capable but not yet nuclear armed. But by September, Kim Jong-un's missile program reaches its final frontier.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Washington Post is now reporting that North Korea has produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles.
WARD: The stage is set for war. But for now, contained to a war of words.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't have madmen out there spewing rockets all over the place.
KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER: I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.
WARD: But just miles away from the North Korean border on his Asian swing, President Trump replaced the petty name-calling with a more diplomatic tone.
TRUMP: The weapons you're requiring are not making you safer.
WARD: The President continuing to push China to contain the North.
TRUMP: The longer we wait, the greater the danger goes, and the fewer the options become.
WARD: And as the nuclear standoff continues, the question remains, will the next missile trigger a war?
SESAY: A lot happened in 2017. Still to come, we'll speak to one psychiatrist who said the MeToo movement has gone too far. Why she believes not all of the cases making headlines qualify as sexual harassment.
[01:45:52] SESAY: When Time Magazine recently named the women behind the MeToo hashtag as the person of the year, it helped solidified the movement significance. The outcry from women and some men over sexual harassment, misconduct, misogyny, and assault has troubled Hollywood elite, prominent journalists, and newsmakers in unprecedented numbers this year. So, as the calendar gets set to flip, what does 2018 have in store for the movement? Well, our next guest believes the MeToo Movement has gone too far and is in fact out of control. Medical and psychiatrist Carole Lieberman is here with me now. Dr. Carole, welcome.
DR. CAROLE LIEBERMAN, MEDICAL DOCTOR AND PSYCHIATRIST: Thank you.
SESAY: So, when you say you believe the MeToo Movement has gotten out of the control, what do you mean?
LIEBERMAN: Well, I'm looking at this as someone who has done a lot of sexual harassment cases as an expert witness on both sides. I've helped women to talk about how much emotional distress that they have from being harassed, from being raped, from being assaulted, and so on. And -- but I've also been on the side of men who have -- were the alleged harassers, and not all the time are the women actually telling the truth about what happened.
There are secondary motivations like money, of course, or sometimes a relationship doesn't work out, the woman has in mind that this is going to be -- that it was a consensual relationship and then when she realizes that the man isn't going to marry her, all of a sudden, it become sexual harassment. Or, of course, nowadays, you know, with a lot of the people being famous celebrities and Hollywood celebrities or, of course, Washington, you know, there's the 15 minutes of fame factor. Now, that's not to say that there aren't a lot of women who were sexually harassed, sexually assaulted, raped, kid -- little girls being sexually assaulted, and so on, but there are women who have joined this movement who have not been any of those, and they're just really angry women. And they are taking advantage of jumping on the bandwagon to actually try to destroy men. SESAY: So, let me ask you this, when you say that women who are
jumping on the bandwagon who are just angry, who are you referring to because in the case of the women who have made allegations that have been reported by media houses, newspapers, and news organizations, those allegations while not proven in a court of law have been corroborated by multiple individuals that were told of the instances at the time these women alleged these actions happened. So, in the case of those cases that have been publicly reported on, we have corroboration. So, who are you speaking about when you say that women who are just angry?
LIEBERMAN: I am talking about -- yes, I agree with you, there -- you know, there are some specific women who have come out with things that can be and have been corroborated or even though no not yet on trial in the court, but I'm talking about the women who are just kind of hangers-on who don't say that they were harassed, but are just proponents of this movement, and are you know, making -- bringing some of the force to -- with the impulsion to it. I mean, there are millions of women who have joined the MeToo Movement. I mean, on Twitter and so on. And so, is it possible that millions have been sexually assaulted or harassed? Yes. But it's not as likely. I think a lot of women -- you know, when people are angry, it comes from being hurt and men and women these days are very hurt. We have hurt each other.
SESAY: So, when you say the movement and it seems to me, and correct me if I'm wrong, I am hearing from what you're saying that you think that the MeToo Movement as it stands now having this support from a lot of different women is a negative thing. And I guess my question to you is how can it be a negative thing to have women come together and take a stand and say we will not the victims of abuse of power?
[01:50:03] Because it's not about sex. I think we -- a lot of the time we would accept that these cases in the workplace, at least, are not about sex per se, it is about abuse of power. So, how can it be a negative thing for women to take that position and band together and say, we demand to be treated equally, fairly, respectfully?
LIEBERMAN: Because it has gone beyond having some kind of meaningful dialogue and it's just gotten to be screechy and just yelling and just knocking one man of his job after the other. I mean, yes, there are -- you know, I think it's a great thing for women. I mean, women are afraid, a lot of women, who have been sexually harassed or abused or afraid to speak out because they're afraid nobody would believe them. I mean, this is before the movement. Afraid no one will believe them, afraid that the man who did harass them would -- as he has threatened them in some way that something is going to happen if they speak out. Also, they're ashamed and they blame themselves a lot of the women. So, in that sense, that's not bad that there is this movement that gives validation to women to come out and actually say it.
SESAY: Or is changing -- I think the goal women want is if you're looking at Capitol Hill and the U.S. legislature is changing a system that makes it incredibly difficult for women to speak out when they are the victims of this kind of behavior. And as for the men, I do want to pick up on something you said, you said that, you know, these men -- if I heard you correctly are being toppled or driven out of their positions. If you are someone who has perpetrated these act as alleged or this kind of behavior, do you believe it's right and they should stay in those positions?
LIEBERMAN: Well, if they have a -- if there's a trial and a jury finds that they are guilty of these things, then perhaps not. But I think just because -- I mean, now, apparently, there's -- a woman have come out to say that she doesn't even want it to be said as alleged that the media should just, you know, take it as these things actually happened.
SESAY: We're not being in a court of law so we will use alleged but --
LIEBERMAN: No, but I'm saying --
SESAY: No, I understand your point. But I guess, again, I think, you know, in the case of multiple claims coming out that are being corroborated and, you know, workplaces have a standard code of behavior and ethics -- again, back to the point of men being toppled, to use your word, should -- do you think it is healthy to have such people remain in these workplaces if they have indeed -- if they're the subject of multiple allegations?
LIEBERMAN: Well, I think that they are still innocent until proven guilty. I mean, I don't think -- that's what I mean, is the voice, the sound, the noise, has gotten so loud. It's one thing to have rational conversations and to make rational laws but it's another thing to just be on the warpath.
SESAY: And is that how you see the smoke that you think people are --
LIEBERMAN: I see -- oh, I see that there are some women who are on the warpath.
SESAY: And do you think that's the majority of women? Because you're saying that it's become screechy which would suggest those people have taken over the movement which many would disagree with.
LIEBERMAN: I -- well, I think a lot of them have, yes.
SESAY: Dr. Carole, it's great having you on and having your perspective. It's important to get all perspectives at this time, so thank you.
LIEBERMAN: Thank you.
SESAY: All right. We're going to pause and take a very quick break. Much more after this.
[01:55:02] SESAY: When New Year's Eve is expected to be bitterly cold in the northeast and Midwest of the U.S., this is Erie, Pennsylvania where heavy, heavy snow is not rare. But look at this, this year, the snow broke records in just three days. The city has gotten more than five feet of snow. That's more than 1-1/2 meters. Suffice to say, that is too much. It's also a snow winter in Minnesota where a woman driving her car saw this man on skis tearing it up on the side of the road as a horse and buggy (INAUDIBLE) that's novel. They are not quite keeping up with the cars, but the driver says the skier was having the time of his life. Surely there are warner ways to have the time of your life.
Social media lit up on Tuesday evening with reports of a possible meteor flying over the Northeastern United States. A Webcam in Maine captured the streak of light, see there? Yes, zipping across the sky. It was so fast we looped the shot so you can see it better. Did you see it again? There you go. The American Meteor Society said it's investigating reports of 89 sightings in more than a dozen states. Yes, you have to keep watching that one. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angles, I'm Isha Sesay. Be sure to join us on Twitter @cnnnewsroomla for highlights and clips from our shows, and I will be back with more news right after this.
[02:00:10] SESAY: U.S. President Donald Trump is ending the year as he started unleashing --