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Dozens Wounded in Explosion in Afghan Capital; Trump Wants to Fire Deputy Attorney General; Trump at Davos; Hillary Clinton Saved Adviser's Job after Harassment Claim; Dutch Intel Warned U.S. about Hacking; Interview with Alexei Navalny; Growing Movement to Change Date of National Australian Holiday; Paris on Flood Alert. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired January 27, 2018 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Another deadly blast strikes Kabul killing at least three and wounding dozens. The Taliban claims responsibility. Also --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America first does not mean America alone.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. president makes his pitch to the global business community in Davos. Back in Washington, D.C., now, facing headlines about the ongoing Mueller investigation into possible Russia collusion.
ALLEN (voice-over): And also ahead, the City of Light battles a rising Seine. We'll have an update on the Paris floods.
HOWELL (voice-over): We're live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN (voice-over): And I'm Natalie Allen. NEWSROOM starts right now.
HOWELL: It is 5:00 am on the East Coast. Starting with breaking news, an update to the story we're following of a deadly explosion that rocked the Afghan capital of Kabul.
ALLEN: Authorities say at least three people are dead, more than 70 are wounded. There are also reports of higher numbers than that. A Taliban spokesman has claimed responsibility for the car bomb attack that targeted Afghanistan's old interior ministry building.
HOWELL: For more, let's now bring in by phone journalist Zakaria Hassani (ph), following the story. Thank you for being with us.
What more can you tell us about this attack and what you are hearing from sources?
ZAKARIA HASSANI (PH), JOURNALIST: Well, it was around 1:00 pm local time that a suicide attack, reportedly the attacker used an ambulance in order to enter a very fortified area of Kabul.
The houses, (INAUDIBLE) old building, some embassies like (INAUDIBLE), Indian embassy and Iranian embassy was less than a kilometer (INAUDIBLE). This attack actually, the claimed -- Taliban claimed responsibility for this attack. And officials told me that until now (INAUDIBLE) more than one (INAUDIBLE) wounded in this attack.
I also spoke with some eyewitnesses (INAUDIBLE) in order to help the injury and also go to (INAUDIBLE) in this attack. They told me that, when they arrived at the scene, they saw lots of injuries. They were -- (INAUDIBLE), they had never, ever seen such anything before in their lives. They saw everywhere parts of bodies and it was a horrible thing that they have seen.
Emergency hospital also said that actually (INAUDIBLE) happened in Kabul.
HOWELL: Again, on the phone with us, we have journalist Zakaria Hassani (ph). Stand by with us again as we're looking at the first few images we're getting from the scene in Kabul, this attack again that killed at least three people, that's wounded at least 79 people in Kabul.
Zakaria (ph), tell us about this attack.
In the context of the fact that we saw an attack like this before, just about a week ago, how are people dealing with the news of another attack?
HASSANI (PH): Well, again, people are completely shocked. They can't even believe that less than five days that they have seen many bloody attack. For example a few days ago, (INAUDIBLE) in one of the most (INAUDIBLE) of Kabul came under attack (INAUDIBLE).
In Nangarhar, the eastern province of Afghanistan and now an attack on (INAUDIBLE) ISIS has also killed many and wounded dozens others. I saw that yesterday they also noted that there was another suicide attack and also another terrorist attack in (INAUDIBLE) of Afghanistan like Helmand and Kandahar.
There were also some wounded and shells in these to (INAUDIBLE). So people are completely shocked. And they can't believe -- when I spoke with some of them who gathered near (INAUDIBLE) where most of the casualties and wounded are being taken here.
They told me that it is unbelievable and the government is (INAUDIBLE) that this cannot protect its citizens. (INAUDIBLE) attack that they have no (INAUDIBLE) dealing with it. So they are -- [05:05:00]
HASSANI (PH): (INAUDIBLE) that they are not angry with the security forces, security organizations and with the government, that it is not able to serve them, it is not able to protect the citizens.
HOWELL: Zakaria Hassani (ph), giving us the facts there on the ground. Thank you for being with us. These images certainly telling the story. Again, a gruesome attack that took place in Kabul, Afghanistan. At least three killed, 79 others wounded. Our NEWSROOM is continuing to stay in touch with sources there and we'll bring you more information as we learn it.
ALLEN: For U.S. President Donald Trump, it has to be a bit of political whiplash. He returned to Washington Friday night, no doubt in the afterglow of a heady two days in Switzerland with the world's business and political movers and shakers.
HOWELL: Of the event, he told reporters, quote, "Davos was really great." There he made the case for the world to buy American. He swear his America first rhetoric for a global market, a more nuanced message, you could say, to America first. Also took credit for a booming U.S. economy. But now it's back to the reality of the Russia investigation here in the United States.
ALLEN: While he was in Switzerland, the Russia investigation grew into a much bigger problem for the president. Multiple sources have revealed that Mr. Trump didn't just try to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, in doing he made an attempt to.
HOWELL: The question about intent there and it is not just Mueller. Four sources Tell CNN that the president has been complaining recently about deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, sometimes suggesting he, too, should be fired. We get more now on the latest from CNN political correspondent Sara Murray.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you order -- ?
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump using one of his favorite phrases to deny the bombshell report from "The New York Times," that he called for special counsel Robert Mueller's firing last June.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you seek to fire Robert Mueller?
TRUMP: Fake news, folks. Fake news.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's your message today?
TRUMP: Typical "New York Times" fake stories.
MURRAY: But a source confirms to CNN that Trump did call for Mueller's firing and that White House counsel Don McGahn refused because he disagreed with his reasoning. Trump's effort to remove Mueller came just a month after he created a firestorm by firing FBI Director James Comey.
Two people told "The Times" the president expressed concern over what he saw as three possible conflicts of interest, with Mueller serving as special counsel.
One involving a dispute Mueller had at Trump National Golf Club, causing him to resign his membership. Another that Mueller's law had previously represented his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. And, finally, that Trump had just interviewed Mueller for Comey's replacement for FBI director.
White House lawyer Ty Cobb telling CNN, "We decline to comment out of respect for the office of the special counsel and its process.
Back in June Trump was also openly airing his frustrations over the Russia probe on Twitter, in one tweet saying, "You are witnessing the single greatest witch hunt in American political history, led by some very bad and conflicted people."
Two months after the reported attempt to fire Mueller, he was asked if he'd ever considered it.
TRUMP: I haven't given it any thought. I mean, I've been reading about it from you people. You say, oh, I'm going to dismiss him. No, I'm not dismissing anybody.
MURRAY: Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he was looking forward to a potential interview with Mueller's office.
TRUMP: I would love to do it. You know, again, I have to say, subject to my lawyers and all of that, but I would love to do it.
MURRAY: And while Mueller's team tries to zero in on whether Trump obstructed some legal experts say if the president did attempt to fire Mueller last June, it's part of a pattern.
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There's this theory in obstruction of justice, you know, which essentially is a mosaic. Can you take a lot of little pieces which, in and of themselves don't amount to obstruction and build an obstruction case by -- by that? And I think the theory is a valid one.
MURRAY: Former FBI Director Comey testified that Trump asked him for loyalty over a private dinner at the White House. Comey says the president later asked him to drop the FBI investigation into his national security adviser Michael Flynn before firing Comey in May.
TRUMP: Jeff Sessions has been a federal--
MURRAY: The president was also fuming when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. He later publicly pressured Sessions, tweeting his suggestion to fire Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. Trump also asked his intelligence chief to say there was no evidence of cooperation between his campaign and Russia. But on Wednesday, Trump said that's not obstruction. He's just fighting back.
TRUMP: There's no collusion. Now they're saying, "Oh, well, did he fight back?" If you fight back, you say -- you fight back, John, you fight back. "Oh, it's obstruction."
HOWELL: Sara Murray reporting there.
ALLEN: And now to Davos and a far different political climate. The last time a sitting president went to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, the year 2000 and the president was Bill Clinton.
HOWELL: So no surprise that the current president got a special welcome but few people expected this.
HOWELL: The U.S. president welcomed by trumpets, a fanfare you don't often see in Davos.
ALLEN: When he took the podium, Mr. Trump became the marketer in chief putting his America first rhetoric into a more global perspective. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: America is the place to do business. So come to America where you can innovate, create and build. I believe in America. As President of the United States, I will always put America first just like the leaders of other countries should put their country first.
But America first does not mean America alone. When the United States grows, so does the world. American prosperity has created countless jobs all around the globe and the drive for excellence, creativity and innovation in the U.S. has led to important discoveries that help people everywhere live more prosperous and far healthier lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Let's talk about Mr. Trump's appearance at the World Economic Forum with Kate Andrews. She writes about U.S. politics for "City A.M." She joins us from London.
Thanks for joining us, Kate.
How are you?
KATE ANDREWS, "CITY A.M.": Hey, there. Doing well.
How are you?
ALLEN: Good, thank you. Quite a different tone from President Trump. He stuck to the script. He was the marketer in chief.
What is your reaction?
ANDREWS: Well, you hit the nail on the head. He did stick to the script. And when he does that, he tends to do better. And I think it was "The New York Times" that actually described his trip as pragmatic.
Of course a lot of leaders and attendees at Davos thought that he would be going into this event and was going to be boisterous and use his usual rhetoric that was meant to inflame situations but actually he came across rather reasonable.
And I think it was one of the better showings we've seen from the president this year.
ALLEN: America first, he said, does not mean America alone. And he was just trying to encourage countries and talk about trade.
And the question is, how will his appearance there turn into actions or perhaps better relationships with countries that he has not been as kind to as far as trade goes?
ANDREWS: Well, he was certainly playing a role of salesman, which is arguably one of the reasons that he was elected because people thought that he could make good business deals.
And trade and investment seem to be the two major focus points for Donald Trump, both on the record and also what is being reported in his meetings with other leaders and with businessmen.
So I think he was really trying to recruit more foreign investment into the United States. Obviously his recent tax cuts have already started to see somewhat of a boom. Big companies like Apple and Walmart have said that they are giving their employees bonuses and wage increases as a direct result of these tax cuts.
So he had a lot of positive messaging to bring. And I take your point well, though, that obviously he still has a lot of reconciliation to go forward with, when it comes to countries that he has so recently offended.
And there wasn't too much specific talk about trade relationships like NAFTA, where he has been particularly difficult with Canada and Mexico on his rhetoric there, talking about trade deficits, talking about getting America a better deal.
So we didn't get too many specifics. Chances are, in trade negotiations in the future, Trump will still use that kind of boisterous rhetoric. But I think that a lot of world leaders could see that there was room to negotiate with the president and that it might just be rhetoric. At the end of the day, he might want deals, too.
ALLEN: All right, well, let's talk about what he arrived back in the U.S. to face with the news that Mr. Trump attempted to fire the special counsel back in June. And, of course, when asked if he'd ever considered that by the media before, he said, never have. Well, apparently that is not the case.
ANDREWS: Yes, this idea that he has allegedly pushed to have Mueller removed is quite worrisome. Let's remember that, when director of the FBI, James Comey, was fired, I think that turned into a political storm very quickly. Perhaps not based on the way that everyone felt about it previously.
There was deep frustration with Comey from the Republicans and the Democrats, particularly based on how he handled Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server during the election.
So once an FBI director loses trust with all politicians across the aisle and with the country, action has to be taken, whether it is their fault or not. But to remove Mueller, who I think has a lot of respect across the board, would be much more concerning.
Of course the president does deny it and it is difficult for us to know to what extent he was actually calling for him to be fired or if he was venting or what those conversations were like. But if he were to be removed, I think the public would lose a lot of trust and faith in this Russia investigation. If I were the president --
ANDREWS: -- and I truly didn't think I had done anything wrong or that I hadn't tried to obstruct justice, I would want this investigation over as soon as possible so that I can move forward with my domestic agenda and have this out of the news.
So the idea that the president would want to prolong this and get someone else into the position is really quite strange.
ALLEN: Kate Andrews, we appreciate your input. Thanks for joining us, Kate.
ANDREWS: Thank you.
HOWELL: CNN has confirmed that, when Hillary Clinton first ran for president in 2008, one of her senior advisers was allowed to keep his job, this despite being accused of sexual harassment by a female subordinate.
ALLEN: Burns Strider, who acted as Clinton's faith adviser, was accused of inappropriate touching, kissing and sending suggestive e- mails to a woman he shared an office with. But Clinton refused to fire him; instead, Strider was disciplined. He hasn't responded to CNN's request for a statement about this.
HOWELL: But the law firm that represented the campaign said this, quote, "To ensure a safe working environment, the campaign had a process to address complaints of misconduct and harassment. When matters arose, they were reviewed in accordance with these policies and appropriate action was taken. This complaint was no exception." ALLEN: Earlier Hillary Clinton sent out this tweet, "A story appeared about something that happened in 2008. I was dismayed when it occurred but was heartened the young woman came forward, was heard and had her concerns taken seriously and addressed."
That from Hillary Clinton.
HOWELL: Another story we're following of one of the biggest names in the Las Vegas casino business, the latest high-profile man accused of sexual misconduct. Steve Wynn is denying the accusations reported by "The Wall Street Journal."
"The Journal" spoke to 150 current and former employees, some of them say that he pressured them to perform sex acts.
ALLEN: Since the Harvey Weinstein scandal from Hollywood, many powerful men, of course, have faced accusations. But Wynn is the first CEO of a major publicly traded company to be in that position.
Shares of Wynn Resorts plunged more than 10 percent following the report. And on Friday, the company's board formed a special committee to investigate the women's allegations against him.
In a statement, Wynn said, "The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous. We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations regardless of the truth and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multiyear lawsuits."
HOWELL: Still ahead this hour on NEWSROOM, while hackers in Russia were trying to hack into major American institutions, another country was watching it very closely. We have a huge new revelation in the Russia hacking scandal.
ALLEN: And the opposition leader banned from the Russian election is speaking out in an exclusive CNN interview. Why he says Vladimir Putin is running scared.
ALLEN: We continue to follow breaking news out of Afghanistan. Authorities say at least 40 people are now dead, that number -- we had three just an hour ago dead and now it is 40. Also the number of wounded has grown; 140 are reported wounded after a bomb attack in Kabul.
An official says the blast came from an ambulance packed with explosives.
HOWELL: Clearly this was a gruesome and a massive attack. Again, the death toll risen just within the hour as far as the numbers we're learning. This attack happened near Afghanistan's old interior ministry building. A Taliban spokesman has claimed responsibility for this attack. We'll continue to follow the story and bring you updates as we learn more.
ALLEN: There is a new twist involving Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election. According to a Dutch media report, Dutch intelligence not only knew about Russian hackers back in 2014 but literally had eyes on them, spying on them as they attempted to hack the Democratic National Committee, the White House and the State Department.
HOWELL: Dutch intelligence alerted its U.S. counterparts in 2015, stopping some of the attempts but, as we know, not all of them. CNN's senior international correspondent Atika Shubert has more.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Netherlands is, quote, "supplying the coal to the furnace of anti- Russian hysteria."
That's according to the spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Now those remarks came in response to a Dutch media report that an intelligence agency in the Netherlands had observed on camera members of Russia's Secret Service involved in the hacking of the U.S. Democratic National Committee.
Here's what De Volkskrant and NOS reported from the Netherlands, in 2014, Dutch intelligence known as AIVD infiltrated computers at a university building near Moscow's Red Square. At the time, they did not know they have struck at the heart of Cozy Bear, one of two Russian hacking groups responsible for the DNC attack.
Here's a reconstruction by CNN affiliate, Dutch TV NOS, Dutch intelligence hacked not only the computers but also the hallway security camera and they watched as 10 people at any one time moved in and out, some of them members of the Russian Service.
For more than a year, they watched silently as Cozy Bear attempted to infiltrate the State Department, the White House and finally, the DNC.
The Dutch government reported what they saw back to the U.S. and the FBI successfully fighting off some of the attacks but not enough.
U.S. intelligence would later determine this was a coordinated Russian plan to interfere with the U.S. election.
Now CNN called AIVD for a response. They did not offer content, but according to that Dutch media report, the intelligence filtration into Cozy Bear has been stopped and it is not clear why.
Over the weekend, however, on a Dutch television show, the head of the AIVD, Robert Bertholee (ph), said that America at the moment is very unpredictable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Do you still share all the information that comes to you with your American colleagues because some departments don't do that anymore?
ROBERT BERTHOLEE, HEAD OF DUTCH GENERAL INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY SERVICE (through translator): Well, I do not do that anymore. No matter what I do not share all information with American or any other colleagues.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Are you extra careful in this situation because of the unstable climate in Washington?
BERTHOLEE (through translator): I am extra careful, yes.
SHUBERT: Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin's spokesperson told reporters that he had seen no confirmation of the report from Dutch intelligence and he dismissed the news reports as, quote, "not very reliable" -- Atika Shubert, CNN, Berlin.
HOWELL: A major Russia opposition figure says that he thinks the Kremlin hackers targeted the U.S. as well. Alexei Navalny said that he has also been the target of such attacks and fake documents.
ALLEN: He told CNN's Matthew Chance he has no doubt Russia tried to influence the U.S. presidential race but he added he is not sure if the meddling had an impact. Here is more of what Navalny said in our exclusive interview.
ALEXEI NAVALNY, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): The Putin regime is built on corruption and that himself is the most corrupt. His family is directly involved in corruption. According to official data, over 20 percent of our population lives below the poverty line. And people link the obvious.
Why are we so poor?
Because they steal so much.
CHANCE: Regardless of the popularity of that issue, you have been prevented from --
CHANCE: -- standing in these forthcoming presidential elections.
Do you think that Vladimir Putin is genuinely concerned or fearful of you as a political opponent?
NAVALNY (through translator): He is scared of all real competition. We see in these elections that he only allowed those to run who did not even resist, do not even do any campaigning. When they saw that we are actually fighting for people's votes, they got scared. The famous Putin's ratings, all these 86 percent, 70 percent, all of that sociologists and political analysts love to talk about, they exist in only one scenario: when Putin faces the candidates, he controls.
CHANCE: But that issue of polling numbers, I think, is important because, as you say, Vladimir Putin is polling more than 80 percent popularity in this country, if you believe the opinion polls.
But you are polling just 2 percent.
How much of a political threat does your movement really pose to this Kremlin juggernaut?
NAVALNY (through translator): Look, I stood for election just once in my life. In 2012, I participated in the Moscow mayor elections. And everyone was showing me polls when I had 2 percent. And without money or any media support, I got almost 30 percent.
Same thing goes for the presidential elections. Putin doesn't have an 80 percent rating; he has an 80 percent rating when compared to other candidates whom he has let run.
CHANCE: As we now approach the election season, we are already in the election season, as we approach the election, what are you going to do?
What is your plan to try and get yourself on the ballot, to try and promote your cause or have you abandoned all hope at this stage of standing in this election?
NAVALNY (through translator): We urge all Russians to join a voter's strike, not just refusing to vote but campaigning so others don't vote as well. We are actively organizing this boycott. And this is the reason why we are being raided every day and our staff are being attacked.
CHANCE: As the leading opposition figure in Russia, you have been harassed; you get regular visits from the authorities, the police, the other inspectors; you have been insulted widely and, of course, you have been attacked.
How concerned are you, in a country like this, where opposition figures have been killed in the past, how concerned are you about your own safety and security?
NAVALNY (through translator): I'm a reasonable man. I ran my election campaign for 12 months. And out of these months, I spent two in prison. So I have a clear understanding of what this regime can do.
But I'm not afraid and I'm not going to give up on what I'm going to do. I won't give up on my country. I won't give up on my civil rights. I won't give up on uniting those around me who believe in the same ideals as me. And there are quite a lot of people like that in Russia.
ALLEN: Our Matthew Chance's exclusive interview there.
Well, he was heralded by trumpets and berated by jeers and even in Davos, clouds from Russia cast a chill over President Trump. More about it coming up here as we push on. CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta.
HOWELL: Coast to coast and live around the world, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Good to have you with us. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories.
ALLEN: U.S. President Trump apparently enjoyed his two-day trip to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. He told reporters,, quote, "Davos was really great."
HOWELL: Many there have wondered which Donald Trump they would see, the marketer in chief or the targeter in chief.
ALLEN: As Jim Acosta reports from Davos, it was a bit of both.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump departed Switzerland strutting his stuff after hobnobbing with the global elite at the World Economic Forum in Davos, but he returns to Washington under a cloud with questions swirling over reports that he tried to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.
TRUMP: Fake news, folks. Fake news. Typical "New York Times" fake stories.
ACOSTA: The president brushed off the story in Davos, as did top members of the president's Cabinet who blew past our cameras faster than the Swiss ski team.
(on camera): And are you concerned that the president tried to fire Robert Mueller?
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I know nothing about that.
ACOSTA: And how do you think the Mueller news is going to affect this trip, sir? WILBUR ROSS, U.S. COMMERCE SECRETARY: Oh, you will see. Nothing is going to change. The president is in very good spirits.
ACOSTA: Are you concerned about how the Mueller news is going to affect this conference here, sir?
STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Not concerned.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president continued his attacks on the press in Davos, grumbling that he no longer receives the favorable coverage he enjoyed as a celebrity.
TRUMP: As a businessman, I was always treated really well by the press. The numbers speak and things happen. But I always really had very good press. And it wasn't until I became a politician that I realized how nasty, how mean, how vicious and how fake the press can be -- as the cameras start going off in the back.
ACOSTA: Despite that cry of fake news, the president remarked without any evidence that there would have been a stock market crash had Hillary Clinton been elected. TRUMP: Had the opposing party to me won, some of whom you backed,
some of the people in the room, instead of being up almost 50 percent, the stock market --
TRUMP: -- is up since my election almost 50 percent, rather than that, I believe the stock market from that level, the initial level, the initial level, would have been down close to 50 percent.
ACOSTA: The president came to Davos to take credit for the booming American economy, calling on companies across the world to move to the U.S.
TRUMP: America is the place to do business. So come to America, where you can innovate, create and build.
ACOSTA: But that welcoming tone came with a vow to start controlling the number of immigrants entering the U.S. based on new criteria.
TRUMP: We must replace our current system of extended family chain migration with a merit-based system of admissions that selects new arrivals based on their ability to contribute to our economy, to support themselves financially and to strengthen our country.
ACOSTA: The president also warned Democrats to accept a White House deal to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children known as the dreamers from deportation. Mr. Trump tweeted: "Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took such a beating over the government shutdown that he's unable to act on immigration."
But there were reminders in Davos that the president's own behavior has also had an impact. Sitting with the president of Rwanda, Mr. Trump was asked about his comments that immigrants from Africa come from shithole countries. And he was pressed on his retweeting of inflammatory anti-Muslim videos from a far-right group in Britain.
TRUMP: If you're telling me they're horrible, racist people, I would certainly apologize, if you would like me to do that. I know nothing about that.
ACOSTA: The president's response to the Mueller story underlines why it's so legally dangerous for Mr. Trump to appear before the special counsel's office. It's one thing to refer to reports he doesn't like as fake news to the press. It's quite another to do that under oath -- Jim Acosta, CNN, Davos, Switzerland.
HOWELL: Jim, thank you so much.
Now to a story about Air Force One, the president will be getting a new refrigerator upgrade and important to point out it's not very cheap. Boeing has awarded the contract worth $24 million.
ALLEN: That is to replace two cold chiller units that came with the plane back in 1990. In the past, Mr. Trump has criticized the cost of the Air Force One program, as you recall. The $23.6 million price tag includes the design, manufacturing and installation of the new chiller units.
HOWELL: Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, in Australia, why a growing number of people say a holiday meant to celebrate national pride, it is really a reminder of hundreds of years of suffering for many people there.
ALLEN: We'll tell you what that is about plus high water is swamping parts of Paris after days of heavy rainfall. Our Ivan Cabrera will tell you which way the water will go next.
ALLEN: A blockbuster tennis final going on right now at the Australia Open. Simona Halep and Carolyn Wozniacki are the world's highest ranked players, each woman now is fighting on the court for her first ever Grand Slam title. They are playing in the third set.
So I'm just going to take off, George...
ALLEN: All right. Also in Australia, there is a growing controversy about one of its national holidays. Each January 26th, crowds of people mark Australia Day with barbecues, parties and fireworks, a summertime celebration of the country's lifestyle. HOWELL: But for Australia's aboriginal communities, January 26th is a reminder of a painful day, of invasion day. That's because the holiday memorializes the date that the British sailed into Sydney Harbor and began colonizing, a process that killed tens of thousands of indigenous people and ripped entire groups from their homes and societies.
ALLEN: Now indigenous Australians and an increasing number of supporters say the holiday should be moved to a new date, free of the old wounds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight We want to create awareness that aboriginal people are still here, we're still strong, we see alternatives to this date. It is mixed feelings. Personally, I want a day we can all celebrate.
And this is to create awareness that we all can celebrate as Australians and, on January 26th, we just can't do it due to the historical facts of this day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Let's talk more about this with Mark Kenny, Mark is the national affairs editor for the "Sydney Morning Herald" and "The Age," joining us this hour live via Skype from Canberra, Australia.
It's good to have you with us to talk about this, Mark. These are two very diametric views of whether to keep this date as is or to change it. First, let's listen to the nation's prime minister, speaking of how important it is, in his view, to reflect on the nation's past and feelings toward the aboriginal people but to also unify on January 26th in that reflection. We'll talk about it here in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALCOLM TURNBULL, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Our nation's story began 65,000 years ago with our first Australians, the oldest continuous human civilization. No pyramid in Egypt, no palace in France, no church in England or Rome precedes our first Australians.
Our sense of identity is strengthened by their stories and songs, dance and art, practices and ceremonies. We honor their resilience and survival, respect and cherish their continuing contribution to our nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: That was the prime minister in Canberra on Friday. The question to you though, you advocate a different view here, moving the date to May 9th. Explain your thoughts behind that date.
MARK KENNY, "SYDNEY MORNING HERALD": Well, it is interesting, George, the January 26th date has become increasingly controversial with every year. We seem to have this debate about whether it is the right date, whether the first Australians is too painful. And these days it is meant to unify a nation.
So whether this date is now performing the role that it is meant to, that is really the debate I think Australians are having. There's a lot of resistance to it.
I've suggested another date. My motive there is really not to find a day that is (INAUDIBLE) but really to find a day that is unifying. It doesn't really matter what the day is so much as to make sure that it is not a day that represents the wrong thing.
So for the indigenous population, January 26th does mark that day when the British colony really was formed, when the --
KENNY: -- (INAUDIBLE). And so today (INAUDIBLE) in which we (INAUDIBLE) effectively led to a whole lot of suffering, genocide in some cases. And so it is therefore an unfortunate day.
So my suggestion is for May 9th. May 9th happens to be the day when the first parliament of Australia was opened. It also happens to be a day that is in 1901. It also happens to be a day nearly three decades later in 1927, when the parliament opened in Canberra, the new national capital.
And again in 1988, in the bicentenary, when the new and existing parliament house was opened as well. So it is a day that has been replicated a number of times through Australian parliamentary and democratic history. And I think therefore it is a day around which the nation could unify. It is not a very controversial day and that is really the point.
HOWELL: So basically pinpointing historical moments for your day, May 9th, suggesting to move it from this day that some people see as very controversial. And let's talk a bit about that.
As a whole, how do people generally feel about this debate of moving the date?
Because if you look at recent polling, there are conflicting results on whether to move the date or to keep it as is.
KENNY: Yes, I think there is quite understandable sort of resistance to changing the day because what could be more patriotic really than having a national day and celebrating it?
And so I think it is quite understandable that a lot of people are quite sort of reluctant to change the date.
But as I said before, the whole purpose of these sorts of days is to unify a nation, to mark the creation of a country.
And for aboriginal Australians, there's no getting around the fact that this day marks the day that the country that they owned was occupied by people coming from other lands. And there was a lot of violence and disposition that occurred after that. There is no getting around that. You can't wash that away.
And there has been a tendency to talk about all the good things about Australia. I suppose that is what national days do. But in celebrating the day, the people who were the victims of that, at least at the time, say that the day actually glosses over what was, you know, historic crimes, a whole series of crimes.
So I think what we're seeing each year in Australia we're seeing an increasing sort of intensity of this debate; every year it seems that there is more energy behind the idea of moving it. It is not just indigenous Australians who want to move the day. There is a lot of people, I guess of a progressive political disposition, people on the Left, who have sided with the indigenous population.
And there are quite a few, I think, people in the mainstream now, who are saying, look, it almost doesn't matter whether you agree with the original argument. It is really a question about whether we can all unify around this day.
And January 26th doesn't seem to be that day. So there is a sense that this is not going to go away, that each year it is becoming more and more controversial. And one would have to think that that is probably leading to pressure that will eventually see the day changed or at least this put to a referendum so they can decide it in a very sort of direct and active way.
HOWELL: Mark Kenny, joining us there in Canberra, Australia. It is 9:48 there. Thank you so much for taking the evening to be with us, to share your view of moving this date to May 9th. We'll see where this debate goes. Thank you.
KENNY: Thanks a lot, George.
ALLEN: We turn to Paris next. The River Seine has burst its banks after days of nonstop rain. How high may it go?
Ivan Cabrera will join us with the latest forecast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL (voice-over): A live look here at the City of Light. This day the city dealing with a great deal of water. Heavy rains caused the River Seine to overflow this week in Paris. The French capital and surrounding areas remain on flood alert.
ALLEN: The water is rising more slowly now but it has already swamped roads, the Metro tunnels and some people have had to evacuate.
HOWELL: Certainly a cause of concern there.
ALLEN: We don't like to see our City of Light flooded.
ALLEN: All right. Elsewhere in France, something went down at a grocery store that made people go nuts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN (voice-over): The nuts was because of Nutella. The French supermarket chain Intermarche dropped the price of the chocolate and hazelnut spread by 70 percent. So shoppers came in the hundreds to get their hands on as many jars as they could.
HOWELL: Scenes described as riots also happened across France. One store had to call police after fights broke out. No arrests were made. Intermarche has apologized to its customers, saying that it was surprised by the demand.
You think people wouldn't come running for Nutella?
I love that story. No arrests made.
All right. That is it for us, CNN NEWSROOM for the hour. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. For our viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is next. For viewers around the world, "AMANPOUR" is ahead. Thanks for watching CNN, the world's news leader.
ALLEN: See you later.