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Will Trump Stay on Script for SOTU? Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Has Stepped Down from FBI. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired January 30, 2018 - 02:00   ET


ISHA SESAY, ANCHOR, CNN: This is CNN Newsroom Live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour...

JOHN VAUSE, ANCHOR, CNN: On the eve of his first State of the Union speech, it seems the US President plans to talk about partisanship and coming together, but will he stick to the script and use his inner voice?

SESAY: Chimamanda got back. The renowned author asked if the country of Nigeria has bookstores? An epic response and the global reaction.

VAUSE: And US scientists heading to France to study climate change. In a recent interview by Donald Trump might just explain why. Hello, welcome to our viewers all around the world, great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. Newsroom LA starts right now.

We are hours away now from Donald Trump's first State of the Union address, but it is being overshadowed by more chaos in Washington.

In a sudden and surprising move, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has stepped down. He has been a constant target of President Trump ever since he briefly took over from ousted FBI Director James Comey that happened in May.

SESAY: Then, there's this. House Republicans voted to release a controversial classified memo alleging the FBI misused a surveillance program in relation to the Trump campaign.

Democrats claim the memo misrepresented intelligence in order to discredit the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.


ADAM SCHIFF, US HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, DEMOCRAT: Sadly, we can fully expect that the President of the United States will not put the national interest over his own personal interest.

This committee voted to put the President's personal interest, perhaps their own political interestabove the national interest in denying themselves even the ability to hear from the department and the FBI. (VIDEOCLIP ENDS)

VAUSE: Okay, let's bring out the panel now, Democratic strategist, Adrienne Elrod and CNN political commentator and Republican consultant, John Thomas. Also, criminal defense attorney Brian Claypool with us as well.

So, Brian, let's start with you with that Republican memo which argues the Department of Justiceand the FBI misused their authority to obtain a secret surveillance order on the former Trump campaign work with Carter Page. CNN was told it cites the role of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and outgoing Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe for their roles in overseeing aspects of the investigation.

You know, Rosenstein is believed to have signed off on the continued surveillance of Page that happened around April last year, so now, the President has five days to decide if he'll make the memo public that will probably happen. Doesn't it basically take blind fury at this point to say it's all creating a narrative for Donald Trump to fire Rosenstein and ultimately get rid of Robert Mueller?

BRIAN CLAYPOOL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, John, make no mistake about it, this is a classic 12-round heavyweight prizefight, a boxing match between the FBI in one corner and you've got President Trump and I think what's happening here with his Nunes memo is that there might be some evidence that there was not enough information to support probable cause for a search warrant on Carter Page and that is a pretty big violation, John.

In other words, in order to get a search warrant to do surveillance on Carter Page, he is a domestic person. He is a US citizen. He is not a foreign agent.

So, the standard is much higher in order to get a search warrant to do surveillance on him. For example, you have to prove that there is probable cause that he is first a foreign agent, that he is doing something to transmit information to a foreign government, and then you have to show that part of this surveillance -- that a significant amount of the information gleaned from the surveillance will lead to credible evidence of Carter Page being a foreign agent.

And I think, I really do not think this is like Trump pounding his chest or the Republicans pounding their chests. I think Rosenstein -- Rod Rosenstein could be in a heap of trouble if he signed off on this warrant when there was not enough probable cause to support the warrant.

And I think this could lead to Trump potentially firing Rosenstein, but John, here is another problem. If he does that, PresidentTrump is looking in the face of possibly being interviewed by Robert Mueller in this Russian probe investigation and everybody has been clamoring that Trump is trying to unduly influence that investigation.

So, if he fires Rosenstein then that this could fuel the argument that he is trying to influence this Russian probe investigation. VAUSE: Okay, so John, to you, just to move it forward from Brian's

point, some of the reporting out there is at the memo from the Republicans argues the wrongdoing by the FBI's concealing that the warrant for surveillance on Carter Page came actually from the Trump- Russia document, the salacious onethat had all sorts of accusations in there.

Okay, but apart from you know, the allegations which have gotten a lot of attention about what happened in that Moscow hotel room thatwas clearly you know, it hasn't been proven, there is also delegation that Trump lawyer, Merkel Cohen traveled to Prague in 2013 to meet with a Russian spy or Russian-high-ranking official to conspire with.

What else in that dossier is actually wrong because what it seems is that most of the information in that dossier has borne out to be true?

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, I think the challenge is first of all, who funded the dossier, which was arguably the Clinton -- I think it started out with an anti- Trump Republican.

VAUSE: The Washington Free Beacon, which is the anti-Trump group.

THOMAS: Right and then it transferred and finished by the Hillary Clinton campaign, which was then essentially handed over to the FBI. I think, the issue is if they are using Carter Page as an example to get a FISA warrant, the issue here is, everybody is saying, "Oh, well he just wants to -- Trump wants to fire Mueller," and that's what this is about.

But this is really about the politicization of our justice system and our FBI. I mean, this goes well beyond a Trump collusion investigation. I think that is the concern here.

VAUSE: Carter Page was on the FBI surveillance all the way back to 2014, long before the campaign began, so I guess we will know more, I guess, in the next couple of days.

THOMAS: I also just do not understand why it is such a big deal to release the memo. I mean, just release it and then we can pick it apart.

VAUSE: But why not release it with the Democrat response? Adrienne?

THOMAS: Well, I think...

ADRIENNE ELROD, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, look, I think some of the concerns about releasing it is the information in the memo factual? Is there...

VAUSE: (Inaudible) I think is the accusation?

ELROD: Right, of course. Of course, and you know, look, the broader picture here, John is that this is a continuous distraction by the Trump Administration to try to deflect from the problems that he has with the Russian investigation. The fact that Mueller is closing in that we know that Donald Trump likely going to be interviewed, or at least is going to have some sort of negotiation with his attorneysand with the Mueller investigation, whether it is going to be a written testimony, whether it is going to be some sort of you know, taped process as opposed to a natural in-person interview, but whatever it is, he is getting very nervous about this.

And you're seeing his allies in Congress, i.e. Devin Nunes with this memo who is trying to shift everybody off the real facts with the Mueller investigation and a focus on this memo, which may or may not have proper or correct information in it.

VAUSE: At the very least, John, why wouldn't the Republicans, if they want to put this memo out there and they do because they voted for it. Why wouldn't you release the Democrat response to avoid all the accusations of politicization?

THOMAS: I am sure they will at some point...

VAUSE: Why not release them together?

THOMAS: Well, I think because it just does exactly what the Democrats want, which is muddy the waters, which confuse the situation. Release this memo. Let us vet it. Let's go through exactly. If in fact it is clean and the FBI did not collude essentially with Barack Obama to influence 2016 elections, wonderful. I hope we clear that up.

But we need clear that up first. Look, one thing we've learned is leaks happen in the last what? Year? We've learned this. That counter memo will get out whether or not the committee releases it or not.

ELROD: I want to respond and say real quickly, confuse the -- you're talking about Republicans or Democrats trying to confuse the situation.

THOMAS: They are.

ELROD: I mean, Republicans are doing that and have been doing that especially the Trump Administration for the last three years.

VAUSE: Okay, well there is another theory out there that the FBI Director. Christopher Ray who was at the White House over the weekend. He read this memo and there was something in there so compelling that he was forced to remove Andrew McCabe as his Deputy. He made that announcement on Monday morning. He is stepping down early.

The White House also says it has had nothing to do with McCabe's decision to step down.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could you say definitively that the President did not play a role in Andrew McCabe stepping down?

SARAH SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: Yes, I can say that the Presidentwasn't part of this decision-making process and we would refer you to the FBI where Christopher Ray serves as the Director, which as I said last week, and I will repeat again today, the President has full confidence in him and has put the decisions at the FBI in his hands.


VAUSE: But the President has made no secret. He never liked McCabe. NBC news is reporting, Donald Trump was furious that after he fired James Comey, the former FBI director. Comey was allowed to fly home from LA on a government plane.

Trump then called McCabe. He was at that point, the acting director of the FBI. He wanted to know who authorized it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: McCabe told the President he had not been asked to authorized Comey's flight, but if anyone had asked, he would have approved it.

The President was silent for a moment, then turned on McCabe. Quote, "Ask your wifehow it feels to be aloser." Trump said.

McCabe replied, "Okay, sir." Trump hung up the phone.


VAUSE: Okay, those were those reference to McCabe's wife and who failed the bid for the Virginia State House in 2015. Here is a very quick timeline what happened after that phone call.

In May, McCabe was summoned to the White House by the President who asked him who he voted for. Two months after that, came a tweet, the acting head of the FBI and the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe got $700,000.00 from Hillary for wife. The next day again on Twitter, the President called out his Attorney General for not replacing McCabe. By August, Christopher Ray is sworn in and McCabe is his Deputy. Last month, it was reported that McCabe was planning to retire in March, two months from now, that's when he would be eligible for a pension. The President repeats the criticism about his wife's campaign finances on Twitter and later adds this, "FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits and 90 days to go," and of course just last month, reports the Attorney General was putting pressure on the FBI Director to fire McCabe.

So, Brian, to you. Yes, the President may not have directly ordered McCabe to be fired, but it seems absurd to say he didn't play a role.

CLAYPOOL: Well, John I actually do not think he didplay a role, but here is the bigger problem for President Trump. Because he has been pounding his chest and he has been jabbing at Andrew McCabe and his wife for the last what? Six months. Public perception is going to Trump reality in this situation and I think most people out there are going to think that he did have something to do with McCabe leaving -- leaving early. But here's the irony in this, John, realquick. I think the FBI

actually here is pulling a sneaky maneuver by allowing McCabe to step down now in advance of his retirement. Why? Because there is a memo that we have not talked about this memo that is coming out from the Office of Inspector General that is supposed to disparage McCabe immensely in his investigation of Hillary Clinton.

And I think that the FBI is trying to preempt any negative feedback from that scandal and that's why they're letting him go now.

VAUSE: Very quickly, we're almost out of time, but Adrienne, I want to get to Hillary Clinton and the story that broke on Friday that she basically covered up an associates' sexual harassment. She protected the accused harasser, you know, gave the person making the accusations a new job, got the banner for 2008 campaign. Her campaign manager was on CNN earlier -- earlier on Monday. She said, basically she investigated it all. She thought there was sexual harassment, but you know, she was overruled by Hillary Clinton.

You know, for all the talk about Hillary Clinton empowering women, at the end of the day, actions speak louder than words.

ELROD: Well, you know, let's take it a step back here. Secretary Clinton was not covering this up. This is something that happened ten years ago on her 2008 campaign. I will say this though, hindsight is always 20/20. You know, she may be looking back now and wishing that he had been removed, but what matters the most, now is that 10 years later, the environment and the culture is far different than it was 10 years ago.

And what might have been considered you know, standard process at that time, which is you know, duck the guy's pay a couple weeks, put him in counseling, put the subordinate at a different job that is equal or more advanced than where she went before and if this happens again, then he's kicked off the campaign. That is not going to stand today and that's what matters the most.

And what also matters the most is the women who had been victim to him feel comfortable speaking out and sharing their stories to make sure that this not happen again.

VAUSE: John, very quickly. You know, hindsight is a wonderful thing, but Hillary Clinton had a chance to correct the record and she put out a tweet, there was no apology. There was no admission of guilt.

THOMAS: No, and it's because she lives a glass house. Look, her husband has been accused of raping and harassing women. Is she going to divorce him? Probably not. She doesn't want to go down that road. She doesn't want to have that conversation.

At the same time, she opened up her 2016 campaign saying, every woman has a right to be believed. It is very hypocritical. Not the first time a politician has been hypocritical.

ELROD: It's not hypocritical, it's true. She believes it.

THOMAS: So, she believes Juanita Broderick?

VAUSE: Hypocrisy and politics, oh my god. There is gambling going on here, I do believe.

ELROD: No, the one -- I wanted to just make one final point though, I am really tired of seeing the women always blamed for bad men out there, so let's like move forward as a society and you know...

VAUSE: A teachable moment.

ELROD: Embrace the hash tag, me too movement. You'll know what it is.

VAUSE: Adrienne, John and Brian. Thanks to all of you. Most appreciated.

ELROD: Thank you.

THOMAS: Thanks.

CLAYPOOL: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: And be sure to tune in to CNN's coverage of President Trump's State of the Union address, begins Tuesday at 8 p.m. in New York that's Wednesday 9 a.m. in Hong Kong.

SESAY: Turning to Afghanistan now, four attacks in just the past nine days that have claimed more than 130 lives. The latest unfolding at a military base in Kabul where 11 Afghan Army personnel were killed early Monday. Two of the assailants blew themselves up, two others were killed by Afghan Army troops and in effect was captured.

ISIS is claiming responsibility for the latest attack and one other in Eastern Afghanistan, the Taliban are claiming responsibility for two other attacks in the past week and a half.

Well, journalist, Ali Latifijoins us now from Kabul. Ali, thank you for being with us once again. What's your read of the message being sent here when you look at the choice of targets in these most recent attacks?

We do not seem to audio with Ali Latifi. So, we're going to work to reestablish that and bring him back to pick up this conversation. So, stay with us for that for the latest out of Afghanistan.

VAUSE: Okay, in the meantime, there is new video out of Syria which shows the aftermath of deadly airstrikes in rebel-held Idlib province.

The video was posted online by the White Homeless Rescue groups, you could see rescuers there running through the debris. They are trying to reach wounded victims in buildings which have been bombed.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says air strike have killed at least 33 people in Northern Syria since Sunday.

And we'll take a short break. When we come back, the cost of allegedly behaving badly. Accusations of sexual misconduct against Steve Wynn have taken a very big financial toll on him and his casino empire.

SESAY: Hello, everyone. We want to take you to Afghanistan now where there have been four attacks in nine days that have claimed the lives of more than 130 people. Journalist, Ali Latifi is there in Kabul to provide us with some important insight into what is taking place.

Ali, if you can hear me, these attacks in the last nine days claimed -- some of them claimed by ISIS, others by the Taliban, what's your read of the message being sent here when you look at the choice of targets?

ALI LATIFI, JOURNALIST: So, basically the message is that no one is safe anywhere. And it is also this idea that they are trying to convey that the central government is not powerful to stop these attacks.

If you look at the targets, for instance, the Intercontinental Hotel, I'd say 90% of the people in Kabul have never set foot in that hotel, but the fact that it's such a high value target, there is so much security there, so many officials go there, and the fact that that could come under attack, that places a lot of fear in the average person.

SESAY: So, you say that Afghan sadly are all too familiar with violence, deadly violence over many, many years. For those that you have been speaking to, does this moment as we talk about attack after attack after attack, does it feel different or just more of the same?

LATIFI: I mean the thing is youknow there will always be attacks and these attacks sort of go in waves, but the thing that everyone says is when is enough? When does this end? When will someone do somethingright? So, can the central government do something? Can the United States do something? For instance, President Trump has put a lot of pressure and said a lot of, you know very hostile things towards Pakistan.

But now the question is what can he actually do? And what will the central government do? At the end of the day, people are like enough is enough. There has to be a solution.

SESAY: And what are we hearing from the central government? Are we hearing anything that would indicate that they are about to do things differently? I mean, we know that the Trump Administration says that in the next couple of months, there will be an increase in troops that really, I think they say works out to about 4,000 more troops taking total a number to 15,000.

I mean when we look at facts on the ground, anything to suggest that we're about to see a radical change in strategy.

LATIFI: We've definitely started to see a change in strategy. If you look back at the last couple of months, you will see that there are a lot of reports of more and more fighters belonging either to the Islamic state or to Taliban that the government claims has been attacked and if you look at those attacks, they say they are coalition and have done airstrikes. They'll say they are drone strikes. They'll say there are ground operations, but the question now again on everyone's mind is what is coming from these attacks? Who was actually being targeted? And if you know so many people -- for instance, resolute support recently said that they killed 1,600 Islamic state numbers and yet, two of the largest attacks in the last two weeks were claimed by them.

SESAY: Yes, I mean, the attacks continue to come and the question just has to be what happens next? I mean, we heard from President Trump on Monday say that the US would not engage in peace talks with the Taliba, really as a result, as he puts it of the violence in the recent days. Is that something that he would receive support for there in Afghanistan? Saying no to peace talks.

LATIFI: I think he will receive a mixed response to that, you know, there are people that say absolutely not for no reason. For instance, the current Ambassador to Italy recently tweeted that no, there is no reason that people who are killing thousands of our civilians should be negotiated with.

But other people will say that the war has to come to an end and at some point we are going to have to sit down and talk to these people because at the end of the day, if you look at the current government, we have accepted so many warlords who are responsible for the Civil War in the 1990s in Kabul into the government, including the first Vice President who is currently in exile in Turkey, but still he is part of the government and we just made a peace deal two years ago with the leader of the second largest armed opposition movement and now he lives in West Kabul.

But again, the central message coming from everyone is that this has to end, whatever it takes, just end it.

SESAY: Some really important context there. Ali Latifi, speaking to us from Kabul, very much appreciated. Thank you.

VAUSE: Steve Wynn and his galley empire are taking a huge financial hit as investors weigh the fallout from a Wall Street Journal report which detail dozens of allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against the casino mogul.

Take a look at the numbers since the story broke last Friday. Shares in Wynn Resorts had fallen 19%, wiping $35 billion from the value of the Las Vegas company.

For him personally, the falling stock price has cost him almost half a billion dollars. At the start of the year, his net worth was estimated to be $3.5 billion. Over the weekend, Wynn stepped down as Finance Chairman for the Republican Party and some Republican lawmakers are donating to charity campaign contributions linked to Wynne, but Democrats say the Republican Party is not doing enough.


KRISTEN GILLIBRAND: The mere silence is deafening coming from the Republicans. I really believe this should not be about any one party. It should not be partisan. This kind of behavior is not okay, it is not acceptable.


VAUSE: I am joined now by CNN's legal analyst, Areva Martin, who is also a civil rights attorney. Ariva, good to see you.

We should point out, one of the big issues here for the drop in the share price for Wynn Resorts. It is because there is concerns about how the scandal could impact operations in Macau because of morality clauses, those licenses are coming up for renewal next year.

But regardless, Areva, Mr. Wynn is still very wealthy, a very powerful man.


VAUSE: And he will be regardless of what happens here, unlike the women who have come forward to make these accusations and this is a classic example of the economic disparity.

MARTIN: Yes, this is a really significant story as we look at the whole me too movement and as it has unfolded over the last several months because these are low-wage earners working in a resort in Las Vegas where we're told the wages were higher than other casinos on the strip.

So, to come forward and risk losing that high-paying casino job was a really big deal for these women. Now we are talking about women and may only make $12.00, $14.00 or $15.00 an hour. It is not the celebrities that we saw tweeting and coming forwarded and I don't want to take anything away from those women because they usedtheir platform and that was important, but these are the women that oftentimes suffer in silence because they do not have money for legal fees. They do not have the courage because if they lose their job that could be the difference between having a roof over their head and being homeless.

VAUSE: Yes, okay, so this is a part of an opinion piece for New York Times, there is a reason Mr. Wynn's accusers have remained unnamed. This goes to your point. They do not have a legion of Twitter followers to mobilize around them or people of power to affirm them or forthcoming movies to support them financially. Socioeconomic status plays a significant role in their ability to say me too."

As difficult as it was, Angelina Jolie and Heather Graham and Ashley Judd to come forward, it must have been so incredibly difficult, more so for these women who earn an hourly wage. This is why it is important for women to have a good level of wage, to be in an environment where laws protect them, where they can feel that they can come forward and safely make allegations or say something without being punished because these jobs are -- you know, this is the difference between food on the table or not.

MARTIN: And that is why the movement has to go further than what we are seeing on social media, so I give a lot of credit to the Time is Up movement because one of the first things they did was establish a legal defense fund and almost $13 million was donated to that fund to help women just like these that work at casinos, women who cannot go out and pay $10,000.00 or $20,000.00 in a retainer fee just to start the process of filing a lawsuit and the Time is Up movement is looking at legislation because we've got to do something that is going to protect women like those that work in casinos or factories or restaurants, so that the workplace one is safe and then that there is a safe way for them to make complaints without retribution. Because that's the biggest fear is if I come forward and tell my story, I will lose my job and I don't only will lose my job, my benefits and then the opportunity to maybe even work in that industry.

Because I would imagine the casino industry is probably close knit and if you get fired for making a complaint against one of the biggest casino owners in the country, I do not imagine you could find a job pretty easily in that town.

VAUSE: Okay, so this started in Hollywood. You know, it's gone to politics, sports, it is spreading. It seems like now, this is the biggest test of all, for this me too movement because it is going into the heart land, it's going into this place where the vast majority of workers are in fact women that are hourly wage earners and this is the place, as you say, that you know, a boss on the factory floor can control the destiny, has all the power.


VAUSE: So, this seems to be like a real test of this me too movement is in fact a cultural and seismic shift in the way this country operates.

MARTIN: And I think so far, what has happened to Steve Wynn tells us that this movement is here to stay. That it does have legs and that it is sustainable and you seethe reaction to these allegations were swift. The stock prices dropped. He was forced to resign from the RNCand although we didn't hear enough Republican leaders coming out and you know, speaking out against these allegations, we did see some and I think that the tolerance level is changing in this country.

It is no longer acceptable to turn a blind eye. It is no longer acceptable to victimshame the woman that comes forward and women are being believed and that is the biggest thing. In my history of practicing civil rights law, in litigating these cases and representing women in these cases that is so, so, so significant. I cannot really emphasize enough how different this is than even five years ago when a woman would come forward, instantly, the blame game would start.

And she would be shamed and the man will be automatically believed. He would keep his job; oftentimes, he would rise in the company and the woman would be out on the streets.

VAUSE: We're out of time. But let's just say it again, women don't come forward with allegations of sexual harassment for fun.


VAUSE: Okay. MARTIN: They suffer great consequences when they do, so hats off to

these women for having the courage to step forward and tell their story.

VAUSE: Especially against a guy like Steve Wynn, certainly. Areva, thank you. Always good to see you.

MARTIN: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: Thank you.

SESAY: A quick break here and then faced with a ridiculous question, this writer came back with an epic response.

VAUSE: Welcome to CNN Newsroom, live from Los Angeles. Thanks for staying with us, I am John Vause.

SESAY: And I am IshaSesay. We're worth staying around for.

VAUSE: Oh yes.

SESAY: The headlines this hour. US House Republicans have voted to release a controversial memo alleging anti-Trump files at the FBI. Democrats say, it's really just an attempt to discredit Special Counsel, Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. President Trump will decide whether to make the memo public.

VAUSE: FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is stepping down effective immediately. The White House denies playing any role in this decision, but President Trump has repeatedly targeted McCabe on Twitter among other things, the campaign contributions his wife received from Hillary Clinton associates back in 2015.

SESAY: The Trump Administration has decided not to call for new sanctions against companies in countries that do business with blacklisted Russian entities. A 2016 law meant to punish Russia for its election meddling says those companies must be made public and sanctions possibly imposed.

But the State Department official says that law is already serving as a deterrent.

VAUSEL: ISIS is claiming responsibility for Monday's deadly attack in a military base in Kabul. Eleven Afghan army personnel were killed, two of the assailants blew themselves up. Two others were killed and a fifth was captured.

This is the fourth such attack in Afghanistan in just nine days.

SASEY: Now, a French journalist is facing backlash for asking acclaimed Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Adichie if there are any book shops in her country? It happened during an interview at an event called, A Night of Ideas where Adichie was a guest.

Midway through the conversation, journalist Caroline Broue asked a question that led to this awkward exchange. Take a look. (VIDEOCLIP STARTS)

CAROLINE BROUE, JOURNALIST, FRANCE: Do people read your books in Nigeria?


BROUE: Are there book shops in Nigeria?

ADICHIE: You know, I think it reflects very poorly on French people that you have to ask me that question. I really do. Because I mean, because I think surely, I mean, it's 2018, you know, I mean, come on.


SESAY; Very, very graceful response there from Chimamanda Adichie. CNN digital editor, Stephanie Busarijoins us now from Lagos. Stephanie, good to see you my friend.

So, Chimamanda responding with great calm, but there in Nigeria, the reaction has been less restrained. Tell us about it.

STEPHANIE BUSARI, DIGITAL EDITOR, CNN: Good morning, Isha. Absolutely, the reaction here is one of outrage, shock and you know, people just cannot believe that someone would ask this question. I mean, they are just outraged. The people that we spoke to on the streets, on social media and not just Nigerians, it has to be said.

You know, she put Chimamanda in a situation where she was forced to actually just respondin a calm way, but so many people were saying, "We would not have been so calm because this question is ignorant and it actually has kind of lazy and racist kind of undertone." That's what some people are saying on social media.

But on the streets of Nigeria, their responses are a little more measured, but there is still shock and anger. Take a listen, Isha.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh god. Really? Is that even a question? Of course, we have book shops even in my dad's time. We had book shops when there was independence happening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, I am glad it was asked and I am glad about Chimamanda's response because it is indeed a poor reflection of anyone to ask questions like that about Africa. It just reflects your ignorance, which may not be entirely your fault, but again, you should hold responsibility for whatever truth you believe and it's your responsibility to try to find out the truth.


SESAY; So, interesting responses there, Stephanie. Clearly, those women really summing up a general feeling there in Nigeria that it was offensive, that it crossed the line. Here is how the journalist justified the question. Let's play the clip. (VIDEOCLIP STARTS)

BROUE: It's because your reacting that way that I am asking the question to feed into the next one, you were talking about single stories. Now, when you talk about Nigeria in France, unfortunately, there is not much said about Nigeria. But when people talk about Nigeria, it is about Boko Harem, it's about violence. It's about security.

Now, I should like you to tell us something about Nigeria, which is different. Talk about it differently and that is why I am saying are there book shops? Of course, I imagine there are, but I could ask the question to the French, do people read in France? I think, less and less so.


SESAY: So, she says, essentially, she's asking the question because French people don't know. So, I ask you then, Stephanie to give us a little bit more context to the general state of literacy and access to books there in Nigeria because if Ms. Brouesays they don't know, you tell them.

BUSERI: Sure, very happy to. So, this is a country of nearly 200 million people. So, it's just a simple math of economics, you know, there are millionsof schoolage, university students, so it just goes to show, it's just a given that businesses will be set up to cater for this demographic.

So, there are thousands of bookshops in Nigeria. I am happy to inform Caroline and the French people who do not know andyou know, they are relatively cheap that you have the highbrow bookstores where you get imported books, and you also have roadside bookstores where people can pick up books for as little as a dollar in some cases.

So, you know, it is -- this is also actually Isha, I must say a country where reading is very, very prioritized and Nigeria has given the world some great authors -- Chimamanda is one of them. We have the first African Nobel Prize literature winner from this country, WoleSoyinka and you know, many, many thousands of great Nigerian authors, Chinua Achebe, the list is endless.

So, really, I am very happy to inform Caroline and the French people that reading and bookshops are very, very important here and there are many. In fact, I tweeted Caroline herself and invited her to come to Nigeria and I will be very happy to show her all the wonderful things happening here that she should report to the French people, Isha.

SESAY: Let me tag along when she shows up because I'd love to see that all. Stephanie, sorry, we very much appreciate it.

VAUSE: Well, the new Liberian President, George Weah is taking 25% pay cut. The former football star says the money will be invested in a development fund to help the country's economy which is struggling with high unemployment and widespread corruption. Weahwas sworn in last week. The first Democratic transfer of power in Liberia in more than seven decades. One of his first promises is a $3 billioninfrastructure program.

Activists in Kenya are warning of further unrest if the opposition makes good on plan to hold a swearing in ceremony for the leader RailaOdingacalling him an alternative President. The government has warned that could be seen as an act of treason.

PresidentUhuru Kenyatta won the election back in October, but the opposition boycotted the vote claiming it had been manipulated.

SESAY: We're going to take a very quick break and then, more misery for Rohingya refugees, the latest threat facing these persecuted people and a friend of Myanmar's leader is speaking out against her.

VAUSE: Also ahead, child forced marriages in the United States and the woman campaign to end it, she is forced to wed her rapist when she was just a girl.

SESAY: Hello, everyone. The plight of Rohingya refugees just keeps getting worse. The UN says more than 100,000 of them can be facing landslides and flooding when the monsoon season begins in Bangladesh. Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have escaped a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar but their lives in squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh are desperate and dangerous.

VAUSE: In the meantime, the former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is explaining why he resigned from an advisory board on the Rohingya crisis. He is strongly criticizing Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.


BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER GOVERNOR, NEW MEXICO: I think when you get power you go into a cocoon. You go into an us against them attitude. You find ways to avoid bad advice and I think that is what has happened to her. I have known her for 30 years. We have been friends. I've supported her, but now she is in a cocoon where she does not want to hear anything that is bad or frank advice.


SESAY: Well, Zarni is a fellow at the Cambodia Genocide Documentation Center. He joins us via Skype from London. Zarni, good to speak to you once again.

So, Bill Richardson there is saying that Aung San Suu Kyi is essentially the victim of bad advice and that that explains her position on the Rohingya and the abuse of people's rights there in Myanmar, is that what it is? Is this simply a case of bad advice?

ZARNI, CAMBODIA GENOCIDE DOCUMENTATION CENTER, FELLOW: No, it's a case of categorical leadership failure and being like, you know, Governor Richardson said she shows a complete absence of moral leadership. I think she shows a complete absence of strategic and political leadership, as well as intellectual leadership as well.

You know, my great uncle was her father's college dormmate at Rangoon University in the 1930s and I supported her for 15 years and I have known her for 30 years as well. And you know I think, the Governor was quite generous in fact because often 15 years, I stopped supporting her because she was not providing the public with intellectual guidance or strategic leadership, much less speaking out on issues morally when it is called for.

She herself is the whitewash, you know, the biggest whitewash for the military is Aung San Suu Kyi. She is not in power,the military is in control. She is providing the moral justification for something that is so heinous.

SASEY: So, as you put me, if I am interpreting it right, you are saying she is providing cover for the military in effect, with her silence and a refusal to condemn what is happening to the Rohingya, but what about that central point though that people make that she could not do anymore even if she wanted to be the military controls the levers of power there in Myanmar and that basically, she's boxed in.

Do you buy that?

ZARNI: No, I do not buy. I think she knows what she is doing and she is now simply keeping her mouth shut. She has spoken out repeatedly. Every time she speaks out, she speaks in sync with the military and also you know that because this is widely considered both legally and broadly sociologically, the genocide that is that the Burmese military has institutionalized the killings and destruction of the Rohingya for the last 40 years and if you take that genocide to the legal framework it becomes very clear what she is doing is essentially denying, dismissing and rationalizing and justifying the military's behavior when she frames it as a national security/terrorist threat to the community that has been sitting duck for 40 years.

So that is what she is. She stands accused even by the head of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva as criminally responsible. She could phase indictment at the International Criminal Court. So, this is you know -- this is not the had the kind of leader Burma needs and there is no democratic transition under her leadership. The only transition is towards a Nazi-like fascist society in Burma under her watch.

SESAY: So, Zarni, you know, let me ask you this, you know, obviously, there are those who disagree as I say, who have diverse views and reads of what she's doing, but let me ask you this, on the surface, as we look at it, as we look at the split opinion on a woman who, you know, just say you know, 10 years ago revered and loved. I mean, is this one of the greatest reversals we have seen in the moral standing of someone who was once considered an icon?

ZARNI: Well, I think you know, she participated in the invention of herself as a liberal icon who was educated at Oxford and there was -- you know, many of us participated in like in creating Aung San Suu Kyi as the icon.

I think the problem is, she told Christiane Amanpouron CNN that she was never -- she had never been defender of human rights and defender of liberal principle. She said in her own words, "I have always been the politician leading an opposition movement." She has always been a political opposition leader, now, she is in semi-power. She is showing their true colors, which is she shows absolutely no compassion for the victims of our country's genocide. She shows absolutely no liberal principle. She is not even Democrat.

She leads her party like a dictator.

SESAY: Zarni, some great insight. Obviously, there are those who disagree strongly there in Myanmar and who still see her as this -- Myanmar's best course for freedoms. Zarni, joining us from England. We really do appreciate it. Always good to speak to you. Thank you.

ZARNI: Thank you, Isha.

VAUSE: So, how is it that a 12-year-old girl or even younger for that matter can be legally married across the United States, all the states have a legal age limit of 18, they all have exceptions like parental consent. But there are no laws on the books in 27 states, no legal requirement at all on how young is too young to get married.

Now, Florida might be the first state to impose a legal limit without any loopholes. If it happens, it will be because of one woman when she was a little girl, she was raped and then forced to marry her attacker.

Polo Sandoval has more.


SHERRY JOHNSON, CITIZEN, UNITED STATES: This is going to take a minute.

POLO SANDOVAL, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Just looking at Sherry Johnson, you would have no idea what she has been through. It was 1969 when she says a deacon at her family's church raped her. He was 19. She was 10. The assaults and the resulting pregnancy forced Johnson out of elementary school and into adulthood. She says her mother then forced her to marry.

JOHNSON: I was 11 when I was forced to marry my rapist. My mom said, "Well, you've you got to marry him," and I'm like, "Marry him?" I don't know what marriage is.

SANDOVAL: This is the couple on their wedding day in March of 1971.

JOHNSON: My mom made me a white wedding dress and she made me a veil.

SANDOVAL: Behind the smile of this 11-year-old bride, Johnson remembers feeling alone and trapped.

JOHNSON: It was not a marriage because I didn't consent to that. That was something that I was forced into and when you're forced into something it can't be happy.

The eyes of the law allowed this to happen. You gave permission for this man to take me as a wife, to rape me continuously. SANDOVAL: For six years, Johnson endured life in a forced marriage.

It was not until she turned 17 and old enough to take legal action on her own that the state of Florida granted her a divorce.

Decades later, child marriage remains an issue in the United States.

FRAIDY REISS, UNCHAINED AT LAST: What is happening at such an alarming rate.

SANDOVAL: According to Unchained At Last, a nonprofit group fighting forced child marriage, children can still wed with parental consent and a judge's approval.

REISS: Under these loopholes, marriage before 18 is legal in all 50 US states, and in fact, in 25 states. The way the laws are written, they do not specify any minimum age for marriage.

SANDOVAL: Fraidy Reiss, who leads the organization wants to see all states make 18 the minimum age to marry, no exceptions.

REISS: Some of the reasons that we have seen that parents will do this are tradition. In some cases, unfortunately, it's pregnancy. Parents will use marriage as a way to cover up a rape or if they think if a girl gets pregnant, there is no other option.

SANDOVAL: Nearly a quarter of a million children were married between the years 2000 and 2010 says Reiss, 77% of them were girls who married adult men who were often significantly older.

REISS: You shouldn't be allowed to marry before you have the rights of adulthood and before you are able to do basic things like file for divorce or get into a domestic violence shelter.

SANDOVAL: Sherry is pushing to make her home state of Florida the first to ban child marriage completely.

JOHNSON: I am filled within myself that this is going to happen and we are going to save a lot of children lives.

SANDOVAL: She is a survivor. Determined to keep another adolescent from being robbed of their childhood bullets. Paolo Sandoval, CNN, New York.


VAUSE: Well, for more on Sherry Johnson's story and her fight to end child marriage, please head to our website We will be back right after this.

VAUSE: There is one country in the planet not part of the Paris Climate Change Accord. North Korea is part of it. Syria is part of it. The list goes on. The United States pulled out of the Climate Change deal, but now, the US President, maybe, he says he wants back in but you know, on his terms.

SESAY: Well, some US scientists aren't waiting around to see if another agreement materializes. They've moved to France to do their work.

Jim Bittermannreports.


EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT, FRANCE: Make our planet great again.

JIM BITTERMANN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: French PresidentEmmanuel Macron's famous rebuke of President Trump after he ended America's participation in the Paris Climate Change Accords included something else.A promise that France would support climate change scientists who wanted to come here to continue their research. It was more than just words.

Six months later, after sifting through 500 grant proposals, the first 18 scientists were selected and are now in the process of reestablishing themselves in French research centers.

For many, it was ablessing.

CAMILE PARMESAN, BIOLOGIST: Having a climate denier become the head of state, become the President was just something I didn't think I could live with for the four years.

BITTERMANN: What's more, coming to France could be a significant career boost. Grant winner, Delphine Renard, an agronomist is wrapping up her work at the University of California in Santa Barbara before moving to Montpellier, France where her million Euro grant will allow her to assemble a team of 10 researchers to study the way plants survive climate change.

DELPHINE RENARD, BIOLOGIST: I think the United States can lose over the long term if they don't fund their research on climate change or ecology or environment. The society has something to lose you know. It is not only the government, but everybody.

BITTERMANN: One particular way the US could lose out is but without is on intellectual property. While climate scientists say they share their work internationally, any specific discoveries or patents that arise from their work would belong to the institution who had sponsored them.

The government minister in charge of attracting the climate scientist says there is no question the country will benefit in that and other ways.

FREDERIQUE VIDAL, MINISTER FOR HIGHER EDUCATION, RESEARCH AND INNOVATION: The idea is we need to have the opportunity to reinforce research laboratories in the topics, in the universities and the research organizations.

BITTERMANN: That's certainly evident that the brand-new French Photovoltaic Institute outside Paris. When he got his grant, Philip Schultz left his position at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado to pick up his research here. He will receive EU 1.3 million over the next five years to put together a 10-person team to study how photocells can be layered to make them more efficient.

PHILIP SCHULTZ, PHYSICIST: It's definitely an incubator and for me, it was a vehicle to come here and to ramp up my research.

BITTERMANN: Those climate scientists drawn here by the French support will no doubt contribute toward making the planet great again, even if they won't be at the US to help make America great again. Jim Bitterman, CNN, Paris.


VAUSE: One country. Even North Korea signed up.

SESAY: You've been watching CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles. I am IshaSusay.

VAUSE: I am John Vause, please follow us on Twitter @CNNNewsroomLA. There you can find highlights and clips from the show. Isha gets to talk to everybody personally.

The news continues with Rosemary Church after a short break. See you later. Bye.