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Trump Vows to Strengthen U.S. Nuclear Arsenal; Trump Salutes North Korean Defector; Trump Defends Four Pillar Immigration Reform Plan; Putin: U.S. List is "Unfriendly Act"; Mark Salling "Glee" Actor Dead at 35; Pompeo: Concerns Russia will Interfere I Midterms; Source: Trump Firing Mueller still a Possibility; Yemen: Houthi Rebels Force Children To Fight In Conflict. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired January 31, 2018 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Thank you for being with us. I'm John Vause.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): I'm Isha Sesay. You've watching CNN NEWSROOM, Los Angeles.
VAUSE: Donald Trump has warned the North Koreans the United States will not be complacent anymore with what he calls their cruel dictatorship. In his first State of the Union address, the president said Kim Jong-un's pursuit of nuclear weapons could soon threaten the U.S. homeland and he warned he will not repeat the mistakes of past presidents by making concessions to Pyongyang.
SESAY: Mr. Trump called for unity between Democrats and Republicans and urged Congress to strengthen the country's military.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As part of our defense, we must modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression by any other nation or anyone else.
Perhaps someday in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet, sadly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Joining us now from Seoul, CNN's Will Ripley and, in San Francisco, executive director of the Plowshares Fund, Philip Yun.
Here in Los Angeles we have Democratic strategist Caroline Heldman and talk radio host and Trump supporter John Phillips.
Good to see you all. We'll start with Will in Seoul.
Will, just after the president called for this buildup of the U.S. military, we heard him talking about there will be no complacency, there will be no concessions when it comes to the North Koreans. You put it all together, how will this be heard in Pyongyang?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not good. This is the bottom line. This is, in many ways, this State of the Union speech kind of drives the knife in further for the North Koreans, who have already been quite agitated. And they have expressed their agitation through their state media reports over the last week or so.
They already cancelled an inter-Korean cultural event ahead of the Olympics, upset about the tone of the coverage, of the North Korean participation in the Olympics. Now I am learning from sources, diplomatic sources with deep knowledge of North Korea's intentions, that they will be having a military parade next week.
And in that parade they are expected to display many dozens of Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missiles, the kind of which they recently tested, the kind of missile that could potentially strike anywhere on the U.S. mainland.
In addition to that, there will be hundreds of missiles and rockets on display. This is coming from two different sources, again, with close knowledge of North Korea's activities and, of course, one of the sources saying the intent of this is to -- and I'm reading a quote here -- "scare the hell out of the Americans."
This is not a good sign for the situation here on the peninsula, the North Koreans are upset about the U.S. military buildup; the president's ambiguity about whether the United States might engage in a preemptive military strike could also push the North to take further steps. My sources are not ruling out the possibility of another North Korean missile test, quote, "in the very near future."
And of course the unknown here, how the United States would respond to all of this. Given the fact that President Trump also put a North Korean defector, very prominently sitting him right next to the first lady of the United States, holding up his crutches that were as a result of injuries sustained, defecting from North Korea. That is also just going to further agitate this government, which has already been expressing its deep displeasure.
And hinting that more inter-Korean Olympics events could cancelled and that all bets are really off about what's going to happen here. And of course we also know that the U.S.-South Korea joint military drills that have been postponed until after the Games, they will resume and North Korea has said that there would be great consequences if those drills do go forward.
VAUSE: Will, thank you. Will there for us, live in Seoul.
I want to go over to Philip now.
And just on Will's point there, about this North Korean -- [01:05:00]
VAUSE: -- defector who attended the State of the Union. Obviously a clear message being sent to Pyongyang. The president actually finished the State of the Union address with the story of Ji Seong-ho. This is part of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Seong-ho traveled thousands of miles on crutches all across China and Southeast Asia to freedom. Most of his family followed. His father was caught trying to escape and was tortured to death.
Today he lives in Seoul, where he rescues other defectors, and broadcasts into North Korea what the regime fears most: the truth. Today he has a new leg.
But, Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those crutches as a reminder of how far you have come. Your great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So some said, Philip, you know, making the comparisons that this is a lot like 2002; George W. Bush in the leadup to the Iraq war, the infamous "axis of evil" State of the Union address.
And it matters because of where it is said, the context and the place because before that he was praising Seong-ho, he was also talking about this evil dictatorship, this country which cannot be -- the law cannot tolerate for much longer.
PHILIP YUN, PLOWSHARES FUND: So, yes, there are clear parallels, I would think, with the Iraq war and the leadup to it. I'm really troubled by the State of the Union speech. I think the context of this also is the recent report by "The Washington Post," that Victor Cha, who was supposed to become the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, basically is not going to be nominated because he disagreed with the U.S. policies towards North Korea.
And essentially had then wrote an op-ed that the punch to the nose, the preemptive limited strike, was something that he pushed back on, did not agree with strongly.
So this is making me worry that this is something that is really being considered. The second thing is use of Mr. Xi. He's on record, from what I understand, of being for regime change, that this regime in North Korea, however repulsive it is, he is on record, saying this regime needs to be overthrown.
And that will not be overlooked by the North Koreans, by him being featured so prominently.
VAUSE: And just with regards to Victor Cha, he was around the George W. Bush days; he's seen as one of the most preeminent experts on North Korea. But he is no shrinking violet. He also has hawkish views as well, right.
And so if you have this guy saying, the bloody nose, the limited military strike, that's not a good idea, but this administration then freezes this guy out, again, you put it all together and we're getting into quite a dangerous place.
YUN: Well, that's worrisome because I just don't know. I mean, within the policy realm here, Victor is very solid, he knows his stuff. I don't know if you will find anybody who is within the policy mainstream who really agrees with the use of the force. It's not an option.
And the fact that they are going to have to find somebody who agrees with that, with the possibility of unilateral strike -- there was also a report in the "Financial Times," that they asked him if he was prepared to manage an evacuation, which is a precursor to a strike.
And so I think this is quite worrisome; this war, if it does break out, which risks war could really result in tens of hundreds of thousands, possibly 1 million casualties, not only in the United States but really in South Korea and Japan, which will bear the brunt of something going out of control. So this is terrifying.
VAUSE: Very quickly, when you hear talk about evacuations and will he be prepared to work on that?
Does this sort of say to you that this planning is a lot further down the track that we may have thought?
YUN: Well, i think this planning is always in the track. I mean, the military on contingencies. That's what they do, that's their job.
The question is how do we prevent from all this from happening?
And so I'm not surprised that they are talking, that this has been planned. I am surprised that they decided that they weren't going to have Victor, who is very well know, very well respected in Republican circles, because he disagreed with the proposals or the policies that the Trump administration has. So that's very worrisome. That just tells you where they are and what direction they're possibly going.
And the speech itself, if you look at it, in itself is fairly innocuous. Other presidents have said very similar language. But when you put it in this context, you can tell that it is leading up to a case for some kind of military action, particularly with respect to Otto Warmbier and the emotional heartstrings that it pulls at.
It's just an awful situation, that what happened to him as well.
VAUSE: Philip, thank you for being with us.
Caroline, I just want to bring you on this, because that 2002 State of the Union, going down in history as one of the most State of the Union addresses in recent memory.
Do you see the parallels between what Trump is doing, trying to sell a war, which is what Bush was doing back in 2002?
CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think it's obvious. It's a rhetorical buildup, if you will, and his decision to withdraw the nomination of someone because he doesn't want to go in and enact regime change. It's evidence of that.
I also think it's just hypocrisy to talk about this defector from North Korea and talk essentially about chain migration, right as his parents coming over as well, without mentioning the fact that we don't allow refugees from North Korea. So both the hypocrisy and the buildup by saying the word "troubling" in Trump's speech.
VAUSE: There was a big (INAUDIBLE) in September last year, which banned North Koreans.
But, John, what's your take?
JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I totally disagree. I think it's par for the course. Trump is talking tough and we're seeing saber rattling from Kim Jong-un. He can have a parade; he can have a big inflatable Snoopy and Santa Claus and Al Roker doing play by play.
It's not going to change the global dynamic that the U.N. has passed the toughest sanctions on North Korea to date. And we've also seen North Korea and South Korea talking for the first time in ages. And we've seen the Chinese leaning on the North Koreans like they haven't in a very long time.
Whatever Trump is doing, people may not like it, people may not like the rhetorical devices that he uses, but it's working.
SESAY: All right. WE thank you for that. We're going to hit pause on the front of North Korea and talk about the economy because, on that side, the president had a more encouraging picture to paint. He highlighted the soaring stock market and the recent passed tax cuts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Small business confidence is at an all-time high. The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion in value, great news for Americans' 401(k), retirement, pension and college savings accounts have gone through the roof.
And just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: All right, well, John and Caroline are still with us. But also joining us now is global business executive, Ryan Patel.
Ryan, thank you for joining the party. So the president there taking a lot of claim, touting tax cuts, deregulation, 401(k)s.
Does all the credit belong to him or should there have been a thank you to President Obama?
RYAN PATEL, GLOBAL BUSINESS EXECUTIVE: Well, he got to -- he has got to say thank you, one. And you forget take the credit for what happened in 2017. The global market as a whole, in majority of every region, was positive. You see the GDP out of Europe was higher than the U.S.
So there's a lot of -- you know, he did get -- he did say that he got this tax reform in. You got to give him credit for that. We're still seeing what is going to end up at the bottom line. But you know there was a lot of other factors in this, not just one single or two single actions behind it.
VAUSE: You know, what's been interesting is that Donald Trump continues to talk about this unprecedented, robust economy that he is now overseeing. And it is strong, 2017 ended with economic growth of 2.5 percent. That was up on 2016 under Obama of 1.5 percent.
But we should note that, in Obama's second term, the economy grew at an average rate of 2.2 percent over the four years.
So, John, to you, being a cheerleader for the economy, that's great. That's one thing but normally presidents rely on things called facts. And this president seems to ignore those facts.
PHILLIPS: Well, the facts are all good news for him. I mean, look at the stock market.
VAUSE: But it's not unprecedented. We've been here before. And he hasn't hit 3 percent, hasn't hit 4 percent.
PHILLIPS: Well, we've had any number of record highs since has been president. We had consumer confidence the highest it's ever been. All of it factors in, unemployment is low, unemployment among women is low as it's been in a long time among blacks and among Hispanics, all of that is good news.
And if I were Trump, I would absolutely beat my chest on it. And the tax bill is also his largest legislative accomplishment. And it's something, by the way, that is going to see huge growth in popularity because the Democrats lied through their teeth about who was going to get a tax cut, who was not going to get a tax cut.
And when people get their returns, this April, they're going to be doing a lot better this year than they were a year ago.
VAUSE: Let me just add, because I knew you were going to the tax cut because it's not the big biggest tax cut ever in the history of the known universe. According to CRFB (ph) this is a tweet from one of the many financial analysts out there -- this tax cut is only the eighth largest as percentage of GDP in the past 100 years. So there we go. Anyway. Just had to mention that.
SESAY: We can give you a whole list --
VAUSE: The list goes on and on and on.
SESAY: We're going to do Obama. We're going to do Reagan. We can go -- we will go down --
PHILLIPS: -- that "New York Times" --
PHILLIPS: -- like it even more.
HELDMAN: More importantly, on the ground, the Committee for Joint Taxation finds that if you make between $50,000 and $75,000, your taxes will go up in the next 10 years. You notice that Donald Trump --
HELDMAN: -- had a family there that makes $75,000 a year because those are the folks who are getting a tax cut. The average American makes $51,000 a year. They are not getting a tax cut. They will see their taxes go up. This is balderdash to say that this affects people because it really -- 80 percent went to the top 1 percent. This is a boondoggle for corporations and wealthy Americans. I'm getting a tax cut. You're getting a tax cut. The average American is not getting a tax cut.
SESAY: Let's get Ryan Patel to weigh in.
Ryan Patel, you want to weigh in on this, this tax argument?
PATEL: Well, this is a fun party, how can I not?
VAUSE: He's getting a tax cut.
PATEL: Speaking of tax cut and tying it back to businesses, majority of the pass-along that's going to the bonuses isn't all the tax reform dollars that they're actually seeing. So we still haven't yet to see what that looks like and I have to agree, to the lower income folks and the consumer confidence, it doesn't really kind of affect them.
So we're going to see, consumer spending is high. Confidence is high.
But is that economy really going to push hard in some of these businesses?
And this is why you see businesses are getting involved in trying to get ahead of this and trying to be able to even maybe provide health care, provide other things that will give benefits to the employees. If it was really that easy, they would be sitting it back and just letting it roll through.
VAUSE: And, Ryan, you know what else is high, is the government deficit, it's about $450 billion this, expected to rise to $1 trillion over the next year or so. We also have a very high trade deficit. It was $50 billion in November, that's up from October. And that number of $50 point something billion is the highest trade deficit the country has had since 2012, also rain (ph) deficits, bigger defends with Mexico than in previous years.
And, Ryan running deficits like that, that comes with long-term consequences.
PATEL: Yes. And you know, you have got to be able to see the rhetoric on not just trade deals but for me what's concerning is we do need trade partners. We do need better deals but we also need -- we're a global economy. So when we use rhetoric about U.S. first and I understand that.
But you know, you see companies, he mentioned about Apple and how they are investing in the U.S. But they've spent over $500 million in new headquarters in China as well.
So this deficit number is important. You know, we need to be able to stay in play when it comes to trade specifically. And I think a lot of his rhetoric today was to try to address that.
SESAY: John, we know that a lot of Republicans, you know, I guess they're hawks, they don't appreciate this. This is not what they want to see.
How do you feel?
He is taking the credit but what about the downside, the deficit?
PHILLIPS: Yes, this is why he got some pushback from Republicans when he wanted spend money on infrastructure. Many Republicans don't want to spend money on anything and I admire their cheapness. I'm --
SESAY: At least you're honest.
PHILLIPS: But you got to keep an eye on spending. And you're getting -- that also means you're going to, at some point, going to have to look at entitlements. Entitlements is where you spend.
HELDMAN: And here it is, here's the one-two punch. This was the setup to cut basic services like Social Security, Medicare and health care. This was the big Republican plan from the start, that you starve the beast and then you go after entitlement programs. So, thank you, John, for getting us started.
PHILLIPS: It's a conspiracy theory with you people. HELDMAN: Well, unfortunately, when you cut taxes the way that Republicans did in such a manner that disregards that we need basic services and that this is the price we pay for civility and civil society, we know what's coming next. Paul Ryan has made this very clear for many years. This was his high school or college dream, remember?
PHILLIPS: Regardless of which party is in power, reform to those services is going to have to happen. It has to happen at the state level, which we're seeing in the state of California --
HELDMAN: -- happen if we didn't cut taxes unnecessarily for --
PHILLIPS: -- Jerry Brown, in the State of the State address this week, he said we're going to have serious reform to the state pension system --
SESAY: I want to give Ryan --
PHILLIPS: -- the pension reform has to happen.
SESAY: Last word to you, Ryan, as we're talking about entitlements and that being the price, if you will, for the tax cuts.
PATEL: Well, you know, it's -- when you talked about infrastructure. And he's talked about the spending piece and we do have to look at it internally of how to appropriate properly.
So for me, it's going to be this year -- last year we were looking at tax reform.
Guess what, in business, it's always onto the next thing.
What are you doing next?
And this year, the tax reform was last year. So let's see what happens this year and trying to get the deficit.
SESAY: That was a very diplomatic answer.
VAUSE: Very diplomatic.
SESAY: Ryan Patel, I didn't know you had it in you. We very much appreciate it. Thank you for joining the party. You can come again.
VAUSE: OK, Ryan, John, Caroline, good to see you. Thank you.
OK, when we come back, Donald Trump let's make a deal in his first State of the Union address. He's talking about immigration. And we'll tell you what he wants to do and the action he wants to take to Congress on immigration. That's next.
SESAY: Plus Yemen's fragile government faces a new threat, separatists who were once allies are now fighting for control of the country's interim capital. All the details. We'll break it down for you -- next.
SESAY: U.S. President Trump delivers his first State of the Union address, claiming credit for a booming economy and urging a spirit of unity and cooperation. A CNN poll conducted by SSRS shows 48 percent of Americans who watched the speech had a very positive reaction to the president's message; 22 percent, as you see there, had a somewhat positive response. And 29 percent had a negative one. All right.
Well, Mr. Trump went all in on one of the most divisive issues: immigration. He called on Congress to agree on a bipartisan reform deal. Last week, the White House proposed a path to citizenship for 1.8 million DREAMers in exchange for $25 billion for border security funding. The president says, protecting U.S. citizens takes priority.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The United States is a compassionate nation. We are proud that we do more than any other country anywhere in the world to help the needy, the struggling and the underprivileged all over the world.
But as President of the United States, my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, my constant concern is for America's children, America's struggling workers and America's forgotten communities. I want our youth to grow up to achieve great things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, Lucy Flores joins us now, she's the vice president of public affairs for #MeToo and talk radio host and columnist and Trump supporter, John Philips, is still with us.
Lucy, welcome, thank you for joining us.
LUCY FLORES, #METOO: Of course.
SESAY: Let me start with you.
Did the president say anything in the State of the Union address regarding immigration that moved the two sides in Congress closer together --
SESAY: -- to get a deal?
FLORES: No, absolutely not.
FLORES: No, in fact, I think I moved them further apart. There was -- this was not a conciliatory approach to immigration. He did -- in fact, there was so much misinformation and all-out lies in regard to immigration that, I mean, where do you start?
You have to start by fact checking him before you can even go in to talking about why his proposals make sense or not.
SESAY: -- the most?
FLORES: Well, for example by calling the visa lottery and suggesting that it's just kind of willy-nilly, given out to everybody, that's not true. There has to be basic requirements met in order to be able to be eligible for --
FLORES: -- exactly. In addition to that, family-based migration, by suggesting that you can literally -- it's unlimited and you can bring in as many people as you want, based on family migration, that is absolutely not true. It's limited to just close relatives and that's after many, many years. And so you know to suggest that this --
FLORES: -- that immigration is completely out of control and our borders are being overrun, that's just completely false. And all it does is, again, further divide people on rhetoric instead of actually talking about facts.
PHILLIPS: There was nothing in the speech that Trump proposed that hasn't also been proposed by prominent Democrats in recent history. Harry Reid, for example, went on the floor of the U.S. Senate and said we should have an end to chain migration.
Chuck Schumer, the minority leader in the Senate, said we should end the diversity lottery program not long ago. Bill Clinton said we should spend billions of dollars on border security and border enforcement.
And I think the fact that he wants to put the enforcement first approach is something that is defined also by a bad deal that happened in the United States Senate in the 1980s, which was Simpson-Mazzoli, where amnesty given and border security was supposed to come second. The amnesty was given; border security never came. This time Trump wants to put border security ahead of amnesty, which I think would be part, at least for the DREAMers, of some sort of compromise.
FLORES: But again we're not suggesting in any way we shouldn't talk about those things, that we shouldn't talk about reforms to the visa lottery system, to family based migration, to, of course, border security. In no way are Democrats, have they ever said that they're opposed to these things.
But to suggest that and to use DREAMers as a bargaining chip to get a $25 billion wall that is unnecessary, that is not negotiating on actually fixing the system.
PHILLIPS: Well, the problem --
SESAY: OK, respond quickly, because I want to play some more of the speech.
PHILLIPS: The problem is the last time it never came, they promised all this stuff and then it never materialized --
FLORES: Except there is a bipartisan still that was passed in the Senate that's still sitting in the House from five years ago.
SESAY: Let me play some more of what the president had to say as he talked about, to Lucy's point, these open borders and people pouring over. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families.
For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They have allowed millions of low- wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans. Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: John, is the president going too far when he does that?
When he conflates DREAMers, young people who came here as kids, to -- and are striving to make a better life for themselves, and he conflates them with gang members, when he talks about them dividing communities, where he's basically invoking the politics, now saying that struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, would benefit from leaving -- from sending these people back or not letting them in.
Is that going too far? PHILLIPS: Well, there's two components here. First was the economic
component that he made, which was, by the way, the official position of the AFL-CIO until the SEIU split off in the 2000s.
It was also by the way the position of Dianne Feinstein, when she running for election here in the state of California in 1994. On the criminal alien aspect of it, yes, this is something that is a legitimate issue.
You have entire cities here in the state of California and around the country that are sanctuary cities. The state of California is a sanctuary state.
SESAY: But those crimes are not -- the DREAMers, the statistics on DREAMers and them committing crimes is a single digit.
FLORES: And also, seeing that there is nothing that indicates that crime is higher in areas where it has -- where it's sanctuary, where it's considered a sanctuary area. And that includes states now that are considered sanctuary states.
I mean, there is absolutely no increase in crime that reflects or backs any of that up. In addition, there has been actually a net migration exiting out of the country for almost more than 10 years now.
So we've actually reversed migration over the last 10 years. So this idea again that people are -- that are just pouring over the borders, is entirely inaccurate.
PHILLIPS: There are deaths that happened because sanctuary city policies. Don Rosenberg lost his son here in Los Angeles County because of that. Jamil Shaw lost his son because of that. Kate Steinle lost her life in San Francisco because of that.
What Trump did in the speech that I thought was very good was he was able to mix the macro with the micro. He would talk about the issue and then have someone who was there, who was a victim of something like this. And I think that it really resonated --
FLORES: That's called exploitation of tragedy. That's what that's called.
PHILLIPS: It's true.
FLORES: -- not true. It's literally politicizing a tragedy and it's terrible.
PHILLIPS: Would Kate Steinle be dead if we deported her killer, as we should have?
FLORES: But the idea that DREAMers are somehow, again, conflating these issues, that DREAMers are somehow related to that in any kind of way or that immigration, frankly, I think it's a good example of why we should fix our immigration system, because the more that we can put safeguards in place, the more that we can certainly vet people in the way that they should be, which they are in many ways.
[01:30:00] But I mean this is actually a good reason on why we should have not just a Clean Dream Act but comprehensive immigration act.
PHILLIPS This separate from the Dreamers. This is criminal aliens. And the fact that we don't deport criminal aliens is horrible. I mean, the fact that --
FLORES: Criminal aliens deport --
PHILLIPS: We didn't deport Kate Steinle's killer. We didn't deport Jamiel Shaw's killer.
FLORES: And in fact under President Obama and I've said this many times before, a record number of people were deported under a democratic president. So we are certainly deporting millions of people in this country.
SESAY: And there, we must leave it. My thanks to both of you Lucy Flores and John Phillips, I really appreciate the conversation. An interesting one.
FLORES: Thank you.
VAUSE: Well, though as one thing the president didn't talk a lot about during his State of the Union Address, that would be Russia. President Vladimir Putin is announcing a new U.S. list that names loyal Kremlin insiders and billionaires and oligarchs. We'll have the details next.
SESAY: Hello everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. We'll check the headlines this hour. Donald Trump says he will not repeat the mistakes of past U.S. presidents by being complacent when it comes to North Korea. In his first State of the Union, Mr. Trump condemned the cruel dictatorship of Kim Jong-un and he calls for rebuilding and strengthening the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
SESAY: He already pressured the government in Yemen is struggling to keep control as separatists fight to take the provincial capital in Aden. They're once on the same side as government forces fighting for the rebels, but the separatists now say the government is corrupt and mismanaged which Yemen leaders deny.
VAUSE: Actor Mark Salling from the hit TV series "Glee" has died. Police in Los Angeles say they were called to investigate a death in a wooded area on Tuesday. Both could not confirm any other details. Salling was indicted in 2016 on child pornography chances.
SESAY: Well, President Trump mentioned Russia only once during his State of the Union Address and he never talked about the ongoing investigations into Russia's election meddling.
VAUSE: But the U.S. is naming names of the so-called Putin list which is published on Tuesday. Includes more than 200 oligarchs and top political figures linked to the Russian president. An American official out warning they can be targeted if U.S. expands sanctions, which they're not doing for now. Going now from CNN's Matthew Chance reporting in from Moscow.
01:04:57] MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's high-profile figures like Russian's billionaire Oleg Deripaska would appear on this. The oligarch who's close to the Russian president is also implicated in the Russian meddling scandal in the U.S. elections. One time he did business with the former Trump campaign manager who is now suing.
Did he offer you those private briefings to try and replace some of that debt to you? Is that why? He offered them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get lost, please. Thank you.
CHANCE: The Putin list is broad. It's a view of Russia's political and business elite meant to name and shame the powerful figures around Vladimir Putin (INAUDIBLE) his supporters, the Russian president seemed unimpressed.
Certainly, it was not a friendly act and it exacerbates U.S.-Russian relations already at a low point, he added.
Alongside, titans of Russian industry, the list compiled by the U.S. Treasury also includes loyal Putin officials like chief spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Often the voice of Kremlin dissolutions with Washington.
DMITRY PESKOV, PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN'S SPOKESPERSON: The situation that we're facing now. I mean, they just, I would say emotional extremism. We're trying to make a toxic country out of Russia.
CHANCE: The list which includes 210 names was drawn up under a U.S. law to punish Russia for alleged meddling in the presidential election in 2016.
Why did you -- why did you arrange that meeting between Donald Trump Jr., and the Russian lawyer?
But some key players like Emin, the Russian pop star who helped set up a controversial meeting in Trump Tower were left of. While his billionaire father, the man with whom Donald Trump staged the 2013 Ms. Universe Pageant in Moscow was listed.
ARAS AGALAROV, RUSSIAN BUSINESSMAN (through translator): How can Russia influence elections in America? Do you not find it amusing to ask this question?
CHANCE: it certainly not amusing to those close to the Kremlin who's now found themselves on a list where they prefer not to appear. Matthew Chance, CNN Moscow.
VAUSE: Back with us now, Democratic strategist Caroline Heldman. She's also an associate professor of politics at Occidental College. Also with us Talk Radio host and political columnist and Trump supporter, still a Trump supporter, John Phillips.
OK. So, we had this list of oligarchs which seems to be taken directly from the pages of Forbes. But there's also been this strong reaction to a decision by the administration, Donald Trump not to enact sanctions on Russia. The Congress overwhelmingly passed these sanctions with a veto-proof majority. Democratic Senator, Claire McCaskill tweeted, "Congress voted 517-5 to impose sanctions on Russia. The president decides to ignore that law. Folks, that is a constitutional crisis. There should be outrage in every corner of the country." Well, John, there may or may not be outrage in every corner of the country, but it's not entirely clear if Congress has any options to do anything which is --
PHILLIPS: Well, she left out one component of this. It was passed by both Houses of Congress and signed by the president.
VAUSE: But it passed --
PHILLIPS: Well, I mean, he runs the executive branch. These sanctions will happen. It was supported by the White House. Maybe -- it doesn't happen on Caroline Heldman's timeline.
CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Or I don't know. How about the timeline of the U.S. Congress --
VAUSE: There were 517 (INAUDIBLE)
PHILLIPS: Well, it's the government. Nothing works like a Swiss clock, I mean --
HELDMAN: Wait, so you're saying it's incompetent that's why he blew past the deadline to hold Russia accountable?
PHILLIPS: What was your side say when Mitt Romney said that Russia is the --
VAUSE: Don't dive into that (INAUDIBLE)
HELDMAN: Why hasn't he -- why hasn't he implemented Russian sanctions? Why did he call for the firing of Mueller? Why is he targeting doing his best to cover up the fact and stop the investigation into his ties to Russia? What does this man have to hide?
PHILLIPS: Well, that's a litany of questions there. And I'm sad that you left out the Russian pop star, the Russian Justin Bieber, who's apparently the Trojan horse here.
VAUSE: OK. Here's the reason why the state -- from the state -- why the sanctions will left to expire or not enacted. Today we have informed Congress at this legislation and its implementation deterring Russian defense sales, since the enactment of the legislation, we estimate that foreign governments and abandon plan or announced purchases of $7 billion in Russian defense acquisitions. OK. But here's the problem with it. The legislation was not meant to be punishment. It was meant to be to charge as like that in the title of the act is all about. Countering aggression by government of Iran, the Russian aggression, and North Korea. The other problem is, is that CIA Director Mike Pompeo actually says the Russians, when it comes to election meddling has not been deterred.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have concerns that they might try and interfere in the U.S. midterms which is coming up?
[01:35:02] MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: Of course. I have every expectations that they will continue to try and do that. But I'm confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election that will push back in a way that is sufficiently robust that the impact they have on our election won't be great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: When you think about what's happening with this administration, you've got one parliament saying, don't worry, everything's good. Another director of the CIA saying, hey, no, this isn't a problem. But it's total confusion and so what's going on?
HELDMAN: Well, it's the end of the day. We haven't done enough to sanction Russia, to prevent them from meddling in our elections. We actually haven't taken precautions. We know that 21 states have their state electoral systems hacked. During the 2016 election, we know that Russians infiltrated Facebook and used advertisements that reached 30 million Americans during the election. We have not taken safeguards to prevent this, even though five agencies and 17 subagencies confirmed that the Russians interfered in our election. Instead, we have a White House that appears to be capitulating to the Russians which is sending exactly the opposite message.
VAUSE: OK. So just stay with us, because we've got the state (INAUDIBLE) it's all, we don't need the sanctions. You have the CIA saying no, the Russians are still meddling. And now it's Steve Mnuchin, the treasury secretary who is a bipartisan punching bag over this issue before lawmakers on Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: We did not wave their delight. There will be, as a result of this work, we are looking at --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're just not implemented yet.
MNUCHIN: Again, that's --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That sounds like a delay.
MNUCHIN: No, that's not a delay. What it was -- I think you should know our sanctions are based upon an enormous amount of intel work. Now, we will take the basis of that report and look at kind of -- as we do in the normal course where it's appropriate to put sanctions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK. So just to recap the (INAUDIBLE) just a threat of sanctions working as a deterrent, CIA director saying no. Russia's not being deterred. Treasury Secretary saying, we're going to do at some time --
PHILLIPS: Well, yes, no, I read that they're coming. I believe what Mike Pompeo said. I think the Russians will try to interfere in our elections in the midterms. I think they did try to interfere in our presidential election this last time around. And it's something they've done before in previous, United States elections. I mean if you go all the way back to the Kennedy assassination, the Russian government is responsible for a lot of the conspiracy theories that are out there in the ether.
I also believe that we're not the only country that they try to interfere. Well, they try to interfere all over the globe. It's what the Russians do and we should be prepared for it. This is another good reason why we should never, ever, ever, ever, never consider online voting and I would frankly shy away from a lot of the electronic systems that have any kind of access to a server.
VAUSE: Caroline, there was a time when Republicans love the FBI and they hated the Russians. But now, they're not too fond to the FBI. A lot of reporting out there that the president is still considering firing Robert Mueller. The special counsel investigating the ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. And Trump's loyalists are now arguing that Mueller has to meet the standard to justify a sit-down, face to face interview with the president. NBC was reporting that Trump may even all the attorney general to prosecute Mueller at a time up so they could not move forward with the investigation. Rate Mueller's chances of making it to the end of next month.
HELDMAN: Well, I think he actually has a pretty good chance. Lindsey Graham, who's a Republican senator said that if Donald Trump fires Robert Mueller, that will be the end of his presidency. I think that that would be what would give enough Republicans in Congress the impetus to impeach him. I think that he -- it's really obvious that Donald Trump is doing many things to cover up whatever connections there are to impede this investigation. I think the most troubling revelation was that Devin Nunes, the memo that he wants to release, he refused to say whether or not the White House was involved in its creation which ends the admission that they were.
VAUSE: Right. On that note, the president was asked about that. It's a memo which is investigating the FBI and their role in the Russia investigation. Democrats say it's cherry-picked information. It's totally on context. The Republican say it's worse than Watergate. The president now has a decision of whether or not to release it to the public. He has to make that decision the next couple of days. He was asked about that a few hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just released the numbers.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Go on, 100 percent. Can you imagine?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Well, John, 100 percent, it's coming up --
PHILLIPS: Listen, I am the world's biggest supporter of law enforcement. I spend a lot of my time helping out the various police officers association for their charities for fallen officers. I have zero faith in Bob Mueller. I have zero faith in Jim Comey. And who knows what the future may bring but I'll tell you what, I have zero respect for both of those guys.
VAUSE: Oh, wow. OK.
HELDMAN: Papa's done his job.
VAUSE: Case closed. John and Caroline, thank you. Thanks for coming back. Appreciate it.
HELDMAN: Thank you.
[01:44:53] SESAY: Well, next here on CNN, we speak exclusively with children in Yemen who were forced to fight children. Now, haunted by what they witnessed in that country's brutal civil war.
VAUSE: Separatists in Yemen are fighting for control of the government's interim Capital in Aden. The clashes are turning Yemen's civil war into a more confusing and complex battlefield.
SESAY: Government forces and the separatist's groups who once fought on the same side against Houthi rebels, that alliance is now unraveling, it's all so complicated. CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, is following the story for us from Abu Dhabi. Nic, always good to see you. And also, to be able to join your expertise because it does seem as if, you know, it's shifting tide, shifting allegiances, alliances there in Yemen. How far do you understand who's on which side and what's going on?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, it's complicated. It doesn't matter which way you look at it. We were there two weeks ago, and it was sort of evident although not entirely clear that there were tensions behind the scenes that the southern separatists we were talking to were complaining about the government. At that time, they were criticizing the government and the Prime Minister of being corrupt. The Prime Minister when I met him there in Aden, told us, you know, that these were just allegations, that they weren't true. But the reality of the fact is on the ground now. The Southern Transitional Council, the southern separatists if you
will or part of a southern separatists now appear to control the vast majority of Aden, that from what we understand from people close to the Prime Minister, it's the Emirati is part of the international coalition that support the internationally recognized government of President Hadi and the Prime Minister that he is now surrounded essentially by the southern separatists in Aden who are blocked from getting to the Prime Minister's house and office by the Emirati Forces in Aden.
So, what you have is -- you know, the southern separatists who were on the side of the government, the southern separatists who did most of fighting to push the Houthis out of Aden. And then, when the -- when the internationally recognized government needed to re-establish itself from a foothold in Yemen, they came back to Aden, that was with the agreement of the southern separatists.
But these underlying tensions are there, the southern separatists principally want a state in the south of Yemen and they don't really have -- they feel common cause to take control of the rest of Yemen from the north in particular, from the Houthis. So, you know, it's political, it's military, it's fractured. Certainly, the government -- the internationally recognized government needs the support of the southern separatists if they're going to unify the country. But I think what's happening right now slows it all down, if not, throwing it into a much greater question.
SESAY: Yes, it tells us. And it also needs a flow chart for our viewers who follow along at home. Nic, you were -- in countries you mentioned a short time ago that in Yemen -- and you got a different vantage point on this conflict. And from the more vulnerable. Tell us about it.
[01:50:06] ROBERTSON: One of the things that's emerging from Yemen as we get a clearer look inside the war there is just how it's affecting children. The number and scale of children that are being drawn into this -- into the war, the U.N. points particularly that the Houthis on this issue. We met with some of those who were getting help from having been turned into child soldiers by the Houthis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: Neatly uniformed, Yemeni school boys listened to their teacher. But this is no ordinary class (AUDIO GAP) and no ordinary children. They are child soldiers forced into battle by Houthi rebels.
Check this out, he's showing me, this is the gun truck. He used to drive this gun truck. This is you, the driver?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was, yes.
ROBERTSON: Sawe shows me a picture of him driving a rocket launcher. He was 13 at the time.
He (INAUDIBLE) I was thinking Arabic. I asked if he feels better for the help here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
He's cheerful now, but what ails all the boys here are the deep unseen scars of PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychologists at this Saudi-founded child soldier rehab center help the boys focus on the future, even so, the past still haunts them.
Naji is 12 years old. He tells me, Houthis put him on the front line, forced him to drag bodies from the battlefield.
His friend, 13-year-old Yunis, tells me the Houthis kidnapped him, took him to the front line. I cried during the fighting, he says. After a month and a half, I was injured in my right leg and taken to hospital, but as I got better, I escaped. At this bare two-room cinderblock home, Yunis' mother knows he is one of the lucky ones to get out alive. But worries about everything he has seen.
He would wake in the night with nightmares, she says. Screaming the Houthis, the Houthis, they're coming to take me. I would go to him and say a prayer with him.
Yunis is still struggling, you see it in his eyes, hear it in his words. I saw people beside me get killed, they got a bullet in the head or the chest. I was very scared. One time I was hit, I thought I was dying, I was overcome by fear and anxiety and even now, I feel the same way.
This project is only just beginning to scratch the surface. 81 children treated here, so far, about 200 of other centers across the country. But Yemeni officials believe there are more than 6,000 child soldiers across the country and suspects as many 20,000 children may need some sort of war rehabilitation help.
Teachers here say recruitment of children by Houthis is systematic. The U.N. has reported hundreds of cases. Sawe and his picture epitomize the long road to recovery.
It's quite amazing because you can see the Katyusha here has got the rocket head and everything, it has all the details.
Detail that is hard for young minds like his to let go. The greatest salvation his friends say, sharing their stories with each other, knowing they are not alone, knowing they are not forgotten.
ROBERTSON: They are some of the latest figures that we have from organizations like UNICEF. UNICEF says in the south of the country alone, they have helped treat 69,000 children with social -- sort of psychosocial help because of the war around them so you don't even have to obviously be turned into a child soldier to be suffering, but these are some of the worst cases, and you know, you only have to sit in that classroom with those children, look at their faces to see just -- and listen to them talking with each other to realize just how deeply they are affected.
SESAY: Yes. And one can only imagine what the future will be like for them if they don't get continued help. Nic Robertson there with a really important story. Nic, we appreciate it. Thank you as always.
[01:54:53] VAUSE: A short break now and we'll be back on the other side. Stay with us.
SESAY: Well, a government employee who triggered the false ballistic missile alert in Hawaii earlier this month has been fired. An investigation found the employee didn't understand that a drill was underway and believed the missile have actually been fired.
VAUSE: The false warning led to nearly 40 minutes of widespread panic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it became apparent that the real world alert was issued, employee one seemed confused, he froze, and another employee had to take over his responsibilities. Employee one also had a history of confusing a drill and real-world events.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Had a history of confusing a drill and real-world events. Hawaii's emergency manager has also resigned, and another employee will be suspended without pay. A third resigned very smartly before any disciplinary action was taken. He's the smart one. OK. You're watching NEWSROOM L.A., I'm John Vause.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. We will be back with much more news after this.