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CNN NEWSROOM

Pyeongchang Opening Ceremony is One Week Away; From Slur to Sales Campaign; Water Crisis Hits Cape Town; Release of Disputed Memo on FBI Expected Friday; White House Communications Director in the Spotlight; Struggling to Survive Yemen's Unending War; Five Mass Graves in Myanmar. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired February 2, 2018 - 01:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour: U.S. President Donald Trump could declassify that controversial Republican memo within hours, even as the FBI warns once again don't do it.

(INAUDIBLE) Winter Olympics in history begins next week in South Korea but will the Games put PyeongChang on the map?

Also a rare look inside the Sistine Chapel and how they protect those precious frescoes. Hello, thanks for joining us. I'm John Vause. This is NEWSROOM L.A.

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VAUSE: Donald Trump is expected to approve the release of a controversial memo on the FBI in the coming hours and with that sources say he's hoping to cast a big shadow of doubt on the entire Russia investigation.

The memo alleges the FBI abused its surveillance authority during the 2016 campaign but the FBI is pushing back, claiming the memo cherry- picked information to support a conclusion of bias at the Bureau.

Even the president's handpicked FBI director Christopher Wray does not want the memo released. Sources have told CNN the White House is concerned that Wray may quit in protest.

Jake Maccoby is a former Obama administration official, former policy adviser for the Hillary Clinton campaign. He's with us here alongside John Thomas, a CNN political commentator and Republican consultant and Bobby Chacon, retired FBI special agent.

OK, Bobby, first to you, just as a simple practical matter, should Chris Wray quit anyway?

Is he now in this untenable position once the president has ignored his advice and puts this memo out there? BOBBY CHACON, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: No, I don't so and I don't even think he should proffer that kind of advance. I think that -- I think maybe his statement was inartfully worded.

I think if he would have come out and said, this memo's release will taint or will jeopardize some sources and methods or will significantly impact a ongoing investigation, that's OK for the FBI director.

But when he starts getting into its going to be inaccurate because of certain things that are amiss, that's a political argument. Those are conclusions. Those are opinions. The FBI director's probably better served just not saying anything at all and letting the memo be released and letting the public debate it, let the politicians debate it.

If we're accused of doing anything wrong in that memo, there is a procedure for oversight will stand up to that. And if he is confident that we didn't do anything wrong or that things that are wrong are being addressed by the OIG, then that's fine.

But for him to get into a public back-and-forth with the White House I don't think is the right way to go --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) James Comey coming out --

CHACON: -- exactly.

VAUSE: OK, speaking of James Comey, if Wray quits or is fired, he will be the second FBI director in less than a year. James Comey was fired by Donald Trump in May. But he hasn't stopped tweeting ever since. This is his latest tweet.

"All should appreciate the FBI speaking up. I wish more of our leaders would. But heart: American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field so long as good people stand up. Not a lot of schools or streets named for Joe McCarthy."

John, who are the weasels and liars he speaks of?

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, for a while there I thought Donald Trump's biggest mistake was firing Jim Comey and after looking at his Twitter feed I think he did exactly the right thing.

VAUSE: Really?

THOMAS: Yes, I do, because this is a guy doesn't know when to zip it. We -- there's -- it turns out that --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: He's free now to talk basically.

THOMAS: Yes, but we're -- I'm starting to get a sense of why Peter Strzok and these others were so political in the FBI because look at their boss. Had he had strong political opinions that I wouldn't be surprised after this memo is released if he's hauled -- if James Comey is hauled back in to Congress, saying, what did you know, when did you know it, did you know these people had political perspectives?

I just think he has to be careful with his Twitter feed. As we've seen with Donald Trump, Twitter can get you into trouble.

VAUSE: People in glass houses.

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: OK.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, she wants the man responsible for the memo removed from the House Intelligence Committee. She created --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: -- I'll bet she does.

"Devin Nunes is putting our national security at risk, ignoring concerns from the FBI and DOJ" -- Department of Justice -- "to advance a conspiracy theory. Retweet if you know Speaker Ryan must remove #RemoveNunes immediately."

Jake, a series of angry retweets from Democrats, that might just convince Paul Ryan to fire Nunes --

(LAUGHTER)

VAUSE: -- but it could be a long shot as well, right?

JAKE MACCOBY, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It could be. But there -- Devin Nunes tried to step down once before from being a part of these investigations and they went right back to doing the same old trick. So it's not unreasonable that people are a little upset that he's still helming these investigations that seem more and more political as they go on.

VAUSE: At least he stopped creeping up the White House grounds now, in the early hours --

MACCOBY: (INAUDIBLE).

VAUSE: OK.

OK, this gets us to Paul Ryan. He believes that --

[01:05:00]

VAUSE: -- (INAUDIBLE) it's not about the FBI, and as for Democrats demanding Nunes' head, he says this is all just one great big distraction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I think they're just playing politics and I think they're looking for a political distraction is what I get out of that. Look, the tax cuts are working. Tax reform is working. We've got ISIS on the run. Things are going well. Economic confidence, as I said, is at a 17-year high.

I think they would love nothing more than to play politics and change the subject.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And it was just a week ago, just a little more than a week ago, when apparently, according to the president, the Democrats shut down the government because the tax cuts were working so well, this is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll see what happens. Now if there's shutdown, again, I really believe the Democrats want a shutdown to get off the subject of the tax cuts because they've worked so well.

Nobody thought, including the Democrats, they could work this well. They've been so good that I think the Democrats would like to see a shutdown in order to get off that subject. That is not a good subject for them, the tax cuts, because of the way they've worked.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: John, when you put Paul Ryan next to Donald Trump, are there any red lines the Republicans will not cross at this point to protect the president?

THOMAS: Well, I think the shutdown was largely a distraction. I think the memo is so upsetting to Democrats because they want to make the headline news all about Russia and what Mueller is doing and what he isn't doing.

And the fact that this might cause us to pause for a second to question the foundation of the Russian investigation, he's not wrong.

VAUSE: Jake (INAUDIBLE) but it seems now that if you listen to Paul Ryan, if you listen to Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate, this is now the party of Trump. This is no longer they're just going along with Donald Trump to get the tax cuts through. They're on board -- they ran away from the Republican Party and they joined the Trump train.

MACCOBY: Well, that's certainly true. And you say if you listen to Paul Ryan, the boy who is anymore, you know, it's absolutely true that -- here's what I would say about -- we're having these talks about tax cuts. I mean, Democrats are happy to talk about the tax cuts, I particular because the Republican tax plan involved giving an awful lot of money to the wealthiest people in America and not an awful lot to people at the bottom of the scale.

So if we want to talk about that, by all means, let's do that all night long.

VAUSE: But look, the thing is, this is a distraction by the Democrats, the Democrats aren't the ones who wrote the memo. The Democrats aren't the ones who (INAUDIBLE) release the memo. It's the president.

This is being created by the Republicans, John. This is not a Democratic distraction. And the shutdown of the government was leveraged to get reform on immigration. I mean, this thing that's a distraction --

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: -- what your point about, it is interesting that Paul Ryan and leadership has become the party of Trump and that's because the Heritage Foundation ranked Donald Trump better than Ronald Reagan in terms of being conservative policy leader.

So Paul Ryan and McConnell for all of Trump's challenges and flaws are going you know what, from a policy standpoint, we're getting right behind this president because we're getting what we want.

VAUSE: He's getting love.

OK, Bobby --

THOMAS: Especially coming off the State of the Union speech, which, as far as Paul Ryan and conservatives were concerned, it was flawless.

VAUSE: OK.

MACCOBY: Well, it didn't contain an awful lot and so --

THOMAS: It drove a conservative agenda and that's what they are looking for the president to talk about.

VAUSE: OK, let's get back to the FBI memo. This whole FISA process, Bobby, the information which is being gathered, the authorizing of the (INAUDIBLE) on U.S. citizens, there is this debate that we had about civil liberties.

But at the same time, there is this politicization of classified information. This is a joint statement put out by Republican senator Jeff Flake and Democrat Chris Coons.

"President Trump should heed the warnings of the Justice Department and the FBI and reverse his reported decision to defy long-standing policies regarding the disclosure of classified information.

"The president's apparent willingness to release this memo risks undermining U.S. intelligence gathering efforts, politicizing Congress' oversight role and eroding confidence in our institutions of government." So when classified information or the process of -- or gathering classified information is put out there, what effect does that have on allies who share that information and give the United States information and adversaries who want know more about that information and how you get it?

CHACON: Well, it hurts the effort, right, and so everybody has to be comfortable that information they're giving is going to be protected. Sources and methods obviously always are paramount to protect.

And -- but this didn't start with Trump, certainly. I mean, we saw in the Obama administration. We saw things declassified for other reasons, right. You had Katherine Bigelow (ph), a Hollywood director, go into the basement the CIA so she could make "Zero Dark Thirty" on information that should have been classified for 30 years.

You look back at what President Carter did in "Argo," the movie "Argo" was made 30 years after because they let the classification hold and when that 30 years was over, they went and made a Hollywood movie.

Except "Zero Dark Thirty" was made three months later because President Obama said this movie would make me look good, it would make all my administration look good. They declassified them long before the classification should've been

[01:10:00]

CHACON: -- declassified and then Hollywood types went into CIA, got that -- so this isn't the first time but it is dangerous and it does have an effect on our assets working overseas, trying to establish those relationships.

VAUSE: And Jake, when released all the -- huge leak (INAUDIBLE) Moscow --

(CROSSTALK)

MACCOBY: Snowden.

VAUSE: -- Snowden, yes, Edward Snowden. When Edward Snowden did exactly the same thing, he was described as a traitor to the country.

MACCOBY: Well, sure. I think the real -- the problem here is that -- and you've seen it from Donald Trump's handpicked appointees. You saw it from the head of the FBI, the Donald Trump campaign. You saw it from the Director of National Intelligence. You saw it from (INAUDIBLE) officials that everyone is saying that this is a really problematic move.

And you've got to put this genie back into the bottle.

VAUSE: But they're not prepared to do that yet. (INAUDIBLE) going to distract from the Russia investigation.

Stay with us because the White House communication director Hope Hicks may be the newest target in the Russia investigation. "The New York Times" cites a former Trump team legal spokesman who was concerned Hope Hicks may have tried to obstruct justice.

He claims Hicks said Donald Trump Jr.'s emails about that Trump Tower meeting with the Russian linked -- Russian criminal linked lawyer would, quote, "never get out."

Hicks' attorney denies she ever said that. We get more now from CNN's Randi Kaye.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOPE HICKS, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I'm 28 years old and I am the press secretary for the Donald J. Trump for President Campaign.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president likes to call her Hopey. But to the rest of us she is Hope Hicks, now White House communications director.

It was a swift rise for Hicks, who went from modeling and acting early on to handling PR for Ivanka Trump's fashion line after college. By 2014, Hicks was managing communications for the Trump Organization.

And soon her job would change again.

TRUMP: She used to be in my real estate company.

I said what do you know about politics?

She said, "Absolutely nothing."

I said, congratulations, you're --

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TRUMP: Right?

KAYE (voice-over): Hicks told "New York Magazine," "Mr. Trump looked at me and said 'I'm thinking about running for president and you're going to be my press secretary.'"

During the campaign Hicks reportedly had a note from candidate Trump above her desk that read simply, "Hopey, you are the greatest."

TRUMP: Hope, get up here. She is always on the phone, talking to the reporters, trying to get the reporters to straighten out that dishonest story.

KAYE (voice-over): Though Hicks was almost always by Donald Trump's side, her voice was rarely heard in public. At this campaign event in Alabama, she seemed hesitant even to just say a few words.

HICKS: Hi. Merry Christmas, everyone.

And thank you, Donald Trump. KAYE (voice-over): So it's no surprise that our request for an interview with Hicks was ignored.

HICKS: I'm very proud that Mr. Trump put so much faith in me.

KAYE (voice-over): With her position in the White House, Hicks now has access to the world stage, taking part in this intimate gathering with the pope and also the Japanese prime minister's state banquet, where Hicks stole the spotlight in her black tuxedo.

Her access to the president means she may have been able to fill in some blanks in the Russia investigation. She was interviewed by special prosecutor Robert Mueller's team in December.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So much stuff goes through her as a conduit between outsiders and the president that she really sits in a particularly important seat for Mueller.

KAYE: An important seat because Hope Hicks has managed to stay inside of Donald Trump's ever-changing inner circle, a key player in the administration and now a key player in the investigation into her president -- Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Back to our a panel.

Bobby, if Hope Hicks has committed some kind of crime, maybe perjury back in December (INAUDIBLE) Robert Mueller -- I'm not saying it is but if that's the case, Bob Mueller would roll her up in a minute.

CHACON: Yes, and you would think that he may have designs to do just that because we know that the statements that she supposedly made that are getting her into hot water were observed by a lawyer for the administration, who immediately tried to put the brakes on it and say, hey, wait a minute we're getting into some dangerous area here.

And they went there anyway.

VAUSE: And then he quit.

CHACON: Right.

VAUSE: Which seems to corroborate what he was saying --

CHACON: And now he's talking to Mueller's team.

VAUSE: Yes, and apparently, at one point, she was asking about the cell phone she was using and saying are these texts kept on record? And so she came from fashion PR or something --

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: -- political neophyte. She was there to manage the president and order interviews for President Trump and that's the extent of her political experience and now she's the communications director for the White House.

VAUSE: Her office is the one down from Donald Trump, in the executive branch.

And Jake, given how much she has seen, how much she knows, how much she has witnessed, being interviewed by Robert Mueller and now what we're hearing, this is not good news.

MACCOBY: No, not at all. Trump certainly -- and this is another in a long line of instances where people close to Donald Trump have --

[01:15:00]

MACCOBY: -- taken steps that not just any lawyer but any thinking person would tell you is a terrible idea. It is really unbelievable that the number of instances in which people in this administration close to the president have taken actions that are incredibly inadvisable.

VAUSE: Self-destructive.

John, tell me why all of this is a great big nothing burger.

THOMAS: I don't know. Time will tell, John. I don't know.

VAUSE: Time will tell.

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: -- she was not a mastermind in the campaign. So the idea that she had some role in Russian collusion seems laughable, when she has no idea what an advertising buy is. She literally was lower than a press secretary in the campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: -- close to Donald Trump as his daughter.

THOMAS: Because she took press calls and that's what the president -- and she kept her mouth shut so she has huge value to the president --

CHACON: -- keep her mouth shut when he's called in by Mueller's team. Those are very skilled and experience investigators.

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: -- but I don't think she has -- well, time will tell but I doubt she has anything to share.

MACCOBY: This is also the same argument that people in the Trump administration have been making about every single member of the Trump administration who has either been indicted or pleaded guilty or come under investigation --

(CROSSTALK)

MACCOBY: -- never heard of them --

THOMAS: -- because a lot of these people are neophyte. George Papadopoulos, these guys were interns before they were campaign operatives --

(CROSSTALK)

MACCOBY: But being a neophyte doesn't mean that you can't do something criminal --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: -- it still doesn't mean that you're not guilty of a crime.

CHACON: Oh, absolutely, it does not mean. And here, what we're going to do is we're going to see if she was and then they're squeeze her for everything she's heard, not necessarily what she did or she participated in but if she's got the office next to the president, she may have heard and may have been privy to some of the things they want to know.

VAUSE: OK. I just want to wrap up here, going back to the memo, because we're on memo day countdown. It's all very exciting.

So I want to go from Bobby on down. But look, is this going to be worse than Watergate, the end of the world's, the sky's falling?

Or are we looking at sort of a replay of Al Capone's vault with Geraldo? (ph)

CHACON: I would lean towards the latter. I would lean toward this is not going to be the bombshell everybody thinks it's going to be.

VAUSE: Why?

CHACON: Because they are already walking it back. They're walking back the enthusiasm on it. And it's really just a rehash of a lot of stuff that we already know and I think -- you know I hope it's that. If it is that, it needs to Director Wray may have overplayed his hand a little bit.

Why he did that, I don't know. But I tend to think that it's not going to be the bombshell that it's been made out to be.

VAUSE: John.

THOMAS: Yes, I think we're going to learn a couple things that will lead us to more serious revelations as we walk down this road. I think it's the start, not the end.

VAUSE: Jake.

MACCOBY: Yes, I think it's probably not going to be the bombshell that people expect it to be but I think what it has shown is that Republicans are willing to do a lot of things that they probably weren't willing to do a year ago in order to protect the president. VAUSE: OK. And we are all waiting in great anticipation, this is so exciting. It's like Christmas.

(LAUGHTER)

VAUSE: Jake, John and Bobby, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Well, after the break, we go inside Yemen and a rare look at the devastating toll of civilians who are caught up in a brutal conflict.

Also a hallmark of genocide, that's how a U.N. official has described the crisis in Myanmar after she spoke with Rohingya refugees.

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VAUSE: Well, 18 people have been hurt pretty seriously after a van plowed into pedestrians in Shanghai. Police say the driver was smoking at the time and a local newspaper reports he lost control of the vehicle when his cigarette ignited a gas canister inside the van.

This all happened around 9:00 am local time. The vehicle eventually stopped when it hit a tree.

The civil war in Yemen have left thousands of civilians dead and countless others wounded, children especially are not spared. This war is a deadly mix of changing political allegiances and tribal disputes. And there are no signs of resolution. CNN's Nic Robertson has been given rare access inside the country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Yemen's war is taking from those who can afford it least. This 7- year-old (INAUDIBLE) leg was shredded by a Houthi shell.

"I used to play with my friends," he tells us. "All of a sudden, there was an explosion. Eight of my friends were killed. Shrapnel hit my leg and took off the flesh."

ROBERTSON: This is a prosthetic --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, (INAUDIBLE).

ROBERTSON: Yes.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): His doctor wants an end to the suffering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are the medical staff. We see (INAUDIBLE). ROBERTSON (voice-over): But no one here has the luxury to turn away.

ROBERTSON: He's just shown us this picture of his son, (INAUDIBLE) in the background (INAUDIBLE) places his son will never get to go to.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): His son, 11-year-old Annas' blood still stains the family stairs where he died in his father's arms.

He is angry, he says. The Houthis didn't just kill his son; they lied about it.

ROBERTSON: This is from a newspaper at the time. It says the Houthis used this picture of him taking his son to be buried to say that his son was killed in a coalition airstrike. He says that wasn't true.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Sitting next to him in the hotel lobby, a southern separatist soldier.

ROBERTSON: You fought to take back control of the airport.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): He tells me his mother was killed by a Houthi sniper. He is angry with them but he is also angry with the Saudi- backed government.

"We fought the Houthis," he explains, "but the government didn't take care of us. It's hard to continue because of the marginalization of the Southerners."

ROBERTSON: Understanding the war here that everyone's going through is a little like peeling an onion. Layer after layer, the government isn't just fighting the Houthis, it's fighting ISIS and Al Qaeda. And then there is the southern separatists who want their own state and a multitude of other, different, small political groups.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): These powerful regional governors frustrated, Yemen's become a proxy for regional tensions.

They tell me they want the government and the Saudi-led coalition to get tougher on the Iran-backed Houthi rebels but they also want the coalition to shut down the political groups they back.

ROBERTSON: Very nice to meet you.

How is the situation here in Aden?

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Yemen's prime minister besieged by it all, Houthis, southern separatists, proxy influences, casualties from coalition bombing sees Yemen's future in a looser alliance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Houthis want session in the north and the radical separatist Hirak wants a session in the south. But if you give the Yemeni people a choice, you'll find that the majority want unity but in a new form as a federation.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Question is, can the country be put back together?

I asked the doctor if people will forgive casualties from coalition airstrikes.

ROBERTSON: You think they'll be able to forgive Saudi Arabia?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the country we will be better than before. So all of these injured people, all these (INAUDIBLE) people, they will forgive. (INAUDIBLE) really but I (INAUDIBLE). This will be -- we will open new (INAUDIBLE).

ROBERTSON: Providing the cloaked figures (ph) forward in a positive --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

ROBERTSON: (INAUDIBLE) university --

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTSON (voice-over): It's forgiveness and a future that can't come fast enough for many.

ROBERTSON: What are we looking at here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) that is used. (INAUDIBLE) prosthetic hand.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): These two students ordered the printer online from China, learned how to use it by watching YouTube tutorials. They want their country repaired, up and running.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't care about political issues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want (INAUDIBLE). We want education. We want to have jobs.

[01:25:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to have jobs.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): It's a dream but absent peace remains beyond reach -- Nic Robertson, CNN, Yemen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: To Myanmar now, where a district judge has denied bail for two Reuters journalists who were coverage the Rohingya crisis. They're accused of illegal possession of state secrets.

The court has yet to decide if they'll be charged under the colonial era official secrets act. In December, they were invited to meet with police and say they were arrested almost immediately after two officers handed them a set of documents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): During the court hearing, the witness police officers gave totally different information of what really happened and what they said in the courtroom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Among those calling for the charges to be dropped is the U.N. special rapporteur, Yanghee Lee. Over the past few days, Ms. Lee has met with Rohingya refugees living in camps in Bangladesh and says Myanmar's crackdown on the Rohingya has all the hallmarks of genocide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YANGHEE LEE, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR: What the Myanmar government claims to be the conduct of military or security operations is actually an established pattern of domination, aggression and violations against ethnic groups.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: The Associated Press claims to have seen video of five more unreported mass graves. Here's U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEATHER NAUERT, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We are deeply, deeply troubled by those reports of mass graves. And I want to point out that these are in the northern Rakhine State.

That is the exact area where we have seen the Rohingya flee their country for neighboring Bangladesh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Meantime the repatriation process between Bangladesh and Myanmar is underway. Officials say it is expected to take two years. But again, the U.N. rapporteur says it will be more like 19 years.

Up next here on NEWSROOM L.A., we take you live to PyeongChang, South Korea, where the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics is now just a week away.

Also Russian athletes tainted by doping scandals suddenly get a green light to compete again. But will they make it to the Winter Olympics?

[01:30:00] The FBI is doubling down on its opposition to a controversial memo bout alleged abuses at the bureau. They say the documents distorts facts and could jeopardize intelligence gathering. President Trump is expected to OK the document's release in the coming hours.

The elder son of the late Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro, is dead at 68 in an apparent suicide. Cuban state media report for the past two months, Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart was being treated for depression. A nuclear physicist, he was called "Fidelito" because of his striking resemblance to his father.

Just a week from now, thousands of athletes from around the world will march in an opening of the 2018 Winter Olympics. South Korea promises it will be the biggest Winter Games ever. More now from CNN's Paula Hancocks from Pyeongchang in South Korea.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's a lot to toast to in Pyeongchang these days, these group of friends is making the most of the local cuisine and a splash of the local liquor. Barbecue and soju, two Korean specialties that will be in abundant supply for the month of February.

JOAN SHIM, OWNER, BBQ RESTAURANT OWNER: For us as a restaurant, it's a fantastic opportunity to introduce the Korean barbecue to the world. So it is very meaningful.

HANCOCKS: Nick Gasson traveled from New Zealand to help the Olympics preparations, his company makes artificial snow.

NICK GASSON, ARTIFICIAL SNOW MAKER: Little snow, there isn't much but what we'd be able to make has been really amazing.

HANCOCKS: Everywhere you look, snowmaking machines are working overtime. The one thing the organizer cannot control, the weather. They're hoping the games put Pyeongchang on the map, encouraging a winter pilgrimage to South Korea in years to come.

Probably one of the biggest boosts to this region after the Olympics is over is this, the KTX, the fast train that runs from Seoul to Gangnam on the East Coast of the country where many of the Olympic venues are in less than two hours. It usually takes around three hours if you're driving but to be fair, the traffic means, that usually takes a lot longer.

Those in the Pyeongchang region feels much closer to the capital now. Improvements in infrastructure many think wouldn't have happened without the games. South Korea says this will be the biggest Olympics in history with more athletes than ever before, even some from the Northern neighbor who they're still technically at war with. A united women's ice hockey team with players from both north and South Korea suggesting President Moon Jae-in's early claim that this would be the Peace Olympics may not be as implausible as critics once thought. For residents themselves, the games have been good for business before they even start.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Hooray. Paula Hancocks' live from Pyeongchang. Paula, a couple of this is really quite unique about these Olympics, we have the North Korean flag which is flying in South Korea, that doesn't happen every day and also that brings with it a whole lot of issues when you have the North Korean athletes there. Among them, I guess, security. HANCOCKS: Absolutely. Well just on the flag to start with John, I mean usually if you fly a North Korean flag in South Korea, you could end up in jail. There's a very strict national security law in this country. You're simply not allowed to put a North Korean flag up, but obviously, it's a very different situation now the North Korean athletes are here, ahead of this Olympics.

And security is very tight. Now, we were originally told there was about 10 times in police approximately going to be involved as soon as the North Korean delegation was confirmed, that number was actually increased. So 13,000 that we now understand will be involved the. The North Korean delegation itself will have its own separate security system. They're not allowed to bring security personnel from the North. So it will all be from the South Korean side but they say that they will try and deal with them very separately than the rest of the athletes.

You also have the military involved, South Korean marines have been training in the mountains of Peyongchang in recent months, they are here at this point, it's a little far, it's just behind us and earlier we saw a couple of special forces sort of patrolling armed special forces just to make sure everything was in check. You have vehicle checkpoints as well around the area we're told, about three dozen to make sure there can be no vehicle born attacks.

And then, of course, there's cybersecurity. We haven't been given much detail about cybersecurity though, simply they will be monitoring the situation. John?

VAUSE: I'm just curious, when it comes to the North Korean delegation in which will be -- which is there now, will be competing, how much mingling will they be doing with not just the South Koreans but the rest of the world.

HANCOCKS: It will be very interesting to see because, of course, the delegation that arrived last night, so Thursday night local time, there were 10 athletes and then there was more than 20 others. So there were a couple of -- or three coaches I think and then supporting stuff.

[01:35:10]

Now within that supporting stuff, it's not specified what they are there to do. They will inevitably from the North Korean side be a fear of a defection, a fear of not -- of allowing one of these North Korean athletes to walk out of the athlete's village undetected.

Now what we have seen from previous games, what we have heard from defectives is that quite simply, they will not be on their own. They will always be in groups, they will be at least in pairs, they will be minding each other to make sure that there are no defections. And so certainly, it's not just the security sense of making sure that no one can get into these villagers to make sure that the security is tight but making sure that the North Korean athletes can't come out undetected. This is what this extra supporting staff could well be for, at least some of them, John? VAUSE: I do remember from my days in Beijing, the North Korean embassy, just down the road from the bureau, you know that. Whenever a North Korean diplomat left that compound, they left in pairs. No one was allowed out by themselves in case someone has any ideas of maybe not going back.

Finally, also we have the situation with North Koreans and the South Korean all marched together in the opening ceremony, they will not be the North Korean flag, they will not be the South Korean flag. So what will the flag be, what will it look like?

HANCOCKS: Well that's right, it's the unified flag that they have marched at the opening ceremonies in the past in Sydney in the year 2000 and Athens in the year 2004, they walk out together, one South Korea, one North Korea holding this flag, it's a white background, it's a blue map of the Korean Peninsula but it's the undivided Korean Peninsula. So it's known as the unified flag, it fills many people in this country with much joy, it fills others with absolute horror. So there certainly something here that do not welcome this joint opening ceremony team, the joint women ice hockey team.

There are some that say that they believe South Korea has agreed to a lot with getting nothing in return. So there are critics to what is happening at the moment as well, John?

VAUSE: Yes. I think we are looking at the flag right now on the screen, how about that? You can't please everybody, Paula, at the end of the day. But thank you, you please us. Bye.

An apology to Russian athletes from President Vladimir Putin, he's sorry for failing to protect them from the country's huge doping scandal but 28 Russian athletes banned for life from Olympics sports of doping have now have those bans overturn and have been cleared to compete in future games, it does not mean any of them will appear at the Winter Games. More details now from Frederik Pleitgen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Needless to say that Russian officials were very happy with this verdict that came down for the courts of arbitration in sports. The spokesman for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov saying that he was very happy for the Russian athletes who have been reinstated and the head of Russia's Olympic committee saying that he always believed that Russia's athletes were as he said it innocent of any wrongdoing.

Now, it's interesting to look at the reasoning behind the verdict of the CAS, it said that while Russia may have been shown to have had a state-run doping program, they say that it was not enough evidence to prove that in each individual case of 28 athletes that they were indeed guilty of doping during the Olympics in Sochi in 2014.

Now for these 28 athletes, on the one hand, that means that they're going to get any medals back that they won in Sochi in 2014 but it also means that at least in the face of it they would be able to compete in the upcoming Olympics set to take place in South Korea very soon. But that's where the International Olympic Committee says, "Not so fast." They say that these athletes may have been cleared but that does not mean that they will get an invitation to actually compete in the upcoming Olympics. However, a lawyer for the athletes has said that if the IOC blocks these athletes from taking part, they will take legal action against it.

So all of that could bring with it more trouble for the IOC and it certainly also called into question some of the practices of the IOC surrounding the fight against doping. And that's one of the reasons also why the International Olympic Committee was very critical of this decision after it came down. Frederik Pleitgen, CNN Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Next here on NEWSROOM LA, turning the president's harsh words into an advertising campaign, we speak to the man behind the idea, that one in just a moment.

And this is what a water crisis looks like, not enough water, nowhere. We'll tell you what Capt Town is doing to hold off the coming disaster.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:40:17]

VAUSE: From the most powerful man in the world describes your country as an asshole, it seems there are two ways to react, with justifiable anger, maybe indignation or embrace the insult, look for the asshole lining, maybe use the president's words for tourism campaign like this one for Haiti.

Greetings from shithole island or this, it's always sunny in shithole country. How about a, majestic shithole awaits. Fabien Dodard is the man behind the ad, he joins us now from Parkour Studio. Good to see you.

FABIEN DODARD, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, PARKOUR STUDIO: Good to see you.

VAUSE: Just tell us, is this all about just changing the narrative about Haiti or are you actually also sending a message to Donald Trump by using his own words in this?

DODARD: I mean, it is all about changing the narrative mostly. Haiti has never had a chance to tell their own story, we've always had our stories told for us in a way and this campaign for me was the -- it was the opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. It was the opportunity to tell a different story when President Trump made his comments allegedly.

I think the impact it had on Haiti as a brand was pretty negative and me as an advertiser I kind of saw the opportunity to turn this around in a way, you know.

VAUSE: And this campaign isn't just about beaches, blue skies, good weather. There is this ad, for example, shithole culture leaves a lasting impression. It's a reminder that Haitians are proud of their home, proud of their history and their heritage.

DODARD: Correct. Yes. It's much less about the beaches and more about the culture or the people, the history. The -- I think the perception around Haitians and Haiti around the world is quite frankly not the best and it's good to remind people of how welcoming we are, what culture we have. It's not just about the beaches because beaches can be found anywhere. So it's --

VAUSE: Yes. Very quick -- sorry to interrupt, we're almost out of time here but the Haitian government and the tourism board there, they had nothing to do with this campaign. You took it to them, they just wanted to keep you in arm's length. Why is that?

DODARD: Well, first of all, we have to respond very quickly and once you get into government affairs and you get caught with a lot of red tapes. So we did try to reach out to them with this idea but we never have the time to sit down and come to any agreement.

So we kind of took this on our own. We funded this campaigns through our Go Fund Me and we kind of did everything on our own. It was nothing that was backed by the government or the tourism board.

VAUSE: You mentioned that Go Fund Me page, you're trying to go up to $50,000 for these billboards all around Washington. We wish you all the best of luck with that Fabien. Good to see you, thank you.

DODARD: Thank you. Good to see you, John.

VAUSE: Well Kenya's government appears to be ignoring a court order to end the shutdown of the country's three biggest TV networks.

[01:45:15]

Transmission was cut on Tuesday because these channels plan to broadcast the (INAUDIBLE) squaring in of the opposition leader. CNN's Farai Sevenzo has this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Responding to a petition by a private citizen in Kenya, the high courts ruled today that the government must immediately effect restore all television transmissions.

Remember, when Mr. Raila Odinga stages mock swearing-in, the government reacted by switching off the feeds of three of the major networks in this country. This has brought about new debates about press freedoms, about what the constitution allows during this mock and indeed what the government agenda is. The government is adamant that Mr. Odinga's swearing-in or mock swearing-in though it may be was an illegal act and they are now accusing members of the media fraternity of trying to increase the tensions that this so-called illegal act might have caused.

Now with the court's decision who aim to sit on February the 14th to hear this petition and its full entirety, it remains to be seen whether the government of Kenya will now switch on those transmissions as ordered by the law but it has left a solid taste in the mass of journalists. Many people including some of the (INAUDIBLE) in these stations are remain in hiding because they fear that the government in trying to stop them from doing their work may actually arrest them. Farai Sevenzo, CNN Nairobi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Emergency water restrictions now in effect in Cape Town South Africa. The city could run out of water in just over two months, that's being called "Day Zero." Residents are now allowed only 50 liters of municipal water a day and the crisis is spreading. The industrial area around Johannesburg could face (INAUDIBLE) because of low water levels in dams.

The clock is literally ticking now in Cape Town's water supply. Meanwhile here's Derek Van Dam joins us. So, Derek, you're in Cape Town, that's -- you live there for quite a while, so I guess the question is how did they get to this point?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's year-on- year of drought, to put it bluntly, John. But literally we have 72 days, 15 hours, 12 minutes and some change before the taps run dry in the mother city, that's the nickname for Cape Town, population of about four million people.

Just moments ago, just before this live hit, talked to some of my family in Cape Town and how they're rushing to the stores as we speak to go buy give liter jugs, so that -- when they do have allocation points for water, once day zero arrives on April 16th, they'll be able to transport their recommended 25 liters of water back to their homes, that's how dire the situation is. What you're looking at right here is the largest reservoir feeding Cape Town its water, it filters about 40 percent of Cape Town's fresh drinking water to the city.

What you're looking to my left is actually an image of the same reservoir but from the ground. You can see just how dry it is and the satellite image shows the year-on-year drought that is impacting this particular region. It is incredible. So the City of Cape Town, the government there has implemented some of the strictest water restrictions ever known, it's known as Level 6B and it was effective on Thursday. It is requiring people in the City of Cape Town to use 50 liters of water or less per day on average. We should put this in the perspective, you and I we typically use about 300 to 375 liters per day. So you can imagine what people are doing to combat this day zero from actually taking place when they shower.

They're showering in buckets, collecting that black water and using that to flush their toilets and only flushing their toilets when absolutely necessary. This diagram shows what's actually happening in Cape Town. The major dams continue to be reduced in capacity last year at 37 percent. Look at the difference, from 2013 to 2017, this is a Berg River Dam, very popular, just outside of Cape Town in the French community, this is the (INAUDIBLE) area. You could imagine just how agriculture and wine in this area is going to be impacted by this water crisis that is ongoing. The major dams that feed the city its water right at 26 percent at the moment, that is down one percent from this time a week ago. But remember, it's very difficult to extract that last 10 percent of water. So in effect, we have less than 20 percent of usable water in the major dams and reservoirs surrounding Cape Town. Now it's usually the winter months, June, July, and August when Cape Town fills up its dams and reservoirs, the problem is that we're not seeing the winter rains to help replenish that much-needed water in the reservoirs and dams.

You can see just year-on-year how the Cape Town average rainfall continues to go down and unfortunately John, there is no rain in sight through the weekend and for the foreseeable future. So the situation is dire and then there's a big story for us, we'll be covering this over the next coming days and weeks.

[10:50:22]

VAUSE: It's amazing, you don't know how much you're going to miss them until it's gone, huh?

VAN DAM: Yes, absolutely. Precious resource.

VAUSE: Yes. Appreciate it, thank you.

VAN DAM: All right.

VAUSE: Well heat and humidity, that mentioning some of the world's greatest works of art. Just ahead, how experts are working to preserve Michael Angelo's paintings inside the Sistine Chapel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP)

BARTIROMO: Well he is back, 14 years after Justin Timberlake's now infamous. People like the former boy band heartthrob will take the stage again on Sunday. Timberlake talked to reporters on Thursday to tease out that halftime show but he did a bit of a comedy routine and talked about his friend, Patriot's quarterback and everyone's best friend, Tom Brady.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, PERFORMING AT THE SUPER BOWL: I actually texted Tom before the conference championship game and I said, "I'm going to the Super Bowl, are you coming to the Super Bowl?" Tom's definitely the type of dude you would invite over to watch the Super Bowl with you. The problem is he's always in the Super Bowl.

Speed runs in our family. I've been running routes too. I just want to throw this out there to Belichick if all of your receivers go down, I'll be ready to go. So shoot me a text.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: One parent (INAUDIBLE) group is urging Timberlake to keep the

show PG because there was that Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction moment in 2004, how could we ever forget?

India's Taj Mahal is getting a mud bath, centuries of pollution have left parts of the grand structure (INAUDIBLE) black. So workers are applying (INAUDIBLE) of soaps that dirt and grease and rinsing the (INAUDIBLE) actually more of a facial. The next challenge is to clean the monument's dome. Traditional medal scaffolding is too heavy, so they're considering bamboo ring instead. Indian authorities are also proposing a (INAUDIBLE) on a number of visitors a day, visitors at no more than 40,000 people every day, apparently that's it. Remember, 40,001, sorry ,that's just 40,0000.

The Sistine Chapel is high on the list of mostly attractions in Rome and while visitors can't touch Michael Angelo's elaborate artwork they're damaging it all the same but that's where expert art restorers take over. CNN's Delia Gallagher went inside the chapel to see what it takes to protect those precious frescos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Sistine Chapel is getting a checkup. For a whole month each year from 5:30 to midnight when all the tourists are gone, a team from the Vatican comes in to clean it, check for damage, and report on the health of some of the world's most treasured art.

It's a painstaking process, scaffolding must be erected and taken down each night and cannot be attached to the walls to avoid damaging the paintings. One of the biggest problems of the Sistine Chapel is humidity, 25,000 visitors a day post a risk for the painting.

FRANCESCA PARSEGATI, CHIEF RESEARCHER, VATICAN MUSEUM: Our bodies are made of water, so when we visit the Sistine Chapel, we bring in humidity and we heat. Everybody heat the environment like a bulb we say, 80-watt bulb.

[01:55:16]

GALLAGHER: Humidity causes condensation and a veil of salt forms on the famous brass post painted in the 1400 and 1500 which damages the color and the plaster its painted on.

A laborious technique brushing distilled water onto thin Japanese paper removes the salt layer. To combat humidity, there are 30 hidden sensors measuring temperature, air circulation, and number of visitors in the chapel. Dr. Victoria Cimino the Vatican's conservationist monitors the air quality in the chapel.

VICTORIA CIMINO, CONSERVATIONIST, VATICAN (through translator): The temperature must be between 22 to 24 degree Celsius. Humidity must be medium-high, they are very precised markets and we have to verify that the system respects them.

GALLAGHER: The frescos in this chapel are over 500 years old. Now back then, there was no artificial lighting. The only light that came in was daylight through these upper windows and, of course, being the Pope's private chapel, far fewer people came through here as well. So cleaning and restoration wasn't really a priority then.

Today, with new technology and lighting, not only is there better cleaning but it has revealed to restores the original colors used by Michael Angelo. The world was shocked after a cleaning and restoring in the 1990s to discover the Michael Angelo actually used vivid greens, purples, and reds because for centuries it was assumed that he painted in dark subdued tones. But that was only the accumulation of dirt and grime. The next time you're in the Sistine Chapel, look out for this, little black marks, squares, and triangles on some of the paintings. They're called witnesses deliberately left as evidence for future restorers to give an idea of just how dark the paintings were before.

To make sure the colors stay vibrant, a color team measures any changes to tone by taking pictures of the frescos with a multi- wavelength camera which is then analyzed by a computer. Dr. Fabio Morresi is in-charge of color analysis.

DR. FABIO MORRESI, VATICAN SCIENTIFIC LABORATORY (through translator): We can see the color of every single pixel and compare it throughout the years. It's important because we can detect any changes even before they are visible to the human eye.

GALLAGHER: A behind the scenes labor of love so that the past may continue to brighten our future. Delia Gallagher, CNN Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. The news continues today with Natalie Allen and Cyril Vanier in Atlanta right after this short break. You're watching CNN.

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