Return to Transcripts main page


Israeli General Says Iran Seeks To Establish Forward Command Post In Syria; Oxfam Deputy CEO Resigns Over Sex Crimes Scandal; NK State Media: Kim Jong-un Praises South Korean Trip; Canvas Back In Public Stage For Portrait Unveiling. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired February 13, 2018 - 02:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: This is "CNN Newsroom" live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour.

ISHA SESAY, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: The White House says President Trump supports victims of domestic violence above all, but he can't seem to publicly say that himself.

VAUSE: After a marathon meeting of South Africa's ruling party, the fate of the scandal-plagued President Jacob Zuma hanging in the balance at this hour.

SESAY: Plus, Myanmar authorities are starving remaining Rohingya people in northern Rakhine State, a damning new report from Amnesty International.

VAUSE: All right, great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. "Newsroom L.A." starts right now.

VAUSE: Nearly a week after a senior White House staffer resigned over domestic abuse allegations, President Trump's aides are insisting he takes domestic violence very seriously and supports victims of domestic abuse, but that's not something the president has actually said himself, at least not publicly.

SESAY: Instead, he is letting his press secretary to do all the talking. Sarah Sanders spent most of Monday's press briefing filling questions about the allegations against former staff secretary Rob Porter. And she repeatedly turned to a prepared statement, which she says came straight from the president himself.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president and the entire administration take domestic violence very seriously and believe all allegations need to be investigated thoroughly. Above all, the president supports victims of domestic violence and believes everyone should be treated fairly and with due process.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Joining us now, Democratic strategist Caroline Heldman, associate professor of politics at Occidental College, and Republican strategist and media consultant Luis Alvarado. Good to have you both here with us. It's been a while.


VAUSE: Nice to have you back, Luis. OK, so that was Sarah Sanders, part of her briefing on Wednesday -- Monday rather at the White House. Here is what the president tweeted over the weekend by way of contrast. People's lives are being shattered and destroyed by mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused. Life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as due process?

So, Luis, the reality is that Trump's statements, all his tweets, carry a lot more meaning and significance when they come directly from him and the White House press secretary knows it.

ALVARADO: She does. And when we listen to that tweet and you read about -- you question, he's exactly talking about Porter, he's out talking about his friend Wynn, because it's not just Porter, it's a lot of friends that he also has seen that have been accused and for gain.

And the reality is that he believes that due process should be paramount to the process that has to be utilized and understanding if there is any culpability whatsoever.

Now the political aspect of this, certainly there is a lot of damning information that is coming out. But we already know that Donald Trump is the bloodiest (ph) to many things with regard to how he is managing the White House.

VAUSE: Luis, sorry, I just wonder, does it matter if he is talking about Porter or Steve Wynn in that tweet? Because he is not talking about the victims of domestic violence.

ALVARADO: Well, it should matter. It should matter. Because it's his White House. At the end of the day, it's his legacy and how he's going to lead the White House, and how he actually is going to represent the American people because that's the job that he's exercising right now.

But, politically speaking, we know that there are many things that he has said that we thought that would hurt him, have not hurt him.

VAUSE: Right.

ALVARADO: At least not with the base. I think if he started to sound too squishy, I think that actually would turn around and bite them for trying to be overtly sensitive when people know that that's not who he is.

VAUSE: Caroline, there is a theory that president can't admit the allegations against Porter, can't admit that they're credible, because (INAUDIBLE) for him to do what he's earned beyond allegations (INAUDIBLE) by more than a dozen women at the president not before the election.

That doesn't -- you know, that sort of makes a logical sense, but this is a president who doesn't sort of follow, you know, logical formulas, if you like. You know, he defended Roy Moore of Alabama, but he takes Al Franken, the Democratic senator. You know, both accused to varying degrees of sexual harassment and assault.


[02:05:00] defended a lot of men who have engaged in this behavior, right? Bill O'Reilly, Roger Ailes, Corey Lewandowski, Roy Moore, go down the list. The only people he really wants to hold accountable are Democrats, which means he is motivated by partisan purposes.

But it is really clear at the end of the day that the 22 women who have made allegations of sexual harassment or violence against Donald Trump have not had their day in court. So, if he is truly interested in due process, he would have to look at himself.

VAUSE: With that in mind, you know, this is what Sarah Sanders said about the issue of due process.


SANDERS: Supporting due process for any allegation is not tone deaf. I think it is allowing things to be investigated, and a mere allegation not being the determining factor.


VAUSE: Luis, if you're looking for someone to defend the concept of guilty until proven innocent, Donald Trump would not be my first choice.

ALVARADO: I wouldn't want him to defend me either.

VAUSE: Yes, I mean, this guy has a long history of making false allegations, declaring people guilty before, you know, there has been any kind of an investigation.

ALVARADO: Well, it's interesting that due process or talking about when he is the king of due process, he has been sued how many -- hundreds of times and won. And I think that is the issue for him. When he looks at due process, he looks at it from a different parameter that the normal person would be looking at it. For any normal person who gets sued, it would be a traumatic experience. For Donald Trump, it is just any day at the work office.

VAUSE: I was wondering about that tweet he put out over the weekend about lives destroyed by mere allegation. Caroline, do you think this is now the president, you know, expressing some remorse for, you know, leading the birther movement against President Obama?

HELDMAN: I actually don't think that President Trump is capable of remorse. I think the whole mystery of evangelical support for him, for example, is premised on this idea that he is the prodigal son and he has come back and he, you know, sought forgiveness except he hasn't sought forgiveness. He hasn't sought forgiveness for the women who claimed that he has violated them. So this is right in line with that, right?

But beyond it being morally reprehensible and the fact that he is no longer -- the president is no longer the moral compass of our country, he has a man there who could have been compromised, right? The issue with the security clearance is not a minor one. He ran a campaign battering a woman verbally, constantly about national security issues and an e-mail server, and that was all about national security.

And yet he has a man who could so easily be turned or compromised because he can't pass a security clearance because he has abused former spouses that could be used against him by any number of people. And this man was allowed to look at classified information, so it goes well beyond the moral argument here.

VAUSE: So there are questions, Luis, why Porter (INAUDIBLE) White House so long on an interim security clearance. The White House is blaming the FBI, saying it's their process.

The FBI sending response to that in a statement. After the FBI has completed a background investigation, it provides the information to the agency adjudicating authority, who determines whether to grant or deny the security clearance.

And Luis, there are questions not just about Porter, but there are others within the White House. The Washington Post, for example, is reporting that Jared Kushner, the presidential son-in-law and advisor, is also still on interim security clearance.

ALVARADO: If you take a step backwards and you realized that this is a presidency that is unconventional from every facet, then you have to ask yourself, what does it really matter, because the --

HELDMAN: Does it matter if people --


ALVARADO: -- to the electorates who put him there to be the disruptive president, that this is only a by-product.

HELDMAN: To compromise our national security is a by-product --

ALVARADO: It's a point of opinion. That would be your point of opinion.

HELDMAN: No, it's not a point of opinion --

ALVARADO: But to the people who elected him to office, the people really don't care about this information as long as the economy is still strong, as long as they feel that the army and the military is being strengthen. To them, they don't see this as a parallel to their daily lives. I think that's the question at the end of the day.

VAUSE: Right. It was noting that security clearance is possible for these guys, just saying that. OK, the other big news of the day is the president's budget blueprint. It looks like he (INAUDIBLE) that pre- election promise he made during the campaign.

The country will never again run a $400 billion deficit, because it is going to be around trillion dollars this year and in years to come, and there is outrage from deficit hawks on both sides of the aisle. Listen to this.


REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: It makes even a drunken sailor blush. And the problem with that is the drunken sailor actually spent his own money. We got the government spending yours.

REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: And now the Republicans are doing just as bad as Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid did in 2009 and 2010 when they had control of the United States Congress.


VAUSE: And just to be on that last point, because Caroline, you know why Obama is running deficits, because the economy was recovering from the great George W. Bush

[02:10:00] recession and the government had to stimulate the economy, that's why you have money in reserve for those kind of emergencies.

HELDMAN: Correct. And in fact, the economic crisis was under both Bush and Obama and they both responded by running big deficits in order to get us out of that with the TARP program. Yes, what is happening here I think is the one-two punch, right?

So the tax cut where, you know, if you don't make at least $75,000 a year, you're not going to see a tax cut regardless of what the Trump administration says, where he gave the top one percent 83 percent of the benefit.

That -- you rob the federal coffers of that revenue, that's the first punch. And then the second punch is, you run this big deficits or propose big deficits and then both Democrats and Republicans come in and start supporting slashing of entitlement program. This was the plan from the start.

VAUSE: Luis, why is that Republicans were so against running a deficit when Obama was president? I mean, what's the deal?

ALVARADO: Well, that's the question that many Republicans are asking, me included. As a Republican, I find myself (INAUDIBLE) physical responsibility and I see that there is some mismanagement with regard to the approach on how they are going to infrastructure. We do need infrastructure. Democrats are going to march along with the president and the Republicans on infrastructure.

The question is, who is going to get the bulk of the port? You know, when you look at some of the initial propositions where money is going to be spent, it's going to be spent in the Rust Belt. And you see the bullet train here in California. A big problem that we know that it didn't work. There was more of a sweetheart deal for union, supporters for Democrat union bosses. Those are the things that this president is trying to move away from.

The question is, will it be effective? Will the Democrats show up to the table and do it together for the nation or is it going to be once again another partisan fight that we are going to see ready before the midterm election in November?

VAUSE: Caroline, we're almost out of time, but this infrastructure plan, it seems like smoke in mirrors to some degree. The federal government will invest $200 billion over the next 10 years, and somehow that will grow to trillion dollars and spending on infrastructure by encouraging states and local -- I mean, how does that will work?

HELDMAN: Well, it's a shift in priority. We use to base major infrastructure projects on what was in the best interest and what would serve the most people. Now it is what private investors want. So, for example, you might see a road to a high-priced condo complex being prioritize over a bride in a poor area because it attracts private fund.

So, this is a boondoggle. This is not going to help the mid-west. This is not going to help working class people. It is not even going to help a lot of Americans. But it will help private investors.

VAUSE: And it is infrastructure week because they tried this before and that was the week when the special counsel (INAUDIBLE).


VAUSE: OK. They can't get this (INAUDIBLE). OK, Luis and Caroline, good to see you both. Thank you.


HELDMAN: Thank you.

SESAY: Let's turn to Africa now. South Africa could be heading for major position shakeup. In a few hours, leaders from the ruling party are expected to announce whether President Jacob Zuma will be removed from office. But there is no guarantee that he will go quietly. His term ends next year.

Mr. Zuma has already refused partial quest to step aside. He clings to power for almost nine years, despite weak economy and hundreds of corruption allegations. He denies all wrongdoing.

Our own David McKenzie joins us now live from Johannesburg. So, David, I understand that the timing for this announcement from the ANC has shifted somewhat. What's the latest?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. It's (INAUDIBLE) that timing of Zuma's exit has shifted multiple times over the last 10 days. And in fact, over the last few years, actually the action has moved from Pretoria where we camped out for much of the night where those ANC leaders were meeting in closed door meetings to come up with a plan to push Zuma out.

There was a very late night, midnight exit by Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC president, to go to the residency of the president in the middle of the night and then rushed back to that meeting. What is clear is that the ANC hopes to get definitive answers on this later today. Whether they are buying for time by delaying this announcement, we don't know.

But the steps that take place now is they recall President Zuma from his position. We will want to know whether he in fact heeds the call of the ANC. Isha?

SESAY: My next question, can he resist this effort to oust him?

MCKENZIE: Well, yes, he can. Politically, this is a move by the ANC within its own organization. It's not a constitutional matter. If Zuma digs in and he can, it's within his rights to, it will be certainly president setting and he (INAUDIBLE) any friends

[02:15:00] within South Africa for that, then it moves to parliament where the next step will be a no-confidence vote. But, you know, for the viewers around the world, this is a race against time. The opposition here in South Africa is clambering to get to parliament and vote Zuma out and to remind people for years the president has faced ongoing allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

The economy is struggling, so it's hard to see people publicly backing the president, but he seems determined at least to avoid stepping down voluntarily. They need to push him out and will have to wait a few hours at the very least to see whether the ANC has managed to do that.

You know, speculation aside, it's ultimately when he puts pen to paper and resigns, sends that to parliament, will it be official, or if he continues to dig in, then it will ultimately move to Cape Town, to parliament. But this ongoing saga shows no sign of wrapping up anytime soon.

SESAY: And if it moves in parliament, David, just to be clear for our international viewers, we sense it, there are the votes in place in parliament for that vote of no confidence to be carried. We are sure that the opposition will vote alongside the ANC to ensure that it goes through. I mean, how does it all break down?

MCKENZIE: The ANC generally not wanted to move this to no-confidence vote because they will now be seen to (INAUDIBLE) to the opposition. This is the proud party of course, the party of Nelson Mandela. They want to be celebrating the 100th year anniversary of Nelson Mandela's birth.

Instead, they lock into this titanic factional battle and really leaving the entire country waiting, holding its breathe. If it goes to the no-confidence vote, nothing is certain. Well, it will have to be the ANC siding with the opposition.

Enough of them have to do it to push out Zuma, then what happens is that the speaker becomes an interim president that dissolve the cabinet and they have to then come up with a new president. But it seems like one man and one man alone at this stage is holding this up. That's Jacob Zuma himself. Isha?

SESAY: The next couple of hours are going to be extremely interesting there in South Africa. David McKenzie, always appreciate it. Thank you.

Earlier, I spoke with Redi Tihabi, South African commentator and talk show host. I asked her what kind of man fights to stay when so many people want to see the back of you.


REDI TIHABI, SOUTH AFRICAN COMMENTATOR AND TALK SHOW HOST: First, Jacob Zuma is scandal-prone. He is facing days in court. He is facing jail time. And this is not mere speculation on my part. Back to the serious charges against him, he has tried to stop those charges from going to court. The highest court in the land has said, no, you have to face those charges. So that is his reality right now.

The second issue, Isha, is that there is this notorious nuclear deal that has been struck with the Russians. The government also denying that it has done that. The speculation that money had changed hands and Jacob Zuma is under pressure by the Russians to deliver this deal. And we had Russian delegation visiting South Africa last week. So all of that seems to be at play here.

And then the third issue which is one that is with authority because it's not speculation, is that there are many cabinet ministers in Jacob Zuma's government who also are complicit, who also have been tainted in the history of corruption. So they don't really want to see the back of him because when he goes, then they lose the protection and the authority that they have. Because when Jacob Zuma faces these charges, if he goes to court, then many people are going to go there.

So it would be an exaggeration to say that everyone wants to see the back of Jacob Zuma. There are ministers, there are officials in the ANC who benefits from his prolonged stay. He is certainly very vulnerable, his family is vulnerable, because they too have been accused of using state money to benefit themselves and benefiting from lucrative state contract. That is factual. It has been proven.

So what I am saying here is that one man doesn't necessarily create, you know, corruption in the entire country to acquire a system and that system has been enabled by his comrades and officials and cabinet ministers and so I suspect that those ones are holding out and that's the card that Jacob Zuma is playing right now.

SESAY (on camera): One analyst described this moment as a battle of -- battle for the soul of the ANC. How do you see this moment when you put it in context of the ANC and what it is meant to South Africa through the decades?

TIHABI: The soul of the ANC died a long time ago, Isha. It died when it allowed Jacob Zuma to be the president of the country. Just very quickly for the international audience. Jacob Zuma came to power with these corruption charges hanging over him. I am not talking about things that happened after his presidency. They were there before.

[02:20:00] Secondly, that famous rape trial of (INAUDIBLE). He faced rape charges. And this involved a young woman who was literally a daughter to him, the daughter of a friend of his, and of course he was acquitted. But the moral decay that demonstrated cannot be disputed. So this is the man stays in office with all of these stings and corruption hanging over him.

So in my mind, for many of us who are exasperated that the ANC chose him, but let me just say, you and I have spoken before, when the ANC chose Zuma over and over again, opposition parties have brought a motion of no confidence in Jacob Zuma several times, that is (INAUDIBLE) to an impeachment in U.S. politics.

Over and over again, (INAUDIBLE) has come before parliament and the ANC has close ranks protecting Jacob Zuma. So many of us, we want Jacob Zuma out, but with very little sympathy for the ANC and we don't want the ANC to escape criticism because they have created this (INAUDIBLE). They have continued to surround and protect (INAUDIBLE) around Jacob Zuma.

So what I am saying in answer to your question, that for me, the soul of the ANC died when it allowed Jacob Zuma to be the president and when it continued to protect him even when the court found that he had violated the constitution as a sitting president. They continue to criticize the media, criticize the opposition, label people.

And so right now they want us all to rally in support of their call for him to step down. Of course, we rallied around it because it is the right thing for the country. But as for the ANC, we need to have a conversation about this because the country of -- the party of Mandela, the ANC, (INAUDIBLE) the country.


SESAY: Thanks to Redi Tihabi there.

VAUSE: OK, short break. When we come back, Amnesty International's latest report on Myanmar is painting a devastating picture of living conditions for the Rohingya people who are still there. Details coming up.


SESAY: Hello, everyone. Britain's foreign minister is accusing Myanmar of ethnic cleansing after visit to a Rohingya camp in Bangladesh. Boris Johnson took a tour of an area in Cox's Bazar that is home to more than 500,000 refugees.

He also expressed his concerns during a meeting with Myanmar civilian leader state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. He later told reporters that he is unsure whether she really understands the full horror of what has happened.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: There is no doubt when you fly over northern Rakhine and you look at the scale of the devastation, the industrial ethnic cleansing has gone off. There is no doubt that the military must have been involved and of course what we want to do now is to get those refugees back home in a way that is safe, voluntarily, and dignified. And what Aung San Suu Kyi can do now that is most important is show leadership in getting an international body to oversee that.


SESAY: For more, we are joined by Matthew Wells. Matthew is a senior crisis advisor for Amnesty International. Matthew, good to have you with us.

[02:25:00] So, according to a new Amnesty report, the persecution of the Rohingya in northern Rakhine State continues. Explain to our viewers a particular facet of this crisis, if you will, how food is essentially being used as a weapon of war against the Rohingya.

MATTHEW WELLS, SENIOR CRISIS ADVISOR, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: That is exactly right. I am just back from the Myanmar-Bangladesh border where even now more than five months into this campaign of ethnic cleansing, there are still hundreds of Rohingya who crossed into Bangladesh each week.

And what they tell me, the recent arrivals, is that this is overwhelmingly because they have been driven to the point of starvation by the Myanmar military. The military has blocked them from going out to the rice fields. They have been unable to harvest their rice fields, when that is the staple crop of the community.

Many of their markets have been burned. They have been blocked from accessing other markets. Their livestock have been stolen often with the direct complicity of the Myanmar military. And the military and Myanmar authorities more generally have denied or severely restricted aid access to northern Rakhine State. All of these factors together have driven people to the point of starvation. So even now more than five months into crisis, to continue to flee to Bangladesh.

SESAY: Yes. Matthew, we want to point out, those who find the courage to leave, to actually make that journey to Bangladesh face further danger. I want to read from the report, quote, Myanmar security forces have set up checkpoints along these paths where they often deal a final blow, the systematic theft of money and other valuables from each person who passes through.

When groups of families arrive, soldiers and border guard police descend from security force outpost on a hillside and surround them, separating men from women.

Report goes on to detail how Rohingya women particularly young women attempting to flee also told the organization that Myanmar soldiers subjected them to sexual violence during searches at checkpoints. Matthew, the thing that struck me as I read that section of the report, is this clear sense of impunity on the part of the Myanmar military. These actions that are being carried out in the open and not being hidden away, and now we hear about this, we hear about the theft and the starvation. What does all of this tell us about the way this conflict has evolved?

WELLS: You know, just as you say, the military has operated with complete impunity for a long time in Myanmar. And that has manifested itself during this current crisis in terms of its ruthless campaign against the Rohingya, being met with no real action, no real consequences both inside and outside of Myanmar.

There have been condemnation, statements of concern from countries around the world, but no real consequences to date. And that's left the Myanmar military to continue squeezing the Rohingya population now through starvation and through this really nasty theft at checkpoints.

So we need to see the statements that are coming from countries around the world turns to action, we need to see real consequences, we need to see an arms arms embargo on Myanmar, we need to see target financial sanctions against the senior officials in the military who have led this campaign for months.

SESAY: As we talk about international community, the British foreign secretary made a visit to Myanmar and also visited camps in Bangladesh and spoke of the devastation, of the need for Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar, to do more, and the need for an investigation.

But, Matthew, (INAUDIBLE) to me that he said nothing about the international community taking action to put a stop to the atrocities, to the suffering of the people, stopping it right now. What do you make of what Boris Johnson had to say?

WELLS: Yes, you are absolutely right. You know, he said a couple of very important things. He referred to it as industrial ethnic cleansing. He rightly rejected the absurd argument the Myanmar authorities have put forward that the Rohingya burned their own houses before leaving when, you know, we have seen an overwhelming evidence that it was the Myanmar military that burned in a very targeted and systematic way villages across northern Rakhine State.

But words are there not good enough. They have led to no change in the Myanmar military's actions over the course of the last five months. Crimes against humanity are ongoing as our reporting and other reporting in recent weeks have shown. And so it's time for countries around the world including the U.K. to step up, to impose consequences including as I said target financial sanctions and arms embargo.

We need to see real demands for aid access to open up in northern Rakhine State so the Rohingya population still there can receive the aid that they desperately need. We need to see demands from international community that independent investigators including the U.N. fact-finding mission, journalists, human rights organizations like our own, can get access to northern Rakhine State in order to further document the atrocities that happened over the last five months.

SESAY: In the report, Amnesty says that Myanmar security forces are building on entrenched patterns of abuse to silently squeeze out of the country

[02:30:00] as many of the remaining Rohingya as possible. Without more effective international action, this ethnic cleansing campaign will continue its disastrous march. And I think as you well know, the U.N. Security Council will be briefed on Myanmar again on Tuesday. What is stopping the international community from leveling the talk to sanctions that you talked about and putting in place in arms embargo?

MATTHEW WELLS, SENIOR CRISIS ADVISOR, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: You know, there's a couple of things, I think there have been several specific countries on the security council including China and Russia that have pushed back against more concerted effort from countries that, you know, that are trying to impose more consequences but that in itself is not an excuse. We do see more action for example from the European Union. So far the United States had implode sanctions on a -- on a single individual but apart from that, there had been no consequences around the world for what's happening in Myanmar.

So, if the U.N. Security Council can act, then the European Union and other bodies around the world should impose financial sanctions themselves, should impose more stringent measures in terms of in arms embargo. One already exists by the E.U. but it could be further strengthened to make sure again that this closure of impunity that exists within the Myanmar military that underpins all of these abuses against the Rohingya population and that clear messages sent that they will not be tolerated.

SESAY: Yes. Couldn't agree more. Mathew Wells of Amnesty. We appreciate it. Thank you for all the work you're doing on the Rohingya. Thank you.

WELLS: Thank you for having me.

SESAY: Thanks, Matt Wells there. We'll be right back after this.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour. In a few hours, South Africa's winning party is expected to announce whether President Jacob Zuma will be removed from office, his term ends next year. And he could once again refuse to step down after Zuma faces hundreds of corruption allegations all of which he denied.

VAUSE: The Deputy Chief Executive of Oxfam has resigned (INAUDIBLE) sex crime scandal. The charity is denying there was an attempt of cover-up behavior of senior staffers and hide prostitutes in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. The Times (INAUDIBLE) also claims children are being sexually abused (INAUDIBLE) that allegation has not been proven.

SESAY: Well, cleaners had begun in Tonga after Cyclone Gita ripped through Pacific Island nation and government adviser says a lot of people are injured but there are no reports of anyone killed. The cyclone is now moving toward Fiji southern island.

VAUSE: Well, for decades, Israel and Iran had been fighting a shadow of war, a deadly (cat and game mouse) often played out through proxies, rarely a detail has made public. But that all seems to change this past weekend when Israel dud an Iranian drone with infiltrated its airspace.

[02:35:04] And then an Israeli F-16 set to destroy the drone's operation based inside Syria, was shot by anti-aircraft fire and crash and retaliation Israel carried extensive airstrikes on what is said were Iranian military assets deep inside Syrian territory. And Israel's intelligence minister has to limit a very blood threat in an interview with the Saudi -own news outlet Elaph. Here it is. If Iran continues to threaten and carry out offensive operations against Israel from Syria, Israel will teach Iran a lesson that it will never forget. The London-based news site is seen as a backchannel to the Arab world for Israeli officials and all of this is leading to a growing unease that Israel and Iran are heading to a large scale direct confrontation possibly even all-out war. U.S. Security and Foreign Policy Analyst Ari Arash is with us now from San Francisco. Ari, thanks for joining us.

You know, quickly for the Israeli media and it doesn't take too long to find a lot of warnings, a lot of op-eds that war is on the horizon. For example, the former head of IDF Intelligence told one newspaper that Israel is now stuck in a difficult dilemma between whether to act preemptively or wait for the coming war. He goes on to say, the Israeli cabinet must sit and examine whether the position got missiles in Syria justified, a preemptive operation that could lead us to war. It's pretty much certainly we see a lot more Israeli military accidents in Syria but Ari, does that lead to an all-out war in the traditional sense with Iran?

ARASH ARAMESH, NATIONAL SECURITY AND FOREIGN POLICY ANALYST: So, we have a pretty complicated set of factors here. We got a lot of players, we got Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah with -- there's sort of patriot Russia on the one side and then you got the Israeli's on the other side who are now getting much closer to some of their older enemies like the Saudis and other Arab states in the region and some of their sort of quasar enemies like Egypt and Jordan, so on and so forth who made peace with Israel many years ago but again, you see sort of the formation of two blocks in the Mid-East, one led by Iran and one led by the Saudi-Israeli coalition. Here is the bottom line. Israel is not going to allow you long to build a military base or have a military presence permanently on Syrian soil. Syria sits right to the east of Israel, Israel has had to deal with Hezbollah which is in Lebanon and it's by the Israeli border, Israel has had to deal with Gaza, Hamas and Gaza that again is under Southern Israeli border. Israel does not want to deal with yet another front coming from Israel. Now, this is a much greater land, much bigger land with much more

sophisticated, you know, sort of air defense systems called the Arab Army of Syria and Iran, and Iran is after putting permanent basis there. Iran palmyra, Iran homes and all around Damascus for two main reasons. A, the train and support Hezbollah and to quell and quench domestic uprisings in Syria against the Bashar al-Assad regime but more long-term to get ready for a long-term or more permanent or more serious conflict with Israel. And very shortly, very briefly, while Iran may be able to take these tactical hits right now getting a few sort of basis bombarded by Israelis. Getting a few drone shot out of the sky. They're willing to take the tactical hits. So long as they can position themselves, they're strategically for a -- for conflict down the road and Israel doesn't want to let that happen.

VAUSE: OK. Israel's main secret, it's reinforcing its offenses that may go on heights in the north of the country, that's why it shares border with Israel. Listen to the Israeli commander for the northern front. Here's what he said.


YOEL STRICK, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES COMMANDER: Today, what we have known for a long time is clear to everyone. Iran wishes to create a front command in the territory of Syria whose aim is to hurt Israel. We will not let it happen. We will not jeopardize the citizens of Israel, we will not enable the de-stabilizing of the entire region.


VAUSE: Which goes to your point -- I'm wondering if you can -- at this present point right now, how much of a threat is Iran posing directly to Israel and we should know Iran pretty much denies everything.

ARAMESH: If Iranian missiles can -- Iranian missiles can reach Israel, Iranian missiles -- and Iranian proxies such as Hezbollah and Hamas are very, very close to Israeli borders. I actually ride on the Israeli border. The question here is, that the countries right now are at the sort of climax of an ideological war. Let's not forget that there is really not much of -- if Iran was not ruled by let's say the Islamic Republic of Iran if Iran had a somewhat of a different government for that in place. Iran as a country, as a nation state, doesn't really have any fundamental sort of national interest challenges or crosscutting cleave -- or reinforcing cleavages with Israel. The countries are not neighbors, the two countries do not have any border issues or border conflicts and the two counties do not compete over natural resources.

[02:40:03] The main reason that Iran and Israel are at odds and they are foes is because the Iranian government, Islamic Republic of Iran claims Israel to be its ideological enemy in the region. That is the main reason. And Iran, sort of Iranian propaganda has always said they want to take out and destroy (INAUDIBLE) and so on and so forth. So, is Iran a threat, Israel? Israel perceives it that way. There is no doubt that if there was a conflict in the region, Iran definitely would be in the frontlines on fighting against Israel and vice versa. And just looking at how things have shaped. You got the so-called sort of crescent of resistance, that's the Assad regimes, Iran, Hezbollah and then you got the rest that Iran excuses to be stooges of the United States such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, you know, Israel and so on and so forth.

So, the question is this, this conflict while it's serving ideological interest of the ruling power in Iran and it's not really in -- it is not really a -- sort of a conflict based on national interest as one based on ideological reasons and ideological cleavages. In addition to that, if a conflict does take place without a doubt will -- it will -- it will put the United States in a pretty bad situation, the U.S. will have to intervene, the U.S. will have to at least fully support Israel and it will do so and it will perhaps create a wider bigger, longer-lasting conflict in the region. Something that no one wants.


VAUSE: And that's Ari Arash there for his analysis of the Israeli- Syria and Iran situation. We'll take a short break. When we come back, a top executive of Oxfam has resigned as the aid agency continue to deal with a growing sex crimes scandal.


SESAY: Hello everyone. One of British largest aid agency Oxfam is promising to implement reforms amid a sex crime scandal. The deputy chief executive of Oxfam has resigned saying she is ashamed the alleged sexual crimes happened under her watch.

VAUSE: The charity denies there was an attempt to cover up the behavior of senior staffers, denied prostitutes in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Oxfam Chief Executive apologized on Monday. He spoke to me how the charity will try to regain the trust of the public.


MARK GOLDRING, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, OXFAM: I was very clear with the minister today that firstly we apologize to the British public and to the Haitian public. Secondly, we've made major steps to improve since 2011, and thirdly, that we recommitted to take still more step because we know we have not done enough. This is a much bigger issue in Oxfam who are among the leading nations claim to address it. Actually, it's an issue for the center. Oxfam may fail, let me clear on that. But it's a sector-wide concern.


SESAY: Well, the Oxfam scandal has ignited based on foreign aid and specifically on how charity groups are accountable to their donors.

[02:45:02] VAUSE: CNN's Erin McLaughlin, has the latest on the off side investigation, including allegations, children may have been sexually abused as well.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MCLAUGHLIN: Eight years ago, Haiti was struck by a devastating

earthquake. Hundreds of thousands of people killed, more than a million displaced. Aid workers flocked to the ravage nation, some of those who came to help are now accused of abuse.

The Times newspaper in London obtained access to a confidential Oxfam report. The product of its own internal investigation. According to the Times, the report revealed seven Oxfam employees stage orgies with prostitute and that minors may have been among those sexually exploited.

At the center of the investigation, Oxfam country director, hear talking to CNN in 2010 about the challenges of working in earthquake- ravaged Haiti.

ROLAND VAN HAUWERMEIREN, FORMER DIRECTOR, OXFAM, HAITI COUNTRY: I have to make a choice between trying to save life of thousands of people and putting my staff at risk.

MCLAUGHLIN: CNN has been able to reach director Roland van Hauwermeiren for comment and he is not spoken publicly about the allegations. He and the six other employees involved were either fired or allowed to resign. Now, Oxfam is accused of covering up their misconduct. British and Haitian authority say they were not notified of the alleged wrongdoing.

BOCCHIT EDMOND, HAITIAN AMBASSADOR TO UNITED KINGDOM: Of course it was a cover of Oxfam, and it is unfortunate to even mention that, that cover up went all off they have to the top.

MCLAUGHLIN: Oxfam has apologized but denied any cover-up. And the statement the A group said, "Accusations that underage girls may have been involved were not proven. On Monday, the first high profile resignation, Penny Lawrence, Oxfam's deputy chief director.

She released the statement acknowledging there were allegations that been Huweirmeiren and others used prostitute in Chad, prior to their move to Haiti. Concerns that they "failed to adequately act upon. Oxfam says it's still investigating exactly what went on in Chad. But Lawrence said, "As program director at the time, I'm ashamed that this happened on my watch."

Oxfam relies on people's goodwill, relies on donations and visit to charity shops such as this one. It also relies on government funding, over $40 million of taxpayer money a year. Now, all of that could be in jeopardy. Now, British authorities say they are considering cutting Oxfam's government funding.

PENNY MORDAUNT, SECRETARY OF STATE, INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, UNITED KINGDOM: It doesn't matter whether you go to a whistleblowing hotline. It doesn't matter if you got good safeguarding practice in place. If the moral leadership at the top of the organization isn't there, then, we cannot have you as a partner.

MCLAUGHLIN: Oxfam has to face questions in Haiti. The Haitian ambassador to the U.K. says, the foreign ministry plans to summon the charity to learn exactly what happens in their country following that devastating quake and why it was kept from them. Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Well, next here on NEWSROOM L.A., where it wasn't that the North Korean leader is quite impressed. That's word after his delegation return home from South Korea. Well, that more on Kim Jong- un's message to the South.


VAUSE: Well it's so often that Kim Jong-un has stunning nice to say about his neighbors to the South. But the North Korean leader has told State-run media, he was impressed and he's grateful for the way South Korea treated the delegation. He said to the Olympics that delegation included his sister Kim Yo-jong. She reportedly briefed her brother of meetings with South Korea's President.

[02:50:16] SESAY: Meanwhile, an Arbitration Court has suspended the Japanese speed skater after positive doping test. Kei Saito's test reveals signs of a masking agent, he will leave the Olympic village later on Tuesday. In a statement, Saito says, he may have accidentally or unintentionally taken the drug.

VAUSE: Has three one of them. Ok, let's call Davies and Paula Hancocks, joining us now live from the Olympics. Paula, first to you. In many ways, it seems the North Koreans have stolen the show there. The Olympics have taken a backseat to this (INAUDIBLE) offense of coming from Pyeongyang.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, if you look at the headlines in South Korean media and around the world for the past few days, it's really been all about Kim Jong-un sister. Another is a sense denied that some of the fans are quite keen for the politics to stake a side step and let the sports shine through. We certainly heard that at the women ice hockey match on Monday evening which was sweetened the games, the joint North-South Korean team. So, there is a case that the North Korean delegation is now home, and some people here are hoping that the sport will take over.

One interesting thing that I should mention, the South Korean President Moon Jae-in has just been meeting with the (INAUDIBLE) president. And he gave me interesting remarks about the North Korean delegation visiting, saying that the U.S. also sees inter-Korean dialogue positively and express willingness to have dialogue with the North.

So as far as the South Korean president is concerned, he believes that the U.S. will be willing to talk to North Korea as well. It certainly what the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, had insinuated to the Washington Post.

On Monday, and it's -- and it's also something we've been hearing from a senior diplomatic source with knowledge of North Korea, saying that they believe it was a missed opportunity that when the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will see it there was no interaction with the North Koreans. John.

VAUSE: OK, Paula, I guess I'd see the politic's side of everything. Let's get imagine now, because it's started at just Billy Covey. Now, Billy Covey is a gale force wind chill factor, and that's causing a little bit of Havoc.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. I've never been to Siberia but I now know all about their winds, they are brutally, brutally cold. And we've had those two events in two days that will cancel all the controversy yesterday about the women's snowboard slopes all going ahead despite the really gusty cold conditions.

And people this morning wake up with a little bit of hope, because things that suddenly calm down some (INAUDIBLE) in the men's combine after the alpine said it did go ahead as plan, all be it with the slightly lowest start to the downhill.

But I can tell you that as the day had gone on, temperatures have started plummeting again. The gusting winds have started building up through some serious gust that were filing on our studio down here. Which is some decent lower than where the alpine send this all.

I actually this launch time had to be ever shocker with my sandwiches. I was carrying them across from the kitchen and they blew off my bite. That -- I don't think that's a reflection on the State of the sandwiches but that more of reflection on the wind. I think you can see it, the sandwich did not last very long in -- at all. That wind they in part.

But, Vause and Isha, somebody who is known as one of the greatest alpine skiers of all time. Never to have one Olympic gold. He didn't mind too much, it seems he has finally got that gold medal. He was the person who emerged victorious in the mountains today.

VAUSE: I'm worried. Did you get another sandwich?

DAVIES: No, you know what this job is like, if you missed your opportunity --

VAUSE: That's cheap.

DAVIES: -- that's it, 'till tomorrow.

VAUSE: Thanks, peachy want to say, it's awful. OK. I felt like its nice matching --

DAVIES: Any interventions gratefully received.

VAUSE: Yes, nice matching jackets. You know, very smart. OK, stay well, good to see you both. Bye.

SESAY: It was just on care packages.

VAUSE: I love you, fine. All volunteer is here, (INAUDIBLE) we gone to the head, anyway. SESAY: Wow! OK, let's move on, John. Well, after that carrying display, Barack and Michelle Obama were one of the top couples in Washington for eight years. And now, their memory will live on in the National Portrait Gallery.

VAUSE: The former first couple chose African-American artist for the portraits, CNN's Jeanne Moos, has the details.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT: They're they were in the flash holding hands, waiting for their national gallery portraits to be unveiled, for his, hers, and then, his. What's your average, national gallery presidential portrait?


MOOS: But what's with all the greenery? In the weeds, as usual, I see, tweeted one critic. Coming out of regally is left feel committed someone else. Both President Obama and former first lady chose American-American artist. Kehinde Wiley, explained the plants include flowers from Chicago, Hawaii, and Kenya. But all some could see was Sean Spicer, hiding in the bushes. Someone else noticed the similarity to Beyonce's pregnancy announcement.

The artist, Wiley has known for painting African-Americans like Michael Jackson in royal settings. Mimicking old masters, he choked up thanking his mom.

KEHINDE WILEY, PORTRAIT PAINTER: We didn't have much, but she found a way to gift, paint.

MOOS: Then he show painted Michelle's portrait using grey tones to downplay skin colors that were subject's personality would come to the four. President Obama, thank her for capturing the intelligence.

OBAMA: -- then, hotness of the woman that I love.

MOOS: The first lady reacted to her own image.

MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: Let's just start by saying, wow!

MOOS: But who, instead of wow is what happened to people we ask said --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is she an actress? I have no idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little like Michelle Obama.

MOOS: A little like her, but I don't think it is her.


MOOS: Who is this woman? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a very good question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a gorgeous picture of Michelle Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea.

MOOS: Some who recognized Michelle Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God only knows, Michelle Obama.

MOOS: Did it around above way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know this arms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great the gun as I say.

MOOS: And you know what they say about Obama's portrait? He has very big hands. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


SESAY: Someone's complaining that his head is very big in that.

VAUSE: Yes, I like them, I thought that good actually. (INAUDIBLE) well done.


SESAY: Yes, I like them too

VAUSE: Capture the spirit with both.

SESAY: I agree -- I agree, definitely. You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause, stay with us. That woman called Rosemary Church will be with you right after right.

SESAY: What do you mean, that woman?

VAUSE: Well, she's my friend.