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Calls for Zuma to Resign; Netanyahu Faces Possible Fraud and Bribery Charges; Chaos in the Trump White House; Focus on North Korean Olympic Athletes; Samaritan Aviation Saves Lives One Flight at a Time. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired February 14, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Here this evening live from Los Angles ahead this hour.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR : How years of scandal finally caught up with Jacob Zuma? South African's ruling party demands the president's resignation, but so far he's refused to go.
VAUSE: Benjamin Netanyahu you may be the first sitting Israel Prime Minister to be indicted after police say they have sufficient evidence to bring charges in twocorruption cases.
SESAY: Plus life saving missions in Papua New Guinea primitive villages, one group's crusade to fly the sick and injured to safety.
VAUSE: Hello everybody, very great to have you with us and to our viewers all around the world I'm John Vause.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. News from L.A starts right now. Well a major change in South African politics is nearing. Jacob Zuma's tumultuous presidency may be coming to an end after almost nine years in office and hundreds of corruption allegations. But he is not going down without a fight.
VAUSE: Zuma's party has denoted his resignation are refusing his requests for a three to six month transition period. And the opposition is calling for a no confidence vote as early as this week.
FLOYD SCGUVAMBU, POLITICIAN, ECONOMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS: South Africa can not be held at ransom by a different president who doesn't want to respect even his own organization. He has been failing to respect the laws of South Africa, he has been failing to respect the Constitution and now he has elevated that he doesn't even respect his own organization.
SESAY: Well Gasant Abarder is a Cape Town regional editor for the Independent Media Company. Gasant, good to see you once again. So we're standing by to hear from the man at the center of the political storms, Jacob Zuma. But let me first ask you to clear up something for me that I am struggling to reconcile. We heard the ANC Surgeon General say on Tuesday, Mr. Zuma has not done anything wrong as he announced his decision to recoil him.
So help us understand what is really going on here. Why is Zuma being ousted by the ANC now? GASANT ABARDER, REGIONAL EDITOR, INDEPENDENT MEDIA: Well the ANC's official position is to do was that they wanted to some approvals, (INAUDIBLE) and the now president of the ANC to do - to deliver the State of the Nation address. But I mean let's not kid ourselves, we had conference in December and all of these issues that have been raised - and the theories (ph) and the meetings and we're talking about the scandal driven presidency of nine years as you mentioned. So I mean the ANC will naturally would want to put there best foot forward and have some good PR around this.
And they try to make up that they aligned with ANC presidency with the presidency of South Africa. We're not buying that though, I mean the South African parties are not buying that.
SESAY: And Julius Malema who you all know formally the youth leader of the ANC before he himself was ousted from the party said this is really about ANC factionalism. It's about corruption, it's not actually about improving the lives of ordinary South African's. Is there any truth to that in your view?
ABARDER: Look -- there can may be an element of truth to that. However I think Jacob Zuma presented a very convenient kind of attitude for the opposition to latch onto. I think with a new ANC president we've really seen some very positive roles. He was in Davos a few weeks ago at the world economic forum. We made big positive waves in South African and I think the opposition in South Africa's scrambling now for a new note of -- challenge the ANC because they know that Cyril Ramaphosa's presidency represents a different kinds of president's in South Africa.
In a big different kind of leadership and he's actually focus his attention on ridding South Africa of corruption.
SESAY: Can he do that? I mean as you talk about the future of South Africa with Cyril Ramaphosa as the new president, a new chapter. Some have said this is a new beginning for South Africa if and when that moment comes. But can he - can he change things drastically when we're talking about the ousting of one man? When really people have talked about South African's graft and corruption as a system?
ABARDER: You know this whole notion of state capture and this whole issue of state capture really - which really characterized the Zuma presidency. And it's going to be really difficult for a president, on his own, to actually move South Africa away from that image and from that state capture issue, to a new era of prosperity - he talks about the transition and the renewel. He's going to need the support of these so called top six (ph) - the Nationalist (ph) (INAUDIBLE) committee of the ANC.
It's going to be very difficult, because within those groupings, there are factions of the ANC at play, but he's going to need the support of whichever cabinet he appoints, which if it's a president he has, the top six (ph), and the entire ANC.
[00:05:10] So we've already seen that things have changed within the ANC, through today's (ph) press conference. In the past the ANC would have kept journalists for maybe two to four hours. Everything starts on time these days. We've already seen investigations into state owned enterprises like ISCOM (ph).
So things are moving rapidly under the leadership of ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa and I think if that's an indication of things to come then we could very well change the game and change the tone of the leadership of the country.
SESAY: I have attended ANC events in the past and yes, those two were delayed in their start. So at least that's a good thing at this point in time. We look forward to seeing what happens next. Gasant Abarder thank you so much for joining us. We'll check in with you in the hours ahead. Appreciate it.
VAUSE: Well after a month long investigation, Israeli police say there is sufficient evidence to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on criminal charges in two corruption cases. He's accused of fraud, bribery and breach of trust. In a twelve-minute long televised address, Netanyahu tried to play down the seriousness of the charges. He promised to stay on the job and denied any wrong doing.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (Through an interpreter): During my time as Prime Minister, great pressures have been placed to open no fewer than 15 checks and investigations against me with the aim of toppling me from power. All began with explosive headlines and broadcasts. Some with thunderous police recommendations just like this evening. All these attempts, with exception, will end without anything.
VAUSE: It's now up to the Attorney General to decide if the Prime Minister will be formally charged. Ian Lee is joining us now from Jerusalem with more on this. So Ian, in that national address Netanyahu promised to stay in office but that may not be his choice either legally or politically.
IAN LEE, CNN REPORTER: Right John. Let's just break down both. First you have legally -- this case, as you said, goes to the Attorney General. It's up to the Attorney General whether or not to indict the Prime Minister. And if that does move forward it goes through the court system. It could be many years before a verdict is reached going up all the way to the high court. And only at that point, will the Prime Minister if he's found guilty, be forced to step down through the law.
Now politically, it also is very difficult. You have right now he's in a coalition. His coalition partners say that they're going to stand by him. But this is just the very beginning of the case. Now if the Attorney General decides to indict, that could make it harder. Obviously the opposition is already calling out for him to step down and there is precedence to this. His predecessor, Ehud Olmert also was indicted on corruption charges and he stepped down and was later found guilty, John. VAUSE: Very quickly, there are two cases here that we're talking about. Case 1000 and Case 2000. What are the details and which one is considered most serious?
LEE: So the Case 1000 deals with the Prime Minister allegedly receiving gifts from Arnold Milchin. He is a Hollywood mogul. This includes cigars, champagne, jewelry. Case 2000 involves the Prime Minister allegedly dealing with the publisher of a local newspaper; colluding with him in order to get more favorable coverage. In return, Netanyahu would allegedly limit the circulation of a rival newspaper. Now when you talk to analysts, the more serious, they say that the first one, Case 1000, the Israeli public may be more forgiving when it comes to cigars, champagne, and jewelry, but it's Case 2000 which could have more bite, John.
VAUSE: OK, Ian, thank you. Ian Lee live for us in Jerusalem. Bringing us up to speed on this case against Benjamin Netanyahu. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon joins us now. She's a CNN National Security Analyst and a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Good to have you with us. Welcome back.
OK, they used to call Netanyahu the magician. He had this incredible ability, no matter how dire the political circumstances, he always got out of trouble. He always survived. OK, the question is, has his luck run out now?
GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST AND COUNCIL OF FOREIGN RELATIONS SENIOR FELLOW: Stay tuned. Don't use past tense just yet, right?
VAUSE: Right. Yes.
LEMMON: I mean because this is a politician who is resilient to, you know, those of us who come from the United States could only liken it to Bill Clinton in terms of the number of times he's been counted out. And it is not all clear yet that this is the time in which all the luck has been extinguished from his kitty.
VAUSE: I remember a very young reporter, or not that young, in 2005 at an election when the coup on BBC pulled 11 seats. That reporter said, "Oh, that surely is the end of his career." So much for that.
[00:10:17 If this does end with Netanyahu forced from office, Israeli politics will be facing a period of upheaval, but it seems the consequences will be far greater beyond Israel's border, especially for the U.S. President who sees Benjamin Netanyahu and probably his closest ally in the Mid-East.
LEMMON: I think that's right. I mean, there has been a fairly strong set of relationships between not just the president and Netanyahu, but also his team and Netanyahu's team. And Netanyahu's given Trump some coverance on positions that he's taken. And so I do think that you have a president who doesn't have a terribly long list of allies globally, right, that he feels close to. I think Netanyahu would be on that short list of folks that he actually does feel like he shares the world view with. VAUSE: And he has changed the face of Mid-East politics in so many ways. When it comes to the Palestinians, when it comes to Iran, the nuclear deal, a whole lot of issues are essentially his doing, and if he's not there, what happens to those issues?
LEMMON: Well this is the question, right? I mean it's interesting because you can play the security question both ways. There are some who say, listen, because of these security questions on Israel's border, because of what's happening in Syria, because of what's happening in the region, you need the continuity of Netanyahu. And there are others who say, listen, because security is so tenuous and there's so many questions, we need the consistency of whoever's next and not a leader who's facing all of these allegations. And I don't know where the public is going to come down because the public is going to be absolutely critical to what comes next.
VAUSE: Well every Israeli Prime Minister since Yitzhak Rabin who was in this palace sharing arrangement with Shimon Peres in the mid '90s, they all faced some kind of criminal investigation. Ehud Olmert was the only one who was charged and convicted, and he actually stepped down before those charges actually were laid. So Netanyahu's potentially the first sitting Israeli Prime Minister to be formerly charged, and that's kind of a gray area as to what happens next from a legal point of view.
LEMMON: That's right because there has been -- the precedent has been that if you were charged if you're a minister or a lower rank, you do resign. We've never seen that happen with the Prime Minister, and I think if you look at what Netanyahu's doing in terms of public opinion, he's launched preemptive strikes, right? He was on Facebook, he was talking to his supporters, he's been very savvy about trying to neutralize and frame as a political case the allegations against him.
VAUSE: Sounds familiar.
LEMMON: There are many parallels.
VAUSE: Especially the attorney general. Again, this timing, it's almost like some kind of Shakespearean tragedy for Netanyahu who's about to make history if he stayed in office. And if he does stay in office until, what, July next year, he'll become the longest serving Israeli Prime Minister. Longer than the country's founder, David Ben- Gurion. And the contrast here is striking. Ben-Gurion was a socialist, he had this sort of prestimious (ph) existence. He lived in a small tiny, little flat apartment in the Negev Desert. He didn't rub elbows with billionaires.
Netanyahu though and his wife, they've been in the center of a controversy for years because of their lavish spending at taxpayers expense and this lavish lifestyle which they've lived.
LEMMON: And their critics have been very clear about showing just how posh, lovely their lifestyle is. But let's also not forget this is a generational change, right? They are not the founding generation. They are the generation that has enjoyed prosperity and the technology boom and the business to private sector boom that has happened in Israel. And so I think it is a different generation and a very different time.
VAUSE: I just wonder how much that goes towards the political climate that he will be facing as this all moves forward?
LEMMON: Yes, I think that is - really I don't think we can underestimate the role of public opinion. It may be a legal case, but politics and public opinion is -- Facebook is going to be as important as the attorney general in this.
VAUSE: He's going to face huge pressure in the coming weeks I guess. Gayle, good to see you. Thank you very much.
LEMMON: You, too.
SESAY: The British government is delivering a warning to aid agencies, "safeguard your beneficiaries, staff, and volunteers or you will lose funding." They're also being told to do more to prevent sexual abuse in the wake of the Oxfam sex crime scandal where senior staffers paid for sex during release efforts in Haiti and Chad. A former Oxfam manager now says the agency's leaders and the U.K.'s Charity Commission both failed to address a wide range of accusations, some of which she reported all the way back in 2015.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was a woman who was receiving Oxfam aid?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Another case where a woman had been coerced to have sex in exchange for aid and another one where it had come to our attention that a member of staff had been struck off for sexual abuse and hadn't disclosed that. We were then concerned about what he might do and that was yeah -- three allegations in one day.
[00:15:00] SESAY: Well the Charity Commission says it took the allegations seriously and Oxfam has said it regrets not acting on the claims sooner. Aleron Haberani (ph) spoke to the agency's executive director.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know that Oxfam will recover, because these are a few people who have abused the power that they had and turned and -- abused the very people they went to protect. But the majority, the thousands of Oxfam staff around the world are saving lives -- are helping who are fleeing or giving food and water in the most difficult places in South Sudan, in Chad, in Yemen and Iraq they are risking their lives every hour.
SESAY: Oxfam has apologized for the behavior of senior workers who hired prostitutes in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, but the agency denies trying to cover that up. The Haitian government is now considering legal action. VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, another shift in
the ever changing White House explanation, in the domestic abuse scandal involving former aide Rob Porter. For now the FBI director before Congress seems to have proved the White House has been lying for a week.
VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. The White House continues to change its' story about the domestic abuse allegations against former aide Rob Porter. Spokesperson Sarah Sanders now blames the personal security officer failing to act.
SESAY: She and other White House officials previously blamed the FBI for not finishing its background check on Porter. That story well it unraveled on Tuesday when FBI director Christopher Ray said the bureau repeatedly briefed the White House last year on claims that Porter had abused his two ex-wives.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: The FBI submitted a partial report on the investigation in question in March and then a completed background investigation in late July that is soon thereafter we received request for follow-up inquiry. And we did the follow-up and provided that information in November and that we have administratively closed the file in January.
VAUSE: Well, from all of this Peter Mathews is a professor of political science at Cyprus College, and Michael Genovese is the president of Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University. Thank you for coming in, pleasure to (INAUDIBLE). OK, OK so keep in mind what the FBI director said to lawmakers on Tuesday morning. Hours after that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, she had the podium for the daily briefing, and she gave her version of events regarding Rob Porter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As I said, and I am going to repeat what I said earlier, that we learned of the situation involving Rob Porter last Tuesday evening and within 24 hours his resignation had been accepted and announced. We announced a transition was going to happen and within hours it did. And in terms of timeline I don't have anything else to add.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[00:20:08] VAUSE: So Michael, someone here is not telling the truth. And for my money its chances are it's not the FBI director.
MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Trump's own appointment, Chris Wray, they busted the White House. And these changing stories -- they shouldn't surprise us because this is what they've been doing. There's 24/7 cycle of hydraulic -- keep tripping over their own hydrala and -- just look at the turnover at the top of the administration. If you look at George W. Bush, at this stage, no one left the
administration, Obama, one person, Trump, seven. So, you've got this combination of inexperience and a revolving door and an administration that doesn't really put a high priority on the truth. And this is what you get and it made them look terrible to me.
VAUSE: Which, like in comparison to other nations they just looked awful. Sarah Sanders did try to explain why the White House version of events is so different to the FBI's version. This is what she said.
SANDERS: The White House Personnel Security Office, staffed by career officials received information last year in what they consider to be the final background investigation report in November, but they have not made a final recommendation for adjudication to the White House because the process was still ongoing when Porter resigned.
VAUSE: So Peter, when in doubt, blame a good old career official, a tradition as old as politics itself.
PETER MATHEWS, POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, even if that is true, who's going to believe it at this point? As in it's valid reason in the first place. You know, it's such an incompetent White House too. Everything that Michael said is true, but on top of that, the inexperience shows, clearly, not just in domestic and foreign policy, but in the White House policy. It's unbelievable what's been happening here and it's just another manifestation of Trumpism.
VAUSE: Yes. It is Trumpism on the one hand, but it is also Kellyism, I guess you would call it.
VAUSE: A lot of this is heading back to the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, how he has handled this from the beginning. He must of known about these allegations long before he has admitted to. And essentially, this is, again, Sarah Sanders, on basically the way John Kelly has handled everything and what he knew and when he knew it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the White House still maintaining that John Kelly really had no idea about the validation of domestic abuse until this story broke?
SANDERS: I can only give you the best information that I have and that's my understanding.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So for clarification and a question -- in July when the FBI was sent back into field to get more information. Are you telling us that no senior staff, not Don McGahn, not Joe Hagan, not John Kelly, nobody in the senior staff in the West Wing was involved in that decision to tell them to go back and see if they can get more information on what --
SANDERS: Again, I can only -- not that I'm aware of. I can't say with 100 percent certainty, but not that I'm aware of -- of any conversations between those individuals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Yes, so very quickly, add to that when "The Wall Street Journal" asked John Kelly if this self-inflicted crisis could have been handled better -- Kelly answered no, it was all done right. So, Michael, normally it's the President who's the source of upheaval and drama. John Kelly is the person who's meant to calm everything down, he's the adult in the room. That is not playing out.
GENOVESE: Well no, we all expected him to come in and be the grown up in the room, to bring some chaos -- some order to the chaos and even some order to the President, which was a big task. Turns out that he's an enabler, he is a true believer, he is promoting Trumpism and he's feeding the very worst aspects of the Trump personality.
Instead of controlling them, he's basically putting fuel on that fire.
MATHEWS: Something else I see here, that is the total male chauvinism that comes out among these staffers, and that of Trump himself when he says that you know -- allegations, mere allegations and he tries to praise Porter for exemplary -- for the employee career. He's looking at the persons talent in terms of his employment, but not looking at his character or his personality in terms of the way he views women, what he's done with women.
So that's, to me, an epitome of chauvinism.
VAUSE: We've seen sort of Michael's point because they have so few decent staff members there that Porter was seen as someone who is mildly competent, which is why Kelly apparently -- one month here Kelly wouldn't -- has defended him.
Amid all this controversy, the intelligence chiefs who are on Capital Hill before the Senate Intelligence Committee, they all insisted that measures were being taken, right now, to try and prevent Russia from meddling in the midterm elections in November, but listen to this exchange.
WRAY: We're taking a lot of specific efforts to blunt Russian --
REED: Have you been directed by the President?
WRAY: Not specifically directed by the President.
REED: Director Pompeo, have you received a specific presidential direction to take steps to disrupt these activities?
MIKE POMPEO, DIRECTOR, CIA: I'm not sure how specific.
MIKE ROGERS, DIRECTOR, NSA: For us, I can't say that I've been explicitly directed to quote "blunt" or actively stop --
VAUSE: And, Peter, I don't know why, but that actually surprised me. I probably shouldn't of been, but has the President not involved in directing the intelligence chiefs to take any action? It just seemed (INAUDIBLE) in some ways.
[00:25:10] MATHEWS: It's incredible because he's the person in charge of security of this country and we believe in democracy that has to be not interfered by foreign sources in any way. So whether or not it happened in 2016, he should be proactive in leading the government and saying this should never happen again. It's comprises our whole democratic process. So strong leadership should be coming from this man, but you can see him waffling and wavering and not even giving direction to his own people to be careful about this.
VAUSE: And moving on very quickly because there's some CNN reporting that we have now about the version (ph) of events throwing the payment of $130,000 dollars to the adult film star Stormy Daniels, she allegedly had an affair with Donald Trump several years ago. Last month Trumps long time personal lawyer Michael Cohen, he released a statement on her behalf in part it said - this is Stormy Daniels talking, "Rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false."
Well apparently there not because Cohen told CNN the money was actually paid for to Daniels, it came out of his own pocket, he wrote the check. Michael how many lawyers do you know would shell out $130,000 for their billionaire client out of the goodness of their heart.
GENOVESE: Let's see none.
GENOVESE: This is a story that is so beyond bizarre that it's past the point of obscuredy and how humiliating this must be for everyone involved or should be. Why isn't it? Why isn't the president humiliated? Because he's had all these accusations against him and that's part of what Peter was saying about -- this character issue. This is just normal business for those folks. For us it would be outrageous, for almost anyone it would be outrageous behavior. And yet in this White House, OK it's another Wednesday.
VAUSE: Well in case anyone's curious Stormy Daniels -- she is taking her Make America Horny Again tour to Palm Beach in Florida at a strip club just blocks away -- about four miles actually from the president's private club Mar-a-logo. So there we go keeping it classy in Florida, Peter?
MATHEWS: And making money off the situation. That's like a -- Trump motif off (INAUDIBLE) that's one thing that they do - all of them do it --
VAUSE: That's what this country --
MATHEWS: -- make money through politics from through any story that comes up as negative, just make money out of it. VAUSE: Make it a positive. OK, Peter.
MATHEWS: It's amazing, the new normal right? Actually not.
VAUSE: Peter and Michael good to see you both thank you.
GENOVESE: Thank you.
VAUSE: The new normal I hope not.
MATHEWS: I hope not.
SESAY: Let's take a very quick break now. Among the North Korean Olympic athletes, the pair of skaters stand out. What sets them apart? Ahead.
VAUSE (voice-over): Welcome back, everybody, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
SESAY(voice-over): And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour:
SESAY: At the Olympic Games in PyeongChang the focus returned to North Korea and the country's pairs figure skaters.
VAUSE: Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik are the only North Korean athletes who qualified for the games on merit. They're not considered medal contenders but they managed to get through the swap program and the spot in Thursday's long program.
SESAY: Our Paula Hancocks joins us live from PyeongChang.
Paula, we'll get to the action in just a moment but I understand the winds have picked up so much so people are being urged to stay indoors?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, yes, Isha. The wind's really becoming a bit of a problem down here in Gangnam. There has just been a loudspeaker announcement saying that spectators should stay inside because it might be dangerous for them to be outside.
This is the Olympic Park here down in Gangnam that's a number of different experiences for people to do inside, like virtual reality. There's lots of sponsors with their own stalls. But people are really struggling to try and walk against this wind, the superstore as well, we understand, is just closed it says because of strong winds. So it's not just the spectators that are going to suffer from this clearly. Some of the events have been postponed once again because of this wind. So it is an issue that really officials can do nothing about. You can't control the weather -- Isha.
SESAY: It does sound pretty unpleasant, I have to say, Paula. You shouldn't say that about the games (INAUDIBLE) all of that but this just sounds miserable. Let's talk about the North Korean athletes, we know that the pair skaters been in action.
Talk to me about expectations. Talk to me about how they're performing, how they're looking.
HANCOCKS: This morning they had their event and they really exceeded all expectations. Probably their own as well. You can just imagine the amount of pressure that is on this pair, knowing that the world's media is focused on them very intently. Of course the pressure that they want to go back to North Korea having done well.
And they performed better than they ever have in their entire career. They're 11th at this point, we understand, which is ahead of South Korea; it's ahead of the United States, ahead of Japan. So clearly they were absolutely delighted once they had finished and once they realized just how well they had done.
You could see real emotion in the faces of both of these athletes. And then just in a couple of hours' time, you also have the joint North Korean and South Korean ice hockey team that's going to play once again. That will be just behind me here in the Olympic Park.
So clearly they are very much in focus and getting more attention than they would usually as they're not expected to get a medal because they are North Korean. But it is very heartening to see that pair this morning because they were the ones who did actually qualify for the Olympics. They didn't come in on a wild card like many of the others did.
But the pressure they must have been under would have been incredible knowing the world was watching them.
SESAY: Indeed. Well, we shall see how the joint ice hockey team fare in a couple of hours. Paula Hancocks, get inside, stay warm. We say it to you every time but go do it. We'll speak to you soon. Thank you.
VAUSE: There is not enough --
VAUSE: -- in the world for doing live shots out there.
VAUSE: OK, after the break, meet the man saving and changing lives in Papua New Guinea one flight at a time.
SESAY: Hello, everyone.
For desperate people in one province of Papua New Guinea their lifesaver arrives by seaplane. Mark Palm founded Samaritan Aviation to give nearly a half million people in the remote area access to emergency medical care. Without Mark and his crew, a trip to the hospital can take up to a week and that's by canoe.
The organization can get them there in just 45 minutes. Palm says his mission is all about showing God's love in action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK PALM, SAMARITAN AVIATION: I also saw the needs, the lack of hope and access in remote villages, the dangers and the suffering. After seeing and experiencing this place first-hand, I realized they desperately needed help. They needed someone who could get to their remote villages and provide them with modern medical services.
It was then that I realized, I could be that person. I can make a difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Mark Palm joins us now from San Diego, California.
Mark, thank you for being with us. So help our viewers understand how you wound up in Papa New Guinea doing this work.
PALM: Yes, I've got an interesting story. I'm actually a third generation aviator and I kind of grew up as a young kid planning on being a military pilot or -- and seeing the world. And it was during my youth, my father was a minister and he ran a homeless mission up in Northern California when I was a teenager.
And I had a chance to actually to help people, to feed people, to clothe people who did not have the things that I had. And as a 16- year old, I had a chance to go to Mexico and build houses for people who did not have a roof over their head. And it was that experience and my passion for aviation.
And during that trip to Mexico, I just felt God just to speak to me. I do not -- hard to explain but I just felt like I needed to use my passion for people and aviation in a remote area, to share God's love and so that is -- yes. That is kind of how --
SESAY: That's kind of how it happened.
SESAY: Here you are, having done over 1,000 flights and saved countless numbers, what was your old life like?
What have you given up to do this?
PALM: It is interesting because in America obviously, the idea of American dream and we have hospitals everywhere. We have access to things here that a lot of the rest the world does not have and -- but because you know I had this vision, this goal as a young man, it was -- it was from 16 on that was my goal, was how do I get over to a remote area.
And as a 19-year old I had a chance in 1994 to go to Papua New Guinea for the first time and see the need firsthand and see the remoteness and see the lack of access, the lack of hope. And that is really where the vision -- I went over there with a friend of mine, Barry Boston (ph), and through that trip, we just came up -- the stream came and it was like, hey, we can use a float plane to go into areas that nobody else is getting to and help provide access and hope to these people that have none.
PALM: So yes, from that young age of 19, that's really when the dream came and we began planning this adventure.
SESAY: And (INAUDIBLE) you have been doing this at such a young age. It really has been your life for most of your adult life, if you will.
Talk to me about how you are viewed in that environment. For this remote communities that you fly into on that float plane, do they view you as an oddity, a strange white man that flies in on a plane to help?
Or have you become one of their own?
How do they interact with you?
How do they feel about you besides being grateful for the help you bring them?
PALM: I think you know initially, obviously, most of the of the people had never seen a seaplane and so to be flying into this remote village and step out of -- out of an airplane right up close is something that they had never seen.
And so that that was a something that was always a rarity and still is, every time I fly into a village, you know, the whole village comes out. I'll have 200-300 people standing on the bank watching and come up and talk to me.
And you know, so I think, initially, obviously I was this white skin, as they call us in New Guinea, a white man. But you know, over time, I have a family there. You know, I was given a name in the village and that I have PNG, Papua New Guinea family and a Papua New Guinea grandma and a mom and all of those things, being there now and living there and being part of the culture.
Those people are my family now in a lot of ways and it is -- it is -- it is amazing. I have been back for a couple months now. I am going back in a few weeks. And I cannot wait to see my Papua New Guinea family.
SESAY: So let me ask you this, first of all, let me tell our viewers that the work you do, you do not charge them. The flights are free. All this work you're doing, it's not costing them anything. My takeaway from watching the little video you sent us is that one individual can make a difference. One individual can make a massive difference in this world that we live in.
Talk to me about what you get from doing this work.
PALM: It's hard to put it into words, you know, I think just having that dream to make a difference and really believing that we're all here to make a difference in all of our communities wherever we're at. We do not have to go to Papua New Guinea or a far-off land to make a difference.
There is needs everywhere. For me, that is where I have been called. But to me when I go in and -- I had a chance this last year. The very first flight I ever did medically in Papua New Guinea was Good Friday of 2010.
And I got a call from a mother who was unconscious. And they asked, can you help us?
We have no other way to get her into the hospital. And so I remember loading a plane up. I spent 10 years, my friend and I in America, telling everybody about the goal that we had. And to finally actually fly out to pick up a mother, who was unconscious, bring her in; she lives. The next day I go in with my wife and they have this little baby boy and they named him after me.
And it was such a such an honor. And then this last year to be able to go in on his 7th birthday and see this young man now. And every time I go back in that village and I see someone who I have been able to fly in, someone who I have been able to develop a relationship while they're in town and then I am back in the villages, because we've delivered 150,000 pounds of medical supplies to 40 different aid posts.
And with little airplane. And so, yes, to go back in and have these relationships, yes, you can't put that into words. It is amazing.
SESAY: It is amazing, Mark Palm, we want to thank you for joining us to share your story and to provide inspiration to our viewers.
Every individual can make a difference. Thank you so much. Thank you for joining us.
PALM: You are welcome. Thank you for having me.
SESAY: You're welcome.
VAUSE: And you don't need a plane to make a difference.
SESAY: You don't.
SESAY: You can do it right there where you are in your community.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Stay with us for "WORLD SPORT," live from the Winter Games in PyeongChang. You're watching CNN.