Return to Transcripts main page


Netanyahu Denies Corruption Allegations; South African Ruling Party Expects Zuma to Step Down; Teen on Trial for Slapping Israeli Soldier; U.S. Intel Chiefs: Russia Plotting to Sway Midterms; Oxfam Whistleblower Speaks Out on Sexual Abuse Scandal; FBI Chief Contradicts WH Abuse Scandal Timeline; Shaun White Reaches U.S. Golden Milestone Aired 1-2a ET

Aired February 14, 2018 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Ahead this hour: What could be the end of South Africa's Teflon president, Jacob Zuma's own party now demanding he resign.

VAUSE (voice-over): Benjamin Netanyahu was on his way to making history as the longest-serving Israeli prime minister. Now a police corruption investigation may deny him that place in history.

SESAY (voice-over): And a Palestinian teenager appears in court after video which shows her kicking and punching an Israeli soldier goes viral.

VAUSE (voice-over): Hello, everybody, great to have you with us for a second hour. I'm John Vause.

SESAY (voice-over): And I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.


VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) Israel where police say they now have sufficient evidence to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on criminal charges in two corruption cases. He is accused of fraud, bribery and breach of trust following a month-long investigation. In a 12-minute- long televised address Mr. Netanyahu again denied any wrongdoing and dismissed the charges he is facing.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): I think about the good of the country not for personal reasons but for the press, only for the country, and nothing will stop me from doing this, not even the attacks against me. And believe me, they are never ending and therefore today isn't any

different from any other days, which I have been through in the past 20 years.


VAUSE: Ian Lee live for us in Jerusalem this hour.

Ian, what exactly is the formal process here and the timeline?

What can we expect not just in the coming days but the coming months, maybe even the coming years at this point?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it could be years, John. Right now that this indictment recommendation will go to the attorney general. The attorney general's office has been looking into this for some time but they do not expect this to happen overnight.

It could take a while for the attorney general to go over the recommendation, go through the evidence before moving forward with an indictment or not. He could decide that there is just not enough evidence to move forward and dismiss this.

If he does decide that there is enough evidence, then it could go to the courts. That could take years. It could go all the way up to the high court to decide if the prime minister is guilty or not.

And only then, will -- if he is found guilty, will the prime minister be legally bound to resign, step down. And we are hearing legal analysts say that, if he is found guilty, he could serve up to 10 years in prison.

But there is also the political pressure he is going to be facing right now, his coalition partners say that they're behind him. The opposition obviously is urging him to step down.

But if we do see the prime minister's popularity plummet, those coalition partners may have second thoughts -- John.

VAUSE: Let's talk about the attorney general for a moment. (INAUDIBLE) he's described as a bashful, kipper-wearing lawyer. He will obviously be under incredible political pressure from both sides.

What sort of man is he?

Is he a stickler for the law?

Is he a political appointee?

How is he expected to decide this case?

LEE: He's seen as someone who has had good relations with the prime minister, as something that people have been pointing out. But he is under a lot of pressure right now. I do not think there is any doubt about it, because you do have the opposition who are calling out for the prime minister to resign. Just like Netanyahu called out for Ehud Olmert to resign when he was brought up on charges of corruption. So there is this parallel being called out right now.

But also, you have the prime minister and his supporters. They see this as a coup attempt of sorts that the prime minister's enemies have not been able to get him in the polls and so that they are going after him through the courts, and through the police and so with the attorney general, this is going to be a major decision either way to decide whether to move forward with this case or to decide not to.

VAUSE: Case 1,000, as it is known, it's pretty straightforward, alleging gifts for political favors. It seems the Israeli press puts a lot of the blame for that on Netanyahu's wife, Sarah.

Could she also be facing charges in this?

LEE: Yes, so, when you look at, yes, case 1,000, these are gifts. These are gifts which include cigars, champagne and jewelry. And it is known that the prime minister's wife, Sarah Netanyahu, has a taste for pink champagne.

And, so, yes, these are the one set of charges. But Sarah Netanyahu also has her own set of charges and this revolves around meals --


LEE: -- for the prime minister's residency. According to this case, Sarah Netanyahu, who had up to $100,000 of catering in private restaurants, private chefs for the prime minister's restaurant.

What is wrong about that, according to this investigation, is that the that the prime minister's office has its chef already and that these sorts of meals are only allowed when the chef at the prime minister's residence is absent.

And so that is that -- that is the investigation on her right now.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) $2,500 on ice cream, especially for the prime minister. I don't think that was illegal but I think a lot of people were mad about it.

Ian, good to see you. Thank you.

South African president Jacob Zuma may soon be forced to step down, raising concerns about what that may mean for the country's political and economic stability.


SESAY: The Teflon president has clung to power for nearly nine years, despite hundreds of corruption allegations and numerous attempts to force him from office.

VAUSE: But on Tuesday, his party demanded his resignation and denied his request for a 3- to 6-month transition period. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) we expect our (INAUDIBLE) to do (INAUDIBLE) organization experts (INAUDIBLE). So I don't know what will happen but let's leave it to President Jacob Zuma. (INAUDIBLE) we were not going to him but I think (INAUDIBLE) that this is an agent (ph) matter so it must be treated with patience (ph).


SESAY: Piers Pigou is a senior consultant for South Africa with International Crisis Group. He joins us from Johannesburg.

Piers, good to see you.

What would the ousting of Jacob Zuma mean for South Africa?

What are the ramifications here?

PIERS PIGOU, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: I think it has been a long time coming. There's been a buildup of pressure over the last year or so with coals for Jacob Zuma to step down. And we've seen that firstly within members of the alliance South African Communist party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions, calling for this in significant sections of the African National Congress itself, culminating in the elective conference in December, which led to the elevation of Ramaphosa, Cyril Ramaphosa.

And then there's two centers of power, problem that the DNC has and previously had with Jacob Zuma and (INAUDIBLE) Mbeki, when Mbeki was recalled in a not too dissimilar fashion in 2008.

So what does this mean?

I think that when we get some clarity from President Zuma -- and that is expected later today -- this should at least be able to put the ANC and the government on some kind of course of action ahead of what will be crucial elections next year.

So we are all holding our breath to see whether he goes. And then, of course, what happens next with President Ramaphosa taking over and an expected cabinet reshuffle -- because this is not just about Jacob Zuma. It is about the circle of patronage around him.

SESAY: Yes, indeed, but as we talk about the circle of patronage around him, at the end of the day, the ANC is split into factions. We know that the top six were not entirely united in taking this move against Zuma.

How does Cyril Ramaphosa unite the party?

How does he push his agenda through as they try and effectively burnish their reputation ahead of the election in 2019?

PIGOU: This is the huge challenge that Ramaphosa faces. And of course he has been campaigning prior to his elevation to the presidency at the ANC and since then on a platform of building unity.

Clearly there are going to be losers in this process and some of the most egregious violators of process, some of the most incompetent administrators and ministers are ones who are likely to be shown the door.

Now this may have some internal repercussions in terms of deepening fissures and fractures in certain areas. But I think he is going to navigate this in a way in which he will seek to keep as many people inside the tent as possible.

But of course given the nature of the divisions leading up to this point, it is likely that certain people will be thrown under the bus and some will perhaps react in a very negative way to that.

SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) factions, there's no doubt the ANC is wounded by this. This is a party that prided itself on unity and discipline. Here they are now, facing this moment with Jacob Zuma at least up until this point, refusing to step down.

How much can this moment be exploited by opposition parties --


SESAY: -- when it comes to the vote in 2019?

Is this a turning point there in South Africa?

PIGOU: Well, possibly it's how the ANC is able to recover some of the losses that it has made. And of course these losses were used as a primary reason by many inside the national executive committee of the ANC when they took their decision after a marathon 13-hour meeting earlier this week.

The opposition have already called for an early election, asking for the dissolution of parliament following the elevation of the new president. So the new president can get a new mandate.

Of course this is not going to happen. It would be extremely unlikely. The ANC needs time to, as you say, burnish its image and to present a new front, a renewed ANC. And I think this is the platform that Ramaphosa is trying to build, using this as the centenary year of Nelson Mandela's birth, to say, look, we're going back to our original values.

Of course, whether the electorate buy into that, and the ANC has to recover millions of votes that it has already lost, remains to be seen.

SESAY: It is a very long road ahead but even before then, an interesting couple of hours as we await Jacob Zuma.

Piers Pigou, always good to speak to you. Thank you.

PIGOU: Thank you very much. SESAY: The trial has begun for a 17-year-old girl viewed by many as a symbol of Palestinian resistance. Ahed Tamimi faces 12 charges in an Israeli military court, including aggravated assault against a soldier and throwing stones at troops.

She was arrested back in December after a video showed her slapping a heavily armed Israeli soldier on her family's property. Her mother, who took the video, also facing charge now. The incident happened shortly after a soldier has shot and wounded seriously Tamimi's cousin and the teen could face a lengthy jail term if she's convicted and her trial resumes March 11th.

Jacob Magid settlements cross wanted for "The Times of Israel" was at Tuesday's hearing and joins us now from Tel Aviv.

Jacob, thank you for being with us. Let's start with the hearing which you attended. The judge made the decision to throw the throng of journalists and diplomats out of the courtroom and hold the hearing behind closed doors.

From your vantage point, did you get to see Ahed Tamimi?

Take us in there.

What was the scene like?

What was the mood like in the court?

JACOB MAGID, "THE TIMES OF ISRAEL": Thanks for having me. It was a zoo. It was over, well over 100 reporters, diplomats and activists that came hours early to try to get front row seats for the scene.

(INAUDIBLE) seemed relatively calm for what it was worth. But after roughly a minute of the reporters being in the room and the diplomats and activists, the judge saw the scene as he walked in and immediately decided that this was not going to be the way it was going to run.

He asked everyone to leave and to have the trial be held behind closed doors.

SESAY: Can you help us understand why, exactly, this was a closed- door hearing when previous hearings for her were open and her family asked for this proceeding to be public.

MAGID: Right. So the judge said that this was in the best interest of the minor. He used that phrase. Interestingly enough that he used the same phrase to a separate judge in this trial, used the same phrase to describe why he felt that Ahed needed to have her remand extended for the entire trial.

So this idea they are working for the best interest of the minor, questionable. But that's what they -- that's the phrased they're using. Ironically, Ahed's lawyer and Ahed's family both opposed this measure and wants the trial to be published live or broadcast live to the entire world. SESAY: Ahed has been in the spotlight since she was 11, I believe.

We want to put up a photo and share it with our viewers. Here she is as a 12-year old with a clenched fist, as you say there, aimed at an Israeli soldier.

Her family has been at the forefront of protests in their village of Nabi Saleh. But I want to be clear, how much, Jacob, is this case, the fact that this has got to this point and she has been held in custody and is facing trial, how much of that is about the fact that she has long been celebrated by Palestinians and the video of this incident back in December went viral, how much of it is about that versus a notion that she actually posed a threat to those soldiers last December?

MAGID: You're absolutely right. This is mainly about the image. It was broadcast on Facebook. Unlike other events that this happens relatively frequently --


MAGID: -- these kinds of clashes with soldiers. Also though, these arrests are also relatively frequent. Ahed is one of over 300, according to (INAUDIBLE) rights group, of minors that are currently under -- in Israeli cells right now.

So in that case it's not really unique but again, it is because of this symbol. And it was picked up by Palestinian social media. It was picked up by an Israeli right-wing blogger who lambasted the Israel's conduct or Israel's seen as the idea of seen as not doing anything in this -- in the face of this humiliation.

When the blogger picked it up, it was also starting to be picked up by right-wing politicians, who've even labeled her as a terrorist. And Israel, Israelis, at least, part of the public, wanted to see some sort of retribution for this act. And that's why when they arrested her, wasn't just done at the dead of dawn but it was also done with cameras so everyone could see the arrest and how Israel was handling the situation and was not going to let anyone humiliate quote-unquote --


SESAY: And to your point, it took -- by my understanding, it took several days before she was arrested. It didn't happen instantly. It took several days and it happened --


MAGID: Right, four days after.

SESAY: -- indeed. So Ahed was charged, as was her mother, mother's also in custody and her cousin, Noor. Noor has written an opinion piece that was published by "The Washington Post."

Jacob, let me share that with our viewers. It is extremely troubling. She describes what's been happening since they've been taken into custody.

She said, "In prison, we were treated very badly after being arrested. Ahed was taken into a basement cell and interrogated without a parent or lawyer present. She and I were repeatedly moved from one prison to another, held with regular Israeli criminals and subjected to sexist and degrading verbal harassment," she says.

It goes on, "The army knows how to play psychological pressure to break you. They deprived us of sleep and food and I was forced to remain seated in a chair, unable to move, for long hours at a time."

As I say, very disturbing. We are talking about teenagers here. Human rights groups have long accused Israel of discriminatory treatment of Palestinian children. Again, the basic question here, when you hear what Noor says was her experience, when you talk about the public opinion that has been pushing this, will this teenager receive a fair trial?

MAGID: According to the last time an annual rate was done at the conviction rate for Palestinians, from the West Bank, it's near 100 percent. So it is unlikely that she is -- whether she receives a fair trial, it's unlikely that she will not be placed in prison for a considerable amount of time.

We're looking at a possible maximum of sentence of 20 years. Might not be that long but, again, this is very likely that she will see -- she will remain behind bars for the near considerable future.

Israelis, on the other hand, do see this a little bit differently. They still saw it as kind of -- the fact that (INAUDIBLE) phones, that this was a mean kind of provocation plan that was very much planned in advance. And as she has done in the past, they point to her comments right after the video, that are mentioned in the indictment, where she seems to -- there she clearly praises actions such as stabbing attacks and suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.

Whether or not those are legitimate means to fight the military occupation is another question but the Israelis see that as stepping far beyond the line of what is acceptable.

SESAY: Yes. Jacob, we appreciate your time. Thank you so much for joining us, important insight and context. Thank you.

MAGID: Thank you.

VAUSE: We will take a short break. When we come back, the leaders of six U.S. intelligence agencies all agree on one thing: the United States is under attack and cyber warfare is among the biggest threats to national security.

SESAY: Plus the accusation from a whistleblower in the Oxfam sex crimes scandal. We'll have all the details.




SESAY: America's spy chiefs are warning U.S. lawmakers they're certain Russia will try to interfere with November's midterm elections. The six U.S. intelligence agencies including the FBI, CIA and national security agency spoke at the hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday.

VAUSE: They warn the risk of global conflict is higher right now than at any time since the end of the Cold War. National intelligence chief Dan Coats expects the North Koreans will continue with their missile program, (INAUDIBLE) increasing threat to South Korea and Japan.

Also predicting cyber warfare will be waged by North Korea, China, Russia and Iran to challenge U.S. influence around the world.


DAN COATS, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Frankly, the United States is under attack, under attack by entities that are using cyber to penetrate virtually every major action that takes place in the United States.

From U.S. businesses to the federal government, to state and local governments, the United States is threatened by cyber attacks every day.


VAUSE: For more on this, Matt Rivers is with us live from Beijing. Also here in Los Angeles, Rod Beckstrom, former director of the National Cybersecurity Center.

Thanks to you both.

Rod, first to you. When I heard that senator -- that statement from the Director of National Intelligence, (INAUDIBLE) Russia; nothing unusual there.

But then the FBI director, Chris Wray, said this about China.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: One of the things we're trying to do is view the China threat as not just a whole of government threat but a whole of society threat on their end.

And I think it's going to take a whole society response by us.


VAUSE: That is stunning, "a whole of society threat" and will take will take a whole of society response. I mean, (INAUDIBLE) wheelhouse but what was your take?

ROD BECKSTROM, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL CYBERSECURITY CENTER: This is classic geopolitics. At the end of the day, geopolitics is driven by sociology and anthropology. So culture matters; society matters.

But so many of the Chinese people and Chinese society want to be more like America, is the truth. We are competing. We are the two great superpowers emerging for the next three decades or longer.

But you know and I don't think the FBI director emails can actually tell the American people, oh, get in line now. We've got a social challenge --


BECKSTROM: The beautiful thing about democracy is people do what they want.

VAUSE: OK, well, they don't have a lot of democracy in China. (INAUDIBLE).

So, Matt, the FBI director went to warn of the threat coming in the U.S. from visiting academics and students from China. This, too, is fairly gobsmacking. Listen to this.


WRAY: The use of nontraditional collectors, especially in the academic setting, whether it's professors, scientists, students, we see in almost every field office that the FBI has around the country. It's not just in major cities, it is in small ones as well. It's across basically every discipline.

And I think the level of naivete on the part of the academic sector about this creates its own issues.


VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) there hasn't been an official response from the government there but if we had wanted people along the lines of the U.S. (INAUDIBLE) Cold War thinking, we (INAUDIBLE) together, privately, though, is this likely to spark a lot of anger among the Chinese leadership?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it's going to spark some frustration in the kind of casual conversations that we've had on the sidelines with Chinese government officials about this kind of thing.

Of course, this is not the first time that the Chinese government has been accused of finding different ways in not only the United States but in Australia, for example, to collect information.

I think they get frustrated because they think that this is much ado about nothing; at least the officials that we speak to and of course we're not speaking necessarily to Chinese intelligence sources.

But they say that this is paranoid and that it is a Cold War mindset --


RIVERS: -- because it's just the United States looking for a bogeyman that doesn't exist, looking for -- they're just being paranoid and that the problem is definitely not what they say it is.

They say to accuse all Chinese academics or students of essentially being spies, well, that's a bit much. But we should also say that by saying that, the Chinese government opens up -- opens itself up to pretty logical accusations of being hypocritical because we know that the Chinese government is wildly paranoid about people like journalists, about visiting academics here in China.

Foreigners are often viewed by the Chinese government with a high degree of suspicion. So for the Chinese government to say they're frustrated about accusations from the U.S. in that sort of realm, they probably need to take a look in the mirror as well.


Rod, there is also this concern raised by Chinese telephone companies, like ZTE and Huawei, they sell a lot of equipment in the United States and they're increasing their market share.

The allegation, I guess, of the concern is the companies have very strong ties to the Chinese government and that equipment could be used to spy, I think one of the accusations was it is pre-packaged and ready to go.

BECKSTROM: One of the expressions in the trade is sometimes there's a back door they can get put in where data can get exfiltrated out of the device as the user doesn't know, the company doesn't know and data is going off to someplace in China or somewhere else.

That is a concern and it is often a concern with buying gear from major country providers around the world and certainly with Huawei, it is seen to be very close to the government.

So that was a legitimate issue; their market share is less in the U.S. because of it, compared to places like Europe, Africa and Asia.


And Matt, very quickly here, have any of the companies responded to this accusation?

RIVERS: ZTE, not yet, John, but Huawei did send us a statement just a little bit ago. They basically said we operate in 170 countries around the world, where there is trust. We pose no greater cyber security risk than any other vendor out there. And they can say that their senior management has never been asked to provide access to technology by any government or any of their agencies, so a pretty strong denial and the kind of denial, John, that we've heard them issue before.

VAUSE: OK, Matt.

Finally, Rod, back to the cyber issue of Russia hacking the upcoming midterm elections in November. The intelligence chiefs, they always seem resigned to the fact that this is going to happen, they're doing their best but they don't really have the president on board and that's a significant factor when we're trying to counteract something as serious --


BECKSTROM: They're appointed by him, largely --


BECKSTROM: -- the Russians have hacked for decades; the Russians are expert in intelligence, arguably the best in the world in human intelligence and these kind of operations.

I think they can't resist. It's too easy.


VAUSE: Well, it worked so well the first time.


BECKSTROM: -- and we're leaving our pants down. I mean, 13 states are still using electoral voting systems, electronic with no paper audits. That's indefensible. All those machines can get hacked and so it's important.

Pennsylvania, the governor, Tom Wolfe, just issued a directive, saying no more. You shouldn't buy any more election machines unless there's paper audits. This is important. This is what I hope our legislators will do when those 13 states are federally, which is say, no more electronic voting without paper audits because you're ripe for the hacking.

So the Russians are going to be active at it again but why don't we get prepared and get the base level technology?

VAUSE: If you value democracy you've got to spend a little bit of money, a little bit of investment.

BECKSTROM: And Ben Franklin said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. He's from Pennsylvania, where this was just done --

VAUSE: Wise words. Rod, good to see you. Thank you for coming in.

And Matt, if you're still with us, thanks to you as well in Beijing.

Oh, there he is.

Thanks, Matt. SESAY: Well, still to come, new revelations from a former Oxfam manager who says she warned years ago of a cult of sexual abuse among some of the aid agencies' workers.



ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles I'm Isha Sesay.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And I'm John Vause. We'll take the headlines this hour.

South Africa's President, Jacob Zuma could face a no confidence vote in the coming days if he does not step down. Party officials demanded his resignation on Tuesday. But for now, Zuma is standing firm, refusing to go and has denied any wrong doing despite hundreds of allegations of corruption.

SESAY: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied any wrong doing in two corruption cases. Israeli police said they had sufficient evidence to indict him on criminal charges. He's accused of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust. Israel's Attorney General will ultimately decide whether or not to indict.

VAUSE: The trial has begun for a 17-year-old Palestinian girl accused of slapping an Israeli soldier. Ahed Tamimi has been -- or was arrested rather in December when a video of the incident went viral. Many see her as a symbol of Palestinian resistance. Critics calls the video a publicity stunt.

SESAY: Well the Royal House of Denmark has announced Prince Henrik has died peacefully in his sleep with his wife and two sons by his side. A year ago he was diagnosed with dementia and has spent the past few weeks in the hospital for pneumonia when doctors found benign tumor in his lungs.

Over the years he's made no secret of his disappointment that his royal title never changed from prince to king consort when his wife became queen. He said it made him feel inferior and he did not wish to be buried next to her.

VAUSE: There you go. OK. A whistleblower has revealed more details about sexual abuse allegations against staff with the aid agency Oxfam.

SESAY: Now the charity denies covering up accusations that senior staffers paid for sex during relief efforts in Haiti and Chad. But the floor manager said there's much more to the story, details now with CNN's Erin McLaughlin.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pressure on Oxfam intensifies as a whistleblower speaks out. Helen Evans was the chief of safeguarding at Oxfam between 2012 and 2015.

In a lengthy statement she says that she was brought in in the wake of the Haiti sex scandal to implement safeguarding procedures to stop any exploitation or sexual abuse by Oxfam employees, part of her job, she work to strengthen the reporting mechanisms in place. She said after she did that, it soon came to life that what happened in Haiti was not an isolated incident. She pointed in her statement to specific statistics to illustrate that point.

She said that between 2012 and 2013 a total of 12 allegations was reported. Between 2013 and 2014 that number rose to 39 allegations reported. Of the 51 total, 20 allegations were either fully or partially substantiated. She also pointed to a specific date in February of 2015 in which three allegations were reported in the course of one day, she talked about that in an interview with Britain's "Channel 4"news.

HELEN EVANS, FORMER GLOBAL HEAD OF SAFEGUARDING AT OXFAM: There was one woman being coerced to have sex in humanitarian response by another aid worker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was a woman who was receiving Oxfam aid?

EVANS: 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 staff had been struck off for sexual abuse and hadn't disclosed that. We were then concerned about what he might be doing. And that was, yes, three allegations in one day.

MCLAUGHLIN: Evans also said that both Oxfam and the U.K. Charity Commission which is the regulatory body overseeing charities here in the United Kingdom did not sufficiently respond to her concerns that she communicated at the time.

Oxfam responding to those allegations in the form of a statement saying, "Thanks to Helen's work we have introduced a whole range of measures to improve how we deal with safeguarding issue. We regret we did not act on Helen's concerns quicker and with more resources."


The U.K. Charity Commission also responded to those allegations saying they took what she had to say back in 2015 very seriously and addressed it directly with Oxfam noting that she did not point during that time raised any specific instance of abuse. Erin McLaughlin, CNN Oxford, England.


VAUSE: And the British government is warning aid agencies will lose public funding if they failed to protect staff volunteers and the people they're actually meant to help.

SESAY: Yes. Oxfam leaders apologizing and admit they could have done more. Erin (INAUDIBLE) spoke to Oxfam's executive director.


WINNIE BYANYIMA, OXFAM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: We're not where we want to be yet but we are better than we were in 2011 and I really regret and I'm deeply hurt at what happened to those women in Haiti. I feel for them, I want justice for them and we have sent our regional director to Haiti to explore and to see what we need to do for justice to be done.


VAUSE: And Actress Minnie Driver is stepping down as one of Oxfam's global ambassadors, the first lovely spokesperson to lead the charity amid the scandal.

SESAY: In a statement Driver says, "I am nothing short of horrified by the allegations against Oxfam International. In no uncertain terms do I plan to continue my support of this organization or its leaders."

VAUSE: Well another talking point on Tuesday from the White House in the controversy of the former aid and accused wife beater, Rob Porter and who knew what and when. The administration is blaming their own office of personnel security for a delay in policy security clearance which would have alerted officials to those allegations. Porter resigned last week but denies the allegations.

On Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray derailed the White House narrative when he testified the bureau repeatedly told the Trump Administration about the claims of domestic abuse.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: The FBI submitted a partial report on the investigation and question in March and then a completed background investigation in late July that soon thereafter we received request for follow-up inquiry and we did the follow-up and provided that information in November and that we administratively closed the file in January.


VAUSE: Well for more, Peter Matthews is the Professor of Political Science in Cypress College. And Michael Genovese is the President of the Global Policy Institute at Loyal Marymount University. Thank you guys for being here.

OK. So keep in mind, hours after the FBI just to shot to pieces this shifting story coming out of the White House, we had the Press Secretary for the White House Sarah Sanders, she wasn't backing down is what she said.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I can only give you the best information that I have and that's my understanding. We're simply stating that we're giving you the best information that we're going to have. We relay the best and most accurate information that we have and we get those from those individuals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The scandal has been going on for a week no and we still don't have answers to the basic questions of sort of who knew what, when, whether General --

SANDERS: I've done the best I can to walk you through that process. As (INAUDIBLE) we've done that pretty extensively and I'd refer you back to all of the statements we've given on it.


VAUSE: So Peter first to you, do you think that Sarah Sanders and the White House communication team and everybody else, are they really doing the best they can to get this out there because it looks a lot like a cover up?

PETER MATTHEWS, POLITICAL SCEINCE PROFESSOR, CYPRESS COLLEGE: It's the -- it looks like a cover up to me as well. They're not doing the best they can, they're just playing the role of press secretary.

Here's the thing John, this is about how we treat women in America. Was my daughter (INAUDIBLE) my six-year-old daughter when she hears about this, this man who has given more value for his confidence as the presidential advice -- or assistant as opposed to how he treats people. And this is a horrible situation where -- the cover up was that they knew the FBI told them about this and yet they ignored it to keep what President Trump called a confident man in place.

VAUSE: And this isn't just about the White House not getting their story straight, it's not just the (INAUDIBLE) the question of who knew what, when brings us to the issue of security and concerns about how high level aid was working in the administration without appropriate security clearance. Democrat say he may not be the only one affected, many of them. Listen to this.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT A vast number of people with access to the nation's most important and consequential secrets made themselves have secrets as Rob Porter did, malign and despicable secrets and in this case --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying you're concerned that the blackmail risk could extend beyond Rob Porter?

BLUMENTHAL: That's exactly our concern.


VAUSE: OK. So Michael, among those who do not have full security clearance after a year of this administration, Jared Kushner at least according to the "Washington Post" the presidential son-in-law and advisor.


So there is clearly an issue here with people not being cleared to see very sensitive information.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, PRESIDENT OF THE GLOBAL POLICY INSTITUTE AT LOYAL MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: Well there's a cavalier attitude about it and that's what's so frightening because the potential for this to blow up in our faces is really very, very possible and is very, very real, these are people who could be blackmailed perhaps.

These are people who shouldn't have accessed to the most sensitive information that the United States has. And to have a cavalier attitude about it, well we'll just postpone it, we'll just put another six months or if we get caught, we'll just blame it on the White House personnel security office which is a miniscule little office of little importance in regards to this suggest that either they don't care or they got caught and now they're trying to cover up their own mistakes and that's probably the latter.

VAUSE: And not only was Porter allowed to keep his job, apparently he was in line for promotion, maybe assistant White House chief of staff, maybe even White House chief of staff according to some reports. As we say because he was one of the few people in the White House who was confidence at what he did.

This raises the question about the people the president has hired and also the promise, this promise that made during the campaign.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We're going to make America great again. We're going to use our best people. I'm going to get the best people. We're going to deliver, we're going to get the best people in the world. We don't want people that are B level, C level, D level. We have to get our absolute best. We're going to use our smartest and our best, we're not using political hacks anymore. It's a sophisticated chest match but I have the best people lined up. You need people that are truly, truly capable. We have to get the best people.


VAUSE: And Peter, not only is this administration not hiring the best people, apparently in our reports that anybody who was a never Trumper during the campaign or the man he just kind of steel for any positions within this administration.

MATTHEWS: Even though they were highly qualified in many ways, much more the ones he did hire including his own relatives, that's maximum nepotism to certain extend, bringing his family all the time and how qualified is Jared Kushner in foreign policy, in Middle East Policy? Hardly at all. I mean --

VAUSE: That's why (INAUDIBLE) from what he seen.

MATTHEWS: So we're seeing so much of that John and this is very dangerous for our country including what Michael mentioned is it's a security issue. This man could have been blackmailed and who knows who since people -- if anyone -- if a newspaper in England can find out about it, then certainly the North Korean intelligence (INAUDIBLE) people could point out about the background of Porter and what's going on with him.

VAUSE: A lot of this is now coming back to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. He's part (INAUDIBLE) by our Political Commentator Bill Chris, "In his short six months in the White House Kelly's already demonstrated that a general's uniform alone does not necessarily qualify him to chief of staff."

"This isn't the first time he screwed up royally. He lied about Republican. Frederica Wilson, the democrat. He praised Robert E. Lee. He claimed there would have been no civil war if people had only compromised on slavery. He contradicted Donald Trump on the wall. He called those who did not apply for deportation prediction through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals lazy. And now he's defended a man denied a security clearance because he was accused of beating up two ex-wives." Michael at this point, how long can Kelly stay in this job?

GENOVESE: Well you know, all our heroes have feet of clay but in the case of Kelly, he was put on such a high pedestal and he came in with such high praise from so many people and his performance has been so disappointing. How long can he last? As long as President Trump wants him there, it's a presidential decision and President Trump often says, "Public opinion be damned, I'm going to do what I want to do."

VAUSE: How going to get -- is there a replacement in the wings for Kelly because it seems anybody who have --

GENOVESE: Yes, Rob Porter. Rob Porter.

VAUSE: Well he may be out of contention now. This is a thing, so this is a --

MATTHEWS: There's no bench, there's no backup in this case at all, in the case of staff over there. I think this also shows the incompetence of the administration. And I'll tell you John, we're not -- we're in very rough waters right now and I hope they can get this together, I hope congress can do something about this as well. They're kind of (INAUDIBLE) in their duty too.

VAUSE: You know what is amazing is that by this stage in most other presidency, there's been some kind of major international crisis which (INAUDIBLE) we have not seen, so that will be interesting.

The other big headline regarding the U.S. president is that his longtime personal lawyer has confined -- or confirmed rather to CNN that he was the one actually paid the money to the adult film star, Stormy Daniels. She allegedly had an affair with Donald Trump years before the election. This is the statement, "In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal fund to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford, Stormy Daniels. Neither the Trump organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to this transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimburse me for the payment either directly or indirectly. The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful and not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone."

Michael, that seems that seems like that's going to be a hard sell when you look at the FEC laws on donations to electoral campaigns.


GENOVESE: Well let's be fair, it may be true, it simply not believable.


GENOVESE: And that's the problem, it just doesn't pass the smell test. How many lawyers give $130,000 out of the goodness of their heart to (INAUDIBLE) clean to, what, to keep quiet? No. And so I --

VAUSE: I got to say, I'm going to hire that guy if it's true.

GENOVESE: Yes. He's kind of what I want. But it's not really believable, it's not plausible, you know he's going to get the money somehow, somewhere, this is not -- he's not Santa Clause.

VAUSE: OK. One final note here, come this April which is four shows only, you can catch Stormy Daniels with her "Make America Horny Again" tour, she'll be at the Ultra General Club in Florida. By chance, just four short miles from Donald Trump's private resort, Mar-A-Lago, we wouldn't expect the president to turn up but if he was interested, it's not too far to go, I guess. Going to leave that one?

GENOVESE: Yes, just going to leave that one hanging because we're married and we don't want to get (INAUDIBLE)


MATTHEWS: I agree with you.

VAUSE: It could be research. For this administration, it could be research. OK. Peter and Michael, thank you so much.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

VAUSE: Appreciate it.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

SESAY: Yes. We're going to take a quick break after that.

VAUSE: Research.

SESAY: Yes. The U.S. reaches winter -- the Winter Olympic milestone. And coming up, the 31-year-old athlete who made it happened.


VAUSE: Have you (INAUDIBLE) have you ever tried? Just curious because I tried, I couldn't do it. No surprise there.

SESAY: It's safe to say I cannot.

VAUSE: OK, good.


VAUSE: But it has been a spectacular day for a veteran snowboarder at the Winter Game.

SESAY: And North Korea's pair skaters, they got a warm welcome from the crowd. Amanda Davis -- yey, Amanda Davis is Pyeonchang.

VAUSE: We welcome Amanda, yey.


VAUSE: Yes, Amanda.

SESAY: And Amanda welcome. As you can tell --

AMANDA DAVIS, CNN WORLD SPORT CORRESPONDENT: What a welcome. What have I done to deserve that?

VAUSE: Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

SESAY: Because you're out there in the cold and we feel sorry for you so take it away.

DAVIS: Oh well thank you. I have to say, it's actually a little bit warmer today (INAUDIBLE) it's really gray but it is warmer. We've got weather watch still to come. I know you are worried but I did manage to get my lunch today which, of course, is the most important thing after it blew away yesterday.

The events though have been affected again but as you said, we got to start with news from the halfpipe and the veteran U.S. Snowboarder, Shaun White. Having had all the snowboard events dominated by the youngsters so far, 17-year-old topping the podium today. White stepped up and state his claim for the older generation securing a record third halfpipe crown, 31 years of age.

He was in the silver medal spot going into his last run but wearing a snow suit inspired by the NASA space program, he put in a performance from another planet what he described afterwards as his best ever.


It was a faultless 97.75 to reclaim the title he lost in Sochi four years ago. There was a really long wait to discover his score. When it came, despite his experience, there was a big celebration with his fans, also celebrations for team USA there, 100 Olympic gold medal overall. The U.S. actually had high hopes but at least two golds today but they've got to wait to what happens with the other events after the third Alpine event in four days was canceled because of the wind.

After the men's downhill and women's giant slalom events are moved from Sunday and Monday. Today, it has been the turn of the women's slalom due to very, very high winds after the Alpine Center. So Mikaela Shiffrin's Olympic campaign delayed once again and we've just heard the start of the Nordic combined hill competition has also been delayed. But the IOC very keen to play down concerns that completing the events will be problem. There are still, of course, 115 days to go.

There's some reports of high winds down at the coastal venues as well where the super store actually being closed because of roof damage, that hasn't though affected the figure skating pairs events which is gone underway and that much anticipated Olympic debut of the North Korean pair of Ryom Tae Okay. and Kim Ju Sik. Despite the pressure, all the attention, they produce a personal best score to make it through to tomorrow's free skates. And also through on this Valentine's Day, married couple Alexa and Chris Knierim. Christina Macfarlane has been to speak to the Olympic lovebirds.


CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four years of marriage, a life-threatening illness, one broken leg, and just look at her. Chris and Alexa Knieriem are melting hearts on and off the eyes.

CHRIS KNIERIM, U.S. OLYMPIC PAIR SKATER: I got to be in professional mode when we're doing the big tricks to make sure I'm not wondering because of her good looks. But in between is where I can just look at her and skate and I think people in the audience can see the connection.

MACFARLANE: These lovebirds are the first married couple from the U.S. to compete at the Winter Olympics in 20 years. How does being in love help your performances on the ice because it really (INAUDIBLE)

ALEXA KNIERIM, U.S. OLYMPIC PAIR SKATER: I think we just share like -- we're soulmates, so when we're skating together, we really do feel like we're just one person together out there and it's very special for us because we know it's going to go beyond just a skating carrier but this is our life and we'll be able to tell our kids about it. So it goes much deeper than the traditional pair team.

MACFARLANE: But their path to Pyeongchang has been far from easy. In 2014 after Chris broke his leg, the couple was sidelined for a year. Then soon after they were married, Alexa was diagnosed with a rare, potentially fatal stomach illness.

KNIERIM: It's been the hardest two years of our life together. Fortunately we've had each other to lean on. Olympics is so special to us, we've been lacking the joy and happiness in life and it's so nice to be here at the games and really feel that.

MACFARLANE: All it mean to you both to compete here on Valentine's Day at the Winter Olympics.

KNIERIM: Well that will be really, really special. I think we will be the only married couple in the world to say that they got to skate at the Olympics on Valentine's Day.

KNIERIM: Absolutely.

KNIERIM: So we're setting a record there.

MACFARLANE: But no matter where they end on the scoreboard, this pair has already struck gold. I love it. Christina Macfarlane, CNN Pyeongchang.


SESAY: I'm feeling a little jaded there.

DAVIS: It's very, very difficult to follow that.

VAUSE: So did dry.

DAVIS: Oh my goodness. I've got to tell you Isha, four years ago in Sochi I got given on Valentine's Day in Russia, it's traditional to give people love flowers. So I've actually got a picture of me in front of the Olympic rings with a random Russian guy who came up with these yellow like weeds. Giving me flowers but I haven't seen anybody doing the same thing today sadly.

VAUSE: It's a mystery.

SESAY: We're sending you love Amanda. We are. Thank you Amanda Davis, appreciate it.

DAVIS: Thank you.

VAUSE: We've got to go. When we come back --

SESAY: We clearly lost our mind.

VAUSE: Yes, bye. An emergency landing in Hawaii, one passenger is calling it the scariest flight of her life (INAUDIBLE)



SESAY: Here's something you never want to see from your window seat. The uncovered engine of the plane (INAUDIBLE) rattling beside you with (INAUDIBLE) flapping in debris. United Airlines says part of the cover blew off during the flight from San Francisco.

VAUSE: The good news is pilots managed safe emergency landing in Honolulu and passengers described what happened.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had turbulence prior to this and then probably 15, 20 minutes later the plane just jolted and then it just started to shake. Everyone breakdown obviously. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tremendous bang and a pleading very sudden vibration, high frequency vibration that then settle down into a shaking because the engine now were shaking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then all of a sudden there was this on my (INAUDIBLE) that you just knew that there was something wrong. Well I guess it's not something that you would ever hear normally. Instant shock and panic is the most surreal experience of my life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know how they did it, thank God for the crew, that's all I go to say because they were calm and they help every -- it was just goodness horrible.


SESAY: Scary.

VAUSE: Well all's well that ends well but clearly some terrifying moments there but at least they're all safe.


VAUSE: You're watching NEWSROOM LA I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. We'll be right back with more after this.