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Florida School Shooting; Zuma Steps Down; Trump Finally Decries Domestic Abuse; Pence Talks About Encounter with Kim Yo-jong; Svindal Makes History in Men's Downhill; Shiffrin Gets Gold in Giant Slalom; North Korean Skaters Defy Offs to Make Finals; German Pair Dazzle with Gold Medal World Record; Canada's Men Begin Quest for Ice Hockey Gold. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired February 15, 2018 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour: another school shooting in the U.S. leaves 17 dead after an expelled student opens fire on his former classmates.

The party's over for Jacob Zuma. South Africa's scandal-plagued president steps down and the transition of power is now underway.

Plus the seminal question during Watergate is now being asked again: what did the president know and when did he know it?

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.


VAUSE: Investigators now closely looking at the social media posts of a Florida teenager, many were violent images; others made threats of mass killing. It seems he made good on those threats Wednesday, killing 17 people at his former high school.

Police say he pulled the fire alarm to draw students and teachers from their classrooms to increase the number of casualties. Some students recorded the horror on their cellphones.




VAUSE (voice-over): Nineteen-year-old Nicholas Cruise is in custody right now. A law enforcement source says he legally bought the AR-15 Star firearm used in the shooting and he passed a background check last year. Cruise has been expelled from that school because of disciplinary reasons.

And students describe the scene there on Wednesday as utter chaos.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard the gunshots. I went to my classroom immediately. I was -- I called my mom.

"Mom, there's a school shooter, there's a school shooter." I was (INAUDIBLE) crying. I went inside the classroom and I got down. They were all back to the wall and then I'm like, OK, I don't feel safe just like being like onto the wall like near the door. I went -- I went to the closet because I just felt safer in there. I sat in there. There was like 10-15 people in there.


VAUSE: Joining me here in Los Angeles, Steve Moore, a CNN law enforcement contributor and retired FBI special agent.

And in Palm Springs, California, Bobby Chacon, also a retired FBI special agent.

Let's start with the shooter because, Steve, normally these guys, then end up dead. Either they take their own life or they die in a shootout with law enforcement, Suicide by cop.

But this guy was taken alive.

What does that say to you?

And what does that mean for the investigation?

STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: It means one of two things. For the investigation, though, it means great things because he's going to lay everything out and we will learn from this.

But it means two things as far as why he didn't die in the shooting. Either he had someplace else to go, more scores to settle or he just didn't have the guts to do it. I interviewed a school shooter immediately after being arrested. And one of the things I asked him was, usually you want to shoot yourself.

And he said, I was going to. I just couldn't do it.

VAUSE: Bobby, it took police almost an hour to catch this guy. He was found in a nearby town. He still had plenty of ammunition. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had countless magazines, multiple magazines. And at this point we believe he had one AR-15 rifle. I don't know if he had a second one.


VAUSE: So, Bobby, plenty of ammunition and, to Steve's point, do you think the school was his only target?

What are the chances he was heading somewhere else, he wasn't done?

BOBBY CHACON, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, I don't know, it certainly looks like he could've been on his way somewhere else. But that begs the question of why he let himself get caught and didn't try to take out more people or why he didn't stay at the school and shoot even more people.

So certainly he, as we saw in San Bernardino, these people have more ammunition than they needed to carry out the attack that they did. So it does kind of beg the question and I'm sure the interrogators will find out if he did, in fact, have the intention of killing more people, either at the school or at another location.

VAUSE: Yes, because investigators are now looking at his social media posts on Instagram and he's seen with what looks to be a BB pistol; there is another image of him with a knife, another one has his face covered.

On other sites he has left violent messages like this.

"I want to shoot --


VAUSE: -- "people with my AR-15. I want to die fighting, killing a ton of people and I'm going to kill law enforcement one day they go after the good people."

So, Steve, does that indicate that maybe he had more victims in mind?

And why wasn't that a red flag?

Why didn't that in and of itself stand out for somebody to say this ain't right?

MOORE: That's blindingly red. I don't know why. I mean the fact that he was actually expelled for making threats, then you have this on a website, I don't know if it was easily traceable back to him or through an email address or something.

But there was more than enough to say this kid's got some issues. You have the behavior, you have the threats and you have the capability because he's got the guns and you have him saying, I want to shoot people.

What else do you need?

VAUSE: Well, not only do you have the social media posts, being expelled from school because there was a -- he was making threats apparently. Ask the kids at the school and it seems no one was surprised when they heard the name of the shooter. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had class with him sophomore year. I got assigned to a group project with him and he started talking to me. He told me how he got kicked out of two private schools. He was held back twice. He had aspirations to join the military. He enjoyed hunting. He always just seemed very quiet and strange.


VAUSE: So, Bobby, does any of this if you look at the social media stuff, what the kids are saying, being expelled, does this reach a legal standard where somebody is required to intervene here, maybe not law enforcement but maybe someone at the school, maybe some kind of community --


VAUSE: -- and the other question, too, how did someone like this kid pass a background check, keeping in mind he's 17, to go out and purchase an AR-15?

CHACON: Well, that's a separate question. But to address your first question, yes, it did rise. Florida has something called the Baker Act. And my niece is a schoolteacher in Florida. And they use it quite often for students like this.

It's actually used as a verb to Baker Act someone. It allows law enforcement to take him into custody for 72 hours, deliver him to a mental health facility for evaluation. Now that 72 hours can be expanded greatly after the evaluation. And all you need to do is show that the person has exhibited behavior that cause you think, without treatment, they will cause substantial harm to themselves or someone else.

And then you have to combine that with one piece of behavior. The piece of behavior can be posting on the Internet with a gun or purchasing a gun. So he clearly fit within the Baker Act. He could have -- law enforcement could have taken him in to a mental health facility and involuntarily committed him for 72 hours.

And those doctors could have done an examination and kept him longer. So this -- there was legal grounds for taking him off the street, had someone said something. They should have Baker Acted this kid, no question.


CHACON: -- the background check, we've got to see what was in his booking. You know, a background check that's a paper check, there is no interview with -- there is no -- you know, where these psychological things might come up and there is no -- probably there is no scanning of social media.

These background checks are very cursory; does he have a criminal record, does he have a felony conviction, certain things like that. These psychological problems -- and what the Baker Act is aimed at getting at often don't come up in very simple background checks. The background checks may be have to be beefed up and be more

substantial, you know, social media is one of those gray areas. Because you started invading freedom of speech and freedom of expression and when something becomes -- crosses the line between just bellicose verbiage and actual threats.

So it's really tough to allow the social media comments to come in. But we have to start looking at that. These threats on social media need to be taken much more seriously.

VAUSE: Clearly he made the threats and then on Wednesday he went back to the school. Listen to essentially what the Florida senator said about the preparation this kid had.


SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: The shooter wore a gas mask and he had smoke grenades. He went and set off the fire alarm so the kids would come pouring out of the classrooms into the hall. And, there, the carnage began.


VAUSE: Steve, when I heard about these details, that level of planning reminded me of Columbine.

MOORE: Yes, yes, it was very similar to Columbine and the fact that -- keep in mind, this kid went to that school. He knows what their tactics are to combat the active shooters, yes.

And so he knew what he knew had to defeat. And one of the --


MOORE: -- things that this school did was shelter in place, lock down everybody, well, to get him out.

What do you do?

You pull a fire alarm and then the smoke, the smoke didn't keep him from seeing. All he had to do was fire into the hallway and you were to get someone. It kept them from seeing him.

And it was meticulously planned and tactically a very sound -- and it's nauseating to say it -- but it was a tactically sound plan.

VAUSE: You talked about the fact that the kids and the school had a plan, that there are drills for this. They had prepared for this moment at school, went into lockdown, like so many other schools they have these drills and they prepared for this moment.

But listen to what one of the teachers said after all this was done.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We could not have been more prepared for this situation, which is what makes it so frustrating because we have trained for this. We've trained the kids for what to do and so the frustration is that we did everything that we were supposed to you. Broward County Schools has prepared us for this situation.

And to have so many casualties, it's very -- at least for me it's very emotional because I feel today like our government, our country has failed us and failed our kids and didn't keep us safe.


VAUSE: Bobby, is she right?

CHACON: Well, yes and no. I think that the planning and the training that they went through -- nobody ever says that it's going to prevent one of these acts. What it's designed to do is minimize the impact or somehow marginalize how many people get hurt and reduce that number.

That's what the training is for. This training that she's talking about them going through and what we saw them to day so well is really -- doesn't -- isn't geared to prevent an attack.

You can't prevent an attack like this with training like that. Now whether or not the government failed her, what I mentioned earlier about the Baker Act, I think the school system and maybe some of those teachers may have failed to get this kid Baker Acted.

And I think when the kid was expelled from the school, they may have thought, well, he's not our problem anymore because he's not here. So we're happy he's gone. However, we've seen this before, where they come back after they have gone for a while, to exact their revenge.

So I would be questioning if all these students knew this kid would have this capability or this potential, why some of the teachers wouldn't know that as well. And why the school resource officer might not have known and why one of these teachers didn't raise it to the level of a Baker Act situation.

VAUSE: There are reports out there, an e-mail went around, this kid was considered to be a threat but maybe, as you said, they were just relieved that he was no longer there.

You guys have got to stick around because we still have a lot more to get to on the story. So we will see you next hour. There's a lot of other angles which we haven't touched on so far.

So Steve and Bobby, we'll see you at the top of next hour. Thank you .

Now to South Africa, where Jacob Zuma has outlasted so many attempts to force him from power. Some called him the Teflon president. That streak, though, is now over. A string of corruption scandals finally led the ruling African National Congress party to demand he resign and threatened to hold a no confidence vote.

In a nationally televised address on Wednesday, Zuma announced he was out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACOB ZUMA, PRESIDENT, SOUTH AFRICA: No life should be lost in my name and also the ANC should never be divided in my name. I have, therefore, come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect.


VAUSE: There to the African National Congress, Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to be sworn in as president either Thursday, maybe Friday.

Broadcast journalist and talk show host Redi Tlhabi joins us now from Johannesburg.

So, Redi, you've got me today, no Isha, but it is nice to see you. The path is now clear for Ramaphosa.

Can he make good on his promise to rid the party of Nelson Mandela of corruption and abuse of power and convince voters it deserves another chance when elections are held next year?

REDI TLHABI, JOURNALIST: Well, John, we've already started seeing some arrests taking place this week, just yesterday before Zuma resigned, there were some raids at certain homes and businesses that are accused of benefiting unduly from public funds.

These are the people who have been prominent in South African society and business circles and they have enjoyed the protection of Jacob Zuma.

So it didn't take long. Just this week there have been some dramatic events. That's a good start. It's an auspicious start. By searching the (INAUDIBLE) that Cyril Ramaphosa has inherited a deeply divided and broken party and the fact that the ANC struggled to get rid of Zuma for so long, it is indicative of the fact that so many of them are tainted.

So Cyril Ramaphosa has a huge task ahead of him -- John.

VAUSE: Yes, the ANC (INAUDIBLE) deeply divided and Zuma may be gone but his allies are there, still holding --


VAUSE: -- some very senior positions.

So how long does Ramaphosa have?

And what has he got to do to bring some unity to this party?

TLHABI: So our biggest concern is about law enforcement actually works to investigate and arrest those who have been complicit. The (INAUDIBLE) if those ministers and former allies of Zuma get prosecuted, if Zuma himself gets prosecuted, then Cyril Ramaphosa will have actually started the process of cleaning up the party. But you know, John, I did say yesterday to Isha that politicians are self-serving. It is not inconceivable that so many of them will start supporting Ramaphosa. We are already seeing people who were staunch supporters of Jacob Zuma and critics of Ramaphosa already taking a turn and starting to talk about anticorruption, saying Zuma must go.

So it's not inconceivable that those people who have been the loudest supporters of Zuma have actually come around and will work with Ramaphosa, even if it's for self-serving reasons.

VAUSE: Well, politicians are the same the world over.


VAUSE: It was such an extraordinary day on Wednesday in South African politics. But late afternoon, Zuma was being interviewed on television. He seemed angry, he was defiant and essentially refusing to leave. This is what he said, listen to this.


ZUMA: What have I done?

In this kind of situation because assisting the policy, nothing has interfered. What I even -- why is this hurried? What are you rushing for?


VAUSE: But then something happened because a few hours later, he was again on television with his national address, announcing that decision to step down.


ZUMA: I must accept that if my party and my compatriots wish that I be removed from office, they must exercise that right and do so in the manner prescribed by the constitution.


VAUSE: Clearly he was not happy at this point but the speech, it was measured, it was calm. At times it was always warm.

What happened between that television interview and the address a few hours later?

TLHABI: Well, John, Jacob Zuma while imprisoned in -- on Robben Island, that famous prison with Nelson Mandela, while they were studying and getting law degrees, he was playing chess. So he's a chessmaster.

I think what he was doing then was to then have sympathy in the interview to unleash his anger, knowing that as a statesman, he's stepping down, he cannot say all those acerbic and angry words in his resignation. So I think it was strategic to say everything that he couldn't say, to let out in an interview and he chose the right interview and the right platform, wouldn't challenge him, wouldn't challenge his contradictions and he was able to say, what have I done.

Well, there is a litany of complaints. There is a long list of what he has done. And the biggest one for me are the many corruption charges that he faces, the biggest one for me are the many cases that he's lost in court.

These affects that cannot be disputed. So I'm surprised that he, of all people, doesn't know what he has done.

So I do think, John, that he was just playing, getting the sympathy, lashing out and knowing that when the world was watching in his resignation, he can only go so far. He didn't have the latitude to be as emotional.

VAUSE: But as strategery (ph), as they like to say in U.S. politics, Redi, so good to have you with us. Thank you very much.

TLHABI: Always, thanks.

VAUSE: And when we come back, the U.S. president is finally speaking out about domestic abuse and a famous question that is still important today.





VAUSE: More now on our breaking news, the deadly high school shooting in Broward County in Florida. At least 17 people are dead, others have included, including at least five who remain in a life- threatening condition.

The suspect, 19-year-old Nicholas Cruise is in custody. He's a former student. He was expelled for disciplinary reasons. Police believe he used an AR-15 Star semi-automatic firearm. His first court appearance is expected on Thursday.

It's perhaps the most famous, the most overused question in the midst of a political scandal, and it was first asked in 1973 during the Watergate hearings.

Republican senator Howard Baker from the great state of Tennessee was question then White House counsel John Dean.


SEN. HOWARD BAKER (R), TENNESSEE: What did the president know and when did he know it? (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: The hearings were televised nationwide and aired in prime time on the public broadcaster PBS. That according to the "L.A. Times." It drew audiences 5 to 6 times above normal. But the paper's TV critics, Cecil Smith, calling the hearings, "the best thing that has happened to public television since 'Sesame Street.'"

That question though, what did the president know and when did he know it, not only cuts to the very core of Watergate, it was a seminal moment in the United States, reaffirmation the office of the president is not above the rule of law.

Now a version of that question is being asked in the Rob Porter scandal. He's the senior presidential aide who was fired last week after "The Daily Mail" revealed his two former wives say they were victims of domestic abuse.

This scandal is now into its second week and we still don't have a straight answer to what this White House knew and when they knew it. Jessica Levinson is a professional (INAUDIBLE) at Loyola University law school.

And when I wanted to do this segment, I wanted to talk to you. So I thought this would be right up your alley. OK. Big picture first.

This is what it means when the U.S. is said or is described as a country of laws, not a country of men because if you're in China, no one asks that question to Xi Jinping. If you're in Russia, no one asks that question to Vladimir Putin.

JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: Well, that's exactly right. So we still expect that we respect the rule of law. We still expect that the president will realize that there are certain laws, that even he must adhere to, that there are three coequal branches, that when the Supreme Court says something, we have to recognize it, that when you may be subpoenaed, that you have to respond to that subpoena.

Just because you're president doesn't mean anything else for that. And I think what we've seen very slowly but consistently is the whittling away of that idea and the idea that actually power is consolidating with the president.

And I think it's just so apt for this question about Rob Porter, that what did the president know and when.

And we -- the truth is, of course, we don't know but we do know that there were people in the White House who knew that there was something amiss and should've done --


VAUSE: OK, with that in mind, here is reporting from CBS a few hours ago.

"One senior official told CBS News, 'The West Wing staff is coming apart at the seams.' Another criticized senior colleagues, saying, 'They're not telling the truth about Porter,' adding that it's become evident that multiple White House officials knew for some time about the allegations of abuse."

OK, so this is the question, knowing that these allegations before anybody else did and then maybe not being -- owning up to that or admitting that, in and of itself, is not essentially a big deal.

But when you look at the wider picture, that's when it becomes (INAUDIBLE).

LEVINSON: Well, let's take a key from Watergate. It's always the coverup that kills you, right, so if they knew and they didn't do anything about it, which, my sense is absolutely they knew and they didn't do anything about it or, maybe even worse, they knew and what they did about it was try to make sure that Rob Porter could keep his job and try and keep the FBI investigation quiet and try and let the office of personnel just continue to let Rob Porter working there.

But it's really troubling to me to see how the White House has handled this and, again, it's not just --


LEVINSON: -- the fact that you are enabling someone who has been accused by not one but two wives of domestic violence, it's that you're now lying about it. And that's always the thing that gets people.

VAUSE: Absolutely because this then raises questions about the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, and his role in all this.

"The New York Times" reporting, "Mr. Kelly told senior aides last fall to put an immediate end to granting new interim security clearances like the one given to Mr. Porter and directed them to resolve any issues preventing employees who then held them from receiving a full clearance, according to two people familiar with the discussion."

So with that in mind, the House Oversight Committee is now investigating Rob Porter's security clearance. Chairman Trey Gowdy put it this way.


REP. TREY GOWDY (R-S.C.), CHAIRMAN, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Who knew what when and to what extent?

And if you knew it in 2017 and the bureau briefed them three times, then how in the hell was he still employed?


VAUSE: So this is when we get into the possible wrongdoing by senior White House staff, right?

LEVINSON: That's exactly right. And let's just take a step back. This is Trey Gowdy, who was in charge of the Benghazi hearings, when he kept then candidate Hillary Clinton there for 12 hours at a time, saying what did you know when.

But I'm glad to see him saying the same thing with --


VAUSE: He is retiring.

LEVINSON: He is retiring and it's very clear from these remarks that he is retiring, that he's not running again for state. But that, what he's saying is right, which is the White House couldn't know that Rob Porter was accused of domestic violence. But if they knew and depending on what they knew, what they said to the FBI, when they asked the FBI for more information, when they said to the White House office of personnel, maybe we should put a little hold on this or maybe let's try and make sure that he does get permanent security clearance and whether or not they've been honest with us about it, that's when we start to have problems.

And, again, that's what gets back to your first issue, which is if there were -- if there was impermissible conduct, if the White House did break the law, then anybody, regardless of whether or not they work in a Blue House or a White House, should be held responsible.

VAUSE: OK, for a week now the press secretary Sarah Sanders has been trying to spin a new talking point on this. Wednesday's press briefing was scheduled for 1:00 pm Eastern. It was then pushed back to 2:00 pm Eastern. It was then pushed back to 4:00 pm and then was canceled altogether.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's not going to be a press briefing. (INAUDIBLE) but the White House is saying that in light of this tragedy, there will not be that regularly scheduled briefing (INAUDIBLE).


VAUSE: OK, we never know if it would have been canceled anyway regardless of the school shooting. But at this point for Sanders, saying nothing at all might be her best option.

LEVINSON: Oh, I think that's been true for her in so many instances, not just in this instance.


LEVINSON: Well, this -- it's, you know, a lot of people have said -- and this actually offends me -- well, how does a woman, like how does Sarah Sanders get out there and defend Rob Porter, who has been accused by his wives of domestic abuse?

And how does she justify what all these men have done with respect to, basically from John Kelly on, protecting Rob Porter? We shouldn't say how does a woman do it. We should say how does

anyone do it?

And so I'm so sick of, well, I have a daughter and so I understand. Or I'm a woman so I should think this way. But I will say that Sarah Sanders is in a terrible position because I think her talking points are essentially to make her go out there and either obfuscate or just throw so much mud on the lens that we can't tell what is up and what's down anymore.

VAUSE: And it seems to always come back to bite her. So after saying through -- after not saying anything for a week, the president is finally speaking out about domestic abuse. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, we're leaving. Make your way out.

TRUMP: Domestic violence -- and everybody here knows that -- I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that. And it almost wouldn't even have to be said. So now you hear it. But you all know it.


VAUSE: This sounded so similar in tone to when he was forced to disavow the former leader of the KKK, when he was forced to denounce white nationalists and Nazis. It just doesn't sound convincing. It's doesn't sound like he believes it.


VAUSE: Begrudgingly said.

LEVINSON: When you're backed into a corner and you have to say, I don't support racists, I don't support people who lynch other people because of their skin color --


VAUSE: -- beating up women --

LEVINSON: -- of any kind. I mean, I also don't know what that means, like so maybe some people think some domestic violence is OK. But the really egregious part is problematic. So, the problem to me isn't that it seems disingenuous. It is that we have a president who's been forced into taking these positions, where he says like, yes, basically I believe in goodness and I don't believe in badness.

I mean, or I don't like evil.

VAUSE: Yes, it seems like a no-brainer at the time but then it becomes this huge thing.

LEVINSON: And let's remember, most people aren't in that position. I don't ever go to work and have to defend myself and say, I just think that people who kill are bad. I want you to know that.

[01:30:00] VAUSE: Good to know Jessica doesn't like to kill us. OK, it was good to see you, Jessica, so thank you very much. It was really important to get sort of all of this sorted out because I think it's a little confusing for people who don't follow this stuff hour by hour it seems.

LEVINSON: Well and the Watergate example is great because what happened in Watergate is there was impact of respect for the rule of law because the Supreme Court ultimately helped us out on that.

VAUSE: So we'll see what happens. Thanks, Jessica.

LEVINSON: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well still to come here, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence opening up about that awkward encounter with Kim Jong-un's sister at the Winter Olympics.


VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause, we'll check the headlines this hour.

Police in Parkland, Florida are trying to find a motif in a school shooting which led 17 people dead. At least five others have life- threatening injuries. The suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz is in custody. Police say he was expelled from the same school for disciplinary reasons.

Jacob Zuma has stepped down as president of South Africa. He announced his resignation just hours after the ruling A.N.C. party called for a no-confidence vote. Zuma's presidency has been overshadowed by a string of corruption scandals. A.N.C. leader, Cyril Ramaphosa is now acting president and could be sworn in as the new head of state on Thursday, maybe Friday.

Zimbabwean opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai has died on Wednesday, he was aged 65 and was being treated in South Africa for colon cancer. Tsvangirai was the main challenger to former Robert Mugabe, we was beaten by police and arrested many times. Later became prime minister in a power-sharing agreement, that did not last long and he was never able to unseat his powerful rival.

Now that he is home from Pyeongchang, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is talking freely about how it could be the most awkward at the Winter Games. His encounter with the sister of North Korea's leader. Pence and Kim Yo-jong sat very close to each other at the opening ceremony and as the world was watching, Pence gave her the cold shoulder, refused to stand in the unified Korean delegation made his entrance.


MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I didn't avoid the dictator sister but I did ignore her. I didn't believe it was proper and for the United States of America to give any countenance to her attention in that forum. To someone who's not really the sister of the dictator but as the leader of the propaganda effort.


VAUSE: Paula Hancocks joins us now live from Pyeongchang. So Paula, how was this a missed opportunity Pence could have made a silence of diplomacy with the North? Other experts (INAUDIBLE) he really had no choice here.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well it was certainly a tricky position for the U.S. vice president to be into sitting so close to the North Korean leader's sister. And it's interesting the fact that he has said he did purposely ignore her.

It was what he had assumed at the time but very interesting to hear it from him. He pointed out that this is a family that has, for example, Kim Jong-un has killed his brother-in-law -- sorry, his half-brother at that airport with chemical agent. He also pointed out that he's murdered his uncle and saying that basically putting them in the same pocket, the brother and sister together.

So he's clearly pointing out that this was not something that the United States believe that they should be engaged in. Clearly, there's been some discussions before they had to sit down at the opening ceremony, they had decided this is what they wanted to do. Interestingly though, we have heard from the South Korean President Moon Jae-in and he has said that he believes the U.S. is ready to talk to North Korea.

So we're getting mixed messages from the U.S. side and also from the South Korean side. But certainly, as far as the South Korean president is concerned, the U.S. is ready to engage more with Pyeongyang. We also have an interesting survey act just this morning, this is a real meter survey, 500 people are asked and about 62 percent of South Koreans asked said that they were in favor of President Moon going to Pyeongyang and meeting with the North Korean Leader, Kim Jong-un.

Now this is a fairly high level, you consider there have been protests everywhere, these North Korean delegations have been going, so there's definitely some criticism being leveled at the South Korean government for engaging with the North Koreans but this latest survey suggest that there may be a majority that at this point do support an increase in engagement, John.

VAUSE: It does seem that this (INAUDIBLE) offensive which the North Koreans put on there at the Winter Games has paid incredible dividends for Kim Jong-un there up in Pyeongyang. The -- it seems almost beyond what they could have expect him.

HANCOCKS: Well, it's interesting because I spoke to the governor of Gangnam Province, this is where the Olympics is being held, he was in some of those meetings and he met Kim Jong-un's sister three times and he said that it really did exceed all expectations that the South Korean government had. They were happy that the North Korean delegation was going to come but

they had no idea just how far the North Korean delegation would try and push it saying that they were the ones who were saying, "Let's move faster, let's have more engagement, let's develop this relationship quickly." So it's almost sounding as though the South Koreans were holding back somewhat. And, of course, President Moon hasn't actually given an official response yet to that invitation to Pyeongyang.

So it puts him in a fairly tricky position, he's obviously -- if he's going to Pyeongyang has to come back with some kind of concession with something concrete at least with the proof, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has been talked about because these trial offenses -- offensive is all about sports at this point, it's all about sporting diplomacy. The nuclear and missile program has not really been touched yet as far as we know publicly, John.

VAUSE: We'll see if they're playing three-dimensional chess or hungry, hungry hippo I guess. Only time will reveal the answer on that one. Paula, thank you. Good to see you. When we come back, we'll have more on Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's long-suffering, longtime opposition leader, he has died, he has lost his battle with cancer.



VAUSE: A recap of our breaking news this hour, the shooting at a high school in Florida, 17 people are dead, at least 5 others have life- threatening injuries. The suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz will appear in court on Thursday. In this case, believe he set up a fire alarm and then shot victims with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle.

Finally here, look back at the life of Morgan Tsvangirai, he was the oldest of nine children, he once worked as a miner, he became a union official, and then prime minister. The longtime Zimbabwean opposition leader though died on Wednesday, he's being treated for colon cancer, he's just 65-years-old. Farai Sevenzo has more now on his life and political legacy.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Morgan Richard Tsvangirai's death was a death foretold in many ways. He's been suffering from colon cancer for several years and it was expected that he would soon pass away. But his passing away comes at a very important juncture in Zimbabwe's history. Robert Mugabe is gone, his longtime foe who as much as anyone would like to disbelieve really respected the opposition leader.

He was a man from a poor background, a trade union leader and his death will be so (INAUDIBLE) by Zimbabweans especially for the movement of democratic change partly that he founded. At only 65, he had been battling the disease of cancer but more importantly, he was the first person in opposition in Robert Mugabe, a much-feared leader in African politics who took him on and basically perhaps even won the 2008 elections but he fell out of that election and, of course, his supporters were being beaten up and being killed.

He'd be remembered as a very, very important figure in Zimbabwean politics and indeed is one of the most important figures of opposition in African politics. Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi.


VAUSE: And thank you Farai. And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. WORLD SPORT live from Pyeongchang is up next and you are watching CNN.


AMANDA DAVIES, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS ANCHOR: Welcome along to WORLD SPORT live from day six Winter Olympics here in Pyeongchang, I'm Amanda Davis. Do not adjust your TV sets it really is relatively warm, calm, and still day.


And after four days of events being affected by the weather, here on Thursday, everything has got underway as planned and up there on the downhill course, Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal has taken full advantage.

The 35-year-old made history, becoming the oldest man to win the Olympic downhill event ahead of his fellow Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud. He won by 0.12 seconds to complete quite a comeback after a serious injury. In fact, Svindal has had a multitude of injuries over the years including broken knees, ruptured Achilles, and gashes through is back but he has always managed to fight his way back to the top and now he is an Olympic downhill champion to add to his Super-G victory from 2010.

Been a busy all day up the Alpine Center in terms of the women, we certainly thought Mikaela Shiffrin haven't we and deservingly so and despite two days of delayed raises, the 22-year-old regroups to produce when it mattered in the giant slalom to claim her second Olympic gold after victory in the slalom in Sochi aged 18. Shiffrin's regarded as the best slalom skier there is at the moment. She wins her world cup debut at 15 and has been turning heads ever since in Sochi, she became the youngest Olympic slalom gold medalist and goes for her second gold in two days as she tries to defend that crown on Friday. She's actually expected to be going for gold in five events in all.

Also being a big day for the North Korean figure skating pair, Ryom Tae Ok. and Kim Ju Sik who on Wednesday defied the odds by advancing to the free skating pairs final. I was there to watch them a little bit earlier on, they got an incredible reception from the arena. Now the pair who were the only North Koreans to qualify outright for the games were well received not only by the crowd but also the North Korean cheering squad, their fellow athletes as well despite finishing 13. So they put in a fantastic performance. They will still be remembered for their remarkable style and grace at these game, very emotional moments for them.

We're taking the gold for the German pair of Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot setting a free program world record of 159.31 beating the previous record they set two years ago. They sort of volt from fourth after the short program to the top step of the podium. Well that gives the Germans their eighth gold medal of these games, widening their medal camp leads to three over the Dutch, Shriffin's gold volts the United States into third just ahead of Norway. Still, plenty more events to take place. Nine golds in total will be handed out on day six, so stay with us. WORLD SPORT will be right back.



DAVIES: Welcome back to WORLD SPORT live from Pyeongchang where it's day six here at the Winter Olympics, it's speed skating, cross-country skating and the men's biathlon still to come here today in South Korea but let's turn our attention to a huge champion league showdown back in Europe. We could cross live to CNN Center and Kate Riley, great to see you. Kate, bring us up to date.

KATE RILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS ANCHOR: All right. Thanks, Amanda. Well those (INAUDIBLE) are trying to win the champions league for third straight season at Real Madrid, the harsh reality is that this is a cloud where it doesn't take long probation with struggling head coaches who notoriously (INAUDIBLE) especially when you're a whopping 17 points behind rival's Barcelona in the lead.

And the omens were not good in this tournament and (INAUDIBLE) came to town and took the lead through Adrien Rabiot but they could not hold on to Cristiano Ronaldo leveled with the penalty before the (INAUDIBLE) struck again. In the second half reacting quickly for a 2-1 round. This is 115th in fact champions lead goal and they got even better for the 12-time European champions, Marcelo ensuring the host win the first leg, 3-1.

Now Ronaldo may have just turned 33 but there are no signs of decline, he became the first player in champions league history to score a century of goals for the same club. He's notched a 10 plus goals in seven consecutive campaign and how about this, see all seven total whole of 116 goals is more than 118 of the 137 teams that have ever managed to score in this competition. Yes, really quite something there.

Elsewhere, five-time European champion (INAUDIBLE) went to Portugal and (INAUDIBLE) who had only lost two games or season. Liverpool's Egyptian star, Mohamed Salah made it to now showing outstanding skill and composure to finish in style. However, it's (INAUDIBLE) whose grabbed the post-match headlines for the (INAUDIBLE) his third, a breathtaking strike, Liverpool, five new winners, this tie all but over.

All right. That's it from us now, here's Amanda back in Pyeongchang.

DAVIES: Well I've got a lot one. Thanks very much indeed Kate, that's the first time I've seen that coming up here later on Thursday. The Canadian men's ice hockey team start their quest for a third straight gold medal against Switzerland. Wojtek Wolski's journey to the games is nothing short of remarkable.

The former NHL star fractured two vertebrae during a game playing in Russia unless doctor's wondering if he'd walk again. And now just 16 months later, he's not only walking but playing hockey at an elite level representing Canada here at the games and I manage to catch up with him before he took to the ice.


WOJTEK WOLSKI, CANADIAN ICE HOCKEY FORWARD: My first thought that I was paralyzed and now I just had these bells in my mind going off and when I think about it right now is just total darkness and just alarms going off my head to my hands and move my feet and just got louder and louder and louder until I could feel my hands and feet and at that point I was just thinking, "OK, am I going to walk?" And then once I could move I said, "OK, what's my life going to be life from there?"

DAVIES: How much does hockey play a part in that kind of recovery? Could you even think about it or was getting back to playing hockey the motivation?

WOLSKI: I think at the beginning, I was thinking of my kids. I had a boy already and we had one on the way, we had a baby girl but that was my first thought. I was -- it was just imagining what life would be like if I couldn't walk, if I had nerve damage or lasting nerve damage and just not being able to play with them and that was what I was thinking about at the beginning.

From there, hockey crept into my mind and I thought about am I going to be able to play again? And once they said that, "We think you'll heal" that was the next thought was, "When can I get back? How quickly can I get back?" And then the idea of playing the Olympics came about. I struggled with depression when I was in the NHL and there were times I didn't want to play hockey but there were other times that I didn't want to live anymore.

So that is something I went through, I think it made me stronger, I think that maybe got me ready for this obstacle. I'm just so grateful that I could be here.

DAVIES: It's an incredible story. You have a long hockey career, where does the Olympics rank in your life? What you've done in your career?


WOLSKI: It's definitely the peak. Having my kids, that was probably the best thing that's ever happened to me but in terms of my career the Olympics is the combination of everything I've ever done and it just seems like it makes it all worth it.

All the trial accumulations, all the downs and things you think about during your career, the injuries and I don't know if I can go anymore, I don't know if this is it, maybe I should quit, maybe I should retire, I think every athlete goes through that at some point, everybody has their own obstacles that they have to overcome. So to be able to make this team and be here, it just -- it's astounding. So I think this is something that my dad probably helped me with.

I remember growing up and he would always say, "You never fail until you quit." So that was definitely a message that I replayed in my head when things got hard and I was kind of looking for the easy way out.

DAVIES: Of course, it's a very different hockey competition, these games, because the NHL players aren't here. Does that give you extra motivation to almost prove what we can do even without those guys?

WOLSKI: I think so. I know some people are disappointed that the NHL players weren't here and I was disappointed at the beginning because I thought I'd be watching, right? But now that we're here, I think this is our time. I think we've got to prove to ourselves and to Canadians and the world that this is the stage that we can play on and then we can win gold.


DAVIES: An incredible story and he take to the ice a little bit later on as Canada begin their campaign against Switzerland. Just time to tell you that France have won another gold medal, Pierre Vaultier has claimed victory in the snowboard cross successfully defending his title from Sochi four years ago.

Christina Macfarlane will be here joining me in the next edition of WORLD SPORT in 45-minute time reflecting on everything that's happened up at the Alpine Center today, the men's downhill and the women's giant slalom. I hope you can join us and but for me and the team now from Pyeongchang thanks very much for watching. Bye-bye.