Return to Transcripts main page


Russians Charged with U.S. Election Meddling; Florida School Shooting; Pakistani Court Sentences Zainab's Killer to Death; Munich Security Conference; South Africa's Ramaphosa Ushers in New Era; PyeongChang Olympics 2018. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired February 17, 2018 - 05:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Information warfare: new charges in the Russia investigation describe the use of a virtual network to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.

CNN heads to Haiti to investigate the Oxfam prostitution scandal.

And a standing ovation for this Japanese skater, dubbed the Michael Jackson of ice skating.

Not a bad nickname there. Hello. We're live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.


ALLEN: Our top story: the Russia probe that U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly dismissed as a hoax has now led to very real federal indictments against 13 Russian operatives.

The charges filed by special counsel Robert Mueller paint a vivid picture of well-funded Russians pretending to be Americans. They set up fake social media accounts and spread dirt about Hillary Clinton. They championed Donald Trump and even communicated with unwitting members of his campaign.

The president's initial reaction to the indictment said nothing about the attack on U.S. democracy. Instead, he tweeted about himself and repeated again, quote, "no collusion."

Later he released this statement, "It's time we stop the outlandish, partisan attacks, wild and false allegations and farfetched theories, which only serve to further the agendas of bad actors like Russia and do nothing to protect the principles of our institutions."

In unsealing the indictments Friday, deputy U.S. attorney general Rod Rosenstein described the Russians as meticulous and well funded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROD ROSENSTEIN, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.

The defendants allegedly used that infrastructure to establish hundreds of accounts on social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, making it appear that those accounts were controlled by persons located in the United States.

They used stolen or fictitious American identities, fraudulent bank accounts and false identification documents. The defendants posed as politically and socially active Americans.


ALLEN: The indictment specifically charges a Russian group known as the Internet Research Agency, that group has been called a troll farm. The indictment alleges it used social media to stir up division and interfere in U.S. politics.

For more on the agency and Russia's take on the indictment, CNN's Matthew Chance joins me now live from Moscow.

And perhaps no big surprise, Matthew, as you have reported that the Russians maintain their innocence from all of this.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This whole investigation into collusion or allegations that Russia somehow meddled in the U.S. presidential election and in U.S. politics has, all along, been dismissed by the Kremlin and virtually every other Russian official as well.

It's no different in the aftermath of this latest indictment from the Mueller investigation in the United States. Maria Zakharova, who is the foreign ministry spokesperson here in Russia, saying that it was absurd, it was absurd that just 13 people would be able to stand against the multibillion dollar budgets of the U.S. security services.

Her boss, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, has also dismissed it, saying he's heard much talk about state interference in the U.S. election process but he says, I haven't seen a single fact to date.

But as you mentioned there were three companies, 13 individuals, three companies in Russia that were identified in this indictment as being involved in election meddling. One of them, known as the Internet Research Agency, was set up with the specific purpose, according to the indictment, basically to sow discord in the United States.


CHANCE (voice-over): In May 2016, a small group of anti-Islamic protesters gathered outside a Muslim community center in the U.S. city of Houston.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down with the Nazis.

CHANCE (voice-over): Across the street, a counter rally formed. And the two sides hurled abuse in a stark illustration of American division and discord.

The organizers were thousands of miles away, in St. Petersburg --


CHANCE (voice-over): -- Russia, working for a secretive organization which, according to a recent U.S. indictment, had a strategic goal: to sow discord in the U.S. political system.

Its name, the Internet Research Agency, dubbed the Kremlin troll factory by former employees who smuggled out these rare cell phone images. In 2016, CNN spoke to a Russian journalist who went undercover as an Internet troll there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The U.S. elections are the key issue for the Kremlin. And of course, Russia has invested a lot of effort into them. That's why the troll factories are working, I have no doubt.

CHANCE (voice-over): It was during the Russian-backed rebellion in Ukraine in 2014, that evidence first emerged of pro-Kremlin troll factories, filled with bloggers paid to spread false information online about the conflict.

And this is the Russian oligarch, who, according to the U.S. indictment, bankrolled the troll factory operation. Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as Putin's chef, because one of his companies provides catering services to the Kremlin, has denied any guilt.

"Americans are very impressionable people," he told Russian state media. "They see what they want to see. I have great respect for them. I'm not at all upset that I'm on this list. If they want to see the devil, let them see one."

But it is the devilish work of Russia's Internet trolls and the social divisions they have incited that the U.S. has now moved firmly against.


CHANCE: Perhaps one silver lining for the Trump administration is that, when the deputy attorney general of the United States, Rod Rosenstein, announced this indictment, he said that there was no allegation that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity.

Nor did he say that the meddling altered the outcome of the election. But the indictment does go on to say that the meddling effort may have been aided by what it calls "unwitting individuals" associated with the Republican nominee; of course, Donald Trump, at the time.

ALLEN: All right. Matthew Chance for us there in Moscow, thank you. Let's talk more now from London, joining us, Leslie Vinjamuri. She

teaches international relations at the University of London.

So we just heard that report from Matthew, Leslie. Nothing new from the Russians, deny and deny. However, in the indictment, it claims Russia was involved at the highest levels of government and it includes Vladimir Putin.

What do you make of it?

LESLIE VINJAMURI, SOAS UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: Well, it is an extraordinary indictment that's come out and it's extraordinary that there was no leaking of it. Mueller's investigation has been very soundproof in that sense.

But what it really does do is it focuses the national conversation very much on the most significant issue, which I think we've frequently lost throughout the course of highly partisan politics over the last 12 or 13 months.

But it really focuses the conversation on Russia's interference in the U.S. politics, in the electoral campaign, going back to 2014. So really predating the 2016 presidential election, which is very significant.

Nonetheless it does say that the meddling, the operations, the interference really picked up steam after Trump got the nomination and increased efforts were made and clearly on behalf of Trump and with the intention of undermining Hillary Clinton's campaign.

It is a very significant set of charges, though, because it is highly detailed. It tells a very rich story but it marshals very specific evidence against specific individuals to demonstrate the violation of federal criminal law.

So while none of these individuals are ever likely to turn up in court, he won't likely get access to them, it is very, very specific.

And I think that is incredibly important, given the fact that there has been so much effort to try to undermine the credibility and legitimacy of this entire investigation, frequently, unfortunately, by the President of the United States.

So this really does make it clear that this has not been made up, that the evidence is just alarmingly specific.

ALLEN: Let me correct what I said. It does not specifically name Putin but does, as Matthew pointed out, it details his chief, who spent millions on election meddling, according to the indictment.

Let's look at the president's response, the U.S. president's response via his tweet, Leslie.

"Russia started their anti-U.S. campaign in 2014, long before I announced I would run for president. [05:10:00]

ALLEN: "The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong. No collusion."

So the president didn't endorse the findings, he went on the defensive as usual, talked about himself. He didn't offer support or thanks to the Justice Department for what it has reportedly uncovered as an attack on U.S. democracy. He didn't express outrage or anything close to it.

What do you make of his continued denials and defensiveness?

VINJAMURI: Well, I think it is a missed opportunity actually for the president. It is true that this particular indictment doesn't say anything, it doesn't issue a finding. It is silent on the question of collusion, which, of course, is part of the ongoing investigation.

And I think we all suspect that we'll learn more about that. That is not what this is about. And it also doesn't make any findings, as the president noted in his tweet, about the impact. That is not something that Mueller is looking at or can really effectively assess. That is very difficult to evaluate.

Nonetheless, it was an opportunity for the president to say that it matters to all Americans, not simply to Republicans or Democrats. This matters to the Internet companies; it matters to the tech companies, who have been subject to this interference campaign, to a number of specific individuals.

But more broadly, to the country, to the country's democracy and, frankly, to all democracies. And it is an opportunity for the president to also refocus the conversation and to underscore the significance of ensuring that efforts are taken, very concrete efforts, to try and block this kind of interference, especially now that we are in an election year; midterm elections are coming up.

But, instead, unfortunately, the tweet, I think, demonstrates the president's very personal concern with whether or not the investigation is targeting him and the people that have been supporting him throughout his campaign and during his presidency.

ALLEN: We thank you as always, Leslie Vinjamuri for us from London. Thanks, Leslie.

VINJAMURI: Thank you.

ALLEN: The U.S. President is now in Florida where he mourned the loss of 17 people, young people and teachers, killed Wednesday in a school mass shooting before heading to his Mar-a-lago resort. The president visited a hospital and spoke with two of the wounded.

He said it is, quote, "very sad something like that could happen."

But he didn't answer questions about whether any changes were need in the nation's gun laws. The president also met with law enforcement officials, thanking them for their response to the shooting. And we're learning more about the confessed gunman from a closed Instagram group that Nikolas Cruz belonged to. In it, photos of Cruz illustrate his obsession with guns and violence and, among hundreds of racist comments, he talks about hating Jews and killing Mexicans.

Meantime, Florida's governor is calling on the FBI director to resign after the agency admitted protocols were not followed in the school shooter case. Last month a caller gave information on a tipline about Nikolas Cruz's gun ownership and desire to kill people.

But the FBI did not follow up appropriately.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The information was not provided to the Miami field office. And no further investigation was conducted at that time. The FBI still is investigating the facts of this situation. We will conduct an in-depth review of our internal procedures for responding to information that is provided by the public.


ALLEN: Cruz's lawyer says the suspect intends to plead guilty to the school shooting so he can avoid the death penalty. It could happen in court on Monday. Our Kyung Lah has more on that troubling revelation of an apparent FBI foul-up.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As police comb through the crime scene where 17 innocent victims were gunned down Wednesday, the FBI admits they did not act on a warning that may have prevented the massacre.

JOSH CAMPBELL, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: This is the nightmare, where you look back and identify that there was perhaps information in your holdings that could have saved lives.

LAH (voice-over): On January 5th, a person close to Nikolas Cruz reported specific details about his guns and his intent to carry out a school shooting to the FBI, information the bureau says should have been handled as a potential threat to life but wasn't.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My heart was broken.

LAH (voice-over): The FBI says protocols were not followed.

CAMPBELL: This is organization of human beings. Even with some of the most advanced training in the world, there is absolutely no way to eliminate human error.

LAH (voice-over): In a statement, FBI director Christopher Wray writes, "We have spoken with victims and families and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy." The January tip is just the latest in a long line of red flags raised

by neighbors, classmates and social media users, warnings that, if acted upon, may have saved --


LAH (voice-over): -- children.

FRED GUTTENBERG, VICTIM'S FATHER: My job is to protect my children. And I sent my kid to school.

LAH (voice-over): Fred Guttenberg's 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was among the youngest victims in Wednesday's massacre.

GUTTENBERG: Jaime took a bullet and is dead. I don't know what I do next.

LAH (voice-over): According to the county school superintendent, Cruz was expelled from Stoneman Douglas High School last year. Disciplinary records show he was involved in an assault last January. Afterwards, the school recommended a threat assessment. But it is unclear what came of it.

Tyler Salamone (ph) went to elementary school with Cruz.

LAH: What could have led him to do this?

TYLER SALAMONE, FORMER CRUZ CLASSMATE: I don't know what could have. (INAUDIBLE) do this? I just know that no one has really been there for him.

LAH (voice-over): The two attended smaller classes for students with developmental issues.

SALAMONE: Every time when I would see him, he was like start to get angry. He kind of like just close up, I guess. And, like I said, when the kids would walk in, like the people that bullied him or outcast him, he would close up and go into a shell.

He was autistic and had anxiety, so he had to learn differently.

LAH (voice-over): More recently, concerned neighbors took this video of Cruz in his backyard, wearing what looks like a red Trump campaign hat and boxer shorts, shooting what appears to be a BB gun.

Since 2010, police have been called to his home 39 times for domestic disturbances, abuse and one report of a mentally ill person. But Cruz's involvement is unclear.


ALLEN: Our Kyung Lah there reporting from Parkland, Florida.

CNN heads to Haiti to learn more about charity workers accused of using prostitutes while assisting earthquake victims. We'll hear from our Cyril Vanier about that in a moment. Plus top policymakers gather in Germany for a major security

conference. We're live there, coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM.




ALLEN: A court in Pakistan has sentenced to death the man they charged with killing 7-year-old Zainab Ansari in early January. Shortly after she went missing, the little girl was spotted on closed circuit TV, being led away by a man. And her body was found four days later, heaped on the top of a trash pile.

The court found 24-year old Imran Ali guilty on four counts, including abduction, rape and murder.


ALLEN: Protesters marched across the country when Zainab was found. They demanded justice and better protection for children against sexual predators. This has been a big issue in that city.

The British charity Oxfam says it is reviewing the agency's practices after several staff members were accused of using prostitutes while they were deployed in Haiti. The aid group denies it tried to cover up their behavior, which allegedly occurred following Haiti's disastrous earthquake of 2010. Our Cyril Vanier reports from Port-au- Prince. He spoke with Haiti's foreign minister about the scandal.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barbed wire, tall walls: this compound is like many others in Port-au-Prince. Yet this is one of the villas at the center of the Oxfam prostitution scandal.

The security guard is edgy. No cameras allowed.


VANIER (voice-over): This apartment complex was rented by British aid agency Oxfam back in 2010 at the height of the earthquake relief effort. And Oxfam confirmed to CNN it is one of two locations in Port-au-Prince where their staff brought prostitutes.

We spoke to neighboring store owners who were here at the time. Some of the vendors, like Joel Charles (ph), knew NGOs like Oxfam were staying in the area. But Joel (ph) says he was surprised to hear of the allegations.

The man of the center of it all left the country seven years ago. Roland Van Hauwermeiren, a Belgian national. He ran Oxfam's operations in Haiti during the earthquake. In an internal investigation, he admitted bringing prostitutes to his personal villa but those details were not made public at the time.

He was forced to resign in 2011. "The Times" newspaper in London first reported the allegations and CNN has been unable to reach Roland Van Hauwermeiren for comment. On Thursday, he spoke to Flemish media and hit out at what he calls "exaggerations."

ROLAND VAN HAUWERMEIREN, FORMER OXFAM HAITI OPERATIONS DIRECTOR (through translator): I don't feel good about the people who, of course, are told by perhaps less professional journalists that Oxfam is an instrument that keeps sex orgies with the money from good civilians. That is really not true.

VANIER (voice-over): Back in Haiti, authorities are launching their own investigation to find out exactly what happened. The foreign minister tells me he hopes it will lead to arrests and ultimately prosecution.

Prosecuted where?

ANTONIO RODRIGUE, HAITIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): A Haitian court, a Haitian court because the alleged actions were committed in Haiti and it involves Haitian women. So definitely a Haitian court.

VANIER (voice-over): Mr. Rodrigue also says Oxfam is not currently in danger of being expelled from the country.

At a public park in Port-au-Prince, emotions are mixed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): From what I'm hearing about the NGOs, exploiting the vulnerabilities of the youth, they are poor and living miserably. And if things don't change, it will always be the same.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's something that's not good for the country.

VANIER (voice-over): Exploitation is a word we heard a lot here, after a string of scandals involving NGOs in recent years, Haitians feel let down by aid groups.

RODRIGUE (through translator): These people who came to help, they profited from the misery, the vulnerability, its abuse, its exploitation. What happened is horrible.

VANIER (voice-over): Cyril Vanier, CNN, Port-au-Prince.


ALLEN: Hundreds of top policymakers are gathered in Germany this weekend for this year's Munich Security Conference. British prime minister Theresa May spoke a short while ago and we expect to hear from Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov -- there he is arriving -- in the next hour.

And we're waiting to find out if the talks about the U.S. indictments of 13 Russians over election meddling come up. CNN's Nic Robertson is covering this conference for us and he is live in Munich.

And that would be interesting, Nic; certainly there is much on the table involving this conference with the issue in Syria and Brexit. But certainly this has been major breaking news involving the Russia investigation.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, and the Russians that we've heard from, officials that we've heard from on this issue, have pushed back on this, something that clearly disturbs and upsets them and makes them angry.

Whether Sergey Lavrov will get into that in his speech today isn't clear. Certainly will be a question people will be trying to ask him if he doesn't.

What we've heard a lot of this morning is European security, specifically Theresa May, coming here with a very important Brexit message. She has important Brexit decisions to make back in the U.K. in this coming week, very important for her leadership.

But here, what she wanted to do was --


ROBERTSON: -- stress the importance of the commonalty of threat that all European countries have and, therefore, Britain wants to remain part of an effective European mechanism to tackle those threats, particularly terrorism. This is what she said.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: These people don't care if they kill and maim Parisians, Berliners, Londoners or Mancunians because it's the common values that we all share, which they seek to attack and defeat.

But, I say, we will not let them. When these atrocities occur, people look to us as leaders to provide the response. We must all ensure that nothing prevents us from fulfilling our first duty as leaders to protect our citizens. And we must find the practical ways to ensure the cooperation to do so. We have done so before.


ROBERTSON: So that was the idea, commonality, but the proposal she put forward, she said she wants a new European partnership with Britain over commonalty on security, where there would be a convergence, if you will, or a meeting of minds on how U.K. and E.U. law would work together on this issue, that there would be a commonalty and alignment of data protection and there would be a dispute resolution mechanism where they didn't see eye to eye.

This really appears to sound here as if the prime minister recognizes that there is coming pushback from the European Union over how this commonality may continue and this cooperation may continue in the future. We heard from the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker speaking shortly after Theresa May, outlining his views on European security.


JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION (through translator): This security alliance, the security bridge between the U.K. and the E.U., will be maintained. We still need it.

However, you cannot mix up this question with other questions that are important in the context with Brexit. You have to look at them individually and you have to answer questions matter by matter. But I do not want to mix up security policy considerations with other considerations.


ROBERTSON: So this seems to be what Theresa May was talking about, that institutions and mechanisms, current European Union institutions and mechanisms, shouldn't get in the way of the security cooperation. Jean-Claude Juncker there saying, well, let's not mix this and that together. So in a sense here, diplomatic language, yes; but a pushback from the European Commission president towards what Theresa May was saying. I'm sure we'll hear a lot more of this to come.

ALLEN: All right, thank you, Nic Robertson, covering it all for us from Munich. Thanks.

And President Trump may wish the Russia thing would go away but that seems unlikely.


TRUMP: The entire thing has been a witch hunt and there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign.


ALLEN: Numerous Russians now face federal charges for interfering in the U.S. election and it may well be just the beginning. We'll have more about that coming up here.

Plus South Africa's new president promises to boost the stagnant economy and usher in a new dawn. We'll have an interview. CNN NEWSROOM continues on here.





ALLEN: And welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen with the headlines this hour.

(HEADLINES) ALLEN: Thirteen Russian operatives now face federal charges of interfering in the 2016 presidential election. The accusations brought by special counsel Robert Mueller include identity theft and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

The so-called trolls are accused of setting up fake social media sites to damage candidate Hillary Clinton. They also promoted Republican Donald Trump and even had contact with unwitting members of his campaign.

President Trump reacted to the indictment with this statement, "It's time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations and farfetched theories, which only serve to furthers agendas of bad actors like Russia and do nothing to protect the principles of our institutions."

For more now on how the White House is handling the development, here is CNN's Jeff Zeleny, traveling with the president in Florida.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: President Trump spending the weekend at his presidential retreat in Mar-a-lago, Florida. Now, of course, in the wake of the indictments back in Washington, certainly hanging over the Trump administration once again.

For more than a year, the president has been saying the Russia meddling investigation is a hoax, a witch hunt. That was proven to be not true, at least in the view of the Department of Justice, handing down 13 indictments in the most sweeping case yet of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Now, of course, the president has said that simply nothing happened. He has recounted the fact when he talked to Vladimir Putin last November in Vietnam during the APEC Summit that he believed Vladimir Putin's denials of any Russian meddling.

But the Department of Justice today said that was simply not the case. They went song and verse in a 37-page sweeping indictment about how the St. Petersburg --


ZELENY: -- Internet factory simply meddled in the election, in this U.S. election here. The president though had this to say on Twitter in response.

He said this, "Russia started their anti-U.S. campaign in 2014, long before I announced I would run for president. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong. No collusion."

So certainly President Trump seizing on the fact that he said that there was no suggestion there was collusion. He did not talk about the fact that Russia, indeed, meddled in the election, at least in the view of the Justice Department, which, of course, follows in the line of all of the thinking of the top U.S. intelligence chiefs here in the United States.

So as this goes forward, of course, this is the beginning, not the end of the findings of the Mueller investigation. Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist for the White House, spent more than 20 hours this week alone before Bob Mueller's team.

What was he asked, what did he tell?

That, of course, will come in the days and weeks and months to come perhaps. But the president, for now, spending the weekend here at his retreat in Florida, perhaps playing some golf. But clearly the Russia investigation still weighing on the Trump presidency -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.


ALLEN: As you might expect, Democrats in Congress have plenty to say on the matter. Here is just a sampling of their reaction.


REP. DENNIS HACK (D): On page one of this indictment is the following sentence and I want to read from it briefly.

"From in and around 2014 to the present, defendants knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other" -- and here is the relevant language -- "and with persons known and unknown to the grand jury to defraud the United States," et cetera, et cetera.

This indictment of these 13 individuals is not the end of it, just like the indictments of Mr. Manafort, Mr. Gates, Mr. Flynn and Mr. Papadopoulos weren't the end of it at all. To be continued.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CONN.), MEMBER, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: What Donald Trump says or does is, in my view, less important than what the American people say and do. They ought to be outraged and furious.

It was, in fact, informational warfare. That is the term the Russians used to describe it. And it is repeated in the indictment. And it went on for years.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, the indictment is a clear message to all Americans that the Russians are now criminally held responsible for influencing the election.

There has been so much by the president himself trying to suggest that, oh, we don't really know what is going on, maybe the Russians, maybe someone else. And so there hasn't been the clarity. And so a lot of people have thought, why are you even investigating them?

So now I think it will be more understandable to the American public.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN: The former director of U.S. national intelligence is worried the Trump administration is doing nothing to stop Russian interference in U.S. politics. Listen to what James Clapper told our Anderson Cooper.


GEN. JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: The tradecraft, the sophistication that the Russians -- which we had seen and how it is spelled out for all to see -- so I thought it was a very, very damning and compelling document.

What is singular and different to this is really a peril to the country. And to me, that transcends, whether there was collusion or not, all that, that is significant, sure; if that is proven to be the case.

But what's a greater danger to the country is the lack of response to this. We haven't punished the Russians, we don't have a whole-of- government approach to defending ourselves against further such attacks. And the Russians are going to keep coming at us.

As we've often said, Bob Mueller and his team know a lot more about all this than is out there that we know. And I think there's much more to come. I didn't see any announcement about closing down the investigation after this indictment.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes. So no more talk about over by Thanksgiving, over by New Year's that's going to go on. Director Clapper, thank you. Appreciate it.


In other news, South Africa says goodbye to Jacob Zuma after nine years of a scandal-ridden presidency. Next, we explore how the new president promises a fresh start and a better future.

Plus Japan dominates the men's figure skating finals to win its first gold at the Winter Olympics. We have a live report from South Korea -- just ahead here.





ALLEN: And welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

South Africa's new president is denouncing the inequality that haunts the country and vows to fix it. In his debut state of the nation speech Friday, Cyril Ramaphosa says he hopes to close the country's deep divisions and usher in what he calls a new dawn.

He described some of the ways he would crack down on corruption and scandals that plagued his predecessor, Jacob Zuma. Still, Mr. Ramaphosa warns South Africa faces tough decisions to improve the country's troubled economy.

Let's discuss more about it with Colin Coleman, partner and managing director at Goldman Sachs and the head of its sub-Saharan Africa division.

Colin, thank you for talking with us. Let's begin with Cyril Ramaphosa promising the nation a government rooted in decency and integrity. You know the new president.

Do you think he has what it takes to clean up the rampant corruption the country has seen?

COLIN COLEMAN, GOLDMAN SACHS: Natalie, I've known him for over 30 years in his capacity as a union leader, as a negotiator of the constitutional transition, as a businessman, as a campaigner for the president and in his government role and now as president of South Africa.

And I think he is very much the man of the moment, up to the job of renewal and recovery of South Africa's economy and a very hopeful sign for a new chapter in South Africa's democratic project.

ALLEN: Let's talk about the economy.

What is the state of the South African economy?

What is he inheriting there?

COLEMAN: Well, he is inheriting many years of underperformance, particularly under the second president Zuma regime, where we effectively averaged around 1 percent economic growth. This is a population growth environment of between 1.5 percent and 2 percent. So below population growth. That meant that South Africans were getting poorer whilst --


COLEMAN: -- a project that is now known as state capture was underway and, therefore, some people in the government were getting wealthy or associated with the government, while South Africans were getting poorer.

And the real capacity of this economy is around a 3 percent growth rate and, actually, in the post-Mandela era, we have achieved on average somewhere around 3 percent economic growth.

So we need to snap back from this position of underperformance. And the hope of Cyril Ramaphosa is that he is now going to appoint the right people, get the right team in place. He has laid out his policies; the party has adopted them. And the state of the nation was an unveiling of a new vision for South

Africa, which really contains many of the elements that the market and society see as the ingredients for that economic growth program.

ALLEN: And he also talked about promoting investment in South Africa, that is your area of expertise. He talked about key manufacturing sectors that would be overhauled to provide opportunities for investors, talked about agriculture and mining. Expand on that.

Where do you see possible investments?

And how important is that for job growth in South Africa?

COLEMAN: There are some short-term wins in the mining industry in particular, where mining has been a very difficult environment, due to the lack of clarity on the regulatory side. I think that he can clean that up, appoint a good new minister of mines to run that.

And mining has many spillovers into the manufacturing sector. But I think that manufacturing is an area where he can attract much greater local and international investment opportunities.

The South African economy is extremely sophisticated with a strong financial services sector, you know, hard, physical infrastructure that is supportive. And so with the right regulatory policy and his message that we are open for business, I think what you will see is global multinationals relooking at South Africa with a new set of eyes and saying to themselves, should we not set up our manufacturing capacity in South Africa, as a sophisticated financial center and infrastructure center, to service the growing African opportunity?

You know, 1.2 billion people the next years until 2030; another half a billion people in the African continent. So a consumer and growth opportunity that reminds one of China 30 years ago.

And so the promise is get South Africa right, create a base for manufacturing into the future, with a very large demographic opportunity on the doorstep of South Africa.

ALLEN: These are hopeful times and we'll wait and see what happens. We appreciate your expertise. Thanks for joining us, Colin Coleman, thank you.

Coming up, Christina Macfarlane here with the latest from the PyeongChang Olympics.

Christina, what is going on?

CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Natalie. Up next, we'll tell you why there was a sea of Winnie-the-Poohs at the PyeongChang figure skating arena after a Japanese master class on the ice.





ALLEN: It is day eight of the Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. Here is a quick look at how the medal table currently stands. Germany dominating with nine golds, Norway next with six and it is also leading the pack with total medals at 19.

But other countries still have a chance to get in on the action. Japan, for instance, just won its first gold at the games in men's figure skating after Yuzuru Hanyu's stunning performance. CNN's Christina Macfarlane has more about that and other Olympic news from PyeongChang -- hi, there, Christina.

MACFARLANE: Hi, there, Natalie.

It's been super Saturday here in PyeongChang with nine gold medals up for grabs. And two of the most thrilling came at almost exactly the same time, Yuzuru Hanyu in the ice arena and Ester Ledecka in the alpine skiing.

Hanyu is a bona fide superstar back in Japan and had put in a record breaking performance in the short program on Friday here. And there were big questions as to whether his fitness could hold out for the free skate today because of an existing injury.

And in the end, he did just about enough, a majestic performance that had his fans in tears. And when he finished his routine, stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh bears rained down from the crowd.

Hanyu is a huge fan of the fluffy bear and uses it as a lucky mascot. And he is always swamped by them every time he competes.

Also in action on the ice was America's Nathan Chen, who said he wanted to redeem himself after a poor skate in the short program that saw him finish in 17th. And today he did that, making history, in fact, with six quad jumps -- that's four rotations in the air -- signing off these games by actually winning free skate today but overall finishing in fifth.

Meanwhile, in the mountain cluster, there was high drama in the women's super G. American speed queen Lindsay Vonn in action for the first time after so much buildup. She's been speaking a lot about racing for her grandfather here, who passed away last year.

But sadly after what was a strong start, she made a serious error toward the end of that race that put her out of contention and into sixth place. Instead, it was a rank outsider, Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic, who pulled off the race of her life to take the top spot.

But the most extraordinary thing about this lady is that she is the only athlete at the games competing in two different sports, skiing and snowboarding. So after winning gold today, she will now swap her skis for a board and prepare to race in the parallel giant slalom here on Thursday.

Whoever said skiing and snowboarding doesn't mix, well, Ledecka just proved us all wrong -- Natalie.

Is she also an ice skater?

Why not throw that in, too?

She seems quite versatile.

All right. Christina, thanks so much.

Well, wind became a factor again at the Winter Olympics.



ALLEN: And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. "NEW DAY" is next for U.S. viewers. For everyone else, stay with us for "AMANPOUR."