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Trump White House; U.S. Government; Russia Investigation; Terrorism in Syria; School Shooter's Past Includes Buying Guns, Cutting, Slurs And Mental Illness; Members Of Netanyahu's Inner Circle Arrested; Cashing In On Olympic Korean Detente; U.S. And South Korea To Resume Drills After Winter Olympics. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired February 20, 2018 - 02:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN, ANCHOR: This is CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles, ahead on this our.

ISHA SESAY, CNN, ANCHOR: Another focus in the Russia investigation, Jared Kushner's finances raises serious questions about Trump's families conflicts of interests.

VAUSE: Plus, disturbing new details about the Florida shooters arsenal and more warning signs that may have been missed as the student caught after the shooting take the lead, demanding new gun laws.

SESAY: And cashing in on improved relations of possible profit motives behind North Korea's charm offensive. Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. John Vause would like you to know that this is the third hour. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: And I'm John. This is Newsroom LA. Donald Trump is laser focused on Russia but not in a way you expect from a U.S. President. He's off focusing on how Moscow meddled in the last Presidential election, all the potential for interference in the coming mid terms in November. Instead, Donald Trump is placing blame to Democrats, the FBI, as well as his predecessor, Barack Obama.

SESAY: He tweeted nearly two dozen times of the weekend, even attacking Oprah Winfrey on the school shooting of Florida, mentioned the students and teachers laid to rest, instead, he made this about him and how the FBI is so busy trying to prove collusion. They missed warning signs about the gunman.

His latest tweet on all of this, Obama was present up to and beyond the 2016 election, so why didn't he do something about Russian meddling.

VAUSE: Joining us now for more, Democratic Strategist Caroline Helburn and Republican Strategist, Charles Moran. OK, so to that question, that the President posed there on Twitter. The Washington Post reported last year that President Obama was briefed in August 2016, but there were limitations to what the administration could do. Here's the report. It took time for other parts of the intelligence

community to endorse the CIA's view. Only in the administration's final weeks in office did it tell the public that a declassified report on what officials had learned from CIA Director, John Brennan in August, which Putin was working to elect Trump.

But the Post also has this quote from a former Senior Obama official. It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend. I feel like we chocked. So Caroline, a lot of Democrats are seeing the same question, but there was this theory out there that Hillary Clinton was almost a certainty to win this election and Obama didn't want to politicize it, didn't want to create trouble for Hillary Clinton.

CAROLINE HELBURN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: There were absolutely those political pressures. With that said, it is very clear that Barack Obama did not do what he needed to do in terms of Russian meddling. This is not news. What is ironic about this is that Donald is criticizing Barack Obama that he has failed to implement the sanctions on Russia on as a result, to punish them for meddling in the elections that the vast majority of Congress approved.

And so he's sort of into a constitutional crisis. He is criticizing the last President for something he himself is now not doing.

VAUSE: And Charles, to that point, yes, there are questions about what the Obama administration did or did not do, but Donald Trump is the President now. The question has to be asked. What is he doing?

CHARLES MORAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, this is one of several instances where we have a mismatch between what one agency of the government is doing versus another. President Obama's absolutely right to feel some sort of remorse, same thing with John Brennan, that there may have been something been that could have been done.

This should be moved to the top of the priority list. These intelligence bottlenecks should not be happening where one agency is resulting, is producing information and reports that another agency needs to see and for us to come up with a comprehensive plan.

So President Trump needs to move this to the top of his agenda.

VAUSE: But he is not.

MORAN: Well, this is one of multiple things that are coming out. We're also dealing with the problem of governmental agencies not communicating with one another, in Florida with what happened with the tragedy last week. So the governmental bureaucracy is something that Donald Trump has consistently struggled with and struggles with to this day.

It's not going to be as easy as shooting out an executive order or going on Twitter or taking to the soapbox. We're talking about structural change within the bureaucracy, and that's one of the hardest things for any President to deal with.

HELBURN: The start is to actually pass the sanctions on Russia that Congress approved.

MORAN: The sanctions on Russia aren't going to change the bottleneck with the FBI, the CIA.


HELBURN: No, but a really good start is for him to put this on top of the list.


HELBURN: Using his power that he can actually...

[02:05:00] MORAN: President Trump and this is the start of this question is Russia is not the first thing that Donald Trump is criticizing. Well, he cannot do anything Russia. He is President of the United States. Our systems failed. America's systems failed. That is something he can address and he needs to.

VAUSE: OK. You mentioned the shooting. It was a wild Twitter storm over the weekend from the President, and this is his tweet, very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. There is no collusion.

Just two days earlier, the President made this promise.


DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PRESIDENT: To every parent, teacher, and child who is hurting so badly, we're here for you whatever you need, whatever we can do to ease your pain.


VAUSE: So Caroline, how does it ease the pain where the President uses the deaths of children in a way trying to undermine the Russian investigation, while the funerals for the shooting victims were still underway.

HELBURN: Oh, it's gross and it's tragic. He really is exploiting this great tragedy. And there are some very basic things he could do. He could back a provisional to have background checks for mental health issues, which 94 percent of Americans support.

He could put in common sense gun control by having a national registration and making sure that all 50 states keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. He had actually rolled back provisions that put more guns in the hands of folks who have emotional and mental health issues last year. He approved that.

So he is not only politicizing this. He's not going to take action. The NRA is a major contributor to his campaign and many members of Congress, and they're essentially bought and sold on this issue which is a shame because the majority of Americans support common sense gun control.

VAUSE: The tweet, Charles, also doesn't basically explain all -- shows he doesn't understand how the FBI works. Just because it happens in the Miami office, doesn't mean that Virginia can't work on the Mueller investigation.

MORAN: I think it is a continuation, and I think that's what most Americans see. The FBI has been one of the lead news stories for the last month and continues to be. I think President Trump is bringing up what a majority of Americans see, which is that again, beyond the FBI we have an inconsistency here with agencies communicating and speaking to one another.

There were so many opportunities that this individual, Nichols Crews could have been -- have been stopped where somebody could stepped in, but because of lack of communication, because of a lack of that will to be able to do something about this. It prompts a much larger question beyond gun control and gun control as one conversation that we have.

And while I'm not a spokesman for the NRA, the NRA does endorse common sense gun control under certain limitations, but again, we have a massive problem here where so many clues, so many pieces of evidence were dropped one after another, after another over a period of time that nobody stepped in to actually do something.

VAUSE: OK. Exclusive reporting from CNN because there are going to be some more problems on the way for the administration with regards the Mueller probe, the ever-expanding investigation apparently is expanding, yet again. Here are the details.


Shimon Prokupecz, CNN Correspondent: CNN has learned that Special Counsel, Robert Mueller is now asking questions about Jared Kushner's personal business dealings during the Presidential transition. We're told by people who are familiar with the investigation that Mueller's lawyers are asking about discussions Kushner had with potential Chinese and Qatari investors.

This is the first indication that Mueller wants to know about contacts the President's son-in-law had with foreigners outside of Russia. The discussions revolved around this building in Manhattan at 666 5th Avenue, which Kushner's company owns.

The financing on the building is in debt by over a billion dollars. Now, it's not clear what is behind Mueller's pacific interest in the financing. We're told the special counsel has asked the Kushner companies for information. He also hasn't asked for interviews with other executives from the Kushner companies.

A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment, but in a statement to CNN, Jared Kushner's Attorney, Abby Lowell, responding to our story said "another anonymous source with questionable motives now contradicts the facts in all of Mr. Kushner's extensive cooperation with all inquiries. There has not been a single question asked nor documents sought on the 666 building or Kushner deals, nor would there be any reason to question these regular business transactions," Abby Lowell Kushner's Attorney.

And though, while he says that the story's based on one source, we can tell you that we relied on many sources for the story, all who have been familiar with some of the special counsel investigation, Shimon Prokupecz, CNN Washington.

VAUSE: And Caroline, just because Kushner isn't being asked directly about this business dealing, it doesn't mean that Mueller isn't asking other people about it.

[02:10:00] HELBURN: Absolutely are they the last to be asked, right? If you want to develop the evidence and then you go and ask and they contradict the evidence, then it to indicate that they have something hide. It is unclear how this ties in with the collusion investigation. It's unclear why Mueller is now going into finances, but I think that this is a really troubling moment for the Trump White House.

VAUSE: Very quickly, Charles, is Kushner a national security threat?

MORAN: I don't think he's a national security threat. They have a time, particularly during the transition to be able to arrange things so that they would not be presented with a conflict of interest. So again, we know very, very little about any of the details behind an - there have been dozens of senior White House officials who have also been interviewed by the special counsel.


MORAN: We saw the first wave of indictments had nothing to do with any of those people. We talked about -- still too early to tell.

VAUSE: President's Day here on Monday. Donald Trump wished everyone a great and a reflective day. Maybe he can reflect on this, a panel of 170 Presidential experts has ranked Donald Trump the worst President in history, which means James Buchanan, the guy who is President as the country creamed into civil war no longer considered the worst.

And we should note, at the same time President Obama has made an appearance in the top 10, he is now at number 8. So, James, not a good President's Day for Donald Trump, I should say.

MORAN: Again, he's barely a year into the presidency. We've seen with so many President's that it really, not only takes their full four to eight years, but even sometime afterwards to see what the after effects of their impact could be so...


MORAN: It's going to be a really long next seven years for everyone.

VAUSE: Caroline, do you still see Trump moving up the ranking there? HELBURN: I should bring in full disclosure, I am one of the political scientists who were asked to fill out that survey. I did not rank him dead last. I actually put Buchanan below him, because I Donald Trump has not done -- he hasn't caused a big event yet.

He has done lots of small things and I think that hopefully he won't do that. But I think its magical thinking to say that he's going to be here for eight years, the blue wave in 2018 looks to be pretty sure in 2020 as a rough set for him.

VAUSE: OK. Well, we'll see. Thank you. I appreciate it.

SESAY: A monitoring crew warns that Russian bots are exploiting the gun control debate on social media to sow discord in the U.S. Russian control farms first came to prominence during the 2016 Presidential election campaign. CNN's Matthew Chance gives us a rare look inside.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right. This is the very secretive Incident Research Agency Building on the outskirts of St. Petersburg. It's very difficult to get an idea of what exactly goes only in there, but sometimes you can learn a lot about an organization from the rubbish it throws out. And we saw a few hours ago these bags being taken around the back here to the bin, and so we thought we ought to take a look.

It looks like it's full of wrappers for some sort of computer -- in fact, we saw them taking out the boxes from what looked like new computers that have been delivered there. That's interesting because this place is said to have been closed down. There is a big sign on the front of the door that says the building is for rent, but there are still people coming and going all day, and clearly it's still operating, now whether it's operating as a troll factory or not, is unclear.


CHANCE: Are you an internet troll? Are you a Russian internet troll? If you invite us in, we're happy to come in. Let's go inside the Internet Research Agency. They're asking us to leave so we're going to have to leave the building.

[02:15:00] But again, this is the place, that according to the U.S. indictment was set up to sow discord in the U.S. political system, and it's inside this building that it is believed that paid internet trolls are posing as American citizens -- are posing as U.S. citizens, organizing contentious protests in the United States, and really doing that work that has been so disruptive in the U.S. political system, Matthew Chance, at the building in St. Petersburg, which has been dubbed the Russian Troll Factory.


SESAY: Thanks, Matthew Chance there. In India, and you may see a larger ad, offering dinner with Donald Trump Jr. if you're ever in the spot to buy a luxury apartment in a Trump-branded tower just $38,000. The President's son is in India this week. He is tripping through the speech at the Business Summit along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

But the apartment ad, those really have the critics asking if access to the U.S. first family is ultimately even the President himself is actually up for sale. John Defterios joins us now from Abu Dhabi. And John, talk to me how this is all working there in India, this marketing ploy because to be clear, the Trump organization has local partners right, and they had to put this whole thing together.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN MONEY EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Indeed, they have local partners. This is the biggest market by far for the Trump organization internationally. We're talking about $1 billion with the properties and that could go up as the properties. As the price goes up, this has no sense of subtlety in terms of the approach.

Some suggests it is actually in-your-face, particularly with the ads and very prominent newspapers. As you suggested there with your intro, with the times of India set the context so Donald Trump Jr. is now in the capital of Delhi. Let's take the photo. This is a photo from his visit with his developers, as it was suggested at his local representatives.

And also some hand picked local journalism supposed to be open to international journals such as CNN. We had a camera on the outside, able to take some photos on our mobile phones but not allowed access into the room because of the brouhaha, because of the ads and the plan. Now the plan for Donald Trump Jr. is to go to four different cities, to visit all the four developments and then cap off that visit back into the capital on Friday and Saturday, which is a global business summit.

To give you a sense of what this means of the Trump organization, the only line of sight we have in terms of revenues is $3 million in terms of royalties in 2016. We don't know the breakdown in terms of revenues on sales of each individual apartment, but this is a this is a country that has a per capita income of just under $2000, ranking 140 in the world in terms of nominal GDP capita.

But they have flats going, and this is phenomenal. Even in Gurgaon, which is outside of Delhi, we have a video there of the development, between $80,000 up to $1.6 million, so Donald Trump in the past leading the Trump Organization and now his son, Donald Trump Jr. running the organization, have decided that India is incredibly important market along with the rising middle class and now making a trip into the market, very high profile trip with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi also at same event on Friday evening in the capital.

SESAY: Yeah, and that he's attending with the Prime Minister that he was given a key note, or at least a key note at, do we have any sense of the substance, do we have any sense of the message that he's carrying to the attendees.

DEFTERIOS: It's fascinating you asked because we don't know the substance -- not listed on the schedule for that event just yet. We know that Prime Minister Modi is going to be speaking in the evening. But let's ask a much bigger question, I think, Isha, and that is what came first the chicken or the egg with regard to interest in the Indian market are by President Donald Trump today.

The Trump organization has been involved in India for a number of years, but we're watching now on the foreign policy front, particularly with Donald Trump himself, the interest he has taken in India. Yes, it's a fast-growing market. It is a pro-business Prime Minister, there's been trying to juice up growth, to better the seven and a half percent this year, the organization has been involved in the past.

Again, there are blurry lines in place here. Donald Trump Jr. is there, putting ads out. He is going in a Boeing 757 of the Trump's organizations jet that was used in the campaign before. But then back in November, we had -- you bought the Trump on the ground putting global entrepreneurs, which is an official summit between India and the U.S.

So you can see the blurriness and how the average citizen would suggest this is buying me access to the Trump family going forward with the purchases of a flat.

[02:20:00] SESAY: Yeah, there's no doubt about it. That's how it could well be read. And John Defterios there with all the blurry lines, we appreciate it. Thank you.

DEFTERIOS: Thanks, Isha.

SESAY: That came first?

VAUSE: Yeah, it evolved from the dinosaurs.

SESAY: Let's take break.

VAUSE: Coming up, multi illegal turmoil for Benjamin Netanyahu, several of the Israeli Prime Minister's inner circle have been arrested facing corruption charges.

SESAY: Plus, an exclusive look at Syria's Yazidi minority living in fear, as Turkish forces press the military operation there.


VAUSE: Well, to Syria now, and reports from activists claiming dozens have been killed and wounded in rebel-held areas after an attack by forces loyal to the Dictator Bashar Al-Assad. The U.K.-based Syrian observatory for human rights puts the death toll at 71, mostly civilians. Air strikes and artillery targeted areas, an area which was declared a de-escalations zone, struck by Russia, Turkey and Iran last year.

CNN has not independently verified the claim.

SESAY: (Inaudible) is almost a month old and now the Turkish Prime Minister says this country will not suspend operations there. The comment after the force Monday that forces loyal to the Syrian government will be deployed to the cuts held region within hours.

VAUSE: Turkey launched the operation against the YPG, a group which the group reviews as an extension of the party which has waged an insurgency inside Turkey and has been labeled a terrorist group.

SESAY: Well, as the fighting goes on in the fleeing civilians of course, in the middle that homes destroyed, the hospitals bombed. Ben Wedeman has this exclusive report on the minority populations in the region who are living in constant fear.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rituals that go back to before the dawn of history, candles and prayers and a cave in the northern Syrian district free. Members of the Yazidi minority, seen by ISIS fanatics and other Islamist hardliners as heretics and infidels have come to the ancient hillside shrine of Chel Haney for salvation.

The strips of cloth tried to trees represent their individual prayers. Turkey's offensive is now almost months old, and it's pursuing the YPG, the Kurdish People's Defense Units, which Turkey accuses of being an offshoot of its arch nemesis, the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK, which has been fighting the Turkish state since 1984.

[02:25:00] For the Yazidi's, the Turkish onslaught has revived memories, all too fresh of massacre and enslavement. We don't want a repeat of sin jobs years is saying of the council of our frame, referring to the murder and enslavement of the Iraqi Yazidi's by ISIS in the summer of 2014.

All the inhabitants of the village have come to pray to god to protect them from the scourge of Erdogwan and his mercenaries and the Islamists extremists. Until recently, offering had been spared the brunt of the fighting wars in Syria, many have become a dizzying kaleidoscope of conflicts, sucking in Americans, Russians, Turks, Israelis, Lebanese, Hezbollah, and a ANCHOR of minor players.

The only constant is the seemingly endless suffering of ordinary Syrians. Fatimah lost her son and two grandchildren in an airstrike on their home. Turkish officials insist they're trying to avoid civilian casualties. Shrapnel entered his brains, says his doctor. He needs intensive care. His wounds are serious.

The town is home to around 14,000 people, many from the Kurdish Isle of Wight minority, while ethnic Kurds, they follow the same faith as Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. They too, fear the wrath of Turkish forces in the Syrian rebel allies, many of whom are believed to be Jehadis. There is nothing to stop them from entering this area, burning it, killing its people and enslaving its women as they did in sin jobs is beyond the male head of mom, but these Kurdish Isle of Wight council.

There's little they can do but light a candle and pray in the gathering darkness, Ben Wedeman, CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Well, soon to come here in Newsroom LA, new details of the chilling past of the Florida shooter, more warning signs which seem to have been missed.

SESAY: Teens that survived telling their grief into action on gun control, what they are doing to get lawmakers' attention.


VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us. You're watching CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay, the headlines this hour. U.S. President Donald Trump is backing Washington, now questioning why his predecessor, Barack Obama didn't do anything about Russian meddling in the U.S. elections. In a weekend tweet storm, Mr. Trump blamed the FBI and Democrats, but still hasn't said how he plans to counter Russian interference.

[02:30:00] VAUSE: Special Counsel Robert Mueller is taking a closer look at Jared Kushner's business dealings during the Presidential transition. Sources familiar with the investigation says this goes beyond Russia and includes discussion Kushner had with potential investors from China and Canada.


SESAY: A former (INAUDIBLE) has been sentence to more than 30 years in prison for sexually abusing his players back in the days. The judge call Barry Bennell's actions sheer evil. Investigators say that player, the coach may have abused more than 100 young boys.

VAUSE: And officials in Florida have revealed the school shooter had called 17 people last week had a history of cutting himself after a break up with his girlfriend and at the time plan to buy a gun. Nikolas Cruz made a brief appearance in court on Monday. It was a procedural matter. A law enformencement source tells CNN in the last year or so, Cruz had obtained 10 long barrel rifles. He was too young legally to buy a handgun. We know the drill by now. It started with Columbine almost 20 years ago. 12 students and a teacher shot dead. A month after that, a heated debate in Congress, Vice President Al Gore cast the tiebreaking vote in the Senate to hold background checks and safety locks to new guns. But all of that then install in the house. Nothing happened. The Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, Congress passed a bill to strengthen the system for national background check, but legal experts say the law is now focus and be little to improve background checks at a state level. Five years on twenty children and six adults shot dead at Sandy Hook Elementary. A massacre so horrific, it left the nation in shock and the U.S. president in terms.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad.


VAUSE: And even then not one new federal gun law was passed. Instead, the National Rifle Association argued, the best solution to gun violence is more guns.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.


VAUSE: This has known every school shooting in the U.S. over the past two decades and despite all the pleadings, and protest, and overwhelming support for gun reform, there has a one depressing constant, inaction by Congress. But this time there is a glamour of hope that in the wake of last week's shooting at Stoneman Douglas High in Florida maybe something will change. The flag bearers for the push for gun reform of the students themselves, the ones whose friends and teachers were shot dead, the ones who hid in the closets as the gun shots rang out, the ones who texted their parents saying, I love you because they thought they were going to die. On Saturday at a rally they call out the inaction of lawmakers. By Sunday, they were on all the political talk shows criticizing the president and other politicians for accepting money from the NRA. Later that day, they announced plans for a rally next month. And by Monday, a small victory with Words from the White House, President Trump is supported of improving the current system for background checks. Alex Wind is one of three students who started this movement. Its call Never Again and he's with us now. Alex, you know, this is being remarkable on so many different aspects, not just how organize you are, how quickly it's come together. But you are doing this after everything that you have been through. So how are you doing -- how are your friends doing?

ALEX WIND, STUDENT AT MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: You know, I'm using my voice and I'm using my voice and everyone else is using their voice as a platform. This is how we're grieving. This is how we're coping. We're upset. We're angry. But we're not going to stop until there's change.

VAUSE: And when you talk about change, we're not talking just about that a safety measures at schools like metal detectors or security guys. What you are talking about here is meaningful gun reform that will essentially in many ways either make a background check at all or make it somebody harder for a 19-year-old to get a military style weapon?

WIND: Exactly. You said it yourself. A 19-year-old bought a military style weapon, a 19-year-old who cannot legally purchase an alcoholic beverage, so how is it possible that he can purchase a military weapon? That sounds absolutely absurd and that is one of the first things that needs to change. Another thing that needs to change is background checks. It was clear that the kid had autism, ADHD, and other mental disabilities, so how is it possible that he was able to purchase the weapon? We know that he cut himself. He was -- he was a racist. He was anti-Semitic. How was it shown that he was not a harm to others or to himself?

VAUSE: Yes. After previous shootings, others have tried to do what you're doing right now. They've try to bring about some kind of meaningful change, you know, tightening the gun laws, you know, despite the best intentions, the spotlight fades, you know, everyone moves on and everything in terms of gun laws, it will stay the same. So tell me, how will it be different this time?

[02:35:05] WIND: Well, we already know we're different. President Trump said that he's open to looking into stricter background checks. That's a start. However, there needs to be action. March 24th, action. We will be marching on Washington, D.C. and we will demand change from our Congress, from our Representatives, and from the President himself.

VAUSE: So why do you think other groups haven't been able to get this far when it comes to changing the law in guns, you know, despite the outrage and the pain and the suffering? It just -- it seems to be the same after every one of these school shootings.

WIND: You know, you were saying earlier, Columbine was really the first of its kind. Everyone said, nothing like this was ever going to happen again but it did in Newtown, in Sandy Hook Elementary School. The kids were too young to speak. They were too traumatized. Their parents have to speak for them. Other people have to speak for them. However, now, we are the students, we experiences and we're speaking for ourselves. Children are dying. Things need to change in this country or else more children will die and the future is going to be nothing.

VAUSE: You know, you and other students you're planning to stay away from school until there's, well, significant changes to the law, you know, the president did meet -- tends to think that could be a very long time.

WIND: You're right. And, you know, eventually, we are going to have to go to school whether we like it or not and change -- whether change happens or not, and then I know myself, I'm going to be terrified of that day because I don't know what's going to stop this from happening again. Nothing has change. So how do we know that someone can't walk in there with another AR-15 and shoot up the school again? We don't know that. Things need to change. Children are dying.

VAUSE: Will you be attending this listening session that President Trump is talking about that he wants to hold with students?

WIND: I'm not been invited to attend this listening nor if I am invited, I will not be in attendance. Instead, I will be speaking at the town hall at 9:00 P.M. this Wednesday with Senator Rubio, Congressman Deutch, and Senator Bill Nelson.

VAUSE: Why would you not visit the White House if you were invited to go?

WIND: Because he was invited to come to the town hall and he denied the invited. We will not come to him. He has to come to us. VAUSE: OK. Well, Alex, we wish you -- I wish you well and I wish that, you know, that you can do what others have failed to do, and bring back some real change. Thank you.

WIND: Thank you.

VAUSE: Alex mentioned the town hall. Please join CNN for that, students, parents, and others impacted by the school shooting will speak out. Stand up as students of Stoneman Douglas demand action is live on Thursday, 10:00 A.M. in Hong Kong, 2:00 A.M. in London, 9:00 P.M. Wednesday in New York.

Well, this week the "CNN Freedom Project" has the dramatic story of migrants escaping from Libya then abandoned in the Mediterranean Sea by human traffickers. The International Organization for Migrations says children and pregnant women are the most vulnerable to abusive human trafficking as they risked their lives and try and reach Europe. CNNs Lisa Suarez has some of their stories.

LISA SUAREZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Smugglers abandoned the (INAUDIBLE) of the coast of Libya, no engine, no paddle. Humanitarian organization Proactiva Open Arms rescued 695 migrants from this deadly feat in a space of one week. But these Mediterranean waters have claimed more than 400 lives in 2018 alone. According to the International Organization for Migration, the IOM, the most apparel begins before boarding a dinghy in Libya. 18-year-old girl from Ivory Coast tells us a batter experiences over the five months she spend waiting and worrying.

Violence and a lack of dignity. But the abuses don't end there. Migrants between the age of 14 to 17 are most at risks with nearly nine out of ten expose to human trafficking along the central Mediterranean route according to the IOM. Suleiman knows it well.

(INAUDIBLE) the summer of 2016 as a 17-year-old.

As each step of his journey through Mali and Algeria, Suleiman says he had to find the money to pay for the next step.

[02:40:10] But as he try to cross into Libya. Suleiman says he discovered he had been sold and bought by gangsters in the City of Bani Walid. Their business, extorting money from defenseless migrants. Up to several months of torture, Suleiman says he got out thanks to a payment of a thousand dollars made by his family. But he say hundreds were left behind, many is in prison. According to the Italian government, the number of migrant arrivals dropped by 70 percent since July of 2017. While some in Europe may have applaud this dropped, thousands of migrants are now in Libya trapped in limbo, huddled in fear. Lisa Suarez, CNN.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) will bring you the story of 140 migrants rescue from a (INAUDIBLE) dinghy on the choppy waters of the Mediterranean abandoned after months of abused at the hands of human traffickers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After 10 hours in rough waters, these 140 migrants traumatized and shaken are rescued by the volunteers. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They shoot people.


VAUSE: Much more on that story and a new found freedom tomorrow only on the "CNN Freedom Project."

SESAY: And March 14th is the second annual My Freedom Day, CNNs partner with these young people around the world, a student lead day of action against modern day slavery. Driving My Freedom Day a very simple question, what does freedom mean to you? We want to hear what your freedom means to you (INAUDIBLE) just use the #MyFreedomDay.

Well, Oxfam is offering its humblest apologies to Haiti with the prostitution scandal rocking the aide charity. They bound to do better and handed over an internal report about the allegations. A report from 2011 says at least three workers physically threatened a witness when the charity was investigating claims of sexual misconduct by staffers after the Haiti earthquake. The document also directly contradicts Oxfam's former Country Manager in Haiti. Just days ago, he released an open letter saying he hasn't hide prostitutes while in Oxfam guest houses. But the 2011 report says, he admitted doing exactly that and how to resign.

VAUSE: OK. A short break here. When we come back, the North Koreans have -- making headlines with (INAUDIBLE) at the Winter Olympics. But to look at Pyongyang's possible hope much more than just a diplomatic chaos.

SESAY: Plus, after the Winter Olympics, South Korea and the U.S. are planning to resume their military exercises in the Korean Peninsula. How the North is reacting to all of that? Next.


[02:45:25] SESAY: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's troubles are deepening. Police has now arrested seven members of his inner circle.

VAUSE: Well, part of a widening probe with a graft and corruption, his is the fourth investigation involving the prime minister or some of his closest associates. We had details now from CNN's Oren Liebermann, reporting in from Jerusalem.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was already under pressure after police said last week they had enough evidence to indict him in two separate corruption investigations. Announce getting worse for the embattled Israeli leader.

In another graft probe, police have arrested members of his inner circle, including his former family spokesperson. On Tuesday, police revealed this round of arrest in this latest case, they were locally as the Bezeq affair or case 4,000. Seven arrests on suspicion of bribery, fraud, breach of trust, obstruction of justice and more.

And there are two big names here that come very close to the prime minister, even though Netanyahu himself has not been named the suspect in this case. One of those names is Nir Hefetz, who served as the family spokesperson for years. And the second is Shaul Elovitch, a multi-millionaire friend of Netanyahu, who was a controlling shareholder in Israeli telecommunications from Bezeq, and owns news site, Walla! News.

Court documents offer few details about the investigations, saying only that there have been substantial developments. But we know from a previous probe that investigators believe, senior figures in Bezeq worked with the government's Ministry of Communications illegally to advance Bezeq's interests. And it was Netanyahu, who was the Minister of Communications during this period.

In exchange, Israeli media reports that Walla! News, owned by Netanyahu's friend, Elovitch, gave the prime minister favorable coverage. Police also arrested five others, including the former director general of the Ministry of Communications who served under Netanyahu.

Netanyahu had fired off a preemptive strike at this latest investigation, calling it a witch-hunt, filled by media pressure. He said, all the air will come out of this too. Lawyers for Elovitch and Hefetz, insist they're innocent as well.

So far, Netanyahu's coalition partners have backed him, saying they'll wait for the Attorney General to decide whether to indict the Prime Minister. But as a suspicions around Netanyahu and his inner circle have grown. It becomes more difficult politically to support him. Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.

SESAY: Well, North Korea's soft air is on full display at the Winter Olympics. Pyongyang sent its best athlete, a cheering squad and a performing art troupe.

VAUSE: And Kim Jong-un's sister. Up all the (INAUDIBLE) could be another story, Kim Jong-un's regime may be will be a cashing of the improving ties with South Korea. CNN's Will Ripley has more.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A scene, unimaginable just months ago. North Koreans performing in South Korea at PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. Missile launches, nuclear tests, and escalating tensions have largely defined the Kim Jong-un era.

Now, the North Korean leader is launching with some call a charm offensive. Sending his sister, Kim Yo-jong, to lay the groundwork for an inter-Korean summit. Sending his art troupe, athletes, and cheer squads to show the softer side of what the U.S. calls a tyrannical regime.

South Korean journalist, Kang Jin-gyu, says North Korea is waging a P.R. war, with a different weapon, soft power.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KANG JIN-GYU, JOURNALIST FROM SOUTH KOREA: Beforehand, they see North Korea as a rogue State, of trying to build a nuclear weapons in violation of the -- your nation agreements. But when they see the actual people performing right in front of them, I think they start thinking, Wow! They are -- so, they're the so like pass -- you know --

RIPLEY: South Korea-based teacher, Dave Beck, skipped a hockey match to watch the North Koreans perform.

DAVE BECK, SOUTH KOREA-BASED TEACHER: South Koreans and North Koreans seemed to really kind of respect each other. It was kind of cool.

RIPLEY: The Korean people share centuries of heritage. The last seven decades of division a mere blip on the radar. A chance to Korean War, the two cultures have only grown farther apart.


RIPLEY: Some South Koreans already know what it's like to live and work alongside their neighbors from the North. At the Kaesong Industrial Complex, that closed about two years ago, as tensions escalated.

Kaesong was an economic and political experiment that fell apart. A case study in the difficulties of merging capitalism and socialism. I visited in 2015 and saw North and South Koreans working side by side. Producing some of the products now banned under crippling international sanctions. Kim Ik-kyum, used to work at the Kaesong Industrial Complex. He and hundreds the other South Koreans lost their jobs in early 2016.

"The two-year period has been so long for the workers," he says. "There's been so much suffering. I hope they use this opportunity to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex soon."

Capitalizing on the Korean detente may not be the primary goal. But if nuclear tensions ease, there is money to be made. Which makes explain why cash-strapped North Korea is on a mission to win over South Korean audiences, one performance at a time. Will Ripley, CNN, Gangneung, South Korea.

[02:50:42] SESAY: Well, our Paula Hancocks, joins us now from Pyeongchang, South Korea. Paula put in the Korean this winter side, the U.S. and South Korea have basically announced there that they will move forward with their military drills that we have seen in the past. Any reaction this hour from Pyongyang?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha, there's no reaction at this point, they're not usually that quick to react. But you would imagine that there'll be something that they will say. The U.S. forces here in Korea renouncing that those U.S.-South Korea military drills will go ahead as planned. They had just been postponed into (INAUDIBLE) the Olympics.

The Paralympics ends on March 18th, so, at some point after that, we don't have an exact date from them yet, those drills will go ahead. And they always annoy Pyongyang. They think it's a dress rehearsal for an invasion. Though we have already heard from the U.S. President Donald Trump that they will be more discrete this year. We don't know exactly what that means, whether there'll be less shows like you can see on the screen there. It just have traumatic, some of these military drills are, but they will go ahead, we're told.

SESAY: Yes, not at do we know whether this decision on the part of the U.S. and South Korea will derail the detente we have seen during this, this Olympics.

HANCOCKS: Well, this -- I mean, the sporting diplomacy, Isha, that we have seen is really quite spectacular when you consider how far we've come from just a few months ago when tensions were extremely high here on the Korean Peninsula. We have, though, had the usual articles from state-run media in North Korea, tell CNN, slamming the United States, but the same time as they're talking to the South Koreans.

They're saying, the DPRK, the -- the full name for them is fully ready for bot dialogue war. And slamming the Trump administration, they say for saying that, that if there's not negotiations, and if North Koreans don't move forward. Then, they will go back to a military strike.

So, certainly there two very different messages that we're hearing from North Korea. This point, opening arms to the South Koreans, but at the same time, slamming the U.S. Isha?

SESAY: Yes, now, we be watch to see how they respond, and when that comes. Paula Hancocks, joining us there from Pyeongchang. Thank you, Paula.

VAUSE: Well, its official once again, Oprah Winfrey is not running for president. But that does not mean Donald Trump is going a cease- fire in his Twitter attacks. And maybe, just maybe, that might get her run. More, when we come back.


SESAY: Did you know, U.S. President Donald Trump used to call Oprah Winfrey, brilliant?


SESAY: Terrific.


SESAY: And the wonderful woman.


SESAY: Even says, She's make a great vice president.

VAUSE: What? But not now. Even though, he want how to queen of daytime television, as (INAUDIBLE) have been for the White House he still being trolled on Twitter by U.S., the commander and chief. Here's Jeanne Moos.

[02:55:10] JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I remember when they were just two friendly mega-celebrities?


OPRAH WINFREY, MEDIA PROPRIETOR, AMERICAN: What would you do differently, Donald?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Forget about it all, for just forget about it --

MOOS: Calling each other by their first names. For now, President Trump is tweeting about very insecure Oprah Winfrey, biased and slanted. Hope Oprah runs, so she can be exposed and defeated just like all the others. This after, the president watched her --

WINFREY: Come on, Matt.

MOOS: Moderating pro and anti-Trump voters on 60 minutes. It was the insecure jab that had Oprah supporters citing the pot calling the kettle black insecure, are you for real? There was a gif caption, live footage of Oprah caring about what you tweet.

Paris Hilton put words on Oprah's mouth, "Don't make me come over there," tweeted a comedian, Donald Trump calling Oprah Winfrey insecure, is like Batman versus Superman calling Black Panther a flop.

MOOS: Insecure, wasn't always the word. Donald Trump used to describe Oprah.

TRUMP: She's popular, she's brilliant, she's a wonderful woman.

MOOS: A kind of woman you might choose for your vice president?

TRUMP: Oprah, I love Oprah. Oprah would always be my first choice.

I threw out the name of a friend of mine who I think the world of -- she's brave, Oprah.

If she'd do it, she'd be fantastic.

MOOS: But "I adore" has been replaced by "insecure". As for President Oprah, despite the buzz --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, everyone. I would love to hear that the State of the Union is strong!

MOOS: Despite comments, great, that's what we need in 2020, a third president who hasn't run anything but her mouth. Oprah's actual mouth says she's not running.

WINFREY: It's just not in my spirit, it's not my DNA.

MOOS: Still, President Trump is thumbing his nose at Oprah and their chummy past. WINFREY: There's a vibe, there is -- there is an indescribable "it" factor.

TRUMP: I am sitting next to "it", there is nobody ever.

MOOS: Now "it" has turned to "ick". Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


SESAY: BFF's no more.

VAUSE: Hasn't it?

SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from L.A. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Thinks to follow us on Twitter, @CNNNEWSROOMLA, where highlights and clips of the show. Isha, we'll get back to you. The news continues with Rosemary Church next to line up, bye.

SESAY: That was quick.

VAUSE: Ready in that --