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Trump White House; U.S. Government; Russia Investigation; School Shootings; Terrorism in Syria; Florida Legislature Rejects Weapons Ban With Massacre Survivors En Route To Capitol; Migrants Say They Were Abused For Months In Libya; Russians Trade World Records In Ladies Skating. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired February 21, 2018 - 02:00   ET



ISHA SESAY, CNN, HOST: This is CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN, HOST: Ahead this hour, some call it a massacre, there is simply have no words. It's been one of the deadliest days in the Syria civil war, the ongoing horror in Eastern Ghouta.

SESAY: And the White House says President Trump acknowledges Russian election meddling. Why is he blaming President Obama and not Vladimir Putin?

VAUSE: And the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu says the system is going crazy, as more corruption investigations come to the surface.

SESAY: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world, I am Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: And I am John Vause. This is the third hour of Newsroom LA.

SESAY: In five years of airstrikes in the Syrian suburb, one doctor says they have never seen anything like the escalation of the past 48 hours.

VAUSE: One of the groups says at least 250 people have been killed in a relentless attack near Damascus. Its residents fear a ground invasion is imminent.

SESAY: It is intensifying in the contested region of Africa, pro Syrian government fighters are joining Kurdish fighters against the battle against Turkish forced.

VAUSE: Doctors also said the airstrikes in Eastern Ghouta have destroyed at least four hospitals and the situation is catastrophic.

SESAY: Ben Wedeman has our report on the conditions there, and we must warn you it contains graphic video that viewers may find disturbing to watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nidal weeps over the body of his daughter, his other five children went missing, lost as the Syrian government subjects the Eastern Ghouta, the rebel-held suburb of Damascus to the most intense bombardment since the war began.

Bodies lie in the floor of this hospital's morgue, the bed sheet with this child's death shroud. As always, it's the children that suffer most in this war without mercy.

According to local tradition, Ghouta was the original Garden of Eden, now it's perhaps the closest thing to hell on Earth. Home to as many as 400,000 people, it's been under siege for years. Tuesday, the United Nations Children Fund UNICEF, issued a blank statement on the situation in Eastern Ghouta, a small footnote at the bottom explains, we no longer have the words to describe children's suffering and our outrage.

To those inflicting the suffering still has the words to justify their barbaric acts. CNN reached out to the Syrian government for comments. They had no words. These are the worst days of our lives, the doctor, a hospital director told CNN by phone from the Eastern Ghouta.

It couldn't get worse than this, she said. She may be wrong. It's widely believed that bombardment is a prelude to an offensive to retake Eastern Ghouta, one, of the last opposition strongholds. Many of these disturbing images are captured by local civil defense units, the so-called White Helmets, rushing from one bomb site to another.

Here, there are no bomb shelters. People huddle in their homes and all too often die in them, beyond that, there are no words. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.


SESAY: Earlier, we spoke to UNICEF'S Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Geert Cappelaere, says outrage overt the situation extends beyond the Syrian regime.


[02:05:00] GEERT CAPPELAERE, UNICEF'S REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA: There is outrage also for the international community, anyone with an influence over any of these parties having not been able today to move even an inch of the protection of children at the core of their actions. It is only a military logic. It's a political logic, unfortunately, a logic that makes children day after day suffering.

Today, close to three million Syrian children have no longer the chance to go on a daily basis to school, what kind of Syria we are looking at if one of Syria's biggest assets, its children are not given the opportunity to thrive if we are not able to protect these millions of children.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SESAY: Well, Jomana Karadsheh joins us now from Amman, Jordan with more. Jomana, seeing the picturse from the report is shocking and leaves one almost speechless. What are you hearing about the situation in Eastern Ghouta now with regard to the bombardment?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha, late into last night, activists were reporting that airstrikes and shelling of different parts of Eastern Ghouta was continuing. It's unclear what the casualty figures are. But as we saw yesterday on Tuesday that casualty toll, that devastating toll continued to rise throughout the day, with some aid groups, local groups, activists reporting at least more than 100 people killed in one day of bombardment, with more than 250 killed since Sunday, according to different activist groups and rescue organizations.

Of course, it's very difficult for to us verify these figures. And we depend on getting them from these organizations that are also reporting hundreds of others wounded, and Isha, it's so difficult to treat the wounded with reports of hospital after hospital being taken out in these airstrikes.

And of course, beyond this blood bath that we are seeing in Eastern Ghouta, there is the humanitarian situation that they have been under siege since 2012. And aid groups have been warning for months, saying that the situation there -- it's become impossible to live in Eastern Ghouta with food running out.

People reporting that bakeries have been hit in the escalation of violence that we have see in recent days. They are running out of fuel. They are running out of water, so very difficult living conditions for people there, Isha. And they really have no safe place to turn to. There is not a single safe corner, according to people there where they can feel safe in Eastern Ghouta.

And they are really concerned that the situation is only going to get worse, drawing parallels to what we saw in eastern Aleppo, the regime is not going to stop until it recaptures this rebel held territory, Isha.

SESAY: In the process, who knows how many people will lose their lives, Jomana Karadsheh joining us there from Amman, Jordan, Jomana, thank you.

VAUSE: Well, as for the fighting in Afrin, it's making for some complicated alliances in the Syrian conflict. Take a look at the region here, highlighted in green in the northwest corner of Syria, along with the border of Turkey we're talking about. Kurdish forces currently hold that territory. But they've been under attack from Turkish troops which consider some terrorists. Now, pro Syrian government forces moved in to help the Kurds.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was detected that pro Damascus forces were moving towards Afrin, but when artillery fire was carried out they had to turn back. And this case is closed for now. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: CNN's Sam Kiley joins us now live from Abu Dhabi with more on this. OK, Sam, this is complicated. We have Syria regime forces fighting alongside YPG Kurdish militia against a U.S. NATO ally, Turkey, at the same time YPG are U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS. This can't end well.

SAM KILEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean I think the first thing to think about this is that these forces that have been sent up, pro regime forces from backed by Damascus, they're supporters of Bashar Al-Assad. But they are not part of the formal Syrian armed forces. They are a militia, in all probability.

We don't know too much about this group. They have reached Afrin. Although, they did come under attack, according to Syrian State TV, there was even broadcasting live when there were some reports of incoming mortars or some kind of shells close to their location.

[02:10:00] They're pretty heavily armed and would be perhaps -- not a game changer certainly most welcome reinforcements to the Kurds there. But they are up against a NATO air force. And the sorts of weapons that they have are not anti-aircraft weapons. They're the weapons that are pretty powerful against infantry.

And so I don't think that they, in any military sense change the picture. What they are though, is beginning to exacerbate the already very serious frictions that exist between the Turkish government and the Damascus government. President Erdogwan of Turkey has been calling for the end of the Assad regime.

Indeed, he called in the early of the rebellion for a no fly zone over Syria. He now owns the air, if you like over Afrin. But that is with the agreement ironically, of the Syrians and of course, their Russian allies. Its multi layered, but this latest incursion in support of the Kurds coming from this militia is probably designed by the Damascus regime as a distraction from the atrocities going on in Ghouta on the capital city.

VAUSE: How does all this unwind itself where it just gets worse and more complicated from this point on?

KILEY: Well, Syria always gets more complicated, not less. If these forces are able to establish themselves and actually start fighting against the Turkish government, then you are looking at Syrian forces, albeit not formal Syrian forces being bombed from the air. There will inevitably be a desire from the Syrians and their Russian allies perhaps to protect them from air attack by the Turks.

It remains to be seen whether this is a gesture or whether it really is going to draws Turkish fire from the air. If it does, then I think there could be some possibility for some serious clashes between -- and over the airspace between Syria and Turkey.

But it has not gotten close to that yet. It all depends on where these forces are deployed. If they are deployed in a relatively rear element type role, then I think they'll probably get left alone by the Turks, so long as they don't get too stuck into the fight, because of the consequences of bringing those two significant air forces into conflict over the skies.

VAUSE: Sam, thank you for the analysis. Appreciate it.

SESAY: A quick break. The White House seems to have a favorite new target to blame for Russia's election meddling. It isn't Vladimir Putin or even Russia. We'll explain just ahead.

VAUSE: Also, how one Grammy award-winning song writer is using her star power to push for gun reform laws in the U.S.


VAUSE: Well, the White House is going to great lengths to save President Trump takes Russia's election meddling seriously, despite his weekend tweet storm blaming just about everyone else. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says it's very clear that Russia meddled in the election but she says it just did not have any impact.

[02:15:00] SESAY: And of course, she says the Trump campaign did not collude with Russia. Reporters pressed her on why the President himself won't acknowledge Russia's interference.


SARAH SANDERS, UNITED STATES PRESS SECRETARY: The President has acknowledged that multiple times before. He acknowledged it during the transition. He acknowledged it during the press conference in Poland, and he acknowledged it for a third time at a press event in Poland. He has stated several time, I think one of the places where you guys seem to get confused, and it seems to happen regularly, the President has not said that Russia did not meddle.

What he is saying it did not have an impact and it certainly wasn't with help from the Trump campaign.


VAUSE: Joining us now CNN Political Commentator, Dave Jacobson, Republican Consultant John Thomas, also Ron Brownstein, CNN's Senior Political Analyst and the Senior Editor for the Atlantic. OK, so just minutes after that Sarah Sanders made the statement in the briefing, which is not like we have to check this, but said it is in fact, false.

Sarah Sanders clarified a weekend tweet, where the President blamed the Florida shooting on the FBI missing warning signs because it's too preoccupied with the Russia investigation and then she said this.


SANDERS: He is making the point that we would like our FBI agencies to not be focused on something that is clearly a hoax in terms of investigating the Trump campaign and its involvement. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: John, first you. OK. Did Russia meddle in the election as Sarah Sanders said? Or is it a hoax, as Sarah Sanders said?

JOHN THOMAS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: I think the Trump administration is trying to explain is the collusion hoax as it relates to Trump colluding with Russians, to swing this election, that there is no evidence that Donald Trump has colluded with Russians to swing this election. So I think that's what she is referring to.

There certainly has been some revisionist history in their language. But also it's a fair statement to say that the FBI has had some massive failures too. Number one, not identifying this shooter in Florida when there was evidence to get this before it happened.

And the second was we knew about Russian influence -- or trying to influence our elections back in 2014. Where was the FBI then or did they alert Barack Obama? Did he do nothing? There might have en an intelligence breakdown back then as well.

VAUSE: OK. So John, to you, yes, the Democrats, the question of the Obama administration, could they have done more? You know in 2016 to prevent Russia from meddling in the election. That is not as important as what is the President doing right now either to show there is punishment to Moscow for their actions.

And there has also been evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, look, I think President Obama should have done way more. And I think that was a misstep by his administration. And I think they looked at the national polls as Democrats and Republicans across the country did and said, OK, looks like Hillary Clinton is going to coast to victory. Let's not put our thumb on the scale.

I think that was a massive mistake by the Obama administration. That being said, let's not forget. They reported when Donald Trump was in Asia back on November 11th, that Donald Trump reported -- he said on Air Force One to Axios reporters, that he talked to Vladimir Putin, and Vladimir Putin that there was no meddling in the election and he believed him.

That was reported like three months ago. So Donald Trump said to reporters on Air Force One there was no meddling in the election.

VAUSE: Well, Donald Trump has said there was no meddling in the election lots of times. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. How many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse. This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story. The entire thing has been a Russia hunt. The Russia story is a total fabrication.

Russia did not help me, OK. I call it the Russian hoax. They made up the Russia hoax. That was a Democrat hoax. It's a Democrat hoax.


VAUSE: So, Ron, is there a strategy here by the White House? Or is this just simply an administration which is trying to get through each day, one day at a time with no thought about what happens tomorrow.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN'S SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know it's a little bit of both in the sense that from day to day they kind of veer all over the place. But yes, there has been a strategy from the President from the outset as a candidate to try to delegitimize any institution and any news source that he thinks can harm him.

And the drum beat of this over and over that it's a hoax actually has had an effect on the big portion of the Republican base who doubts the whole thing happened, even to the point of doubting not only collusion but whether Russia was trying to help Donald Trump.

[02:20:00] And I would point out one very important point about 2016. Obviously, President Obama should have done more. But when they went up to Capitol Hill with the intelligence agencies, and said look, we have the evidence that Russia is doing this.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader made very clear that he would oppose them if they tried to go public with a joint statement on this. And that he would view this as an attempt to, as Dave said, put a thumb on the scale of the election. When we ask why the U.S. did not do more in 2016, the hinge point I believe was that meeting where Mitch McConnell said he would attack this as a partisan effort to help Hillary Clinton, or at let resist it as partisan effort to help Hillary Clinton.

I think that was the moment that was lost in terms of the forcefulness of the U.S. response, and certainly going forward the issue obviously is, what Donald Trump will do when he has refused to even impose the sanctions that Congress has voted.

VAUSE: OK, so all this now raises the question now that the President has always believed that Russia meddled in the election, even though he said the complete opposite consistently for the last year or so. What will the administration do in terms of retribution? Again, here is Sarah Sanders.


SANDERS: President Trump and the administration have made it clear that interference in our elections will have consequences and we're going to continue to impose consequences in response to Russian cyber attacks, just last week, we called out Russia by name.


VAUSE: Ooh, called out by name, what have the consequence been so far.

THOMAS: There have not been. $,


THOMAS: We'll see what they will roll out. There have not been.

VAUSE: OK, so you know, Dave, no consequences for the Russian President Vladimir Putin, what does that tell the Russians?

JACOBSON: Clearly, it looks like Russians have something on Donald Trump. It looks like, if you read the tea leaves, Donald Trump is hiding something. Let's not forget, back last year in 2017, there was wide ranging bipartisan support for intense sanctions against Russia. Donald Trump signed the bill into law. He still has not executed on them. Those new sanctions have not been advanced.

VAUSE: OK. Listen to an interesting exchange between the leaders of the U.S. intelligence community and lawmakers on Capitol Hill. I think it was last weak.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're taking a lot of specific efforts to blunt Russian.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you directed by the President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not as specifically directed by the President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Director Pompeo, have you received a specific presidential direction to take steps to disrupt these activities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not sure how specific.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't say I have been explicitly directed to, "blunt or actively stop."


VAUSE: Ron, all three intelligence chiefs said the President has not given them any instructions when it comes to the midterm elections and Russian meddling.

BROWNSTEIN: And many of those same intelligence chiefs -- it's been reported the past several months were pressured by the White House to publicly exonerate him in the question of collusion, kind of a very clear set of priorities there. Look, yes, this has been -- whatever -- the problem with the Trump administration response to this clear and present danger of Russian meddling, which they clearly have to view as an excellent return on investment for whatever they did.

The million dollars a month they spent in 2016 has paid off enormously in terms of division and confusion in the U.S. The President has been unable to separate the national interest in resisting and thwarting that kind of activity with his own sort of personal interest in his view that any acknowledgement of the Russian activity somehow undermines his -- the validity of his election.

And he has not been able to separate his own interests from the national interest long enough to focus the government on what should be beyond partisanship. A clear call to action, which as you heard again from those intelligence chiefs simply has not been there.

VAUSE: Very quickly to gun control, because the President on Tuesday ordered the attorney general to come up with regulations to ban bump stocks, which turns the semiautomatic weapon to like an automatic weapon. John, we have been down this road before. This has to be done through Congress and a new law. It seems like lip service.

THOMAS: Might be but I think it's a step in the right direction. I think Donald Trump is uniquely qualified to push Congress into making some kind of gun change. I am not holding my breath for it to get to Congress. But just think about it nonetheless. It's very politically risky for Trump to even take that step forward.

That is not an easy thing for him to do. I guarantee you his phones are ringing off the hooks from Second Amendment activists right now.

VAUSE: Dave.

[02:25:00] JACOBSON: The question is he going to expand any meaningful political capital to jam through Congress. That's the big unknown. What is fascinating to me, John, was Quinnipiac put on a poll today. It had the highest number ever recorded in that poll, 66 percent of Americans want tougher gun laws, common sense gun laws. Perhaps President Trump saw that poll earlier today. Who knows? As we looked at 2018, guns are going to a big issue in the upcoming elections.

THOMAS: If 2018 is about immigration and guns, I feel pretty good.

VAUSE: Thank you, Ron Brownstein, Dave and John, we appreciate all three of you actually for being with us. Thank u.

THOMAS: Thank you.

SESAY: Well, anger at the Trump administration was on clear when Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas spoke Tuesday at the United Nations.


MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT: In a dangerous, unprecedented manner, this administration undertook an unlawful decision, which was rejected by the international community to remove the issue of Jerusalem off the table without any reason. It decided to recognize the city of Israel's capital and to transfer its embassy to the city to Jerusalem.

It did so ignoring that east Jerusalem is part of the Palestinian territory. It has occupied since 1967. And it's our capital.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SESAY: So the security counsel before the U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke. She said she will not "chase after him, but there will be no turning back from President Trump's Jerusalem decision."


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR: The United States knows the Palestinian leadership was very unhappy with the decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem. You don't have to like that decision. You don't have to praise it. You don't even have to accept it. But know this. That decision will not change.


SESAY: Haley also invited the Palestinians to negotiate. Abbas called for a conference on Middle East peace this year.

VAUSE: Still to come, a famous song writer says it's an honor for the latest song to be a call to action. Diane Warren has offered the hit Stand Up for Something to be used as a rallying cry for gun reform. And we will hear from Diane Warren next.

SESAY: Plus, under pressure from British lawmakers, Oxfam reveals more complaints of inappropriate behavior by staffs since the Haiti scandal came to light less than two weeks ago.


SESAY: You're watching CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles. I am Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I am John Vause. The headlines this hour, at least 250 people have been killed in just over 48 hours, and Syrian regime shelling and airstrikes on Damascus suburb. One human rights group says more than 1,200 people have been wounded. Residents fear that this could be a prelude to a ground invasion by regime forces.

[02:30:00] SESAY: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to meet with North Korean officials while he's in South Korea attending the Olympics, but the North Koreans cancelled the meeting. That's according to the vice president's office. Pence and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sister sat close to each other at the opening ceremony, but they never spoke.

VAUSE: Attorney Alex van der Zwaan has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in the Russia probe. That is why he admits covering up discussions with former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates in 2016. He also says he lied about e-mails involving former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

SESAY: President Trump says he wants to strengthen background checks for gun purchases. He also wants to ban bump stocks which modified guns to fire bullets fast like automatic weapons. The gunman in last year's Las Vegas massacre used guns with bump stocks killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more. Students who survived last week school shooting in Florida are now demanding action on gun control. They traveled to the state capitol on Tuesday and they'll meet with lawmakers on Wednesday. Some students were there when lawmakers struck down a bill that would have banned weapons like the AR-15 used in the Florida shooting. For some survivors of the massacre, it was just too much.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next step of someone with an assault rifle here in Florida is going to be on them


SESAY: Well, Hollywood is taking action. George and Amal Clooney are making large donations to March for our Lives, a movement formed after the Florida shooting. And Grammy Award-winning song writer Diane Warren is also allowing her hit song Stand Up For Something to be used to raise awareness for the march.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It all means nothing, if you don't stand up for something, you can't just talk the talk, you got to walk that walk.


SESAY: Well, the song Stand Up For Something is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. It was ninth Oscar nominations and I'm thrilled to say she joins us now. Diane, good to see you again.


SESAY: So it's under these circumstances.

WARREN: I mean the footage you were just showing, you know, people going to a concert, people going to school. What?

SESAY: And running for their lives.

WARREN: Yes. I mean, yeah. What's going on?

SESAY: It's an incredibly powerful song, Stand Up For Something minus your favorite and you've written many.

WARREN: Yes. I think it's definitely -- I think it's my most important song.

SESAY: And it's a song as you talk about its importance, it's a call to action.


SESAY: It's a song that has been embraced by so many different groups.

WARREN: It's -- yes. It's really resonated, you know, and some pretty - it has been used -- I mean NAACP, ACLU, CNN Heroes. I loved -- there was a beautiful use of that and being there that night and seeing these people. I mean, yes. And standing up to cancer also and now, you know.

SESAY: And now this -- and you made the decision that you wanted this to be a song used in this campaign, why?

WARREN: Yes. I wanted it to be -- because it's a call to action and these kids are taking action. You know, they're doing what the government can't do for them, you know, they're marching and they're going to -- they're not -- I don't think -- I think it's going to -- this is the change, you know.

SESAY: You think so. You actually think it's --


SESAY: Because there are some people who say the forces of the NRA and --

WARREN: Yes. But this feels different, you know, I think of the 60s, you know, it was the kids. It was the young people that changed everything, you know, it kind of almost like -- and the song was kind of written almost to be like a protest 60s song, so it's kind of interesting, you know, that -- I mean I don't know. It's a call to action. And if this could help, you know, anything, I want to help.

SESAY: For you, when you see these young people as you see what --

WARREN: It's horrifying.

SESAY: It's horrifying.

WARREN: And the way you contrast it with adults and what happened in Florida where the house voted down a motion to even listen --


WARREN: That just happened today, right?


WARREN: I mean how -- we need assault rifles? Are you kidding me? Why? Why do you need -- I mean how can that be legal? How can someone -- how can somehow go and buy an assault rifle faster than they can buy beer? I mean it's insane. I mean how is that -- how is that -- I don't have words to describe it. I don't understand that. It has to stop and they have to -- can't be allowed.

SESAY: We want to show a graphic that really drives home the damage caused by guns. Every town for gun safety and put these statistics, and they've been collecting them. And let's put it up for viewers. On an average day, 96 Americans are killed with guns for every one person killed with guns two more are injured. The next one, seven children and teens are killed with guns in the U.S. on an average day. And in an average month, 50 women are shot to death by an intimate partner in the U.S.

[02:35:08] Gun -- America's gun homicide rate is 25 times the average of other developed nations. Can you help our viewers watching from us around the world? Can you even begin to understand why this country love affair with guns.

WARREN: I don't it's a love affair. I hate them. I went -- I went with some friends a few years ago, you know, just thinking, can we go to a shooting raining just in case someone robs me? I take the gun. I can -- like I have no desire to ever shoot anything and I shot it one time, and it just freak me out. I don't understand the appeal of it. I don't understand why people want to, you know, I don't know.

SESAY: Do you think this issue is going to dominate at the Oscar's this coming up in a couple of weeks? Do you think --

WARREN: I think that's going to coming up.


WARREN: You know, I think it's going to come up.

SESAY: It's going to be interesting to see what happens in the days ahead. But you are optimistic that there will be a change with the kids?

WARREN: I do. You know, it feels different with these kids. I think they're going to -- I don't think they're going to like just sit back and let this be the status quo.

SESAY: We shall see what happens and best of luck with the Oscar's.

WARREN: Thank you. Thank you so much.

SESAY: It's an important song. So --

WARREN: Thank you, yes.

SESAY: It's a bigger platform and, you know, an Oscar would be great for it as it's also being used for this fight.

WARREN: Yes. It's pretty amazing on -- I'm glad to that this song can make a difference.

VAUSE: One of the youngest victims of the Florida shooting is being honor for his bravery by the U.S. Army Military Academy. Peter Wang has been posthumously admitted to West Point, a lifelong dream for the 15-year-old. He was a member of a high school's reserve officer training corp. He died in his uniform shot dead as he held open a door helping others escape the gunman. Peter was one of the U.S. Army Medal of Heroism along with two other ROTC students, Alaina Petty, and Martin Duque. Please do not miss CNN Town Hall tomorrow with students, parents, and others impacted by this school shooting. We'll speak out. Stand up, the students of Stoneman Douglas demand action is live on Thursday at 10:00 in the morning Hong Kong, 2:00 A.M. in London, 9:00 P.M. Wednesday in New York. Also to come in, members of Benjamin Netanyahu's inner circle are at a center of -- let's take a break. This is a story. Sorry. Center of new corruption investigations.

SESAY: The Israeli Prime Minister says he's not involved in these latest cases. But Mr. Netanyahu is facing the possibility of charges of fraud, bribery, and breech of the trust and other investigations. Our Oren Liebermann has the details.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For the second time this week, members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's inner circle are at the heart of another corruption investigation. That now makes five separate graft probes that have hit the prime minister or those closest to him. And this latest revelation comes one week after police said they have enough evidence to indict Netanyahu in two separate cases. That gives you an idea of where the Prime Minister stands today. In the latest investigation revealed Tuesday morning, police say two suspects offered a high ranking judge that the judge would become attorney general if she agreed to considerations in a future case that agreement never materialize.

Police didn't have or name the two suspects but Netanyahu identified one of them as his former family spokesman, very much a member of his inner circle. In Sunday's investigation revealed just two days earlier, police arrested seven people including that same family spokesman for relations between the Israeli Ministry of Communications and Bezeq, an Israeli telecom company. Police say the ministry illegally advanced Bezeq's interests in exchange for a favorable coverage for Netanyahu. Crucially, Netanyahu was the Minister of Communications at this time and his close friend was the controlling shareholder of Bezeq and the owner of the online news site. Netanyahu has not been named as a suspect in these latest cases. But that hasn't stopped him from slamming the investigations.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's happening in the last few days is the system going crazy, scandal. Two false statutory claims are brought up and the framework of a witch hunt against me and my family that has been going on for years. And we know what this is about to create by force a public cloud over the prime minister. It's simply unbelievable.


LIEBERMANN: One of their frequent targets of Netanyahu's anger has been the Israeli Police Chief. On Tuesday, the chief fired back with a thinly veiled swipe at Netanyahu speaking in a conference in Jerusalem. He said, during criminal proceedings suspects try to create doubt as to the credibility of the police officers testimony and his professionalism. Oren Liebermann, CNN Jerusalem.

VAUSE: Ok. And now we'll take a short break. When we come back here on NEWSROOM L.A., dozens of migrants who risked their lives at sea to escape what they say with months of slavery, abuse, and even torture. They are talking to the "CNN Freedom Project." That's next.


[02:41:45] VAUSE: Well, often it seems an apology from Oxfam comes with new revelation about suspected staff misconduct.

SESAY: On Tuesday, the aid agency told British lawmakers in less than two weeks it received 26 new complaints of inappropriate behavior by staff. Our Phil Black has more.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As expected, one of Oxfam's chief executive faced a British parliamentary committee, he face some tough questions. Mark Goldring was repeatedly hit with questions about the organization's failures. Many of the key events took place before he took on the job in 2013, but despite that he repeatedly apologized. He accepted the criticisms and vowed Oxfam will do better. Specifically, on the Haiti scandal of 2011 where seven Oxfam staff were investigated for misconduct including the use of prostitutes. Goldring said that Oxfam had been wrong to let some of those people resign, wrong not to pass on information to Haitian authorities, and wrong not to be more open and transparent about the events at that time.


MARK GOLDRING, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, OXFAM GB: I want to repeat what Oxfam did in 2011 in Haiti was wrong and I wasn't in post. But apologize for that. I'm sorry. At the time, Oxfam conducted an investigation. It was wrong not to report that set of issues to the Haitian authorities and decide how they wanted to handle it.


BLACK: Mark Goldring revealed that since the Haiti story broke, Oxfam has received 26 new reports of staff misconduct, most 16 relate to international programs. Some are recent. Others, historic. He also touched on the continuing financial cost to the charity of this ongoing scandal revealing that 7,000 people have cancelled their regular automatic donations. He said for the moment corporate sponsors and donors are reserving their judgment. When the hearing concluded, the committee chair said it was striking how many times Goldring had apologized. But he noted there is much to apologize for. Philblack, CNN London.

SESAY: Well, the "CNN Freedom Project" has been following the fate of migrants enduring harrowing suffering in Libya. Some say they were brought to Libya when the countries coast guard intercepted their boats.

VAUSE: A group managed to escape risking their life at sea and now they're talking about what happened. We get more from CNN Isa Soares.


ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After months of suffering, a scream of freedom. These migrants were found by the humanitarian organization Proactiva Open Arms, adrift in a dinghy 20 miles off the coast of Libya. With the worst behind them, they celebrate. But their joyful song is not enough to shake off the painful memories of their past. For months in Libya, the migrants say they were in the hands of gangsters, militias, and corrupt security forces who held them for ransom, tortured them, and kept them as slaves. Having paid their smugglers, they took to the sea from the coastal town of Zuwarah. After 10 hours in rough waters, these 140 migrants traumatized and shaken are rescued by volunteers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the blacks in Libya are slaves. I swear to God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lots of people, they are in prison. Everywhere they shoot people.

SOARES: In 2017, more than 40 percent of all migrants stranded in Mediterranean, headed to Europe were rescued by human rights group like (INAUDIBLE), which now face a new challenge. Pushed by growing anti-immigration sentiment among voters, last summer, the European Union began to train and fund the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept the dinghies and bring them back to Libya.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All grounds, this is Libyan Coast Guard. Change your course to zero, zero, zero and leave this area. This is the --

SOARES: NGOs have attacked this strategy, accusing the Libyan Coast Guard of causing migrant fatalities, and being complicit in human trafficking. So, these groups are not welcomed near Libyan waters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't come back, do you understand? This is not Libya search and rescue zone. Do you copy?

SOARES: According to the Italian government, this deal has contributed to a 70 percent drop in migrant arrival since last July. But behind the deal, the U.N. Security Council has found the Libyan Coast Guard to be quote, "Directly involved in such grave human rights violations against migrants.

(INAUDIBLE) from Nigeria, says the Libyan coastguard caught him when he first trying to cross into Europe last June.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they got you, they beat you. They beat us, we black, like animals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have not beat people. You have give us breakfast while everybody do is just wanted to get hope. But they don't know something about that. All they're focusing is their money.

SOARES: Efai, says the coastguard did eventually let him go. But first, they extorted $2,000 from him. He says those who couldn't pay were detained or tortured or even passed on to criminal gangs. The commander of the Libyan coastguard denies this and says that all allegations against them are false.

In a telephone conversation with CNN, (INAUDIBLE) says, "We save people from the water and we turn them into official places on the Libyan interior ministry who all work with recognize organizations like the IOM. Then, many of the migrants we speak to on this dinghy who have experienced the detention centers in Libya, are come into Europe with a very different story to tell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are kidnapping people, they are selling people like fish, they are marketing people like clothes.

SOARES: Isa Suarez, CNN.


SESAY: And March 14th is the second annual My Freedom Day. CNN is partnering with young people around the world for student-led day of action against modern-day slavery. Driving My Freedom Day is a very simple question. What does freedom mean to you? We'll inherent freedom means to you --


[02:50:43] AMANDA DAVIES, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: -- Pyeongchang Alpine Resort today, for the women's downhill. Even for the greatest Alpine skier of all time, things do not always go to plan. Emotions were running really hard.

Lindsey Vonn ran her last Olympic downhill race, eight years after winning gold in Vancouver, but it was not the golden goodbye that the American was hoping for in front of a big contingent of Italian fans, where their flags flying high.

Italy's Sofia Goggia, who leads the World Cup downhill standings went out early and clocked the time of one minute 39.22 seconds to take the lead. Vonn went out a few runs later amid huge anticipation as she looks to reclaim the gold she been unable to defend in Sochi because of injury.

And the U.S. Olympic committee contingent, I stood with what pretty positive as she left the gate, but she was always behind the split times of Goggia. And there was obvious disappointment as she put herself in the silver medal position.

And ultimately, Vonn took bronze behind Norway's Ragnhild Mowinckel. And at 33, she becomes the oldest woman to earn an Olympic medal in alpine skiing. We saw a tears from her in the run-up to the games, and where she talked about how much she wanted to win here for her late grandfather. And those tears came again as she spoke to the media, afterwards, she said, "It was tough to contemplate this being my last Olympic downhill. It's been really hard for me not to get emotional for so many reasons, especially because of my grandfather. I wanted to win so much because of him, but I still think I made him proud.

Well, the Canadian ice dance pair of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won gold in style down at the Ice Arena yesterday. Four years ago, they actually called it a day after failing to defend their gold in Sochi. But after two years away from the sport, they made a spectacular come back. And boy, was it worthwhile. They set a new world record on route to the fifth Olympic medal, and they came to see me right here at our Olympic studio last night.


SCOTT MOIR, ICE DANCE GOLD MEDALIST: Well you get it from 20 years of a fantastic business relationship. I mean, we've been through so much together, we've grown up together. Sometimes, when we look back at the support and how our parents let us leave home, and we kind to think that they're crazy. But we're lucky that we've had the support of them, but we needed each other along the way. It is a unique relationship, we're not quite sure how to describe it but we're surely thankful to have it.


DAVIES: We've got more of that interview coming up in the next edition of "WORLD SPORT". But, it seems ridiculous doesn't it to talk about a ding-dong between a 15 year old and 18 years old, but that is exactly -- well, has been playing out in the women's figure skating.

Training partners, Yevgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova are both competing as Olympic athletes from Russia. And they really dominated the sport in recent years and they did not hold back in the short programs. They traded world record-setting performances. Medvedeva went first, the elder of the two. A two-time world champion describe by one commentator as part ballerina, part butterfly. As she set a record of 81.6 won.

But then, Zagitova took to the eyes. The 15 year old pulled off a short victory over her teammate claiming European gold last month. And less than 20 minutes after the new record of being set, she rewrote it with a score of 82.92 to take the lead heading into Friday's free skate. We really have seen some incredible performances down at the Ice Arena in the last few weeks. And I think, we're due to get a couple of more come Friday.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Just looking at the --


DAVIES: Well, here is how the medal table looks.

VAUSE: OK, I and Isha was looking at the medal table.

DAVIES: He is going.

VAUSE: You can do it.

DAVIES: Go, no, well.

VAUSE: I was going to say, yes.

DAVIES: It looks to be good, if you're Norwegian, doesn't it? They actually -- they set a target of 30 medals heading into these games. And they've got there with four day spent, they got that silver medal in the downhill which is given them that totals. Apparently, now, they predicted they might well get to 39 medals before the end of the games which is quite something. [02:55:02] VAUSE: Bit of a dissolve sort of result there so far at least for team USA, you expect them to be a little higher on the table. But, anyway, we're out of time. Thanks, Amanda.

SESAY: You saved by the bell. Thank you, Amanda.

VAUSE: Satellites. OK. The PyeongChang Winter Games have been the opportunity of a lifetime for a South Korean ski jumper not because he medaled.

SESAY: He didn't.

VAUSE: That's why.

SESAY: But perhaps, more importantly, he got to compete in the Olympics in the town where he grew up first, started ski jumping and is now a local hero. Paula Hancocks has his story.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kim Hyun-ki was just ten years old when his father suggested, he take up the ski jump. He'd never heard of it but gave it a try. Four years later, he decided to take it seriously.


KIM HYUN-KI, SKI JUMPER, WINTER GAME OLYMPICS (through translator): I started with a Korean coach. He told me to jump but I was too scared to come down. I almost burst into tears. All I can remember is closing my eyes and letting go with the start bar.

HANCOCKS: He's improved a bit since then, competing in six consecutive winter Olympics even featuring in a Korean movie. He was a ski jump double in this 2009 black buster, take off. Kim's first Olympics was Nagano, in 1998.

He says, even after that he never imagined he'd last so long. He is a local hero, born and bred in Pyeongchang. Kim remembers when the Olympic ski resorts were just more farming villages.

HYUN-KI: It's very rare for an athlete to be able to participate in an Olympic Games, in their own country. But for me, it's in my hometown. This experience is so precious and important to me.

HANCOCKS: Jochen Danneberg is a former silver medalist ski jumper, and is trained Kim on and off since he was 14. From former East Germany, he says working in a divided country like Korea has extra regimens.

JOCHEN DANNEBERG, COACH, SOUTH KOREAN SKI JUMPING TEAM: They have the same problems but I think Koreans can learn a lot from the Germans.

HANCOCKS: Kim's Olympics may be over, save for the closing ceremony. And he hasn't yet won an Olympic medal. His team-best is 8th in Salt Lake City in 2002, but he is not finished yet.

So, this is Olympics number six for you. Will there be number seven? HYUN-KI: Maybe.

HANCOCKS: Beijing? You can (INAUDIBLE) Beijing?

HYUN-KI: Yes. I try.

HANCOCKS: Paula Hancocks, CNN, Pyeongchang, South Korea.


VAUSE: I love that story.

SESAY: Yes, well, you've been watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. News continues with Rosemary Church after a short break.