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Sex Scandal Rocks Australia Government; Ivanka to Attend Olympics, Meet with Pres. Moon; Olympics Closing Ceremony is Sunday; Trump Doubles Down on Arming Teachers; Manafort Faces New Charges; Trump Brand in India; Nightmare in Syria. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired February 23, 2018 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles and ahead this hour, President Trump proposes more guns in school to solve the deadly problem of gun violence in schools.

Plus as world leaders are calling for an end to the horrific violence of a rebel-held area outside of Damascus, a cease-fire resolution at the U.N. Security Council was scuttled by Russia. Another vote is scheduled in the coming hours.

And after an affair with his former but now pregnant media adviser, questions over travel entitlements and allegations of sexual harassment, Australia's deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, is stepping down from his leadership roles.

Hello, everybody. Great to have you with us for the second hour. I'm John Vause and this is NEWSROOM L.A.


VAUSE: It has been a favorite talking point for gun rights activists for years, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. That is not what happened last week in Florida. An armed deputy was outside of the school while 17 people were being shot and killed with an AR-15 Star rifle. That deputy has since resigned.

Meanwhile, President Trump wants to arm some teachers as a way of stopping school shootings and he's also calling for tougher background checks and raising the minimum age for purchasing a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're not going to walk into a school if 20 percent of the teachers have guns. It maybe 10 percent or maybe 40 percent. And what I'd recommend doing is the people that do carry, we give them a bonus. We give them a little bit of a bonus.

Frankly, they will feel more comfortable having the gun anyway. But you give them a little bit of a bonus. So practically for free, you have now made the school into a hardened target.

For instance, if the coaches, who I guarantee have plenty of experience with weapons, if they had guns, you need a heart, because no matter what you do to keep them gun free, they'll be able to get in there and they'll crawl through the back of the window or something.


VAUSE: Joining me now in Los Angeles, CNN political commentator Joe Trippi and KABC talk radio show host John Phillips.

OK, so, this idea of arming teachers is straight out of the NRA talking points. They put this forward back in 2013.

John, if the president wanted to be really popular and we know that he likes the opinion polls that show him being the bipartisan dealmaker, and if he wanted to be that president, he would be wholeheartedly backing gun reform at this point.

He would walking away from the NRA because, for the most part, there's not a lot of people out there who support this idea for a start of arming the teachers.

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this is a part of a larger package and you mentioned that he wants to up the age for buying an AR-15 from 18 to 21 and something that Dianne Feinstein, the senator from California, here has been talking about for some time, stricter background checks and banning bump stocks.

So I think in terms of the overall package, it is a good deal. We have seen the crime involving guns dropping dramatically from where it was in the 1990s. It was in some cases, in some states double what it is now.

Unfortunately, we have an epidemic of these mass shooters going into places that are soft targets, places like schools, concert venues, airports. We saw it happen here at LAX at the JetBlue terminal.

And so the reality of the situation is that a lot of what are now soft targets have to become hard targets. And it is not something that we want to do. It is something that we have to do, given the epidemic and given the way that people are dying in large numbers as a result of the mass shootings. We have to do something.

JOE TRIPPI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think giving the guns to the teachers is a nonstarter, the teachers don't want to have those guns. Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida, has said this is an idea --


TRIPPI: -- and police don't want it. This is just not going to go anywhere. I do think that the change in the age is pretty significant for the president to have taken that step. I think that is some leadership that he should be -- that should get some good --

(CROSSTALK) VAUSE: He getting praise for that.

TRIPPI: -- yes, some praise for that. But in the end, it is not a whole lot but it is a step in the right direction.

VAUSE: Especially considering the context that nothing has happened for a long period of time, at least there is talk of progress here now and we'll see where it goes.

But the NRA made its first public comments on Thursday in response to the shooting last week in Florida. The NRA likes the idea of selling 1 million more guns to teachers across the United States, because this is what Wayne Lapierre had to say.




LAPIERRE: -- from some of our opponents that armed security makes us less safe is completely ridiculous. If that's true and just think about this.

If that is true, armed security makes us less safe, let's just go ahead and remove it from everywhere. Let's remove it from the White House, from Capitol Hill and remove it from all of Hollywood.


VAUSE: Joe, this is the fundamental difference between pro and anti guns is that the people who are pro guns, they believe more guns makes everybody more safe. People who don't like guns, the more guns, you are less safe.

I kind of feel that a trained security guard or a trained police officer with a gun, I'm OK with that. Joe Six-Pack with no training, with an AR-15 and a couple of beers under his belt, that I'm not so thrilled with.

TRIPPI: Right. And also you have the teachers, a lot of those teachers would have to be trained. One interesting thing is it is $1 billion that the gun companies would probably be for that.

That is a great idea. Let's get a billion more dollars of guns and have the government the buy them and give them to teachers and have more of those guns in school. It does not make a whole lot of sense. The teachers don't want them.

Look, there was an assault weapons ban in this country and these kinds of shootings went down, That ban lapsed. It was for 10 years.

And now, guess what?

After it lapses and you can have these assault weapons, someone can get them that shouldn't have them but they can get them, we are having more of these kinds of tragedies. There seems to be -- I think lifting the age to 21 is a good step. But we've got to do a lot more. I think that's where the American people are.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE). John, I think that people forget that the NRA is not there for gun owners. It is there for gunmakers at the end of the day. It is there for the gunmakers to sell guns and that is why they like it. They like this teacher plan.

PHILLIPS: Well, I don't know if that is true, because when people talk about the NRA, they talk about it as an organization that controls politicians because they control the pursestrings. And that is really not the power that the NRA has.

The power that the NRA has is that they have a lot of members who vote on that subject and they keep those members informed about all the legislation revolving around guns. And if you are a single issue voter or you vote just on that subject and it is not just Republicans. There are Democrats who are big fans of guns who live in the middle of the country.

VAUSE: We found out about that in Sandy Hook in 2012, when Obama tried to get some tougher gun reform through and the Democrats sided with the Republicans and killed it. So yes, the Democrats have just as much here on their record to deal with.

PHILLIPS: Well, John Dingle held on to his House seat when he was challenged by another Democrat on the issue of guns. So that is something that should not surprise us. But it is the votes and not the money.

VAUSE: The president wants more guns in schools to deal with gun violence but he does not want active shooter drills for students and this is why.


TRUMP: I think the shooter drills is a very negative thing. I'll be honest with you. I mean, if I'm a child and I'm 10 years old and they say, we are going to have an active shooter drill, I say, what's that?

Well, people may come in and shoot you, I think that is a very negative thing to be talking about, to be honest with you.


VAUSE: Joe, it may be a very negative thing to talk about but it's a very negative thing, because it is true, because it happens.

TRIPPI: Well, not only is it true and it happens but a lot of the lives were saved in this incident because those students had gone through those kinds of drills and knew where to hide in the closets and teachers did things like stood in front of the students and were courageous enough to follow through with those drills in a way that put themselves in harm's way.

We are better off doing more of that than giving and putting more guns in schools where, you know, these are children and we have had teachers talk about this. That, you know, it is going to make it less safe, because you now have a weapon.

And it is, you know, it is in a classroom with children who are going to want to somehow may get their hands on it and a different kind of the tragedy can happen, an accident. So it does not make sense. I do agree with, you know, a trained security or sheriff and that kind of person with the gun in the school I think makes sense but this doesn't.

VAUSE: OK. The president has been effusive when it comes to the NRA. He said you've got a friend in the White House. That was last year in Atlanta. On Thursday he tweeted this.

"What many people don't understand or don't want to understand is that Wayne, Chris and the folks who work so hard at the NRA, are great people and great --


VAUSE: -- American patriots. They love our country and will do the right thing."

John, name one measure the NRA has either suggested or supported which would reduce gun violence in schools across the -- ?


PHILLIPS: Well, I think that they will ultimately get behind what the president just proposed. The president is going to have the votes.

VAUSE: That may happen.

What have they done before now?

PHILLIPS: Well, the NRA, going back into history, one of the things that they did was to help train blacks, African Americans, when they were facing Jim Crow laws and discrimination in the South so they could protect themselves when you had government --

VAUSE: So you're going back 100 years.


PHILLIPS: -- well, that's an example --


VAUSE: -- living memory.


OK. I think you made my point.

But you think that they will get on board? PHILLIPS: I do, because he control the Republican votes on cultural subjects like guns much better than someone like George W. Bush ever did. You will have a lot of Republicans in purple states and blue states and frankly even some red states who are going to get behind this.

And you're going to have a bunch of Democrats who are running for reelection in states like North Dakota and West Virginia and Missouri who look at this as a lifeline because they don't have to get behind some legislation that is far more strident and antagonistic to their constituents.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) legislation it has to go to Congress. And this means that the president, if he's serious about, is going to have to take this and back it and get it through and there is a timeline for this. Listen to this.



PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: -- sure that action will be taken?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, look, as I said, as I told Major, right now we're in a listening phase. There is a policy process and eventually there'll be a legislative process.

BROWN: Is he willing to go against the NRA ultimately because the NRA is standing firm that it does not support age limits for semi- automatic rifles.

Is the president willing to stick with his --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is willing to do what is right to ensure we have safe schools.


VAUSE: So Joe, how is this going to work, because you have a lot of House conservatives and regardless of what you say about the NRA and are they powerful, do they have the lawmakers in their pockets, there are House conservatives who will listen to the NRA and they will do what the NRA wants them to do. And that is where this gets really difficult.

TRIPPI: That's true but I do think this is -- there is a Nixon going to China moment here for the president. He can lead this party and lead his party further over on the age limits and things like that if he gets out there to lead on it.

I think I agree with John, he is going to have the votes but he is the one who has to create it. Create the opening. Sort of force the NRA to get with him not because they want to but because they are going to lose. And to make the, some of the conservatives in Congress do the same

thing and not get with him and then with the NRA, because the president is forcing it and led. If he is doing that, these are good first steps what is happening right now. But if this is more of his, I'm going to say this kind of stuff --


VAUSE: Like the immigration thing. One day I am for it and the next day I'm not.

TRIPPI: Then we will be in the same stuff and it doesn't happen.

VAUSE: The NRA spokesperson -- she was on a Jim Carrey movie I think -- she made a really loathsome accusation saying that the media loves a mass shooting, cause we love the ratings and this is the same woman who fronted this ad to recruit members for the NRA.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They use their media to assassinate real news. They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again.

And then they use their ex-president to endorse the resistance, all to make them march, make them protest, make them scream racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia to smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law abiding until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness.


VAUSE: You know, that ad was so shameful and it was so awful, John, and then have this woman to come out and make this accusation against the media, saying we love a mass shooting, it is beyond contempt.

PHILLIPS: Well, I have not seen the media report on this objectively. The media has essentially become advocates. So I think to suggest that the media has taken a side on this it is not just true, it's obvious.

VAUSE: To say that we love a mass shooting?

PHILLIPS: The media has not reported on this. The media has taken a side and is pushing an editorial point of view.


VAUSE: Joe, to say that the media loves a mass shooting?

TRIPPI: -- 97 of the American people want universal background -- 97. OK, there is not -- it is reprehensible, what she has said. You can't call it out is like --


TRIPPI: -- right now. This tragedy happens. There are some really sane, common sense things to do and instead, it's going to be like this. It is amazing.

VAUSE: OK, stay with us, because quickly I want to go into the Russian investigation and it seems that the special counsel Robert Mueller is turning the screws on the former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates with a whole lot of new charges and a new indictment.

We get the details now from Shimon Prokupecz.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Good evening, these new bank fraud charges Gates and Manafort now face could put them behind bars for 30 years. Significantly more time than what they would face in the previous indictment.

Which could put pressure on the two to cooperate. As in the first indictment, the charges here stem from money the two made doing the lobbying work on behalf of the pro-Russian former leader of Ukraine.

Now the two men allegedly took this money and engaged in a scheme to hide it from the U.S. authorities. They allegedly parked the millions of dollars of unreported money in U.S. real estate as well as offshore bank accounts.

The indictment said they used their new properties as collateral to take out fraudulent bank loans. These new charges add to the mounting pressure on the two former Trump campaign advisers to perhaps cooperate.

And as CNN has reported, Rick Gates was in talks to cooperate with the special counsel investigation and we're told despite these new charges, there could still be a deal. But the key here is that there is every indication that the Mueller team with these new charges is attempting to get Manafort to flip as well -- Shimon Prokupecz, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: OK. A statement from Manafort's spokesman.

"Paul Manafort is innocent of the allegations set out by the newly filed indictment and he is confident that he will be acquitted of all charges. That new allegations against Mr. Manafort once again have nothing to do with Russia" -- thank you, John -- "and the 2016 election" -- thank you, John -- "interference/collusion.

"Mr. Manafort is confident that he will be acquitted and violations of his constitutional rights will be remedied."

But, Joe, this seems to be taking it to a whole new level with Mueller every day. TRIPPI: Yes, this just keeps moving forward and I know we'll get that there's no collusion proven, all those kinds of statements. But we don't know yet and I am willing to actually sit back and watch what happens here because it is not looking very good for some of these people, particularly not Manafort, who, if he is found guilty -- he's a 70 year old man who's -- it means a death sentence --


VAUSE: John, we're out of time but very quickly, if Manafort cuts a deal, are you worried a itty little bit?

PHILLIPS: Do I look like a worried man to you?

VAUSE: No but you put that face on all of the time. Love the poker face. Joe and John, good to have you guys. Thank you.

OK. The U.S. president's eldest son, Donald Jr., is going to speak a few hours from now at a business summit in India in what the organizers there are calling a fireside chat. He is there representing his company, the Trump Organization, the one his father still owns.

Some high-profile guests will be there as well, possibly India's prime minister. Don Jr. is also going to be dining with prospective business partners, those who want to buy a luxury apartment and reportedly put down nearly $40,000 as a booking fee to meet with him. And that's raising some ethical concerns.

Trump says he is not mixing business with politics -- that's Junior -- and nor is he trying to profit from his father's presidency.

And for more now on Donald Trump Jr. and his controversial business trip to India, Krishnadev Calamur, a senior editor with "The Atlantic," joins us now from Washington.

Krishnadev, on the surface at least, explain the offer to me.

Is it simply reserve a luxury Trump apartment by putting down close to $40,000 U.S. dollars and then you're invited for dinner and conversation with Donald Trump Jr.?

KRISHNADEV CALAMUR, "THE ATLANTIC": That is exactly right. You put down the amount, which is $40,000 and, in exchange, you get dinner with the president's son and that is how the deal has been billed. There were massive ads taken out in the biggest Indian newspapers and,

apparently, it's been a huge success. Lots of condos being booked and people who stood in line and met with Donald Trump Jr.

And the latest that I read was that he didn't do much but pitch the properties some more, pitch the Trump properties some more and ask the folks who already bought some of the properties or at least put down money for them to tell their friends to buy some more.

VAUSE: OK. So explain this to me. When it comes to doing business in India, is it common for a potential

buyer to put down that amount of money and then, with that, get to have dinner with the person who is selling the real estate?

CALAMUR: No. That's -- I think that we are living in pretty extraordinary times. The fact is that the Indian real estate --


CALAMUR: -- market in the largest city is red hot so the prices they are paying are not unusual but having said that, it is not being matched up with the kind of the offer that is having dinner with the president's son being offered as compensation for that kind of the deposit.

And I think part of the allure for a lot of Indians, especially the kinds who can afford to pay this sort of money is the potential to have dinner and have a conversation with Donald Trump Jr.

The Trump brand is still very big in India. The brand has great allure. And President Trump's popularity in India is fairly high, certainly higher than it is in the U.S. And so it is not a detraction in any way and the idea that you can have Donald Trump Jr. for dinner and have a conversation with him probably helps.

VAUSE: So we are talking about the people with money in India and it is a big country and lot of people and a lot of poverty, but there is also a fairly significant part of the population that, you know, are incredibly wealthy.

But are the people who are signing up for this, are they the movers and the shakers?

Are they the people who would be looking to get into Donald Trump Jr.'s ear or hoping that he would pass something to his dad?

All this is speculation.

Are they actually selling it as have dinner and conversation with the son of the U.S. president or is just Donald Trump Jr. and everybody knows who he is?

CALAMUR: Let me address the second part of the question first. It is advertised as dinner and meeting with Donald Trump Jr. The presidency is not to be mentioned. That is to be clear. But it is pretty clear that it is the president's son. The president still owns the Trump Organization, even though he has resigned from all major positions.

And this is raising a bunch of ethical questions that the presidential ethics experts have brought up, including the fact that if money, you know, what it says for money that is raised overseas coming in to the U.S. in a company that is owned by the U.S. president, and obviously, the idea that he could have dinner with the president's son and talk to him about a range of issues, you know, even if there is no -- even if there is no illegality expressed the idea that perhaps curry favor with the president's son certainly holds a great deal of allure.

VAUSE: Yes, it is all very, I don't know, sort of murky in a way, to say the least.

Krishnadev, thank you so much for being with us.

CALAMUR: My pleasure.

VAUSE: And next here on NEWSROOM L.A., a Syrian ceasefire deal could be hours away. We'll have the latest on a contentious U.N. resolution.

Plus a stark warning for the President of the United States about Russian leader Vladimir Putin from a man who knows all about the Kremlin's abuse of power.





VAUSE: Nigerian officials have apologized for saying that 80 schoolgirls had been rescued in the northeastern state. Boko Haram reportedly kidnapped them on Monday but now there is confusion over what actually happened.

Officials say the militants raided a school but now they admit they are not sure how many children were taken, let alone how many, if any, have been found. Nigeria has a very sad history of abductions of children, militants kidnapped 300 girls in the town of Chibok in 2014.

About half of the girls have been set free but at least 100 of them are still missing.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote Friday on a 30-day ceasefire for the Syrian brutal civil war. They are set to meet at 11:00 am New York time. Syria's main ally, Russia, has opposed the measure but the Swedish ambassador said the vote will happen if they can work out the language.

All this comes amid the intense bombardment of the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus. The Syrian military briefly stopped dropping bombs this week and apparently dropped leaflets for a time, warning residents to get out.

Images of those leaflets were posted on social media and on those leaflets, they blame the insurgents for the deaths of thousands of women and children. Activists and human rights groups say Russian and Syrian warplanes are the ones doing all of the killing.

Joining us live from Damascus is Jakob Kern, who is the country director for the World Food Programme in Syria.

Jakob, thanks for being with us.

What is the latest information that you have right now from Eastern Ghouta in terms of food, medicine, other supplies as well as the number of wounded and the number of dead?

JAKOB KERN, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: Well, John, nothing has really changed for the last two months. We have not had access into Eastern Ghouta since last November except for one convoy last week, nine trucks delivered food and some other humanitarian supplies to 7,200 people.

That is something around 2 percent of the entire population. So that is a drop in the ocean. You can imagine after two months of no deliveries and besiegement and bombardment, the situation is really dire in Eastern Ghouta.

VAUSE: And the situation with the Syrian planes dropping the leaflets over Eastern Ghouta, telling residents to leave, where are they to go and how are they expected to get there?

KERN: Well, that is the big question. We don't really want another Aleppo. A year ago, Eastern Aleppo was in a similar situation, people were asked to either stay or leave to go to Idlib. We don't believe it is a good solution for situation like Eastern Ghouta, because it is 400,000 people and from a humanitarian point of view, we would like to provide assistance where they are and, for that, we need a ceasefire. That is what we are asking for weeks now.

VAUSE: What are the chances do you believe that the vote will be passed in the U.N. Security Council in the coming hours?

KERN: After two years of working in the area, I'm losing a little bit of hope, that something actually will happen. We have had ceasefires that worked for a few days and maybe weeks and then it started to escalate.

You remember the deescalation zones that have becoming escalation zones actually. All we want is at least a month that it will take to us deliver the assistance to all the 400,000 people. It is a midsized city and it's not going to be a question of days but months to deliver what in the World Food Programme a month's ration to these people.

VAUSE: Amazing that you have any hope after two years. The State Department spokeswoman was asked specifically to describe steps that the United States is taking to try to end the violence in Syria. I'd like you to listen to what she said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will continue to have our people there on the ground, frankly. We have Americans who are there who are assisting Syrians, trying to get back to a normal life. I don't know what more you expect us to do.


VAUSE: OK. So Heather Knorr (ph) does not know what more is expected of her and the United States and maybe you have suggestions.

What should the U.S. be doing right now as well as the other Western nations.

KERN: This is a war that has many parties that are a part of it and many nations that are supporting these parties. And I think everybody that has an influence on Syria on the parties that are in the conflict could make an effort.

[01:30:00] And say, we want to stop this fighting and we want to the allow humanitarian aid to pass through; and this is not just East Ghouta, this is in Idlib -- this is in the south, it's in the west, in the east of Syria. After eight years of war, people tell me we have enough, we want peace, we want our life back. And I think that's what the old Syrian population.

VAUSE: Yes. It doesn't seem like a lot to us. Jakob, thanks so much for being with us, we appreciate it.

KERN: You're welcome John.

VAUSE: Well next to go in NEWSROOM LA, a sex scandal has rocked the Australian government and now the man at the center of it, the Deputy Prime Minister is giving up his leadership roles, we'll have details in just a moment.


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

Donald Trump is vowing to do something about gun violence in the wake of the Florida school shooting, he told law enforcement and education officials he supports arming some teachers, also wants background checks and raising the minimum age by semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21.

The U.S. Security Council will mainly be coming out to vote on a ceasefire resolution for Syria. The deal would allow for a 30-day truce, to allow humanitarian aid and medical evacuations. News on the vote comes amid intense bombardment campaign, that they will have enclave on Eastern Ghouta.

A new study revealed Venezuela is slipping deeper into poverty, according to the survey, 87 percent of all Venezuelans are now living below the poverty line, many are too poor to buy food, they're dependent upon the government handouts. So you also found Venezuelans loss in average of 11 kilos of body weight over the past year.

Australia's Deputy Prime Minister is stepping down from his leadership roles after acknowledging an affair with a former staffer. Earlier this month, Barnaby said he and was living with his former media advisor and they're actually expecting a child. Joyce so in the limelight right now begging reporters to leave him and his family alone.


BARNABY JOYCE, RESIGNING AS AUSTRALIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: It's absolutely important, it's incredibly important that that be a circuit breaker not just for the parliament but more importantly that it would be a circuit breaker for me, it would be a circuit breaker for my unborn child, it would be a circuit breaker for my daughters, and it would be a circuit breaker for Nath.

It's got to stop, this has got to stop. And it's not fair on them, it's just completely and utterly unwarranted the sort of observation that's happened. If humor aside, I think its got to stop for the poor (INAUDIBLE) party that's on my ass every day, I think it's got to stop for them as well.


VAUSE: That is not going to stop. Tim Lester is a Political Reporter with "Seven Network", he joins now live from (INAUDIBLE). Well Tim, somewhere (INAUDIBLE) in Florida, it wasn't just the scandal with the staffer that brought him down, there were questions over travel entitlement, also it seems a final show of allegations of sexual harass anent which he has denied.


TIM LESTER, POLITICAL REPORTER, SEVEN NETWORK: It happens with these often John, they're not the original scandal that caused the damage but where that tied to over two, two and a half weeks that the scandal has been running.

Certainly the media were asking a number of questions with relate -- with regard to the travel entitlements of Vikki Campion, the now partner of the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and whether in effect taxpayers should pay for her to travel while she was media advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister and they were also as we now know conducting an affair.

So questions like that that simply have not been answered just yet have played Barnaby Joyce over the last two and a half weeks and more recently and this turned out to be the catalyst for his decision today to sit down as Deputy Prime Minister a new sexual harassment allegation raised in Western Australia or western most state against the Deputy Prime Minister considered today, he simply would not fight that in his position and chose to go to the back page of Australian politics.

VAUSE: So Tim, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull currently in the United States, he tried to shame Joyce into quitting about a week or so ago, so clearly, Turnbull will be receiving this news with a set amount of glee?

LESTER: Well, I think you'll receive it with relief, not glee. Barnaby Joyce is a kind of (INAUDIBLE) legend in this country for being able to retract votes in the rural and regional areas of Australia. He's been a huge vote winner right up until his own victory in a bi-election in this electorate in Australia back in December.

But in the two and a half month since, it really has been a tremendous decline for him once this story about his marriage breakdown and the affair with his staffer broke. So, a vote winner, he's now gone. He became a liability for the government, the government was deeply worried about the fact that he could get nothing into the news media apart from Barnaby Joyce's affair. So I think traveling Washington at the moment, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will feel a sense of relief that his government agenda might now cut through a little bit in the news media down here.

VAUSE: Yes. And Joyce is remaining in parliament, so the numbers will basically stay the same. But still, Turnbull's got this incredibly sort of narrow majority that is really sort of hanging in the balance. So what does this do the stability of a very fragile coalition government?

LESTER: Well, I think the last two and a half weeks have not helped the stability at all but partly because of the blockage of the message and the government which had been undergoing a bit of a resurgence if you like over the Christmas, New Year period and into 2018 has suffered a big setback and the loss of a major vote winner.

But his departure might actually I think be taken by most in the coalition as a relief, as a chance for them to rebuild and as you say, this isn't about the numbers on the floor of the parliament, the government reminds the sign there, so it doesn't have a practical effect in terms of the votes but it might have a stabilizing effect and a chance for the government to turn the political blow towards back on the opposition and hope to make some political gains in the days ahead.

VAUSE: Yes, the nationals, they've been the steady party. They hadn't had the leadership changed (INAUDIBLE) steady as she goes but clearly things have changed there as well. Tim, thanks so much, it's good to see you. Appreciate you being with us.

Well, the former leader of Georgia, the country, not the state says President Trump needs to crackdown harder on Russia before Vladimir Putin's power grows unchecked. Mikheil Saakashvili should know his presidency was doomed he says when Putin started interfering. And he spoke exclusively to CNN's Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Mikheil Saakashvili's latest fall from grace. A former Georgian president is sworn enemy of the Kremlin, now expelled from Ukraine where he briefly emerged as an opposition force.

We met him stateless and exiled in Amsterdam. The man who backed by the West once fought Vladimir Putin but lost.

MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, FORMER PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA: I've been one of the first victims of Putin's election meddling in 2012. They've unleashed the fake news, the stage provocations, internet attacks all over -- all around the place.


Trolls, trolls factories were -- that descended upon us.

CHANCE: So you've experienced that Putin's Russia can do.

SAAKASHVILI: I've seen it -- I've seen -- I've seen it firsthand and --

CHANCE: So you must be frustrated that Trump isn't also seeing it, acknowledging it, and taking action against it.

SAAKASHVILI: Well I think on number of occasions Trump has acted. Well, would like to see more, of course, supplying Ukraine and Georgia with the fancy weapons, with anti-tech weapons, it's a very important (INAUDIBLE) and further on, they killed -- American airstrike killed Russian mercenaries in Syria. When had it happened last time when Russians get killed by their airstrike of U.S. military, it's happening, it's happening on the ground.

CHANCE: It was in 2008 that Saakashvili led tiny pro-western Georgia in a brief but disastrous war with Russia. A land potential for escalation, his western allies stepped back from direct intervention. A failure which Saakashvili now believes helped undermine faith in western support across the region in which he says President Trump should work hard to restore.

SAAKASHVILI: People say western models is not good for us personally because we are the rulers of our countries and next we will end up in Amsterdam or even worst in a prison or death. So better to look at Putin, he's eternal, he stays in power forever, he controls media, he -- there is no opposition in that country, nobody can touch him, he even can influence U.S. elections.

So Putin is undefeatable and everybody that likes to listen to (INAUDIBLE) and advice is defeatable and not only they are defeatable, after a while, the West will not say a word. I've been --

CHANCE: What should Trump do now to change that perception and to change the situation?

SAAKASHVILI: I'll hold U.S. rallies because if somebody like me has been harassed unjustly and no western diplomat says a word because they don't want to like rock very fragile geopolitical balance, then he should brace for more trouble.

These things are going to multiply because what you're telling the local autocrats, one of the Putins, if you behave like Putin, we are going to show -- we are just going to watch it silently.

CHANCE: Matthew Chance, CNN in Amsterdam.


VAUSE: Next on NEWSROOM LA, these two Olympic figure skaters share a country and a coach, but only one is leaving Pyeongchang with a gold.

Plus, President Trump's daughter representing the U.S. at the Olympics, also mixing some politics into her schedule. Those details also ahead.


VAUSE: First daughter of Uncle Trump expected to arrive any minute now in South Korea, she'll represent the United States at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games and she will meet with the South Korean President, Moon Jae-in.

White House Press Sarah Sanders and other U.S. officials are making this trip along with Ivanka. Paula Hancocks is following all of this from Pyeonghcang and CNN's Amanda Davies is covering the Olympic Games which wrap up on Sunday.


So soon, we're going to miss it all. But first to Paula, when the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was there he gave the North Korean the cold shoulder at the opening ceremony. So is there any plans either that are maybe public or maybe suspected that these two delegations could meet this time?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well John, the official line from the South Koreans is that they are not going to facilitate or try to facilitate a meeting between Ivanka Trump and the North Korean delegation. It's a fairly tricky position for the South Koreans to be in because one of the main members of the North Korean delegation is Kim Yong-chul.

He is widely believed to be behind a couple of attacks that North Korea is accused of carrying out against the South Koreans. The sinking of the Cheonan warship which killed 46 sailors, that the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island killing four people. So certainly we are expecting protests when it comes to this North Korean delegation coming.

We also heard from the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence that he has really seem to be defending his decision not to stand when that joint North, South Korean team march at the opening ceremony. The rest of -- pretty much the rest of the stadium did stand. This is what he have to say.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For all those in the media who think I should have stood and cheered with the North Koreans, I say the United States of America doesn't stand with murderous dictatorships, we stand up to murderous dictatorships and we will keep standing strong until North Korea stops threatening our country, our allies, or until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missiles once and for all.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HANCOCKS: Now hearing from at least some of the South Korean

athletes, they are intending to march in the closing ceremony with their North Korean counterparts but judging from what the U.S. vice president said, it would be assumed that Ivanka Trump will not stand for that either.

VAUSE: OK. Well there will be comparisons of that between Ivanka and this trip to South Korea and the earlier one by Kim Jong-un, the sister rather when she was there for the opening ceremony. So when you're doing those comparisons, I guess who's going to come off the better if you like?

HANCOCKS: Well I think that the general assumption is that North Korea really had a PR coup when they had the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sister, Kim Yo-jong walking around Pyeongchang and in the VIP box at the opening ceremony. I mean, she was followed by the world's media which, of course, there was that similarity we're expecting Ivanka Trump to have exactly the same.

And, of course, they are both family members of the leaders of the United States and of North Korea. But I think the similarities probably end there but we are expecting the -- certainly the South Korean media to be focusing on Ivanka Trump just as much as they did on Kim Yo-jong.

VAUSE: OK. Paula, thank you for that. Let's head over now to Amanda Davies for all the very latest on the competition. So Amanda, I won't be a Minnie to the beanie but you're looking good in the hood.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS WORLD CORRESPONDENT: How long have you been coming up with that one?

VAUSE: All day. Just came to me.

DAVIES: Yes? Well, thank you very much for taking the time. It's a glorious day actually, I'll probably could do without the hat. But it does look good, so I'm going to keep it on. Now, day 14 here, it would always going to have to (INAUDIBLE) to beat yesterday.

But the much anticipated battle for figure skating gold have more than lived up to the hype. Two young Russians sharing the same coach going head-to-head for one Olympic gold. And nobody else have been given a chance really in the buildup. Alina Zagitova, 15-years-old who set a new world record in her free skate, up against her 18-yearold compatriot, Evgenia Medvedeva, a two-time world and European champion.

And after a long wait while the rest of the field performed, it was Zagitova who went first dressed in red as predicted. She performs her jumps and moves with technical difficulty in the second half of the program, it wasn't perfect but it produce a score just shy of her personal best and it was enough to lift her into gold medal position. Interestingly, she actually looks a little bit disappointed at her score. But maybe that was because she knew what was to come.

And Medvedeva then took to the ice and put in a near perfect performance, in some people's eyes better than what had come before. But when the scores came in and amid what sounded like shock really, something of a stunned silence in the arena, Medvedeva was given exactly the same score in her free skate as her rival but she missed out on the gold because of their short program scores.

So, it is 15-year-old Alina Zagitova who is celebrating the gold medal, actually, the first gold medal for the Olympic athletes of Russia here at these games, 18-year-old Medvedeva with the silver and Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond with the bronze.


The unified Korean hockey team nowhere near medal contention but they have definitely made one of the biggest impacts at the games making history as the first ever unified team to compete at Olympics that build up with less than ideal with 12 of the North Korean players joining forces with the existing score of 23 from South Korea. There was language issues, there were team strategy changes that they failed to win a game considered 28 goals, scored just two.

And, of course, they had the support of the North Korean cheer squad and that's something that the South Korean player, Randi Griffin talked to me about when she visited with teammate Joe Susie earlier on.


RANDI GRIFFIN, UNIFIED KOREAN HOCKEY PLAYER: You know, they were very interesting, sometimes it was hard. When you're on the ice you're trying to just focus on the game and just see what's on the ice. But sometimes I'm kind of like, what's going on up there. It was interesting and I think probably the weirdest thing about it was that they kind of had their own routine that seem like it had nothing to do with what was really happening on the ice.

And usually at a hockey game, the fans are kind of responding to what's happening and we could be losing eight nothing to Swiss and they're still like, "We are winning," like "We are great." And it's like, OK. So, yes, it was just a little bit of a strange different experience but, yes, I guess it's interesting.


DAVIES: Certainly one of the things that I found most fascinating about the games here but I've got more of that interview with the members of the unified Korea hockey team. In the next edition of WORLD SPORTS just an hour from now, John.

VAUSE: Absolutely. That unified Korean team was certainly one of the more memorable events of this Winter Games, certainly to me it really standout and we'll make it standout. So, Amanda, you're the other thing which will make the Olympic standout for me, thank you.

OK, we'll take a short break. When we come back, they have not seen the sun since October inside the Arctic Circle. But the region is experiencing a record warm winter, we'll explain why in just a moment.


VAUSE: When it's February in the Arctic, the temperatures usually fall to around -30 Celsius. But the northernmost weather station in the world in Greenland, so temperature is above freezing for more than 24 hours this week, that was 24 hours continuously.

OK, so what is behind this Arctic heat wave? Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera joins us now with the answers. So Ivan, you've got a big map, a big globe, tell us.

IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, I do. Yes, I do. And it's a big story, so that's why we've broken it down. And tell you what, they haven't done that as far as that 24-hour period or when temperatures above freezing in the Arctic Circle, they only done that twice.

So it is quite a rare event and as John mentioned by the way, no sun, right? The perpetual night there, they won't see the sun again until March. Here's what's going on, the red and the blue, obviously red is hot blue is cold and what this is indicating here is that temperatures across the Arctic Circle have been much above average. In fact, within five to ten degrees above where they should be for this time of year and that is a huge deal for the Arctic.


And that's not the end of it here, coming up this weekend, we have a surge of even milder air coming in. And so what we'll see here is we'll have temperatures that are going to make it all the way up into the North Pole and what that will do is it will provide us with temperatures, a good 25 degrees Celsius above average for this time of year, that's going to do a lot of things.

So let's talk about one of the big impacts here that these surges a very warm temperatures will do. This is the extent of sea ice here, this is a story we've been talking about for years and years, right? And each year we tell you that there's less ice and this year is no different. So this is the boundary here where we should be seeing ice. Well, we're not seeing it, it has retreated, it has continued to retreat over the last several years.

And take a look at this, this gray line here, this is the average essentially, 2012 was kind of near that but that was about it. Look at 2017, horrible. And now 2018 essentially doing worst than 2017. So we have less sea ice which has, of course, issues across the entire world as far as temperature anomalies, they actually can protect as storms come in, the battering waves. So look at this, temperatures last century.

In fact out of this map, only one year John that we had a record high temperature year. Each year has been very high and the last three have been in the top. So we got problems here, the climate is changing, we know why and we're going to continue to see these issues.

VAUSE: Yes. Clearly for a while even if we try (INAUDIBLE) it's still going to go up, I guess, that's the problem. Ivan, thank you, good to see you.


VAUSE: Well CNN is partnering with young people around the world for a student-led day of action against modern day slavery, it's March 14th. And in event of MY Freedom Day, we asked Musician what freedom means to him.


WILL.I.AM: Definition of freedom is love and when you truly love, you don't want to harm anyone, you look -- you see different and you appreciate it, you see struggle, you want to make sure you do your best to help people out that are struggling, so freedom is love.


VAUSE: So, what does freedom mean to you? Share your story using the #myfreedomday. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us, I will be back with more news after a short break.