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Jailed Russian Model Promises Secrets; Last Night's Oscars; Kobe Wins Oscar; Florida Senate to Vote on Bill. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired March 5, 2018 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Who says she is willing to give up Trump/Russia secrets in exchange for U.S. help to get out of a Thai jail.

CNN's Ivan Watson live in Bangkok with more.

Ivan, what do you make of it?


It's a bizarre story. I guess I'll just start with this. I just came from a Thai jail where I met this 21-year-old, born in Belarus, named Anastasia Vashukevich. And she claims she has information about Russian meddling in the U.S. election and she's willing to cooperate with U.S. investigators if they first get her out of that jail. Now, this might sound desperate and halve-baked if it wasn't for the fact that she had already previously published on her Instagram account photos of herself with a powerful Russian billionaire named Oleg Deripaska on a private yacht. And in those photos you see another man who's been identified as the deputy prime minister of Russia.

Now, she claims she was the mistress of Deripaska, claims that he denies, for more than a year and that she overheard him meeting with unnamed Americans discussing plans to effect the U.S. election. And she claims she has more photos to prove it, that she has hours of audio recordings, but she won't release them or name names because she's afraid she could be deported back to Russia where she would have to face the music.

Why do we care about Deripaska? Well, he was a long-time business associate of Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign manager under arrest as part of the Mueller investigation facing many charges of bank fraud and racketeering, which he pleads not guilty to.

So it's a crazy story that gets even crazier when you consider that Vashukevich was arrested in Thailand, get this, hosting a sex training course, along with other self-described sex coaches.

Chris and Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Ivan, thank you.

CUOMO: Well played. HILL: I -- you can't really say much to that, can you?

CUOMO: No, but your thanks to Ivan for going all the way over there and talking to her and putting some thread together.

HILL: Thank you. Yes, thank you. Well, and it does. And as he lays it out too, it's important to put all that in context because it does raise questions when you look at everything that came before it.

Meantime, also in Italy today, we're following this, political gridlock, as far right and populist party surge in parliamentary elections. None of Italy's three main factions producing a clear winner. Projections show the anti-establishment five-star movement made the biggest gains, while its center right coalition brokered by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will have the most seats in parliament. Formal talks on forming a government are expected to begin next month.

CUOMO: Utility crews are working to restore power to hundreds of thousands along the East Coast of the U.S. This is all because of Friday's powerful nor'easter, of course, and left behind a trail of damage, shutting off the lights for more than a million homes. At least eight storm-related deaths. The heavy snow, high winds, rain toppling trees, power lines, all the way from South Carolina to Maine. Forecasters say there's going to be another storm that's going to be here by about midweek.

And you are a survivor of this.

HILL: Survivor, yes. I am really enjoying the no power.

CUOMO: Still no power?

HILL: Still no power. I got a call at 1:00 a.m. this morning from the power company saying it should be on by Tuesday at 11:00 p.m.

CUOMO: Wow. All right. Well, better than the alternative. It could have been worse.

HILL: It could have been far, far worse. It did mean I couldn't watch the Oscars last night, but luckily I could catch up when I got to work this morning.

And the Oscars tackling serious issues without losing some of the fun. We've got the biggest moments of the night, next.


[06:37:36] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMMON, RAPPER: On Oscar night, this is the dream we tell. A land where dreamer's live and freedom dwells. Immigrants get the benefits. We put up monuments for the feminists. Tell the NRA they're in God's way. And to the people of Parkland, we say (INAUDIBLE), sentiments of love for the people from Africa, Haiti, to Puerto Rico.


CUOMO: Oscar winning rapper Common, a little bit more free versed poetry there than rapping, certainly delivering a message to the crowd and to the president and to the NRA, while standing up for something. That's the name of it. Performing "Stand Up For Something" at the Academy Awards. Common and Andra Day were surrounded by ten activists, including Syrian Refugee Bana Alabed, Sandy Hook mother Nicole Hockley, celebrity chef Jose Andres, who, you know, of course, made that big effort in Puerto Rico.

So joining us now with the biggest moments of the night, CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter.


CUOMO: Let's start with this.

More or less or different than expected?

STELTER: In terms of the performances, in terms of the show, I would say it was mostly as expected. This was not, at the end of the day, won't be remembered as a show about "The Shape of Water" winning best picture, although that was a fine movie. This was a show about Hollywood in transition. Six months after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, you see Hollywood trying to put on a new face and trying to move into a more progressive future.

At the same time, Hollywood's this hub of the resistance to President Trump, and that's what Common was getting at with his lyrics. He was talking about the NRA and Trump. He said I'm for peace, love, and women's rights. By the end of the night, Jimmy Kimmel was saying, I wish I was a woman. And yet you look at the actual numbers, you had six female winners, 33 male winners. So Hollywood has some persistent, serious inequities that still exist, but you saw the industry acknowledging that last night and trying to say the right things and then try to move on and do the right things..

HILL: In terms of trying to point that out, Frances McDormand, of course, asking every single woman to stand. Let's take a look at that moment.

STELTER: The moment of the night, yes.


FRANCES MCDORMAND, ACTRESS: I'm hyperventilating a little bit. If I fall over, pick me up, because I've got some things to say.

If I may be so honored to have all the female nominees in every category stand with me in this room tonight, the actors. Meryl, if you do it, everybody else will. Come on. The filmmakers. The producers. The directors. The writers. Look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed. I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen, inclusion rider.


[06:40:16] HILL: A lot of people Googling inclusion writer after that.

STELTER: Yes. Yes.

HILL: In all seriousness to figure out what it is. And it is really this push for having the rider in your contract that guarantees there will be more diversity, not just on the screen, but behind the scene as well.

STELTER: That way you're only going to participate as the star if there's diversity both on and off screen. Actually, inclusion rider, those two words, were the top five Miriam Webster Googled dictionary words of the night as well. Certainly her speech was almost at the end of the evening. I think it encapsulated the mood of the entire (INAUDIBLE) the Oscars. This is an industry, you know, Hollywood, a left leaning industry, that wants to be seen doing the right thing. But there are these issues still (ph) about sexual harassment and assault, and then more broadly about the pay gap and about other areas where there's not equality in the industry. I think she hit on all of that by bringing up this idea of the inclusion rider. It's something that I think very few people outside of Hollywood have ever heard of until the Oscars.

CUOMO: All right, so under the category of the comeback, you had Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.


CUOMO: You remember what happened with the announcing of best picture last year. They made their comeback. Let's take a look.


WARREN BEATTY: Hey, it's so nice seeing you again.

FAYE DUNAWAY: As they say, presenting is lovelier the second time around.

BEATTY: And the Oscar goes to -- "The Shape of Water."


CUOMO: That was the actual winner.


CUOMO: And then he checks the envelope.

STELTER: Double-checked. That film took home four awards, the most of the night. "Dunkirk" took home three, "Blade Runner," two. There was actually a lot of love for a lot of different films. There wasn't one dominant winner. Jordan Peele, for example, winning for the film "Get Out." So you saw a number of different wins for a number of different films, as opposed to one that took home all the prizes. And, you know, in this streaming age, you can actually go and watch a

lot of these movies now. That's what I love about the Oscars as opposed to ten years ago when you might have heard of these movies, you might have never seen them. Now, if you hadn't heard of them, you can probably watch a lot of them on demand today.

HILL: Brian, appreciate it. Thank you.

STELTER: Thanks.

HILL: Speaking of the Oscars, this next person has more trophies than most stars. Well, now, former NBA great Kobe Bryant can actually add an Oscars to his list of achievements. That's next.


[06:46:46] CUOMO: Kobe Bryant keeps on adding to his impressive trophy case. He's off the hardwood, but now he won an Oscar for his animated short "Dear Basketball."

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."

The latest of the greatest things for the Mamba.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and, get this, Chris, Kobe told reporters after winning this Oscar, it feels better than winning a championship. That's how much this means to him. Kobe's animated short "Dear Basketball," it was based off the poem he wrote in 2015 announcing his impending retirement from the NBA. And when accepting his Oscar, Kobe taking a shot at a Fox News host who said NBA players should just, quote, shut up and dribble.


KOBE BRYANT, "DEAR BASKETBALL": I mean as basketball players we're really supposed to shut up and dribble, but, you know, I'm glad -- I'm glad we did a little bit more than that. Thank you, Academy, for this amazing honor.


SCHOLES: Now, Kobe's win was met with congratulations from many, but also a fair amount of criticism. Kobe was charged with sexual assault in 2003 before the case was ultimately dropped.

All right, Shaquem Griffin putting on a show at the Combine over the weekend. The linebacker out of central Florida running a blazing 4.38 in the 40-yard dash. Fastest time for a linebacker at the Combines since 2003. He also benched 225 pounds 20 times while wearing a prosthetic left arm. Griffin had to have his left hand amputated when he was just four years old due to a birth defect. So, Griffin, though, Eric, just continuing to be an inspiration, showing, you know, even if you have a disability, it can't keep you from achieving your dreams.

HILL: No, absolutely not. Inspiration may be putting it mildly.

Andy, thank you.

The Florida senate set to vote on a bill that would allow teachers to be armed. Does it go far enough for the parent of one of the students killed? We'll ask him, next.


[06:52:52] HILL: The Florida senate will vote today on a bill to tighten gun laws in the state after the massacre that killed 17 students and teachers nearly three weeks ago. The proposal raises the age to buy a gun to 21 years old, bans bump stocks, and gives districts the option to arm teachers who would be trained to carry a firearm. The senate rejecting a ban on assault weapons.

Joining me now is Andrew Pollack, who lost his daughter Meadow in the attack.

Thanks for joining us again today.


HILL: So you're the --

POLLACK: First, I'd like to get a word out. I just want everyone that believes in my crusade and wants to help to follow me at,

OK, go ahead.

HILL: And, Meadow, of course, your daughter. And it is -- and I'm glad you brought that up at the top because it's so important not to forget every single life that was lost.

POLLACK: My beautiful daughter. And I'm not going to forget.

HILL: That is for sure.

This has understandably changed the trajectory of your life. One of the things that I know is most important to you now is school safety. So as we look at this -- at this proposal in Florida today that is expected to pass, does it do enough for you in terms of school safety?

POLLACK: Yes, it does. I went over it. The proposal that Rick Scott put together. It's going to help -- it's going to help the state. It's going to help all the kids. And we're going to take it -- we're going to set the example in Florida so other states can follow. That's why, to me, it's so important that this bill gets passed.

HILL: And do you believe it will --

POLLACK: I don't want to stop in Florida. I'm not going to be the parent that stopped. I'm going to be the parent that's going to take it from here to the Pacific Coast. I'm -- I'm never going to quit until every governor knows how important this is to me and how I have to feel every single day that my kid's gone. HILL: What is it specific --

POLLACK: They're going to feel the pain.

HILL: And what is it, Andrew, specifically in terms of the measures here that you believe is making schools safer and that you want to see replicated in other states?

POLLACK: OK, there's like three parts to the bill. One part of the bill gives the police the authority to confiscate a weapon if they think the person's acting irrationally. So they'll -- say you get a -- you call -- you look outside and your neighbor is acting nutty. You'll be able to call the police department. They can go out. They can evaluate this person. They'll be able to Baker Act this person. And then they could search his house and they'll be able to take his weapons from him. They didn't have that ability before. So that's one of the measures that's very important.

[06:55:16] A big part of the bill is mental illness. Talking -- they'll be able to connect -- the teachers are going to be connected and to communicate with the police department, DCF, and they're going to have counselors at each school working together to find kids that have problems before something like this happens. That's very important.

And, you know, people don't talk about it. They're going to be able to help these people from hurting themselves also and hurting others.

HILL: In terms of --

POLLACK: That's another part of the bill.

HILL: In terms of reaching out for -- in terms of mental illness.

POLLACK: Correct.

HILL: As you know, over the weekend, the part of the proposal to ban assault weapons was rejected. One of the students at Parkland tweeting that it breaks her heart but we will not let this ruin our movement, saying this is for the kids, never again.

What's your reaction to that?

POLLACK: Right there it should tell them -- I'd like to talk to the kids. I understand their pain, the children. But that's an example where their efforts are going in the wrong direction right at this moment.

My kid was murdered in that school. So there's no one that could feel the way I feel. Like, so I understand the children. And just by them seeing that that didn't work, I want them to focus their energy on something that's achievable right now. Be productive in the country. Work with us. Let's make these schools safe. And once every school's safe in America, do what you have to with the gun laws.

I've got no problem with these kids going out and marching every day against guns. But right now the focus for these kids and the parents of these kids to talk to them, let's make the schools safe. That's what we need to do right now.

HILL: So --

POLLACK: The kids are going to school Monday. The kids are going to go to school. Are they safe? What -- the judge, when the judge goes to work, does he -- is he worried about someone coming in with guns? No, because they can't get in. When you go on a plane, you're not worried someone's going to come and shoot you.

So I'm here. I just want our kids to feel that safe. I want them to feel safe like the judge in the courtroom, or like the politician when he walks into the federal building. We owe it to our kids for them to be as safe as who I mentioned.

HILL: And I know, as you've said, you believe we -- that the starting place should be school safety, moving on from there. You've also said you don't feel it's achievable to get any federal law changes, so that's why that's your focus.

You have spoken with the president, though.

POLLACK: Well, right. It might be achievable down the road, but the battle right now is our schools being safe. And I think that's achievable at the moment.

HILL: You have spoken with the --

POLLACK: We need to be the first community that gets out there.

HILL: And in terms of getting that done, you've spoken with the president. You have implored him to act. How is the president helping you when it comes to school safety? What are you hearing from him in terms of a promise of help?

POLLACK: Well, he listened to me. But it's not up to him right now. It's up to us, the parents, the grandparents. We need to act. We don't need him. We can do it ourselves. But he's there. He's listening. I really appreciate him. He had my family. We've been to the White House twice. My -- he flew us all in. We met with him one on one. He heard -- you know, he was concerned. I met with him as a concerned parent or grandfather. So he's listening and he's watching what's going on in Florida. And I -- and I'm going to reach out to him again once this bill gets passed.

HILL: And would you welcome his support after that? You're saying that you don't really need him right now. His support, obviously, welcome, as you mentioned, but is there more you think he can do to help you and what you'd like to see be done?

POLLACK: Oh, of course. Like I -- I was raised -- my father always taught me, if you want something done, you do it yourself. And that's how I've lived my whole life. So I'm out there doing it. And I know the president has my back. He -- we've been -- like I said, we've been there twice. He's waiting

to see what happens in Florida. I got things going -- I've got a lot of things happening. And we're not going to stop. And we need everyone just to group together. It's not about a political party. It's not about -- it's just about one party uniting, the parents, the grandparents, the kids. We need the kids on board. With them it's achievable quicker.

HILL: Andrew Pollack, we appreciate your time and we appreciate you joining us. Thank you.

POLLACK: All right. Thanks.

HILL: And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "TALK" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.


RICK SANTORUM, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Americans are tiring of being pushed around on the world stage when it comes to trade.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: Trade wars and dividing us from our allies makes no sense.

[07:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we have a big trade deficit with our other partners, they have a lot more to lose than we do.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: China is winning and we're losing with this tariff regime. They're making a huge mistake here.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: The problem is, the president has been ill served by staff.