Return to Transcripts main page


Aid Groups Successfully Reach Eastern Ghouta; Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un in Good Terms Now; President Trump Plans to Visit Jerusalem in May; Russian Spy Mysteriously Fell Ill; Aide Convoy Reaches Eastern Ghouta Amid Shelling; Ex-Russian Spy Critical Ill After Exposure To Substance; Listeria Facts; Nunberg, Trump Knew About Meeting With Russians; Sending A Message By Aircraft Carrier; A Touchy Subject. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 6, 2018 - 03:00   ET


[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, HOST, CNN: Desperately needed aid finally makes it to Ghouta but the shelling and violence continues.

In critical condition, a former Russian spy falls ill in the U.K. under strange circumstances.

Plus, the bizarre and very public way of former Trump aide is defying as special counsel subpoena.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church here at CNN headquarters in Atlanta. This is CNN Newsroom.

Aid workers will try again on Thursday to bring humanitarian aid to those trapped in Syria's eastern Ghouta. Monday's convoy into the rebel held suburb of Damascus ended without all the aid being delivered. Workers say the daily five-hour ceasefire just isn't enough time to work before the bombardments resume.

In addition, Syrian officials stripped the convoy of medical supplies like trauma kits. Syria's president calls a humanitarian crisis in eastern Ghouta a ridiculous lie.

Sam Kiley is following the story from Beirut and joins us now. So Sam, you've been reporting on the situation in eastern Ghouta for a while now. What has been the reaction to Syria's president claiming the humanitarian crisis is a lie.

SAM KILEY, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, I mean, broadly speaking it's the sort of thing that Basher al-Assad unfortunately has said fairly often and so of the international community has not quite shrug it off but continues to try to put most of the pressure on him via Russia, in particular.

And of course, Rosemary, as you know, Russia is the principal military backer alongside Iran of the Syrian regime. And the White House has noted in a statement released a couple of days ago, that it was the Russians that launched 20 air sorties day over a four-day period at the end of February against eastern Ghouta. So they are wrapping the blame, if you like, for this humanitarian

crisis over both the Russians and the Syrians. And they hope that through they can bring some pressure to bear on the Syrians to dial down on the level of violence. But the level of violence in the last 24 showed no sign whatsoever of the beating.

We're getting different casualty figures inevitably from the ground there amid all of the chaos but it could be as many as 18 people were killed in the last 24 hours.

And that's some kind of humanitarian pause if it wonders want to be too sarcastic about things. There has been no humanitarian pause really at any stage just a slight reduction in violence. And no observation at all from the Syrian and Russian side of this ceasefire demand that over week and now by the U.N. Security Council.

I have to say equally rebels in the area have continued their operations against the Syrian government but they have been coming under increasing pressure and indeed losing ground, Rosemary, in eastern Ghouta.

CHURCH: And Sam, as we've been reporting aid workers say that the five hour ceasefire each day isn't enough to get humanitarian aid to those in need. So what's likely to happen on Thursday when they try again to get this aid in, will anything change here?

KILEY: Well, first of all, this so-called pause in operations is never really been observed in any way other than in its breach by the Russians and their allies.

So there isn't been a pause, there was no pause during the delivery of humanitarian aid that was brought in at the eastern Ghouta yesterday.

There was bombardment throughout that whole delivery process, and indeed nine trucks had to hightail it down there after dark because there were fears that more air strikes would come reining in.

So, come Thursday that will probably prevail as the situation normal for eastern Ghouta. And on top of that as they did yesterday and as they have done in the past, the Syrian Damascus regime tends to strip out of any kind of humanitarian supply chain.

A lot of the most badly needed medical supplies notably trauma kits, but it also things like insulin that cannot be said to have a military or post-military application. There are very few diabetics on the one assumes on the front lines of the rebel fighting groups.

[03:04:55] CHURCH: Sam Kiley, bringing us that the live report from Beirut where he is watching very closely developments in eastern Ghouta. We thank you so much. After 10 in the morning there.

Well, for the first time since taking power North Korean leader Kim Jong-un one has met with South Korean officials. The delegation includes the head of South Korea spy agency and its national security chief. Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in says he is confident that denuclearization of the peninsula can be achieved, but he added the South will bolster its defenses against the North's nuclear weapons.

CNN's Will Ripley is in Beijing for us. He joins us live now. So, Will, a big question of course now is what all will these talks between North Korea's Kim Jong-un and the South Korean delegation actually achieved. Any indication more talks are planned for the future.

WILL RIPLEY, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, we do think that there will be more talks are clearly the meeting went well. It was more than four hours between dinner and the meeting with the South Korean delegates and North Korea's leading Kim Jong-un. He also had his wife alongside, his sister alongside.

It was a friendly atmosphere. He invited them to the headquarters of the Workers Party of Korea which is remarkable in and of itself, given that that a building that no South Korean has ever been allowed to enter before.

It's been a part of Pyongyang that is restricted. There are guards that stand the entrance gate. I see it from the hotel that we often stay out there but we can never actually get in there.

So just, you know, there's a lot of symbolism, a lot of significance but where things go from here is the big question. Because obviously what the U.S. and South Korea are insisting upon is denuclearization.

And one thing that North Korea is absolutely saying will not happen is denuclearization, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Right. And North Korea of course is continuing to work on its nuclear weapons program as you say that and South Korea will soon resume joint military drills with the U.S. So how much has changed and how much can be expected to be achieved going forward?

RIPLEY: Well, what is different now versus the last year is that North Korea has really exercised restraint. We haven't seen any missile launches or nuclear test in quite some time and concerning the rapid pace that we were seeing them by last year and the year prior.

That is noteworthy. But you know, North Korea watchdog 38 North pointed out today to look at satellite imagery I think there's increased activity of the Yongbyon nuclear reactors. These are the reactors that plutonium that is used to make nuclear weapons.

And this isn't North Korea doing something sneaky here. Kim Jong-un in his New Year's address said he wants to mass-produce nuclear weapons and he also said he wants to improve his relationship with South Korea. He's doing both of those things so he's doing exactly what he said.

And the North Koreans have also been very consistent in their state media in the messaging from officials that I've had numerous discussions with and even from Kim Jong-un himself that their nuclear weapons are not on the negotiating table.

You go to Pyongyang, you know there is so much propaganda, so much imagery of nuclear weapons almost everywhere you turn, it's hard to imagine how the government can do an about-face and then just this to say OK now we've decided to give this out even though it's written in the Constitution.

That said, the sanctions are beginning to bite. According to sources of mine who describe it as when these to be 100 trucks going from China and North Korea. Now there are 10 medium and long-range. That's going to be bad news for the North Korean economy.

And you have President Trump and his administration saying that if diplomacy doesn't work if diplomacy doesn't stop North Korea from finalizing that ICBM that could really effectively target anywhere in the U.S. That the U.S. is prepared to move to phase two, which is a military option which could potentially be catastrophic.

The North Korea's always knew with previous administrations that the military option was never really on the table bit with Trump they just don't know. And that's part of the reason perhaps that we're seeing such a willingness now to try to engage.

So, we'll suit the South Koreans tell their American counterparts when they travel to Washington later this week because there's a lot that they could learn from that meeting with Kim Jong-un. His temperament, his personality and where they think things can go from here, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, very interesting. Just after 4 p.m. there in Beijing. Will Ripley bringing us that live report. Many thanks.

Well, a former Russian spy is one of two people critically ill after exposure to an unknown substance in Southern England. Sources tell CNN Sergei Skripal and a woman was found unconscious on a shopping center bench on Monday. He was granted refuge in the U.K. after a spy swap between the U.S. and Russia back in 2010.

Well, CNN's senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh joins me now from Salisbury in England. So, Nick, what more you learning about this critically ill ex-Russian spy and how he and his female companion were exposed to this unknown substance.

[03:09:54] NICK PATON WALSH, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT,CNN: Well, there's a lot of mystery around this, Rosemary. Now that's correct. It was Sunday afternoon was when Sergei Skripal and a woman in her 30s sat on a bench now obscured by a tent behind me subject of a police investigation.

That until yesterday afternoon about 3 o'clock still have people in protective suits, officers in protective suit looking through rubber spins around here in this otherwise sleepy town of Salisbury, frankly normally to instance like this.

But these restaurants easy, that's not visible but on the other side of the buildings behind me there is still closed off say local authorities. It's not thought to be a danger to the public at this point. But certainly a lot of questions around this and it's cause frankly, a lot of concerns that some might say pans in certainly British media.

A lot of front pages it dominated with the obviously the Russian spy past Sergei Skripal. How did he come to be the United Kingdom? Well, in 2006 he was given a 13-year sentence for espionage which Russian state media said before Britain's MI-6 intelligence agency.

Four years later, he is one of four Russians held in Russian jail swap for 10 Russian citizens caught in the United States and accuse of espionage there. One of those 10 was in fact, Anna Chapman is quite notorious back then sort of being a Russian undercover mole in American society.

He then sought quite life here in the United Kingdom, but exactly how he came to according to witnesses feel uneasy. Certainly fall critically ill still be in hospital now is unclear. Obviously that's has been quite a lengthy history since Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy fled here to the United Kingdom and a former FSB officer.

Since he was killed very publicly using a polonium radioactive poison in that market hotel in Mayfair, London there's been a succession of people who have fallen foul of the Russian state who have to come suspicious ends in the United Kingdom.

So certainly, the media and some government sources are very cautious about exactly how this instance came around here, although at this particular point I think we are also still waiting here for an exact explanation as to what kind of foul play may be suspected if any at all, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Indeed. Our Nick Paton Walsh bringing us that live report from Salisbury in England. It is 8.12 in the morning there. We thank you.

Let's take a short break, but still to come on CNN Newsroom, a White House visit for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the one thing he didn't talk about with President Trump.

Plus, the results are in and the shockwaves are being felt across Europe as nationalist and far-right wing parties celebrate after Italy's election. We're back in a moment with that.


CHURCH: President Trump proposed import tariffs has alarm bells ringing within his own party and among U.S. allies.

[03:14:59] Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Mr. Trump Monday emphasizing the tariffs on steel and aluminum are not helpful in reaching a new deal on NAFTA. Frances's president called the tariffs economic nationalism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): To take unilateral measures that are against international trade principles is to take the risk of nationalism in search of short-term solutions, which in my eyes are never good. I believe it is important in the context for the European Union to react quickly within the framework of the WTO and then a proportionate matter.


CHURCH: House Speak Paul Ryan and other republicans are urging the president to abandon the tariffs. A statement from Ryan's spokeswoman said "The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don't want to jeopardize those gains. Mr. Trump dismissed those concerns and reiterated his threats to leave NAFTA."


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not backing down. And Mexico is a, we've had a very bad with Mexico, a very bad with Canada from NAFTA. Our factories have left our country, our jobs have left our country. For many years NAFTA has been a disaster.

We are renegotiating NAFTA as I said I would and if we don't a make a deal I'll terminate NAFTA. But if I do make a deal which is fair to the workers and to the American people that would be I would imagine one of the points that we'll negotiate. It will be tariffs on steel for Canada and for Mexico.


CHURCH: Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers is blunt in his criticism of the tariff proposal. He calls it really crazy dumb protectionism. Summers talked with Christiane Amanpour about who would be hurt most if the tariffs are imposed.


LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER UNITED STATES UNDERSECRETARY FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: There are 50 times as many people in the United States who work in steel using industries as there are in steel producing industries, 50 times. And all of them are losing because the firms they work for are now going to have 25 percent more expensive imports. That can't be rational policy.

Americans buy products that are consumed with steel we only talk about real incomes that's how much you can buy with your wages when you push prices up with a tariff like this you may get -- you make those real wages go down, and that is even before you take the count of what's going to happen when the rest of the world responds.

It is no accident that stocks lost $400 billion in the hour after this decision was announced. It is shooting our economy in the foot.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST, CNN: Well, I want to ask you to respond directly to what President Trump has tweeted. This is over the weekend. "When the country, the USA, is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good and easy to win. Example, when we're down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute. Don't trade anymore. We win big. It's easy."

Is that correct? Is a trade war easy to win?

SUMMERS: Any answer of that kind would get a failing grade, a failing grade in any introductory economics course in virtually any college in the United States. Why? Trade deficits are about how much you spent. If I run a trade deficit with my grocery store I buy much more for my grocery store then I sell to my grocery store.

That doesn't mean my grocery store is exploiting me. Something similar is true when the United States runs a trade deficit against another country. That's a confusion, if any further confusion, to suppose that these tariffs are going to improve the trade deficit.

As I said a moment ago screw up the exporting of sectors that are vastly larger than the sectors that are purportedly helped. Remember I said the stock market lost $400 billion. The gains in steel companies were probably less than 1 percent of that $400 billion cost in the stock market.

So there is no rational construction on which this is a sensible policy.


CHURCH: Larry Summers talking there with our Christiane Amanpour.

Well, President Trump says he wants to go to Jerusalem in May for the ribbon cutting at the relocated U.S. embassy. He welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House Monday, calling their relationship better than ever.

There was no public comments on the corruption investigations into Mr. Netanyahu and his inner circle and a long time family spokesman is now the third confidant to turn state witness in those probes.

[03:20:05] CNN's Oren Liebermann joins me now from Jerusalem with more on this. So Oren, let's start with what you're learning about this latest development of a third Netanyahu confidant turning states witness.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Rosemary, interestingly, interestingly, it happened after just a few hours before Netanyahu and Trump sat down in the White House. So Nir Hefetz was the longtime spokesperson for the Netanyahu families signed a state witness agreement, so he agreed to work with investigators in another blow to the Prime Minister.

This trip for Netanyahu to Washington and then the New York may have seem like a break from the investigations and Netanyahu is now a suspect in three out of five investigations started in his inner circle. But just hours before that meeting a third confidant signs a states witness agreement. It's again another blow to the prime minister this seem to have come every few days here. And yet, at this point his coalition is still standing by him saying, look, let's wait for the attorney general to decide whether or not to indict. That will take months.

So on that point Netanyahu knows although there is some pressure there is certainly not enough to take down his government at this point even as investigations hang over this trip to the U.S.

CHURCH: Yes. And what's been the reaction in Israel to Prime Minister Netanyahu's meeting with the U.S. president while of course he faces these legal troubles at home.

LIEBERMANN: The meeting itself is just about everything that was expected in terms of the statements the two of them made there is nothing truly surprising there. We fully expect that if Trump can make it in May he certainly will.

Here's what he said while sitting with Netanyahu about his intentions.


TRUMP: They have started as you know, the construction. And I may we'll be talking about that other things.


I may, I may. We're looking at it. We'll have it built very quickly. A lot of people wouldn't be doing it quickly like that. We're going to have it built very quickly and very inexpensively.


We're looking at coming, if I can, I will.


LIEBERMANN: So no real surprise there in terms of Trump saying he wants to come. It's an easy win. This meeting and this trip for Netanyahu to the White House was largely about the optics of it. It's the two leaders seen getting along together, smiling together and shaking hands. It's a win for the leaders. It's a win for their voter basis as would a trip from Trump to the Jerusalem here in May for the embassy opening.

So, nothing surprising there. In terms of the papers here it's pretty much to headlines on each one. This is the confidant who turns states witness. This is the meeting. Notably, it is the confidant who gets the top line on the newspaper.

So it's clear which one the media here and the people here think is the bigger more surprising headline.

CHURCH: Yes, I'm sure. Oren Liebermann joining us there, live from Jerusalem, when it is nearly 10.25 in the morning. Thank you. Well, the rise of populism across Europe has now reached Italy. Voters there favored anti-establishment parties in Sunday's parliamentary elections but no party or coalition won enough votes to form a government. So the country faces a hung parliament and potentially months of tough negotiations.

Our Ben Wedeman has more now from Rome.

BEN WEDEMAN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It was a moment of joy to the five-star movement 31-year-old leader Luigi De Mayo (Ph) when the numbers came in.

A movement born just nine years moved by anger over corruption, bureaucracy and economic decline is now the country's most powerful political force, taking almost a third of the fractured electorate.

"Italians chose to break with the old systems," says pensioner Alfredo de Benedicto. The other big winner was the euros skeptic rabidly anti- immigrant Lego or the League. Their share of the vote has more than quadruple.

"It's clear yesterday the Italians gave us a precise mandate." The league's leader Matteo Salvini declares. Cambia Tutto, "everything changes" this newspaper headline announces, while another paper throws up its hands with the body banner, meaning roughly what a mess.

The country is ripe for radical change. Incomes have been stagnant for a quarter of a century. Unemployment remains stubbornly in double digits. The young are leaving the country in record numbers.

"They go to Spain, England, America anywhere as long as they can find a stable job. There's nothing stable here anymore" says Rome resident Emmanuel Gida (Ph).

[03:25:01] The last traditional party is still standing in the center left Partico Democratico or Democratic Party saw its share of the vote fall from 25 percent in 2013 to 19 percent in Sunday's vote.

In Monday evening, its young once promising leader, former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi vowed to resign as soon as a new government is formed.

Newspaper columnist Massimo Franco says the guardians of the status quo only have themselves to blame.


MASSIMO FRANCO, COLUMNIST, CORRIERE DELLA SERA: So the faster movement is the symptom of the failure of the traditional party system it's not the cause the source of this failure. If you don't govern well other people may be more incompetent are coming and taking your place.


LIEBERMANN: Where the traditional parties fail it's not at all clear if the suddenly empowered populists can succeed.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.

CHURCH: CNN is partnering with young people around the world for a student led day of action against modern-day slavery on March 14. In advance of my freedom day we are asking students what freedom means to them.

Here is what one student from the University of California, San Diego had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom for me means the ability to choose what work you want to work and what life you want to live, what you want to do with your day. If you want to dance then you dance, if you don't then you don't. If you want to read a book, then you do.

Basically anything you feel like doing with your life then you choose it for yourself.


CHURCH: Millions have already shared with us what freedom means to them on social media, so join them and share your story using the hash tag my freedom day.

We'll take a short break here, but still to come. South Africa is warning the public as it deals with the world's largest Listeria outbreak. How officials were able to track down the source of this deadly strain.

Plus, a former Trump campaign aide goes on a media blitz, why he says he won't comply with a grand jury subpoena in the Russia investigation. We'll have that and more when we return.


CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm Rosemary Church. It's time to update you on the main stories we've been following this hour.

[03:29:55] Humanitarian aid finally reached eastern Ghouta in Syria after two weeks of air strikes and artillery shelling by government forces. The 40 trucks filed in but many had been stripped of their medical supplies and then have to flee eastern Ghouta when shelling resumed.

Syria's president pulls a humanitarian crisis there a lie. For the first time since taking power North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has met with South Korean officials including the head of South Korea's spy agency and its national security chief meanwhile South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he's confident that denuclearization on the peninsula can be achieve, but he added the South will bolster its defenses against the North's nuclear weapons.

British counterterrorism police are now investigating the case of a former Russians spy that was exposed to an unknown substance in South west England. Sergey (inaudible) critically ill after he and a woman were found unconscious on a shopping center bench. (Inaudible) run to refuge in the U.K. after a spy swap between the U.S. and the Russia back in 2010.

South Africa's says a processed meat product was the source of the listeria outbreak the world has ever seen. It has killed 180 people in the country since January of last year and there are hundreds of other confirmed cases. CNN David McKenzie joins me now from Johannesburg with more on this, David what is the latest information that you have on this deadly listeria outbreak?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All we know is that they are pointing the finger at the processing facility a few hours from Johannesburg. Now they say the chief culprit at this stage according to investigations are processed meats and other ready-to-eat products, now the government has been roundly criticized for what the public sees of the slow response in terms of trying to figure out what the cause of this outbreak that has been and drag on for a long time and the death rate for those confirm that has the stereo is 27 percent extremely alarming death rate there. Now they say that nine young children in Soweto earlier this year were confirmed to have the disease, and they trace that back now to a specific brand of product, the CEO of Tiger brands which produces a product that has chop some in the country of what is being seen as a callous response.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As to the consumer conscious organization we had been extra vigilant and cautious for consumer safety remains the highest quality and therefor immediate action was taken, there is no direct link with the deaths to our product that we are aware of at this point, nothing.


MCKENZIE: Shelves are empty across the nation that people are lining up to return those products for refund it should be the case if this is the culprit, if they manage to get it off the shelves then it should stop this in its tracks Rosemary if this is the case because, the disease cannot be transferred from human to human, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Right and so how did they go about concerning whether this is indeed the product and what is South Africa's government doing to try to reassure people that they have this under control if they do and that has the threat does the threat remain at this hour.

MCKENZIE: At this hour the threat does remain, people are being told not to throw away the products in case someone might grab it out and eat it off the streets. There is a real sense that so old products of this kind throughout South Africa if not recalled have been pulled of the shelves out of a an abundance of caution, one of the tricky situations with this type of food poisoning bacterial poisoning is because the lack time in terms of contracting listeria and the psoriasis and then actually showing the symptoms can be up to 70 days that does make it a little difficult to trace the source of any potential illness off someone. So does seem like eventually got that there is still investigation ongoing at least one of the company could be implicated in this and then will be the fallout whether this was something that the health department and all the company in question didn't do enough to stop it in its tracks even surrounding countries like Botswana and Namibia, Rosemary have banned the import of this so outside of the obvious human cost there will be as a severe economic cost for these meant to companies.

CHURCH: Yes. Critical that they do confirm the source of this David McKenzie joining us live in Johannesburg 10:35 in the morning there. Many thanks.

[03:35:03] Former Trump campaign official is stirring up controversy after a day of interviews filled with some pretty wild claims Sam Nunberg now says he may cooperate with the grand jury in the Russia investigation but he doesn't want to sit for more questioning. CNN's Jessica Schneider has the details.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg says he'll refused to comply with the grand jury subpoena that ask him to turn over documents email exchange with several campaign official including Steve Bannon and advisor Roger Stone and requests his appearance before grand jury in Washington Friday.

SAM NUNBERG, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: They will be over the grand jury and why do I have to go, why?

SCHNEIDER: Nunberg didn't spend more than five hours talking to the special councils investigators in February and he says the questions and then indicated Mueller's team may be moving in on the president.

NUNBERG: The way they ask about his business dealings and the way they ask if you had heard anything even during wall I was fired it just made me suspect to suspect something about him. You know why, (inaudible) very well done something during the election with the Russians and they find it out if he did that, I don't know, if he did that, you know what it's inexcusable if did that. If he has some deal we already know that Michael Cohen was trying to the Trump tower Moscow.

SCHNEIDER: Nunberg was fired by the campaign just two months after Donald Trump announced his run in August 2015 for racially charge Facebook posts. Nunberg was close with campaign advisor Roger Stone who was also fired in August 2015, in public interviews and tweets Stone had claim to have a relationship with WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange something both he and WikiLeaks have since denied. Stone also exchange messages with goose 2.0 the online entity that claimed responsibilities for the DNC hack was later outed as a front for Russian intelligence.

NUNBERG: They think that Roger colluded with Julia Assange. I could tell you Roger did not collude with Julianne Assange. SCHNEIDER: After Nunberg spoke out today Roger Stone issued this

statement, I was briefly part of the Trump campaign and has been the presidents friend and advisor for decades and would expect that Mueller's team would at some point ask for any documents or email sent or written by me, but let me reiterate I have no knowledge or involvement in Russian collusion or any other inappropriate act. Nunberg also talked about the Trump tower meeting in June 2016 were Donald Trump Junior met with a Russian lawyer along with Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, Trump Junior says he been promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, but maintain his father never knew about that meeting the president has said the same thing, Nunberg disputes that even though he was fired from the campaign nearly a year before that meeting.

JAKE TAPPER, AMERICAN JOURNALIST CARTOONIST: President Trump says he knew nothing about the meeting do you think that's true?


TAPPER: You don't think that is true?


SCHNEIDER: Nunberg now says he won't cooperate with special counsel and questions the basis of the investigation.

NUNBERG: Yes Mueller thinks that Trump (inaudible), the idea that you will and Sherry and Gloria you are joke. Nobody was laughing at her. The idea that we were colluding with a Russian, give me a break.

SCHNEIDER: Nunberg also telling Jake Tapper former Trump campaign foreign-policy advisor Carter Page is the real culprit when it comes to collusion.

NUNBERG: Carter Page was colluding with the Russians.

TAPPER: So Carter Page was colluding with the Russian do you think?

NUNBERG: Yes. Carter Page is colluding with the Russians.

TAPPER: Well if that's true Sam, Carter Page was an advisor to the Trump campaign.

NUNBERG: He wasn't really an adviser Jake, come on. You really think he was an adviser? See the name on the list.

SCHNEIDER: Carter Page responded in a statement to CNN and he called Nunberg's claim that he colluded with Russians quote, laughable saying that Nunberg should provide specifics rather than mindless rhetoric that Nunberg has said that he spent many hours this weekend starting to gather the emails and the documents requested by the special counsel they ultimately decided not to comply with that subpoena and of course that could eventually lead to a contempt of court charge which can carry anything fine to jail time. Jessica Schneider CNN Washington.

(END VIDEO) CHURCH: Joining me now to talk more about this is attorney and CNN

legal analyst Michael Zeldin, good to have you with us.


CHURCH: Michael former trump aide Sam Nunberg took to cable television Monday defiantly insisting he would not comply with special counsel Robert Mueller's grand jury subpoena in the Russia investigation he dare them to arrest him and ask why he even have to go, what would your legal advice be to him and what will likely happen to Nunberg if he fails to comply?

ZELDIN: So there is a process when you receive a grand jury subpoena, you review it and you can make initial determinations is this something that is too broad that I want my lawyer to try and narrow the scope of and you can negotiate that with the prosecutor or is this something I think is inappropriate and I moved to, what they call quash the subpoena that is have a court ruled that I don't have to comply with the subpoena.

[03:40:17] But absent courts making that determination he has no choice, but to comply if he chooses not to comply the process will be that Robert Mueller the special counsel will go to the supervising judge and indicate to the judge that a grand jury subpoena has been issued that the witness is on likely to testify and they like to have a hearing as well that person should be held in contempt of court and if they have a hearing which they do in the ordinary course and that witnessed comes forward it doesn't have of privilege basis or some other legal basis not to comply the judge will likely hold them in contempt, they can be jailed for the period of time the grand jury sits that's usually 18 months.

CHURCH: That's interesting because I sat down with CNN's Erin Burnett lets just listen to what he thinks is likely to happen to him.


NUNBERG: He will be sent to prison.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean someone has been there before.

NUNBERG: One person fine (inaudible) from a long time ago. Do you think Robert Mueller is going to send me to prison Erin for this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know she certainly would be within his right.


CHURCH: So Michael you know Robert Mueller, you worked with him how do you think he will likely responding to Nunberg refusing to comply with subpoena you said that he could face 18 months, but would Robert Mueller given the circumstances of pushed for that do you think?

ZELDIN: So that's not actually the way it works Nunberg has a little bit wrong what happens is when he doesn't comply with the subpoena what Mueller does is he goes to court to enforce that subpoena and he says that the court I've got a duly issued grand jury subpoena which is witness refuses to cooperate with any has no privilege basis not to cooperate or asking you court to take action to inquire of him and then if you are unsatisfied with his answer to make him testify in the entities as I'm still not to testify then it's the court the judge is as him or put you in jail to coerce you to testify because you have no basis not to testified and you'll stay in jail until you decide to testify or the term of the grand jury ends. Mueller of course has a strong interest in making sure that anyone who's called before his grand jury cooperate so he's going to want to tell the judge that he has important information to acquire from this witness. The witness has no basis not to give it to him and that the court should hold him in contempt and thereby jail him until such time as he cooperates.

CHURCH: And goes in the seven also interviews that Nunberg did Monday he made some very explosive claims offering no evidence that we have to say to back them up he said he thinks Donald Trump knew in advance about the controversial June 2016 Trump tower meeting with the Russians and he also said he thinks Mr. Trump may have done something during the election with the Russians, again all are pure speculation, no proof provided. We need to remember that Nunberg was fired multiple times and sued by Donald Trump, now the White House is calling Nunberg's comments bizarre and now says, suggesting he was drinking, do you agree this is a little bizarre what you make of what he's trying to do right now, what do you think he can possibly achieve?

ZELDIN: It is not his opinions that matter at all, Nunberg all Mueller wants from him is his documentary evidence and testimony with respect to the fact that he knows and he doesn't care whether Nunberg thinks Donald Trump is a good guy or a bad guy. Was at a meeting, was that a meeting, was his opinions don't enter into courtrooms, only his facts do. So that's all Mueller is trying to drive that this will tell the judge that no interest in this guy other than the facts he's already admitted, Nunberg in his earlier interview with the FBI told him he was merely a witness, so he is not in jeopardy personally and hopefully in the morning he'll come to his senses and decide that he will cooperate with Mueller and avoid unnecessary jail term.

CHURCH: We shall wait and see whether Sam Nunberg does wake up and change his mind on this. Michael Zeldin a pleasure to have you on with your legal analysis.

ZELDIN: My pleasure.

CHURCH: And still to come here on CNN newsroom, Xi Jinping tightens his grip with a likely end to term limit in China, he is not the first to consolidate how the lessons his learning from history. And the U.S. aircraft carrier was off the coast of Vietnam for the first time in decades, but why some say its presence has more to do with China. We will explain when we comeback.


[03:47:00] CHURCH: Welcome back everyone Donald Trump has a history of praising dictators strong linen autocratic leaders around the world just recently he complemented China's Xi Jinping who is potentially free of term limits us conceivably making him president for life, but the road to autocracy can be tough to navigate CNN's Nick Robertson has a report.


NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CNN CORRESPONDENT: Xi Jinping is not the first come to power and hold on. Putin's done it, Turkey's Erdogan just done it. Autocrats all of them and Trump jokes X is right.




Democracy is still alive in the U.S. the world superpower is not transitioning to a dictatorship, but is China. Xi with his term limits lifted gets power for life over the world's second largest economy and emerging superpower is demanding territorial expansion like Xi, Putin had trouble with term limits. His continuing grasp on Russia less wealthy and less powerful than China came by controlling the media and gaming the electoral system. Erdogan path was messier he crackdown on critical media use a compliant Parliament to consolidate power in his own hands as president, whatever the path to total power the outcome for autocrats can be costly. Saddam Hussein in Iraq for decades of bloodied dictator died at the end of a hangman's rope. Libya's Qaddafi came to power and 67 summer of love path it hard ruled like (inaudible) on the run, drag from a storm drain shot with his own gun.

The list of living autocrats stretches on to Gabi in Rwanda, Duterte in the Philippines, Kim Jong-un to North Korea each with their own reputation for control and repression at the other end of the scale former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and old-school autocrat recently walk away from his bloodied past without paying his butcher's bill. Xi has a lot to autocratic precedents to pick from the one part he would be deviating from is leaving China to global dominance. Nic Robertson CNN London.

CHURCH: And China insists increase in defense spending for 2018 is not a signal of an arms race with the United States on Monday Beijing unveiled $175 billion defense budget for the year that's an 8.1 percent hike in defense spending, the largest increase in three years.

[03:50:08] China's neighbors are watching the military buildup very closely in light of territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas. Some observers believe those disputes of the reason a U.S. aircraft carrier is now anchored off the coast of Vietnam the four-day visit by the USS Carl Vinson has been billed as a chance to enhance the relationship between the two countries. Matt Rivers has more now from aboard the carrier


aircraft carrier has made an official visit to Vietnam in more than 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War actually other Navy ships that visited since 2003, but this is different this is an aircraft carrier and it is emblematic of a changing relationship between both countries. Trade for example has its exploded between both sides and of course both sides of been cooperating on security as well it was just in 2016 the President Obama listed in arms sales embargo on lethal weapons to Vietnam and it was a major sign that the bilateral relationship had progressed a friendlier terms and it does appear to be continuing under President Trump. The president visited here last year's secretary defense Mattis was just here in January and the ambassador to Vietnam says he hopes to keep that momentum going.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you are seeing the fruit of decade's worth of effort to build bilateral trusts to overcome the legacies of war.

Nazi's war from where we are right now. The Chinese military has been building a military developing artificial islands for years in water that they claimed in their territory, several other countries including Vietnam claims some of that same territory is theirs. And the U.S. doesn't recognize the Chinese claims either.

Vietnam more than most countries in this region has shown a willingness to stand up to Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea in the government here the United States likely season ally in this part of the world in regards to this particular topic that is part of the reason why this aircraft carrier is docked here right now this is a projection of U.S. military might able to go to all corners of the globe. An analyst tells CNN that this is absolutely a message to China, that message being the U.S. military is here to stay in this region and that they are willing to team up even with old foes to combat what it sees as a growing threat from Beijing. Matt River CNN aboard the USS Carl Vinson off the Vietnamese coast.

CHURCH: With all the trouble he's facing the world stage, Donald Trump toughest battle could be at home. The joke that made him cross the line, that is next


CHURCH: Welcome back. Well a snowboarder in California can thank his board and some of those skiers after he was buried in an avalanche, it happened near Lake Tahoe. The man's wife was able to dig herself out, but when she could not find her husband she started yelling for help on the scale so the tip of the snow board coming out of the snow and started digging by hand.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He open up his eyes and he is looking right at me, he says where is my wife? His wife came up -- so happy.


[03:55:00] CHURCH: A very happy ending for that couple indeed and Donald Trump is not exactly known for his sense of humor in fact the White House has being forced more than once to clarify the president was just joking, but his most recent attempt at humor, a little close to home. Here is our Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Comedians always joke about the First Lady escaping her marriage trying to the eclipse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two minutes of total darkness that should be her chance to escape.

MOOS: Or to a border trip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Melania was never heard saying or near a border, let us make her run for it, let us get out of here.

MOOS: But we did expect President Trump to joke about his wife leaving him gridiron dinner is known.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Self-deprecating humor. Who does it better than me.

MOOS: So with his wife sitting there listening President Trump said I like chaos, now the question everyone keeps asking is who is going to be next to the leave? Steve Miller or Melania? Cosmo responded wow on Reddit someone Photoshop Melania, suitcase in hand heading out the White House door. Ever since story surfaced linking adult film star Stormy Daniels to Trump, Melania has been travelling separately on occasion, he even tweeted out a photo with a military escort rather than her husband on the administration's one-year anniversary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the claim that you and your husband sleep in separate rooms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is a lie. I haven't slept since the election.

MOOS: The infamous hands swap, the infamous faded smile, critics are always wondering if, (inaudible) released on Valentine's Day no less found that 43 percent of Americans think the First Lady should stay with her husband 34 percent said she should leave after the president made his Melania joke he turned to his wife and said you love me and told the crowd I will tell you what she said in a moment later added she said behave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just like what is in the Trump's wedding vows.

TRUMP: You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.

MOOS: And keeping with all the Oscars (inaudible) someone named Melania, best actress in a supporting role. Jeanne Moos CNN New York.


CHURCH: We like to leave you smiling, thanks to your company this hour I am Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter I would love to hear from you and the news continues now with Max Foster in London. Have a great day.