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Gary Cohn Leaves his Post; Britain Warns Russia; North Korean Leader Expressed Willingness to Meet with U.S.; Aid Supplies Reached Eastern Ghouta Amid Shelling. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 7, 2018 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, HOST, CNN: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church here are CNN headquarters in Atlanta. This is CNN Newsroom.

Donald Trump's threat of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports has set off talk of a trade war and rattle financial markets around the world. And now it has cost him one of his most respected aides. The White House says Gary Cohn will leave his post in the coming weeks.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny has the details.

JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Another day another resignation at the White House, this time, President Trump's top economic adviser Gary Cohn, saying he is going to leave this administration all over fights with the president over tariffs.

The proposed decision to add tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from some countries has been dividing this White House and it is the cause of the latest casualty here. Gary Cohn is no ordinary adviser.

He is one person who has been able to tell the president no. He's been able to speak truth to power in some respect inside the White House that is probably one of the reasons for his departure.

But listen to President Trump as he spoke Tuesday at the White House about how he's not worried all this staff turnover.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Gee, maybe people don't want to work for Trump, and believe me, everybody wants to work in the White House. So many people want to come in. I have a choice of anybody. I could take position in the White House and I'll have a choice of the 10 top people having to do with that position. Everybody wants to be there.


ZELENY: So that theory will be tested if people do want to come and work inside the White House. Republicans across Washington and beyond, many of whom have said, we're simply afraid to come work here because of the legal exposure, because of the Russia meddling investigation, and because of the high staff turnover more than we've seen in any recent administration.

But keep an eye on the global markets. And the markets here in the U.S. Gary Cohn, of course, top economic adviser he set policy here, economic and fiscal policy and was viewed by many in Washington and beyond as one of the adults in the room here, so to speak, So his departure is likely to be one of the biggest we've seen.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: And Wall Street looks to be in rough day. U.S. stock futures are all pointing low at the moment, and financial markets in Asia have not had a good day. Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Sydney all in negative...


CHURCH: ... to good to be true.

ANDREW STEVENS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, certainly a breakthrough considering it was not long ago that North Korea was cyber rattling and there was talk of war in the air and military strikes on North Korea and retaliation by North Korea, fire and fury, et cetera, et cetera. So it is a breakthrough in as much as this is now a diplomatic push and there is a clear move there in that way, Rosemary.

Look at the fact that the two leaders of North and South Korea are actually going to sit down and meet, they have agreed to meet that the North Koreans are prepared to talk about denuclearization to the United States. They do add a very significant caveat in that their security has to be guaranteed before they go along with any denuclearization.

So, yesterday, it was all about, sort of very, very surprise, sort of unbelievable. We weren't expecting this. Today, though, there is a clear eye reality. We're hearing from the South Korean president, President Moon, saying it is way too early to be optimistic in this process, it is just the beginning of the moment.

And he goes on to say that, you know, this is not about a moratorium on nuclear development by North Korea, this is not about preventing proliferation of nuclear weapons. This is about denuclearization and we are at the starting gate of that and it's going to take a long time.

And we have been here before. You read the South Korean press they say the same thing. We have been here before and it has been a fail. So, is it going to be different this time around? We just can't say. But if you judge it on form it would be remarkable that North Koreans actually carried this through all the way.

And talk -- now, listen to what the U.S. has to say. We want to see a verifiable concrete steps taken by North Korea. The Japanese are saying the same thing. China saying they support this dialogue but at the moment it is just all talks.

CHURCH: We will watch and see how North Korea responds. And of course, in the meantime, the U.S. has imposed sanctions on North Korea for using the chemical warfare agent VX to assassinated Kim Jong-un's half-brother in Malaysia back in 2017. What do you know about that and what impact might this have on the possibility of future talks on denuclearization?

STEVENS: Well, it's all about the tightening of the economic news around North Korea, and it's interesting that the U.S. said it's going to continue the maximum pressure approach which is economic sanctions above and beyond what the U.N. is already doing.

Donald Trump has said and his vice president has said that this maximum pressure will stay. It's interesting Donald Trump is also praising China for its efforts in tightening their economic news as well. And China has always said that it has abided by the U.N. sanctions.

So, it is this hard economic pressure on the North Koreans which is expected to stay until we have some sort of concrete and most important verifiable action taken by North Korea. By verifiable I mean it can monitors whoever can go into North Korea and see clearly for themselves that North Korea is indeed taking concrete steps to denuclearize.

CHURCH: All right. Our Andrew Stevens joining us there live from Seoul in South Korea where it's just after 5 p.m. Many thanks.

Well, Britain's top diplomat has a message for Moscow over the mysterious illness of a former Russian double agent. We'll have the details for you, next.

Plus, Israel's prime minister delivers a strong warning about a nuclear Iran during his visit to Washington.

We're back in just a moment.


CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. Eight people accused of a terror attack in Germany are expected to learn the court's verdict in the coming hours. The victims were refugees.

And as Atika Shubert reports the accused are not new comers to Germany but allegedly anti-immigrant radicals.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: They're known as the Freital group. Seven men and one woman charged with multiple attacks on refugees. Their trial sets a legal precedent in Germany for the first time far-right extremists are charged with terror offenses.

In 2015, the country was coping with an influx of more than a million refugees. Small German house (Ph) like Freital were pressed into service by the government to provide refugee homes. While many welcomed the new comers others did not. Protest tried to prevent the entry of refugees into the town unsuccessfully.

But according to the indictment, the suspects turned to violence including firebombing two refugee homes that left two people injured. Prosecutors argued the suspect had formed, quote, "a right-wing terror group."

On Wednesday, the court is expected to deliver a verdict.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Berlin.

CHURCH: In just a few hours, Britain's home secretary will lead a meeting on the investigation into the apparent poisoning of a former Russian double agent. Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious on a shopping center bench in Southern England.

Foreign Minister Boris Johnson says the U.K. will take action if Russia was involved.

Our correspondents are covering this developing story. Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow and Erin McLaughlin is in Salisbury, England. Good to see you both.

So, Erin, let's go to you first. What more are investigators learning about who might be behind the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, and what's their condition at this hour.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Rosemary, we still do not know what exactly happened to Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia found unconscious in the park bench just behind me in this non-descript shopping center in the sleepy city of Salisbury.

You can see behind me that park bench now covered by a police tent. This area remains cordoned off British counterterrorism officials now at the helm of this intense and ongoing investigation.

Authorities say they do not believe this was the result of terrorism but have brought in counterterrorism officials because of the unusual circumstance surrounding this incident. Circumstances which will be no doubt be scrutinized today by the highest level -- levels of British government.

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd is expected to chair a Covert meeting at Downing meeting. Covert meeting normally reserve for emergency situations national and regional, so she should be carrying that meeting around 10.30 in the morning. We expect to hear more out of that.

Meanwhile, a British authorities looking at Russia. We heard from British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson yesterday in parliament say that if Russia is involved, the U.K. will have a robust response. Take a listen.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: If those suspicions prove to be verified then this government will take whatever measures we deem necessary to protect the lives of the people in this country our values and our freedoms. [03:14:56] And though, I am not now pointing fingers, because we

cannot, Mr. Speaker you said on point fingers, I say to governments around the world that no attempt to take innocent life on U.K. soil will go either unsanctioned or unpunished.


SHUBERT: Now Russia has denied any involvement calling Secretary Johnson's comment, quote, "wild." But the reason that Russia really is center of focus in this investigation is because of who Skripal is. He's a former Russian intelligence officer who was convicted in 2006 of spying for MI-6 released to the U.K. as part of a prison swap in 2010.

Now both he and his daughter are in critical condition in a British hospital. Rosemary.

CHURCH: And of course, Erin, knowing what that unknown substance is could very well help determine who might be behind this poisoning. How long do authorities think it may take to determine that?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, at this point, Rosemary, authorities being very tightlipped about the details of this investigation, we do not know what that unknown substance is, and we do not know where authorities are in the process of figuring out exactly what that unknown substance is.

What we do know is that expert say it could take days before they identify the substance. Right now ,treating both Skripal and his daughter, again, in critical condition. Also what we do know is that there are several sites in Wiltshire in this area now in addition to this shopping center that are the subject of this investigation.

CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to Erin McLaughlin bringing us up to date there from Salisbury, England.

Let's go to Fred Pleitgen now in Moscow. And Fred, after all these years why would Skripal be a target in a small corner of Britain, especially given he was pardoned by then President Dmitry Medvedev?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes. And he was pardoned in 2010 as Erin pointed out, so he had actually been out of the intelligence services in Russia for a very long time, had been out of the country for a very long time as well.

And that's one of the things, Rosemary, that Russian media is also pointing to. A lot of the media which is very close to the state here, very close to the Kremlin is saying, look, this man was of no value, of no threats to the Russian Federation.

Why on earth with the Russian security forces or security services intelligence services go after this man and go to all the trouble, on top of that, of possibly causing an international incident between the U.K. and the Russian federation in doing something like this in a public place in Britain. So those are the questions that are out there. You heard from Erin also the Russians are categorically denying being involved. But one of the things that we also need to point to, Rosemary, is that there was a lot of bad blood towards Sergei Skripal.

And I think right now we're seeing on our screen excerpts of a video of a film that was made by the FSB by the Russian intelligence service at the time shortly after the arrest of Sergei Skripal between 2004 2006 that really pointed to the fact that they believe that he was a traitor that he had betrayed the Russian federation.

So, certainly, there was a lot of anger towards Sergei Skripal. There is some speculation of course in British press as well about whether or not the time that Sergei Skripal was in the Russian military intelligence overlap with the time, for instance, that Christopher Steele who wrote that trump dossier was also in the MI-6 in the same area.

And then later, at the MI-6's at a Russia desk in London, whether or not that might have had anything to do with it. Of course, that's all speculation, there's nothing to back that up at this moment.

But certainly the Russian media here are really questioning why Britain would point the finger towards the Russian, and you heard those categorically denies from the Russian federation. They are saying what they want to see right now is an investigation and then moving forward.

First and foremost, of course, determining what that substance is. The Russians is even going so far in saying that they require the Brits to provide them with information as to what exactly happened there in Salisbury when this man felt so critically ill, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And we're not hearing very much about the investigation, so we wait and see what happened there. Fred Pleitgen bringing us up to date from Moscow, where it is 11.19 in the morning. We thank you very much.

Well, pleas from the U.N. for a ceasefire in Syria have fallen on deaf ears as aid agencies try again on Thursday to bring in supplies to eastern Ghouta. Heavy shelling cut short the delivery there on Monday.

The violence has left more than 400,000 civilians in despair, enduring critical shortages of food, water, and other basics.

At the same time, one rebel group has refused Russia's offer of safe passage out of eastern Ghouta. Russia accused rebels of preventing civilians from escaping the besieged area.

And our Jomana Karadsheh joins us now from Amman, Jordan. So, Jomana, in the midst of all the violence and the humanitarian crisis why is this one rebel group refusing Russia's offer to get civilians out of eastern Ghouta?

[03:20:04] JOMANA KARADSHEH, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Rosemary, that offer came from the Russian ministry of defense. It came through a Facebook post on their official page on Tuesday, saying that they're basically offering amnesty pretty much for guaranteeing that amnesty for the rebel fighters and their families if they take up this offer to leave eastern Ghouta under the supervision and the protection of the Russians.

But straight after that we heard from one of the main rebel groups they are saying that they refuse this offer, that they categorically refuse to leave eastern Ghouta and saying that they are not in contact with the Russians.

One rebel group describing this as rumors that are beings spread by the Russian and the regime as part of what they describe as the psychological warfare against the people of eastern Ghouta. And a spokesman for one of these rebel groups saying basically that this is against the Security Council resolution 2401.

That calls for the 30-day truce ad for the delivery of aid into that rebel enclave. Essentially they say they don't want to leave that they are going to continue to fight. But what we're looking at really is this lack of trust, they don't trust these offers that they would get from the Russians.

And you really are looking at a situation here where both sides, the regime on the one hand with its allies and the rebels on the other hand who are really digging in, saying that they are going to continue this fight.

We heard this from the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the weekend saying that he's going to continue this fight until they recapture eastern Ghouta, saying that this is part of their battle against terrorism.

And at the same time we're hearing from these rebel groups saying that they are not going to stop. This is a fight that they have been doing for seven years and they are not going to stop right now. And what we're looking at is civilians caught in the middle with both sides blaming each other for why the civilians are unable to leave eastern Ghouta.

And it looks like we are watching repeat of what we've seen in other parts of the country other rebel held areas and some feel that, you know, it's a matter of time before the regime is able to recapture. They do have the upper hand here, and so it's a matter of time before they are able to recapture eastern Ghouta and it is the civilians were caught in the midst of this, Rosemary.

CHURCH: As always and we will wait to see what happens with humanitarian aid when they try again on Thursday to get it in.

Jomana Karadsheh monitoring situation in eastern Ghouta from her vantage point there in Amman, Jordan. Many thanks.

Well, Israel's prime minister says darkness is descending on the Middle East in the form of Iran. On Tuesday, Benjamin Netanyahu warned a pro-Israel group in Washington that Tehran is working to expand its influence. And he says U.S. President Trump will walk away from the Iran nuclear deal and restore sanctions unless floors in the deal are fixed.

The Prime Minister's visit to Washington also giving him a break from his troubles in Israel where multiple corruption cases are targeting him and his circle.

Our Oren Liebermann is following all the developments for us from Jerusalem, he joins us now live. Oren, good to see you. And of course, Prime Minister Netanyahu here insisting is on the same page as President Trump when it comes to Iran. Is that the case?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Absolutely. Trump and Netanyahu are very much on the same page in terms of seeing the Iran nuclear deal as a bad deal in terms of seeing Iran as a threat to the Middle East and beyond. So they very much overlap in their strategic view of the region.

As for Netanyahu's message at APEC, one of the biggest pro-Israel lobbies very much -- very much similar to what we've heard from him before. It started with thanking Present Donald Trump for moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, expected to happen in May, as well as recognizing Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

And then he pivoted fairly quickly to in begging against Iran, Here's part of his message there.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: And the president has also made it clear that if the fatal flaws of the nuclear deal are not fixed he will walk away from the deal and restore sanctions. Israel will be right there by American side. And let me tell you, so will other countries in the region.


LIEBERMANN: Well, that led to Iran's foreign minister firing back on Twitter. Here is what Javad Zarif had to say. "Despite Netanyahu's claims, the fact is that illegal occupation lies at the heart of most of the calamities in our region. Historically, occupying another's land has never been sustainable, this occupation too, in the apartheid system that perpetuates it will not last long."

There's a bit of an argument there back and forth between Israel and Iran, certainly nothing uncommon for what we've seen in the last few months. Rosemary, not a surprise at all but Netanyahu's state is far away from the corruption investigations as it could even with the latest developments happening while he's on this one-week trip to the U.S.

CHURCH: Yes, and let's look at that because of course, while he's away his legal woes mounted back home. What's the latest on that and what awaits him on his return.

[03:25:03] LIEBERMANN: Well, just hours before he met Trump a couple days ago in the White House, a third Netanyahu confidant turn states witness. Another blow to the Israeli prime minister which it seems these hits against him have come every few days.

And let's not forget that less than a week ago he was questioned under caution making him a suspect in a third corruption investigation and his wife was questioned under caution making her a suspect as well.

All of that awaits him when he comes back. The investigations haven't moved that quickly. They're sort of slow and methodical, but they are grinding forward here. He insists he's done nothing wrong. He still has the support of his coalition partners so he can at least rest easy there, but investigations continue and he'll face them right when he gets back home here.

CHURCH: All right. Our Oren Liebermann joining us live there from Jerusalem. Thanks for that.

Well, CNN is teaming up with young people around the world to fight modern day slavery with a student led day of action on March 14. And ahead of my freedom day, we ask surfer Mick Fanning what freedom means to him.


MICK FANNING, SURFER: Freedom to me means just getting out in the water and just doing whatever I want and just growing not being told by anyone what to do and just being me.


CHURCH: And millions have gone on social media to share what freedom means to them. Share your own story using hash tag my freedom day.

Well, another day another resignation at the White House. Still to come, why sources say economic advisor Gary Cohn's departure could be the most damaging yet.

Plus, North Korea seems willing to talk to the U.S. about giving up its nuclear weapons, but experts are skeptical. Diplomatic breakthrough or false hope. We will discuss that next.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. We are waiting to see how U.S. financial markets will react to the resignation of President Trump's top economic advisor Gary Cohn. Right now stock futures are sharply lower. Cohn joins a long list of high-profile White House departures.

Sources called him the only good guy left and a moderating voice to Donald Trump's protectionist policies.

CNN's Randi Kaye reports.

RANDI KAYE, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, CNN: After the white nationalist margin, Charlottesville, Virginia, President trump's lead economic advisor had almost had enough.

Gary Cohn who leads the National Economic Council is said to have written his resignation letter after Trump blamed both sides in the protest that included white supremacist and neo-Nazi.


[03:29:58] TRUMP: I think there's blame on both sides. You look at -- you look at both sides. I think there's blame on both sides.


KAYE: Cohn had told the Financial Times that the Trump administration can and must do better to condemn hate groups. Cohn and his wife and friends urged him to resign but then said as a Jewish-American I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting Jews will not replace us to cause this Jew to leave his job. Before joining the Trump administration, Cohn was titan of finance as president and chief operating officer at Goldman Sachs an incredible accomplishment considering Cohn was reportedly diagnosed with dyslexia a reading disorder at a young age. Teachers wrote them off as an idiot. Some telling his parents he be lucky to find success. One reason he stayed on as long as the White House CNN learned may have been because he was hoping to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve after they smoothed over the Charlottesville rift Cohn and Trump had some success. He was a key architect of the president's tax reform plan.

GARY COHN, DIRECTOR NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Over a hundred companies had announced policies that would create jobs, benefit our workers and grow our economy.

KAYE: But Cohen had many more battles along the way former top aide Steve Bannon and his allies were known for mocking New Yorkers like Cohn referring to them as the Democrats. Meanwhile it seems Cohn and President Trump rarely saw eye to eye. In his best-selling book Michael Wolf writes about an email from April purporting to represent the views of Gary Cohn circulating around the White House is worse than you can imagine an idiot surrounded by clowns, Trump won't read anything not one page memo, not the brief policy papers, nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored according to Wolf the email also said Trump is less a person than a collection of terrible traits, no one will survive the first year, but his family. I am in a constant state of shock and horror on CNBC the White House has denied Cohn made those comments.

TRUMP: I was in China.

KAYE: Then came the president's plan to increase tariffs and Gary Cohn had had enough, Trump promising to impose a 25 percent tariff or tax on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum, something Cohn was strongly against, behind-the-scenes Cohen was trying to demonstrate how terrorists would fail U.S. manufacturing. Instead now he's packing his bags. Randi Kaye CNN.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: Let us go back to the other big story of the day North Korea which appears willing to talk to the U.S. about giving up its nuclear weapons. President Trump says he believes the North is sincere, but understandably they are plenty who is skeptical about Kim Jong-un's motives. Duyeon Kim is a fellow at the Korean Peninsula future form and she joins us now live from Seoul in South Korea, good to have you with us. So the breakthrough everyone claims that all will it go the same way past talks have with North Korea.

DUYEON KIM, VISITING SENIOR FELLOW, KOREAN PENINSULA FUTURE FORUM: You know, hate to pour cold water but actually this is positive the positive elements, but there are more doubts, suspicion and skepticism attached to the latest development, because it really seen this movie too many times before, where the North ratchet up the provocations and tensions and then extend fancy talk and try to reduce tensions and extract concessions while keeping its nuclear weapons. So that's why there's a lot of skepticism more than hope.

CHURCH: It was interesting President Trump saying that he believes North Korea is sincere that's a huge admission coming from him and how much influence do you think he's had in actually getting North Korea to this point?

KIM: It's really anybody's guess so what President Trump meant by that comment especially the words sincere, but perhaps he is behaving himself and trying to also contribute to environments and conditions conducive to having one day talks with North Korea that might be parts of his motive there and not really the road they haven't even begun to be getting a warm-up session. The warm-up session hasn't even started yet and the road ahead is so long and complicated and very delicate, because again the North their known for notorious for, you know breaking promises, breaking written agreements, but also the North has also taken advantage of changing American and South Korean administrations every 4 to 5 to 10 years and so it's really you know can be seen as North Korea's ploy to extract as many concessions as once and buy time and also try to achieve a cheap political objective of trying to lure yourself further away from Washington, trying to divide the allies, trying weaken this sanctions that are in place and also, you know this piece of offensive that Kim Jong-un has been waging since January 1 is also aimed at trying to portray his country as a normal and peace loving states.

[03:35:40] CHURCH: And of course it is worth mentioning that we hearing all of this from South Korea. South Korea saying that North Korea was willing to basically give up its nuclear weapons. North Korea has never said that we haven't heard a response from it. It is healthy to be very skeptical in these sorts of situations, but it is a unique moments that were at in history given that Donald frump is saying that he thinks North Korea sincere, but we do need to hear from the north some sort of reaction here.

KIM: Precisely, but you know it is unique, because Kim Jong-un has said it in self for the first time. his predecessor his father this was their M.O. this was their original long-term to court to the declaratory excuse me position of you know is therefore proclaiming that they might one day give up nuclear weapon but these seems have always been highly conditional if you look at South Korea has relayed coming out of Kim Jong-un's mouth that is also highly conditional in the north especially Kim Jong-un has had a very different definition of what denuclearization actually means and for the north, there -- Kim Jong-un is more interested in arms control talks walking up its nuclear weapons and denuclearization at the end of the day for the North means a break thin in the U.S. South Korean alliance treaty no use forces on the peninsula and no U.S. nuclear umbrella over South Korea and Japan.

CHURCH: That may come down to the definition for denuclearization we shall see and watch this very closely. Duyeon Kim thank you so much for joining us, we appreciate it.

Well the U.S. president acknowledging there was meddling in the 2016 presidential election, but he again backed away from putting the entire blame on Moscow. At a news conference Tuesday he also looked ahead any threats to the midterm elections.


TRUMP: Well the Russians had no impact on our votes whatsoever, but certainly there was meddling and probably there was meddling from other countries and maybe other individuals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you worried about for the client to meddling in the midterm?

TRUMP: No, because were to counteract whatever they do, we counter act very strongly.


CHURCH: But some lawmakers think not enough is being done to stop cyber-attacks the U.S. director of national intelligence told them the Russian attacks are expected to become more aggressive and he admits there is no coherent strategy in place just yet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an ongoing process in terms of how we put together a strategy and policy is to deal with this and to counter this. He is well aware is of the need that is impacted is well aware of the need to do this, but as I did say you one coherent strategy work between the executive branch and the congressional branch has not been put in place yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The 2018 elections are right around the corner why do we not have level of government strategy already in place?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well as is said it is in process, the White House is an actively engage, that there has not been yet a formulation of a lead agency that would work with Congress on legislative action and putting a policy in place.


CHURCH: Well there are signs the special counsel's investigation is expanding beyond Russian meddling in the election to foreign influence in general during the campaign and afterwards. Two sources say a Middle East specialist George Nader attended secret meetings during the presidential transition, one was between Trump's inner circle and officials from the United Arab Emirates and the second with a Trump associate and Emirati officials. The FBI question Nader at Dulles international Airport in January when he returned from an overseas trip, since then the sources say Nader has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller.

And Sam Nunberg offered some new details on the probe during his media blitz on Monday the former Trump campaign advisor revealed what Mueller's investigators ask him last month and a new report says negotiations by President Trump lawyer are also being looked into. Jessica Schneider has the details.


[03:40:16] JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The president's lawyer who played a big role in the Trump organization is drawing scrutiny from the special counsel according to the Washington Post, while Michael Cohen is not a target of the investigation the Post reports Robert Mueller's team has asked for documents and interviewed witnesses about Cohen's roles in a business deal in a policy proposal both involving Russia. The special counsel is reportedly looking at negotiations by Cohen during the 2016 campaign to launch a Trump branded tower in Moscow.

Cohen previously acknowledged he reached out to Putin spokesman for help advancing the project in January 2016, but did not receive a response and abandon the plan shortly after. The Post reports the special counsel is also examining a Russian friendly policy proposal given to Cohen by a Ukrainian lawyer Michael Cohen is also one of the names on the subpoena issued to Sam Nunberg of former and short-lived campaign advisor to the Trump team after initially threatening to defy the subpoena, Nunberg now tell CNN I'm going to cooperate with whatever they want.

SAM NUNBERG, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: What I am not going to have is to help Mueller's team target Roger Stone. Roger is my mentor Rogers is like -- Roger is like a surrogate father to me. And I am not going to do it.

SCHNEIDER: Nunberg has a hand over all documentation between himself and 10 prominent people associated with the Trump campaign from November 2015 to now, the names include the president former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates who were indicted in October. Gates has sense pleaded guilty and Manafort maintains his innocence, plus former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Nunberg self-proclaimed mentor Roger Stone. Stone said in a statement that he is not spoken to the special counsel nor has he turned over any documents and he wrote Nunberg, Sam marches to his own drummer he's not speaking at my behest or direction, Nunberg said Stone may be of interest to Mueller's team since Stone once claimed to have a relationship with WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange something both Stone and WikiLeaks have since denied. Stone also exchanged messages with Lucifer 2.0 the online entity that claimed responsibilities for the DNC hack and was later outed as a front for Russian intelligence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve Bannon and Roger Stone? I emailed with them like 30 times a day. That is how we communicate.

SCHNEIDER: In wide-ranging interviews Monday Nunberg alluded to the questions he faced from Mueller's investigators when he sat for a 5 1/2 hour interview last month. Nunberg indicated the special counsel is zeroing in on the president and potentially his business deals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They know something on him. I think they had him on something and smart enough to know if they have to work something, they had to be there in the election.

SCHNEIDER: Nunberg said he thinks investigators also want testimony about the Miss Universe pageant held in Russia in 2013.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They probably want to know about Miss Universe 2013 (inaudible).

SCHNEIDER: Trump partnered with Russian billionaire real estate developer Agalarov and his popstar son Emin to hold the pageant in Moscow. The Agalarov British publicist was one of the people who attended at Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. Nunberg doesn't believe the denials from the president and his son that Donald Trump was aware of the meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you probably knew the veils and I picked up I think if I had to guess and informed them about it.

SCHNEIDER: Nunberg provide no evidence for any of his claims and Nunberg has acknowledged he left the campaign on bad terms with Trump. Nunberg was fired in August 2015 for racially charged Facebook posts that was just two months after Donald Trump officially announced his candidacy in the midst of hours of TV interviews Monday some people wrote into reporters questioning Nunberg mental state prompting CNN's Errol Barnett to ask this.

ERROL BARNETT, CNN INTERNATIONAL NEWSROOM HOST: Talking to you? I have smelled alcohol in your breath.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well I have not had a drink.

BARNETT: Anything else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Besides my meds.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anti-depressant is that OK?


CHURCH: Jessica Schneider with that report. We will take a short break here. Still to come, Saudis crown prince begins a three visit to London, but not everyone is putting out a welcome mat for him. And why some not happy about his trip. Be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [03:46:47] CHURCH: Welcome back everyone the growing strategic

relationship between two former enemies is on full display of the coast of Vietnam, the USS Carl Vinson appearance is the biggest U.S. military presence there since the wars end in 1975 and Matt Rivers reports the visit has a general purpose of the region.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. ship dominates the horizon as you get closer, more a couple miles off the Vietnamese coast on this trip though, a symbol of U.S. ability to wage war is turned into a peace offering. The USS Carl Vinson and its 5000 sailors arrived in the (inaudible) this week for an official visit decades in a making. Complete with a welcome ceremony on shore and people to people exchanges over four days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It means tremendous deal to us to have a reliable strategic partner like Vietnam.

RIVERS: For Vietnam this is primarily about strengthening a military relationship and aboard the carrier deck you can see the appeal. Other Navy ships have stopped here since 2003, but this is the first port call for U.S. aircraft carrier since Vietnam War.

This kind of ship more than any other shows the United States ability to project its military power to all corners of the globe. It is a kind of ship frankly that can send a message if you want to other countries like China.

China has stirred up tensions across the sea, because of these different sets of artificial islands it has built up and quickly militarized. CNN shot this video in 2015, but new photos published by the Philippine newspaper in January so substantial development since. The radar stations and runways facilities analysts they could someday allow China to militarily dominate a crucial international waterway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The militarization of the South China Sea is a concern that does not and will not impact the operations of the United States Navy, we will continue to fly operating sale wherever international law allows.

RIVERS: Beijing claims sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea, but other countries like Vietnam claim parts of that same territory, because China's actions illegal under international law. The U.S. agrees since 2015 has sailed Navy ships like these within 12 miles of the island to show that it does not respect them as sovereign is also making port calls China won't like.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So they had not been friendly to warming relations with Vietnam they will be particularly sensitive to the visit of an aircraft carrier to Vietnam.

RIVERS: U.S. Navy and State Department officials have stressed this week that a show of force is all about deepening peaceful ties between the U.S. and Vietnam and is absolutely true when you ask why the U.S. and Vietnam created the historic visit just offshore part of that answer lies in a growing threat in the middle of the see. Matt Rivers CNN, Vietnam.


CHURCH: To London now where the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Bin Salman will meet with Queen Elizabeth and other high- ranking U.K. officials in the coming hours. A three day visit is part of the diplomatic and business networking to it. Nic Robertson reports not everyone will be greeting the Prince with open arms.


[03:50:09] NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mohammad Bin Salman or MBS as he is known reputation proceeds from the rising power, a force of change, but also here in the U.K. MBS is a lightning rod for critics of Saudi's war in Yemen. It has gone with the U.K. beyond his own family's ties to the U.K. royals is a lot about security. Saudi security and British arms exports a mutually beneficial relationship is how those weapons are used in Yemen that in part pews its critics.

In response Saudi forces has been opening up to questions, but if somebody calls and says it would problem we just hit this by mistake the call comes in here, what happens then? And not just to ask, but the British and other officials to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are pledge to implement the law of conflict as a stated in the Geneva Convention and also an additional protocol.

ROBERTSON: Indeed. MBS has been ripping off the old Saudi playbook of a closed door and changing society, the religious police powers curtailed appointing rusted new younger ministers as well as arresting thousands of royals, businessmen and senior officials accused of corruption, also allowing women to drive letting him have military jobs and attend sporting events. Baby steps in most societies, but giant leaps by Saudis conservative standards.

Guys can I ask you a question. I sorted myself recently as I was interviewing young Saudis in Riyadh. You can see the religious police near us telling everyone to pray, no one pays attention it's such a change and most people what they think, but I'm realizing walking the same streets two years later it feels different to me it's more relaxed the religious police have lost their authority here. The whole land here just feels lighter. MBS is on a mission modernize his country so-called vision 2030, breakout of hydrocarbons create new industries and employ his country's young. It is hugely ambitious potentially riddled with pitfalls a visit to London to meet with the Prime Minister varnishes his credentials as a reformer and may answer some of his critics. Nic Robertson CNN.


CHURCH: So Forbes magazine has published its latest ritualist in first place. Jeff Bezos from Amazon with a personal fortune $112 billion. Microsoft Bill Gates is number two with 19 billion in the number three slot is Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway investment company has netted him a personal fortune of 84 billion but not on the from luxury goods maker LV MH comes in fourth place with 72 billion and rounding out the top five it's Facebook Mark Zuckerberg with 71 billion. So you might be wondering, where is Donald Trump? He has drop to number 766 with just 3 1/2 billion on behalf.

Three year old girl got to have a dance party with Michelle Obama after she was mesmerized by a portrait of the former U.S. first lady and you will hear from that little girl, coming up next.


[03:55:32] CHURCH: Welcome back everyone, a two year old girl captivated by the former U.S. first lady go to meet her and dance with her. It all began with this moment that inspired many people online, this photo went viral last week. It shows (Inaudible) fascinated by the official portrait of Michelle Obama who she believes is a queen. Mrs. Obama invited Parka to meet her in her office and they had a dance party together. CNN Don Lemon spoke with Parka and her mother.


DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: What do you think is going to happen when she grows up to realize the moment, what actually happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she will be inspired all over again that she inspired so many people on. I think she will be absolutely amazed. Look at that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is your Auntie? Now that is her Auntie Michelle.

LEMON: What does parker want to be when she grows up?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you want to do when you grow up?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be a queen.


CHURCH: is she cute or what? And of course it is not the first time Mrs. Obama has dance for the fan. In 2016 Virginia McLaurin who was 106 years old at the time became an Internet sensation when she dance with the Obama's at the White House and she told them she never thought she would live to meet a black president. She's still having a good time by the way next week she turns 109 years old and she celebrated with the Harlem Globetrotters Anson Elementary school in Washington. She spins basketballs on her fingers with a little bit of help from friends and busted a move from her wheelchair. She say the secret for long life is to be nice to people and have love in your life. There is some good advice for you all and thanks so much for your company this hour. I am Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. The news continues now with Max Foster in London. Have yourself a great day.