Return to Transcripts main page
Stephen Hawking Dies; Russia Spy Poisoning; Fight against Modern-Day Slavery and Human Trafficking; Trump Suggests More White House Changes Coming; Pompeo Viewed as Trump Loyalist Foreign Policy Hawk. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired March 14, 2018 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello. Welcome to our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): I'm Isha Sesay live in Los Angeles where it is now 10:00 Tuesday night on the West Coast.
VAUSE: At this hour we have breaking news. Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest scientists in modern history, has died at age 76 at his home in Cambridge, England.
SESAY: He overcame a debilitating disease to expand our understanding of the universe. Professor Hawking inspired millions around the world and his legacy will live on. Matthew Chance reports.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): By any measure, Stephen Hawking's life was incredible, even more so because, in the 1960s, he was diagnosed with ALS or motorneuron disease, and given just a few years to live.
This rare form of motorneuron disease left him virtually paralyzed, unable to express his profound vision of humanity and science without a voice synthesizer.
STEPHEN HAWKING, PHYSICIST: At one point I thought I would see the end of physics as we know it. But now I think the wonder of discovery will continue long after I am gone.
CHANCE (voice-over): But this was never a man bound by his own physical limitations. He reveled in a zero gravity flight, freeing him, he said, from the confines of his wheelchair.
He also wrote a series of children's books about space with his daughter, Lucy. He had two other children and three grandchildren. For more than three decades, he was a professor at Cambridge
University's Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, specializing in the study of black holes and revered as a member of the academic elite.
But Professor Hawking also did much to popularize science, playing himself in "Star Trek"...
HAWKING: -- in the opposite direction.
CHANCE (voice-over): -- and "The Simpsons."
In 2014, his life and romance with wife, Jane Wilde, was depicted on the big screen in the acclaimed film, "The Theory of Everything."
EDDIE REDMAYNE, ACTOR, "HAWKING": The universe is getting smaller and smaller, getting denser and denser, hotter and hotter --
FELICITY JONES, ACTOR, "JANE WILDE": You mean wind back the clock?
"HAWKING": Exactly, wind back the clock.
CHANCE (voice-over): Hawking consulted on the biodrama, which earned five Academy Award nominations and a Best Actor win for Eddie Redmayne, his portrayal of the physicist.
Hawking's most famous work, "A Brief History of Time," remains one of the best-selling science books ever written. And he was deeply concerned with humanity's survival.
HAWKING: I see great danger for the human race. There have been a number of times in the past when its survival has been a question of touch and go. The frequency of such occasions is likely to increase in the future. We shall need great care and judgment to negotiate them all successfully.
But I'm an optimist. If we can avoid disaster for the next two centuries, our species should be safe as we spread into space.
CHANCE (voice-over): He was, as ever, looking firmly to the future.
SESAY: Well, his children released a statement saying, "We are deeply saddened that our father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man, whose work and legacy will live on for many years."
VAUSE: The note goes on to say, "His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humor inspired people all across the world. He once said, 'It would not be much of a universe if it wasn't home to the people you love.' We will miss him forever."
SESAY: Joining me now on the line is Jonathan McDowell. He's an astrophysicist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Thank you so much for being with us. I know that the community of scientists and lovers of, you know, of Stephen Hawking are trying to process this news. Just, if you could, tell us your reaction and why you will miss him.
JONATHAN MCDOWELL, HARVARD SMITHSONIAN CENTER FOR ASTROPHYSICS: Well, I mean, Stephen was a remarkable figure in modern physics and we're all in shock. You know, it's a strange thing because, you know, we -- we've lived with Stephen's disease all these decades and just been amazed that he had managed to beat it this long.
And yet, now that he's finally lost that battle, it's still a huge shock. And so he was, I think, you know, certainly one of the leading physicists of his generation as well as one of the leading outreach people.
His work on connecting black holes --
MCDOWELL: -- with thermodynamics, I think we won't know what -- how important it was for maybe another century because we haven't really sorted it out yet. So I think it's a milestone.
VAUSE: Jonathan, we know that Stephen Hawking was living on borrowed time pretty much for more than 50 years. But, again, so many people are surprised and saddened and shocked by this news.
Was there any indication that his health had recently declined?
Had there been any word that he was -- that -- I guess that he was in ill health and maybe something like this was imminent?
MCDOWELL: Well, you know, he was in his 70s. I have not been in that particular subfield for awhile, so I haven't been clued in to the reports. But, you know, I remember there was an occasion back in 1985, where we didn't think he was going to make it through the weekend. He had a tracheotomy.
And that's when he had to start using the computer and so on. So, you know, he's had plenty of close shaves. And I think he, you know, he's -- his luck finally ran out. But he's left a remarkable scientific and personal legacy.
SESAY: Jonathan, did you ever get the opportunity to meet him?
MCDOWELL: I was one of many students who was privileged to go to lectures by him at Cambridge. I was a grad student there in the 1980s. And so, yes, I was able to experience him first-hand and even have some conversations with him about physics.
What struck me was, this is when he didn't need the computer yet, he was sort of grunting but speaking. And it was such an effort for him to speak. And yet he would not only give the full lecture but he would throw jokes in. He wasn't going to let anything slow him down. And that, I think, is what sums him up is he had a great sense of
humor and he was just determined not to be limited by his physical challenges.
VAUSE: Jonathan, I just want to pick up on something you said about not realizing the full potential or understanding everything, all of the work and all of the research and all of the discoveries of Stephen Hawking for, what, I think you said, another 100 years or so.
There was once -- someone said Stephen Hawking thinks about the universe differently because of his physical disability.
MCDOWELL: Perhaps. I think that's a little exaggerated. You know, he worked not -- you know, we don't have this myth of the lone genius working, you know, just with pure thought. He worked with students. He worked with colleagues.
And I think the body of work that he led and, with collaborators, what was a team effort but clearly he added some really deep insights.
SESAY: You know, I was reading that people would rush to gain access to, you know, conferences that Stephen Hawking would be speaking at or he would be attending. This man was a rock star amongst his own.
Can you explain to me the -- why that was the case or why that is the case?
And amongst other scientists, he was just so revered, if you will.
MCDOWELL: Right. Well, I think for scientists of my generation, he was already famous in the science community before he was famous to the public.
And so, you know, he had that pop star quality for his work, combined with, you know, the story about his disease, which may have gotten him, you know, extra attention, you know, because of the challenges that that made.
But, yes, he was definitely a rock star in the field. And he -- you know, part of it was the science and part of it was the personality. He had a very, very strong personality, a strong sense of humor, a strong sort of attitude. So I think he, you know, his charisma really captured people's attention.
VAUSE: It seems that, you know, there hasn't been a scientist, you know, like Hawking -- the last one we had, I guess, was Albert Einstein, who managed to be so embraced and sort of supported and I guess revered by millions of people and really captured the imagination. There was Einstein in modern times and there is Hawking.
MCDOWELL: Right, and, I think, you know, Carl Sagan comes close, perhaps --
[01:10:00] MCDOWELL: -- in a rather different field but in the sort of fundamental physics area of let's try and understand what the universe is, clearly, in the popular mind, Hawking is Einstein's successor in that respect.
I think he's not quite at the level of Einstein in the opinion of most physicists but he certainly made some really important advances, both in black hole theory and in cosmology.
And so he was thinking -- he was tackling the really hard questions and thinking about them in original ways.
VAUSE: Yes, the biggest questions of all, the origins of the universe. Jonathan, thank you so much.
SESAY: Thank you, Jonathan.
VAUSE: We appreciate your time and your thoughts and your reflections there on Stephen Hawking.
SESAY: Very much appreciated.
MCDOWELL: Good night.
VAUSE: It's hard to- it's like it was expected. Of course, this is a man who had been battling with Gehrig's disease, degenerative motorneuron --
SESAY: Yes, for over 50 years.
VAUSE: Yes. He was only meant to survive for a couple of years after the diagnosis. But it is still shocking and sad and a whole bunch of emotions that this fixture of science is gone.
SESAY: And his appeal and his impact, you know, extended beyond the field of science. He was in "The Simpsons;" he was in "Futurama." He was part of popular culture, far exceeded the boundaries of science. So --
VAUSE: He was a brilliant mind in the broken body, which so captured everyone's imagination and --
SESAY: And the spirit, I mean, that spirit, that irrepressible spirit.
VAUSE: Of course, we'll continue to follow reaction to the passing of Stephen Hawking later this hour. We know that there have been some very famous scientists, who have been tweeting and saying things about Dr. Hawking. So we'll -- so obviously we'll --
SESAY: -- bring that -- a lot more on that later on.
VAUSE: In the meantime, we'll move on.
A critic of Vladimir Putin has been found dead in London. Nikolai Glushkov was a Russian exile with ties to other Russians who died in mysterious circumstances in the U.K.
SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) will lead the investigation into his death. Authorities say there is no evidence of a link to the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter.
VAUSE: Meanwhile, Moscow says it will not be responding to the U.K.'s ultimatum until it actually receives a sample of the chemical substance, which was found at the scene at the death of Sergei Skripal.
SESAY: That's right. Russia ignored the deadline set by Prime Minister Theresa May for an explanation on how the Soviet-era poison was used on Sergei and Yulia Skripal.
VAUSE: Theresa May spoke with the U.S. president, Donald Trump, who said Moscow must provide unambiguous answers about what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It sounds to me like they believe it was Russia and I would certainly take that finding as fact. As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: CNN's senior international correspondent, Sam Kiley, joins us now live from Moscow.
So, Sam, we have this situation now, where Theresa May is building a coalition, if you like, she's getting support from the leaders of France, Germany. We just heard from Donald Trump, the U.S. president, who seems to have moved a lot closer towards the British position over the last 24 hours.
What sort of reaction is that likely to get from the Kremlin?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's going to get shrugged off until there is some kind of concrete sanction. And I mean that in the broadest possible definition, John, because it's not clear what the British and their allies would come up with or will come up with in response to this.
Theresa May is under a lot of domestic pressure to look and sound and behave like a leader whose land has been invaded in a violent way; "illegal use of force by Russia" is a term that she used. It's sort of one step away from saying that we've been attacked with an act of war. And that's certainly how it is seen by some of her parliamentarians. So over the next day or so, we're likely to try that -- she is going
to have to come up with something that would be acceptable to her European partners. And they are fairly divided already on the extent of sanctions that have been imposed over -- on Russia over, particularly, the illegal occupation of the Crimean peninsula.
And the United States, where interestingly, yes, Donald Trump has moved a bit closer to the position occupied by the British in condemning the Russians but he has not condemned the Russians. That was Rex Tillerson, his outgoing secretary of state, who pointed the finger of blame pretty directly at the Kremlin.
So there is still quite a lot of daylight between some of the positions that Theresa May has got to whip into line.
And while all of that is going on in the background, we have this latest death, this latest mysterious death of Nikolai Glushkov, who was found dead. The police are not saying what the cause of death is. But the counterterrorism police have become involved in that --
KILEY: -- investigation because of his association with key figures in the past, notably Alexander Litvinenko, who he knew and who was poisoned by the Kremlin in the view of the British or on the orders of the Kremlin, using plutonium.
So although the Brits' investigative authorities are not making direct links between this latest death and the death of the former spy, Skripal, who was, according to the British authorities, poisoned -- sorry, he's not dead, he's in the hospital, I should stress. Sorry.
But he's been poisoned with a very rare nerve agent. So all of this is roiling around in the background, creating a degree of confusion and putting Theresa May under enormous pressure at a time, really, when her government is already under pressure in terms of its relations with the European Union; of course, over the United Kingdom's plans to leave that political and economic body.
So a very, very difficult time for the British. And the Russian position really is going to be to sit back and wait and has already rejected, ahead of time, this deadline that has set Tuesday, midnight London time. Of course, it's already passed in London and here in Moscow -- John.
VAUSE: Yes, the mystery continues, who is killing all the Russian exiles in the U.K.?
Sam, we'll check in next hour. Thanks.
OK, a short break. When we come back, it is down to the wire in a special congressional election in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. But one candidate there, guess who, is declaring victory. When we come back, we'll tell you why this race is so important for the U.S. president. VAUSE: Plus, students across the world are standing up against modern-day slavery and human trafficking. A look at some of their amazing efforts when we come back.
SESAY: Hello, everyone.
The world renowned physicist, Stephen Hawking, has died at age 76. Though confined to a wheelchair with ALS, Hawking explored the properties of black holes and other mysteries of the universe.
VAUSE: He wrote a lot of books. His most famous, "A Brief History of Time," is what brought him mainstream fame back in 1988. It has sold more than 10 million copies.
In a statement, his family said Hawking's courage and brilliance inspired so many across the world.
Fellow scientists are honoring Hawking's accomplishments and celebrating his sense of humor, a wicked sense of humor.
SESAY: A wicked sense of humor. Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson wrote this on Twitter.
"His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy, permeating the fabric of space-time that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, R.I.P., 1942-2018."
VAUSE: That is pretty deep.
SESAY: It is pretty beautifully written.
VAUSE: And we're marking My Freedom Day here at CNN. Seven years ago this month, CNN International began the fight against modern-day slavery with the launch of the CNN Freedom Project.
SESAY: This year, it has evolved into a worldwide event, driven by students, to raise awareness about the impacts of slavery and human trafficking, a crisis impacting more than 40 million people. We've dispatched correspondents across the globe to cover this story and they'll be bringing us live reports throughout the coming hours.
VAUSE: And so, right now, let's go to Becky Anderson. She joins us live from Abu Dhabi -- Becky. BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: John, and a very warm welcome and it is a warm day here in Abu Dhabi to this, My Freedom Day. There is plenty of excitement and ambition here at the American Community School in Abu Dhabi. More than 1,000 bright young minds, all taking part in what is this global day of action.
And it couldn't be more important that we have this discussion here. This is a city not without its victims around the region. By some accounts there are upwards of 3 million men, women and children, who face exploitation and slavery.
That is the equivalent of every single person who lives in the city of Chicago. Children forced to fight in violent conflicts, forced marriage, sexual exploitation, forced labor and debt bondage in sectors like construction, domestic servitude, drivers.
This part of the world is often rightly criticized for poor labor practices and for not doing enough to prevent human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
Let's bring in those who are doing the hard work today on this, the day of action. Yasmin and Jad joining me now.
Guys, we are talking about freedom. We're talking about My Freedom Day. We're talking about what that means to kids like you.
Chad, what does freedom mean to you?
JAD, AMERICAN COMMUNITY SCHOOL, ABU DHABI: It's just to be able to do whatever you want in life and for everyone to have equality. And -- yes.
YASMIN, AMERICAN COMMUNITY SCHOOL, ABU DHABI: To be able to choose what you believe, how you act, what you do and whether that be for boys and girls and all different nationalities and religions.
ANDERSON: How is the school getting involved?
How are you guys, as students here, learning more about modern-day slavery and trafficking?
And how is it impacting you and your mates?
YASMIN: We had a conflict unit in one of our globals class and that really helped us learn about how to resolve issues and conflicts around the world. And I think that broadened our spectrum as to all the different conflicts that are happening, that we maybe weren't as aware of.
ANDERSON: And of course, victims, as I pointed out at the beginning of this, all around us, here and around the region. JAD: Yes. It's just -- we have -- it's a very big impact, this freedom. And everyone's trying to make it better and everyone's trying to just improve it. And we have been learning a lot about it. We've had many service opportunities to just work on it and to learn more about it so we can make an impact in our future life.
ANDERSON: You guys will be the leaders of tomorrow.
If you were addressing the politicians, the lawmakers out there, ofttimes it's an issue of political will as much a anything else to get things changed.
What would you say?
JAD: It's just to do the right thing and to do what people want because people that have experienced this, they have the right opinions because they know what's happening to them. And just to listen to everyone and have different opinions.
ANDERSON: You're pointing out that everybody has an opinion, right, and they should be heard.
YASMIN: I think people of all ages should have a voice, especially since our generations are the ones, as you said, of tomorrow. And I think that political leaders and people around the world should pay more attention to really current issues that are affecting everyone.
ANDERSON: Let's have a quick look, guys, at the boards here. This is some of the work that some of your friends and colleagues have written up. This is #MyFreedomDay, what it means to them.
And, Jad, just take this microphone, if you will, and just read out some of what is on that board.
JAD: #NeverAgain. Being able to say what you want to say in our society, to be who I want to be without being told. I can be who I want to be and to be able to have free speech.
And, Yasmin, what about the board over there, if you will?
Don't turn your back to the camera. Everyone wants to see you.
YASMIN: My ability to pursue an activity without being judged by my race, language or religion. Having my own voice. To have access to basic human resources. To act however I want. Beliefs without consequences.
ANDERSON: We are challenged by the helicopter, as ever, on --
ANDERSON: -- live TV, and by the school bell, which appears to have just gone off. It sounds like classes are fit once again. We've got an audience here, sitting on the bleachers. A lot of the kids here, as I say, involved.
Guys, come and join me again. An important day here, not just at the school here but across a number of schools across the UAE. Thousands of students getting involved to say, enough is enough, on this #MyFreedomDay -- guys.
VAUSE: Absolutely. Becky, we thank you and we thank the kids as well, not just at that school but at schools around the world. Thank you, Becky and those two kids with you and everybody else.
SESAY: Great to see all of them getting involved on My Freedom Day. So we want to know how you will be spending My Freedom Day. I'm going to be at a school here in Los Angeles. Southgate high school just outside of L.A., among hundreds of students learning about the forms of modern-day slavery and how we can all take action to stop it. I'll be there in the hours ahead.
VAUSE: OK. In the meantime, we'll take a short break. When we come back, we are keeping a close eye on the special congressional election in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. One of the candidates has declared victory. We'll bring you the very latest vote totals in just a moment.
SESAY: Hello, everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. We'll check the headlines this hour.
The Kremlin has ignored the U.K.'s deadline to explain how a Soviet era nerve agent was used to poison a former Russian spy and his daughter.
Moscow denies involvement in the attack and says it will not respond until they actually get a sample of the chemical. U.S. President Donald Trump says Russia must provide an ambiguous answer about what happened.
Now we have breaking news this hour from the U.S. State of Pennsylvania where a special congressional election is testing President Donald Trump's popularity and a whole lot else. Democrat Conor Lamb is declaring victory, this despite the race being neck-in- neck with republican Rick Sacocone. Donald Trump won this district by 20 points back in the 2016 election. But right now, it's all down to absentee ballots and they're still being counted and very slowly at that.
SESAY: Well, Democrat Conor Lamb, he's a 33-year-old Marine veteran and former prosecutor. Republican Rick Saccone, he's a longtime state legislator. President Trump stump for him at a campaign rally this past weekend.
VAUSE: We just heard from Conor Lamb about 30 minutes ago. He was confident and upbeat despite the fact that at least we believe it's too close to call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONOR LAMB, DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, PENNSYLVANIA: It took a little longer than we thought but we did it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: And Rick Saccone spoke to his supporters at his campaign headquarters just about an hour and a half ago and he's not claiming victory but -- and crucially, he's not conceding either.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SACCONE, REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, PENNSYLVANIA: You know, we're still fighting the fight. It's not over yet. We're going to fight all the way to -- all the way in the end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well let's bring in our panel, CNN Political Commentator and Democratic Strategist Dave Jacobson. Former Los Angeles City Councilman, Wendy Greuel.
VAUSE: Also with us, CNN Political Commentator and Republican Consultant John Thomas. And Republican Digital Strategist Austin James. And it is good to have --
SESAY: Welcome everybody.
VAUSE: -- a big house. Okay. I want to start with this side of the desk because if it's a narrow win, if it's a narrow lost for the democrats, the theory is it doesn't really matter because if you look at the history of this district, the republican had won eight consecutive elections in this district by margins of no fewer than 15 percentage points, this is from 530A.
"In both 2014 and 2016 no democrats even bothered to run against Murphy," the guy who resigned prompting the election. "President Trump carried the 18th District by nearly 20 points, Mitt Romney won it by a similar margin in 2012." So Austin --
AUSTIN JAMES, REPUBLICAN DIGITAL STRATEGIST: Sure.
VAUSE: -- what went wrong and is this a referendum on Donald Trump?
JAMES: Right. Listen, we talked about this before. Last time I was on, we talked about Roy Moore who for the record still has not conceded his race. This is just another really poor candidate and I think there's a couple of narratives that come out of this.
One, it was a great candidate he did all of the things that were right. I think if democrats run candidates who are kind of anti- Pelosi in districts that have the margins that is 119 that have margins lower than 20 points like this race had for Donald Trump. I think republicans need to be on watch especially with districts that touch suburban areas and whether with educated college white woman is coming out in favor of democrats.
And then I think the second things and we talked about this in the green room is that I think republicans are being lazy. I mean, that's just all there is to it. It was a poorly run campaign, it was a terrible and --
SESAY: It's an extensive campaign though, they put a lot of money in the election.
JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: At the very end.
JAMES: And all the money came from outside the race. It was just -- it was just lazy from top to bottom and I think it was the perfect storm. And so that's kind of my takeaway. I don't -- I think there's a momentum play here, if he wins I think you can make the narrative that is going to be a blue wave and you can continue with the momentum. But I think if you play the Xs and Os it's not going to be as big of a momentum shift that democrats are saying.
SESAY: All right. Over to this side of the desk. And, yes, Conor Lamb already claiming victory and for democrats this is a wonderful moment given the recent history in this district. Having said that, he's not your typical democrat.
DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, I mean totally. But look, this is a win-win scenario for democrats either way you look at it.
If we ultimately don't prevail but we come within striking distance, let's not forget, this is a district that Donald Trump won in by a whopping 20 points. No democrat ran in 2014 or in 2016, we are closing the gap. We're not even talking about districts that Hillary Clinton outpace Donald Trump in which are 23 districts across the country where republicans are currently in office or republicans are retiring. We only need to flip 24 seats to win back the House.
SESAY: So the DNC will be happy with having candidates up and down that basically come out that basically come out and oppose Pelosi, that come out and then touting that guns and ads. I mean, is this the kind of candidate --
WENDY GREUEL, FORMER LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCILMAN: Yes. And I think we know that democrats across the country and different districts and they're running campaigns, these democrats are running campaign that are specific to that district. That's why we're going to win these seats.
And as he said, I mean this is a win for us no matter what, 20 points that Donald Trump had won this. There are seats out there where Hillary Clinton won those seats. We are going to be able to take these seats and then wait.
THOMAS: I think the challenge that you're seeing is that Conor Lamb, the democrat really was a spectacular blue collar democrat. And that's not really the national mold right now for democrats. If you look out here in California for --
VAUSE: You guys really like him. You guys --
SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) he was a republican.
THOMAS: Very -- I watched all his ad.
JAMES: One thing that we said about Trump and the district that --
THOMAS: He bashed Nancy Pelosi, I'm good with that. He said he could work with Trump, I'm good with that. But the democrats nationally are shifting to the left.
VAUSE: I have to ask you this --
JAMES: Real quick though, I would say this, A, if you have -- if you can find candidates to fill all those races that are as good as Conor Lamb, I'd be impressed, I don't think that's an issue. But more importantly, if they get elected, things like gun rights are going to -- you're going to have a huge nasty fight on the democratic side.
JACOBSON: I just have one answer and that's Doug Jones. Look at Alabama, I mean he was a great candidate. Democrats are putting up extraordinarily talented candidates all across the country.
SESAY: But what about his point? No. But what about Austin's point about your agenda on Capitol Hill if you do fill those seats with Conor Lambs who are against the changes for -- to gun control that are being touted right now who has said very much that he's downplayed his opposition to Trump. What about if those are the democrats you end up having elected?
JACOBSON: I'm not convinced that the gun issue was a winning issue and I'm not sure why his campaign made that pivot. Frankly, this is a winning issue, nationwide if you look at polling. Ban on assault weapons, universal background checks that are more comprehensive than what we currently have, they got sky high approval rating.
So I don't understand the calculus that went into that but I think broadly democrats need a big ten party, that's how we're going to win races and that's how we're going to win back the House.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) because this was -- this election was held after Congress passed the tax cuts, this was the election after Trump slapped tariffs on aluminum and steel. There was a (INAUDIBLE) poll which came out and 96 percent are likely voters report that the tariff announcement did nothing to change their vote in this race.
So if you look at purely from a policy point of view, it seems that that had very little impact on anything that these voters were looking at when they went to the polls. It seems in many ways this is about Donald Trump.
THOMAS: Yes, I think it's actually the opposite. The only reason this was competitive tonight was in fact because Trump gave him a bump. The republicans were not consolidating --
VAUSE: You mean the rally over the weekend.
THOMAS: Yes. Republicans were not consolidating around Rick until Trump came in and said, "Consolidate around Rick." I think Rick was such a terrible candidate, didn't do basic mechanics of what you would expect the republican to do. And then the National Party as well as Trump pressed the emergency button but it was too late against superior democrat.
JAMES: This is why I say it's lazy is that if the -- there was a bunch of people interviewed kind of at the exit poll phase and a lot of them said they still feel that Trump is fighting for their local -- hyper local economic issues but they never felt like Rick Saccone would, they never felt that he addressed it.
SESAY: So Dave and Wendy, Joe Biden went to the 18th District to stump for Conor Lamb and he said that victory for Conor Lamb would basically be the roadmap for winning back working class white Americans who paved the way to the Donald Trump presidency. Is this the roadmap? Have you now found the formula?
JACBOSON: I think so. And we've seen like recent polling like Politico and Morning Consult put out a poll just a couple of weeks ago that showed people who make $50,000 or less only 16 percent of them have seen a pay increase. People who make $100,000 or more, 40 percent of them have seen an uptick in their income. So, it's a tax cut for the wealthy not the middle class voters.
GREUEL: And I just think that as we said earlier that there are good democratic candidates across this country and there are many districts that we're going to be able to win and there's crisis in the White House and every day I think that's taking over that they can't get their message out, you know.
VAUSE: That's the question. So let's say that I need a few hundred votes and Conor Lamb which by the way sounds like a Scottish dish. He gets (INAUDIBLE) Conor Lamb.
This is the day that Donald Trump decided to fire Rex Tillerson and I'm sure no one mentioned in the poll saying, "I'm voting for Conor Lamb because Donald Trump fired Rex Tillerson, the secretary" but it does add to this perception of what she said, all chaos in the White House, constant revolving door that this is not a White House that you normally see, that there is something not quite right.
THOMAS: I don't think people are voting because they want stability in the White House. I think that's too -- it's too much cable news chatter. I think what you're seeing is people vote economically, they vote whether their current circumstance is better off or worst off. JAMES: Union pensions were a huge issue for voters in this race, I mean that's about as hyper local as you get.
SESAY: Yes. So, you hear him say they're not voting on the issue of what's happening on the White House and the revolving door. You say?
GREUEL: I think you can't help but hear that every day there are two or three people and they have -- last week was Gary Cohn on the tariffs issue which ultimately is going to impact everyone and I think that's what people thought of.
That's going to impact my personal wealth, what I have, what I can purchase. So I think it does have an impact. Every single day they're like, "We just want something -- someone who's going to go fight for us" instead of infighting which is happening in the White House.
VAUSE: If you don't mind, I want to play a soundbyte from Donald Trump on Tuesday about where things are heading.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've gotten to know a lot of people very well over the last year and I'm really at a point where we're getting very close to having the cabinet and other things that I want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Almost got the cabinet right (INAUDIBLE)
SESAY: Took him a whole year. Exactly.
VAUSE: But Dave, I guess the question there is -- I mean, there's a whole list of people who are still on the naughty list who are probably going to be kicked out of the White House, at least nine people. Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General seems number one, right?
JACOBSON: Or H.R. McMaster. I mean --
JACOBSON: I mean, here's what's just draw dropping, about 50 percent of the people that went into the White House with Donald Trump, almost 50 percent are now gone. That's incredible after just a year and a half, a little bit less than a year and a half in office.
But H.R. McMaster, Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, John Kelly, Jeff Sessions, the list goes on like -- there's going to be a number of these folks who are going to continue to distance themselves to leave.
SESAY: And to that point of all these people going, almost 50 percent, Austin and John, this was a person who said he knows how to build teams, he picks great people.
VAUSE: Find the best.
SESAY: Find the best. And 50 percent have kind of --
THOMAS: Well -- but he also prides himself on putting together people that have competing ideas and that's what you're seeing. You see infighting because these people are not loyal to one another, they're loyal to the president and they fight and then Trump has to --
SESAY: Is that what it is or that he just doesn't adhere the questions that they say.
THOMAS: Well that also -- that (INAUDIBLE) taken out of context in a sense of the president is now referring to his cabinet and just along he was referring to Rick Cornell the potential ambassador of Germany who the democrats will refuse to confirm. I think that's what he's saying is the people that we put up asking for confirmation were almost there.
VAUSE: I mean, he doesn't want people who differ in viewpoint that's why he fired Rex Tillerson. That's why Pompeo got the job.
JAMES: Well you look at -- this is just -- this is a particular industry if you will that has extremely high turnover.
VAUSE: Not this side though.
JAMES: He's in the 40s, I think it was 20s with Obama and 30 percent, something of that --
SESAY: He's far outpace than that.
JAMES: Yes, he's in the 40s. So -- I mean, yes. It's a little bit more but I would say this, out of all the cabinet positions this is the one cabinet position where you are going to constantly butt heads because you're (INAUDIBLE)
VAUSE: Secretary of State?
JAMES: Well there are lot -- because you need to be an extension of his policy around the globe and to your point, yes, it's a call to personality and we know that they did not -- that they didn't agree. That this is a very reasonable --
VAUSE: But the last three or four secretary of states have lasted four years, they've lasted a full term of the presidency, this guy last -- well Tillerson didn't last a year.
THOMAS: Fourteen months.
SESAY: Yes, 14 months.
VAUSE: Well 14 months, sorry.
GREUEL: You can see a list of all the time like this, unbelievable. JAMES: Well this is a very entrepreneurial individual who has not been a politician, who is learning how to play politics as he goes through it and what he's doing is he's slowly rebuilding his political cabinet --
GREUEL: If you talk about laying -- if you talk about --
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) how he did it though via tweet (INAUDIBLE)
GREUEL: (INAUDIBLE) he keeps changing lanes, that's the problem and our foreign policy. So even if you are loyal to him, he's changing lanes. But also, I mean who wants to be fired by tweet? I mean, I think real people are saying, "Would I want that to happen to me?" For someone -- even though I didn't agree with Secretary Tillerson on a lot of things, he did not deserve that.
JACOBSON: I think it was like the ultimate punishment for news that broke that Tillerson called the president a moron. That was like retribution, it's like --
VAUSE: It was an effing moron.
JACOBSON: Or you're going to give me the smack down. Right, exactly. You're going to give me the smack down, I'm going to embarrass you and you're fire.
SESAY: Yes. And not only that, after insulting a number of African nation, he sent Tillerson to Africa. He said, "You go to Africa and go fix this."
JACOBSON: And he got kicked.
VAUSE: I think (INAUDIBLE)
GREUEL: He got home at 4:00a.m. this morning, so finds out.
VAUSE: All right.
SESAY: All right.
VAUSE: OK. Guys, thank you so much.
SESAY: Thank you. Very much appreciated. Thank you. Absolutely.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) next hour.
SESAY: Absolutely. All right. We're going to take a very quick break now and Stephen Hawking, one of the brightest scientist of the modern age has died at age 76. A look back at his life and legacy when we return.
[01:45:15] SESAY: Hello everyone. Returning to our top story, Britain's world renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has died. He didn't let degenerative disease interfere with his many, many achievements.
VAUSE: He owned widespread fame with his bestselling book, "A Brief History of Time" Stephen Hawking was 76-years-old.
SESAY: Well our Technology and Business Correspondent Samuel Burke joins us now from London. And Samuel, the U.K. just waking up now and really trying to process the news of Hawking's death. What would the reaction be?
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN INTERNATIONAL TECHNOLOGY AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Isha. Well the reaction is already filling up the airwaves here and even when I got in the taxi on the way to the bureau here, this is all that the taxi man wanted to talk about.
And I think that that shows the impact that someone like Stephen Hawking had on so many people not just science, not just people and technology, but the way that he made it so that anybody could understand some of what he was talking about and the way he became a public scientist.
But it's not just the taxi cab driver talking about this, so many leaders in science and especially technology have been turning to Twitter to discuss what Stephen Hawking meant for them. So I just want to start with a start from Neil deGrasse Tyson saying the following through the social network, "His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake but it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of space time that defies measure."
And then if we turn to Sundar Pichai, he's now the CEO of Google and I think this reflects how much people in technology we don't think about the science side of technology enough, we think about the social issues that how much Stephen Hawking influenced people like Sundar Pichai saying, "The world has lost a beautiful mind and a brilliant scientist."
And then if we go to Matt Selman, he's the executive producer of "The Simpsons" tweeting, "Farewell to Stephen Hawking, the most intelligent guest in the brief history of "The Simpson." And I think that tweet actually says it all because as we've been hearing from many scientists, he may not have been to the level of Albert Einstein but the fact that he became this public scientist, the fact that he was on "The Simpsons" and "Futurama" took him to a whole other level and he understood how to communicate science in a new way through television, through tweets, and communicating in this different way that really no other scientist before him had done.
SESAY: Yes, absolutely. Creating a space for himself that perhaps no one else will ever fill. Samuel Burke joining us there from London. Samuel, really appreciate you gathering the reaction out there in social media for us, thank you.
VAUSE: Well they call it the "Rexit" Rex Tillerson forced out from the State Department and his replacement, Mike Pompeo comes with a very different world view which will be felt by so many around the globe. Back in a moment.
SESAY: Well Rex Tillerson's dismissal as U.S. Secretary of State had long been rumored given the disagreements he's having with President Trump on a number of key issues. But when it finally happened, his team and White House aides were caught by surprise.
VAUSE: Well, the president says his choice to replace Tillerson, CIA Director Mike Pompeo has a similar thought process to his. Pompeo is viewed as a Trump loyalist as well as a hawk on trade and foreign policy especially Iran. Tillerson will end his tenure at the end of the month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, OUTGOING U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: What is most important is to ensure an orderly and smooth transition. There at a time that the country continues to face significant policy and national security challenges.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The impact of Tillerson's exit from the State Department coupled with the arrival of Mike Pompeo as his replacement is likely to be felt around the world and to explain how, we're joined now by Josh Rogan, he's a CNN Political Analyst and Columnist on Foreign Policy and National Security for "The Washington Post."
OK Josh, you put this argument out there that there could be one very big positive from this shakeup simply that there will be a better relationship between the Secretary of State and the U.S. president. Now this is a point Donald Trump made on Tuesday, this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I've worked with Mike Pompeo now for quite some time, tremendous energy, tremendous intellect, we're always on the same wavelength.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So essentially what we're talking about here is that when Mike Pompeo talks to world leaders that he could be reassured that he is talking for the president, something that seem to be lacking in Trump's relationship with Tillerson.
JOSH ROGAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. There's an outside impact and an inside impact. On the outside, the State Department had always been seen to be on the fringe of Trump Administration policy making. The president contradicted Rex Tillerson in public often, the State Department bureaucracy was not put into use, there was just often contentious relationship between the White House and the foreign policy establishment around the world because of skepticism of their loyalty to the Trump agenda. And that is one thing that Mike Pompeo is being brought in to fix, OK?
And if he does it correctly, he can both build trust between the Trump Administration and the State Department, the State Department and the White House and also between the State Department and all the country's around the world that are viewing American foreign policy with a confused and skeptical eye, that's a big task for Mike Pompeo. But as the president said they have a personal relationship, a rapport, and they agree on stuff which can only help them get stuff done one would think.
VAUSE: OK. Well the relationship between Trump and Pompeo apparently developed over the regular intelligence briefings. I want to read part of the "Washington Post" report from last December about the PDB, the presidential daily brief which in this White House is usually an oral presentation.
"Russia related intelligence that might draw Trump's ire is in some cases included only in the written assessment and not raised orally said a former senior intelligence, official familiar with the matter. In other cases, Trump's main briefer, a veteran CIA analyst adjust the order of his presentation and text, aiming to soften the impact."
Is it a concern that the reason why Pompeo gets on with the president might be at least in some small measure because he doesn't tell the president what he doesn't to hear?
ROGAN: Well that -- I don't think that's exactly the relationship. I think what it is is that Donald Trump is very hard person to brief, a hard person to debate with on foreign policy and Rex Tillerson never really figured it out.
He did have a personal relationship with Donald Trump, they did meet and talk often. Sometimes Trump would side with Tillerson, that's all true but Pompeo is known inside the administration as someone who has earned the respect of Donald Trump by being able to talk to him in a way that Trump feels that he's not being patronized to, that he's not being condescended to. And Pompeo is taking Trump's views into account when he's forming policies rather than what Tillerson was doing which is to try to move Trump towards his own view, something that Trump really doesn't like.
So anyway you look at it, Pompeo is -- has just been better at dealing with Donald Trump, I think that's an asset really and it also helps that he happens to agree with him on more stuff than Tillerson ever did.
VAUSE: Well, one issue that they agree on is Iran, Pompeo takes a much harder line with Iran especially the nuclear deal compared to Tillerson. Again, a point not lost onf the president today, here's what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Rex and I have been talking about this for a long time. We got along absolutely quite well but we disagreed on things. When you look at the Iran deal, I think it's terrible, I guess he think it was OK.
I wanted to either break it or do something and he felt a little bit differently. So we were not really thinking the same. With Mike, Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK. So does this now mean that the Iran nuclear deal is dead in two months and if that's the case, then what message does that send to the North Koreans ahead of these nuclear talks and they're looking for some kind of nuclear deal. If the administration doesn't keep its word from the past administrations and what the North Koreans got to look forward to.
ROGAN: Right. It doesn't look good for the Iran deal, there's still a chance for the State Department to negotiate a deal with European partners to have some sort of follow-on agreement that will convince Trump not to kill it, that's a long shot to be sure, Pompeo is much more hawkish, much more skeptical of the deal.
So, yes, the State Department is going to have to work hard to catch up and put together a historic summit with Kim Jong-un in a very short amount of time, that's only one of the 10 things that they really have to get done in the coming months and the chaos simply cannot help, there's no way it could be a good thing.
VAUSE: It does not help, that is for certain. Josh, thank you so much for being with us, we appreciate.
VAUSE: Well finally here, for more than 50 years it seems Professor Stephen Hawking was living on borrowed time to find the odds in a crippling disease until now. One of the greatest minds of our time has died at home in Cambridge, age 76.
SESAY: When he was 21-years-old, doctors gave him a few years to live. He went on pushing the boundaries about understanding of the universe. A brilliant mind, a great sense of humor with a legacy that will live on. An incredible man that refuse to be bound by the limitations of his body.
VAUSE: Yes, it was this sort of brilliant mind in a broken body which captured -- which won him so much support and the imagination of so many people not since Albert Einstein have been a scientist like this who had won so much fame and admiration around the world.
SESAY: And he made it his mission, he made it his life mission to essentially understand this universe we have and our place in it and how it came to be and just refuse to -- refuses to come to self-pity.
VAUSE: Well it's quite interesting because at his 70th birthday party, apparently he said that the biggest puzzle in the universe was women.
SESAY: And he's right.
VAUSE: He does not understand the meddle. And with that, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. We'll have global reaction on the death of Stephen Hawking and the latest on a key special election in the U.S. in just a moment.