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Russia Expels 23 Diplomats in Response to Britain; U.S. Sanctions Target Russian Troll Farm Supporters; Father and Toddler Kicked Off Southwest Flight; CNN Original Series: Sex and Love Around the World Premiers Tonight; Trump Calls McCabe Firing "A Great Day For Democracy"; Trump's Lawyer Calls For End To Russia Probe; Trump Lawyer Says Porn Star Violated Agreement, Owes $20 Million; Russia Hits Back At U.K., Expelling 23 Diplomats. Aired 12n-1p ET

Aired March 17, 2018 - 12:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We are following breaking news, in the past hour, CNN has learned that President Trump's attorney is calling for an end to the Russia investigation. This development comes just hours after Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and just 26 hours before McCabe planned to retire with full benefits after serving more than 20 years at the FBI.

According to sources, McCabe was accused of misleading internal investigators about his role in directing other FBI officials to speak to "The Wall Street Journal" about his involvement in a public corruption investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

President Trump celebrated the move on Twitter saying, "Andrew McCabe fired, a great day for the hard-working men and women of the FBI. A great day for democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choir boy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI." That's from the president

The former CIA Director John Brennan responded to the president's tweet by tweeting this, "When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may escape goat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America. America will triumph over you."

CNN's Abby Phillip is at the White House. So, Abby, what exactly is Trump's lawyer saying and on whose behalf is he saying it?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is a very good question, Fred. There has been a lot of confusion this morning over John Dowd's comments about this McCabe situation. He has now issued two statements today. One initially saying that he was speaking on behalf of the president and then clarifying later that he was not speaking on behalf of the president, but he was speaking in his own personal capacity.

Let me read you the second statement in which he clarifies a little bit of what he's trying to say. He says, "Speaking for myself, not the president, I pray that acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to the alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe's boss James Comey based on a fraudulent and corrupt dossier. Just end it on the merits in light of recent revelations."

So, that statement is different in a couple of key ways. The first statement that he issued seemed to imply that what he wanted Rosenstein to do was follow the example of Sessions who had just fired McCabe and end the Russia investigation. That's a lot different from what the president's lawyers and what the president has said.

He wants this investigation ended but he wants it ended because he believes that there is no collusion to be found. Clearly, we are hearing from sources close to the president that they are not happy with this slipup on the part of John Dowd.

There's a new statement out here trying to clarify this is not a call for Mueller to be fired or for this investigation to be ended abruptly -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, all fascinating. Abby, thank you so much. We're going to talk more about those words and from whom it comes.

Joining me right now, CNN political commentators, Ben Ferguson and Maria Cardona, and CNN legal analyst, Joey Jackson. All right. Good to see you all. Joey, you're up at bat first. So, John Dowd is the president's personal attorney and he says he is speaking on his own behalf in that second statement that came out.

But his client has repeatedly called the Mueller probe a hoax and a witch hunt in so many ways. In your experience, would an attorney say something like this without his client's, his or her client's blessing so to speak?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, generally, to be fair, Fredricka, good to see you and the panel. I mean, us, attorneys, are representative and protective of our clients. Do we confer with them about everything we say? The answer is no. Do we have a general sense of what our boss, our client who is the boss, thinks? Of course, we do.

And it's no secret that this administration hates this investigation, right? It's no secret that the president believes it to be, you know, the very thing that he despises most because it calls into question his presidency.

And so, when you look, and you examine the issues about the investigation, you can't help but think of course the president doesn't like it, but, you know, it smacks of reality tv and it smacks of politics. You look at the House investigation, how it comes abruptly to a conclusion. They say no collusion here, nothing happened, nothing's wrong. Of course, the Democrats are saying well, wait a minute, we didn't interview everyone. There's this other investigation in the Senate that's ongoing.

The most important investigation being Mueller's. So, we know that they want the investigation to come to a close. But remember the whole essence of an independent council is so it should be independent and divorced from politics. Let Mueller do his job, reach conclusions we all can trust and respect, and have it reach finality that way.

[12:05:11] WHITFIELD: But then, Joey, how does the Mueller team interpret these words coming from John Dowd? Does it give them anything more in which to go -- does it raise new suspicions that the attorney would say follow the lead of Sessions in, you know, the removal of McCabe and I'm hoping Rod Rosenstein would, you know, do the same kind of brilliant move. Would the Mueller team use that information?

JACKSON: I would think the Mueller team is examining not only the firing of James Comey, but you could look at the firing of McCabe. What is that all about? Why was he fired? Why is it necessary to fire someone who clearly is on a leave of absence, who's leaving anyway in a day? And so, what's the basis for it? You could say --

WHITFIELD: He stepped down in January.

JACKSON: Yes, he stepped down in January and he's leaving prior to his 50th birthday, you know, he's waiting so he can go. You can look at that to the extent that we know Trump doesn't like him, McCabe. He's wax poetic about him on social media about his wife and about her being a Democrat and her running for a state Senate seat and collecting money, et cetera. Political people will get into --


JACKSON: -- let me just conclude with this. You could say, based upon that, we know to the extent that McCabe worked for Comey, he knows where the bones are buried, certainly has intimate knowledge of what's happening and any firing of him because he is a principal participant. And his testimony will be valuable. It could be construed of obstruction in and of itself. I think Mueller certainly has a lot to work with here.

WHITFIELD: OK, so Ben, your thoughts? You know, the president also responded last night, you know, kind of gloating. You know, saying this was great and great for democracy. So, Ben, what were you going to say? How are you interpreting this?

FERGUSON: Look, there are two things here. One, I don't think Mueller's team is going to stop any time soon. I think we'll probably going to be having the same conversations on Saturdays at noon right during the midterm elections. I think this is going to drag on for a long time. It is a political issue as much as it is an investigation, but let's be clear about why this individual was, in fact, fired. I'm going to give the exact quote here. Both the OIG and FBI reports concluded that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor including other under oath on multiple occasions. That is why he was fired.

WHITFIELD: That's where we're at this interesting, you know, place because of timing. That could have been done long ago with this. He already stepped down in January and now less than 48 hours before his fool pension, suddenly a firing comes. That's where we are, inspired the curiosities. Why?

FERGUSON: I think he should have been fired back in January when he stepped down. Clearly in both report, let's also be clear, these reports have come out since then to paint a picture he lacked candor and apparently leaked information in "The Wall Street Journal" on multiple occasions under oath. So, take politics out of it. This individual did not deserve to get a federal government --


WHITFIELD: Maria, is it possible to take politics out of this?

CARDONA: No, absolutely not, because -- hang on -- Ben, it's my turn. The Trump administration is the one who's injecting politics into it and they are also injecting what they believe is what their best interest. But here's the flip side to that.

First of all, on the IG report, let's see it. No one has seen it. So, until we see it, we cannot fully evaluate how valid their accusations are, number one. Number two, it says in there according to what we just heard, in terms of what the IG report says, that there's a problem with the disclosure that Andrew McCabe made to reporters. Well, guess what, as the deputy director, he had the authority to disclose whatever he wanted to the media. And, in fact, according to what I've read --

FERGUSON: That's not true.

CARDONA: Yes, it is true.

FERGUSON: No, it's not true.

CARDONA: Hang on, Ben. It is true --

FERGUSON: If you get your information --

CARDONA: -- according to what I've read, according to what I've read, that he was actually trying to clarify to the media to make sure that what they were writing was correct. So, he was doing it --

FERGUSON: That would be my excuse.

CARDONA: -- so he was doing it in terms of trying to be more open. But here's my other problem with what they actually did --

FERGUSON: Maria, why did he lie then?

CARDONA: To your point, Fred, why did they do this in January? If this was so righteous of them and McCabe really deserved to be fired, he should have been fired immediately. The second thing is, to me this has been a comedy of errors on behalf of the Trump team.

[12:10:07] Everything that they have done to this day makes them look guiltier and guiltier and makes them look like they have completely something to hide and that Trump is becoming desperate and that's why he's making these moves --

WHITFIELD: So really quick then --

CARDONA: -- does not do him any good that his lawyers --

WHITFIELD: OK, before I go to you, Ben, to wrap it up. Joey, is it any legal recourse for, say, Andrew McCabe at this point?

JACKSON: I would absolutely believe so. Think about this because if you're going to analyze whether it was legal, his firing was legal and appropriate, we don't know, we don't have the inspector general's report, we don't have the specifics in terms of what he said or didn't say.

What smacks me as somewhat ironic is this is Jeff Sessions talking about candor, right. The guy who went in front of Congress, don't mean to get political, but just the most objective way I can put this.

As a lawyer, when someone tells you I don't recall, but they recall everything that helps their side, to me, that's a problem. So, the guy that doesn't recall anything when he testifies is the guy who -- we're questioning your candor.

And then the president of the United States, Fredricka, we know he plays fast and loose with what the facts are, but now they're all concerned about candor. To me that's problematic. In direct answer to your question, if the firing is lawful and appropriate, then you know what they covered, but if it's vindictive and predicated upon, I don't like you because of who you are --

WHITFIELD: The Mueller team would come in and that's what they'd be thinking. Ben, you get to punctuate this.

FERGUSON: The bottom line is the reason why Andrew had to step down and didn't fight stepping down is because he knew he had made a massive mistake and it was going to cost him that job. That's why he stepped down.

The second thing is we don't have one, we have two different reports that say that under oath he lacked candor and was not truthful and what happened with the meetings with the press. If you did nothing wrong, you would have been truthful under oath.

So, you can take politics out of this and look at this individual and say he clearly deserved to be fired. There were two reports that came out saying that.

CARDONA: We can't confirm that until --


FERGUSON: -- the FBI report also said he should have been fired --

CARDONA: We can't confirm that --

WHITFIELD: -- because he already stepped down and now after you step down, you're now fired --

CARDONA: Right, this was vindictive --

WHITFIELD: Most people don't go to work and then --


CARDONA: -- this was clearly -- this was clearly vindictive. It was a political hit job to somebody that Trump clearly knows has the goods on him, and he is desperately afraid.

WHITFIELD: I'm going to leave it there. Not because the conversation is finished. We're going to have you back because this is a conversation that's just getting started. Ben Ferguson, Maria Cardona, Joey Jackson, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

All right. Coming up next, it's the cloud that just won't break over the White House. Now I'm talking about the Stormy Daniels cloud and now the president's personal attorney is claiming the adult film star could owe them $20 million.



WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. A porn star and the president now locked in a legal battle that could be heading to federal court. Attorneys for President Trump and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, claim that Stormy Daniels violated her nondisclosure agreement and they're now seeking $20 million in damages from her.

Daniels is the adult film actress who says she had an affair with Trump. The president's and Cohen's attorneys are filing to move the lawsuit filed against them by Daniels to federal court. Daniels' attorney saying this, "We are not going away, and we will not be intimidated."

Joining me right now to discuss, former White House ethics lawyer, Richard Painter. Richard, good to see you. So, what's your take on this? I mean, this case went from the president saying no relationship, nothing there, to now essentially an acknowledgement, right, by pursuing this case on a federal level to say she violated a nondisclosure agreement, that she shouldn't be talking about the relationship that never happened? RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER: Well, this is just disgusting. The president of the Unite States in litigation with a porn star about a nondisclosure agreement with respect to something that's already disclosed. And of course, we know that he had a relationship with her.

We know that he's had all sorts of problems with lots of women. Some of whom he has attacked without their consent. This is disgusting to have the president embroiled in this kind of thing.

On top of the Russia business which is really the grounds in which he could be removed from office, which is what Bob Mueller is looking at. It's not going to be all about this scandal about his perverted sexual life.

It really makes us think about how we could have chosen such a man to be president of the United States, who gets involved with this type of thing, who shows no respect for the Constitution, repeatedly attacks his political opponents, threatens to throw them in jail.

Celebrating the firing of a career FBI official whose, you know, apparently irritated him for not investigating Hillary Clinton enough. I mean, this is just disgusting, this whole business.

WHITFIELD: So, then, help us understand from, you know, the lawyers of Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, you know, his representation. Why do they believe this is advantageous to take this from California court to a federal level to now settle and pursue $20 million?

[12:20:09] Which would mean $1 million by their math, $1 million each time Stormy Daniels has talked about the affair that wasn't. Why is this advantageous?

PAINTER: Yes, they're not going to get the $20 million. This is just a lot of noise and distraction and I have to say the more we focus on the sexual misconduct of this president, the more he can try to appear normal.

I know that his sexual life is really very abnormal and he's certainly a pervert, but there are a lot of dirty men out there and we've had problems with other presidents who have been doing things they shouldn't in the sexual arena.

And if he can just make himself look like another Warren Harding or Bill Clinton or whoever, he makes himself at least sound somewhat normal. The real problem with this president, he's been in bed with the Russians. He's violated the Constitution. He is guilty of obstruction of justice.

So, we have some very serious offenses that are being looked at by Bob Mueller, and the House and the Senate Judiciary Committee should be having hearings. We're way past the point we were in in Watergate when they were having hearings.

So, I think unfortunately you may think if he gets people to focus on the sexual stuff that people view that as, that's just another Bill Clinton. Well, it's not.

WHITFIELD: You see it as a potential distraction from the Russia stuff. Now that we are in the midst of a lot of eyes on the whole Stormy Daniels, you know, scandal involving the president, this is what Stormy Daniels' attorney actually said to CNN.

Sorry about that, we didn't have the audio, so it wasn't just your ear piece. In a nutshell, Michael Avanetti says Stormy Daniels has been threatened as well. Let's listen to him.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIEL'S ATTORNEY: I'm stating a fact. The fact is that my client was physically threatened to stay silent about what she knew about Donald Trump.


WHITFIELD: All right. So, there is that. And he also says that she has done this interview with "60 Minutes," Anderson Cooper actually did the interview, and it is the opinion of this attorney that it will be making air next weekend on "60 Minutes."

You know there was the efforts by the White House or the Trump team to kind of keep that from ever airing. If it doesn't air, is it your view that the Trump team will have been successful in the standing of the way of her right to speak?

PAINTER: Well, for the time being, perhaps, but it's going to get out. We already heard a lot of the story and we believe it's true. We got to find out who threatened her with physical harm.

I mean, that needs to be investigated right away by the FBI or somebody else because that is a serious matter to find out who made the threat and who authorized the threat. But I got to say, there's a lot that's going on with this president, other than his perverted sense wall relationships and some of which involve sexual assault.

This one I guess does not. We've got a lot of work to do with this president. I think he needs to be shown the door.

WHITFIELD: Right. OK. Lots of clouds as you put it, this Stormy Daniels cloud and of course, the ongoing cloud of the Russia probe. All right. Thank you so much, Richard Painter. Appreciate your candor. Appreciate it.

All right. Coming up, it's become a game of global tit-for-tat. Russia expels 23 U.K. diplomats following the U.K.'s diplomatic expulsions as the fallout over the nerve agent attack there grows.



WHITFIELD: The U.K. government is weighing in on its next move in an escalating diplomatic war with Russia. It's considering taking additional steps after Russia expelled 23 British diplomats.

Moscow's more was in retaliation for the U.K. kicking out 23 Russian diplomats following a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in the south of England. United States, France, and Germany have also joined Britain in blaming Russia for that attack.

CNN's Matthew Chance is in Moscow for us. So, Matthew, could this just keep escalating?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly, Fredricka, has that potential. As you mentioned, Theresa May, the British prime minister, has already come out and said over the next few days she's going to be considering her government's next steps.

Undoubtedly, she's going to be speaking to her allies including the United States on what can be done effectively to punish Russia for what the British, the French, the Germans and the Americans believe is Russia's culpability in this nerve agent's attack on streets of Salisbury in Southern England.

Theresa May's comments come after the Russian Foreign Ministry called in the British ambassador and handed him a list of 23 British diplomats who said it was expelling, in response to the 23 Russian diplomats that were expelled from Britain, ordered to leave Britain earlier this week.

[12:30:09] But the Russians went even further. They didn't just leave it at a tit-for-tat retaliation. They also said that they were closing down the British Consulate in St. Petersburg and ordering the closure of Britain consul offices, the cultural center, there's educational cultural exchanges across the country.

And so there is plenty of potential there that this is to escalate even further, Fredricka.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Matthew Chance, thank you so much from Moscow.

All right, the U.S. slapped Russia with sanctions of its own just this week. Targeting individual oligarchs and the internet troll farm used in Russia's attempts to disrupt the 2016 U.S. elections. This came nearly two months after a deadline set by Congress to impose the sanctions.

I want to bring in Samantha Vinograd, she is a CNN national security analyst and was the national security adviser in the Obama administration. Good to see you.

All right, so in your view, what's the message being sent to Russia?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think the message is this is a step. It's a baby step. And I think it does show that the national security counsel process is at least starting to work. I designed sanctions packages on Libya and Iran. And for these kinds of sanctions to be rolled out, you do have to have a discussion between the Intelligence Community, the Treasury Department and the White House. So maybe that FNC process is getting up and running.

But the truth is, and I'm going to quote John Bolton here which is not something I typically do. This is not real deterrence. I don't think that Putin cares about these sanctions or even the U.K. kicking out diplomats.

We are not taking steps that match the attack. And so I don't think he really cares that we did this. It doesn't mean we shouldn't have done it, but I don't think this is really going to deter him.

WHITFIELD: All right, John Bolton, who knows, could be the next secretary of state. John Bolton who used to be the U.S. ambassador to U.N.

OK, so the U.S. also accusing Russians now of cyber attacks on the U.S. power grid when it unveiled the sanctions. So were those attacks a message from Vladimir Putin that, you know what, we kind of have you under our thumb?

VINOGRAD: Well, yes. And color me, I'm surprised on this one because we know that Vladimir Putin has a penchant for penetrating critical infrastructure. He turned off the lights in the Ukraine several years ago. He's attacked our election infrastructure.

And the creepiest part of all this to me, Fred, is he's gone into our critical infrastructure, shown he can penetrate it, and then the Russians just lurk around, which sends a message that it's really up to him when he takes action. So he looks omnipotent, he looks omnipresent, and again, it's like his fingers is on the switch of when to turn off the lights or the water or that sort of thing.

WHITFIELD: OK, let's switch gears now. The attorney general Jeff Sessions firing former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe late last night. You see this as, you know, President Trump exerting some influence here.

So how is this going to be very interesting potentially to the Mueller investigation? Do you see that this really might be an extension of the president's wishes that Sessions would carry out this firing?

VINOGRAD: I think it could be. But I think we really just don't know it at this point. What we do know is any way you cut it, this is advantage Russia. This was not happening in a vacuum. And we have one or two scenarios.

Either McCabe acted improperly is being appropriately penalized which sends the message at the number two ranking official at the FBI was engaged in improper conduct. That's a hit to the credibility of the FBI.

Or President Trump exercised undue influence on the attorney general and the attorney general fired McCabe inappropriately which shows that the Department of Justice is a political arm of the White House, again that undermines the credibility of our justice system. So either way, this helps Russia's mission of undermining confidence in our democracy.

WHITFIELD: So how does this impact in your view, you know, morale of, you know, law enforcement, you know, employees and those who are working to help promote national security in this nation?

VINOGRAD: Fred, I don't know how morale couldn't be very low right now. With all the scandals swirling, all the negative tweets about deep state conspiracy theories. I honestly wonder how anybody's getting any work done.

I didn't sleep for four years at the White House because the work was so complex and that was without all these issues going on. So goes to work everyday, works hard, and focuses on what they have to do.

WHITFIELD: All right, Samantha Vinograd --

VINOGRAD: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: -- thanks so much.

All right, up next, Southwest Airlines facing outrage after a father and toddler were kicked off a flight. Find out why and how the airline is now responding.

Stay with us.


[12:39:18] WHITFIELD: All right, it's been a turbulent week for the airlines to say the least. Today, Southwest is facing questions after a father and his two-year-old daughter were kicked off a flight. The toddler was reportedly crying and nervous and didn't want to sit in her seat. Another passenger recorded what happened next. Listen and watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm with a two-year-old, you're not going to give me two minutes to sit?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're cleared for departure. We all need to understand the operation unfortunately and --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a child, she's scared. He's trying to calm her down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, this is not helpful, guys, do you want to go to Atlanta or --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you guys want to go to the next flight?


WHITFIELD: Oh boy. This comes after a French bulldog died on a United Airlines flight after it was put in an overhead bin.

[12:40:02] And a German shepherd bound for Kansas on a United flight ended up in Japan.

CNN Correspondent Jean Casarez is following all of these stories for us. So, Jean, what are you hearing about of the toddler and father? Let's begin with that one first.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, the video has gone viral already. And it seems to though be an issue of safety. This was a flight on Wednesday and it was from Chicago to Atlanta. They had already pushed back from the gate, ready for departure and this little girl was crying and screaming.

Well, of course, children always cry on planes, we hear that. But the issue was she would only be quiet and wanted to be in her father's lap. And that was a security issue.

And crew started to talk with the father to get her in her seat. It didn't happen. They had to come back to the gate area and they were escorted off the plane because the plane had to stay on schedule to get to Atlanta.

Now, we've got a response from Southwest Airlines and they do tell us, "Our initial reports indicate a conversation escalated on board between the crew and a customer traveling with a small child. We always aim for a welcoming and hospitable experience and regret the inconvenience to all involved. The traveling party was booked on the next flight to Atlanta after the original flight continued as planned. We will reach out to the customer to listen to any concerns they have about their experience and look forward to welcoming them on board again soon."

And Fred, you can imagine that with a little girl on the lap when they're taking off, if there would be any type of security concern, she's not belted in, she could be in danger.

WHITFIELD: Sure. And, boy, there are a lot of things going on with that occurrence. So, you know, in addition to, you know, the two incidents earlier this week involving pets, now United Airlines had another problem involving a pet yesterday.

Now, tell us about that end of, you know, the turbulence.

CASAREZ: That's right, three in one week. Let's start with the most recent. It is from yesterday.

A plane was bound from Newark to St. Louis but they inadvertently had a dog on the plane that was bound for Akron, Ohio. So what United actually did, they diverted the plane yesterday to Ohio to drop off the dog and then they went on to St. Louis.

They actually say that they offered compensation to the passengers that were on that plane. We don't know what that was. But they obviously realized we've got the third incident in a week. Now, the second one is where a plane was going from Oregon to Kansas. But a dog that should have been on that flight got on a flight for Japan. And this was a 10-year-old German shepherd named Ergo.

And so once it got to Japan -- the family didn't know where their dog was. They realized finally the dog's in Japan. They bring the dog back from Japan. So you can imagine a round trip flight to Japan for an animal within hours.

The third involved a death. And this was a flight -- this is all United Airlines, Houston to New York, and it was a French bulldog. It was in its authorized carrier, flight attendants said put it up in the carry-on and the dog was deceased after that three and a half hour flight.

WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh. And I can relate to all this. I've traveled with my pets and I've traveled with my children and when they were little and two years old, I know what that's like, all of that.

All right, thank you so much, Jean Casarez, appreciate it.

CASAREZ: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, straight ahead, history made and brackets busted.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because of this persistent performance.


WHITFIELD: What? Number 16 takes down number one in the biggest upset in March madness history. Stay with us.


[12:48:17] WHITFIELD: All right, the MeToo and Time's Up movements are inspiring women around the world to stand up for their rights and take control of their sexuality.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour hosts a new CNN original series, "Sex and Love Around the World." She explores how women from different countries and cultures are breaking down old boundaries to find love, intimacy, and sexual fulfillment.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Women are no longer willing to take the place the society has imposed on them. They don't all want to be the perfect daughter who grows up to be the perfect housewife. And a massive shift is under way.

Oh good, we're going to get some drinks now, we can loosen up a little bit.


AMANPOUR: I've come to meet a group of friends at their regular hangout where they gather to dish on their lives and their loves.

Ladies, let's talk about sex. How is sex?


AMANPOUR: Do you think men here, the people who you're dating, and your husband, and your partners, do they care about your happiness, about your emotional and your physical satisfaction?



WHITFIELD: And Christiane, this is a fascinating view of the women in Tokyo there. Because these women exemplify, you know, a less conservative and certainly more liberated woman. What did you discover?

AMANPOUR: Well, they do. And yet, there was one slightly older one there who actually was married, did have kids and has been separated from her husband, under the same roof, because there is this concept of sexless marriages which is once the couples have had their children, the husband stays in the marital chamber, the wife moves into basically the children's room and never the two shall meet except in very formal circumstances not in a love relationship anymore. And they each kind of do their own thing.

[12:50:15] And now women are saying to themselves, well, hang on, we want a little bit more than just, you know, producing the children and then being sort of left on the shelf.

And to that point, they really are trying to break through the centuries of societal pressure, cultural pressure, where in Japan there's this thing called skinship. In other words, you know, touching of skin and they don't do it.

They don't shake hands amongst each other. They don't hug. They don't kiss. They don't even say, I love you. This stuff doesn't happen, either inside or outside.

WHITFIELD: And that would explain a lot of the white gloves these days.

AMANPOUR: Yes, absolutely. And, in fact, we found by interviewing a lot of different people that the young people are trying to break out of these confines. And particularly the women are as well. And I found that in Japan.

And then all -- which is the first episode airing tonight on CNN, and then in all the other cities over the next six weeks you'll see around the world from Asia to Africa to Europe to the Middle East, this sort of tremendous bubbling of female awareness, young women, women who are middle aged, women who are even older, but aware that they want to change the rules around their happiness. Physically, sexually, emotionally, in every possible way.

WHITFIELD: Wow. And how did you pick the places on all of these continents?

AMANPOUR: Well, we definitely wanted to do -- sort of do a wide sort of spectrum around the world. So we had to choose somewhere in Africa, somewhere in the Middle East, the Islamic world, somewhere in the far east. So we did Shanghai, which is really an amazing city where there are the most female billionaires in the world are in Shanghai.

So what does that mean? They have their economic independence. But they're now looking for their happiness independence. For their sexual rights. For their right to choose their own partner after centuries of arranged marriages and centuries, if not millennia, of where the family and society have ruled, not the individual.

So we went to India as well. Southeast Asia which has made enormous strides. The incidents of child marriage have decreased partly because of this activism and education campaign in India.

We went to Berlin to see what's going on in Europe. We talked to Syrian and other refugees who just came over to the west. How are they dealing with the sexual politics, the personal politics. The gender equality that they're suddenly finding in Europe which they had none of in their own countries.

So it really has been eye opening. I think there's a little something for everybody in this series.

WHITFIELD: Wow. And then real quick, Christiane because we're used to you covering war, conflict, you know, politics. What about for you personally, what was this journey like? There were lots of smiles, yours included, you know, in this series.

AMANPOUR: Well, look, as you say, I've covered the hard side of human, humanity and the human condition all my career. The survival, the trying to get your kids educated and fed, make sure, you know, can cope in the most extreme conditions known to human kind.

So I actually wanted to, you know, look at the other side of life. It's not all about that all the time. There is the flip side to the human coin. The flip side to the coin of our condition of humanity. And I really wanted to explore that.

Particularly from the perspective of myself as a woman, and myself as a mother. And, you know, young girls. And yes, you could see, you know, Tokyo is one of our first shoots, a little awkward, a little shy, mentioning all this on camera, but of course sex is a taboo everywhere, even in the United States.

Having a reasonable, you know, rational normal conversation about sex just simply doesn't seem to happen. And so it's not just out there, it's here as well.

And everybody got a little bit more comfortable as the shoot went on. And I was stunned by the openness in the places you'd least expect a young woman to talk. Yes, it was amazing.

They all wanted to get this off their chest and change the dynamic for them. And Fredricka, you know, for this to happen and for us to be airing in the midst of the MeToo moment is really a brilliant coincidence. It means a lot.

WHITFIELD: And it's going to provoke a lot more conversations around the table. Be sure to tune in, in Christiane Amanpour "Sex and Love Around the World, it premiers tonight at 10 Eastern only on CNN.

We'll be right back.



[12:59:22] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Incredible performance. Shock and awe. In college basketball.


WHITFIELD: All right, that exuberant sound you hear, the sounds of brackets breaking across the nation as Virginia falls to the University of Maryland Baltimore County. It's the first time in the history of the NCAA Tournament that a 16th seed has defeated a number one.

Next up, the UMBC Retrievers will take on number nine seed Kansas state. Good luck.

We've got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: this is CNN breaking news.

WHITFIELD: All right, hello again, everyone, and thank you so much for joining me on this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We've got breaking news on the controversial firing of former FBI director -- deputy director, i should say, Andrew McCabe. CNN has now learned that Andrew McCabe also documented his conversations with the president of the United States --