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Putin Beams With a Victory Smile; Russia Rejects British Allegations; Trump Lashes Out at Mueller on Twitter; Talks to Precede Historic Talks. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 19, 2018 - 00:00   ET


[00:00:11] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: With most of the votes counted, Vladimir Putin is set to lead Russia for another six years.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: This, as Mr. Putin rejects allegations that a Russian-made nerve agent was used to poison a former Russian double agent in Britain.

VANIER: And talks on denuclearization -- North Korea will participate in talks with South Korea in Finland and with U.S. representatives.

ALLEN: These stories coming up here this hour. Thank you for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen.

VANIER: I'm Cyril Vanier. CNN NEWS ROOM starts right now.

ALLEN: Our top story. Russian President Vladimir Putin extending his grip on power at home while fighting accusations from the West. Shortly after claiming victory in Sunday presidential election, Mr. Putin dismissed claims Russia was behind the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in England.

VANIER: And the U.K. says it has evidence that points to Russia. And we'll get back to that in a moment.

But first, here's Mr. Putin addressing supporters after it became clear that he was on his way toward his fourth term as president.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have to think about the future of our country, the future of our children. We are doomed (ph) to success, are we not? Yes.

Thank you very much.

Together we will take up the massive job of work we have before us in the name of Russia. Thank you.


VANIER: Well, there was little doubt that Mr. Putin would be reelected going into this. So the questions were about the level of turnout and his margin of victory. ALLEN: It appears voters gave him a strong stamp of approval with almost all ballots counted. Russian officials say President Putin has won nearly 77 percent of the votes so far.

Our Fred Pleitgen has more now from Moscow.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Vladimir Putin coasting to victory in the Russian presidential election even as the first exit polls came out shortly after 9:00 p.m. time in Moscow. He was over 70 percent of the vote.

Now, the Russian president then came out shortly afterwards and spoke to supporters here right outside the Kremlin. He thanked them for their support. He also said that unity was very important now to Russia. There was a lot of work to be done to make Russia better for future generations.

There was about 35,000 people who turned out here at the square outside of the Kremlin, many of them waving Russian flags. It was a very patriotic event that took place.

No one here really expected that Vladimir Putin is going to lose this election but two things were in question. First of all how much of the vote was he going to get. And then second of all how high was the turnout going to be.

Turnout, of course, very important because one of the things that Vladimir Putin himself was wary of is whether or not there would be voter apathy. This is a man, of course, who has been in power here in this country in -- for a very long time.

The field of contenders running against Putin was quite weak. The next best contender, the runner up, the communist Pavel Grudinin, he really didn't get much of the vote. He was miles behind Vladimir Putin.

So it really wasn't in question that Putin was going to win this election. The only question is really how much and also how big the turnout was going to be.

Vladimir Putin also went back to business as usual very, very quickly talking about the case of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, of course, who were poisoned and saying that Russia was not behind it and if it would have been a military-grade never agent that was used, that they would have been dead immediately.

So clearly, the election for Vladimir Putin not much more than a formality as far as the election itself was concerned and him going back to business as usual very quickly.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN -- Moscow.


ALLEN: As Fred just mentioned, President Putin claims Russia was not behind the Skripals' poisoning.

VANIER: And once again he called these allegations nonsense and rubbish.


PUTIN: In the first place, if it had been a military-grade poisonous gas, they would have died on the spot. That's absolutely obvious. You have to realize that.

Russia does not have any substances of this kind. We destroyed all our chemical weapons and that was monitored by an international observers.

Moreover we were the first to do it as opposed to many of our other partners who promised to do so but unfortunately still have not fulfilled their obligations thus far. So we're prepared to cooperate.


ALLEN: Meantime, Britain's foreign secretary Boris Johnson told BBC's Andrew Marr the U.K. has evidence that Russia is behind the attack.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Within the last 10 years, Russia has not only been investigating the delivery of nerve agents for the purposes of assassination. But it's also been creating and stockpiling Novichok.


[00:05:01] VANIER: So on Monday, international chemical weapons experts are expected in England to collect samples of the nerve which will then be dispatched to labs for testing. That will take at least two weeks, we're told.

And Boris Johnson will also meet with E.U. officials and NATO Secretary General to discuss what to do next.

ALLEN: For more now, let's turn to CNN national security analyst and retired CIA chief of Russia operations Steve Hall. He comes to us via Skype from Tucson, Arizona.

Steve -- thanks for joining us.


ALLEN: Vladimir Putin now has won a fourth term as the leader of Russia. Clearly it was more of a referendum than a democratic election but how has he managed to muzzle the opposition and enthusiastic support from the Russian people.

HALL: It's the shocker of the century, isn't it that he won? You know, when you control basically all levers of government as Vladimir Putin does -- the security services both internal and external, the police, the -- all of the press. It is really no surprise that Vladimir Putin has gotten -- that's really a foregone conclusion.

It's not really an election. It's not even a referendum. I think one of the biggest problems that we have in the West is applying those types of terms to what we have in Russia. And it's an autocracy. So there's really a very thin veneer, a sort of a play toy type of democracy that is overlaid onto Putin's authoritarianism. So it's really no surprise.

ALLEN: What do the Russian people say that they're getting from Vladimir Putin and what could he have on the world moving forward?

HALL: So again the idea that, you know, when you ask yourself what, you know -- is this what the Russian people want. It's a little bit beside the point because it's all about what Vladimir Putin wants. And he has the power to control, you know, the people as the Soviet state did.

I mean he controls many oppositionists in jail as he did. He can have them killed as he has done. He can make them ineligible to run like he did from Mr. Navalny. So again the people are almost irrelevant.

I think there are however, honestly speaking, probably people in Russia, we don't know how many because of course, Putin controls the polls too, but who do support him because he's a strong leader. And stability and strength is always an important thing for the Russian people.

ALLEN: Let's look at the other issue that the world is facing and talk about the attempted murder of a Soviet ex-spy in Salisbury, England. Britain is convinced that Russia was behind the nerve agent attack; other countries believe that as well. Russia has said it's nonsense, it's unthinkable. Is it?

HALL: No, not at all. I mean what's unthinkable is really the idea that somebody else somehow could have done this. The Russian -- any type of Russian covert operation as this was by the external services most likely the SVR is deniable. And Russia will, you know, lie bigger and lie harder and it usually works because the West says well, you know, we have to take into account what they're saying.

But it was a Russian agent that was used, the nerve agent. It was a former Russian spy, a traitor to Russia. So there's all sorts of motive. And really who else would have wanted -- wanted this man dead in the way that it was done?

It also sends a very strong message to other potential future Russian spies, you know. Yes, you're going to spy against Russia for the Brits or for anybody else we will find you and will kill you. That's the way Russia does things. It's what Vladimir Putin specializes in.

ALLEN: Right. The poison -- you brought out is Novichok. It's a military grade nerve agent developed by Soviet scientists for use on NATO troops. Putin said people would have died on the spot if it had really been a military-grade poison.

Talk to that and then also speak to the fact that does Vladimir Putin tell the truth when it comes to these international matters?

HALL: So on the first issue you know his claim that it would have killed somebody right on the spot, it's a fabulous conglomeration of hubris and a display of strength which probably has Russians applauding and nodding their heads and saying yes we're a great power with the great ability to kill people on the spot.

So that plays well and it also plays I think well to Putin's personal sense of hubris. But it also simply allows him to deny what is pretty obvious I think to most international observers.

ALLEN: We appreciate you joining us. CNN national security analyst and retired CIA chief of Russia operations Steve Hall. Thank you -- Steve.

HALL: Sure.

VANIER: Here in the U.S. lawmakers both Republican and Democratic have a warning for Donald Trump. Leave Robert Mueller alone. This follows a string of tweets from the President, one of them saying the special counsel's Russia probe should not even have been started.

ALLEN: In another tweet, Mr. Trump asks why does Mueller's team have quote, "13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters and zero Republicans." He adds, "Does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there's no collusion."

That didn't sit well with some members of Mr. Trump's own party.


[00:09:59] SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, as I said before if he tried to do that that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency because we're a rule of law nation.

SENATOR JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: In talking to my colleagues all along, it was -- once he goes after Mueller then we'll take action. I think that people see that as a massive red line that can't be crossed. So I hope that that's the case and I would just hope that enough people would prevail on the President now -- don't go there.


ALLEN: Well, we shall see. He keeps seeming to want to go there. The tweets and the backlash sent White House attorney Ty Cobb into damage control mode.

VANIER: In a statement late Sunday, he assured lawmakers the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the special counsel.

Boris Sanchez takes a look at Mr. Trump's tweets.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On Sunday we saw President Trump make a distinct shift in the way that he's talked about the special counsel specifically Rob Mueller and his team.

So previously the President had said that the Russia investigation was a hoax and a witch hunt. He never really singled out Robert Mueller by name for criticism until this weekend. In a tweet sent out Sunday morning, the President was arguing that the special investigation was biased because there were no Republicans on Robert Mueller' team. No one really there to defend the President.

That, of course, is inaccurate. Robert Mueller himself is a Republican, one who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Further, many of the attorneys on his team have prosecuted both Republicans and Democrats. There's no real partisan streak there.

And perhaps most importantly Robert Mueller still maintains a vote of confidence from an important voice in the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who has repeatedly said that Robert Mueller is carrying out this investigation appropriately, that he's not letting anyone's personal political perspectives get in the way finding the facts.

The President though letting his frustrations boil over on Twitter not just about the special counsel but also about the FBI, the Department of Justice, the State Department as well and former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe.

At least one White House official, the director of legislative affairs Marc Short went on a Sunday morning talk show to defend the President saying that his frustrations were merited because the Russia investigation had gone on for so long and yielded, in his eyes few results.

Listen to more from Marc Short.

MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Everyone in the White House has cooperated on this. And what I said is that we have cooperated every single way, every paper they've asked for, every single interview. And I think the reality (INAUDIBLE) is yes there's a growing frustration that after more than a year and millions and millions of dollars spent on this, there remains no evidence of collusion with Russia.

I think the President's expressing his frustration which is think is well-warranted and merited.

SANCHEZ: Of course, we should point out that the Russia investigation has yielded a lot of results. We've seen not only 13 indictments of Russian nationals for election meddling but also four indictments of figures within the Trump campaign. People like George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn among others.

On top of all of this, you're seeing many Republican law makers now moving to try to defend Robert Mueller and warn the President that perhaps meddling in the special investigation isn't a good idea.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake said that it would be a red line that the President should not cross if in fact he were to decide to fire Robert Mueller. There's been some speculation that perhaps some kind of legislation might be out there that would get passed on a bipartisan basis, of course, that would install safeguards to give Robert Mueller some job security.

That previously had not gotten anywhere. But now with the more abrasive stance that President Trump and others within the administration taking with the special counsel, we may ultimately see that change.

Boris Sanchez, CNN -- at the White House.


VANIER: After all of that, we need to speak to Michael Zeldin. He was Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the Department of Justice. He's also a former federal prosecutor and luckily for us a CNN legal analyst.

Michael -- here's one of the President's Sunday tweets. "Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats some big Crooked Hillary supports and zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added. Does anyone think this is fair? And yet there is no collusion."

So it seems to be the first time that Mr. Trump has attacked Mueller by name, just going down his Twitter time line. As someone who knew Mueller, what's your reaction to that accusation?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's untrue factually. Of course Mueller himself is a registered Republican. Christopher Wray, who runs the FBI, and therefore gives FBI agents to the Mueller investigation is a registered Republican. And then Rod Rosenstein the person who authority to fire, hire and expand Mueller's mandate is a Republican.

So to the entire leadership of the Mueller investigation is Republican. So the President's statement is just factually incorrect.

[00:14:56] VANIER: I want to show you a snapshot of tweets just this weekend, knocking the Russia investigation. And this has got Democrats and even some Republicans worried that Mr. Trump might try to fire the special counsel. We're just seeing over -- just the last few hours. This is four tweets and there have been more.

Are there -- I know it's within the President's remit to fire the special counsel but are there any limits to that power? Can he do anything he wants with regards to Bob Mueller?

ZELDIN: No, actually he can't and it's technically-speaking not in his remit. The way this structure of the regulation sets up is that when the President is under investigation as he is in this case, the deputy attorney general, because the attorney general has recused is in charge.

He appoints and can fire the special counsel and only he can fire the special counsel. The President cannot do it himself directly. And Rosenstein can only fire the special counsel if there is good cause shown and he has to put that good cause in writing.

Rosenstein testified about this previously and he has said two things. One is there is no good cause that has seen and he would not execute that order as he thinks it will be an unlawful order and that he would resign in its in favor of issuing it.

So the President is really hamstrung in that he can't himself do it and he has a deputy attorney general who won't do it absent good cause.

VANIER: So just to be very clear because you've got a part of the Republican class in this country that believes Mr. Trump is thinking or would like to fire Bob Mueller. You feel that that's not in danger of happening.

ZELDIN: Well, it could happen in this way. He could order Rosenstein to fire Mueller. Rosenstein could quit or accept the order. Let's assume he quits. Then there's an order of succession. It goes to the associate attorney general and to the solicitor general then to a U.S. attorney in Virginia. Someone ultimately will execute that order is the thought.

And then let's say hypothetically Mueller is fired. What that means however is that Mueller is gone but the investigation stays on and whoever becomes the next deputy attorney general has the obligation to decide who will carry on Mueller's investigation.

Now, I don't believe he can shut down the entire investigation. I don't think Congress, even Republican-controlled -- Republican- controlled Congress would allow that to happen.

So ultimately I think even if Mueller is gone you're going to have Mueller Jr. -- son of Mueller the successor to Mueller carrying on in the investigation just in the same way that we saw that happen in Watergate when the special prosecutor was brought on to carry out the job. That's what I think is the prospect here.

VANIER: All right. And to be clear also -- let me just point out to views that the White House special counsel Ty Cobb put out a statement moments ago saying the White House was not thinking about firing the special counsel. They were not going to do that.

Michael Zeldin -- thank you so much for joining us on the show. Pleasure to speak to you again.

ZELDIN: Thank you -- Cyril.

ALLEN: Renewed hopes for three Americans imprisoned in North Korea. Sweden is helping negotiate their freedom ahead of the proposed U.S.- North Korea talks. We'll go live to Seoul, South Korea for the latest on that story in a moment.

VANIER: And calls for investigations into how a data firm may have used Facebook users' private information. We're back after this.

[00:18:38] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Severe weather season not too far away. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri watching what's happening across the southeastern United States.

Thunderstorms possible as we from Monday into Tuesday; some of these storms could exhibit some severe weather potential across eastern portions of Alabama into Georgia. Notice some lightning activity already this morning into parts of Louisiana as well.

And of course, as you go into April, eventually May and June now we're talking about peak season in severe weather. And we're only sitting at about 50 percent of the normal tornado count which should be about 150 in the United States in so far in 2018. We're sitting at roughly 80 tornadoes, so sitting about half that mark.

But 21 is the temperature expected in Atlanta, some afternoon thunderstorms; Dallas the warm spot there at 23; Miami makes it up to 31; Los Angeles a beautiful day here n the final day of winter up to around 19 degrees.

But you noticed we do want to see temps cool off a little bit as we go in towards later in the week. We think that southeast will be one of the first places to see a decent amount of cooling in store.

Nassau through the Bahamas sunny skies, 28 degrees. Same score out of Mexico City remaining dry but partly cloudy conditions expected.

Work your way towards South America and places like Manaus about 31, in Rio, makes it up to 34 degrees looking at sunny skies across the board there while in Bogota maybe a few showers there but the upper teens what we expect. And farther towards the south, Rio Gallegos around 11.


ALLEN: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

Representatives from North Korea, South Korea and the U.S. are set to meet in Finland ahead of the pending talks between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. A top North Korea diplomat was spotted boarding a plane from Beijing to Finland on Sunday. Finnish officials say the talks will not include U.S. government officials. Remember the U.S. has no diplomatic relations with North Korea.

VANIER: Meanwhile U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster met with his counterparts from Japan and Korea this weekend.

And in other developments Sweden helping to negotiate the release of three Americans imprisoned in North Korea.

ALLEN: Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul, live. We'll talk about the three captive Americans in a moment -- Paula. But let's start with what may happen with this meeting in Finland and word that North Korea will be involved?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie this is something that we have seen in the past from North Korea. They're called track 1.5 talks and it's when there are some governmental officials, some non-governmental officials who meet in talk in a more informal manner about what each side wants.

And what we're seeing and hearing from the Finnish side is that it is the U.S., the South Koreans and the North Koreans who are represented saying that there's no U.S. government officials. The South Korean foreign ministry telling us that they have former officials involved and also experts.

Then on the North Korean side you do have Chei Kan-il (ph) who is deputy director of the U.S. affairs in the foreign ministry in North Korea so he deals with the American issue. So they will all be talking in Finland today. It's very unclear how much, if anything, we will hear about this often behind closed doors and often very little comes out afterwards. But it's just to show that there is more discussions ongoing.

So at the same time as you have no official response from North Korea to the U.S. President Donald Trump saying yes to meeting with Kim Jong-un you do have these unofficial diplomatic flurries behind the scenes -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And is there a sense there in Seoul, Paula, that the momentum is building somewhat?

HANCOCKS: I mean certainly I think there is here in Seoul. We've had South Korean officials flying all over the world trying to tell allies when it comes to China and Japan and, of course, Washington what the North Koreans want, what they have suggested.

[00:25:07] So South Korea has really been front and center in this entire effort. And remember there is going to be a summit between the South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un planned for April. At this point, plans are under way. There is a committee here in Seoul that's trying to nail that together.

But certainly there has been this diplomatic flurry. The foreign minister Kang (ph) is currently in Brussels meeting with other foreign ministers from around the world. Potentially we could hear more from that front a little later when Europe wakes up.

But you are seeing this activity and obviously there are some who are concerned. There has not been an official response yet from North Korea to the U.S. President saying yes. But certainly behind the scenes the wheels are still turning to try and make those two very important U.S./North Korean case historic summits and meetings happen -- Natalie?

ALLEN: I want to ask you too, Paula, about the three imprisoned Americans being held in North Korea and the efforts by Sweden to get them free. It seems like in this era of talk that perhaps there could be a breakthrough in the story. What are you hearing?

HANCOCKS: Well we know that the North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho was in Sweden, even North Korea media KCNA reported that. He met with foreign minister, met with the prime minister as well.

Now, Sweden, it would not be a surprise if Sweden was trying to negotiate some kind of release. I don't want to overplay this at this point because you would imagine that this has been ongoing for some time, Sweden representing the interests of the United States in North Korea as the United States has no diplomatic ties.

And certainly they have been involved in the past when there have been detainees. They represent the U.S. in Pyongyang. So it would not be a surprise to hear that they are trying to negotiate some kind of a release.

We're hearing from sources with knowledge of this situation in Sweden that they're really trying to say to North Korea that it would show good faith ahead of these big meetings with world leaders that it would really point things in the right direction.

So I don't think it would be a surprise if in fact the detainees were released. Of course, there was one in 2015 that was arrested. He admitted to espionage charges, could be a little trickier in his case but then the two in 2017 who were accused and found guilty of hostile acts against the regime potentially that could be an easier release for the North Koreans -- Natalie.

ALLEN: That is what we hear when they do detain people, the hostile reasoning.

Paula Hancocks, for us there in Seoul -- we thank you so much.

VANIER: Not all wounds are physical in Syria's civil war. Just ahead, our Ben Wedeman reports on the mental impact of Turkey's offensive in a freed Syria.

Stay with us.


[00:30:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back. We're coming to you, live, from Atlanta, Georgia. This is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Cyril Vanier. Let's go through your headlines this hour starting with this one.

Russian President Vladimir Putin claiming victory in Sunday's presidential election. That is no surprise, of course. He was the only real contender. He's been in power for 18 years either as president or prime minister. And this would be once this result is confirm, Mr. Putin's fourth term as president. It should also be his last under the constitution.

ALLEN: International chemical weapons expert will be in England, Monday, to test samples of the nerve agent used to poison a former Russian spy and his daughter. Britain's foreign secretary says that U.K. has evidence that Russia had been making and stockpiling the nerve agent Novichok over the last decades. Russia denied the accusations.

VANIER: Sweden is helping to negotiate the release of three Americans currently imprisoned in North Korea. It's acting as a protecting power for the U.S. which has no diplomatic relations with North Korea.

Separately, national security chiefs from South Korea, the U.S. and Japan have met ahead of a pending talks between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.

ALLEN: White House Special Counsel Ty Cobb is assuring the public and lawmakers that President Donald Trump is not considering or discussing the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The statement comes in response to several new Trump tweets harshly critical of Mueller and his team.

VANIER: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has visited Eastern Ghouta. State media report that he met with his troops in this besieged enclave east of the capital Damascus on Sunday.

ALLEN: A government offensive has been gaining ground against rebels in the area, but at a huge human cause. Thousands of people had to displaced more than 1,000 civilians had been reported killed since mid-February.

And in northern Syria, the town of Afrin has also been a scene of intense fighting. Turkey says its troops seized the town center on Sunday alongside allied rebels. They've been battling the Kurdish YPG which has been backed by Turkey's NATO ally, the United States.

VANIER: A YPG spokesman says the group will keep fighting until there's no Turkish soldier left in Afrin.

A local official went further than that saying the area will become a nightmare for Turkish troops.

Well, the violence in Afrin has been devastating for civilians.

ALLEN: CNN has obtained exclusive footage showing some of these aftermath of the conflict.

Ben Wedeman has more for us and we warn you, though, his report contains graphic content.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Afrin's main hospital was a busy place until that is doctors say Turkish jets struck it Friday killing nine.

Turkish officials deny the hospital was hit. CNN has obtained exclusive footage shot last week in the Kurdish-Syrian town of Afrin. Early Sunday, Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies took control of most of the town. Relatives try to comfort Zanib, her three-month-old son Aziz was killed in an airstrike.

"I lost my little child" she cries. "Where are you, my son?"

The death of Aziz maybe just another statistic in the slaughter house that is Syria, not to his mother.

Asiah Abduh can't take the sound of jets and bombs anymore. Asiah's wounds are inside her head. Dr. Mohammed Issa is Afrin's last psychiatrist. He says the rest fled. He can only give his patients half dozes, supplies of medicine are running low.

[00:35:06] DR. MOHAMMED ISSA, AFRIN'S LAST PSYCHIATRIST: If there is psychotic episodes and depression and anxiety and something suicidal to get rid of this war, some people try to suicide to injure themselves and kill themselves.

WEDEMAN: Further to the east, the Kurds were key American and Western allies in the fight against ISIS in Syria but here, alone in their hour of need, they're at the mercy of the Turks and their Syrian rebel fighters.

"Trump, Macron, you're vampires who in sighted Erdogan to attack us," this man says. "Bombs and rockets don't discriminate between solider and civilians, everyone is in the line of fire."

Enduring the pain of war, tormented by the agony of those they love.

Ben Wedeman, CNN.


ALLEN: Horrendous. Just horrendous.

The FBI is now on the scene of another explosion in Austin, Texas. Emergency official say two men in their 20s were taken to the hospital with serious injuries but both are said to be in good condition. Police are also examining a backpack founder on the scene.

VANIER: Earlier this month, three package bombs were delivered to Austin homes over a period of 10 days. And police said last week, those explosions were all connected. Two people were killed. Two others injured in those blasts. It's not clear if Sunday's explosion might be related to the previous events.

ALLEN: Cirque du Soleil is canceling performances in Tampa, Florida after a tragedy Saturday night. An aerial performer Yann Arnaud fell during a show and later died at a hospital.

VANIER: Last month, Arnaud posted this video from a performance on his Instagram page.

He has spent 15 years with Cirque du Soleil and according to the company's president, he was an accomplished and beloved performer. Cirque du Soleil is working with authorities investigate exactly what happened.

ALLEN: Authorities want to know if a misuse of Facebook user's private information played a role in the presidential election of 2016. We'll have that controversy just ahead here.

VANIER: Remember that teacher, the one that really left a mark on you in school. We'll meet the Global Teacher of the Year right after this.


VANIER: U.S. and British lawmakers are calling for investigations into Facebook and a data firm with ties to President Trump's 2016 campaign.

ALLEN: At issue, reports that Cambridge Analytica gathered private information on millions of Facebook users without their knowledge or permission.

Here CNN's Brian Stelter.


[00:40:03] BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there. Yes, misuse of Facebook data is at the center of this scandal involving both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Now Cambridge Analytica is a consulting firm that's been in the news largely for its work in the 2016 presidential election here in the United States.

There had been various claims about how important Cambridge Analytica was to Donald Trump's election victory with some given the company a lot of credit for its detailed voter profiles enabling the Trump campaign to target individual voters.

A course lots of other political campaigns here in the U.S. and all around the world are trying to do the same thing. It's an increasingly common campaign tactic. But the allegation now according to the "The New York Times" and "The Observer" newspapers is that Facebook data was misuse, mishandled by Cambridge Analytica perhaps involving the Trump campaign.

Now the consulting firm denies that the data was used during the Trump campaign. However, this whistle-blower Christopher Wylie says otherwise. He says he saw gigabytes of this data on the company servers as recently as last year.

Now Facebook is trying to recover from what was yet another black eye for the company with regards to how its data is managed and what role it might have played in the U.S. presidential election.

In a new statement on Sunday Facebook says, "We are conducting a comprehensive internal and external review and are working to determine the accuracy of the claims that the Facebook data in question still exists.

At the heart of this is whether Cambridge Analytica deleted the data it had when it was supposed to or whether it secretly held on to user's information for a number of years. Because of the uncertainty, Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica's account on Friday. There's no word on whether it could be renewed. In the meantime, Democratic lawmakers here in the U.S. as well as outside critics are calling for a further investigation and new regulations to involve Facebook's use or misuse of data.

Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.


ALLEN: Well, many of us know teachers who are worth their weight in gold, the ones that made a huge difference in our lives. Mr. Crawford, shout out, our high school English teacher.

Now one educator is getting a proper reward for being an inspiration to classroom. How about $1 million?

VANIER: Yes. I think that's a proper reward. That works for me.

Andria Zafirakou who was an art teacher, who works in a disadvantaged area in North London, where gang violence often creeps up on the borders of the school. She won the Global Teacher Prize from the Varkey Foundation, an education charity.

It's for her work building up students and keeping them safe in and out of the classroom.

ALLEN: Much deserved.

VANIER: Hundreds of athletes have bid farewell to Pyeongchang as the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games came to a close in South Korea. Competitors said that they were proud to have been a part of what South Korea's president called the "Peace Games."

ALLEN: Yes. He saw the Olympics forever. Paralympics has been ongoing. More than 500 athletes from around the world competing in skiing, hockey, snowboarding, and wheelchair curling events. The closing ceremonies kept nine days of sports.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.

VANIER: I'm Cyril Vanier. "World Sport" is up next. And we will be back at the top of the hour with more news from around the world. Do not miss that. CNN.