Return to Transcripts main page


Suspended Data Firm CEO Plays Up Trump Campaign Link; President Trump Defends His "Congrats" to Putin; Serial Bomber Still on the Loose in Texas; ATF: 5 Blasts, Another Package Linked to Serial Bomber; Trump Administration Tormented by Turnover; Netflix Series The Crown Sparks Debate on Equal Pay. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 21, 2018 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, it was all caught on camera. Just-released video shows officials from Cambridge Analytica bragging about their ties to Donald Trump.

The advice is clear: don't congratulate Vladimir Putin. It was in all caps. DO NOT CONGRATULATE VLADIMIR PUTIN. So the U.S. president congratulated the Russian president on his election win.

And fear grows in the Texas capital with a serial bomber still on the loose and apparently changing tactics.

Hello, everybody, thank you for joining us. I'm John Vause. This is now the second hour of NEWSROOM L.A.


VAUSE: Just a day after denying any wrongdoing, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica has been suspended pending a full independent investigation. The company is at the center of a growing scandal involving the misuse of personal data from millions of Facebook accounts.

Now there are growing questions about links between Cambridge Analytica, the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.

Details from Sara Murray.


SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Top executives at Cambridge Analytica, the controversial data firm hired by Donald Trump's presidential campaign, now appear to be taking credit for Trump's stunning 2016 victory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you met Mr. Trump?



NIX: We did all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting. We ran all the digital campaign, television campaign. And our data informed all the strategy.

MURRAY: An undercover interview by Channel 4 News in London shows Cambridge Analytica executives, including CEO Alexander Nix, boasting about the company's role in Trump's win and even claiming the firm created the slogan defeat crooked Hillary, a Trump campaign staple.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Crooked Hillary, right? She is crooked as you can be.

MURRAY: In the past, Nix has also claimed his company's data led the Trump campaign to victory in Wisconsin, a state no Republican presidential candidate had won since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

NIX: We were able to use data to identify there was very large quantities of persuadable voters there that could be influenced to vote for the Trump campaign. And so much so, the Trump campaign had five rallies there. Those five rallies probably gave Trump contact with some 60,000 or 70,000 voters.

MURRAY: Former Trump campaign officials are disputing that Cambridge played a major role. They say the campaign never used the firm for voter targeting or persuasion. One person familiar with the arrangement said Cambridge provided some polling which helped the campaign decide where to invest its resources.

Cambridge also used data provided by the Republican National Committee to build visualization tools to help decide where to send Trump for campaign rallies. All told, the Trump campaign paid Cambridge less than $6 million for its service throughout the campaign.

The series of undercover interviews by Channel 4 News also caught Nix on tape talking about potential bribery and entrapment.

Tonight, Cambridge Analytica has suspended its CEO and launched an independent investigation, saying "Mr. Nix's recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm. And his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation."

The firm has come under fire in recent days for questionable data practices. That's after it came to light that a Russian-American researcher provided data on tens of millions of Americans to Cambridge's parent company. The data was supposed to be collected for research purposes. But it may have been used to influence American voters.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Nix was peddling a so-called psychographic model. It relied on data sets, including from Facebook, to model someone's personality type and how they could best be swayed, according to people who saw the presentation.

Trump campaign officials have long claimed they never bought into that model.


QUESTION: No? OK. You just don't think it works?

PARSCALE: I just don't think it works.

MURRAY: Now, Brad Parscale, who you just saw there, fired back at Cambridge Analytica on Twitter, he was the head of Trump's digital operation in 2016 and is the campaign manager for Trump's 2020 reelection campaign.

This is what he had to say, "Another day of people taking credit for Donald Trump's victory. So incredibly false and ridiculous. Let them say that under oath. Just an overblown sales pitch."

Once again, downplaying the role that Cambridge Analytica may have played in the Trump presidential campaign -- Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: The scandal is hitting Facebook where it hurts the most and its stock price and it's dragging down other tech firms as well. Andrew Stevens joins us now from Hong Kong with more on that.

How much is the very obvious public assets of Facebook's CEO --


VAUSE: -- Mark Zuckerberg hurting the stock price right now?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: Well, it's got to be fueling the fire that is hitting Facebook pretty hard, that stock down another 2.5 percent in overnight trading in the U.S.

John, it's now down more than 9 percent in two days. So it is hurting; investors are voting with their feet. You mentioned that stock price being important to Facebook. It is not as important obviously as trust.

And this has become a trust issue for Facebook, can subscribers, can Facebook users actually trust the company to keep their data safe?

Remember this is a worldwide brand, Facebook, and the boss, Mark Zuckerberg, is also a worldwide brand. And we haven't seen him, to your point. He has kept a very low profile.

The only thing that's come out of Facebook so far publicly at least is a statement from Zuckerberg. This is what it says.

"Mark, Sheryl" -- that's Sheryl Sandberg, the COO -- "and their teams are working around the clock to get all the facts and take the appropriate action moving forward because they understand the seriousness of this issue. "The entire company is outraged. We were deceived. We are committed

to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people's information and will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens."

But any PR executive worth their salt, John, will tell you that, in a crisis, the CEO, the face of the company -- and let's -- we can't dispute that Mark Zuckerberg is the face of the company -- has to get out in front of it and own it and apologize if needed and say what they're going to do to stop this happening again, make it better, restore that confidence, restore that trust. We still haven't seen that.

And there's politicians on both sides of the Atlantic now, calling for him to appear. We've got a Federal Trade Commission perhaps looking into a hearing there. So this crisis is showing no signs of abating.

And all the while the boss is not being seen.

VAUSE: That sounded like that statement came from Sir Humphrey out of the U.S. minister.

Brian Acton, who's the founder of WhatsApp, which was bought by Facebook for 2014, he tweeted this, "It's time to delete Facebook."

This is coming from a guy who sold that app to Facebook for $16 billion and it appears to be just one part of a very widespread consumer boycott right now.

STEVENS: Yes. Absolutely. I don't know widespread consumer boycott. I don't know if widespread is quite accurate at the moment. But that #DeleteFacebook we saw there, it's not, I just checked. It's not trending hugely on Twitter at the moment.

But you're right. There is momentum about deleting Facebook and there have been some outlets who are giving you tips on how you can actually permanently delete your Facebook page.

But even so, if you do that, do you actually get rid of your digital footprint?

That's the question. But certainly, there is, you know, this concern about, it comes back to this trust thing.

Just how safe is my personal data?

Is it being sold?

Is it being mined illegally?

Can I trust Facebook to look after it?

Because Facebook has made money, obviously, out of using this data. So if they do clamp down on that, how do they continue to make the sort of profits they've been making?

So it's certainly not the end of Facebook when you're talking about 2.2 billion users here, John, but that #DeleteFacebook you're talking about, it -- as I say, it's got momentum but it's certainly not widespread. It's not a sweeping movement.

VAUSE: Yes. I guess it's the start of this. And whether or not it grows, whether it does become widespread, I guess, is -- a lot of that now comes down to Zuckerberg and how he responds and the changes that they need to make if that actually goes through.

But, Andrew, good to speak with you, thank you.

STEVENS: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: There was once a time when Republican presidents stood up to the Kremlin. Like this.



VAUSE (voice-over): That was Ronald Reagan in 1987 at the Brandenburg Gate, one of the most powerful symbols of the Cold War. Rightly or wrongly, "Tear down this wall" is now shorthand for President Reagan setting in motion the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Thirty-one years later, and, ladies and gentlemen, here's today's Republican Party.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We don't get to dictate how other countries operate. What we do know is that Putin has been elected in their country and that's not something that we can dictate to them how they operate.


VAUSE: Joining me now for more on this, Democratic strategist Caroline Heldman, Republican strategist Charles Moran and CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein.

Charles, what happened to the Republicans?

How did it go from calling the Russians out to being the Evil Empire, tear down this wall, to, oh, it's OK. We don't mind. You guys are sweet.

CHARLES MORAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: We're not going to be like President Obama and send our political team to go defeat Benjamin Netanyahu and --

VAUSE: That's got nothing to do with it.


MORAN: -- FDR famously quoted about talking, going out to talk to Uncle Joe, being Joseph Stalin. We've got Barack Obama talking --


MORAN: -- let me get through the next election and then I've got a little bit more leeway --


MORAN: So basically Sarah Sanders is saying we're not going to engage on the type of gerrymandering the previous Democratic administrations had engaged in cooperating and trying to interfering in these elections. So...

VAUSE: But you don't think the fact that this was a phone call, a moment when Donald Trump could actually raise some very serious issues with President Putin --


MORAN: Which he did.

VAUSE: But he didn't raise the election meddling.

MORAN: He raised a very serious issue which is the arms dealing that Russia's doing, which is killing thousands of people in Syria. And that is something that the president and the press secretary addressed.

Again, this is -- the international community is going to recognize Vladimir Putin for better or worse as the leader of Russia and President Trump was being diplomatic and acknowledging his election, whether fraudulent or not and --


VAUSE: Let's just see what the president --

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: -- recognizing or acknowledging are different than the word he uses.

MORAN: I disagree with that.

VAUSE: Here's what the president said about the phone call he had with Vladimir Putin. Listen to this.


TRUMP: I had a call with President Putin and congratulated him on the victory, his electoral victory. The call had to do also with the fact that we will probably get together in the not-so distant future so that we can discuss arms. We can discuss the arms race.


VAUSE: Caroline, we have said it before, we'll say it again, when it comes to Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, there is a distinct behavior of -- a pattern of behavior. There is a trend here.

CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: There's absolutely a trend, this brolove has not much to do with how we should be treating them and is inexplicable unless you look at some sort of tie or relationship between the two.

It does not make sense that four days after Donald Trump slapped a little slap on the wrist sanctions on Russia for meddling in the electric and hasn't done anything with the power grid yet but slapped sanctions on him, doesn't even bring that up in a conversation about an election.

And, yes, Charles, congratulates him, which is very different than acknowledging that he won the election. It doesn't if we acknowledge it. Whether we do or not, it happened; he won an election that was not free and fair.

But the fact that the president didn't bring up meddling, didn't even bring up the sanctions, this is not politics as usual.

VAUSE: OK, so with that in mind, perhaps this would have been a good chance on that phone call to bring up those election issues ahead of the midterm elections just a few months away. Here's Sarah Sanders.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't believe it came up on this specific call but it is something that we've spoken extensively about and continue to look at ways and steps forward to make sure it never happens again.


VAUSE: Ok. So no talk about meddling.

What about standing firm with America's oldest and strongest ally, the British, condemning Putin for the poison attack of a former Russian agent on English soil?

Sarah Sanders again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- election meddling didn't come up in the call, I'm curious, did the recent poisoning in the United Kingdom come up in the call?

SANDERS: I don't believe that was discussed in today's call.


And, Ron, this is despite all of the advice which Donald Trump had before the call to bring these issues up and don't congratulate.

(CROSSTALK) BROWNSTEIN: -- look, as we said before, I don't know what's more remarkable, that he contravened all of the advice that he was given or the fact that the advice he was given ended up in "The Washington Post" within hours.

And what that says usually when information that sensitive is leaked that fast, what it means is that there is a portion of any administration that feels it is not being heard, that the normal decision making process is being short circuited. They don't have a way to influence the outcome in a fair manner.

And it is extraordinary. It is a statement about how deep the divisions are within the administration that this got out so fast. It's also a statement, I think, of how untethered the president feels. We have a series of actions in the last few weeks, ranging from tariffs to some other moves that have underscored his sense that he doesn't need minders anymore.

And I think everyone in the Republican Party is buckling in for an even -- you know, it's been pretty turbulent for 15 months. It could get more turbulent between now that election.

VAUSE: Potentially you're talking about the president being untethered because there's all this going speculation now about he might in fact just move and fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel, investigating ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

We have finally heard from the Republican leadership in Congress. This is what Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, said on Tuesday.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: The special counsel should be free to follow through his investigation to its completion without interference, absolutely. I am confident that he'll be able to do that.

I've received assurances that his firing is not even under consideration.


VAUSE: I guess, Caroline, at least we are hearing from Republican leaders, Mitch McConnell, leader in the Senate, also spoke out. But basically they're saying is we don't think this is going to happen. So it's all going to be OK. That's pretty much it.

HELDMAN: And Flake and Lindsey Graham are actually saying if the president fires --


HELDMAN: -- Robert Mueller, then that is the red line, right? That's the line --

VAUSE: Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake are in a different category -- (CROSSTALK)

HELDMAN: -- absolutely in another category. But it's actually a sea of Republicans who are coming forward and saying this. I don't trust that. I think that Donald Trump will do what Donald Trump wants to do.

And I think at this point in time the fact that he's finally started to directly tweet about Mueller means that his sights have moved to Mueller. They've moved away from McCabe and are now on Mueller.

So I don't think that we can be -- that we can rest assured that he won't do that, regardless of what Republicans say. And I also don't think that Republicans will actually remove him from office. I think that what we've seen so far is a lot of lip service, despite high crimes and misdemeanors being committed by this presidency, by this White House.

And so I have little faith that they will actually remove him from office even if he did impeach the person who was investigating him.

BROWNSTEIN: -- about Donald Trump, he reads people. And I think he has made a judgment about the Republican leaders.

On the one hand, they made the comments that they did today --


VAUSE: -- get away with firing Mueller?

BROWNSTEIN: I think he does. I think the fact that they're not willing -- at least from them, not necessarily with the public -- that they are not willing to advance legislation to protect Mueller. I think it's more important than any words they are saying at this point.

And even those words are pretty tepid. And I think actually there aren't that many Republicans are saying that. What they're basically saying, oh, no matter what he says, tweets it's a witch hunt, attacks Mueller by name for the first time, we don't believe this is really going to happen. I think if he decides it's in his interest, it would happen.

The one circuit breaker they have is that if Donald Trump did fire the special counsel and they did nothing, it would significantly increase the odds of them losing Congress. And that makes his life a whole lot worse --


BROWNSTEIN: -- 2018.

VAUSE: So just I know you believe -- you're sort of toeing the party line then. You don't believe that -- you say it's a nonissue because it's not going to happen. But hypothetically, I'd like to know where you stand if they did fire Rod Rosenstein to get to Mueller to fire -- to end this investigation, to fire Mueller, whatever, however he does it.

The end result is Robert Mueller is fired.

Is that a red line for you?

Do you think that the president should be impeached for that?

MORAN: This continual obsession about the Russia investigation and the firing, the Andrew McCabe firing, that was a recommendation from the Obama administration leadership, I mean, this is a continual -- this is a -- again, the obsession here about trying to connect what's going on with President Trump being one of the hundreds of people, leaders throughout the world, who is calling President Putin --


MORAN: -- and moving on, again, just trying to connect it to a situation, obstruct this investigation. The president and the press secretary have said today that the president is not entertaining the thought of firing the special counsel. He wants to conclude this resolution because this is just doing nothing other than fueling the fire for the Democrats moving into the 2018 election.

VAUSE: So a point Sarah play-mo model and a reality TV contestant walk into a courtroom and the judge says, I see you're here for the president because the president's legal problems are continuing to grow along with the Stormy Daniels case. There's the Karen McDougal "Playboy" model who alleges she had an affair with Trump. She's suing so that she can actually tell her story. We have Summer Zervos, who claims she was sexually assaulted by Trump when he was host of "The Apprentice."

Zervos had a big win in the court on Tuesday. The judge decided to actually adjudicate against the president could go ahead. The judge rules no one is above the law. It is settled that the President of the United States has no immunity and is subject to the laws for purely private acts.

So, Caroline this case is at least potentially could cause a lot of trouble for Donald Trump because they're going after Trump campaign records about women who may have alleged that Trump was inappropriate with them.

HELDMAN: That's right. And it's a possibility that these could be counted as in-kind contributions that weren't reported to the FEC.

But I want to make a distinction between Stormy Daniels and McDougal. These are consensual or ostensibly consensual relationships, right?

He has 22 allegations of sexual misconduct. And Summer Zervos falls under that category. And the 22 is including the girls whose dressing room he allegedly walked into when they were changing. These are minor girls. And it ranges, these claims of sexual violence range. So it is surprising to me that an FEC violation might get him but 22 allegations of sexual misconduct didn't do much.

VAUSE: Ron, when does this start to bite for the president politically?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think it is biting in two different ways. First of all, one of the reasons he's president is because the first female nominee of a major party significantly underperformed with white women, particularly working class white women.

We have seen the gender gap widen significantly since he's taken office. I mean, there's clearly more of a recoil among -- from him among African American women and white collar white women. Those are the two groups I think -- white collar white women, you know, I look at this today.

You look back to 1992, the best Democrats have ever done among them in a House election in the exit polls, 52 percent. The polling out this week from the NBC-"Wall Street Journal" had Democrats at 62 percent.

That by itself, that change alone, I think we'd agree, is a death --


BROWNSTEIN: -- sentence in a number of suburban districts around the country, if it really plays out.

So I think there is the potential -- and his numbers are back to about even only among the blue collar white women who gave him a roughly 25 point advantage in 2016.

Now that's one thing. The second thing though is almost non-partisan, which is I think you have strategists in both parties saying that there is a preference now for -- just calm, just kind of -- the sheer amount crockery and china being broken every day is creating the audience for someone like a Ralph Northam in Virginia or a Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania, who promises, to quote Warren Harding, "a return to normalcy" in the White House.

And that there is just an exhaustion factor. If the president is really spending the next six months engaged in lawsuits against a series of women and fighting the special counsel and attacking -- it's a lot -- it is really in people's lives to an extent that they're not used to for a president.

VAUSE: There will be more crockery broken this Sunday when Stormy Daniels appears on CBS in an interview with Anderson Cooper on the "60 Minutes" program.

On Twitter, she all but confirmed the affair she had with Donald Trump. Someone tried to slut shame her basically.

"@StormyDaniels, why don't you just disappear? No one cares you were a slut and slept with POTUS 12 years ago."

She hit back with this, "Technically, I didn't sleep with POTUS 12 years ago. There was no sleeping, hee hee. And he was just a goofy reality TV star. But I digress. People do care this that he lied about it, had me bullied, broke the laws to cover it up, et cetera and, P.S., I am not going anywhere." Ok. We don't know the truth in all of this, that this is her word for it.

But, Charles, this is very direct language coming from Stormy Daniels. If this is a preview of the "60 Minutes" interview, how much trouble could there be for Donald Trump out of this?

And how many mulligans will evangelical voters prepared to give the president?

MORAN: Well, again, we've got a little -- a lot of differentiation here between previous presidents and we've kind of gotten, I think, used to the thought of having presidents who are not these cherubic figures. Bill Clinton spanning until today.

And people voted for Donald Trump knowing who he was. We were having the same conversation. You were probably asking that same question after the interview during the campaign, you know, about the bus and what happened in that taped interview with Billy Bush.

So, again, people know what they're getting with this president and, again, in this situation, we have, you know, a consensual relationship. Donald Trump has been married three different times and has children from three different women.

He is -- for what he is portraying, there is still very much a trust link that exists, because if you look at what he's done, the appointment of conservative judges, he's built that relationship with the evangelical community in a way that I don't think that a Stormy Daniels tweet -- again, there is the concept of forgiveness in the evangelical community.


MORAN: -- there is a point where Donald Trump has been working to ingratiate himself with this community, has come, has met with the leaders, has professed his faith and, in a way that is more authentic and that in the evangelical community in this country is still believe that, again, these allegations and whatnot from years past is a different man than they're seeing today and implementing a greater --


BROWNSTEIN: Real quick, evangelicals are not going to be the problem. Over 70 percent of white evangelical women in Alabama voted for Roy Moore. So I don't think they're the ones going to be getting off the bus on Donald Trump.

But there were a large number of his white collar upper middle class supporters, who thought he was going to calm down. Roughly 20 percent of the people who voted for him in the exit polling on Election Day said he did not have the temperament to succeed as president.

They wanted change; they didn't like Hillary. They thought that he was going to be different in office than he was as a candidate. And if anything, he has gone further in the other direction of being kind of disruptive and constantly engulfed in turmoil, especially this base like that.

But as you're seeing, in things like Allegheny County in the Pennsylvania '18 race in the suburbs, in Alabama, in Northern Virginia, there are a big chunk of professional white collar voters who just find this too much and are recoiling as much on style as policy.

VAUSE: I just got to have a wrap. So we're out of here.

Ron and Charles and Caroline, again, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Next up here on NEWSROOM L.A., the latest on the bombings in Central Texas, five explosion in 19 days. And the serial bomber is still on the loose.

For the first time, also, Israel admitting to bombing a secret Syrian nuclear reactor back in 2007.

The question is, why are they releasing this video now?





VAUSE: Authorities are connecting two more bombs to the recent string of explosions in Austin, Texas. One exploding package injured a FedEx worker early Tuesday at a sorting center near San Antonio. Authorities do not believe the facility was a target.

And a second suspicious package was found about an hour away at a FedEx center near Austin's International Airport. So six devices are now tied to the serial bomber or bombers; five have exploded. One has not.

Joining us now, former FBI special agent Maureen O'Connell.

So, Maureen, thanks for coming back. We're hearing this from a source that claims CNN the level of bombmaking skill in all this isn't necessarily indicative of someone with military experience.

So tell us more about that. Why would -- how would they get to that conclusion?

MAUREEN O'CONNELL, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Twenty or 30 years ago, you could probably say this person had a great deal of training. But right now with all the stuff that you can get online and with the "Inspire" magazine and everything, this -- some of these devices are more like Bombmaking 101. But the bottom line is the reason when we said one or more bombers, there really aren't a lot of bombmakers out there.

And so I'm operating under the assumption that I'm pretty clear there's probably just going to end up being one.

VAUSE: Right. We're also getting from this source that the second package, which did not explode, that they've got some clues from that, I guess, because they have it intact because it's the signature. This is what the source says.

"Now we have the blueprint and possible DNA on the inside of the bomb. Such teams are working to render it safe and then look for that DNA. Outside, the package would have been touched by the Kinko's store, where the package was dropped off, and by the guy who actually did it."

So clearly this is the best lead they have at this point.

O'CONNELL: Absolutely, we're closing in on him and I can feel it in my bones. He went to the Kinko's place and he put the box up on the counter, and the thing about once a device detonates, fingerprints and stuff like that are --


O'CONNELL: But when you have the actual box, he touched it; he probably didn't wear gloves because it would look very suspicion to set a box up there if you had gloves on in Austin, Texas, this time of year.

So they're able to following him. And I don't know if you remember; you're probably too young and you live too far away but the Oklahoma City bombing in the '90s.


O'CONNELL: If you could see the work that the FBI did during that investigation, put it with cameras and there were so few cameras available. And we were able to follow him and track him all the way though the city.

VAUSE: I remember that. It was incredible, piecing together all of those elements. One thing too, which we're learning, is that they talk about these bombs victim actuated device, which basically means the victim is the one who sets it off.

Is that -- ?

O'CONNELL: Right. So the device remains intact until the victim manipulates it in some way, shape or form so that the connection comes together and --

VAUSE: Which is why the authorities are just telling everyone to be so careful of anything that looks remotely suspicious.

O'CONNELL: Yes. It all comes back to situational awareness. You and I have had this conversation how many times now?

VAUSE: So many times, yes.

O'CONNELL: Too many, I'm afraid. But when you see a box and it has too much stamps on it --

VAUSE: Well, postage stamps (INAUDIBLE).

O'CONNELL: -- and it may not have a return address or anything like that.

These are all red flags and we have to look for red flags in life. Unfortunately, that's the world we live in

VAUSE: Just very quickly, the frequency of these bombings, is it ticking up?

[01:30:00] And if you look at what the Unabomber did, it was like one bomb every couple of years. This is what six devices in two weeks.

O'CONNELL: Well, the difference between the Unabomber and this person is the Unabomber was unbelievably experienced and he made his bombs out of carvings in wood and old parts from engines and things that were very difficult to trace. My understanding is there's something in these devices that might not be so hard to trace but that will --

VAUSE: Oh, OK. So we should expect maybe something to break really soon, would like. OK. (INAUDIBLE) thanks Maureen.

O'CONNELL: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well still to come here, the White House says a little stop, turnover is a good thing but when does that revolving door at the West Wing become a personnel problem? We got some answers next on NEWSROOM L.A.


VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

Myanmar's President Htin Kyaw has resigned because of health reasons. He's been a close ally of the de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi who put him in the ceremonial role because the constitution prevents her from becoming president.

Cambridge Analytica has suspended its CEO following undercover reports showing him discussing political methods including potential bribery and entrapment. Andrew Nix (INAUDIBLE) claiming he met with then candidate Donald Trump many times and that the date (INAUDIBLE) research steered the campaign strategy. Cambridge Analytica calls the reports gross misrepresentations.

And Donald Trump says he called Vladimir Putin and congratulated him on his reelection. And that's drawing some criticism from top senate republicans. Mitch McConnell says the vote was not credible. John McCain called the Russian president a dictator who won a sham election.

It could be a milestone, days since a high profiled departure from the Trump Administration four. But there's been no let-up in the almost constant speculation of who might be the next to go, who will be on the receiving end of a, "You're fired" tweet, or who's decided to spend quality time with family?

In this White House turned reality show, characters come and go and sometimes come back again. Others spring widely from presidential favorite to focus of ridicule and public humiliation, family members included.

A study by MPR found in the past 100 years of no elected first (INAUDIBLE) no elected first term president has had this much turnover in the cabinet this early in his presidency. Well staff turnover at the Trump White House in the first 13 months is already higher compared to the first two years of the Obama, W. Bush, Clinton, and H.W. Bush Administrations. It all makes for a good laugh on late night TV.


ALEX MOFFAT, ACTOR: Tonight, a White House making big moves. FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is out, fired late on Friday, a day before he was able to receive his pension. Here to explain is the man who had to do the firing, Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. Look at me, I still got a job.


MOFFAT: This week has brought several high profiled firings from the Trump Administration including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who joins me now.

JOHN GOODMAN, ACTOR: How are you doing? It's just crazy how one day you're the CEO of Exxon, a $50 billion company and the next you get fired by a man who used to sell stakes in the mail.


VAUSE: But this (INAUDIBLE) it does come with a price, it is good for laugh though. For more on the price in this -- and the chaos and basically the consequences, Ron Brownstein, our Senior Political Analyst back with us. OK. So Ron, in the parliamentary system --


VAUSE: -- a cabinet reshuffle is really common mostly because it's easy. A cabinet minister in Britain does have to be confirmed (INAUDIBLE) but it's a much bigger deal here in the U.S. and a counts of so much more upheaval.

BROWNSTEIN: Well look, it's clearly a part of Donald Trump's personality whether it is for tactical advantage or some emotional need that he believes he's benefit -- he benefits by chaos. I mean, he surrounds himself by chaos. He likes keeping everybody off balance in his circle, beyond his circle.

There's an enormous cost though as you say. I mean, to the public I think at this point Trump's problems and public opinion is more rooted in questions about his fitness to be president than it is I think primarily in what he's doing. I mean, there's elements of what he's doing but particularly after the repeal of the Affordable Care Act that were very unpopular.

But the biggest question I think the public has about him is, is this someone who by judgment, values, experience, temperament, style is fit to be president and all of this every day just reinforces that.

VAUSE: Because when a senior member of staff leaves, let alone a cabinet secretary, there's this domino effect because a new chief of staff comes in for example, he wants (INAUDIBLE), he wants to bring his own staff in, they have to get up to speed, they got to go find the coffee machine, all that kind of stuff. It takes weeks if not months for these new people to come in, and there's a learning curve. So stuff doesn't get done.

BROWNSTEIN: And also process as you say get interrupted which is already, I think part of the reason why you're seeing so much turnover is because there is not a sense among people in the administration that there is kind of a rational way to influence the outcomes here.

I mean, this feels very much like a medieval court or something where everything is about the favor of the king on any given day. And that is not always -- if you were to understand, that is not always true in administrations. I mean, in administrations there are -- there is usually a more structured policy process that the president doesn't simply parachute in on on the 11th hour and contravene all of the time.

I mean, there is a way for the different institutional forces and points of view in the government to make their case and there is usually a feeling more often than not that all sides have been heard and that a fair process has been reached. That is emphatically not the case now.

VAUSE: Yes. There's also the fact that this is a president who favored loyalty over experience and he -- as you say it's personality which thrives on conflict. He came into this White House, essentially a lot of experienced republicans who (INAUDIBLE) very on time either said no or they were rejected. And so he was surrounded by people who did not know how the system works.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, no. This is at its highest level with a couple of exceptions, this is the B team of the Republican Party, not the C team and below.

I mean, if you're talking about whatever else you think about Larry Kudlow and John Bolton for example as potential successors as national security adviser and (INAUDIBLE) these are not people who would be in the top 20, 25 for anybody else who was on the stage with Donald Trump. It is a very kind of -- it is kind of a -- it was something between a reality show and kind of a Fox News panel.

VAUSE: Yes. Because they would always feel coming over from Fox News who were filling this role. So -- but this is the first year, the first two years at-- meant to be the golden years when the enthusiasm and the idealism is there and the enacting of the president's agenda.

And then after that two year mark tends to get -- they would like to leave, they get burned out or whatever. (INAUDIBLE)

BROWNSTEIN: No, no, no. I remember writing years ago actually in the financial times presidents get to the second term, they look around the cabinet table and somebody -- they don't see anybody they recognize.

This is -- you're kind of fast forwarding that to potentially well in the first term. The chief of staff job in the White House has become kind of a high turnover job. I think often, it's -- although George W. Bush only had two chiefs of staff in eight years.

The national security adviser actually had a lot more stability. Again, only two for George W. Bush over eight years, one for George H.W. Bush, only two for Bill Clinton who have more turnover. I mean the idea that we're going to be heading toward our third national security adviser in less than two years.

All of this is out of the American experience. Again, I think it is at the core of his problem in public opinion. The sense that this presidency is far more turbulent and volatile than people are comfortable --

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) what worked at Trump Tower or Trump organization if it did doesn't work in government.


BROWNSTEIN: Right. Right. No. I -- there has to be -- process matters when you're making decisions of this magnitude. And, again, the congressional republicans have made a very conscious choice.

They started off with more independence, putting out more signals that they would as a check on Donald Trump particularly since the passage of tax reform, they've completely abandoned that. They are viewing themselves more as defenders now and I think that is just an enormous gamble heading into the midterm there basically telling any voter who is uneasy or even ambivalent about Trump that as long as there is Republican Congressional majority they are not going to do anything to meaningfully constrain him or even to oversee him. And when you got a President about 40 percent approval, man that is playing with fire.

VAUSE: Yes. It is a White House like no other.

BROWNSTEIN: It is a White House like no other.

VAUSE: Ron, thank you. President like no other.

BROWNSTEIN: President like no other.

VAUSE: That's very true. OK. Well Israel makes a stunning admission about an airstrike more than a decade ago. What they targeted and why they're talking about it now.


VAUSE: Well Israel has finally admitted to what most had already suspected that it was behind the bombing of a Syrian nuclear facility in 2007. Although the world quickly found out about Israeli airstrike in the Syrian desert, the nature of it remain secret.

Both Israel and Syria stayed quiet. More than a decade later, tensions in the region are still high, so why has Israel decided to release the footage of that bombing attack now? CNN's Oren Liebermann joins us live from Jerusalem with some answers. Oren.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, you're absolutely right. Most in Israel and probably most outside of Israel knew it was this country's air force that carried out that strike.

Syria came out and said minutes after the attack even though there was relative quiet from both sides after that night in September of 2007. The revelation from the Israeli air force also comes with dramatic footage of the strike itself, the explosion of what we then learned to be the Syrian nuclear reactor. On top of that is the question of, why did Israel choose to put this out now as the (INAUDIBLE) ongoing lobbying campaign against Iran.


LIEBERMANN: In the crosshairs of an Israeli fighter jet, a secret Syrian nuclear reactor near months away from completion in this never before released footage you see the reactor as it was in the early morning hours on September 6th, 2007 as precession-guided Israeli bombs board down on their target. After the strike, Israel's nuclear worry shifting from Syria to Iran.

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think Israelis not only are trying to demonstrate deterrence but to make it unmistakably clear that they would strike again, make an unmistakable (INAUDIBLE) Russia, to the outside regime, and with respect to the Iranian nuclear program should the Iranian accelerate enrichment and seek to break out, if the Israelis are prepared to act against Iran as well.

LIEBERMANN: Israel has never fully acknowledged the strike against Syria. The video held by military sensors who reviewed the story and enforced strict rules on media before publication.


These pictures released by the U.S. in early 2008 they say were taken inside the facility, show the core of the reactor under construction. The U.S. said the gas cooled, graphite moderated reactor was built with North Korean assistance, the only other country to have built such a plant in decades. Syria has never acknowledged building a nuclear reactor at the site, instead insisting it was a missile facility.

BASHAR JAAFARI, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Syria builds many buildings all over the country. Does that mean that any building we build should be a project or designed to be a nuclear reactor building?

LIEBERMANN: IAEA inspectors found traces of uranium at the site. CIA said the reactor could not produce electricity and was not for peaceful purposes. For years, Israel stayed quiet believing silence could prevent escalation with Syria.

Israel have been collecting top secret intelligence from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his nuclear ambitions. Their conclusion in 2007, Syria was less than a year away from an operational nuclear reactor. If completed, the facility would have made Syria the first Arab nuclear state.

A quarter century earlier, Israeli fighter jets struck the Osirak nuclear facility in Iraq, crippling that country's nuclear program. It established Israel's policy that it would carry out preemptive strikes against weapons of mass destruction that's considered a threat like it did in Syria.

MILLER: Whether or not the United States is prepared to take the lead, Israel has agency and its prepared in anticipation of any of their neighbors who presume to develop a nuclear program to weaponized that the Israelis are prepared to act well in advance of that weapon becoming operational.


VAUSE: It doesn't seem like a fair --

LIEBERMANN: So when we ask that "why now" question about why this footage is coming out and the information and the admission of the strike is worth keeping in mind the current state of the Middle East.

Although Syria is itself a fractured state, Israel's making an all-out lobbying campaign against Iran and the nuclear deal as Iran's influence, its presence in Syria goes. Meanwhile, Israel has pressed the U.S. and Russia to keep Iran as far away from the border as possible. John, the intended audience of this may very well be Iran.

VAUSE: OK. Oren, we appreciate the update, story 10 years in the making. Thank you. Next here on NEWSROOM L.A, it seems even the queen can't avoid (INAUDIBLE) victim to the gender pay gap in Hollywood.


VAUSE: Well both U.S. coasts are bracing for some severe weather. Forecasters in Santa Barbara, California expect monster thunderstorms and trigger flash flooding in areas which were scorched by recent wildfires. Thirty thousand residents are already being told to leave their homes.

Meantime, more than 70 million people from Virginia to Boston are about to get hit by a fourth massive winter snowstorm in just three weeks. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us with more on this. You know, let's all go all the way higher over something like that and buckle down, get out of the way. PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. It's going to be a rough go, it is. Absolutely. And as you said, for both coasts here John, too. We're watching the sphere very carefully for Southern California because this is one that actually if I were to pick between these two spots of the south and also the southern portion of California and also the northeastern corner of the U.S.


I think in California might be a bigger threat of what is ahead of us here. There is the Hawaiian (INAUDIBLE), there is the moisture source originating from that region, that is what we call a classic atmosphere of river pattern that is shaping up which means the moisture source is going to be plentiful, that's a concern when you put on the heaviest rainfall really anywhere in the United States and put it right over Southern California, directly over burn scars.

We're watching this carefully because some of these areas cold see 150 millimeters of rainfall over a matter of say, 36 hours. That's the equivalent of six to eight months' worth of rainfall in a matter of 36 hours right over what would be a significant Thomas fire burns fire region upwards of a thousand square kilometers of land having consume. So that's a major concern over the next several days across that region.

To the northeast we go 75 million people, about round four in three weeks of another nor'easter in place here. Snow showers already prevalent across the Ohio valley but an area of interest here, a dozen (INAUDIBLE) impressive right now is right here, thunderstorm activity meaning there's a lot of lift in the atmosphere, a lot of instability. This feature will move just to the north, cold enough air in place there for Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, out towards New York City for potentially to be the snowiest set up ever after spring has officially begun.

So you take a look at this, the airport certainly not messing around. LaGuardia, 65 percent of flights cancelled. Newark, over 60 percent flights cancelled, even in JFK, half of the volume has preemptively been canceled working its way into Wednesday. That is because a bulls eye of snowfall. And mind you, when you bring a snowfall in the heart of March here as you approach the month of April, that is warm weather snowfall.

So we're talking temps just above the freezing mark or right around the freezing mark. So the weather here is going to be the slushy large flakes that not only causes major disruptions, that also causes major power outages and these regions could see as much as 40 or more centimeters of snowfall, that does include New York City as well. So we're going to watch this very carefully John.

VAUSE: OK, Pedram. Yes, it's a tough couple of days ahead, appreciate it. OK. You know there is a gender pay gap problem when even the queen has to get out there and fight the equal pay for equal work.

Well not the real queen but rather the actress Claire Foy who played the British monarch at the award winning Netflix series, "The Crown." Now, in "The Crown" Foy took us back to the early years of the queen's reign and the struggles facing the monarchy.


VAUSE: Yes. In the show she is (INAUDIBLE) reality. Claire Foy was actually paid less than her male co-star Matt Smith, he plays her husband Prince Philip. British Freelance Journalist Josh Boswell joins us now here in Los Angeles for more on this.

You know, I was actually really surprised when I found out about this because this is a show on Netflix which got ton of money, I think the number were $7 million per episode. According to "Variety" Claire Foy was paid $40,000 an episode, they did not give us how much they paid Matt Smith. But the executive producer said essentially he got more because he played Dr. Who, had better name recognition. In a way that kind of made sense but I didn't watch that show because he was in Dr. Who. I watched the show because I saw the premise of that she was great.

JOSH BOSWELL, JOURNALIST: Yes. She did a fantastic job in that show and you're right, they do make a good point as far as season one goes of that show. He was Dr. Who, he had a bigger name. But by season two, Claire Foy had won a Golden Globe for her performance in that show.

Surely, that would bump her up to at least equal pay with him. And bear in mind as well, she was the lead clearly in that show. He was very much a secondary character to hers. You would have thought that that would at least qualify her for equal pay with him.

VAUSE: Yes. Well there is a statement from the production company saying, "We want to apologize to both Claire Foy and Matt Smith, brilliant actors and friends who have found themselves at the center of a media storm this week through no thought of their own." No, it's your fault for not paying her the right amount of money.

BOSWELL: Exactly.

VAUSE: "As the producers of "The Crown," we at Left Bank Pictures are responsible budgets and salaries. The actors are aware of who gets what and cannot be held personally responsible for the pay of their colleagues."

OK. So I guess this now seem like, "Oh, we'll try and make sure that everything is made right with this." But we're coming up to season three and the actors are all changing because the season is skipping forward in time to older characters replacing Foy and Smith. So how are they going to make it up to them?

BOSWELL: Well the way that they said they're going to make it up at least to society in general I suppose is that they're going to pay the actors playing Queen Elizabeth and the actors playing Prince Philip, the characters --

VAUSE: In season three. BOSWELL: Yes, in season three, equal pay. But that's different people. Now, at the moment there is a petition that 25,000 people signed which is --

VAUSE: Actually we got that.

BOSWELL: Exactly. And Matt Smith to donate the difference in salary to TimesUp, the group of women in Hollywood who are promoting equal rights and defending women who have been victims of sexual harassment.


But really, it shouldn't -- there's a good question around should it be down to Matt Smith to pay? Shouldn't it be up to Left Bank, the production who made that difference.

VAUSE: I mean, this is the thing though because it's like with Mark Wahlberg who got a $1 million for the reshoot for --

BOSWELL: $1.5 million, yes.

VAUSE: Yes. And who was his co-star here, much more sort of --

BOSWELL: Michelle Williams.

VAUSE: That's the one, yes. Got (INAUDIBLE) this is the case where sometimes you see that men in Hollywood and elsewhere negotiate better than women. I think that's one of the issues here, and that's something that has to be addressed at a management level between many of these Hollywood studios.

BOSWELL: Yes. There is a problem and Jennifer Lawrence wrote a really good essay about this a while ago and she was saying how she felt almost embarrassed when she went to her bosses saying, "Can I have some more pay?" She didn't want to come across as unfriendly, she thought she would be judged for it.

Where she knew that her co-stars were getting paid more and that they would be judged in the same way, that's a problem of the culture around the way that we treat women, the way we look at women's actions versus men. And you can see that right through Hollywood having a real effect. You've got Mark Wahlberg being paid $68 million last year for his work.

VAUSE: But the guy can act?

BOSWELL: Well -- I mean, you got Emma Stone who clearly can. And she's getting paid $26 million which is a lot of money but it's --

VAUSE: Not $68 million.

BOSWELL: No, it's not $68 million. And she's the top paid women in holly -- woman in Hollywood last year.

VAUSE: Look, we all know how the executives think. I don't think it's like a totally sexist thing like, "We can get this person for $40,000. We get this other person for that money. Well let's do it because it goes (INAUDIBLE)." Josh, thanks for coming in, appreciate it.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. Join us on Twitter @cnnnewsroomla (INAUDIBLE) and clips from the show but don't go there just get because I will be back with a lot more news after a very short break.


VAUSE: Hello and thanks for joining us. I'm John Vause and this is NEWSROOM L.A. Ahead this hour, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica is suspended after he's caught on camera bragging about his company's involvement in the Trump presidential campaign.

The advice is clear, do not congratulate Vladimir Putin, it was an old Capitol. But still the U.S. president went ahead and congratulated the Russian president on his election win.

And five explosions in 19 days, residents in Austin, Texas are terrified and it looks like the serial bomber is changing tactics.