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China's New Tariffs; Trump Taps John Bolton as National Security Adviser; Ex-"Playboy" Model Alleges Affair with Trump; Deleting Facebook May Be Harder Than You Think; Evacuation Deal for East Ghouta. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 23, 2018 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, a late night vote in the U.S. Senate passes a huge spending bill and avoids yet another government shutdown.

(INAUDIBLE) wild day at the White House. Two high-profile departures and the first shots fired in a possible trade war with China.

Also police in California thought he had a gun, they opened fire, shooting him dead. That gun turned out to be a cell phone. And now there are protests from Black Lives Matter.

Hello, everybody. Thank you for joining us. I'm John Vause. If you missed the first hour, don't worry, there's two more to go. This is NEWSROOM L.A.


VAUSE: Breaking news out of Washington. The U.S. Senate has just adopted a massive spending bill, averting another government shutdown that would have started Friday night. The $1.3 trillion package will also increase funding for the military as well as domestic spending and fund major infrastructure projects.

It is now heading to the president for his signature. And that's pretty much guaranteed.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and China are trading blows in what looks to be the start of an all-out trade war. Beijing rolling out new taxes on American imports in response to U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs announced earlier this month.

China is imposing a 25 percent tax on U.S. pork and recycled aluminum products and a 15 percent tax on other products, including fruit, nuts, wines, steel pipes. On Thursday the U.S. president signed the new tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports. Retaliation, he says, for China's theft of intellectual property.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the first of many, this is number one, but this is the first of many.


VAUSE: Well, the announcement sent stocks into freefall, down nearly 3 percent. The Dow lost 724 points, the fifth largest point drop ever. Markets in Japan, China and Australia and across Asia have followed Wall Street's lead all into negative territory.

And there is now late word from the White House. President Trump has suspended steel and aluminum tariffs on members of the European Union and six other countries, including Canada and Mexico.

There is a lot happening. There is a lot going on. CNN's Andrew Stevens is live in Beijing.

I guess, let's just boil this down to the one big question here.

Is this just negotiation tactics using baseball bats?

Or are we actually heading into a trade war with the potential to crater the global economy?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: There is nothing that Donald Trump has said, John, to suggest that this is a negotiating tactic. He has all along, since the campaign, since he's president, he's said that China has been eating America's lunch when it comes to trade.

There was a seven-month investigation carried out last year, which found clearly that there was cyber theft, that U.S. companies were being forced to transfer their technology unfairly to China. It is a national security issue as far as the U.S. administration is concerned.

A lot of that technology could be used against the U.S. and a lot of that technology its being employed by the U.S. So they want it for themselves. And Donald Trump has long said that he believes that protectionism and the America first, et cetera, and he's surrounded himself now by a team, including Peter Navarro, who wrote the book, "Death by China," who is a very, very strong trade hawk against China.

That's his team. So to suggest this is a position (INAUDIBLE) move by him is probably the wrong way to play this, John. They want to see that $375 billion deficit China has over the U.S. reduced. They say that this is part of the way of doing it. But their number one concern at the moment is about intellectual property, about national security.

VAUSE: OK. Andrew, thank you. Andrew Stevens live in Beijing. We'll check in with you again next hour, Andrew, because those markets continue to fall across Asia. Thank you.

Joining me now for more on this, talk radio host, Mo' Kelly, and Republican congressional candidate, Shawn Nelson. So we know this about intellectual property theft. But it's also

these tariffs, (INAUDIBLE), it's aimed at fixing at what he believes is an unacceptable trade deficit with China. Listen to what he said.


TRUMP: We have one particular problem. And I view them as a friend. I have tremendous respect for President Xi. We have a great relationship. They're helping us a lot in North Korea. And that's China.


TRUMP: But we have a trade deficit, depending on the way you calculate, of $504 billion. Now some people would say it is really $375 billion. Many different ways of looking at it. But any way you look at it, it is the largest deficit of any country in the history of our world. It's out of control.


VAUSE: Shawn, when the president says "some people," he actually means economists who actually calculate this stuff because it's order he wants to take the services part out and, you know, include the goods and the trade. But everyone includes the goods and the services. So it is $350 billion, $370 billion.

Anyway, there is agreement though that there is a problem with China, with the trade deficit, with the intellectual property theft. But some people, as in the economists, say that this is a blunt approach which will do more harm than good.

SHAWN NELSON, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Peter Navarro from my neck of the woods at UC Irvine disagrees --

VAUSE: It's a very low voice. Peter is a very low voice on this one.

So in fairness, absolutely. But there's been a lot of lone voices that have turned out to be right. The president clearly has not surprised anyone with this approach. And I think if you look at the end game, there has to be a start somewhere from our end. It clearly has started on the other side some time ago.

Fair is fair. And although this may not be today's maneuver for a negotiation, Donald Trump is a business man. It is all about negotiation. If he can bring them to the table and cure the ills he is complaining about and believes that they will treat us fairly, I think you'll see that there's a deal out there.

VAUSE: OK, Mo', even before China announced the measures that it was taking or proposing to take, with the 25 percent tariffs, companies from Costco to Walmart had written to the president, warning that the U.S. tariffs would lead to increased prices and that the action would worsen this inequity and punish American working families with higher prices on household basics like clothing, shoes, electronics and home goods. The argument that we hear from the administration, yes, that's true

but it's a small price to pay for saving all of these other jobs.

MO' KELLY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And I think that is a oversimplification. I know that President Trump is used to the business world, where he can make the decision and also contain what may happen in response.

But he can't necessarily control what the response is going to be from other countries around the world. It is something he said in that last clip which concerned me because he acknowledges that we need something from China in regard to North Korea.

And he is doing this now, while we are in the midst of the negotiation with North Korea, ostensibly. So you are giving them even more leverage than they already had to do harm to you economically. I'm not so sure I agree with that.

VAUSE: Well, nothing happens in isolate but there is one thing for certain, that there is no tariff which could have saved the job of the national security adviser, H.R. McMaster. He was on thin ice for weeks. And a few hours ago the president decided he had to go. Like to ask Mo' and Shawn to stay with us because we have Jeff Zeleny reporting that McMaster will be replaced by FOX News commentator and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: President Trump engineering yet another shakeup here at the White House. This time his national security adviser, sending General H.R. McMaster out and hiring John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Bush administration.

Of course, a hardline view on Iraq, on Iran; certainly far more of a hawk than General McMaster. In making this view, President Trump clearly wants to shore up the National Security Council. He believes that some people on the National Security Council trying to undermine him.

That became clear earlier this week when that leak happened here at the White House, all about his phone call with Russian president Vladimir Putin, when some national security advisers advised him to not congratulate Putin. The president did that. It was leaked. It certainly infuriated the president.

Now we do not know if that leak came from anyone in General McMaster's world. But the president certainly holds him responsible. But the reality is this has been coming for weeks. The president has been looking for a new direction in his national security council.

He's been watching John Bolton on FOX News. And frankly, he likes what he hears, likes what he sees. So he invited John Bolton for yet another meeting here at the White House. They met in the Oval Office on Thursday for about an hour or so, offered him the job. This transition will take place over two weeks or so. So critical

here, though, what does it do for North Korea talks, that potential summit between the president and Kim Jong-un?

Will that be disrupted?

General McMaster was leading the charge on those talks. Certainly John Bolton, much different views. The president, of course, will have a say. He does want that to go forward. But certainly an interesting development here as yet another shakeup happens at the White House -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.


VAUSE: OK, back to Mo' and Shawn.

Jeff Zeleny also reporting --


VAUSE: -- the president apparently accelerated this decision to replace H.R. McMaster, which seems to explain this reaction from Bolton on FOX News. He was caught off guard, watch this.


JOHN BOLTON, TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I think I still am a FOX News contributor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you are not apparently.


BOLTON: I didn't -- well, I haven't started there yet. So that demonstrates, I think, the sort of limbo that I am in because I didn't really expect that announcement this afternoon.


VAUSE: Shawn, the way this was all done, it was done very quickly. Bolton apparently didn't even know about it. He was at the White House on Thursday during the day. It seems to indicate in some regard that McMaster was being punished for that leak about, you know, the advice not to congratulate Vladimir Putin on his election win and then the president went ahead and congratulated him.

I mean, is that, is that the sense that you get from this?

Or how do you read it?

NELSON: Well, certainly from his statement, I would conclude he knew it was coming but he thought it was going to be kept a secret until some point in time in the future. Obviously the secret is out. And -- but perhaps that affects his employment. He sounded like he was a little worried about that. But, you know that's --

VAUSE: But does it affect -- does it matter anyway?

Does it reflect a White House which the operation of how -- the way this White House actually operates and the way the president treats those around him?

NELSON: Well, I think you have seen, clearly, there has been a lot of turnover. But I don't think there is a lot of people surprised that McMaster is gone. Perhaps they're surprised that it happened on the day that it happened. But obviously his successor knew it was coming and just didn't realize what day it would be announced.

VAUSE: OK, well, Bolton, his appointment has allowed Democrats like Senator Ed Markey, he tweeted this, "With the appointments of Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, Donald Trump is successfully lining up his war cabinet. Bolton played a key role in politicizing the intel that misled us into the Iraq war. We cannot let this extreme war hawk blunder us into another terrible conflict."

Mo', does Bolton raise concerns for you?

KELLY: That presupposes that he is actually going to be in the position of national security adviser. This president has shown that he kind of makes all those decisions by himself. Anything that he has been doing with North Korea was not done with the knowledge or the blessing of Rex Tillerson. So I don't believe that he's going to change his management style here.

I think John Bolton is competent enough. Obviously he's qualified enough. But if there is anything that is going to happen, that is going to be because Donald Trump decided it.

VAUSE: OK, for anyone who is not familiar with John Bolton, here's a look back at some of his greatest hits.


BOLTON: There is no United Nations

Secretary's building in New York has 38 stories. If you lost 10 stories today, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.

But our biggest national security crisis is Barack Obama.

And we have to know the facts here. And it's not at all clear to me just viewing this from the outside that this hacking into the DNC and the RNC computers was not a false flag operation.

I think the only diplomatic option left is to end the regime in North Korea by effectively having the South take it over.


VAUSE: So what do you make of this conveyor belt from FOX News pundits to the White House into these very senior positions?

NELSON: What I would read into it is that what attracted FOX News to them is exactly the same thing that attracts Donald Trump to them. The first being the point of view. Clearly these are people that may not see eye to eye on every issue with the president. But they're people that are known in the world of conservatives as being thought leaders and people you should turn to as subject matter experts.

So I think, in a sense, it, it, it adds up.

VAUSE: Mo', is it possible that this is because there are -- there is a problem with getting high-quality candidates or talent to go and work at the White House?

And so then the president turns to the people he sees the most, which turns out are the people on FOX News?

KELLY: I don't know if it's an either/or. I would say it's a both/and. I think the stories are out there. We know that a number of people have been shying away from working with the administration for any number of reasons. And the talent pool is more shallow in nature.

But at the same time, yes, President Trump is going to go to those who at least echo what he is saying or is -- or more malleable to or at least closer in alignment to what he believes.

VAUSE: OK. Well, the former secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said his goodbyes to the State Department Thursday. He filed a farewell speech. We heard that McMaster now will soon be out the door which seems to leave Defense Secretary James Mattis as the only restraining influence if you like on Donald Trump.

Who is the guy with the nickname, "Mad Dog" would be the last one standing?

But Shawn, does this -- what does this now mean for the president moving forward?

You know, is he going to be unleashed?

Which is kind of terrifying if this will be Donald Trump unleashed compared to the previous 14 months.

NELSON: I doubt that. I think you are preparing for a bit of a Super Bowl of negotiations. You have got May coming with North Korea. And Trump is, from my experience, having owned his book when I was in college in the --


NELSON: -- early '80s, I think Trump is always negotiating.

And I think bringing on a hardliner prior to May sends a really strong signal that we are going to come, we are going to talk. But, beware. You'd better take us seriously.

VAUSE: Mo', what do you see as coming around the corner, now that two of the moderate influences? KELLY: I think this actually goes back to the whole Joe Biden fiasco about who can beat up whom.


VAUSE: I wasn't going to mention that.

KELLY: Well, but I think it goes into Shawn's remarks. There's a need for and desire for this administration to seem tough, this appearance of strength. And I know that it has its place. But I think it's to the point of being cartoonish and not necessarily good for when you actually do get to the negotiating table to actually hammer out a deal which is good for everyone.

This administration has elevated North Korea to a place of prominence. That concerns me. And I'm not so sure that Donald Trump is the best diplomat for this endeavor.

VAUSE: OK, well you talk about an administration wants this much more muscular, aggressive approach on foreign policy and a lot of issues. Seems the president wants that approach taken with own his legal team when it comes to the Russia investigation.

John Dowd, who was the lead attorney, has quit. It's been a busy day. He especially thought it was a bad idea for Donald Trump to sit down for an interview with the special counsel. The president though, as we learned yet again on Thursday, has other ideas.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, would you still like to testify to special counsel Robert Mueller, sir?

TRUMP: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would like --


TRUMP: I would like to.


VAUSE: So Shawn, the word we are getting out of the White House is that Donald Trump wants to have a much more hands-on approach with his legal team and the tactics that they're using with Robert Mueller. But that gets you back to the old saying, a person who represents himself has a fool for a client. So...

NELSON: Yes, I read into that nothing more than I think Donald Trump knows clearly that he did not collude with the Russians. I don't think he believes he has anything to fear as a lawyer and a litigator myself before I got into public life. Obviously the lawyers are very nervous about that.

But you also realize there is a lot of negotiations that are going to go into parameters of that discussion. And he, like the client that wants to take the stand, I mean, it is risky but I think a lot of people see that and respect it for what it is.

And it's a risky tactic. But this man is where he is at because he took risks. And despite a lot of people's view, that his risk wouldn't pay off, they continue to keep paying off.

KELLY: There is a slight difference, I would say, distinction I would make by a client who would want to take the stand and that same client saying the court is corrupt. The judge is a bum or there's something, some disparaging remark he wants to make.

VAUSE: Because it seems like this is an indication that he's going to absolutely argue on the PR level. It's all about he wants this aggressive approach out there. diGenova, the other attorneys, the attack dog.

So you know, I guess it then comes down to this situation that, you know the old legal saying, if you can argue on the facts, you argue on the facts. If you argue on the law, you argue on the law. If don't have the facts or the law, then you just bluster and you try to discredit the court.

KELLY: And that's what it seems like. And if anything, it says to me that this president knows that something is coming. Something damaging, something embarrassing, and he wants to get in front of it and at least create the -- the question in people's minds whether Robert Mueller is on the up and up, whether this investigation is as credible as the people may want it to be.

VAUSE: OK. Mo' and Shawn, again, thank you so much. Appreciate you both.

KELLY: Thank you.

NELSON: Thanks for having me.

VAUSE: Thank you.

Well, Karen McDougal is a former "Playboy" model and she's now speaking out about an alleged affair she had with Donald Trump more than a decade ago. According to her, the consensual relationship lasted nearly a year. The White House denies it ever happened.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Anderson Cooper asked if she ever collected proof of the affair.


KAREN MCDOUGAL, FORMER "PLAYBOY" MODEL: I knew he talked to ladies but I didn't know there was anything else. I didn't know he was intimate with other ladies. But I guess if he was -- makes sense if he was doing it behind his wife's back, why would he not do it behind my back? So.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: But at that time, in the frame of mind you were in then, you felt you were the only one.

MCDOUGAL: I thought I was the only one. Yes, I did. I thought I was the only one.

COOPER: Do you have any text messages, photographs, videos, anything that would dispute the -- Hope Hicks' statement that this never happened?

MCDOUGAL: Let me just say this. If you are in a loving relationship, do you try and collect evidence?

COOPER: That's not what you were thinking about?

MCDOUGAL: Yes. Not at all. Not at all. In fact, the only thing that I have really is my journal that I keep and, like I said, I still do it to this day. It wasn't out to get anybody or, gosh, get anyone in trouble.

But those are my notes. Those are from me. No, when you care about somebody, you don't --


MCDOUGAL: -- try and set them up in any way, shape or form. That's my opinion.

COOPER: But I'm just wondering if, some couples take a lot of pictures, put them on Instagram or just take pictures for themselves.

That wasn't something you two would do?

MCDOUGAL: Privately?


MCDOUGAL: No. I didn't want anyone to find me in that compromising position, let alone him. But I guess at the time I kind of thought more about myself. Like, I would never want anyone to see pictures of me like that. So it just so happens that I am very protective of my image. So I guess I protected him, too, without even knowing it.

COOPER: Were you worried about people finding out?

MCDOUGAL: I was for a while.

COOPER: Your sister and others.

MCDOUGAL: Yes, I was for a while. In fact, there were a couple instances where we were out in public and he had his hand on my back. And I kept thinking, kind of looking around, there's a lot of people. I'm like, how do these people, like what are they thinking?

I don't know what they're thinking. But I thought it was going to get out so I was scared every time we went to an event. I thought, this is going to get out. And I didn't want to get out. But at the same time, I felt so honored to be with him in a sense that I'm like, I don't care who knows. But I didn't want that reputation, either.


VAUSE: So you feel betrayed. The trust has been violated. And now there is no other choice. It's time to break up. But deleting all trace of your digital life in Facebook, well, it's not as easy as you think. We'll explain when we come back.




VAUSE: Well, for many Facebook users, it's the breaking point. They've had enough of the social networks and the privacy issues that come with it. Google searches for "delete Facebook" spiked after revelations data firm Cambridge Analytica accessed and misused personal information from millions of accounts.

But boycotting the social media giant might not be that easy. You make your link to your account, to apps, Venmo, Spotify, OpenTable, even Airbnb. And if you delete Facebook, well, there goes that easy streamlined access. You can protect your information though by going to app page and settings and updating your sharing preferences.

And if you cut the cord completely it could take up to 90 days to delete almost everything but not quite.

Stan Horaczek is the technology editor for "Popular Science." He joins us now from Albany, New York.

OK, so, Stan, just from a practical point of view, it's not impossible to delete your Facebook account. But notably the actual delete button is not in the menu setting.

STAN HORACZEK, "POPULAR SCIENCE": No, it's -- they don't make it easy for you. They don't make it as hard as some of the others, services that make you actually call and get a hard sell, like canceling your cable, which is nearly impossible.

But you can do it. And if you want to go directly to it, you can go to And that will take you right there.

VAUSE: Ah, yes, but we should note that before you do all of that, the most important step before hitting that button is download a copy of all your Facebook data because you won't get it back.


HORACZEK: Yes, one of the things that people underestimate about deleting your Facebook account is that it is forever. Once you go through the process of deleting it, all that stuff, all that time you spent, whether it was useful or not, is all gone. So when you go to that delete page, there's a link says get more

information. And there it will actually give you a chance to download all of the stuff, including your pictures and all of your clever status updates and any of the embarrassing stuff that you put on there.

VAUSE: Not all the embarrassing stuff though because once you have, taken a stick out and killed the account, you haven't wiped away your entire digital existence because all that stuff that you shared with friends, unless they delete their Facebook accounts as well, it is still out there online, right?

HORACZEK: Yes, you know, you can't quite wipe away everything. So there are some things like, if you sent people messages on Facebook Messenger. That stuff lives on a different server. So that stuff doesn't go away.

So if you've sent some ill-advised Facebook messages, you can't fix that by just deleting your Facebook account. That will hang around with you. Plus any information that you shared with third party apps, which is how Facebook got into this mess in the first place, that stuff -- they won't be able to access it anymore but they'll still have access to all the stuff they already have.

VAUSE: OK. The bigger picture here is that right now there really isn't a substitute for everything that Facebook does, so not from a practical sense but just from a lifestyle sense. Deleting Facebook comes with a whole lot of problems.

HORACZEK: It does. And I don't think a lot of people understand quite how many things are tied up into it. Like my Spotify, when you sign up for something, using your Facebook account, when you delete your account or you delete the app, now you have to go back and figure out how to actually to log in.

And there are accounts that I even have that I don't know how to log into without Facebook, which is, you know, kind of tricky.

VAUSE: So if you have got issues with privacy concerns and that's why you are thinking of deleting your Facebook account, as much as you really want to stick it to Mark Zuckerberg and everybody at Facebook, maybe possibly a better option is tweaking your privacy settings.

HORACZEK: Yes, your privacy settings is definitely a good place to start. And you can also do a trial. You can suspend your Facebook profile. If you sort of want to try out what it will be like to not have Facebook, they have a lesser method of, you know, making yourself take a break where you can take yourself out of search results and take yourself out of your friends' friend list.

But you can always come back. And that's what they try to do. They try to wean you off of that.

VAUSE: A trial separation as opposed to an outright divorce. Not a bad idea. Stan, good to see you. Thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., a well-known firebrand of the conservative right will soon be advising President Trump on national security. But even some at the White House were not expecting the announcement this soon.

Also, why some say that being a U.S. presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, is looking pretty darn smart these days, especially when it comes to Russia.


[01:30:22] VAUSE: You're watching CNN Newsroom live from Los Angelos. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour. The US Senate adopted a massive spending bill last hour and that will avert another government shutdown. The 1.3 trillion dollar will also increase funding for the military and domestic spending.

And fund major infrastructure projects as well. It now heads to the President for his signature. And Donald Trump has signed an order for $50 billion in new tariffs on Chinese goods in retaliation to Chinas theft of intellectual property. In the mean time China has announced three billion in taxes on US imports.

Global financial markets are up off sharply over fears of a looming trade war. Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sidney all in negative territory. In the US the Dow plunged more than 700 points, its fifth biggest one day drop ever. And Donald Trumps National Security advisor H.R. McMaster has resigned. Rumors of his departure have been swirling for weeks. He'll be replaced by former UN Ambassador John Bolton. Who has a history of fortitude on North Korea, Iran, and Syria.

Here's President Donald Trump (has had) the former UN Ambassador John Bolton as his new National Security Advisor. The announcement ends months of speculation. And White House denials that H.R. McMaster was on the way out. White House sources say the timing took them by surprise. And the President unexpectedly accelerated this decision possibly to divert attention from less favorable news.

Bolton is a staunch conservative with hawkish view on foreign policy. But he says his opinions will not take a back seat once he's at the White House.


JOHN BOLTON, INCOMING U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: During my carrier I've written I don't know how many articles and op-eds and option pieces. I've given I can't count the number of speeches I've had countless interviews, maybe a majority of them on FOX in past 11 years. There all out there on the public record. I've never by shy about what my views are.

But frankly what I've said in private now is behind me, at least effective April 9th. And the important thing is what the President says and what advice I give him. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: OK it was a good belly laugh, especially for democrats back in March of 2012. Republican Mitt Romney was running for President against Barack Obama. Who'd just been caught on a hot mic telling Russia's then President Dmitry Medvedev that he enjoyed more flexibility on issues like missal defense in his second term. With in hours Governor Romney was on CNN calling out Obama.


MITT ROMNEY, FORMER GOVENOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: This is with out question our number one geo political foe. They fight every cause for the worlds worst actors. The idea that he has some more flexibility in mind for Russia is very, very troubling indeed.

Then in the days which follow. The New York Times editorial board wrote that his comments, Romney's comments display either a shocking lack of knowledge about international affairs or just craving politics. Either way they are reckless and unworthy of a major Presidential candidate. There was also ridicule from some political commentators.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cynthia I don't know what decade this guy's living. It sounds like midnight 72/52 even. It's not Stalin over there. It's not Khrushchev, its not Brezhnev.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not the Cuban missal crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's Medvedeva, Medvedeva -- Chatin is another country in the world which is no longer the Soviet Union. Is he trying to play Ronald Regan here or what? What's he up to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Romney not too long ago said the Russian Federation is our number one geo strategic threat. Well come on think. That isn't the case.

VAUSE: And by the time the third and final Presidential debate came around it was ammunition for an Obama zinger which cut like a knife.

BARACK OBMAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm glad that you recognize that Al-Qaeda is a threat. Because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geo political threat facing America you said Russia. Not Al-Qaeda. You said Russia. In the 1980s or now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the cold war's been over for 20 years.


VAUSE: But now it seems as if Governor Romney had it right and no one is laughing. Lanhee Chen was a Senior Policy Advisor for the Romney Champaign. He joins us now from Mountain View California. Lanhee thanks for being with us. You know I guess I went back and I looked back at what Governor Romney actually said. It was a very nuance statement. Using the term geo foe, wasn't perhaps too nuanced because it ended up getting twisted into being something very different from what he meant.

[01:35:00] LENHEE CHEN, FORMER ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: Well you know John, I mean it's indicative of the politics of our time. And certainly that was the case during that Champaign. But Governor Romney choose that phrase very deliberately and very carefully.

And he was always very insistent on using that phraseology specifically to describe what he felt was Russia's constant standing in the way of American interest around the world. And so he said that very deliberately. Surely in a campaign context, that can be challenging, but obviously his analysis was prescient.

VAUSE: His analysis was spot on, and the one thing which I've notice, he hasn't done any victory laps.

CHEN: Well, I mean, that's just not in his nature. Anyone who's worked with Mitt Romney understands that he is a class act through and through. He doesn't need to be out there saying that he was right, but I'm happy to say it. I think anybody who worked with Governor Romney, who was with him for that campaign, who saw the thought process and the thoughtfulness that went into that critique, we're all happy to talk about it because the reality is this was a warning alarm that was sounded many years ago, and unfortunately now, we've gotten into a situation where it might be too late, quite frankly, to be effective in countering the threat that Russia poses to the United States.

VAUSE: Just go back to 2012 because that was a time when it appeared, at least on the surface, that Washington and Moscow were working to try and improve relations. It was before Russia invaded Crimea, Moscow had not gone all into Baschella, Assad in Syria. So in very brief, broad brush strokes here, what was the basis, though, for Governor Romney's assessment here?

CHEN: A few things. First of all, it was understanding Vladimir Putin and understanding that he'd be returning to the presidency and understanding what kind of person Putin was just based on Governor Romney's study of him and understanding of the kind of challenge he would bring once he re-ascended to the presidency of the Russian Federation. That was the first thing. The second thing was understanding what Russia's intentions and motives were at the time even though, you're right, they hadn't gotten all in, they had not gone all in certainly with respect to Syria and some of the other areas that you mentioned.

Obviously what Governor Romney saw was a global power seeking to recapture in some ways some of the luster of years past, and that was a feature certainly of Russia at the time, and then finally I think there was the ill-advised policy of the Obama administration in their approach towards Russia, which Governor Romney felt was very much short-sided. So the combination of those factors, I think, were absolutely key to him forming his assessment as well as the policy proclamations that he was certainly going to engage in if elected president.

VAUSE: You know what has been truly weird though over the past six years, is how the Democrats are now the Russians hawks and the Republicans are now the ones who are soft on Putin. It's a total head scratcher unless you take into account politics.

CHEN: John, that's exactly - it's politics. I mean, it really makes my blood boil to hear some of these Democrats talking about Russia as if, "well, we knew about this all along," when, in fact, several of these people were on the record during that 2012 campaign saying that Governor Romney was wrong and that Russia was a perfectly legitimate global actor.

Well, now the tables have turned, and on the part of the Republicans, I agree with you. There are many Republicans who have become weak kneed on Russia all of a sudden. There is nothing to be weak kneed here about at all. One thing to your prior package, you talk about John Bolton. One country that John Bolton has been consistently hawkish on and absolutely right in his assessment on is Russia, so we'll see if he gives that advice to the president. I hope he does.

VAUSE: Well, if he does give that advice, let's see how long he keeps his job because anyone who talks badly about Russia seems to been on the unemployment line (ph) about two days later. And you touched on this earlier. Compared to the Russia of 2012, it seems the Russia of 2018 is posing an even bigger challenge not just to the U.S., but to other western democracies around the world, and that is a trajectory which I guess it's going to continue while we have this current White House.

CHEN: Well, they've been emboldened by a number of different things. I mean, you look at the meddling that they engaged in in the United States election of 2016. The notion that the United States did not see this coming I find to be staggering given how active they've been in eastern Europe, Western Europe, the former Soviet Republics. For many, many years, they had been engaging in this activity, and now we have an opportunity to actually begin to turn this back.

Unfortunately, I think you're right. The current administration needs to be doing much more with respect to fighting Russia on the question of their cyber hacking, on the question of the ways in which they'd interfered with American democracy. Frankly, with their activity throughout the region, I think these are all very troubling things that this administration is in a position to fight, but unfortunately I think the rhetoric has been way too soft and the actions, while some of them have been good, have been not nearly enough.

VAUSE: Yes, and you know all the people who work in the city (ph) and the State Department, they get their - not just their marching orders, but I guess they get the sprit of the White House. They know where the White House is on certain issues, and when the president speaks, everybody listens and everyone follows, and when the president doesn't speak, there is that vacuum there that you really don't know which way to go. But we'll leave it at that, Lanhee. It is always good to have you with us. Thank you.

CHEN: Good to be with you, John.

VAUSE: Next on News Room L.A., fighting appears to be over for one of the main rebel groups in Eastern Cuta (ph) after a deal is reach for the Syrian Regime. We'll explain what happens next. Also, calls to justice after the fatal police shooting of a black man holding a cell phone. What a former FBI official said about the death of Stephon Clark.


VAUSE: Well, the deadly police shooting of an unarmed African American man has sparked a new wave for protests here in California. Black Lives Matter demonstrators tried to shut down streets in Sacramento. They also blocked the doors to the NBA Arena, forcing the Sacramento Kings to delay their game against the Atlanta Hawks, (inaudible) basketball fans from ever even getting inside the building. Police shot Stephon Clark dead on Sunday. They say they thought he had a gun, but no weapon was found at the scene, only a cell phone. CNN's Brian Todd has details, and we have a warning. His report contains video which some people will find disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey! Show me your hands! Stop! Stop!

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The entire horrifying sequence unfolds in only a few seconds. The fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark Sunday night in Sacramento. Police say the officers thought he was approaching them, pointing a gun at them, but investigators say they only found a cell phone on him. The shooting took place in the backyard of Clark's distraught grandmother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was right there dead, and I told the (inadubiles) as you rise (ph) are murderers, murderers.

TODD: The incident captured on two police body cameras and night scope helicopter camera footage released by the Sacramento Police. 911 calls alerted police to a vandal in the neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) running south, running to the south.

TODD: Sheriff's deputies in the helicopter direct officers on the ground toward the suspect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I can tell is he's got a hoodie on.

TODD: From above, officers can be seen chasing him, crouching being a wall, then firing multiple rounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired, shots fired.

TODD: On the ground, the police body cam video depicts more of a chaotic scene in the darkness. Only five seconds elapsed between the police yelling at Clark to show his hands and gun fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) Show me your hands! Gun, gun, gun (ph)!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) Shots fired. (inaudible) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, our police officers felt that their lives were in danger. They felt that they subject had a firearm and that the subject was pointing the firearm at them.

TODD: But now, police are facing disturbing questions. The two officers fired a total of 20 rounds at Clark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did they have to fire 20 shots at him?

[01:45:00] RON HOSKA, FORMER FBI ASSITANT DIRECTOR: The question in the number of shots is - when you're talking about excessive is where the police believe was required to stop the threat. And if in that dynamic situation over the course of three seconds they believed the threat was still viable. It's - then you continue to fire.

TODD: Community activist Ryan McClinton isn't satisfied.

RYAN MCCLINTON, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: Extremely excessive, extremely excessive. It strikes a deep cord that special ops (inaudible).

TODD: And Clark's family is asking whether police tried to hide something because a few minutes after Clark was shot police muted the microphones on their body cameras.

HOSKA: That would be the assumption. Is that those mic's are continue to roll that transparency is, we thought he had a gun and it turns out there was a cell phone there. And maybe they believed that that was tantamount to an admission.

TODD: Stephan Clarks brother says Clark a 22 year old father of two was not a thief and was not a threat to police.

STEPHAN CLARK, BROTHER OF VICTIM: They will pay for this. You know what I'm saying to Mark Brown, Edward Garner, Tamir Rice, you're going to know, your going to know him. You know what I mean? You're going to remember this.

TODD: One of the officers involved has six years of experience. The other has eight years. When we asked if either officer had been disciplined in the past, Sacramento police told us they couldn't release that information. Each of the officers has been placed on paid administrative leave while a use of force investigation proceeds. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: Well Elman Hammond was wrong. It really does rain in Southern California and it has been raining a lot this week, leading to flooding and mudslides. Meteorologist Derek Van Dam, did you get the reference.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEROLOGIST: Well it certainly does rain in California. But once in a blue moon right I guess John? But this gentlemen figured it out really quickly. Believe it or not this is a rescue attempt from an individual who is actually doing a public service announcement on driving through flooded streets. Well what not to do and unfortunately he became the story.

Incredible footage and lots of rain in a very short period of time, this atmospheric river we talk about it so much. But it actually originates across the Hawaiian Islands. We pull in all this tropical moisture and that just allows for a significant amount of rainfall to take place across Central and Southern California. In fact rainfall totals since Tuesday when the storm began has been heaviest in San Louis Obispo County.

Over 250 millimeters reordered there, Ventura County, and Santa Barbara County 100 to 150 millimeters of rain. Those are the two counties that actually had the mandatory evacuations in and around the recent burn areas. This is some of the scenes coming out of Santa Barbara. Fortunately the mudslide threat never really materialized. So people where spared that particular issue, but of course there was still some localized flooding.

The good news is the National Weather Service is going to allow these flood watches and warnings to expire overnight. The flood thread diminishing as the clock ticks on. The main heavy batch of rainfall continues to push eastward. We've got a general clearing trend from Los Angelo's to Santa Barbara over the next six to twelve hours, in fact the start of the weekend looking pretty good.

Maybe another five to 15 millimeters of rainfall additionally on top of what we've already seen. This is incredible the normal month of March will see about 61 millimeters of rainfall in Santa Barbara. We've already seen over 158. But if you see this just to my right we still have a deficit for the entire year of 2018, so where actually below average.

So over 24 million people still across the state of California under drought conditions with of course the worst drought still in and around Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, so we'll take what we can get here in Southern California. Did you experience the rain as well John?

VAUSE: Oh yeah. This city does not cope well when it get a lot of rain really quickly.

VAN DAM: Like Atlanta and snowfall, right?

VAUSE: Yes, look at what it's back because Atlanta and snowfall wow boy. That just shuts the entire place down. Like a little (inaudible) their done. OK, Derek thank you. OK after weeks of relentless bombing the Syrian regime is now tightening it's grip on the rebelled held strong hold of Eastern Ghouta. A key rebel group has reached a deal with the government to evacuate it's fighters and families from at least one part of the city. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has more.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the first evacuation deal for Eastern Ghouta. The agreement was reached between the Syrian government and Tahrir al-Sham that's one of the main rebel groups in that area that controls Harasta one of the three pockets of Eastern Ghouta that remained under rebel control. Under this deal fighters, their family members and other civilians who

want to leave Harasta are given safe passage out to the northern part of the country to rebel held areas there. According to state media these evacuations started on Thursday. This is certainly going to put more pressure on the other main rebel groups that control the two other pockets of Eastern Ghouta.

[01:50:00] What are they going to do next, are they going to negotiate a similar deal with the government.

The Syrian Regime has been criticized in the past for these sorts of evacuation agreements that some call surrender agreements where the regime is accused of surrounding besieging areas, bombing them, and starving the population until these kinds of agreements are reached and the regime recaptures this territory. Now, this is happening at the same time thousands of civilians continue to flee Eastern Houthi (ph) through the humanitarian quarters that were established by the Syrian Regime and their Russian allies.

More than 50,000 people have left so far. That is according to the United Nations and other aid groups. They say that people leaving are absolutely exhausted, terrified, they're malnourished, they're thirsty, they're in need of medical attention, but most of all they're really concerned about the future and what the future may hold for them. Now, when they get out, they are accommodated at temporary living shelters.

These shelters, according to aid groups, they say their ill equipped and over crowded. They are also concerned about tens of thousands of others who are still trapped in Eastern Houthi (ph), people they expect to flee in the coming days and weeks, and they're concerned about the ability to accommodate this human flood. In the words of one of those aid groups being a region refugee council, they say they fear the worst is still to come. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN.

VAUSE: Next on Newsroom L.A., we'll explain why a time out is needed for two men in their 70s who are acting like seven-year olds.


Well, there's always been the rough and tumble of Washington politics, but that's usually being the verbal type. But now the bullies and the brawls, well that could be coming actually to a ring near you featuring President Trump and former Vice Presdient Joe Biden. Both have been threatening to throw out a couple of punches. Jeanne Moos has the story.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORERESPONDENT: For a minute, Joe Biden sounded almost like Donald Trump?

JOE BIDEN: If we were in high school, I take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.

MOOS: It was a return to - UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Towel snapping trash talk.

MOOS: That then Vice President Biden started back during a campaign. Ladies and gentlemen, in this corner, Joe the Body Blow Biden.

BIDEN: I wish we were in high school. I could take him behind the gym. That's what I wish.

MOOS: And in this corner, Donald the Devastator Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESDIENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He said, "I'd like to take him behind the gym." Oh, I dream of that.

MOOS: Who needs a weigh in when now President Trump is weighing in on Twitter, "crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy. He would go down fast and hard, crying all that way. Don't threaten people, Joe." Some salivated at the thought of a brawl. I'm down for Trump versus Biden paper view fight. That money could build the wall. For others, it conjured up images of grump old men.

[01:55:00] MOOS: But at least no one's envisioning a frozen fish fight. Tweeted Republican Senator Ben Sass about Biden-Trump, both of our crazy uncles are fist fighting in the back yard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is such a dude response. If women ruled the world this would not be what we're doing.


TRUMP: Mr. Tough guy.

MOOS: Paul Manafort (ph) kept posting gifs of the imaginary combat. And check out the size of the Presidents gloved hands in this poster. Like his carrier in wrestling, the Trump-Biden rumble is hot air.

TRUMP: You know what you do with Biden? You go like this.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.

TRUMP: And he'd fall over.

MOOS: New York.


VAUSE: President Trump has called Prince Harry and Meghan Markle a lovely couple. Former President Barack Obama called Harry a friend. So the question is will either of them get an invitation to the upcoming Royal wedding? We will find out soon. 600 guests will receive invitations to this years most eagerly anticipated event. It is the next Royal wedding. Those invitations go out relatively soon.

Katie in the palace says the stately cards are now in the mail with fancy black lettering and burnished in gold. The Palace also tweeted a video of the invitations being made with a traditional dye stamping process on a machine from the 1930s. The printer said it's an honor to make them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) so I couldn't tell anyone. It was just me on a Friday. The guy gives me the job on Friday. I couldn't believe that I was getting to start it. (inaudible) and I was just sort of like single ground on my own just being quietly (inaudible).

VAUSE: That's as close as she'll get to an invitation. There's no word on who will actually get these gilded invites. All 600 guests will attend the wedding May 19th at St. Georges Chapel, followed by a lunch hosted by the Queen. Only 200 people though are invited to a private gathering later that night given by Prince Charles. That's where the real action happens. Your watching CNN (live) from Los Angelo's I'm John Vause join us on twitter at CNN News from LA. The highlights and clips from the show. I'll be back with a lot more news right after this.