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Dow Falls over Amazon Trade War Fears; China Slaps Tariffs on U.S. Goods; Trump Gets Earful on DACA from Easter Guests; Netanyahu Suspends Plan to Send Migrants West; Netanyahu Suspended Plan to Send African Migrants to West; Winnie Mandela Dies at 81; Kremlin Denies It Approved Attack on Skripals; France Braces for Months of Rail Strikes; Independent Autopsy Contradicts Police Account of Shooting. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired April 3, 2018 - 01:30   ET




ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Stocks fall over fears of a trade war and more tough talk from U.S. president Donald Trump. We'll look at how Asia markets are reacting in just a moment.

Plus a flip-flop from the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu only hours after he announced a plan to resettle thousands of African migrants.

And Russia again insists it had nothing to do with the poisoning of its former spy, suggesting Britain may be to blame instead.

Hello and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.


SESAY: The rough ride on Wall Street is carrying over into financial markets in Asia. But the damage is not quite as severe. Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong, all in negative territory. Sydney finishing the day virtually flat. (INAUDIBLE) Amazon (INAUDIBLE) Donald Trump and fresh fears of a trade war with China set U.S. tumbling on Monday. The Dow lost some 459 points. Shares of Amazon also took a hit. They were down more than 5 percent.

Let's go to CNN's Anna Stewart who joins me now from Tokyo with some more perspective on Asia trading.

Anna, give us some sense of how the numbers shook out and what we're expecting going forward.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly the second quarter got off on the back foot yesterday with the U.S. and Asia did fall this morning. It's still in the red today. Let's bring up those markets. We've got the Nikkei down about 0.3 percent at the moment. That actually opened a lot lower earlier today. It was down -1.4 percent so it's had a little bit of a recovery. The Hang Seng down 0.5 percent, the Shanghai Composite down by around 1 percent. That hasn't really changed all day and the S&P is fairly flat.

Less overreaction in Asia but investors are responding to Donald Trump. On two separate fronts. They are sending him a message here. The first is stop escalating this trade war with China. Yesterday we had his retaliatory tariffs from China.

Bu that was just worth $3 billion which really doesn't sound like a lot but it could be a lot worse. If Trump follows through with plans to hit $50 billion worth of trade products related to I.P. theft, as he has said he will, then you can expect a tit-for-tat measure from China.

And that would really rock investors massively. Now secondly this is investors telling Trump to leave off Amazon. Yesterday was tweeting, attacking Amazon yet again. He's been doing this since actually before he was inaugurated. And investors are getting a little bit spooked.

They're wondering whether new regulations are about to be announced that hit Amazon, whether they should be getting out of tech stocks. So that's been another concern.

So a bad day for Wall Street yesterday. We'll see whether there's any improvement today but Asia pretty down today.

SESAY: Yes, pretty sound. We'll keep watching those numbers. Anna Stewart, we thank you.

Joining me now, Democratic strategist Caroline Heldman, CNN political commentator and Republican consultant John Thomas and global business executive Ryan Patel.

Let's start with the businessman first. Ryan, looking at those numbers in Asia, they're down not as bad as they were on Wall Street but they are down nonetheless. Talk to us about what President Trump may have started here with these tariffs and what we could be going towards if there's a broader trade dispute.

RYAN PATEL, GLOBAL BUSINESS EXECUTIVE: Actually surprised that it's not down more. I think obviously I think people are having some optimism that China's retaliation was $3 billion. It wasn't as major in that it looks like China is offering that olive branch to the U.S. to try to create a deal here for everybody.

The broader piece here is that if we get into this trade war China is going to look elsewhere to trade partners so with the U.S. But at the end of the day it will be more increased cost, which is not good for everyone who's doing business with the top two countries in the world when it comes to exporting and importing items.

And when I think about China, I think this all started with this trade war of I.P. rights and now we have escalated it into (INAUDIBLE) food exports and a lot of things in here that need to really be solved. [01:05:00]

PATEL: And the further this goes down this path, we'll have to see whose interest is what the U.S. wants and what China wants will come down to a few items.

SESAY: As we talk about that, for the U.S. consumer, this could be pretty devastating. This president has talked about making life better for the little man but getting into a trade war with China, that would be a tall order to keep that promise.

PATEL: You know what tells me when a consumer should be scared?

When companies are reaching out like Goldman Sachs, like GE, like the companies that grow internationally. And even Amazon, right, they are getting hit with a higher more tax rate, more cost of buying goods, who you think is going to pay for those costs?

It is going to be the consumers. And that's the first step when I see, when I evaluate companies, they are not to be able to take on more cost and then pass on the savings. It is going to be vice versa. And the consumers are going to feel it fairly shortly if we go down this path.

SESAY: As we look at the numbers, the stock market has finished the first quarter down for the year, the first quarterly decline since 2015. Has some people saying is it a case of goodbye Trump bump and hello Trump slump.

I've been wanting to say that all day.


PATEL: Only you can get away with that. I don't know if I can say that that elegantly. But --



PATEL: -- the truth to the matter is, when you -- we were waiting for this, right. We were on the show before, talking about tariffs. They were going to retaliate and, you know, you are going to have to be able to come to the table and Trump really hasn't an answer to keep his uncertainty.

And what bothers me is when you -- when now we live in an age where someone could tweet something and affect the market. And that's where we live in today and that's uncertainty that investors and Wall Street don't want.

SESAY: No, that is the thing they certainly hate. Ryan Patel, stand by for us. I want to bring in Caroline and John here in the studio.

As Ryan makes the point, something as innocuous seeming as a tweet could shift the markets. And we've seen that and the president is well aware of that.


SESAY: Yes, with Snapchat, I believe, OK. But we're going to stay away from that one. We're going to talk about the president.


SESAY: You really want to go down that road?

So let's focus on what the president was up to on the weekend. He was on a tear and let's focus in on the Amazon focus for the president. I want to read this tweet for our viewers and this is what said over the weekend.

"Only fools or worse are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed. Also, our fully taxpaying retailers are closing stores all over the country...not a level playing field!"

Caroline, would you like the fact check the president? Because there are a number of things that are incorrect.

CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think we should be worried that the president doesn't know how the U.S. Postal Service works. Amazon is not getting a cut rate. They're getting the same rate as every other business doing bulk mailings.

He also apparently doesn't understand how e-commerce works because Amazon is collecting local and state taxes so it's unclear what he's offering here. He just gave corporations a massive boondoggle of a tax cut, lowering the corporate tax rate.

So is he suggesting that he's going to slap a federal increase in federal taxes on e-commerce?

It doesn't make sense and it indicates that not only does he not understand this but he's using this as his personal platform in order to target Bezos, who also happens to own "The Washington Post" because he doesn't understand another thing, which is that "The Washington Post" has independent editorial control.

SESAY: John, it does feel personal and because as Carolyn points out, he has given these cuts elsewhere. He has talked about he doesn't pay taxes in certain regards, according to the law he's able to evade them. So his whole thing is that makes him smart.

But in the case of Amazon it seems to be a point to beat them over the head with. I want to read you what Gabriel Sherman wrote in "Vanity Fair," which gives us a little bit of perspective on how the president frames all of this.

He said, "He is off the hook on this. It's war, one source told me," referring to Sherman. "He gets obsessed with something and now he's obsessed with Bezos, says another source. Trump is like how can I F with him." What is that about?

He's President of the United States and for others, as they watch him have this obsession with Bezos, the concern is surely that first Bezos and then who knows what next and how does he abuse the position?

That would be the concern of others.

THOMAS: Well, this war has been going on for some time, first of all, Trump has been consistently (INAUDIBLE) even before he was president.

SESAY: So you don't think this is personal?

THOMAS: I'm sure he enjoys the war but this war between bricks and clicks has been going on for the last decade with the retail industry and the e-commerce industry. So there's this effort of conversational fairness and whatnot is nothing new.

Now maybe --


THOMAS: -- the fight on Twitter is new but that's nothing new. And in terms of President Trump, if the shoes were on the other foot --


THOMAS: -- right, President Trump absolutely would be bragging about how great a deal he's getting, just like he said when he used to give money to Republicans and Democrats, it doesn't make it right but he exploits the system. What he's saying is the system needs to evolve and change.

HELDMAN: In what way? Is he going to increase special taxes on e- commerce because that will just be passed on to consumer.

THOMAS: We'll see what plan he rolls out and he needs to roll out a plan. You just can't tweet your way through this thing.

HELDMAN: Oh, but he can.

SESAY: Ryan Patel, this seems like another one of those situations where you can actually use the phrase don't hate the player, hate the game, right?


SESAY: So in the sense that he's going -- if this is what John Thomas says, that it's about e-commerce and the landscape, it's not really Amazon's fault, is it?

So why is he going after Amazon?

PATEL: It's not Amazon's fault. And if Amazon wasn't here, it would be somebody else, another company that would be doing it. He is going after them obviously because the Amazon's the biggest -- the biggest player right now. They make the most money and maybe they're looking for a revenue stream. I'm not sure.

But when you look at the e-commerce space, it is not Amazon's fault because retailers are closing their stores. It's because they haven't evolved. You look at Walmart. Walmart is now an e-commerce player. (INAUDIBLE) Amazon head-to-head. You could argue that they're one of biggest brick-and-mortar stores.

So I don't see, I think as a whole, as an economy in the U.S., you look at globally that e-commerce is being intertwined into brick-and- mortar and being able to use to get that traffic and footfall and to be able to increase revenue it is now a one-piece project. It's just both sides.

So he's attacking Amazon because they're easy to pick on.

THOMAS: Well, I also think to Ryan's point they are easy to pick on. I think President Trump keenly understand that when you want to get something done, whether it's a policy change or whatnot that in this media landscape, it is about heroes and villains. And you need a villain to drive a policy change.

Democrats understand that with oil companies, the Koch brothers, when they want to change campaign finance reform, instead of just we need to make campaign finance reforms but the evil Koch brothers. I think that's what Donald Trump is doing in this instance.

HELDMAN: But, John, what is the policy?

He just cut the corporate tax rate.

What is he hoping to gain from this other than some personal vendetta?

It doesn't make any sense.

THOMAS: Well, he will have to roll out his policies but clearly he says --


HELDMAN: -- cost to consumers.

SESAY: We're going to move on. Ryan Patel, thank you for the great insight and for laughing at all my bad lines. I appreciate it.

Want to talk a little bit more policy with John and Caroline here in the studio because the president's tweets are all over the map on the weekend. Let me read this one to you because this one declares DACA is dead.

"DACA is dead because the Democrats didn't care or act, and now everyone wants to get onto the DACA bandwagon... No longer works. Must build Wall and secure our borders with proper Border legislation. Democrats want No Borders, hence drugs and crime!"

John Thomas, the president once again misstating some facts. It is not accurate to say DACA is dead because the Democrats didn't care or act. It's the president who wanted the deal. He could have gotten the deal. And as people have said, gaslighting if you will of immigrants and saying that they are about drugs and crime. It's kind of again the us versus them. And you said, it's heroes and villains.

THOMAS: Well, I think it's exacerbated by the fact that we saw over the weekend that there was over a thousand migrants that are coming up that are being aided by Mexico to illegally cross our border.

And whether it's because --

HELDMAN: That's not actually correct, John. They are speaking of --


HELDMAN: -- they are probably likely going to be met at the border or stopped before then because they are seeking asylum in Mexico or the United States --

THOMPSON: -- catch and release laws to and it's just it's upsetting President Trump because his -- one of his fundamental campaign promises when he ran for president was securing the border.

And in this omnibus bill that just went through, he didn't get the funding that he needed to secure the border and at a time when this -- these news stories of sanctuary cities and now illegal crossings across the border, enough is enough.

So he's removing --


HELDMAN: That's hyperbole, John. The illegal crossings is FOX News hyperbole and it should be shocking to you and everyone that the president -- no, it's not. It -- the march is happening, everyone knows it is happening, it's happening with cameras all over the place. They are seeking asylum. These are people who are being persecuted in their countries in Central America.

THOMAS: They're illegally crossing the border.

HELDMAN: No, they're not.


SESAY: -- if we're going to drill down on the tweet, he says everyone wants to get onto the DACA bandwagon. That's not how DACA works anyway. DACA, the program, is to cover people who came to this country illegally before they were 17 or before they were 16, have been in this country since 2007.

HELDMAN: So I guess my point is again --

THOMAS: -- well it's hard to see in the tweet --

[01:15:00] THOMAS: -- but I think what the president was trying to explain there is that there is a theory out there that if there were to be a deal on DACA remember President Trump as part of a DACA deal he wanted to end chain migration. And chain migration allows --

SESAY: -- reunification --

THOMAS: -- OK great, family reunification --

SESAY: -- which allowed his wife and her family to come over.

THOMAS: -- what you're potentially seeing -- I think what President Trumps alluding to is you're seeing people now trying cross over the border to take advantage of perhaps a DACA deal --

HELDMAN: They can't apply for DACA right now, John --


THOMAS: -- they have family members that are current DACA recipients they could be grandfathered in.


HELDMAN: -- you know we're a nation of immigrants and it is troubling that he continues to frame immigrants --

THOMAS: We also are a nation of laws.


HELDMAN: And we talked in the green room, you have a parking ticket, you've had speeding tickets. Goodness know I have a lot of speeding tickets. That is the level of what we're talking about in terms of criminal behavior. All of us immigrated here at some point.

THOMAS: I didn't illegally traffic drugs across the border --

HELDMAN: Wow, so you're reinforcing the notion that that is who --


SESAY: -- you're suggesting that everyone is coming across the border --


THOMAS: -- parking ticket with our immigration laws --


HELDMAN: -- you know what, a speeding ticket is a misdemeanor violation.

SESAY: OK. Final line in all of this is this about is this motivated, is it spurred by the president's dinner mates? I do want to put this up on screen because the president had dinner -- I'm sure more than one -- at Mar-a-lago over the weekend. And these people were in attendance, Sean Hannity from FOX, Jeannine Pirro from FOX, Bill Schein formally at FOX, Stephen Miller, his hardline immigration adviser and Don King, I don't know.

So --


SESAY: -- is that the influence of FOX again?

Is that what all these tweets are about, blaming Democrats, owned by DACA being dead?

THOMAS: I'm certain that was probably a big topic of conversation --

SESAY: Does that worry you that the president is being --

THOMAS: Not really because one of the main conversations over the weekend was this illegal migration crossing of the thousands of people with Mexico kind of aiding these people as they seek asylum --

SESAY: That is not the case.

THOMAS: But my point is it was -- it was it was a news story and then we know that --


HELDMAN: -- and you're continuing that propaganda by repeating that information which is --

THOMAS: -- they are marching so the president --

HELDMAN: Doesn't it trouble you that he is getting his information instead of --


HELDMAN: but from TV and --


THOMAS: No, it doesn't. It's the news.

SESAY: -- the advisors and the people who are --

THOMAS: I hope that my elected officials are seeing what I'm seeing, consume news just like we do.

HELDMAN: Oh, I would hope that they are actually looking at an intelligence briefing so that they can make much better --

THOMAS: They're not mutually exclusive. HELDMAN: Well, certainly they are. Certainly they are. That's why you have top security clearance in order to look at some of this information.

THOMAS: But you can look at television and the security --

SESAY: But that's not -- John Thomas, Caroline Heldman, I thank you for the spirited conversation.

THOMAS: Ah, that pesky break.

SESAY: Let's break, shall we. Thank you, appreciate it.

And Ryan Patel.

Thank you to all of you.

All right, let's move on because freedom of the press seems to be in jeopardy even in America's heartland. Local news anchors employed by Sinclair Broadcast Group were forced to read a script echoing President Donald Trump's vitriol towards the media. CNNMoney's senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter, has details on the story that came straight from the boardroom instead of the newsroom.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A broadcasting behemoth with many critics, some now calling it a propaganda arm for the Trump administration. With around 200 stations, Sinclair is the biggest local T.V. player in the country. Today, it reaches more than a third of U.S. households and it's trying to get bigger, awaiting government approval for its takeover of Tribune Media.

The company's conservative vent is becoming more visible with promos echoing Trump's anti-media rhetoric.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that CBS 4 News produces.



STELTER: That viral mashup is just the latest example. Stations are required to run terrorism alert desk segments about security threats. These are known as must-runs inside Sinclair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's the bottom line --

STELTER: Also must run, these rah-rah commentaries from former Trump campaign advisor Boris Epstein.

BORIS EPSHTEYN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: The president is here to get results and not to call staff or cabinet members. STELTER: During the presidential campaign, Jared Kushner reportedly inked a deal with Sinclair for better coverage. Sinclair calls that a mischaracterization.

But the company's politics are no secret. It's controlled by executive chairman David Smith and his family. With his brothers in the early '90s, Smith built his father's three T.V. stations into a mega broadcaster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many of your stations are in the top markets?

DAVID SMITH, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, SINCLAIR: Well, we're in Baltimore to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with the vast majority of being middle market, the Flint, Michigan's, Kansas City's Birmingham.


STELTER: His views radiate out to local stations, sometimes creating tension between management and local journalists.

Some local staffers are expressing anger about recent corporate mandates, with one telling me, quote: It sickens me the way this company is encroaching upon trusted news brands in rural markets.

Responding to the uproar, Sinclair sent a memo to stations that says, quote, "We are focused on fact-based reporting and it calls the goal of those now viral promos to reiterate our commitment to reporting facts in a pursuit of truth" -- Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.


SESAY: Quick break here. Next, the Israeli prime minister backtracking on a migrant deal hours after saying it was the proper solution for thousands of African asylum seekers.

So what exactly changed his mind?

Plus new details about the shooting death of an unarmed black man in Sacramento, California. Why his family says an autopsy contradicts an account from police.




SESAY: Putting political pressure, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suspending a deal he called a proper solution to relocate thousands of African migrants. Agreement with the U.N. called for 16,000 asylum seekers to be resettled in Western countries.

Israel would have then allowed the same amount of migrants to remain in the country with temporary residence permits. But members of Netanyahu's right-wing coalition heavily criticized the deal and hours after the announcement of the agreement, the prime minister said he would put it on hold.

Let's discuss all of this with Ari Aramesh. He is a national security and foreign policy analyst. He joins us from San Francisco.

Ari, always good to see you. Let's just be clear, had the Israeli prime minister not discussed this deal before he accepted it with his coalition partners and members of Likud?

ARASH ARAMESH, NATIONAL SECURITY AND FOREIGN POLICY EXPERT: You know, it's sometimes better to make a bad decision and just stick with it and it's sometimes worse to make a bad decision and then go back and forth and back and forth.

Now I think it was actually a good decision for Prime Minister Netanyahu to allow tens of thousands of asylum seekers to stay in Israel. This country was founded on the idea of creating a home for persecuted Jews and has always let in thousands and thousands of political and cultural and other asylum seekers throughout the past 75 years of its existence.

But it seems like Prime Minister Netanyahu just gave in to the far right wing of his political coalition. Now his coalition is also a bit shaky. He might be facing a pretty bad electoral fight coming soon. And he just doesn't want to have a weak base or a base that is alienated. And I think he made a decision and now he's reneging on it and that is going to probably have some sort of political cost for him.

It also looks bad because, again, this --


ARAMESH: -- made a lot of us happy to hear that Israel is finally going to allow the asylum seekers to stay, some of whom have escaped some horrendous persecution in their home countries.


ARAMESH: -- he's backing down.

SESAY: So let's be clear and there are approximately 37,000 illegal immigrants of African descent in Israel, the majority of which are from Eritrea or Sudan. In terms of over the years, applications for request of asylum, according to some stats that I saw, 54,600 requests for asylum have been made. Israel has only accepted 33 of those applications when it come to these people from this part of the world, effectively people from Africa.

So I guess my question is, what is it about these asylum seekers, as you talk about Israel accepting thousands and thousands, what is it about African asylum seekers applying for refuge in Israel that is so unacceptable to Israeli authorities and that has lots of the Israeli public calling them infiltrators and absolutely determined to see them gone?

Help us understand that. ARAMESH: So there are a few things to consider here. First of all, yes. It's true that Israel has only allowed a --


SESAY: Thirty-three.

ARAMESH: -- 33, double digits, right. But we're talking about you know hundreds of others and thousands of other refugees from other countries and asylum seekers that have gotten into Israel.

Secondly, I do understand this is a problem. Yes, Israel may not have had much experience with refugees and asylum seekers from Africa. Part of it was distance. Part of it is also that there are African Jews but there are very few.

There's a group of reasons I can offer but none of them is going to justify a bad act. A bad act is a bad act. This is the year 2018 and these asylum seekers have been there from '15, '16 and 2017. Just because there has been a bad tradition or a bad precedent doesn't mean Israel should continue doing so.

Israel is a Western country. Israel is a modern country as well as a country of rule, that has a pretty well established rule of law. And Israel has always been a bastion for allowing in a lot of people who were persecuted.

Now this action is coming again under pressure because of Netanyahu's under pressure from some of the worst fringes in his own coalition. Let's keep in mind today on his Facebook message, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he's not going to let them down. He meant the people who are angry and alienated by -- he said that he's -- he also specifically mentioned the populace of South Tel Aviv. And South Tel Aviv is a rough, a working class neighborhood and it is not ethnically mixed. It is not socioeconomically mixed. It is not very diverse people. And people were very upset. And it reminded me of, you know, certain episodes that we've had in our own country many, many years ago where people from certain ethnic or socioeconomic backgrounds would have a violent and sometimes unsavory reaction to other groups of people coming into their neighborhoods.

Now again, Netanyahu made a mistake and that mistake is hopefully going to have some political price for him. But again, as a whole, Israel has always been a place where people, especially persecuted people, could go and this is just, again, a dark stain --


SESAY: -- as long as they're not from Africa, because that this data shows.


ARAMESH: -- they're making a great point and I think just because that's been the case it doesn't mean it should continue to be the case. SESAY: No, agreed. I absolutely agree with you because I want to remind our viewers -- Ari, let me remind our viewers that this deal that Israel agreed to, which is that they would allow maybe approximately 16,000 to stay -- it was basically one in, one out, 16,250 would leave; approximately the same number would stay.

This is a better deal. The original deal was on the table, Ari, as you well know, was that they were going to give them $3,500 and a plane ticket and tell them to get on a plane and go. That was the deal.

So, yes, this is much better. But the prime minister has reneged on this deal and it remains to be seen where he goes from here. I guess my question to you is how much good will would this deal have bought Israel at a time like this one, especially after --


ARAMESH: -- at a time like this, let's not kid ourselves. Israel doesn't have a whole lot of friends in the region or in the world. There is -- they are surrounded by enemies in the region and they have very, very few true friends around the world.

And Israel is a country that face existential threats on a daily basis. I don't know why politically this was such a huge mistake on Netanyahu's part to make. Having said that, again, there is no doubt that this has been a bad practice. A bad practice should stop. A bad precedent is a bad precedent. So just because they haven't let in or they haven't had much exposure to African immigrants, they haven't let in African asylum seekers, it doesn't make it right. It's bad and it's bad.

[01:30:08] But I think the Israeli community and the Israeli society is much better than that. You have to also keep in mind that Israel today is politically and also religiously -- it's a very diverse country. What you see in Tel-Aviv, and Haifa and so on and so forth is very different than what you see in West Jerusalem.

And what you see on the political left and the political center in Israel is also very, very different than what you see in some of the old nationalist political parties.

I was reading what Naftali, the leader of our Home Israel, our Home Party, the nationalist party in Israel is talking about immigrants. And I was quite disappointed. And not only disappointed but he really speaks for the spirit of the state of Israel. It's xenophobic.

It's ultranationalist and it does not speak to the experience of millions and millions of Israelis and Jews who have, not only in Israel but also around the world have done so much for civil rights.

Again these sorts of (INAUDIBLE) are bad and again, truly looking at it from a political calculus, this is bad.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Ari Aramesh, we appreciate you joining us and giving us some perspective on all this. It is very much appreciated. Always good to talk to you. Thank you -- Ari.

ARAMESH: Of course.

SESAY: Quick break here.

The Russians have an explanation for the poisoning of one of their ex- spies. And it has something to do with international espionage. Details ahead.


SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour.

Asia's financial markets are mostly lower after a brutal day on Wall Street. Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai all in negative territory; Sydney finished flat. The Dow plunged 450 points after more attacks on Amazon by Donald Trump. Investors are also spooked by the renewed possibility of a trade war.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspending a plan to relocate some 16,000 African migrants to Western countries; in return, Israel would have given temporary resident permits to the same amount of migrants. Members of Netanyahu's right-wing coalition heavily criticized the deal reached with the U.N.

South Africa plans to hold an official national funeral for Winnie Madikizela Mandela on April 14. This will follow a memorial service for the anti-apartheid icon. Her family said she died after a long illness. Winnie Madikizela Mandala was 81 years old.

Russia's foreign minister says it wasn't his country that poisoned an ex-spy and his daughter in the U.K. In fact, Sergey Lavrov suggests it was the U.K. itself that did it to distract from Brexit.

Matthew Chance has the details.


SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): There could be a whole number of reasons and none of them can be ruled out.

[01:34:57] MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, a defiant Kremlin lashing out and placing new blame insisting again that they had nothing to do with the brazen assassination attempt of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia last month in Salisbury, England.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: No other country has a combination of the capability, the intent and the motive to carry out such an act.

CHANCE: Sources say the sophisticated nature of the attack that included heavy doses of the nerve agent placed on Sergei Skripal's front doorknob points directly to orders from the Kremlin.

LAVROV: There are other explanations in addition to those mentioned by our western colleagues.

CHANCE: Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov shot back Monday saying the poisoning may well have been planned by Britain to distract from Brexit.

LAVROV: It could have been beneficial for the British government who ended up in a very difficult situation because it had failed to deliver the terms it had promised to the British electorate for Brexit.

CHANCE: This, as the Russian embassy in London launched a barrage of 14 tweets in just over 30 minutes Monday, questioning whether other nations were part of the murder plot. "How is France relevant to the incident with two Russian nationals in the U.K," the embassy posed. "Has it been ascertained that the substance used in Salisbury originated from Russia?"

The British foreign office dismissed the tweet storm saying "Russia has responded to the Salisbury incident in the same way they have to every other case where they flouted international law with denial, distraction and disinformation."

Lavrov mirrored that language today as he told reporters the relationship between Russia and the West is worst than it was during the Cold War.

LAVROV: They resort to defamation, disinformation and outright lies. We respond to that wholeheartedly insisting that any statements be substantiated with facts.

CHANCE: Though Sergei and Yulia Skripal's conditions have both improved, the two remain hospitalized in England as their home country continues to maintain its innocence in the case.

Matthew Chance, CNN -- Moscow.


SESAY: Well, the French president's attempt to reform his country's economy maybe about to go off the rails. Millions of train passengers are bracing for three months of rolling rail strikes.

And as Jim Bittermann explains, this is not the first time labor unions have taken on the French government.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For decades French leaders have tried to reform the nation's economy. And while they've had some successes there have been some spectacular failures as unions especially in the public sector have pushed back against attempts to change workplace rules.

In this case the protests against Jacques Chirac's plans in 1995 went on for weeks, brought the country to a halt and contributed to the downfall of Prime Minister Alain Juppe. There's been one attempt after another since and now French President

Emmanuel Macron who was elected on a promise to enact reforms and who began the process shortly after Election Day is taking on the most difficult one yet, modifying the work rules in the public transportation sector.

For economists like Pascal Perri, it's long overdue if for no other reason than France is facing a deadline at the end of the year when European railway systems must open up the competition meaning that there could soon be German and Italian trains running on French tracks.

PASCAL PERRI, FRENCH ECONOMIST: It's a question of competitiveness, of you know, profitability so today the government has decided to play his role.

BITTERMANN: Perri points out that the French rail system runs at a loss each year and is currently 50 billion euros in debt. But French railway workers, some of whom are employed under work rules that go back to World War II and the days of coal-fired locomotives are resisting any attempt to tamper with their pay, pensions or benefits.

What's more they fear the government, as it's done in other sectors is heading towards privatizing the rail system, a system some union leaders think should be entirely free.

BRUNO PONCET, GOVERNING COUNCIL, SUD RAIL: We want to explain to everyone that like medical costs, health care costs and education, transportation should be free in order to have true social equality in France.

BITTERMANN: Even among the other rail unions involved, not everyone would agree with that. But Poncet points out the public employees in other sectors like the ones he mentioned and others like Air France will go on strike and labor actions that could continue well beyond this week.

In fact, the leadership of one rail union is calling for train strikes from April through June at a pace of strike days for every three days work, an innovative protest that could infuriate rail users and bedevil the government.

So the government and passengers could be in for some trying times ahead.

Jim Bittermann, CNN -- Venice.


SESAY: Quick break here. Next on NEWSROOM L.A. more protests over the killing of an unarmed black man in Sacramento, California. Why the results of an independent autopsy may make an already tense situation worse.

[01:40:00](COMMERCIAL BREAK) SESAY: Well, protesters in Sacramento, California are demanding justice over the killing of Stephon Clark. Police (INAUDIBLE) shot him more than two weeks ago in his grandmother's backyard. Officers said he thought he had a gun but only his cell phone was found at the scene. An independent autopsy shows Sacramento police shot Clark eight times, six of the wounds were in his back.

Joining me now CNN law enforcement contributor Steve Moore; he's also a retired supervisory special agent for the FBI. Also with us retired police sergeant Cheryl Dorsey; she served a 20-year career with the L.A. Police Department. Thank you, both of you. Good to have you with us.

Cheryl -- let me start with you. That independent autopsy as we just laid out shows that Stephon Clark was hit eight times; six in the back, one in the neck, one in the thigh. What does that say to you about what happened that night?

CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LAPD POLICE SERGEANT: that he was not a threat. That the officers were intellectually dishonest when they said they were in fear for their life. And that the officers should have fired two rounds, reassessed the threat before they fired any more, and we know that that didn't happen because someone nearly emptied a magazine. Twenty rounds were fired.

It's excessive. It's outrageous and there needs to be some accountability for these officers having violated policy, I'm sure.

SESAY: Steve -- before you weigh in. And I want to get your thoughts on the picture you take from that autopsy. I want you to listen to what Benjamin Crump, who's representing the Clark family, had to say about the shot that hit Clark. Take a listen.


BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR STEPHON CLARK'S FAMILY: Dr. Bennett Omalu, one of the most renowned pathologists, not only in America but in the world, he conducted the independent, private autopsy on behalf of the family.

And his conclusions completely contradicted the narrative that the police was putting forward that they had to shoot unarmed Stephon Clark because he was coming at them.

Well, all the bullets are from behind. And if the bullets are from behind, then how is he coming at you at a time you had to fire your weapons?

What we believe is that these were not the actions of reasonable, well-trained officers who used unnecessary and unjustifiable force yet again on an unarmed black man.


SESAY: Steve -- do you agree with that assessment? Is that what you take from the autopsy? STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR: Well, without discussing whether the shooting was justified or in policy or whatever, I don't agree with them on what the autopsy shows.

First of all, he said that all the shots were from behind. Well, that's not true. One shot was entered from the front. Another one entered from the side which is consistent with somebody facing somebody, shooting -- having shot them, they start to turn and run which is a reasonable response.

[01:45:05] And then as he ran, the rest would have been in the back. I'm not justifying that, I'm just saying I differ from their conclusions with the autopsy.

But I agree with Cheryl that you fire -- you know, the LAPD fires two and reassess. The FBI fires three and reassess. You fire three, you see if you hit the suspect.

I don't necessarily agree that there's enough evidence right now to say that they weren't in fear for their lives. I don't know what they saw. I'm not saying that they were. I'm not saying -- I'm just saying that I don't have enough evidence right now to go either way.

SESAY: So Cheryl -- why do you believe that they couldn't have been in fear for their lives?

DORSEY: Well, it's unreasonable. And listen police officers have learned time and time again after Mike Brown and Sam DeBoz (ph) and a host of others who've been shot that now all you really have to say is I was in fear for my life. I was in fear for my safety.

And that in of itself is sufficient. What needs to happen is officers should be required to articulate why? What happened after the first two rounds that still scared you? What happened after rounds five, six, seven eight that still frightened you?

You're taught and trained to fire two rounds to stop the threat. To use that force that is reasonably necessary to overcome resistance. And once you've overcome that resistance, then you don't get to continue to use force.

SESAY: As you talk about using, you know, using two shots, pausing, assessing. You said three -- I think I was right.


SESAY: You know people are saying this was a training issue. But there are others who see this differently like Charles Blow who rights for the "New York Times". I want to read what he said as he summed up what happened here.

He says -- and he also talks about not just the shooting but also the aftermath and the protests we've seen. Each protest is undoubtedly about the case at hand but selectively, they are also about communities that feel abused and betrayed in a country that sees them as expendable. It is not a local matter as the White House suggested last week but a national disgrace. So as far as Charles Blow is concerned this is not about training. This is about something deeper. This is about the way minorities, black people, black men are seen.

Cheryl -- would you go as far as Charles Blow takes it in saying that they're seen as expendable?

DORSEY: Absolutely. And listen, we're only talking about those things that make national news. There are many other cases where there isn't a loss of life but certainly bodily harm has been inflicted on someone who looks like me by an officer who's drunk with power, overzealous and out of control and there's no accountability. There's no responsible, substantive discipline, consequence for when that happens.

And so when the White House says this is a local matter, what they're saying is this is a black matter and since I don't look like you, black people, it's not important to me.

It's a national matter. And it needs to be addressed as such. Great bodily injury as well as deadly force incident. There needs to be accountability on the part of the officers. When they are held responsible personally, this stuff will stop yesterday.

SESAY: Steve -- is this in your view a training issue or is there more to it? Do you see where Charles Blow is -- do you agree where Charles Blow is taking this, saying that this is about fundamentally seeing black people as expendable?

MOORE: I believe that there is a perception that a national nationwide perception in communities of color that that's how police see them. And I believe that there are some policemen who, you know, not everybody is good at what they do or should be doing what they do.

But I agree with him in that while this may be an incident in Sacramento, where these two officers were trained in Sacramento and this may be an issue with the department, you cannot treat an individual incident in America anymore as just something floating on its own.

There is a huge -- there is a huge distrust of law enforcement by a great group of society and you can't ignore it.

SESAY: And do you believe that distrust is justified.

MOORE: In come cases, yes it is.

I think that some -- that once the mistrust starts then there's going to be distrust no matter what happens. So what that does is it paints everybody with a broad brush. I am not saying that what happened in Sacramento was a justified shooting.

[01:49:56] But whether it is or isn't, I think that there is going to be people who -- at the outset believe it's probably bad and it's because they have seen so many bad shoots that nobody has done anything about.

SESAY: And Cheryl -- to that point, people -- black people are wondering why it is that police officers are rarely charged and even more rarely convicted when it comes to a loss of life and where the victim is black, is a minority.

DORSEY: And so to that I say because of great deference is given to a police officer's version. We're the authority figure and people by and large want to believe that when we say a thing, it's true. And what we are being shown now is that oftentimes, sometimes, it's not true.

Walter Scott, eight rounds in the back. The officer had a version but for that video cell phone, Michael Slager would not be in prison right now. And so this is not our perception. This is a fact. This is what we deal with day in and day out.

And so again, back to the accountability. As long as you have a police chief who's willing to circle the wagons and say I think I can tell you a few reasons why officers might mute their body cam. Well, I can't tell you one. I'm a supervisor and if I was working for officers who did that, it would be a problem for them.

I can't tell you that I understand why an officer would be fearful of somebody because they're black and big and hairy and scary. If that's what you think. If you're afraid, if you come to this job, occupation with bias then maybe this is not the job for you.

And so maybe they were scared. I don't know. But if just a black man scares you then this is not the occupation for you. And so let's admit that. Let's admit that there are people on the police department who are ill-suited, ill-tempered and are not set for this kind of job.

If I was a chef, wouldn't you expect me to know the difference between a knife and a spoon? A beef steak and a chicken breast? I don't get a do-over. I've got to get it right the first time.

SESAY: Steve -- I want to give you the last 30 seconds. The admission that there is something wrong is that -- I mean as you speak to your colleagues in law enforcement across, you know -- not just the FBI, but you know, police forces. That admission that there's something wrong and something needs to change. Is that there?

MOORE: Yes, there is a problem. There is a problem. What I am saying is that it is -- it is a group of officers as Cheryl said who are in the wrong business. It is a small minority I believe of law enforcement officers nationwide.

SESAY: Be that as it may, lives are being lost. So have you seen the conversation happening internally?


SESAY: Do you see officers -- MOORE: If it is not happening internally, we are headed for a

shipwreck as a country. It has to be discussed. It has to be realized. It has to be accepted and owned by law enforcement that they have an issue. And they can't continue policing in the way that we've done.

SESAY: Steve Moore, Cheryl Dorsey -- thank you. Thank you for the honesty. We appreciate it.

DORSEY: Thank you.

MOORE: Thanks.

SESAY: Great conversation.

All right. We're going to take a very quick break. More news after this.