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On the Edge of Disaster; Malaysia Passes Controversial Anti- Fake News Law; One Month since Nerve Agent Attack on Skripals; John Lewis Remembers MLK; Trump Looks at Looks when Staffing up; Trump Says Military to Guard U.S.-Mexico Border; Lawyer Gets 30 Days and Fine; Woman Opens Fire at YouTube HQ; French Rail Workers Strike. Aired 1- 2a ET

Aired April 4, 2018 - 01:00   ET




ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE) out of Syria. His military on the Mexican border and now says he's being hard on Russia than anyone else.

Plus another mass shooting makes headlines in the United States, this time one of California's top tech companies is the scene of the crime.

And the start of a three-month travel nightmare across France as a rail strike grinds trains to a halt.

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


SESAY: Well, Donald Trump says U.S. immigration laws are so weak, he wants to send American troops to guard the border with Mexico. That's just the latest tough talk from the president increasingly frustrated without his long-promised border wall and he made a surprising claim about Russia as well. CNN's Jim Acosta reports.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meeting with the leaders of the Baltic nations, countries that depend on U.S. leadership to stand firm against Russia, President Trump made a questionable claim, that he set the standard for toughness when it comes to Moscow.

TRUMP: Nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have and I know you are nodding yes because everyone agrees when they think about it.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president pointing to his administration's decision to expel Russian diplomats. But it's still a difficult comparison for the president to make, not only because of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan's historic Cold War confrontations with the Soviet Union...


ACOSTA (voice-over): -- there is also the president's well-known reluctance to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Trump said he may still enjoy healthy relations with the Russians.

TRUMP: It's a real possibility that I could have a good relationship and remember this, getting along with Russia is a good thing. Getting along with China is a good thing. Getting along with other countries, including your three countries, is a good thing, not a bad thing. So I think could have a very good relationship with Russia and with President Putin and if I did, that would be a great thing and is also a great possibility that that won't happen. Who knows. OK?

ACOSTA (voice-over): Mr. Trump then urged the president of Latvia to avoid the U.S. press.

TRUMP: You could pick a reporter, a Baltic reporter ideally. Real news, not fake news. Go on ahead.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Another comment that might change the Russians payment the president said he is ready to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, a decision that could bolster Moscow's position in Damascus.

TRUMP: It is time. It is time. We were very successful against ISIS, we will be successful against anybody militarily. But sometimes it's time to come back home. And we're thinking about that very seriously.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president's remarks seem to contradict what his own advisers are stressing, that the U.S. is staying in Syria to battle ISIS.

BRETT MCGURK, PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR THE GLOBAL COALITION TO COUNTER ISIL: In terms of our campaign in Syria, we're in Syria to fight ISIS. That is our mission. And the mission isn't over and we're going to complete that mission.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Then the president went back to an old campaign comment, that he wishes the U.S. had seized oil assets during the Iraq War.

TRUMP: I was always saying, keep the oil. We didn't keep the oil.

Who got the oil?

It was ISIS got the oil, a lot of it. That's what funded their campaigns.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Mr. Trump seems have a new mission for the U.S. military, namely securing the border with Mexico, something the president insists must be done until he gets the wall he promised voters. TRUMP: So what we are preparing for the military to secure our border between Mexico and the United States. We have a meeting on it in a little while with General Mattis and everybody. And I think it is something that we have to do.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Earlier in the day, the president went back to threatening economic pain on Amazon, an online retailer whose founder also owns "The Washington Post."

TRUMP: Amazon is going to have to pay much more money to the post office. There's no doubt about that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): And the president didn't exactly give a ringing endorsement to his EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, who's facing a slew of ethical questions.

TRUMP: I hope he's going to be well.

ACOSTA: The president didn't offer many details when it comes to these upcoming moves in Syria and on the border with Mexico. While the president says he wants to withdraw troops from Syria and send them to the border, his top aides have yet to explain what any of that exactly means or when it's going to happen.

It may be worth a reminder to recall that the president has often sounded open to policy shifts only to reverse himself later -- Jim Acosta, CNN, White House.


SESAY: Seema Mehta is a political writer for the "L.A. Times" and Peter Matthews is a professor of political science at Cypress College.

Welcome to you both once again.


SESAY: Seema, Jim Acosta basically sums it up. The president and all the talk about the military, whether it is to bring them home from Syria or sending them off to the border, you have to ask, is this just political bluster?

Is this just about the base?

Or will it lead to actually a policy shift?

As you look at the signs, what do you see?

SEEMA MEHTA, "L.A. TIMES": I think the president is talking about many things he talked about during the campaign. So this is clearly a move to shore up his base, especially in the leadup to the midterm elections.

What we really have to watch is what does the administration actually do. What does his military advisers, his national security advisers urge him to do? Because there are a lot of questions on all of these fronts. For

example in Syria, if the United States pulls out, does that create a vacuum that allows ISIS to regain territory or does it allow other nations such as Russia to go in with their own strategic issues or priorities?

At the border, there is a real question about the use of -- there's a long tradition of the military not being on American soil doing domestic policy.

So the White House later put out a statement saying he was talking about the National Guard. But that's not what the president said during the press conference today. So I think we really have to -- while we have to listen to what the president says, we have to also look at what they actually do (INAUDIBLE) through policy.

SESAY: And Peter, how do you see it?

This talk of using the military, whether it is at the border to effectively make do with the fact that he didn't get the money to build his wall or whether it's Syria to playing to his base. There are those who would say is he now using the military as a prop?

How do you see the president's rhetorical flourishes and Twitter outpourings of recent days?

MATTHEWS: I think it was a natural outgrowth of the fact he got rejected on the wall and he couldn't take that because his base would get really upset about it. He started listening their support for him. So now he says put the Army on it. Let's put the military up at the wall. Instead of a wall, they have a military wall.

And this is something that he is playing up to his base once again. It's rhetorical. You really can't trust much of what he says because he says one thing one day and it could be the opposite the next day. So you have to go with what he does as Seema mentioned. You've got to really look at his actions and we'll have to wait and see because even that is unpredictable, isn't it, many times.

SESAY: It definitely is.

MATTHEWS: Very much so.

SESAY: Speaking of actions and words, let's talk Russia and Putin. The president in that White House press conference, refusing to answer the question about whether Putin is a friend or a foe. Also at the same time saying he has been incredibly tough on Putin. That statement has lots of people scratching their heads, Seema, people saying again, the words, the actions don't marry up.

MEHTA: The administration has actually taken strong actions towards Russia most recently, the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats. However, the president -- and this goes back to the 2016 campaign -- he has expressed conciliatory words toward President Putin, most recently when he called him to congratulate him on his reelection. Although there are obviously a lot of questions about that election

and the fairness of it. It is to the point where other Republicans who sometimes have shied away from criticizing him, such as Mitch McConnell, were saying that call would not have been the first on my list.

And there's also talk of President Trump possibly welcoming President Putin to the White House and that would be a remarkable moment.

SESAY: Peter, remarkable moment, can you see that happening?

Putin at the White House?

The president says he is being incredibly tough on him and yet Putin who, at least is persona non grata in Europe and after everything that's happened in the U.K., is being possibly welcomed to the White House and they are discussing possibly a meeting?

What do you make of it?

MATTHEWS: I think it is very possible because Trump can do what he wants to whenever he wants to. And (INAUDIBLE) election. I think Trump is very sensitive about how he won the election, with a minority of the votes, less than Hillary Clinton, 3 million less.

And this charge that he was so close to Russia, there may be something there. Maybe they helped him in some way. And the evidence -- some of the evidence that the services have come up with, the intelligence services, that there was an interference, he's very, very concerned that he is not legitimate fully as a president with these actions.

So he doesn't know which way to go with Russia. He wants to -- for some reason he wants to be close to them and work with them, maybe some investments that he's gotten from Russian oligarchs and his businesses, who knows.

And then at the same time he wants to appear to be tough and distant and firm as an American president so he's caught in a bind which way to go. You can see in this actions, he is playing it out.

SESAY: Although he is consistent in his (INAUDIBLE) autocratic leaders.


MATTHEWS: That's true.

SESAY: He does like his strongmen.

MEHTA: And I think it's argued that he believes that on a person-to- person, on a leader-to-leader basis, he can improve relations between the United States and Russia. And that's something he's argued flat that he alone, through the force of his personality, through his charisma, that he can accomplish what basically no other American president has ever accomplished.

SESAY: Well, we shall see if he get to take that walk in the Rose Garden with Putin.

You heard the president in that press conference basically, l don't even know how to describe what he did, where he said ask questions to Baltic media and not U.S. media.

That was a remarkable moment to me, to see a President of the United States take such a move, bearing in mind this country and its tradition of free press and --


SESAY: -- free speech and a free press.

What does that say to you?

What message does that say?

MEHTA: It wasn't surprising to me. We've seen him do it before in a million different forms. He believes that a large section of the American media is out to get him, is unfair, is biased. He says this on Twitter. He says this during events. So it wasn't surprising to me.

You know, you would like, you would hope than an American president would recognize the value of a free and independent media.

SESAY: And you think in the presence of other leaders...


MEHTA: We have seen this before with prior press conferences. (INAUDIBLE) we have some prior press conferences with foreign leaders.

SESAY: Peter, what message does the rest of the world take from that little exchange?

Seema makes the point, it is not the first time. But I think if you are watching from abroad, every time you see it, it is still a little shocking.

MATTHEWS: I think there should be pushback. I think the American press should push back, so should the foreign leaders because this is not only delegitimizing the American media, which is important for the state. It's supposed to be the media (INAUDIBLE) politics. If you lose credibility of the media, then you have lost credibility in democracy I a sense.

And he is trying to do that. I think this president is doing a dangerous thing (INAUDIBLE) attacks the media in front of public foreign officials and leaders of other countries.

MEHTA: And there has been a history -- I'm sorry to interrupt -- but there has been a history of prior administrations, both Democratic and Republican, when we're in foreign countries, and these countries maybe don't have the press freedoms that the United States has, administrations of American presidents are (INAUDIBLE) party really pushing back to make sure that our press values our press freedom is valued or is honored in foreign lands.

So that's kind of what you'd expect to see from an American president.

SESAY: It is. But it's worth reminding our viewers, of course, that the president had that gathering with Sergey Lavrov where no U.S. media was allowed in and Russian media were in the room. So (INAUDIBLE) make the point. It was not like we haven't seen these slights before.

Seema Mehta, Peter Matthews, always a pleasure. Thank you.

MEHTA: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

SESAY: Really appreciate it.

All right. Well, the Justice Department's special counsel has told President Trump's lawyers he is not currently considered a criminal target in the Russia probe. "The Washington Post" cites sources, though, who say Robert Mueller's team is compiling a report on the president's actions and any potential obstruction of justice.

Meanwhile, an investigation has reached a legal milestone. CNN's Manu Raju reports.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today a Dutch lawyer became the first person sentenced in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.

Alex van der Zwaan, a 33-year-old attorney, formerly with the international law firm Skadden, sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $20,000. He admitted to lying to investigators about contacts with Donald Trump's former deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, and the Ukrainian businessmen whom prosecutors say has ties to Russian intelligence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It shows that the special counsel is moving forward.

RAJU (voice-over): At the same time, Mueller's team now revealing that President Trump's own Justice Department authorized the special counsel to investigate whether former campaign chairman Paul Manafort colluded with Russian officials to interfere in the 2016 elections.

The court filings from late last night reveal for the first time that Mueller believes there could be a connection between Manafort's pre- campaign lobbying work and allegations he sought to collude with Russia in 2016.

Manafort contends that federal charges against him should be dismissed because they are outside the scope of the Russia investigation. In response, the special counsel's office told the court that the

investigation would naturally cover ties between a former Trump campaign manager, Russian political operatives and Russian oligarchs and, it says, prosecutors would naturally follow the money trail from Manafort to Ukrainian consulting activities.

The special counsel also revealed in a August 2017 memo from deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein authorizing Mueller to investigate allegations that Manafort committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russians in 2016 in violation of United States law.

It says Rosenstein approved investigating possible crimes Manafort may have committed around payments for work tied to the pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine.

Manafort has denied any wrongdoing and Mueller has not charged him so far with anything directly related to the 2016 elections, adding to the intrigue the Justice Department's August memo details specifically what and whom Mueller was allowed to investigate at the outset but it is heavily redacted. Large portions remain classified.

ROD ROSENSTEIN, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Bob Mueller understands and I understand the specific scope of the investigation and so, no, it is not a fishing expedition.

RAJU (voice-over): All of this despite the president continuing to call the Russia investigation a witch hunt and collusion a hoax.

TRUMP: The entire thing has been a witch hunt. It's a Democrat hoax.

RAJU (voice-over): Manu Raju, CNN. Washington.


SESAY: Investigators are trying to figure out why a woman stormed into YouTube's headquarters in Northern California and --


SESAY: -- opened fire on Tuesday. Police say Nasim Aghdam shot three people then apparently took her own life with a handgun. Police believe she knew one of the victims but it's not clear if the shooting was a domestic indict.

One eyewitness told CNN he had stopped for lunch at a nearby restaurant when he heard gunfire and encountered one of the victims running away from YouTube's headquarters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First I heard three to four shots. I ran around the building. Went to go look. I encountered a girl running from the street to me. I grabbed her, pulled people inside the Carl's Jr., put her inside the -- open the door, open the door -- put her inside the building.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How was she coming out?

She was coming out by herself?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By herself, running.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was she saying anything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I've been shot in the leg. I've been shot in the leg. Then the second time, I heard around 10 to 11 shots and that person just got -- she shot that person up really bad, no remorse, no nothing. I mean, it was death row.


SESAY: One other person injured her ankle as people scrambled way to get away from YouTube's campus. Let's bring in former FBI special agent Maureen O'Connell.

Maureen, good to see you. Thank you for being here.


SESAY: Initially when this happened, first of all, just the shock of it being a woman because we're so accustomed to these horrible incidents being carried out by men. We are still trying to process that. And do want to talk to you about those markers, women that do this.

But then we found out she knew one of the victims and there was a question of whether it was a domestic incident. But more details are coming out now.

What are we learning?

O'CONNELL: Correct. Initially, it looked like it was clearly a domestic situation and some of the things we looked at were, it was a 39-year-old female. The male who was shot was 36 and the two females that were shot were much younger than that, the youngest being 27. So it looked like a love triangle gone bad. And she was yelling at everyone.

But as we are unfolding this thing and we talk all the time about all the new information that comes out and we can't really make all of these snap judgments, one of the things that I was talking to some profilers about this afternoon was the manner with which she killed herself.

We knew that she was dead and that she had potentially shot herself. We knew that fairly early on. And we both said she probably shot herself in the chest because, even though it is odd for a woman to do this type of crime, a woman is far less likely to shoot herself in the head than a man. So to do it in the chest would be better in a strange way.

SESAY: In a very strange way. O'CONNELL: But the whole thing now is starting to look or devolve

into a situation where there appears to be some kind of mental illness going on. She has YouTube videos up, where she has these exercise videos and she's on these illogical sort of rants that talk about she is being blocked from it. And she can't make money and she used to get all kinds of hits and now she doesn't and it is YouTube coming after her. But it doesn't make sense when you listen to it.

SESAY: So we are going to -- obviously more questions to be answered about her background and where she grew up and all the rest of it, those details are yet to emerge. But back to the issue of it being a woman who was behind this or the perpetrator here.

I mean that is incredibly rare, right?

O'CONNELL: It is rare. The report that the FBI did recently show that the -- about 5 percent of these violent crimes are perpetrated by women. But those numbers are rising because our culture is changing.

There is a whole conglomeration of things that are layered on top of each other that are causing some of these things to happen. For example, a lot of these, you know, notwithstanding mental illness, a lot of these people don't suffer consequences throughout their lives. And they are made immune to the loss of human life.

And so that is one of the components. Another one is obviously mental illness. But the fact that we are seeing much more of this type of behavior done by females is very interesting but it kind of goes along with women coming into a whole new --


O'CONNELL: -- and culturally we're moving in a totally different direction.

SESAY: There has always been this talk of violent crimes, when they were perpetrated by women, this whole notion of what the weapon is. Is it a knife and what that signifies, closer personal versus a handgun.

What do we read into this?

Can we consider the fact that it seems like there is mental health at play here?

O'CONNELL: Right. One thing about a handgun, is it is quick. Whatever you're going to do with it, it's going to happen quickly. And it is closer. It is much closer than a long gun. Like you said, a knife is --


O'CONNELL: -- even really personal.

But the fact that I think we are going to be able to definitively say that there is mental illness involved here, you know, she chose a gun because she was going to do some damage and she was do it quickly and she was going to be heard.

One thing about humans is we all want to be heard and she really felt, for whatever reason, that she was not being heard.

SESAY: Once again, the question you and I were discussing, were there any signs?

But in terms of that whole leakage issue, just the people around her able to tell that she was veering off the edge.

O'CONNELL: But this is -- like you said, it is rare enough where, even if you thought she was going off the edge --


SESAY: You never would think --

O'CONNELL: Exactly.

SESAY: -- because of your own personal bias or culture bias that a woman would go that far.

O'CONNELL: Exactly. You'd be far less likely to report it. But I will say that, without question, law enforcement is going to be looking into her house or her family members, interviewing them and doing it until they run this whole thing to ground. But I think this is going to be one of those instances where, you know...

SESAY: We will be able to describe a motive and understand a little bit more about how this one played out.

O'CONNELL: Right. But I think it will come down to the compilation of her not feeling heard and mental illness.

SESAY: Maureen O'Connell, we always appreciate the insight, even though sometimes you take us to places we don't really want to go.

O'CONNELL: I know.

SESAY: But we appreciate it.

O'CONNELL: I know.

SESAY: Thank you.

O'CONNELL: Thank you.

SESAY: All right. Quick break here.

Trial kills (ph) in France, Israel strikes continue. French president Emmanuel Macron is facing one of his biggest challenges since coming to power. Details next.

Plus Malaysia is cracking down on fake news. Just ahead, the reason critics say it might also be curbing free speech. We will explain. Stay with us. (MUSIC PLAYING)



SESAY: Hello, everyone.

France is preparing for more travel chaos as rail strikes are set to continue through June. Rail workers are planning three months of rolling walkouts. They protest labor reforms. Unions say the reforms will threaten working conditions and employment benefits.

On Tuesday, train services were severely disrupted on what was called Black Tuesday. The strikes are held and create a political stalemate. Some say could make or break the presidency of Emmanuel Macron.

CNN European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas joins us now. He's the chair of the Department of French and Francophone studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

It's great to have you with us and seeing you're a European affairs commentator, many titles many hats. Dominic, this sounds awful, the way this is laid out, these rolling strikes because it would -- has the potential not just affect the trains but refuse collection and a whole bunch of other sectors.

Talk to me about the level of disruption and the amount of support they have in France.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Well, it is interesting and it's not the first time historically that strikes --


THOMAS: -- jeopardized --


THOMAS: -- a presidency and particularly around the question of the railways. So it's true that right now the railway strikes are in place and they're going to be carrying on all the way through the month of June unless they can come up with some kind of result.

And there are garbage workers, airport workers and so on. So it has the potential to grow into a fairly big and resistance space for civil society. Really what we have here going or butting heads are two philosophies about the way and direction in which France could go.

So newly elected President Macron will be arguing that he has a mandate which is labor reform and so of course he's right. He has the presidency and he has a parliamentary majority.

But one should not forget that part of his path to the election was this tremendous disillusionment with mainstream political parties and of course the threat of the far right. So he's only partially correct in going about doing this.

What is interesting here and I think that he has to be very cautious as he goes into this process is he really is digging his heels in right now and saying that there's no way to (INAUDIBLE) absolutely insisting on sort of reforms. And what the railway workers are arguing is that even though the company or the state run organization is in massive debt, they are digging their heels in defense of a system which is completely at odds with Emmanuel Macron's attempt to liberalize the economy --


SESAY: Do you see privatization coming as a result of -- because that's the fear, right?

THOMAS: Right, that is the great fear although I think the fear is also -- it is reform on both sides. Macron is absolutely determined to reform the job market and introduce greater flexibility.

He will argue though, that after receiving -- or the prime minister receiving a report at the end of February, which was to revise the transportation system, is that he is not seeking explicit privatization, which ironically of the kind that we saw in the mid- 1990s in Great Britain, which we know has gone to devastating impact and increases in costs, inefficiencies.

But it is looking more towards a German or Italian model in which some of the routes and some of the work that takes place is through what might be called a public limited company. So some of the activities are farmed out to what are private groups or available to shareholders as a way to increase competiveness.

And this is all taking place in the framework of new European Union initiatives that want to improve the integration of the E.U.'s rail system while at the same time improving efficiency and competitiveness.

And this is what Macron's perspective would be on this.

SESAY: To your initial point and the overarching point is this is existential battle effectively for the direction of France.

THOMAS: It really is, it is about opening up the system and introducing greater flexibility into the workplace of the kind that is taking place in other European states like Germany versus a system that provides job security, benefits and a kind of cradle-to-grave model in which the workers are unambiguously protected by the organization that they are working for.

What Emmanuel Macron would argue is that the liberalization and the labor reforms he wants to impose or implement in France will lead to reduction of unemployment and to greater opportunities for workers as times go forward.

SESAY: He's digging in his heels, as you made the point.

How much goodwill will he squander here?

And what could that mean for his political life?

THOMAS: As this goes on, of course, the disruptions, it is hard to see which way it goes. Obviously people are going to be increasingly frustrated by strikes. And so Macron has to pay very carefully to simply argue that he has a mandate isn't quite accurate.

I think he has to try and present probably better to the French public what it is exactly that he is trying to achieve and trying to enlist support for these transitions and these measures, all what he runs.

And, of course, there are parallels being drawn to the historic 50th anniversary of May 1968. This is very different in terms of the claims that people are making. But it is clear that many European societies have this divide between those that are doing very well in a liberalized, open job market and those that are not.

And those kinds of fractures in French society are at stake here and if he is overreaching, if there end up being large demonstrations and potentially rioting and so on and that the forces of the state come in heavy-handedly, it is not impossible that he will galvanize these other sectors and public support that will work against him.

And so the road right now --


SESAY: Or build a coalition against himself.

THOMAS: Well, exactly, because as things stand right now, there is no real opposition to Emmanuel Macron except for the far left and the far right. And so there is a certain level of opportunism here as well in terms of how people are coming out in support of this civil disruption or this social disruption that could take place.

SESAY: Dominic Thomas, fascinating, always appreciate it. Thank you so much.


SESAY: All right. Next on NEWSROOM L.A., hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are perched on the edge of disaster as monsoon season looms. What aid workers are trying to do to save them before it's too late.



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

Donald Trump says he wants U.S. troops to guard the border to Mexico at least until he can build a wall. The President also says he wants to bring U.S. forces home from Syria despite plans from top military officials to increase the number of troops deployed there.

A woman opened fire at YouTube's headquarters in California shooting three people then apparently took her own life. Officials say a fourth person injured her ankle as she scrambled to evacuate. Police believe the shooter identified as Nasim Aghdam knew one of the victims but it's not clear if Tuesday's shooting was a domestic incident.

France is facing a second day of travel chaos as rail workers are planning to continue strikes in a few hours. It is the biggest challenge yet for President Emmanuel Macron and his ability to implement labor reforms. Rail workers are planning three months of rolling walkouts.

Well, it's a race against time and the monsoon for the Rohingya refugees. A humanitarian panel on Rohingya issues is warning there could be enormous deaths from rain and mud slides in the coming months. As many as 700,000 Muslim Rohingya have found refuge but not safety in flimsy huts perched on bare hills in Bangladesh. A repatriation deal with neighboring countries has been delayed.

Well, let's go now to Bangladesh and United Nations senior protection coordinator Bernadette Castel-Hollingsworth who joins us via Skype. Bernadette -- thank you for being with us.

How much preparation have humanitarian groups been able to do? How much progress has been made ahead of the monsoon?


We have worked tirelessly with all partners in the government as well as refugees to try to prepare ahead of the monsoon. We remain very concerned for more than 150,000 refugees who still live in areas that may be at risk of landslides or flooding during the monsoon.

The major priority for us all is to relocate refugees to safer grounds. Relocations are ongoing. But our efforts may not be sufficient. There is still need for more flat land to be made available for refugees and (INAUDIBLE) to be safely going through the rains.

[01:35:03] SESAY: And as you talk about the need for more land, what is happening on that front? What is the Bangladeshi government saying about making more areas available for relocation?

CASTEL-HOLLINGSWORTH: Bangladesh is very highly densely populated country. Land is not easily available. The government has allocated thousands of acres of land for refugees as I mentioned last August and continues to work on identifying more land.

We are working on the land that is allocated to humanitarian agencies as soon as they are made available and we remain very grateful for all the efforts made by the government. SESAY: And the areas that have been allocated that you are preparing

for the evacuations which you say are already ongoing. Talk to me about conditions there. How much better off will the Rohingya be in these new areas?

CASTEL-HOLLINGSWORTH: So in these new areas refugees will not face risk of landslides. We are making sure that their centers are built in safe areas.

However, we are also trying to take mitigating measures for the families who will not be able to be relocated. We are strengthening centers, distributing centers so that sandbags and so that structures can be anchored. We have also built with our partners and government authorities access roads to the camps.

We are also prepositioning core relief items and importantly as well, we have been working very closely with the refugee communities with volunteers and equipping them with not only materials but also guidance on spreading early warning messages and directing families to communal shelters.

We are trying to do everything that is possible. We are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.

SESAY: Sure. And Bernadette, before I let you go as we're almost out of time, are people afraid?

CASTEL-HOLLINGSWORTH: People are concerned. But Rohingya refugees are very resilient. They are a community that has shown very extraordinary level of solidarity and self-help and we will stand by their side together with the government Bangladesh and all our partners to have them go through the monsoon.

SESAY: They've been through so much. Bernadette Castel-Hollingsworth -- we appreciate the updates on plans to basically keep them as safe a possible with these approaching monsoons. Thank you so much.


SESAY: Now Malaysia is cracking down on so-called fake news with a new law. People who spread false reports could be fined about $123,000 and face a maximum of six years in jail. Critics say the law, which comes into effect before the country's general election will restrict free speech and dissent. The information minister says its focus goes beyond politics.


SALLEH SAID KERUAK, MALAYSIAN INFORMATION MINISTER: -- individuals, businesses -- not necessarily -- we must look from all detail (ph) perspective, you know. We are here to protect them. So people, when we talk about fake news, we must not look only from the political perspective. Not only from the government perspective. It may happen to you, to your family you know. There will be protection (ph) -- these are the issues there.


SESAY: Now, the U.S. State Department is weighing in on a new law in a statement to Reuters' News Agency. "The United States is concerned about the bill's potential impact on freedom of expression in Malaysia as well as its global reach which could impact U.S. citizens and companies."

Well, Marc Lourdes joins us now from Hong Kong. He's the director of CNN Digital Asia team. Marc -- thanks for being with us.

First of all let me ask about the law itself which seems really broad. What qualifies as fake news?

MARC LOURDES, DIRECTOR, CNN DIGITAL ASIA: Well, Isha -- I mean that's the million-dollar question. Critics of the law have said that the very broadness of definition and the fact that fake news is a term that's so vague, they have highlighted that as the biggest issue with this law as in what is fake? And the fear is that what could be construed as fake news would be what the government says it is.

SESAY: And with that being said, maybe it's in the eye of the beholder, I guess is what we're basically saying and it's in this case, the government's eye.

[01:40:00] It does give the Malaysian government extraordinary power. And that is bringing up this whole question of whether this is all intended to stifle free speech.

LOURDES: You have had the National Union of Journalists, you've had the Bar Council, you've had civil rights groups all saying the same thing that this law if used in the wrong way could really be used to stifle free speech. And one of the big concerns behind this is that the application of the law is number one, extra territorial which means it applies internationally.

And the other part to it is that it could also be filed as an ex-party court order which means that the government could file it without the alleged wrongdoer even being present and caught. And that presents a huge problem because when that happens a person is essentially guilty until proven innocent.

SESAY: Wow. And Marc -- how much of a problems is fake news in Malaysia. I mean give us that background.

LOURDES: Well, like in almost every other country in the world, fake news is a big problem. And in the sense that you get a lot of messages on What's App, on Facebook. Just the other day in one of my own Malaysian What's App groups, I got a message about dog adoption which turned out to not be true.

So it is a concern for sure but the -- again the big question that's being asked is, is this the best way to address that concern? Has there been enough public consultation? Has there been enough conversation with stakeholders? Or is this something that is just being bulldozed through the legislation and enacted as law without anyone due thought and due consultation being done. SESAY: Another question that is raised by this move by parliament is what it means, this law. What it means for that financial scandal involving the state investment fund which was -- the state investment fund rather which has entangled the Malaysian prime minister. Where does that go from here? Reporting of that scandal with such a law in place?

LOURDES: Well, that is -- that's a big question. What's happened now is that the deputy minister of information last week essentially said that any news reporting on the scandal, the 1MDB scandal would be deemed fake unless it is verified by the government. It was walked back a little bit by the minister of information earlier this week but concerns still remain as to how this is going to impact on the reporting on that which has had tremendous international coverage.

And if you look at what the information minister himself did this week is that he published a statement on his blog addressing fake news and the anti fake news bill and in that almost 30-paragraph long statement, more than 20 paragraphs were devoted to international media reporting on Malaysia.

So yes, there is a very real concern on what this would mean for coverage of Malaysia of the 1MDB crisis.

SESAY: And the State Department says it's concerned for what it will mean for U.S. citizens and U.S. companies.

Marc -- we very much appreciate it. Thank you so much for breaking it all down for us.

LOURDES: Thank you.

SESAY: Next on NEWSROOM L.A. Russia and the U.K. are blaming each other for a nerve agent attack in England. A look back on what caused this Cold War conflict (ph).


SESAY: Well, we're receiving new details in the shooting at the YouTube headquarters in California. This is a photo of Nasim Aghdam released by police. They have identified her as the shooter and just posted this photo on Twitter. Police say she opened fire at YouTube's headquarters shooting three people then she apparently took her own life. It is not known if the shooting was a domestic dispute.

Well, the British government is still blaming Russia for a never agent attack in England as experts say they're unable to identify a source. However scientists do say the substance that poisoned Sergei and Julia Skripal is Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent. A source tells CNN investigators believe the discovery on the Skripals' front door shows a sophisticated attack that was likely approved by the Kremlin.

Well, Tuesday marks one month since that attack set off the current diplomatic fall out between Russia and the West. Our own Phil Black has a recap. ,


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: March 4th, two people found slumped and unresponsive on this bench in Salisbury, England. Former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia rushed to hospital in a suspected poisoning, their condition critical.

Counterterrorism police took charge. Military and forensic investigators searched Skripal's house, a local park, restaurant and cemetery. One week later, Prime Minister Theresa May said the attackers used a Soviet-era nerve agent known as Novichok.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

BLACK: European leaders agreed. Thus began a domino run of diplomatic fall out. The U.K. government moved to expel 23 Russian diplomats; 19 E.U. member states followed suit.

But on Sunday, March 18th while claiming victory in the Russian presidential election, Vladimir Putin denied Moscow's involvement.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Of course, I believe that any sensible person knows that it is total rubbish and nonsense to someone in Russia to allow themselves such behavior on the eve of a presidential election and World Cub in Russia. It is unthinkable.

BLACK: Europe presented a united front despite what many see as fractious Brexit negotiations.

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): The discussions on the nerve gas attack in Salisbury were very intense and marked by great solidarity with the British Prime Minister and the British people.

BLACK: And three days later, President Donald Trump delivered the toughest response expelling 60 Russian diplomats from the United States.

Nearly four weeks after the attack doctors looking after Yulia Skripal announced her condition was improving and no longer critical.

Meanwhile Russian officials waged a campaign of obfuscation. The Russian embassy in the U.K. delivered tweets like these suggesting weaknesses in the investigation and Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister even suggested the attack may have been carried out by British agents.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): This may also be beneficial for the British government which obviously found itself in an uneasy situation when they did not fulfill their promises to their electorate on the conditions of Brexit.

BLACK: Russia has so far reciprocated like for like in all diplomatic expulsions and closures. One month on, important questions remain including how much further can relations deteriorate with an increasingly isolated Russia?

Phil Black, CNN -- London.


SESAY: Well, Memphis, Tennessee is honoring civil rights icon Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years after he gave what would be his final speech. City leaders gathered Tuesday to remember Dr. King's "I've been to the mountain top" address delivered on April 3rd, 1968 at the Mason Temple. He was in Memphis to support a strike by city sanitation workers.

Well, U.S. Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis not in Memphis when Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. His role came in the days, the weeks and the years after assassination.

Our own Robyn Curnow sat down with Lewis to talk about how King's legacy lives on.


[01:49:57] REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: We are sitting here in the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. I was here with Senator Robert Kennedy and led the Senator and his family into the church late the night before his funeral to view his body.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You were with Robert Kennedy, I understand, when you heard the news that he'd been shot.

LEWIS: I was with Senator Robert Kennedy in Indianapolis, Indiana campaigning with him. When we heard that Dr. King had been shot and there was some discussion about whether Robert Kennedy should come and speak and I said he had to come and speak and he came and spoke.

ROBERT KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I have some very sad news for all of you and people who love peace all over the world. And that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

LEWIS: It was unbelievable, unreal and love and admired Martin Luther King, Jr. If it hadn't been for Dr. King, I don't know what would have happened to many of us. But Dr. King never gave up. He never lost hope. He kept the faith and he kept his eyes on the price.

He believed that we could redeem the soul of America and create what he called a beloved community.

CURNOW: And now 50 years on?

LEWIS: Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years later would be proud of the progress that was made but he would be disappointed that we have not made more progress.

CURNOW: What about Mr. Trump's America?

LEWIS: Martin Luther King, Jr. we would be very, very disappointed in Mr. Trump's America. It was not -- he would have said this is not the America that I left here. This is not the America that we need today.

He would have said Mr. Trump, America is trying to take us backward rather than forward. If Martin Luther King Jr. were with us today, his spirit is with us but if he was with us in body today, he would be part of the march. He would be out there rejoicing and leading the march with the children.

And that is what he is telling us today. He is saying that you must continue. You must continue to march. And when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to say something or to do something.

CURNOW: You spoke about good trouble. But it is important to make good trouble for change.

LEWIS: Well, Dr. King taught us how to make good trouble, necessary trouble. How to get in trouble.

CURNOW: For the right reasons?

LEWIS: For the right and good reason.


SESAY: We are going to take a very short break. More news right after this.


SESAY: Well, long before Gal Gadot hit the big screen with slick special effects, TV's Wonder Woman inspired the little girls of the 1970s. And with her arms crossed for battle, Wonder Woman has now captured her star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. At 66, Lynda Carter showed her fans she's still got the (INAUDIBLE) form. Carter starred as Wonder Woman and her alter ego Diana Prince for just three seasons on American television starting in 1976. But she'll forever be an icon.

[01:54:58] Well, Donald Trump has been called the reality show president. He seems upset with crowd size and ratings. And when he is looking for people to fill his administration, how someone looks -- well that is a prime consideration.

Here is Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When the President is casting around for appointees, where does he look?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is central casting. If I'm doing a movie, I'd pick you, General.

MOOS: From Secretary of Defense Mattis to his pick of the White House doctor for Veterans affairs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said central casting, and we came like a Hollywood star.

MOOS: President Trump looks at looks even in opposition candidates.

TRUMP: I hear he's nice looking. I think I'm better looking than him. I do.

MOOS: The look. The President thought Rex Tillerson and Mitt Romney had it. But John Bolton's mustache was apparently too much in his face --


MOOS: -- until the President changed his mind and decided he could live with it. President Trump also had a change of heart when he first announced he would hire a husband-wife attorney team then decided they have too many legal conflicts plus the President was turned off because they look disheveled when they came to meet with him according to Politico.

He's even complained about Hillary.

TRUMP: I just don't think she has the presidential look.

MOOS: When it comes to a vice presidential look --

TRUMP: The primary reason I wanted Mike other than he looks very good --

MOOS: -- maybe the President is taking advice from Seinfeld.

JERRY SEINFELD, COMEDIAN: If you want to make a person feel better after they speak, you shouldn't say God bless you, you should say you are so good looking.

MOOS: The President jokes about his own looks.

TRUMP: But they show me -- young, handsome. I said why couldn't I look like that today?

MOOS: And he flattered his new economic adviser plucked from a job on CNBC.

LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: He says you're on here and he said I'm looking at a picture of you. And he said very handsome. So Trumpian.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next week he's replacing Jeff Sessions with Matt Locke (ph). He sees on TV --

MOOS: We've seen a lot of Stormy Daniels on TV lately but the "Washington Post" reports the President even has griped to several people that Daniels is not the type of woman he finds attractive. His smile suggests otherwise.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

SEINFELD: You are so good looking.


MOOS: -- New York.


SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. I'll be back with more news right after this.