Return to Transcripts main page
Syria's Civil War; FBI Cohen Raid; Chinese President Xi Jinping on Trade; Mark Zuckerberg to Testify. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired April 12, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour: the U.S. president describes it as an atrocious attack that will be met forcefully and says everyone involved in the chemical attack on innocent Syrians will pay a price.
Plus offices of Donald Trump's personal attorney raided by the FBI. The president lashing out, slamming the special counsel and his team.
And Mark Zuckerberg's message to Congress in the wake of Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal, "It's my fault."
Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.
SESAY: U.S. President Donald Trump is vowing to respond forcefully to the suspected chemical attack in Syria. At a cabinet with military leaders Monday he warned nothing is off the table and he said he'll make a decision soon on what the U.S. will do within the coming hours.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The greatest fighting force anywhere in the world, these gentlemen and ladies are incredible people, incredible talent. And we're making a decision as to what we do with respect to the horrible attack that was made near Damascus. And it will be met and it will be met forcefully.
And when I will not say because I don't like talking about timing. But we are developing the greatest force that we've ever had.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Aid groups say chemical attack in Douma killed dozens of people, including women and children. Student activists say helicopters dropped toxic gas inside barrel bombs on Saturday. CNN has not been able to independently confirm that. The U.N. Security Council met in emergency session Monday.
U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said Russia's hands are covered in the blood of Syrian children. Russia says there is no evidence a chemical attack happened.
Joining us now CNN U.S. security analyst and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Gayle Tzemach-Lemmon and former U.S. Marine captain Michael Krause.
Welcome to you both.
Gayle, to you first. We heard a little bit of what the president has said regarding the U.S. response to what we saw over the weekend in Syria.
What were your takeaways from his comments and specifically that line," Assad will pay a price"?
GAYLE TZEMACH-LEMMON, CNN U.S. SECURITY ANALYST: This is an overnight crisis seven years in the making. We have followed this trajectory since 2011. And this really is the inevitable result of an absolutely paved path of impunity.
You've had this axis of impunity with the Assad regime and its Russian backers, who have really been all in, as have the Iranians throughout the conflict. And they have been all in, leaving only one path, which is more or less that Assad is going to stay for now.
So the question now for the United States is, if you're going to say that there are international norms that cannot be trampled, then how do you find this Goldilocks moment?
Because there is a question. There still remains no appetite for regime change because the "then what" question has yet to be answered, what would come after Assad.
So how do you send a message without really removing the regime, which is really something that no American administration has shown an appetite for.
SESAY: Michael, to you, the president's forceful way here are in contrast to what he said just days ago about wanting to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. He wanted it quickly. He said it loudly. He said it repeatedly He wanted them to come home.
John McCain, Senator John McCain is tying those words of wanting to pull U.S. troops out with what happened in Douma over the weekend. Let me read you part of the statement.
"President Trump last week signaled to the world that the United States would prematurely withdraw from Syria. Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers have heard him and emboldened by American inaction, Assad has reportedly launched another chemical attack against innocent men, women and children, this time in Douma."
Do you see a connection between the president's words and saying that he wanted to pull U.S. troops out with what happened on the weekend?
Do you agree with --
MICHAEL KRAUSE, USMC (RET.): -- the Iranians and the Syrians, Assad's forces, are trying to test our resolve. As Gayle said, this is something that's been going on since 2011. We haven't had the resolve to do whats necessary.
When it comes to using the chemical weapons like Assad did, 48 hours after Trump said he was going to leave, of course, it's testing the president.
KRAUSE: But now we've gotten a point where the president does not want to be seen weak like Obama did with the red line in 2013. He is going to hit Assad whether it's an airstrike like last year, where you launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles and you hit the airbase or something along those lines.
It is not a matter of when we hit Assad now. It's a matter what time, is it going to happen tonight -- sorry; it's already the afternoon there.
But is it going to happen tomorrow night?
Is it going to happen sometime this week?
SESAY: Gayle, to what Michael is saying, he referenced the strike from last year after what happened in Kashikun (ph), what changed?
LEMMON: This is the question. I think it's so important to remember that both Obama and Trump have wanted a one-way ticket out of the Syrian conflict for very understandable reasons.
But this is a war that has a way of finding United States. The truth is that international norms long ago ceased mean anything when it comes to this conflict. Really, the international community has all the teeth of an inflatable guard dog when it comes to looking at Syria, truly.
Every norm has been trampled. Adjectives have given up trying to describe it. So the question is now, what is left for the international community to do?
And it's not necessarily the American by themselves.
SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) doing it for?
Because the Syrian people have been crying out for a long time.
Is this just about the optics?
What is this about?
You have to ask that.
LEMMON: I wouldn't say that it's about the optics. I think there really are certain norms that the United States has tried to stand for, including the use of chemical weapons. I'm not saying it's perfect but I do think that is one that you saw from the Obama administration carry over into this one.
And it is not just the United States. It's also the U.K. and France.
SESAY: Michael, the Pentagon is preparing a menu of options for the president.
Are there any good options?
You're not going to strike the depots holding those chemical weapons for fear of spreading them.
So talk to me militarily in terms of the options.
KRAUSE: Obviously the president has a lot of options. One, you do what we did last year, seaborne Tomahawk cruise missile launch to get the airfield. What happened airfield. What happened last year though was within 24 hours 48 hours the airfield was back up and running.
Yes, Assad lost some aircraft but the airfield was still up and running. The other option is to ratchet it up and take on more of his military machine, destroy Assad's ability to wage war on his people.
The problem with that option is you're going to do with more sustained airstrikes. You are putting American airmen and most likely Special Forces in the danger zone, in conflict with the Russians.
Tonight apparently Syrian aircraft and Russian aircraft were flying all evening because they thought that we were going to strike tonight. So they got their aircraft off the airbases and in the sky.
So if we are going to do a sustained air campaign we're going to have conflict with the Russians in the air.
SESAY: Let me play what the president said about Russia because obviously we're hearing the president use his strongest language yet, his most direct language really since he took office about Vladimir Putin. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He may, yes. He may. And if he does, it's going to be very tough, very tough.
TRUMP: Everybody is going to pay a price. He will, everybody will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Gayle, Russia: the U.S. saying that they will pay a price if it's found that Putin has a direct hand in all of this.
There are risks involved in this, most definitely, not to mention the 2,000 U.S. troops that are there in (INAUDIBLE).
How do you see this playing out should the U.S. target Russia?
LEMMON: I think it's so important to remember that if you think back, the place where the U.S. and Russia actually had the best relationship was in Syria, where military to military -- there was a deconfliction line that was really working for the past several years and I say really working because neither side wanted a direct engagement and they worked very hard, even in some very small neighborhood in very difficult circumstances, to keep from directly engaging one another.
And the question is, will we now see a shift from deconfliction to direct engagement?
And is the United States prepared for that?
SESAY: Michael, how do you see that?
KRAUSE: The question is what kind of superpower do we want to be?
Are we going to be the type of superpower that allows this type of thing to take place?
What I think the people around the world and especially the American people need to understand is we are right in the middle of Cold War 2.0 between us and the Russians, us and the Chinese, us and the Iranians.
SESAY: To take them on militarily or do this in the political --
KRAUSE: -- just like the Cold War, it may come down to that. I think if we're going to resolve this conflict, you're going to have to hit Assad and you're going to have to hit him hard.
SESAY: Gayle, Michael, we thank you. Some tense hours ahead. We'll see what happens, what decisions the president makes. We appreciate it. Thank you.
The U.S. ambassador left no doubt Washington will take action response to the alleged chemical attack --
SESAY: -- no matter what the U.N. decides to do. Meantime, Russia's U.N. ambassador is warning of grave repercussions to Syria's attack. More now from our own Richard Roth.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: It wasn't a Cold War inside the U.N. Security Council. It was a hot one, as the Russian and U.S. ambassadors traded accusations and barbs.
Russian ambassador Nebenzya (ph) said U.S. leadership is stoking international tensions. And a U.S. military attack inside Syria would have grave repercussions. Later Nebenzya said he didn't say that exactly but that a fine line was being walked by the U.S., which is dangerous for Syria and the rest of the world.
Nebenzya, following the meeting, repeated his accusations that the chemical weapons attack was not at the hands of the Assad regime.
VASILY NEBENZYA, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Our military radiological biological chemical unit was onsite with an alleged chemical accident and it confirmed that there was no chemical substances found on the ground. There were no dead bodies found. There were no poisoned people in the hospitals.
The doctors in Douma denied that they were -- that there were people who came to the hospital claiming that they were under the chemical attack. The Syrian records that was repression, that was said to be treating people which were poisoned denied that was ever doing it today.
ROTH (voice-over): Ambassador Nikki Haley of United States said Russia and Syria have blood on their hands.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: We must not overlook Russia and Iran's roles in enabling the Assad regime's murderous destruction. Russia and Iran have military advisors at Assad's airfield and operation centers.
Russian officials are on the ground, helping direct the regime's starve and surrender campaign and Iranian allied forces do much of the dirty work. When the Syrian military pummels civilians, they rely on the military hardware given by Russia.
ROTH: It got personal inside the chamber, with the Russian ambassador telling U.S. Ambassador Haley, we really we really don't want to be friends with you. The United States, Sweden and Russia have competing draft resolutions or statements that will be considered by the U.N. Security Council in the days ahead -- Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.
SESAY: For more on this, we have our political commentators, Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and Republican consultant John Thomas.
Gentlemen, great to have you with us. We've heard the president speak out forcefully in response to what we saw over the weekend in Douma.
Dave, to you first. We know that there's going to be a strike. He's made it very clear that there will be a forceful response. The question is what is the U.S. trying to achieve with that?
What is Donald Trump's end goal? DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know. I don't think anybody knows. I don't know that anybody in the administration knows. And that's the problem with this White House.
You have an unpredictable president, who campaigned on that whole narrative of unpredictability yet criticized President Obama, President Bush, President Clinton for being predictable, for having a plan.
In fact he criticized former presidents for foreshadowing their military options or diplomatic solutions on a given issue. And, of course, just a week ago Donald Trump said he was going to pull out of Syria.
And now, of course, he's doing a flip-flop. I'm not saying that it's a bad thing. I do think that there is some response from the United States. But nobody knows what the president is going to do. I don't think his military advisers --
JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: -- I don't see that as a liability to keep our enemies guessing about what he's going to do but he has a hard choice to make first of all --
JACOBSON: But they're not guessing because last week he said he's pulling out and I think that's why --
SESAY: Well, John McCain has said that. So let me read you what John McCain put out in a statement to that very point that Dave is making.
He said this, "President Trump last week signaled to the world that the United States would prematurely withdraw from Syria. Bashar al- Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers have heard him. And emboldened by American inaction, Assad has reportedly launched another chemical attack against innocent men, women and children, this time in Douma."
John, that's what Senator McCain certainly thinks.
THOMAS: Well, Senator McCain also has an ax to grind with Donald Trump. Senator McCain also, some could say, is more than a hawk when it comes to war. Some people say he's happy to go to war anytime.
Remember, Donald Trump's in a pickle here, because while he campaigned on being unpredictable, he also campaigned on staying out of unnecessary conflicts and wars. So this is -- this is a troubling thing because when we saw it happen last time, a year or so ago, we saw an emotional President Trump feeling for these victims, wanting desperately to do something.
So he responded and he's feeling -- I'm sure he's feeling the same emotions but also understanding what is the end goal?
What are you going to achieve?
So I think you will see some kind of response if nothing else just --
THOMAS: -- to say knock it off. But I don't think that President Trump sees an endgame and it is so antithetical if he were to move troops permanently and start to declare war potential.
There's no win for American in that process.
SESAY: -- the president himself said that last week when he was speaking to military advisers and his military chiefs. He kept saying we have nothing to show for it. We've been in there 7-8 years with nothing to show for it.
But military leaders would beg to differ and say fighting ISIS is in America's interest, that keeping them from getting a toehold, a foothold, keeps this country safe. So the notion that America doesn't have anything to gain people would disagree with -- Dave.
JACOBSON: There was multiple reports that high-ranking officials in the military pushed back on President Trump last week when he -- when he said publicly that he wanted to pull out of Syria.
Look, broadly speaking, I think if the U.S. does anything, it shouldn't do anything unilaterally. We should have our allies join forces with us, whether its France or the U.K. or NATO.
We should collectively have some sort of unified approach to this; we should not go it alone because I don't think that is going to help us in the long run. This needs to be a joint effort with our allies.
SESAY: In terms of Russia, John, we heard the president use his strongest language yet about Putin, saying he may pay a price.
First of all, how surprises were you to hear that?
THOMAS: It looks like Putin's pressing his buttons and he's just tired of it. We will see what that actually manifests itself in. But I do think it goes a little contrary to the narrative that the president is unwilling to ever mention Putin by name --
SESAY: -- to date he hasn't been --
THOMAS: -- I think the challenge from what it sounds like is that the briefing reports that the president gets is directly linking a lot of these issues directly to Putin. And the president is not going to let it stand.
So they have a lot of tools at their disposal but having John Bolton, General Mattis, some of these are very tough people in the room. I actually like this -- the fact that President Trump's first inclination is not to use force. I think that's probably a healthy counterweight to a lot of these people that Trump has in the room.
SESAY: I mean, the question is taking on Russia, what it looks -- repercussion to the United States, that's the question here because there are U.S. troops on the ground and they have to be -- what does escalation look like and how does that impact the U.S.?
JACOBSON: Look, I think we have to hold Putin's feet to the fire. At the end of the day Donald Trump, you said it earlier, Donald Trump, throughout the course of the campaign, prior to announcing his campaign, throughout the course of his presidential administration has not once until today criticized Vladimir Putin.
SESAY: By name --
SESAY: -- strongly said --
JACOBSON: -- precisely, right. So this was a bold in the right direction. I hope we see much more of it. We know -- John McCain even said Vladimir Putin is a thug. He's a murderer. He is creating --
THOMAS: -- the president is coming to realize that, despite his best efforts to befriend Putin, to try to negotiate with Putin, that you can't negotiate out of -- just having a conversation with a bad actor. That effort has failed and it -- Trump wasn't the first person to try that.
But I think he generally believed that building relationship he could get something. And now it appears that he's getting the gist that relationships don't matter here. All that Putin respects is power and force.
SESAY: This is a president who likes power and force. He likes his leaders and he likes the --
THOMAS: -- he also likes them aligned with him.
So what you see in the next 24-48 hours, Dave?
JACOBSON: I think there will be some sort of response. Like I said earlier, I hope that some collective unified response that we have with our key allies, whether it's France or the U.K. or NATO, I hope that this isn't just Donald Trump shooting from the hip and just dropping bombs unilaterally and that's the end of it.
But we will see, I mean, again, I don't even think his military advisors like know what the president is going to do, he's so unpredictable. But I do hope that it's a well thought-out, methodical strategy --
THOMAS: I think you're going to see similar to what we saw last time. You will see airstrips, key infrastructure --
SESAY: -- nothing in the end.
THOMAS: No, it makes it harder for them to operate and I think you also might see some economic sanctions, both on Russia and people who were helping this attack occur.
But I don't think President Trump's thinks there's really an endgame here. There's no win other than saying, hey, knock it off.
SESAY: We will see what happens, again we're watching the clock. We're waiting to see what kind of announcement is made in the hours ahead.
Dave and John, we appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you.
All right. We're going to take a very quick break here. No more Mr. Nice President. A furious Donald Trump reacts to the FBI raiding his lawyer's office. Details and reaction coming up.
SESAY: The FBI raiding of President Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen, the agents armed with multiple search warrants, seizing emails, tax documents, business records and communications between Trump and Cohen. That's according to "The New York Times."
The president not holding back, angry with the raid and special counsel Robert Mueller's team. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys, good man. And it's a disgraceful situation.
It's a total witch-hunt. I have been saying it for a long time. I have wanted to keep it down. We have given, I believe, over a million pages' worth of documents to the special counsel. And it's a disgrace. It's, frankly, a real disgrace. It's an attack
on our country in a true sense. It's an attack on what we all stand for.
So, when I saw this and when I heard it, I heard it like you did, I said, that is really now in a whole new level of unfairness.
They found no collusion whatsoever with Russia. The reason they found it is there was no collusion at all. No collusion.
This is the most biased group of people. These people have the biggest conflicts of interest I've ever seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) tell CNN some of the documents seized relate to porn star Stormy Daniels. She alleges she had an affair with Donald Trump back in 2006 and says she was paid by Cohen to keep it quiet.
Let's bring in Jessica Levinson.
(INAUDIBLE) professor of law and governance at Loyola Law School.
Jessica, oh, there's a lot to get through here. All right. So to be clear, the president as you heard in that clip, railing against Mueller, saying this is a team of people with conflicts of interest and bias and unfair.
But this isn't the doing of Mueller per se, right?
This is down to him handing it over to New York, correct?
JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: To a lawyer who I believe President Trump personally interviewed for his job --
SESAY: -- explain this to us.
LEVINSON: So I think it's important to say that while President Trump has said that this is a breakdown of the system, this is actually the judicial system at work. And it's at work in a very methodical way.
And so what happened is special counsel Robert Mueller apparently handed off information to the New York attorney, to the federal attorney in New York, and said I think that there are some issues here.
And then what happens is a magistrate judge looks at the issues, decides whether or not there's enough evidence for a warrant. When it comes to a situation like this, where it's an attorney who is the subject and there are potentially documents that are attorney-client privileged that might be seized under the search warrant, there's a very high threshold that you need to satisfy in order to get that search warrant.
And then a magistrate judge signed off on it. And then the New York federal attorney said, yes, let them execute this.
SESAY: So this is not a case -- again, just for --
SESAY: -- our viewers, who haven't been following this every breathless minute this is not a situation where Mueller and the FBI just decided stop by three locations involving Michael Cohen, his home, you know, the office and the hotel and execute a warrant.
This me a very high legal threshold.
LEVINSON: Well, not only that but we're conflating a number of issues. You're not conflating them but President Trump is when he says "and there's no collusion with Russia."
This investigation into Michael Cohen may be entirely separate and, in fact, it's almost -- it's exceedingly likely that there would be a special -- a separate grand jury dealing only with Michael Cohen.
And again Robert Mueller said we are referring this to you, federal attorneys in New York.
So to be fair or to be clear rather, Michael Cohen is the president's personal attorney. Some of the paperwork swept up in this big communications between Michael Cohen and his client, the president, what is the process?
I mean what about this whole attorney-client privilege, what is covered, what is protected?
LEVINSON: Well, I mean the umbrella is that communications between an attorney and client for the purpose of giving and receiving legal advice are covered under a very broad and very important attorney- client privilege.
Then there's a but. But there's a lot of exceptions to that privilege and the exception that people been talking about the most today is something called the crime fraud exception.
And the idea is that if you, as an attorney and a client, are having a conversation that amounts to a crime or a fraud then you essentially lose your protection of the attorney-client privilege and you can no longer claim, oh, I won't give over this document.
Now we're guessing as to whether or not that's what occurred here. But I will say that there could be two different teams that look over this information, a so-called kind of clean team and a dirty team.
And what that means is that you go through all the documents that are seized by the warrant and you look to see which ones might be protected by attorney-client privilege, which is another way of saying that the U.S. attorneys are being very careful with this investigation. And it is highly unlikely that they would want to violate the
attorney-client privilege. And again because that was an issue, there's in fact a higher threshold that they have to satisfy in order to get that warrant.
SESAY: The president's supporters have said Mueller's on a fishing expedition, that this is what happens when you get a special counsel.
But doesn't this actually prove -- you tell me. Some argue that it proves that he's actually trying to stay within his mandate and that's why he handed it off to the New York federal attorney.
LEVINSON: Right and Robert Mueller's mandate actually is quite broad. So if you look at the memo that Rob Rosenstein, who is the in the Department of Justice and who's overseeing the special counsel, actually wrote when he said, we need a special counsel, it is very broad and arguably it could even cover certain situations, where you sweep and you're looking at something unrelated and then you are looking at Michael Cohen. And then you find other potential criminal activity.
But I think Robert Mueller did something very careful, where he said we're referring this out. So the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York is going to separately look at this.
SESAY: Having said that, you did make a very salient point. The president is conflating lots of different things and he's angry with a lot of people. Clearly he name checked Robert Mueller. He name checked Rod Rosenstein.
Do you think the Mueller inquiry is in peril as we talk right now?
Do you think he's moved a step closer to being fired?
LEVINSON: Well, I guess I would say two things. The Mueller inquiry is actually not the Mueller inquiry. It's a special counsel inquiry and the Department of Justice said we need a special counsel to do this.
So even if Robert Mueller's fired, it's a separate question as to whether the inquiry will continue and whether the investigation will continue. And I think that it will. Whether Robert Mueller will be fired, yes, I think we are actually a step closer to that.
I have a feeling every lawyer in the White House is saying to the president, don't do this, don't fire Robert Mueller because, frankly, it is just such an important piece of evidence in the case of obstruction of justice if you fire the person who's investigating you for all of these issues.
Or I should say investigating the Trump campaign. And we do know that the president is a subject of that investigation, not the target but a subject. That difference could merely be because it's not entirely clear as to whether you can indict a sitting president, in which case he would always be a subject. He would never be the target.
SESAY: But if you fire the special counsel, do you automatically become a target?
LEVINSON: Not if you can't indict a sitting president.
LEVINSON: -- never push you into the target category. But if you fire --
LEVINSON: -- the special counsel I would say, at that point, you have so forced the hands of those in the political leadership because that -- I know that we may have thought that that would have happened time and time again.
But at that point it so screams of obstruction of justice that I think there might be enough political pressure on the leadership to say, we really have to look at what's happening here.
SESAY: Fascinating. Jessica, I'm so pleased you're here with us to help us understand all of these issues. Thank you, thank you for the insight. Appreciate it.
Quick break here. Chinese president Xi Jinping is promising to lower some import tariffs but will that be enough to ease trade tensions with the U.S.?
We will discuss -- next.
SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour:
SESAY: Chinese president Xi Jinping is promising new economic reforms to open up his country's markets further. At an economic forum in China, President Xi promised to lower import tariffs on vehicles and other products to welcome foreign investment and to protect international property rights.
That appears to address some of the criticisms the symptoms the Trump administration cited when threatening China with tariffs. Mr. Xi also urged global leaders to resolve disputes through dialogue and not through confrontation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
XI JINPING, CHINESE PRESIDENT (through translator): China will continue to adhere to its fundamental national policy of opening up and pursue development with its doors wide open. I wish to make it -- [00:35:00]
XI (through translator): -- clear to you all that China's door of opening up will not be closed and would only open even wider. We must refrain from beggar thy neighbor and reject power politics or hegemony of the strong bullies the weak.
Instead we must properly manage differences and work together for enduring peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Our Matt Rivers is following the forum from Beijing for us.
Matt, while President Trump is talking tariffs here in the U.S., Mr. Xi seems to be taking a different approach, certainly when it comes to automobile imports.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he definitely is. To be honest, Isha, this is a speech that we really probably wouldn't have paid that close attention to if we didn't have this looming trade war going on between U.S. -- the U.S. and China.
But as a result we really were looking at this speech to see if the president of China would kind of offer up substantive economic reforms that might ease the tension between the Trump administration and Beijing.
And we saw two kinds of things happening in the speech. On the one hand you did hear Xi Jinping talk about certain kinds of economic reforms. You listed some of them off the top. He talked about strengthening intellectual property rights, something that the Trump administration has wanted.
He talked about improving market access for foreign firms. And he also talked about increasing foreign imports here to China. And he specifically brought up automobiles. The current tariff rate on imports here in China is 25 percent.
Xi Jinping said that will be significantly lowered during 2018. He didn't say by how much. But the inclusion of automobiles in the speech certainly not a coincidence, given what we saw the president tweet on Monday, specifically referring to cars in terms of unfair trade between the United States and China.
So there was some stuff there to take away. But the other side here is that a lot of these promises on intellectual property, on improving market access, on increasing imports, that's stuff that the Chinese government has been saying for a very long time. And there's a "boy who cried wolf" aspect to all of this, that if we've heard all of this stuff before and it really hasn't happened, what's to say that anything is substantively going to change?
If you're a skeptic, Isha, looking at the speech, you're not looking at it and saying that anything has really changed in terms of the way China does business with the outside world. SESAY: Indeed, indeed. We shall see. Matt Rivers, joining us there from Beijing, always appreciate it, Matt. Thank you.
For the first time, North Korean state media have reported on the country's upcoming talks with the United States and South Korea. State media reported North Korean leader Kim Jong-un chaired a meeting with the members of the Workers Party.
The report says Kim presented the North's strategic and tactical goals with the talks with the party. There were no specifics on what was said at the meeting. Kim's meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump is expected in late May or early June.
Facebook's CEO laid some groundwork on Capitol Hill. Mark Zuckerberg meets with lawmakers ahead of his high-stakes testimony Tuesday and Wednesday.
SESAY: Lawmakers on Capitol Hill for the first time Tuesday. Mark Zuckerberg will try to restore confidence in the social media site after political consulting firm allegedly misused the personal data of millions of Facebook users.
Samuel Burke reports.
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: "It's my fault."
That is what we're expecting to hear from Mark Zuckerberg during his testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday at Capitol Hill. His prepared remarks have already been released and he will even be going as far as saying that he is sorry and that he takes full responsibility for what happened here.
Keep in mind this isn't just about Cambridge Analytica. The remarks already show he's going to talk about fake news which is spread on Facebook, Russian propaganda across Mark Zuckerberg's social network and the steps that Facebook missed, the steps that they should have taken to try and combat this before it became a global issue.
So many times we've seen that Facebook puts out a blog post after the fact. And what Facebook is finally realizing is that they have to get ahead of these major issues. They're realizing the power that they have on this platform.
And it is not just about Mark Zuckerberg, although much of this will be about his leadership. This is really about Facebook's bigger business model which is also the business model for so many other tech companies.
But will be Facebook that sets the tone not just for data companies but for so many different types of tech companies which rely on data and then use it and oftentimes sell it.
Mark Zuckerberg didn't think that he would be in this position just a couple of weeks ago. He told CNN that he didn't think that he would be the right person to testify before Congress, that it would likely be somebody else from the company.
But the type of pressure Facebook is facing now on its stock price with the world watching has made it imperative for Mark Zuckerberg to testify. We know from reports that Mark Zuckerberg has been practicing ahead of time, working with PR firms, working with people from both sides of the political aisle, who have experience with this type of testimony, to prepare him.
Don't expect him to argue the company has already fallen on its sword. But he says he doesn't like to be in front of TV cameras so it could be uncomfortable for him at times. But we're about to see a true test of his leadership, not just for Facebook, but for tech companies at large -- I'm Samuel Burke. Back to you in the studio.
SESAY: Our thanks to Samuel Burke.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. Stay tuned now for "WORLD SPORT." You're watching CNN.