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Trump Signals Progress with European Negotiators on Iran Nuclear Deal; Activists Criticize Trump for Calling Kim "Honorable"; Misconduct Allegations Dog Trump's VA Nominee; Swedish Journalist Finally Gets Her Justice; Spiritual Guru Charged with Rape of Teen; Trump on Cohen Pardon "Stupid Question"; Trump Denies Spending The Night In Moscow In 2013; Gupta: Marijuana Can Save People Addicted To Opioids. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired April 25, 2018 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Ahead this hour, Donald Trump went into a meeting with Emmanuel Macron ready to rip up the Iran deal but he came out of it with a different attitude.

VAUSE (voice-over): Plus, once a madman, now an honorable one. Donald Trump praises Kim Jong-un, the brutal dictator of North Korea and an accused serial human rights abuser.

SESAY (voice-over): Later, fighting a major drug epidemic with the help of marijuana. Why some medical experts believe pot could save the lives of thousands of opioid addicts.

VAUSE (voice-over): Hello, everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

SESAY (voice-over): And I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.


SESAY: Well, the second day of the French president's state visit to Washington ended with a formal candlelit dinner at the White House. It was the Trump administration's first state dinner. The first lady headed months of planning for the event, about 150 people attended.

Democratic congressional leaders were left off the invitation list.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) talks between the two men on Syria, trade and the Iran nuclear deal. At the start of the day, Mr. Trump was threatening to rip up the Iran agreement and impose sanctions unless major changes were made by early next month.

But after meeting privately with Mr. Macron, President Trump indicated that progress was being made.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): For a number of months I've been saying this was not a sufficient deal but that it enabled us, at least until 2025, to have some control over the nuclear activities. We, therefore, wish from now on to work on a new deal.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But there is a chance. And nobody knows what I'm going to do on the 12th, although Mr. President, you have a pretty good idea. But we'll see.

But we'll see also if I do what some people expect, whether or not it will be possible to do a new deal with solid foundations.


VAUSE: OK. With her perspective from France on a Wednesday morning there, Melissa Bell joins us now live from Paris.

Melissa, the U.S. president could still change his mind but if Emmanuel Macron has been able to convince him the Iran deal is worth keeping, it would be a major most for Macron and a major boost to his authority and not just in France but within the E.U.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A major boost. These were extraordinary pictures from the White House outside and inside yesterday. Emmanuel Macron clearly has benefitted from their relationship he's been cultivating so clearly for just under a year now.

He also, John, has given quite a lot away. It's going to be interesting to see today as Europe wakes up what the reaction is from European partners. I'm thinking in particular of Germany and Great Britain, who are also party to that deal.

One imagines that Emmanuel Macron didn't go to Washington without their agreement on this. But he has gone much further many in France expected him to go, not simply suggesting that an extra deal were struck between the four partners, the United States, Great Britain, Germany and France, regarding the sunset clauses and further commitments beyond what happens in 2025, but actually considering a whole new deal.

As you point out, the fact that Donald Trump appears to be willing to stay inside this deal until a new one is struck is something of a victory for those who believed that the Iran deal was the only game in town and need to be maintained.

But still, the idea of an entire renegotiation of the deal, including the idea of Iran's influence in the region, does seem a fairly tall order -- John.

VAUSE: Well, I guess it's one-two punch with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel arriving on Friday. We'll see what happens. Melissa, thank you. Joining us now for more on this, Wendy Greuel, former L.A. city council woman, and Jim Messina, radio host and conservative commentator.

Now before we had that joint news conference, the U.S. president made it very clear he believes the Iran nuclear agreement is just outright bad. That's what he said.


TRUMP: We're going to be talking about it and we'll see. People know my views on the Iran deal. It was a terrible deal. Should have never, ever been made. We could have made a good or a reasonable deal. The Iran deal was a terrible deal We paid $150 billion. We gave $1.8 billion in cash. That's actual cash. Barrels of cash.

It's insane, it's ridiculous. It should have never been made.


VAUSE: Jim, apart from the fact that the money given to Iran was their money which had been frozen, it seems, you know, Macron has managed to actually convince Donald Trump, at least in part, to possibly flip-flop on what was a pretty big campaign promise,

JIM MESSINA, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: I don't know if it's a flip- flop.


MESSINA: I think he's reconsidering, he's taking some information from the sane person in the room and he's looking at the deal. The deal is a bad deal. When you go back and look at the specifics of the deal, we have to give them a 21-day notice to come out and check one of the plants that may be working with nuclear material.

They get to pull the samples and bring them to us. I would have loved being able to do that in school and tell my teacher, no, no, I got an A on that test. Go ahead and just put it in the book. We had no control. It was not a good deal.

Jim. My apologizes.

Wendy, you know, whether the deal is a bad deal or not, the U.S. agreed to it. Repeatedly the U.S., the U.N., the IAEA, everybody has said the Iranians are in compliance.

WENDY GREUEL, FORMER LOS ANGELES COUNCILWOMAN: Absolutely and I think a lot of these advisers are saying the same thing.

Was the deal perfect?

Absolutely not. I don't think anybody would say everybody got what they wanted. But I think a step forward. And I think all of these various countries have stepped to the plate and said we cannot throw out the baby with the bathwater. If you want to have other issues being addressed, it has to be done going forward. And I think Macron was able to do that today and convince him.

VAUSE: Clearly the U.S. president believes he has a very close relationship with the French president.


TRUMP: It's a great honor that you're here but we do have a very special relationship. In fact, I'll get that little piece of dandruff off. A little piece. We have to make him perfect. He is perfect.


VAUSE: So Wendy, if this Iran deal is kept in place, you know, for the most part, maybe, you know, so many countries around the world actually wanted.

But is there any concern that it may not have happened without this charm offensive from Emmanuel Macron?

GREUEL: I think we've seen with this president on a day-to-day basis, he loves me, he loves me not. You don't know what's going to happen. I think in this instance, though, Macron has worked very hard to ensure there was this close relationship and have some impact on it.

I think we'll see that going forward have an impact on the decisions that Trump makes.


MESSINA: I wish I had the crystal ball everybody else had. We did this with him with the economy. Look where it was heading. You're looking at what's going on here. He trusts the French president. Probably came in and gave him some things either he hadn't thought about or his advisers were not giving him the right information on.

Just because he's saying let me take another look at this, it doesn't mean it's gone.

VAUSE: Well, the charm offensive continues, with Donald Trump describing North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un as being honorable.



TRUMP: Kim Jong-un has been very open. Everyone I think very honorable from everything we're seeing.


VAUSE: Live now to CNN's Will Ripley in Seoul.

Will, from Little Rocket Man to honorable, high praise for a leader who's accused of starving his own people, executing political opponents and ordering the execution of his own family.

Will Pyongyang be pleased?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Will they be pleased he said that?

Probably. But the North Koreans, when I was in the country actually one year ago today, as tensions were ratcheting up, they claimed at that time they didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the off-the-cuff remarks or tweets by President Trump although obviously we know they studied him carefully.

That's been part of the strategy they've used to engage with the United States. It's, frankly, been a successful strategy. This carefully orchestrated thaw that began in November, when they launched their last intercontinental ballistic missile, until now, this is all part of a plan that's been rolled out systematically.

And so far the North Koreans are coming out the winners in this. We'll see how things go in these upcoming negotiations.

VAUSE: OK, Will, thank you. Win Ripley live there in Seoul.

Joe, to you. Clearly there is an element of diplomacy involved here, we all realize that. But when the President of the United States describes someone like Kim Jong-un, a brutal dictator, as honorable, that is heard around the world.

Do you worry about the consequences?


MESSINA: -- I think the honorable he was talking about was in these dealings when it comes to -- think about it. He said if you're not going to do A, B and C, I'm not even coming to the table. Frankly if I come to the table and you play games with me, I'm just going to get up and leave.

So when Kim Jong-un says he's going to stop the nuclear development and what have you and wait until he gets the meeting, I don't see a problem with that. If you read "The Art of the Deal," I know what he's doing.

VAUSE: Wendy, I agree with Joe, I think that's what he was referring to. So far he's stopped the testing, he's stopped the nuclear tests, he's stopped the launching of the missiles.

But the president was given a chance to clarify later on what he meant by honorable and he didn't take that opportunity.

GREUEL: I think when you use the word honorable, it's not just about one action. It's usually about the person and how they treat others. I had to say I gasped when I heard that.

There is nothing honorable about Kim Jong-un and the way he's dealt with the people of his country and the atrocities that exist there. Going into negotiations, if you talk about all of the varied comments he's made about Kim Jong-un, which one is stronger, he's honorable or that he called him Rocket Man and some of the other disparaging remarks that he made?

I think this is not the way to address someone who has been a dictator.

VAUSE: Joe, you're saying the mixed message is a part of the art of the deal, right?



MESSINA: We beat him up on the front end of this and I haven't seen a missile launch for some time. So he must have a clue.

VAUSE: We'll see what happens.

The White House is now rallying around the embattled Veterans Affairs nominee Ronny Jackson. Allegations have emerged he created this toxic work environment, he was drinking on the job, notably when President Obama was on a foreign visit. The Secret Service had to intervene at one point.

And Jackson apparently had this reputation for handing out prescription medicine. Listen to this.


SEN. JON TESTER (D): Twenty-some people who got a hold of us and said, we've got a problem. This doctor has a problem because he hands out prescriptions like candy. In fact, in the White House, they called him the candy man.


VAUSE: So Joe, the president didn't know about that when he nominated Jackson to head the V.A.?

Or he knew about it and nominated him anyway, which would be worse?

MESSINA: If he actually knew that it was going on, believed it was going on, knew, had proof it was going, he still nominated him, I'd have to question the decision. But they call him the White House and the candy man.

Did that just start 16 months ago?

It's been going on forever. If he's truly handing out drugs that way, he needs to be out of the White House, period.

VAUSE: Wendy.

GREUEL: He was not the right person to head the Veterans Administration. The president said today that he has an experience problem. And I think that these kinds of issues, if you really vet your candidates who are going to be a cabinet secretary, you do that before you send it to Congress. And I think this is just one more example of some of the challenging appointees that he's had.

VAUSE: As you mentioned this, even before the allegations came up, there were concerns that Jackson just didn't have the experience to run the V.A., which is the second biggest department within the U.S. government.

It's responsible for millions of veterans. It has a lot of problems already. Donald Trump addressed those issues as well on Tuesday.


TRUMP: As far as experience is administration, which is approximately 13 million people, it's so big you could run the biggest hospital system in the time compared to the veterans administration. So nobody has the experience.


VAUSE: Essentially he's saying, you know, the V.A. is so big that no one can run it, no one has the experience, it just doesn't matter?

MESSINA: This goes back to how we deal with North Korea. Here we go. We have a Veterans Administration, we've got vets that are dying every single day on the street. Didn't start happening 16 months ago. It's been going on for decades.

We keep bringing in the so-called experts, the people who know what they're doing. They don't know what they're doing. They keep spending money. They have hundreds of millions of dollars in overruns over their hospitals they're building. Nothing has changed.

When do we stop the train and then get it in the right direction?

VAUSE: I thought Shulkin, the guy who was recently forced out, David Shulkin, who was appointed by Obama, I thought he was making some progress until he was caught up in this travel scandal, taking his wife to Europe.

MESSINA: I don't care about the travel scandal. I care that there's still 22 vets a day dying, there's still the vets who are sleeping in the streets, there's still vets who can't get the help that they need. So it doesn't matter who is sitting in that chair and how many years they've been involved in veterans affairs if they're not going to do the job, if they're not going to make some --


GREUEL: -- experience. If you're the second largest department in the U.S. government, you have to be able to understand how to address some of those problems. And if there are concerns about you being just the medical doctor in the White House, I think those should have been addressed before he was appointed.

MESSINA: You know, Henry Ford used to say, I don't know how to do all this, I hire people that know how to do it. If you get in a position like that and you think you know everything, you're the most dangerous guy in the room.

GREUEL: He hasn't hired people. He hasn't been in a position to even hire people.

VAUSE: You keep playing my hand.


VAUSE: During the campaign, you know, one of the questions around Donald Trump was his lack of experience in public office. He said there was no need to worry because he would hire only the best people.


TRUMP: The cabinet, we're going to have all the best people. We're going to find out who they are. Experts. Our finest people, want people that are B level, C level, D level, we have to get our absolutely best.

We need to get the best and the finest and if we don't, we'll be in trouble for a long period of time.


OK. So let's just run through a list of some of the best people.

Michael Flynn, former national security adviser, guilty of lying to the FBI.

George Papadopoulos, former aide to the Trump campaign, guilty of lying to the FBI.

Robert Gates, former campaign official, guilty of lying to the FBI, also guilty of conspiracy.

Campaign chairman Paul Manafort, charged with conspiracy, money laundering, just to name a few.

Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, resigned after spending more than $1 million on travel.

David Shulkin, secretary of the V.A., forced out over a spending scandal.

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's personal attorney, now under criminal investigation.

Ryan Zinke, Interior Secretary, under investigation for excessive cost of travel.

Steve Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary, tried to U.S. government planes for his European honeymoon.

Ben Carson, Housing Secretary, under investigation over jobs for his family at HUD, also that $30,000 dining room suite. Scott Pruitt, director of the EPA, under investigation for multiple

allegations of inappropriate spending, among them, renting a condo from a lobbyist for $50 a night when he --


VAUSE: -- was there.

Even Kellyanne Conway, senior aide to Donald Trump, was called out for promoting Ivanka Trump's fashion line during a television interview.

That is not an exhaustive list. It's all I could come up with in a couple of hours before we came on air but it does indicate at the very least that there is a problem with this administration.

GREUEL: Maybe that's his definition of best and brightest.


GREUEL: -- experience as that definition of people who are --

VAUSE: It's kind of sloppy.

MESSINA: I don't disagree with you. But, again you read those at face value. We can go into every one of those. Flynn is now, he's going to go fight the allegations against him that he lied. I just, again, we're going to go back to dual standards --


MESSINA: -- but now he's coming back at it --


MESSINA: -- but wait a minute, sometimes you plead guilty to something to get the lesser sentence. It's done all the time, OK?


VAUSE: -- the Obama administration, you know, actually pleaded guilty of lying to the FBI or was called out or was indicted for any kind of problem?

MESSINA: Who was or who should have been?


VAUSE: No, I don't think you want to go there.

MESSINA: It was a different world (INAUDIBLE) -- you know --

GREUEL: It was only 18 months ago.

MESSINA: -- Obama administration that were never investigated, it was never going to happen because he truly had a solid team that worked with him. Eric Holder had his back no matter what went on in that White House.

I'm sorry, that's the way I feel about it. That's what President Trump wants, he wants people who are going to have his back and truly and honestly guide and instruct him on what to do. I don't see this happening.

GREUEL: He doesn't listen to them, either, even if they are some of best and brightest, he's not listening to them.

VAUSE: I also think it's the fact that John Kelly, the chief of staff, is so busy worrying about Donald Trump he can't keep order with the cabinet and all these other people running around.

Wendy, last question to you, despite all of these scandals and all the problems for Donald Trump, there was a selection for a congressional district in Arizona. Oddly enough, the Republican resigned over a scandal, he offered $5 million to a staffer to be a surrogate.

But despite all of that, the Republican held onto that seat a pretty good margin. They spent a ton of money but, again, they've held onto the seat in Arizona.

So what are the Democrats not doing here?

GREUEL: Well, in this instance, Trump won that state by 21 percent. And she only lost by 6 percent. From the Democratic point of view, they said getting less than 10 percent difference was going to be a win. It's about 6 percent that she lost by.

That's huge in Arizona and I think it speaks volumes about going forward when we're looking at that Senate seat and the chances we'll have across the country to be able to get Democrats elected. I think it's good news.

VAUSE: OK. There are those who say a win is a win and a loss is a loss.

MESSINA: I'm with you. You know, on top of that, too, Republicans are terrible coming out in these selections. We need to push harder. We need to work hard harder on getting out the vote.

VAUSE: OK. That's a good point to leave it. Joe and Wendy, thank you again. Appreciate it.

SESAY: Still to come here, a popular religion leader in India waits for a verdict in his rape trial and should find out any moment now. We're live in New Delhi with the latest.

VAUSE: Also a Danish court set to rule on whether an inventor murdered this journalist aboard his submarine before chopping her up and throwing her body parts in the sea.




VAUSE: Well, the man accused of running down pedestrians with a rental van in Toronto has been charged with murder; 25-year-old Alek Minassian was in court Tuesday facing 10 counts of first degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.

SESAY: Investigators are looking into a cryptic clue on Facebook, where Minassian seemed to praise a California man, who killed six people in 2014. But they're still not calling Monday's incident a terrorist attack.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Obviously we will continue to have questions about why this happened, what could possibly be the motives behind it. As was indicated last night by our public security minister, at this time, we have no reason to suspect that there is any national security element to this attack. But obviously the investigations continue.


SESAY: Minassian surrendered to police after a brief but dramatic standoff captured on cell phone video.

VAUSE: To India now, where a popular religious leader with millions of followers is waiting for a verdict in his rape trial.

SESAY: Asaram Bapu is accused of raping a 16-year-old schoolgirl at one of his ashrams in 2013. He has denied any wrongdoing. Our New Delhi bureau chief, Nikhil Kumar, joins us now.

Nikhil, great to have you with us. So this 77-year-old self-described god man faces an array of charges.

Tell us a little bit about how this very publicized trial has unfolded.

Nikhil, can you hear me?


SESAY: All right. We're having a few technical issues there. We're going to reestablish contact and we'll bring Nikhil from New Delhi to tell us more about this verdict we're awaiting in this trial of this spiritual leader there in India. So stay with us for that.

VAUSE: In the meantime, details of another trial. This time, in a few hours, the verdict is expected in the brutal murder which shocked Denmark. Inventor Peter Madsen is accused of mutilating and killing Swedish journalist Kim Wall. Madsen has pleaded not guilty but did confess to dismembering her body. We get details now from Atika Shubert. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The brutality of this real-life Scandinavian noir mystery has kept Denmark in the global spotlight since the mutilated torso of Swedish journalist Kim Wall washed ashore in August of last year.

Now more than eight months after her body was found and 36 witnesses later, the trial against accused murderer and well-known Danish inventor and adventurer Peter Madsen also known as rocket Madsen is finally at its end.

The prosecution has painted a picture of Madsen as a man motivated by dangerous sexual motives. He acknowledges moving on the fringes of SNM societies and had interest in snuff films and the torture and killing of women. He is accused of intentionally killing and torturing Kim Wall on his submarine when she joined him to do a story and then cutting her up and tossing her body parts into the ocean, even weighing her body down.

The charge reads murder, also indecent handling of a corpse, as well as sexual relations other than intercourse of a particular dangerous nature. That's because of the multiple wounds inside and around Kim Wall's genital area.

Whether or not prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen has presented enough evidence to prove it remains the big question.

Madsen has consistently denied both the murder and sexual assault. He said he lied earlier to protect lost family from hearing, quote, "the gruesome tale." But in court he testified that Kim Wall died by accident from carbon monoxide poisoning and that he dismembered her body and toss it into the sea in a state of panic. And as his defense lawyer maintains should give a maximum of six months in prison.


BETINA HALD ENGMARK, DEFENSE LAWYER (through translator): He admits two of the charges but not the rest. He admits indecent handling of a corpse and he also admits violating the law regarding safety at sea but not the rest of the charges.


SHUBERT: Madsen himself said in court, "As I see it I am now at fault in a serious crime. I expect to be charged with involuntary manslaughter and I expect to go to prison for a long time."

The decision is now up to a judge and a two-person jury who will read their verdict at the city court of Copenhagen on Wednesday -- Atika Shubert, CNN.


VAUSE: OK. We'll take a short break. When we come back, President Trump has been lashing out at one reporter in the Oval Office -- [01:25:00]

VAUSE: -- when he called a student question, right after the break.




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

SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour.


SESAY: New Delhi bureau chief Nikhil Kumar joins us now.

Nikhil, I understand tensions are high there in India as we await this verdict. Tell us more about this trial and the man at the center of it.

KUMAR: So, as you say, you know, this case dates back from 2013, September 2013 is when this 77-year-old, sorry, self-styled god man with millions of followers across India and, indeed, beyond, was arrested and charged on allegations of raping a 16-year old. The 16- year old's family were his followers. She was in one of his ashrams.

And the allegation is he that raped her and then, in fact, tried to discourage her from talking about it. According to court documents, and I quote, "She was instructed not to tell anyone else. It would not be good for her and her parents."

He apparently, the allegation is that he did this on the pretext of curing evil spirits, that she had been told and her parents had been told that she was possessed by.

And he's been in jail all these years and today in the city of Jodhpur in the state of Rajasthan, there is a blanket of security as a special court is about to announce its verdict in the case. He's applied for bail multiple times over the years, gone all the way up to the Indian supreme court. He's been denied bail.

And today is judgment day. And tensions are high because there is a lot of concern about potential violence from his followers if he is convicted of this crime.

You'll recall last year, in August last year, another god man in North India was convicted of raping two women.


There was a lot of violence around that trial. So this time authorities have covered the city, you know, under a blanket of security special provisions of the law have been invoked to prevent people from gathering, large groups of people from gathering, and the court itself -- sorry, the trial itself, rather, and the verdict itself will be delivered inside the jail premises. It's been completely sealed off.

The media's outside. Everyone, the media, the country, all of his followers, everyone, has their eyes on this jail in North India to see, what the court decides. Isha.

SESAY: Yes. We're going to watching this very closely, expecting that verdict to come very soon. Nikhil Kumar, joining us there from New Delhi. We appreciate, it. Thank you.

KUMAR: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, once said there is no such thing as a stupid question. Don't tell that to the U.S. president. When Donald Trump was asked about a possible pardon for his personal lawyer Michael Cohen who is under criminal investigation, Donald Trump snapped at the reporter.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about Michael Cohen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you considering pardon for Michael Cohen?



TRUMP: Stupid question. Go ahead. Any other -- anybody else, please?


VAUSE: CNN Legal Analyst Michael Zeldin is a former Federal Prosecutor and one-time Special Assistant to Robert Mueller. And he is with us here in Los Angeles. And we're very grateful to have you. Welcome.


VAUSE: OK, the President he shocked, he is horrified. He's offended at such an outrageous question. But it seems a bit odd because just last month, "The New York Times" reported that Trump's Attorney John Dowd was shopping around the possibility of pardon for both Michael Flynn, his former National Security Adviser and Paul Manafort, his former Campaign Chairman.

There is a report in "The Washington Post" the President has been asking about his authority to issue a pardon, not just for himself, but also for his family members and his aides. And then we had Scooter Libby full pardon. Libby was the former Senior Aide to Dick Cheney, the vice president during the Bush administration.

He was pardoned or found guilty, rather, a decade ago for perjury obstruction of justice. OK, so clearly there is a good reason for that question. What do you make of that curt answer from the President a both tone and substance?

ZELDIN: I think that the President is worried about Michael Cohen and what testimony he can offer, and I think it riles him up when you talk about it in any way, shape, or form. When you talk about it in pardon terms, it's even more aggravating to him because it implies that there is something that Cohen has that is damaging to the President, which he's been trying to reject the narrative of. So I think it's just a source spot with him.

VAUSE: Will, would he have also had some legal advice that maybe now is not a good time to talk about pardons to Michael Cohen and unusually out of character sticking to that legal advice?

ZELDIN: One would hope that he's receiving advice that says don't pardon anyone preemptively because it can be seen as an Obstruction Act. And that anything you do now with respect to people who may have testimony that is adverse to your legal interests where you pardon them has to be seen as abusive and you don't want to go down that path.

VAUSE: OK. Well, the President responded to that report in "The Washington Post." Came out last July. He had this tweet, while all agree the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is leaks against us. Fake news.

OK, the President by the constitution has very proud powers to issue pardons. But is it absolute as Donald Trump seems to be implying with that tweet?

ZELDIN: Well, the power to pardon is a constitutional right that the President has crimes for federal crimes but not for state crimes. And so, while there are few states that are outliers, like New York, where if you are pardoned for a federal crime, you cannot be charged in a state crime for New York, but most states allow it. New York is thinking about its law and whether it wants to change that. We can talk about that.

VAUSE: We will get to that in a moment. Yes.

ZELDIN: But the issue here is that he does have that pardon. But if he pardons someone in attempt to obstruct an investigation. It's not to say that he can't be charged with using that pardon corruptly. As well, the person who is pardoned is pardoned from that crime but still has to testify. And if they lie in their testimony, they can be charged with lying and you can't go down the route of, if you will, pardoning a person for a crime, then pardoning them for lying about the crime. You can't do that.

VAUSE: Right. There is a limit. You only get one pardon.

ZELDIN: Exactly. In a sense. A mulligan in a way.

VAUSE: One mulligan. OK. With regard to the full pardon granted to Scooter Libby. Victoria Toensing, considered an informal legal adviser to the President told CNN, just don't read too much into that. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICTORIA TOENSING, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S INFORMAL LEGAL ADVISER: You got read that kind of message into it. You know I saw him and I talked to him when he gave Scooter Libby a pardon. And he was thrilled.

[01:35:02] He called me and he said, listen, I don't know this guy, all I know is he got screwed and I am so happy to give him his life back.

And, Erin, I did what any tough lawyer did. I cried. I'm telling you, he got a thrill from giving Scooter a pardon.


VAUSE: Democrats see it very differently. They believe and the critics believe that the President was sending a message. What do you think?

ZELDIN: It's hard to know. Scooter Libby was charged with a crime of lying and obstruction of justice. And it was always thought that W was going pardon him, but President Bush did not.


ZELDIN: Instead, he just commuted the sentence. So Libby lost his law license and suffered the, you know, the burdens of being convicted but commuted felon. There was some controversy in that case. The reporter who gave testimony, recanted his testimony. Some felt that pardon was the appropriate thing to do given the facts that have arisen since then.

So it's hard to know. But the critics of the President say this was in fact a message to say, if you hold tight, future people who might testify against me, I'll take care of you. Just as he said to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, I think he'll be just fine. So you just don't know.

VAUSE: I mean, you mentioned the situation in New York. If there are some talk there of, you know, basically removing this protection, double jeopardy protection that if somebody is pardoned by the President then remove the double jeopardy, which is you cannot stand trial for the same crime twice essentially so they could convict these people if they have been improperly pardoned.

You know, that seem very short-term to me because that has implication way beyond this presidency.

ZELDIN: Sure. Any time you change the law, for particular fact pattern and that fact pattern stays for the rest of the time that they law is going to affect, you know, want to change it just for a one- off. And so the question is, though, does New York really want to come closer to what most other states allow, which is a federal case is a federal case, a state case is a state case and double jeopardy does not apply in the state?

So New York is an outlier in that respect. So, it may be that they're just coming into the mainstream a bit more. But you're absolutely right, once they change they law, you don't know what the collateral consequences that will be down the below.

VAUSE: The law of unintended consequences.

ZELDIN: Exactly.

VAUSE: And also important because that's what Donald Trump is face in lot of investigation there as well. Fine, I want to --

ZELDIN: And that's just one point. That's exactly where we started. That's where the Cohen prosecution is being prosecuted out of, out of the Southern District of New York. And so, a federal pardon for that case has very particular implications in New York.

VAUSE: Absolutely. OK. The former FBI Director James Comey in his memos said the President repeatedly denied the most salacious allegations in the Russia dossier, that he was video taped with Russian prostitute in Moscow hotel room the night of the Miss Universe pageant back in 2013.

The excuse was, the alibi, his trip was so short he barely spent any time in that hotel room. And now Bloomberg has pieced together the flight data with messed up with some social media posts. And this is what they found that Trump flew to Moscow on a bombardier jet owned by a business partner.

The bombardier jet landed in Moscow on Friday November 8th at a time unspecified in the records. On the night of the pageant itself, the plane Trump was said to be using, didn't fully in Russia. The bombardier took off from Vnukovo airport at 3:58 a.m. Moscow time. The record show when the jet touch down at New York Liberty International Airport, just outside New York City, it was still Sunday morning 4:11 a.m. local time.

That mean Trump tweeted about his return, "I just go back from Russia, learn lots and lots of Moscow is a very interesting and amazing place"

OK. So clearly Donald Trump got a lot more time in Moscow than he was letting on. Is it possible the, you know, one excuse for this could be he just simply missed remembered the fact until James Comey exactly what happen.

The other possibility is, that he lied, which would be felony lying to the FBI. So what are the legal implications for the President?

ZELDIN: Well, it's very unclear what happened here. The President told Comey that he didn't stay overnight in Moscow so that the prostitute story --

VAUSE: Could true, yes.

ZELDIN: Couldn't be true. I guess his private detective, his bodyguard --

VAUSE: Bodyguard, yes. ZELDIN: Testified before Congress that they were offered prostitutes, Trump said no. He put Trump in the room. He standing outside for awhile and he left and the assumption was that Trump had a good night's sleep and got up in the morning and left. So there are multiple stories here. I don't think he had lied to the FBI in the sense that he wasn't being interviewed by the FBI at the time. He was just an informal conversation between the FBI director and the President, where the president was trying to say this can't be true and here's why.

But clearly there is an import lesson to be learned here, which is that the President is sooner or later going to have to talk to Robert Mueller. And if Robert Mueller asked him that question, did you stay overnight in Moscow and he, says no and they have these records to prove that he did stay overnight, then it's a lie, then it's a felony, an impeachable offense.

[01:40:04] VAUSE: So without (INAUDIBLE) pretty short bet that Robert Mueller would be asking about the trip to Moscow.

ZELDIN: One would be.

VAUSE: Thank you so much for coming.

ZELDIN: It's my pleasure. Thanks for having.

SESAY: We're going to take a very quick break.

Still to come, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains how medical marijuana can save thousands in the U.S. addicted to opioid.


VAUSE: Well, CNN's Chief Medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta is making the case in medical marijuana might just save thousands of people addicted to opioids in the U.S.

SESAY: In a new op-ed piece at CNN, he tries to encourage U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session to embrace marijuana in order to combat the countries deadly opioid epidemic. He writes in part, "Not only can cannabis work for a variety of condition such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and pain, sometimes it is the only thing that works. I changed my mind and certain you can as well. It is time for safe and regulated medical marijuana to be made available nationally."

Well, joining now to discuss all of this is Dr. Reef Karim, Founder and Medical Director of the Control Center in Beverly Hills. Also with me Dr. Howard Samuels, in addiction treatment specialist and Founder and CEO of the Hills Treatment Center. Gentlemen, good to have you with us, as usual.


REEF KARIM, MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF THE CONTROL CENTER, BEVERLY HILLS: Nice for having me. SESAY: Listen, Sanjay makes the point in this op-ed that the consensus is clear, to use his words, that cannabis can effectively treat pain. He also says the following, and I want to put it up on screen and read it for our viewers.

He said opioids target the breathing centers in the brain, putting their users at real risk of dying from overdose. In stark contrast, with cannabis, there is virtually no risk of overdose or sudden death. Even more remarkable, cannabis treats pain in a way opioids cannot. Though both drugs target receptors that interfere with pain signals to the brain, cannabis does something more: It targets another receptor that decreases inflammation -- and does it fast.

What part of Dr. Gupta's argument is wrong in your opinion Howard?

SAMUELS: Well, first of all, it's very confusing because there are two components in marijuana. There is the THC component which is the component that gets you high and loaded on the drug, and that is addictive. The, there is the CBD component that does have a lot of medical components in there, that is very useful and helpful, that can reduce anxiety.

So you can't just say cannabis as a whole. You have to separate the two compounds and the ones that work and the ones that are very dangerous, like THC.

SESAY: But with that being said, if you just strip it out and make the distinction, if you will, do you see this as a path to go down if we're looking at the CBD?

SAMUELS: If you're looking at the CBD alone as an oil, I don't haven issue with that, OK?


[01:45:01] SAMUELS: I have an issue with the THC. Now you have to understand the addict, if given the choice is not going to want the ingredient that doesn't get them high.


SAMUELS: They're going to want the THC, and that's where I have a problem. Because that's not recovery, that's harm reduction, and as a recovering heroin addict myself, I smoked weed and it did nothing for me.


SAMUELS: Except it kept me, you know open to using other drugs with it.

SESAY: Reef you see differently. You said there's a big picture piece to this.

KARIM: Yes, when you look at the big picture piece here, so many good people are dying from opioid overdoses nearly 500,000 people since 2000 have died because of this 68,000 last year, 45,000 directly from opiates. This is a huge, huge problem.

And I've been saying for years that, if you look at the opiate receptor activation sites in the brain, if you look at the cannabinoids side in the brain. They share common signaling, just common signal pathway, which means they're very similar.

If you look at anxiety, if you look at sleep and you look at pain, all three are used and relieved by opiates or by cannabis.

So the big difference, as you stated in the report, is that the cannabiniod receptor sites aren't in the area of the brain that affect breathing. So you're not going to have overdose from cannabis. And we just scratched the surface with cannabis because of the 1970 Scheduling Act, it was put in schedule one so you can't research it. You haven't been able to research it the way you would like. Eventually there will be cosmetic-based, like calibrated-based THC/CBD ratios.

And we're just scratching the surface on that. We're eventually will be able to have the right compound. If it's medicalized, that will be revolutionary in treating pain, anxiety and sleep.

SESAY: I mean, into your point, Howard that you're saying that, you know, they want the -- they don't want the CBD, they want the other part of this that, gets them high. But, I mean, isn't the gold standard of treatment right now kind of medically assisted, basically medication -- methadone, effectively to help people --

SAMUELS: No, methadone is horrible. Saboxin is also.

SESAY: It was Sanjay said. Let me just -- he said that right now the gold standard is medication assistant treatment, which involves less addictive opioids such as methadone. His point saying cannabis would be better than going down that road.

SAMUELS: Now, of course cannabis would be better, but it's not going to be as effective as for instance Vivitrol. I mean Vivitrol is opioid block, that's the conversation we should be having. CBD is not going to do the work that something like Vivitrol well and --

SESAY: What you're saying --

SAMUELS: Right, the Vivitrol.

SESAY: The other side. The CBD and the --


SESAY: Yes. So even with that part in the mixture, which you say just keeps them high, you know.


SESAY: Isn't that better than methadone, is my point?

SAMUELS: Well, without question it's better than methadone. But let me give you an example. As a recovering heroin addict, if I was being given cannabis or THC in order to come off the drug, which I don't believe this does anything, OK?

I wouldn't have gotten clean in sober and in recovery and been a productive member of society. So what we're saying is, there a people are, let's them take off one drug like heroin put them on another drug which is not going to kill you like marijuana and the THC, but it's going to keep you dysfunctional. It's going to keep you not productive in society and have the motivation.

SESAY: We have disagreements. About a minute.

KARIM: I don't agree with that at all. I mean, I think when you're looking at recovery, you're looking at now the way that you recovery. You have some kind of medical-assisted treatment o the front end. We all know it's a spiritual disease. We all know that they're psychological and social effects with this. But you have to hit the biological first.

You got to them safe, get them off the unsafe drugs. Get him off the drugs that are going to kill them. Then you can wean down, you can substitute out, you can do all sorts of things, but you've got them in a safe place before you take them on the journey of recovery.

SESAY: Sadly we're out of time. Because this is fascinating and you two have such strong opinions. But we have to leave it there. Reef Karim, Dr. Howard Samuels, to both of you, thank you.

SAMUELS: Thank you.

SESAY: We're going to pick up this again. Thank you.


[01:49:24] VAUSE: OK, when we come back here, please indulge us for a brief moment to praise our colleagues, recognized for their incredible work for one of the most prestigious awards in journalism.


SESAY: We are so, so proud to announce that CNN has won the Peabody award for coverage of the fall of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The Peabody board of journalists cited CNN correspondents across key date line, as well as the use of technology like drones.

VAUSE: I mean, this is what they said. In addition to courageous correspondents, these notable set of dramatic reports provided fresh angles and the creative use of technology included stunning drone footage that captured the size and scope of ruined neighborhoods.

Here is a look at some of CNN's coverage of the fall of ISIS.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: (voice- over): It's like something supernatural or otherworldly has hit it. (on camera) This destruction absolutely breathtaking and really a sign of the dust and bones that ISIS have left in their wake.

(voice-over) While old city Mosul, the damage new, the city gone and Mosul almost free of ISIS.

PHIL BLACK, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is one man's intimate revealing view of the battle for Raqqa. Resilient filmmaker, Gabriel Chaim followed Kurdish fighters for almost two months as they fought to take a strategically important hospital complex in the city's west.

He shared the same risks. The fighter's company and friendship and quitter reflected most. Chaim left his helmet cam rolling through it all.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have been seeing in some drone footage exclusively obtained by CNN, the SDF already beginning to celebrate their victory driving around one of Raqqa's main roundabout where some of ISIS worst atrocities unfolded. Those chilling beheading. The horrific executions and crucifixion.

But we also seeing these images as just the sheer breathtaking scale of the destruction.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the moment Abdullah Nishrem has been waiting months for. The moment he finally gets to meet Marwan.

Abdullah was responsible for helping smuggle Marwan to safety. Marwan is 11-year-old. Three years ago, when he was just eight, he said he was abducted by ISIS and forced to serve as a slave on that frontline. Since then, he's been sold on 11 times.


SESAY: We're having Michael Holmes spoke to CNN directive third party global content about the use of new technology rather in a war zones.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The first when we talk about the drone video, Peabody citation in part says, you know, the network continues to invest in dedication to the story specially significant as global conflict scene (ph).

So, this drone footage was fairly critical to how we covered this. Tell us why?

WAFFA MUNAYYER, CNN GLOBAL OF THIRD-PARTY CONTENT: Well on the independent journalist and on Gabriel Chaim and this drone footage just to operate a drone in an active combat zone is incredibly risky. And it's incredible difficult. It require skill, persistence, patience, access to embedded --

HOLMES: For months. MUNAYYER: Yes, for months on. War zone experience. And most importantly, avoiding getting the drone targeted and shot down by both sides.

HOLMES: What does this add to the coverage, this video? We're watching it here now. It's compelling stuff. What does it add to the coverage?

MUNAYYER: So it's very -- it's incredibly important for the coverage. It offers the viewers and us a bird's eye view of the scale and the scope of the devastation and destruction that the fighting caused. It took us to area that we're liberated but yet to be cleared. Where we could see, and I can -- would like to warn the viewers here that some viewers might find this disturbing images.

You can see ISIS fighters' bodies still on the ground. You could -- you could tell from that that it was just recently liberated. But not clear yet for us to go physically cover it and be present there.

[01:55:05] The drone footage allows us that view, allows us that kind of access.

HOLMES: And safety to a degree as well. I mean speak about the risk that these independent journalist, freelancers, however we want to call them, how crucial they are as, you know, as group.

MUNAYYER: They are literally putting their lives on the line covering the war zone for months on -- or weeks on. They risk facing sniper, fire, IEDS, car bombs, suicide bombers, all the unconventional tactics ISIS used in this war.

They are critical because they allow us to be across the story continuously. If the news agenda shift to different stories and takes us to Paris or the U.S. We could still stay across Syria and Iraq and the fight against ISIS.

HOLMES: Yes, because we can't be there all the time. We can't be there for months on end. So these guys really live it. And you know, it's really important, I think, to say that, you know, we have no shortage of fine and brave, courageous war correspondent and photographer and field producers who go out and do this type of work.

And at the core of this award is their work. But these independents add another layer to it, right?

MUNAYYER: That's right. Yes. And like you said, we are -- especially this war, I mean, it had different and several fronts. It could be Syria, it could be Iraq. It could be Iraq in different areas of Mosul, West, East. Even if we were present, we couldn't be everywhere at all times.

So that offered us an access to the story in, you know, on all of its stages, really.

HOLMES: Yes, when I was there going in for the battle of Mosul, I think we had four or five crews there at one point. I mean, we invest people in this, but this is just another layer. Yes.

MUNAYYER: And this is a testimony to CNN's investment and dedication to the story.


MUNAYYER: And, you know, commitment to cover it from start to end.

HOLMES: Yes, which we have done and we will continue to do. Waffa Munayyer, thanks so much.


VAUSE: You know, well-won, well worked for and, you know, a good achievement.

SESAY: Yes, very much so --

VAUSE: That's very impressive.

SESAY: -- part of them.

VAUSE: OK, you've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay, ve sure to join us on Twitter "CNN NEWROOM" L.A. for highlights and clips from our shows. We will be right back with much more news after this.