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Child Labor in Cobalt Trade; Essential Element for Cell Phones and Electric Cars; U.S. Student Wears Traditional Chinese Dress to Prom; Hero Pilot Meets the President. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 2, 2018 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:10] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN Newsroom, live from Los Angeles.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, Iranians are calling him the boy who cried wolf.


Critics aren't buying the Israeli Prime Minister's claims about Iran's nuclear program.

VAUSE: The clean energy revolution powered by child labor. We'll show you the brutal conditions inside a cobalt mine, the mineral essential for lithium batteries.

SESAY: And the racial profiling incident that ruined their birthday. How one Canadian restaurant may be paying big for its actions.


VAUSE: Thank you for being with us for this second hour. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay, this is Newsroom L.A.

Israel's Prime Minister is pushing back in the face of some harsh criticism. On Monday, Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Iran was lying about its nuclear weapons program, and on Tuesday, he double downed.

VAUSE: But, the U.N. nuclear watchdog has tried a long list of experts and analysts who say the claims are not new and there's nothing in the Israeli intelligence which would justify scrapping the nuclear deal.

For more, here's CNN's Nic Robertson.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Here's what the files included. Incriminating documents . . .

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's data dump, accusing Iran of covertly keeping nuclear weapon secrets. The timing of his prime time presentation no coincidence, the clock ticking, May 12th.

NETANYAHU: President Trump will decide - - will make a decision on what to do with the nuclear deal.

ROBERTSON: No coincidence, either, it aired hours after Netanyahu got this assurance while meeting Mike Pompeo, President Trump's new Secretary of State.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We remain deeply concerned about Iran's dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region.

ROBERTSON: The nuclear deal, or JCPOA, Pompeo's predecessor John Kerry cut (ph) with the Iranians and the U.K., France, Germany, China and Russia in 2015 is under threat.

Trump says it's not fit for purpose, wants tougher inspections, no sunset clauses. Iran rejects changes, calls Netanyahu's data dump ridiculous.

So, is Netanyahu moving the dial on the JCPOA debate? Not so much it seems. The U.K.'s Boris Johnson says, "The Israeli Prime Minister's presentation underlines the importance of keeping the Iran nuclear deals constraints".

France's Foreign Ministry echoing that. Saying, "The relevance of this agreement is strengthened by the elements presented by Israel".

That doesn't mean the Europeans won't accept change, they just don't want to throw away what they've got.

EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: We cannot say we should get rid of it like that.

Yet, meeting with Trump last week, France's President Emmanuel Macron, seemed persuaded the JCPOA alone won't suffice.

MACRON: I've been saying that this was not a sufficient deal. We, therefore, wish from now on to work on a new deal.

ROBERTSON: Then, his work the phone, calling Putin and others. Although, so far, Russia insists the JCPOA alone is just fine. Putin, for his part, called Netanyahu after the data dump saying, "The plan must be strictly observed by all parties".

More than a week still to the deadline, disagreement is clear, Tehran faces an uncomfortable choice. Change is likely, and if so, they'll have to decide, accept the deal in its totality, walk away from it slowly or reject it out of hand, and risk escalating tensions further.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Dalia Dassa Kaye is the director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy and a Senior Political Scientist at the RAND Corporation, and she joins us now.

Dalia, thank you.

There is this growing concern that Israel and Iran are heading towards a direct military confrontation. Prime Minister Netanyahu told CNN, "No one wants a war", but he also added, "Israel has to take a stand". Listen to this.


NETANYAHU: Nobody's seeking that kind of development. Iran is the one that's changing the rules in the region. Iran is the one that is practicing aggression against every country in the Middle East.


VAUSE: There have already been confrontations between Iran and Israel in a military sense, mostly Israel taking out, you know, Iranian assets in Syria. So, is the question now, will it escalate to some kind of more, you know, wider confrontation and military offences?

DALIA DASSA KAYE, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR MIDDLE EAST PUBLIC POLICY: Well, we actually are already seeing it escalating. In fact, over the past years, the reported Israeli attacks were largely on Syrian assets and mostly on transfers of weaponry to Hezbollah.

[01:05] Now, we're seeing in recent weeks, including this week, a significant attack directly targeting Iranian assets, including significantly - - reported a significant high death toll of Iranians, over a dozen possibly.

So, I think the fear is that this could escalate, so far, the Iranians and Hezbollah have been restrained and have not retaliated.


There's an election in Lebanon in a couple of days that may be a consideration for Hezbollah. And, there's some consideration by the Iranians of not escalating before the May 12th deadline, but once those deadlines pass, you know, all bets are off on how this could proceed.

So, I think there's a lot of concern about a potential retaliation by the Iranians or Hezbollah in response to these recent Israeli attacks.


VAUSE: You know, when you think about the situation in Syria with the Iranian involvement, that is one of the criticisms of this nuclear deal. It does nothing to address Iran's other bad behaviors, supporting Bashar al-Assad in Syria, you know, backing Houthi rebels in Yemen in that proxy war against the Saudi's.

But, there was a reason why this deal focused on Iran's nuclear program, it didn't take that kitchen sink approach? KAYE: Yes, absolutely. You know, I think the argument at the time was that it would be - - this kind of activity is likely, whether or not Iran has nuclear weapons.


So, better that you don't have Iran with nuclear weapons engaging in this kind of regional behavior. So, a lot of these arguments are kind of rehashing old debates and I think in that sense the prime minister has been successful in trying to bring the focus back to some of the issues that were negotiated before the deal.

But, the fact of the matter, we need to keep our eye on the ball, which is that there is a nuclear deal that is working, that's been verified and that is keeping Iran, for the time being, away from weaponizing its civilian nuclear program and significantly reduced it.

So, I think the regional activity is going to continue and in order to curb it the best way forward would be working with our allies, particularly the French, and other European partners, to do that.

VAUSE: You know this deal with Iran, which you know the U.S. President continues to say over and over, and over again, is just such a bad deal. If you look at the details of what you know, Iran has signed onto, give up your nukes and will worry about all that other stuff later on. It looks a lot like the deal which the U.S. is offering North Korea.

KAYE: Yes, I think those comparisons are being made, and are probably not lost on some of the leaders in Tehran, especially those who were not particularly enthusiastic about this agreement to begin with.

So, there is concerns that hardliners in Iran are going to look at how events are unfolding in North Korea and in terms of the pressure being launched against Iran by Netanyahu and the current administration. And, they're going to ask you know, were these concessions worth it? And, maybe there's a different path forward, which is extremely worrying.

So, I think that's another consideration and hopefully we won't see that, but for the time being, Iran is an MPT member and even if this deal falls apart, they will be committed to that. But, there'll be some big question marks if this deal collapses about what Iran will decide to do and that's a big unknown right now.

VAUSE: Yes. There are a lot of uncertainties as we approach May 12.

Dalia, thanks so much, appreciate you being here.

KAYE: Thank you.

SESAY: Well, North Korea is looking to strengthen ties with its major ally China, during the latest series of diplomatic developments.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) The summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is possibly just three weeks away. Ahead of that, China's foreign minister is meeting with his North Korean counterpart in Pyongyang.

Let's go to Alexandra Field, who joins us now from Seoul with more.

So, Alex, another meeting between Chinese officials and North Korean officials. What's our sense of the goal here? Bearing in mind the proximity of that expected summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Isha, this is really part of the flurry of diplomatic activity we expect to see between now and that summit that will take place between Kim Jong-un and President Trump, possibly as you pointed out, as soon as the end of May.

You've got the South Korean President Moon Jae-in heading to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Trump. At the same time, you've now go this Chinese Foreign Minister traveling to Pyongyang. This is about both sides preparing for what's going to happen when these two leaders come face to face.

potentially at the DMZ, that's one place that's been bandied about by all sides that seems to be gaining some traction, but this is also going to be an opportunity to debrief about what happened at that historic summit that we saw play out just days ago. Back on Friday, when the South Korean President met with the North Korean leader, that's when big agreements were announced.


That the two sides had committed to work toward full denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and that they would also work toward a Peace Treaty that would formally end the Korean War, 65 years after the fighting stopped. That will be all part of the agenda we would expect between the Foreign Minister of China and his counterpart in North Korea today and as meetings continue tomorrow.

[01:10:02] China is certainly going to want to make sure that it understands North Korea's position.


They're definition of total denuclearization and also, what its role would be in any Peace Treaty that would be signed, certainly China wants to have its voice on both of those matters heard by North Korea, also heard by the United States.

This is also an opportunity, of course, for North Korea to continue to strengthen its ties to China. Giving North Korea some muscle as it heads into this meeting with Donald Trump. Of course, China is the closest and really only ally of North Korea.

But Isha, we all watched that relationship become strained over the last year or two, when North Korea continued to take provocative action and China responded by signing onto a raft of sweeping international sanctions against North Korea.

So, big steps being taken right now to repair that relationship before this key meeting that could take place in the coming weeks.


SESAY: A lot on the table. A lot at stake.

Alexandra Field, there in Seoul, many thanks.

VAUSE: There's been a legal bombshell in the past few hours in the Russia investigation.


Two sources tell CNN Special Counsel Robert Mueller raised the possibility of issuing a subpoena for Donald Trump. The Washington Post also reporting the issue was raised during a meeting with the president's legal team in early March.

Trump's lawyers insisted the president is not obligated to talk with investigators. Sources say that's when Mueller raised the possibility of issuing a subpoena forcing the president to appear before a grand jury.

Jessica Levinson is a professor of Law and Governance at Loyola Law School, she joins us now with more. Okay, this is a pretty big story and there's a lot to get to.

So, this is a little more for the Washington Post's report quoting Rudy Giuliani, who's the new boy on the block of the Trump legal team. "Hopefully we're getting near the end. We all on both sides have some important decisions to make. I still have a totally open mind on what the right strategy is, which we'll develop in the next few weeks".

Okay, if the president is subpoenaed, and the president's lawyers challenge that, which seems to be inevitable - - despite what Rudy Giuliani thinks, this is nowhere near the end. This could go on for months, this could drag on for a year, if it goes to the Supreme Court.

JESSICA LEVINSON, LAW AND GOVERNANCE PROFESSOR, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: This could drag on for more than a few years. I mean, this question of whether or not the president can be subpoenaed, I think, is a shorter term question. But, for people who think, like, "Oh, it's Wednesday, might the Mueller investigation be wrapping up?" I mean, the answer is absolutely not, unless it's Wednesday 2020 or 2021.

But, I think if this issue of whether or not you can subpoena the president does reach the Supreme Court, my guess is the answer will be that, yes, you can. And, there are open questions with respect to this investigation, whether you can indict a sitting president, for instance.

But, I think that the right answer is, yes, you can subpoena a sitting president. VAUSE: Because Clinton was subpoenaed, he went voluntarily in the end, he didn't want the embarrassment and the shame that does not apply to Donald Trump. Nixon was what? And unindicted co- conspirator, though, that's why there's so many questions about this.

You know, initially, Donald Trump was full steam ahead, ban (ph) the torpedo, when it comes to sitting down and talking with the prosecutors, but not so much recently. Here was that interview, that infamous telephone interview on Fox and Friends last week.


UNIDENTIFIED: Does it make you want to talk to Mueller and put an end to it? Does it make you want to talk to him, because that's what Rudy Giuliani . . .

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I can, the problem is that it's such a - - if you take a look, there's so conflicted. The people that are doing the investigation - - you have 23 people that are Democrats. You have Hilary Clinton people. You have people that worked on Hilary Clinton's foundation. By the way, you take a poll at the FBI. I love the FBI. The FBI loves me.


VAUSE: Okay, apart from the opinion poll, which shows the FBI loves Donald Trump, which I have never seen, is there any legal argument here which says that the president should not be subpoenaed? That the president is above the law?

LEVINSON: I mean, you could certainly make that argument that you can't haul the president in, you can't say you must come before a grand jury, because what the president does is unique and his duties and powers are unique. But, I think that's the losing argument for exactly what you just said.


Which is what you just said, which is no person should be above the law and that includes the president. And, there are a lot of different statutes that we do treat the president differently. For instance, we've talked about the fact that there really is no ethical code that applies to the president.


But, in this case, whether or not you can say you must answer questions by the special counsel, you must go before the grand jury, I don't think it's the better argument.

VAUSE: You know, this is not without risk for Donald Trump, but he agreed to an interview with prosecutors and investigators. He could go there with a lawyer. If he gets subpoenaed and that happens, no lawyer.

LEVINSON: If he gets subpoenaed and he goes before the grand jury, then your lawyer . . .

VAUSE: He's on his own.

LEVINSON: Your lawyer can be waiting right outside just a knock away, but no, no lawyer in there. If you voluntarily go and you talk outside of the grand jury to the FBI, or the department of justice, then your lawyer will be sitting right there.

[01:15] I will say, with respect to Donald Trump, query as to how useful it actually is to have someone next to you, because there's . . .


But, one thing that Donald Trump said that is just - - should offend everyone to their core, is he keeps talking about the political and ideological affiliation . . .

VAUSE: Which is asinine.

LEVINSON: . . . of those investigating him, and what it basically means is no one can make a fair decision. To Democrats will be against me and Republicans will be for me, and that is such a deep misunderstanding.

President Obama said, as many presidents before him have said, you serve the country, you don't serve me.

VAUSE: Yes. What is interesting, though, is prosecutors already questioned at least two dozen current and former White House staff members with the Trump administration. There's an endless stream of Tweets and statements, and interviews which the president has given.

Including that very infamous interview with NBC on why he fired the FBI Director James Comey.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey. Knowing there was no good time to do it, and in fact, when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won".


VAUSE: So, by putting this threat out there - - this threat of a subpoena, why is Mueller so determined to have this one-on-one with Trump? What does it say about the investigation?

LEVINSON: Well, I think part of what it shows is that he is looking at obstruction of justice. Because obstruction of justice depends on your state of mind and your level of intent, and you can put that case together based on circumstantial evidence. Of people saying the president said this, I understood the president to indicate this, but there really is no better evidence than getting the president to start talking and to respond to those questions.

VAUSE: He will talk. Is it possible that the president could take the Fifth and refuse to testify on the grounds that he could incriminate himself?

LEVINSON: I think it is absolutely possible and I actually think that we shouldn't throw stones at the president for doing that, nor should we throw stones at Michael Cohen for doing that. The irony here, and the hypocrisy, is that the president said, "Only mobsters take the Fifth Amendment", but that's the Constitutional protection that is afforded to everyone.

Now, in a civil case we can say you took the Fifth Amendment, what does that mean? But, in a criminal case, jurors aren't allowed to make that inference. So, I think the Constitution should apply to everybody . . .

VAUSE: Absolutely.

LEVINSON: . . . including our president.

VAUSE: Well, the president just set the tone. Finally, there has been a lot of focus on the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. In recent days House Republicans finished articles of impeachment against him. He pushed back on that, listen to what he said.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: I can tell you that there have people who have been making threats, privately and publically, against me for quite some time. And, I think they should understand by now the department of justice is not going to be extorted.


VAUSE: Is there any note to what the Republicans are doing here in the House with these articles of impeachment? Or could this only be seen as an attempt to put pressure on the deputy attorney general to try and influence him in some way?

LEVINSON: I think it's political pressure and Rod Rosenstein, himself, used the term extortion and I think that it is frankly a disgrace that they would not let the department of justice do its job. And, essentially, this feeds into a larger question, which is, is it President Trump or is it the Republican Party?

And, the Republican Party, by trying to undercut the deputy attorney general in charge of this investigation, I think is doing something very dangerous to the integrity of the entire department of justice. So, no, I don't think there's merit to that.

VAUSE: Yes. I mean it was the Republicans who went to Nixon and said it's time to go.

LEVINSON: It's country above party.

VAUSE: Absolutely.

LEVINSON: We're not seeing that.

VAUSE: Well, not yet, there's hope.

Jessica, thank you.

LEVINSON: Thank you.

SESAY: Quick break here. Next on Newsroom L.A., they travelled thousands of miles to get to the border.


But, the big question here is who in the migrant caravan will be granted asylum in the U.S.?

VAUSE: Also ahead, child labor linked to an essential element for electric cars. The dirty secret exposed in a CNN special investigation.


[01:21:57] VAUSE: To Puerto Rico, now, where a national strike against austerity measures has turned violent as protestors clash with police in San Juan.


(inaudible) are angry with the U.S. appointed board that oversees the finances of the government, which is $72 billion in debt.

SESAY: Austerity measures have targeted the islands public education, health care and social security. Puerto Rico's still trying to recover almost eight months after it was hit by hurricane Maria.

VAUSE: At least 35 people from the migrant caravan are being processed, hoping for asylum in the United States. There are more than 100 people who travelled from Central America to get to the Mexico-U.S. border.

SESAY: Most are set up in tents promising to remain outside the processing center until, quote, "Every last one is admitted to the U.S.".


Joining me here in Los Angeles is attorney and CNN legal analyst Areva Martin.

Areva, thank you for being with us again.

So, these migrants arrived at the Tijuana border on Sunday.


SESAY: And, when they got there this is what the commission of customs and border protections said - - it said in a statement, "The agency lacked sufficient space and resources to process persons travelling without appropriate entry documentation".

Basically, they didn't have the means to process all these people. Do you buy that?

MARTIN: Not at all. What we know is that this has been a big part of Donald Trump's campaign promises. It's been a big part of his first year in office.


You know, he has vowed to his base to make the border stronger, to do something about immigration. We saw it with his travel ban, we saw it with him sending the National Guard to the borders and you know, he has been for the last year spouting this rhetoric about increasing border security.

And, to see this caravan arriving at the border gave him the perfect opportunity to really show his base how tough and how strong he could be on immigration.

So, not having the appropriate personnel there, not having the adequate resources there to process these Indi duals was, I think, a nod to his base that he's getting tough on immigration.


SESAY: But, it's setting in the gap, right? Because the U.S. is signatory to obviously there's U.S. law and there's international law, which says they have to process foreigners at legal point of entry who want to claim asylum.


SESAY: So, to say they don't have resources, that's that line, right?


MARTIN: Essentially he's denying them their rights to make a legitimate claim, as you said, under both United States law, and international law, to claim asylum. To say we are entering the United States because we are fleeing prosecution. We're fleeing, you know, a - - a - - a government, or society, that's crime ridden, that's dangerous and they are entitled for a judge to make the determination about their ability to enter this country.

But, Donald Trump sees this, again, I think as a - - a - - a way to appeal to his base to say he's going to turn these people away by saying we don't have the adequate resources to process them. Essentially saying they are not coming into this country. (END VIDEOTAPE)

[01:25] And, he's been speaking about this, I mean this isn't the first time . . .


MARTIN: . . . you know, he's made similar statements, and this is a perfect visual opportunity for him to say to the base, "I'm getting tough on immigration in ways the former administration did not".

SESAY: Last week he Tweeted that he'd order the secretary of homeland security to quote, "Not to let these large caravans of people into our country", adding, "It is a disgrace". Now, we see some 25 of them have been allowed in so that they can be processed.

What does that look like? What are they facing in the system?

MARTIN: Well, you know what's interesting, Isha, is that these are primarily women and children. These are families.


These are not, you know, the rapists, the criminals that Trump likes to paint immigrants to be - - the deplorables of society. And, we have these individuals who have a right to have a hearing, to have an adjudication about their ability to enter the country, and we have the president saying we are not going to allow them into this country, even if it means violating these federal and international laws.

SESAY: So, they come in, though, there will be some processing the 25 who've come through. They could likely be separated mothers and children.


SESAY: And, how time consuming - - how slowly will this move?

MARTIN: Well, unfortunately, these asylum hearings sometimes can take years and that's what the Trump - - part of his argument has been, is that they come into the country and that they assimilate into the culture, into the society and they never return for these hearings, and essentially they become illegal aliens - - illegal immigrants in this country.


And so, by denying them access, if you take it from his position, he's preventing them from ever assimilating into the United States. But, unfortunately, that means denying them their rights to have an adjudication.

SESAY: But, to put in context, the - - the - - the odds aren't in their favor? People

MARTIN: No. SESAY: People coming from Central America? I mean, according to data put out by Syracuse University between 2011-2016 effectively three- quarters of the asylum seekers from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala basically were denied.

MARTIN: Yes. The odds are not in their favor and particularly with Trump being able to use these optics as a way, again, to appeal to his base. To continue to spew this rhetoric that somehow they are a threat to Americans . . .

SESAY: Women and children?

MARTIN: Women and children, and families, are a threat to America's you know security. And, they're pawns in this whole political game that he's playing around immigration and it doesn't look promising.

Some, as you indicated have been allowed in. I suspect others will be, but for the hundreds of people that seek - - the thousands that seek asylum in this - - legitimately seek asylum in this country every year, this is not a good sign for them.

SESAY: Yes. And again, it will take a very long time. They'll be put into detention centers, they'll be separated.

MARTIN: Yes. It's not good, needless to say.

SESAY: Needless to say, but thank you.

MARTIN: Thank, Isha.

VAUSE: You don't get to pick and choose your obligations under international law.


Next here on Newsroom L.A., CNN investigation documents children working in mines for products that millions around the world are enjoying and using every day.



[01:30:55] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

I'm Isha Sesay.


We'll check the headlines now.

Israel's Prime Minister is not letting up on his claim that Iran has been lying about its secret nuclear weapons program and that is why the Iran nuclear deal should be scrapped. Benjamin Netanyahu is facing international criticism for what many say is just old information.

Meantime the U.S. must decide by May 12th whether to pull out of that agreement.

SESAY: Sources tell CNN special counsel Robert Mueller raised the issue of issuing a subpoena for Donald Trump. "The Washington Post" reports it came during a meeting with the President's legal team last month. Mr. Trump's lawyers have been discouraging an interview with Mueller.

VAUSE: Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell is out on bail until his next court date. He'll be back in a Melbourne courtroom later this month to face multiple charges of historical sexual abuse. He has pleaded not guilty. Pell's attorney told the court he hopes the trial takes place as soon as possible for a number of reasons including the cardinal's age. He's 76 years old.

SESAY: Now if you drive a battery-powered electric car there's something you really need to know. It's a dirty secret uncovered in a CNN investigation. Children are working at the mines where the batteries' key component cobalt is found.

CNN's Nima Elbagir and Dominique Van Heerden and Alex Platt traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo, the epicenter of the modern day cobalt gold rush and what they found there is complicity and cover-up.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christian and his friends are digging 20 meters down, taking turns at 24-hour shifts. There's no light and little oxygen but what they bring up is precious.

This is the start of a supply chain leading all the way from this makeshift mine to your luxury battery-powered car.

The sacks are full of cobalt ore, a crucial component in lithium ion batteries set to power the coming green energy revolution but at what cost. There is growing evidence that cobalt supply chain uses child labor.

Companies say they are working hard to verify the source of all their hand-mined artisanal cobalt but that it's a difficult task.

We're here to follow the supply chain and see if we can do it for them. Before we set out even the local governor warns us to expect to see children at work.

We arrive at the Musonoi river line where the cobalt ore is washed to grind it down. Although we've been given permission to film here as soon as they see us officials begin to scare the children away.

Not all of them though are fast enough. Some work on. One young boy staggers under his load. His friend sees the camera and he drops his sack. They've clearly been warned. A mining ministry official spots this boy carrying cobalt has been captured by our cameras. His response is brutal. Later we ask him why he struck the child. He refused to answer.

We've now witnessed for ourselves that children are working here, that they are involved with the production of cobalt and we've seen the products of that child labor loaded on to a variety of different vehicles. I'm going to jump into this car that's headed to one of the main public selling cobalt selling depots.

I'm told we're going to go past the market. This is where the cobalt is bought by brokers. It's where it first enters the supply chain.

The car company Tesla for one says its cobalt sources are audited and issued with certificates of origin. They wouldn't say from where or how but there is no sign of certification here.

[01:34:55] We watched the brokers set the price and none of them ask where the cobalt is from or how it was mined. But the mining output tripled and the fear is even more children are being pressed into labor.

Why? Because cobalt is skyrocketing in price. Supplying your green electric car comes at a cost.

We have permission to film here but local mining officials once more try to stop us. Our producer captures the scene on a hidden camera. The government says it's working to combat child labor but the same mining ministry officials tasked with enforcing an ethical supply chain have been the ones attempting to block our investigation.

A police officer arrived and we're told we need to leave for our own safety. We do -- but not before we spot a red truck loaded up and leaving the very same market. It matches the distinctive red of the truck used by one of the main international cobalt supply zones -- China's Congo Dongfang Mining.

In the end, we decide to follow it.

We can't afford to lose him because where he delivers that cobalt load, that is the link between the children that you saw down there on the river front and the global markets.

As the truck pulls into its final destination guards rush out to block our cameras. We later received a warning phone call. This facility is under the protection of the presidential guard. We're told to stay away.

What's going on? That appeared to be a CDM truck but this isn't a CDM facility. Tax records show it was declared non-operational three years ago. Rising smoke and export records show cobalt is still produced here.

CDM's parent company Huayou tells CNN they did have a relationship with the facility which ended only last year. They're disturbed enough to launch an investigation into our findings although they state other companies also use red trucks.

CNN visited three sites to show how widespread they use of child labor is. At this mine, in spite of our permission we eventually had to resort to filming undercover to capture the children.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nine years old, I'm told.

ELBAGIR: We couldn't prove where exactly the dirty cobalt enters the international supply chain but we witnessed that it does.

Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Fiat/Chrysler among others say they have a zero tolerance policy for the use of child labor but they acknowledge they are unable to fully map their supply chain due to its complex nature. Car makers simply cannot promise consumers their products are 100 percent child-labor free.

This is the artisanal mining cooperative Kasulo (ph). It's run by the main international supplier CDM. Rows and rows of red trucks like the one we followed await pickup here. Access and entry are controlled to block the presence of children and certificates of origin CDM say are dispensed in controlled circumstances.

This is what the big brand names who source their cobalt from Congo believe govern their supply. But this is the exception, not the norm. The cobalt from Kasulo accounts for less than a quarter of the country's artisanal cobalt exports.

Here the ministry of mining has to countersign the certificate of origin to be considered valid. So the very same entity whose officials CNN found complicit in hiding the presence of child labor at the artisanal mines we visited is responsible for certifying the cobalt here is child-labor free.

After 10 day sin Congo, our contact advised us to leave for our own safety. But what have we learned? At the main markets nobody asks where the cobalt for sale is mined or how. We followed a truck to an operation that is pumping dirty cobalt into the international supply chain under the aegis of the Congolese presidential guard.

We witnessed mining ministry officials harassing children to hide them from our cameras while others blocked our filming. All employed by the same Congolese authority car makers entrust to issue the certification.

But from what we've witnessed it's clear, no manufacturer can fully assure you that your electric car is truly ethical.

[01:39:57] And as demand for essential cobalt soars it's children like this little boy who are paying the real price.

Nima Elbagir, CNN -- Kolwezi, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: And before leaving Congo Nima spoke to the provincial governor who blamed the interference and aggression at the mine sites on suspicion within the local population that foreigners are trying to bring down President Kabila's government. >


ELBAGIR: Your transparency and your willingness to allow us access to these sites was not reflected on the ground. We were subjected to intimidation. We were harassed. Children were harassed in front of us. They were pushed. They were physically intimidated to leave the sites.

So while we commend what we're hearing from you, what we saw on the ground paints a darker picture I think than you yourself are aware of.

GOVERNOR RICHARD MUYEJ, LUALABA PROVINCE, DRC (through translator): There's a general view that people are now using cobalt to bring down Kabila. So there's a kind of resistance and if we're not careful we might find ourselves on the brink of aggression. But to prove our good will in this, when I learned that there had been these incidents I brought in our police commissioner, the head of our police. I did this because when I assessed the situation I concluded there had been a misunderstanding.

We have nothing to hide. What we really want is good will. When we make an effort we would like to be treated fairly. Given that important cobalt production is situated in the Congo it will not be easy to skirt the issue. You and we must work together to make the issue a traceability-*transparent and to make sites safe and regularized.

The private companies are earning huge amounts of money but the population remains poverty-stricken and that is not fair. I think that true success must involve a win-win situation for everyone involved. If only one side profits from a situation that gives rise to resentment.


SESAY: Well the governor added, there's been an improvement in recent years. He says the goal is for no children to be working in those mines without process. He says it's been overshadowed by a high-level of poverty.

VAUSE: Ok. Now that we know where cobalt is -- actually what it is, where it comes from and the role children play in getting it -- consider this.

SESAY: Yes. Consider this -- the odds are that you're carrying some of that in your pockets, in your hand bag right now.

Here's CNN's Clare Sebastian.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now is the time to double down on renewable energy and bio-fuels and electric vehicle.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The U.K. government with industry in the U.K. is supporting the growth of this industry --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you take a look at what the Chinese are doing, they are talking about having seven million electric vehicles on the roads by 2025. Today they have maybe just over a million.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The global race for a low carbon future governments and businesses from Silicon Valley to Shenzhen are going all in on electric cars.

And for one once-obscure element it sparked a gold rush. In the last two years cobalt prices has spiked 300 percent and that's because experts say it has one specific property critical for electric cars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really to prevent what's called thermal runaway and that's just the technical term for the battery getting hotter and hotter and hotter and ultimately exploding.

SEBASTIAN: Can you have an electric car without cobalt?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can but it affects energy density. It affects the cycle life of the car overall.

SEBASTIAN: While electric cars need a lot of cobalt --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this is the typical Tesla Model-S it's 85 kilowatt hours -- that's roughly about 112 pounds of lithium and about maybe 15 pounds of cobalt.

SEBASTIAN: It's likely many of us are actually carrying a few grams right now inside our cellphones. The cobalt is buried deep in the batteries chemistry not just of iPhones but most modern cellphones.

How much cobalt would be in this iPhone?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably three grams -- three to four grams. I mean think about the number of iPhones, the number of cell phones that are sold globally. It starts to add up.

SEBASTIAN: And in a future which many believe is increasingly battery powered, the cobalt rush is not over yet.

Clare Sebastian, CNN Money -- New York.


SESAY: You think you're doing something --

VAUSE: Yes. This problem -- you know, it's in the Congo right now. It's been in China. It's been in a lot of places around the world about what you think you're doing is good. You find out what's happening behind the scenes -- not so good.

Next on NEWSROOM L.A. outrage over a prom dress -- cultural admiration or appropriation?


VAUSE: Where do we draw the line between what appears to be obvious and unquestionable acts of racism and a ginned up controversy fueled by the echo chamber of social media?

In Utah a non-Asian high school student was the focus of much Twitter hate because she wore a traditional Chinese dress to her prom. So how does that compare to the Chinese restaurant in Toronto which demanded that only black customers pay in advance?

So here's the question which follows on from that. What's the end result here when everything becomes a controversy du jour?

Joining me now for more on this is Jarrett Hill, politics and pop culture journalist. Jarrett -- it's been a while. Nice to see you.


VAUSE: Ok. So like so many controversies. Let's discuss scene one and scene two.


VAUSE: Scene one -- it started with a tweet. Eighteen-year-old Keziah Daum from Utah tweeted out this photo you can see right here. She was wearing a traditional Chinese dress to her prom. That was a -- that trigger for the outrage. It all started with this guy Jeremy Lam. He said, "My culture is not your -- prom dress." Then came these accusations of cultural appropriation.

"This isn't ok I would wear traditional Korean, Japanese or other traditional dress but I'm Asian. I wouldn't wear traditional Irish or Swedish or Greek dress either. There is a lot of history."

Someone else said "People have been telling you why it's racist, why it's cultural appropriation. You just refuse to educate yourself. You don't get to decide what does or does not upset people." It goes on and on and on.

Is this really so outrageous? You know, don't people have better things to do than to tweet about this? You know, maybe they should be, you know, throwing their toenails at the TV screen or something?

HILL: So by definition, yes this is appropriation, right. You're taking something from another culture and using it as your own or taking it and making it your own. But is it offensive is the question, right?

I'm kind of both sides of the fence about this one. Like, at first I thought like I'm not willing to go to the coliseum to fight about this one. This one I'm not upset about.

However, I was thinking what if she had showed up in a Dashiki and Kente cloth and like a head wrap? I would have felt that way about that. I would have been upset about it.

So then I thought ok, maybe I'm not being fair to something because it's not my culture. It's not something that I have a direct link to. And then if you look at all the tweets there are Chinese women who say like I think you did a beautiful job --

VAUSE: Beautiful -- yes.

HILL: -- I think this looks great. Then there are people that really upset about it.

VAUSE: But why -- I went through a lot of tweets and the people who are really upset seem to be a whole lot of white people expressing outrage on behalf of someone else --

HILL: Yes.

VAUSE: -- which I found really -- that happens a lot, you know. So you know, this whole debate is interesting because if you look at the headline from Tuesday's "South China Morning Post". Chinese dress at U.S. proms wins support in China after Internet backlash. And here's part of their reporting.

[01:49:59] "Very elegant and beautiful -- really don't understand the people who are against it. They are wrong," one person commented on an article by the Wenxue City News. "I suggest the Chinese government, state television or a fashion company invite her to China to display her cheongsam.

"It's not a cultural theft," another wrote. "It's cultural appreciation and cultural respect."

So maybe that's the reaction from the victim to this heinous crime that maybe the liberals could calm down and worry about things that really matter like micro-aggressions and a lack of safe spaces.

HILL: Yes. No, I agree with you there. And I mean I was going back and forth, like I said, all day about this one. And in the care, on the way here I was speaking to a woman who's Persian and I asked her how would you feel if someone showed up in traditional Persian garments? She said like "I would love it. I would think it was amazing and beautiful."


HILL: And so it's one of those things where it's like we are very sensitive right now about every single thing.

VAUSE: Yes -- so sensitive.

HILL: We're very sensitive and think this is kind of representative of that.

VAUSE: Ok. Because if you want to know what is really racist. I would show you what is really racist because here's part of a report from Canada's CBC. The story is about Emile Wickham. He's black. He was out dining with friends. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was supposed to be a celebration. Emile Wickham and three black friends went into Hong Shing to celebrate his 28th birthday four years ago. But when they ordered they were asked to prepay. They were told it was a restaurant policy. But when they asked other customers they found out no one else had to do that so the group left.

EMILE WICKHAM: When we got outside that's when the anger turned into like sadness and like a rejection. This was just a time for us to unwind and we found that we couldn't do that in the city that really (INAUDIBLE) its multiculturalism. It really said something. And I decided there and then that night that this was -- I was going to stand up for this.


VAUSE: One part of the story which really stands out is that this is racism between non-whites. Black guy, and the restaurant owner is Chinese and the staff seemed to be Asian.

HILL: White supremacy is not exclusive to white people, right. Like gay people are homophobic. There are women who are anti-feminists. You don't have to be white to subscribe to ideas of white supremacy and see black and brown people as dangerous or fearful -- or be fearful of them. And it's really important to remember that and I think this is a great example of that.

Especially when we look at policing and like a non-black -- a non- white police officer shot at a black person. Like you don't have to be white.

VAUSE: Ok. The other thing which is bizarre is it took the human rights tribunal three years to work out that this was an act of racism.

Here's part of the ruling. "Emile Wickham's mere presence as a black man in a restaurant was presumed to be sufficient evidence of his presumed propensity to engage in criminal behavior. At its core racial profiling is a form of short hand that enables the perpetrator of the behavior to assume certain facts and ignore others."

That could also describe what happened at a Starbucks in Philadelphia.

HILL: At a Starbucks in Philadelphia, on a street corner with a young man that was standing there having a good time, in front of a convenience store with a man selling CDs or cigarettes. It's a situation where, you know, people are in fear for their life or they're in fear -- police are in fear for their life or a waiter is in fear that they're not going to pay the bill or you're afraid that this person is just loitering and they are not going to buy at Starbucks.

VAUSE: I just want very quickly to bring this all together.

HILL: Yes.

VAUSE: So when you have ridiculous outrageous -- like the one over the prom dress.

HILL: Yes.

VAUSE: What effect does that have on the serious issues like we're seeing at this restaurant in Canada?

HILL: I mean I think they all kind of start getting lumped together and sometimes some things are really, really offensive. If we look at Canada -- Canada was a really, really offensive situation that went to court and you know, ended up in front of a judge. Whereas the situation on Twitter was a situation where it was some people are going to be offended but people are going to be offended regardless.

VAUSE: It's interesting too that when everything becomes a controversy and outrageous then nothing is controversial or outrageous.

HILL: Exactly.

VAUSE: It sort of dilutes, you know, what the really important stuff (ph).

HILL: Absolutely.

VAUSE: Good to see you -- Jarrett.

HILL: For sure.

VAUSE: Thanks -- mate.

SESAY: Quick break here.

Donald Trump welcomes a courageous crew to the White House. Just ahead why everyone is talking about the hero pilot except the pilot herself.


SESAY: Well meeting the President of the United States is enough to give anyone a few jitters. But for the pilot of the Southwest Airlines jet that probably pales in comparison to the pressure she was under just last month.

VAUSE: You know, that depends on who the President is at the time --

SESAY: Even then --

VAUSE: -- saying, you know, you're nervous or you're excited; whether you're a supporter whether you're not. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She's landed a plane with a blown engine and a shattered window. She's landed fighter jets on aircraft carriers and now she's landed in the Oval Office.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Piloted by Captain Tammie Jo Shults. Where's Tammie? Hello Tammie.

MOOS: The pilot of Southwest flight 1380, along with passengers who tried in vain to save a woman half sucked out the window and flight crew members got a personal thank you from the President.

TRUMP: You were a little bit nervous up there?


TRUMP: You know what (INAUDIBLE) -- you had no problem right.

MOOS: This former navy pilot looked like something out of "Top Gun".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel the need -- the need for speed.

MOOS: But speed was not what Captain Shults felt in need of.

SHULTS: We have part of the aircraft missing so we're going to need to slow down a bit.

MOOS: The President commended her life-saving actions.

TRUMP: Everybody is talking about it. They're still talking about it. They will be talking about it for a long time.

MOOS: But you know who isn't talking about it? This 56-year-old mother of two, one of them attending the Air Force Academy. Captain Shults married a navy pilot, "My knight in shining airplane", she called him.

Captain Shults hasn't done a single interview with the press. The most important talking she did was to air traffic control?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is your airplane physically on fire?

SHULTS: No, it's not fire but part of it's missing. They said there's a hole and someone went out.

MOOS: Upon landing Captain Shults hugged passengers. She's known for teaching Sunday school and now for being an inspiration, fly like a girl, and during her Oval Office visit, she learned something about traffic control in the White House.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks -- everyone. We're leaving now. Please exit. Thank you.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN -- New York.


SESAY: When they want you out -- they want you out of that room. VAUSE: I'm just thinking that all went off without a hitch mostly.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay.

Be sure to join us on Twitter @CNNNewsroomLA for highlights and clips from our show. You'll find John there.

VAUSE: And Isha.

SESAY: We'll be back with much more news right after this.



[02:00:07] SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

VAUSE: Ahead this hour -- let the mocking begin. Critics say Benjamin Netanyahu's warning about Iran's nuclear program --