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Trump Says Mueller with Conflicts of Interest; Firefighters Contained 17 percent of Carr Fire; More Families Still not Reunited; World Headlines; Trump White House; MH370 Mystery; Zimbabwe Election; Britain Battles "Fake News"; K-Pop Singer Takes On Trump-Kim Summit. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired July 30, 2018 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN HOST: The U.S. president returns to Washington with a busy week already planned. He's made it still more complicated with a rant on Twitter.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: Plus, hope for a tipping point. Firefighters in the U.S. State of California working overtime, trying to contain more than a dozen devastating fires there.
ALLEN: Also this hour, voting is under way in Zimbabwe, and for the first time in decades the name Mugabe is not on the ballot.
HOWELL: Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, we welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell.
And I'm Natalie Allen. And you're watching CNN Newsroom.
HOWELL: At 3:00 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast, the U.S. President Donald Trump has a busy week ahead of him.
ALLEN: On Monday, he's expected to take questions from reporters in a joint news conference with the visiting prime minister of Italy. Mr. Trump will likely be asked about his latest Twitter rant against the special counsel, Robert Mueller. The president now claiming Mueller has multiple conflicts of interest in the Russia investigation.
HOWELL: In addition to that, there are still questions about the tapes the president's former attorney just released as well as Mr. Trump's threat to shut down the government to get funding for his border wall that he said Mexico would pay for but in fact he means the taxpayers will pay for.
ALLEN: CNN's Boris Sanchez is traveling with the president, or he was in New Jersey. He has more on Mr. Trump's Twitter tirade. That's hard to say.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: CNN has reached out to the White House to get clarity on specifically what President Trump was referencing when he mentioned business conflicts with the special counsel Robert Mueller. We have yet to hear back. But previous reporting may indicate what the president was talking
about here. Earlier this year, the Washington Post and the New York Times separately reported that the president had privately expressed frustration with what he sees as conflicts of interest with Robert Mueller rooted in what he believes are unpaid dues that Robert Mueller owed his golf club in Virginia.
A spokesperson for the special counsel at the time responded to the Washington Post saying that those claims being made by President Trump were inaccurate.
Of course the broader context here is that reporting came out when the New York Times published that four sources had told them that President Trump tried to fire Robert Mueller last year and that in that process he expressed his frustration to Don McGahn, the White House counsel.
Don McGahn refused to carry out that order to fire Mueller. In fact, he threatened to resign according to sources. At that point President Trump backed off of his decision to try to fire Mueller.
Now he's obviously frustrated again, tweeting out some of his most direct attacks on the special counsel. The backdrop of that of course is this bombshell reporting.
Sources close to Michael Cohen, the president's former attorney, saying he is prepared to testify to the special counsel that President Trump approved that June 2016 meeting between his son Donald Trump, Jr., other members of his campaign, and Russian nationals, promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.
It also comes on the heels of the release of that secret recording made by Michael Cohen of a conversation that he had with President Trump. Rudy Giuliani, the president's relatively new attorney, talked about those recordings this weekend, suggesting that they had been tampered with or doctored. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: He abruptly ended that recording as soon as the president said the word check. We are now -- what we're investigating is why did -- how did that happen? What actually did happen? What was eliminated? And then he's got to raise that question with every one of these tapes, how many of them did he play around with.
We have determined the fact that he tampered with the tape in the sense that he abruptly mid-conversation turned it off. Now, we know he didn't do that for a good reason.
(END VOICE CLIP)
SANCHEZ: The president and his legal team strategy here is clear. They want to question the credibility not only of Michael Cohen, who just a few months ago they referred to as an honorable man, but also the veracity of the recordings that he made. Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with the president just outside
Bedminster, New Jersey.
HOWELL: Boris, with the reporting, thank you. And now let's dig deeper with Scott Lucas. Scott a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham. live this hour in Birmingham, England. A pleasure to have you on the show with us.
Look, we understand the publisher of the New York Times told the president his attacks on the media were divisive and dangerous. The president, then on Twitter, airing out his typical grade school name calling. Nothing new to that.
But noteworthy to point out he is leaning into these media attacks more as we get closer to the mid-terms. How will that play beyond Mr. Trump's base as people now see the president's playbook?
SCOTT LUCAS, POLITICS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: We've got two fronts going on, George. One that Boris Sanchez referred to is the Trump Russia investigation. And this is not just a question of questioning the credibility of the former lawyer Michael Cohen or the credibility of special counsel Robert Mueller.
[03:05:07] Trump and his camp have to destroy the credibility of those men and possibly others to keep the investigation from closing and possibly bringing the president down.
But the second front of course, as you mentioned, is the election front. We are now just about three months away from the congressional midterms. And amongst the tweets yesterday Donald Trump was also tweeting about immigration. And what is quite clear is that the Trump campaign is going to double down on zero tolerance on immigration despite the separation of children from parents.
It's going to double down on the idea that the media is their enemy and they hope the combination of those attacks on journalists and focusing on immigration gives him enough drive amongst enough voters that the Republicans can keep control of the House and Senate in November.
HOWELL: Mr. Trump's Twitter flow also attacking the special counsel, claiming conflicts of interest, Scott. What do you make of that?
LUCAS: I think again Boris Sanchez had it right. You know, Trump has got this idea that Robert Mueller owes him money at one of his golf clubs and that the entire motivation for the special counsel must be because he doesn't want to pay up.
I suspect that isn't true, that Robert Mueller has motivations far beyond that. Carrying out a legal investigation--
HOWELL: (Inaudible) survive.
LUCAS: Yes. But I think Donald Trump's grasping at straws. As is Rudy Giuliani. You know, Take Trump's tweet saying Robert Mueller owes me money and Rudy Giuliani saying, that tape must have been tampered with, although there's absolutely no evidence it was, and that just tells you that the idea is to throw up enough mud on the wall, enough smoke in the eyes, that the realities of the Trump Russia investigation doesn't actually take over and bring him down.
HOWELL: As the relationship continues to unravel between Michael Cohen and Donald Trump and we're seeing their legal team, Scott, no longer sharing information, there's also the issue around Allen Weisselberg being subpoenaed. Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Foundation. This is the man who knows all of the financial inner workings. How big of a risk could this be to Trump world?
LUCAS: How big is a mountain? Or rather several mountains. I mean, just to repeat to viewers, this is now three interlinked investigations. One is around the Trump campaign.
The second is around the workings of the Trump organization including before the campaign. That's why Michael Cohen is so important. And the third is the Trump foundation. And money which was supposedly spent, supposed to go to charity but there are question marks.
And that's why Allen Weisselberg is so important. I'm not saying that this necessarily means the end of Donald Trump, but what it means is this is more than simply now an issue of one particular Russian hacker.
And on top of this remember one other thing, George. The trial of Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, starts this week and goodness knows what comes out of that.
HOWELL: It will be interesting. That case certainly focused on bank and tax crimes. Financial fraud. But you know, not connected to the Trump camp, Mr. Trump directly, but the question is how will that impact Paul Manafort with the bigger investigation playing out?
Scott Lucas, thank you so much for your time today. We'll stay in touch with you.
LUCAS: Thank you.
ALLEN: Well, in a few hours the Trump administration is facing another reunification deadline order by a judge. We're talking about what's going on at the border. This time the administration has to provide a list to the American Civil Liberties Union detailing the migrant children it has reunited with their families.
Meantime, President Trump is returning to a central campaign issue that fired up his base in 2016. His promise to build a border wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to build a great border wall!
We will build a great, great wall.
We're going to build a wall. Don't worry about it. We're building it.
I promise, we will build the wall.
And who's going to pay for the wall?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Well, now he's asking United States citizens to pay for the wall. He wants Congress to foot the bill.
And he's again threatening a government shutdown if he doesn't get his way. Tweeting this. Quote, "I would be willing to shut down the government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for border security, which includes the wall."
ALLEN: And along that border more than 700 children separated from their parents at the border still have not been reunited with their families, as we mentioned, after the court-ordered reunification deadline passed Friday.
For more on that story Kaylee Hartung is in McAllen, Texas.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As we've reported on the impact of President Trump's zero tolerance policy, we've learned that no two family stories are the same. But there have been some common threads among them. That of confusion and frustration.
At times, chaos and incredible challenges in communication. The story that best encapsulates where we are today, though, is that of a woman we'll call Alejandra.
[03:10:03] About a month and a half ago, she and her 6-year-old daughter crossed the U.S. border. They had fled their home country of Honduras because of the gang violence there. When they crossed the border, they were detained and separated.
Eleven days ago, Alejandra was told that she would be reunited with her daughter later that day, given her paperwork for release. But that never happened. As of today she continues to sit in a detention facility in Texas. Her daughter remains in New York. And as Alejandra asks questions, as she sits in limbo, here's what she says she's told.
(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The first thing that I ask is always, do you know when will be, my girl will be brought here so she can be reunified with me? And they tell me, no, I don't know anything, they say to me.
(END VOICE CLIP)
HARTUNG: Alejandra's daughter's attorney has been told a red flag has been raised in the child's case. HHS says they will not comment on specific cases. But a spokesperson tells CNN that any family who hasn't been reunited yet is because of specific concerns they have for that family. As I said, no two stories are alike, but frustration remains for so many.
Kaylee Hartung, CNN, McAllen, Texas.
HOWELL: Mr. Trump's top economic adviser is defending the president's trade war with China.
ALLEN: Larry Kudlow once called tariffs a regressive tax on low- income families. But appearing on CNN's state of the union he praised President Trump's tariffs on China.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISOR: You know, if they're targeted, for good purpose, as per China, I think the answer is absolutely yes. That's always been my view. Most free traders agree, China has not played by the rules and the trading system is broken largely because of them.
Now, I hope we get to our E.U. trade deal. Let me say this. The president has adopted a view with which I completely agree. He's a free trader. And he wants to have no tariff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Kudlow claims President Trump is trying to fix a completely broken world trading system.
ALLEN: A ferocious wildfire tears through Northern California. Firefighters may have finally turned a corner in containing it. But the tragedy continues as people have lost their lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED BLEDSOE, LOST FAMILY IN CARR FIRE: He said come get me. He said come and get me. The fire's coming in the back door. Come on, grandpa. I said I'm right down the road.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: It's a very emotional story. It will stick with you. CNN speaks with a man who lost his wife and great grandchildren in one of those raging wildfires in California. Stay with us.
[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ALLEN: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom.
Firefighters hope they have reached a turning point in their fight to contain a massive wildfire in Northern California. In just a week the so-called Carr fire has burned more than 95,000 acres. That's about 38,000 hectares. It has destroyed more than 870 structures. That's a lot of homes for many people.
And for the moment it is now 17 percent contained. But it is still burning everything in its path, even take a look at this right here, this boat dock.
HOWELL: We know that at least six people have died so far in these fires, including two children and their great grandmother. The widowed great grandfather told our Dan Simon that he spoke to his family as the fire closed in on them. This is a very emotional thing he has to say. Just listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLEDSOE: I left and went to town. My wife called me, she said, we can see the fire way over there. She said you need to come and get me. I said I'm on my way. So I just throw down everything, took off over there. I got up on Quartz Hill and there's two or three or four lanes of traffic coming up, wouldn't let me down in there.
So I just dropped everything and I took off running down there and I helped some guy that got burnt and was trying to get out of there. I got him and helped him out of there. And when I got back down there, the fire was just intense.
But I still tried to get down in there and they come and stopped me, wouldn't let me go down in there. So I got in my car and took off and passed everybody in the dirt and went all the way around to the other end of Quartz Hill and come up at Keswick, and my son was in there.
He was up there, but I didn't see him. He was up there and then Gary, my son, was on the other side of the house. And Gary opened the door to go run to the house and it burned his hair off. And took his breath.
So he got back in the car and then he couldn't even hardly see nothing for smoke to get out of there. His house was on fire. He said there was flames probably 70 feet high.
I talked to junior on the phone till he died. He just kept saying, grandpa, he said, come and get me. The fire's coming in the back door. "Come on, grandpa." I said, I'm right down the road. He said, come get us.
Emily said, "I love you, grandpa." Her grandma says, "I love you grandpa." And junior says I love you, come and get us, come and get us. I said I'm on my way. I said -- he talked until he died. I tried to call him back, and it just went to nothing. And I said poor thing, poor babies and my wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Just so, so sad. The poor man.
HOWELL: Heart goes out to him. Ed Bledsoe he said that no one really talked to them about evacuating. He said that his wife called 911 and they told her someone would come get her.
Well, firefighters have been fighting uncooperative weather since they've been trying to contain this fire.
ALLEN: That isn't the only obstacle facing these fire crews. One danger is entirely manmade. Drones.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT GOUVEA, CAL FIRE INCIDENT COMMANDER: We have noticed that there are drone footages online of folks flying drones over this fire. That poses a huge safety risk to our folks. If you fly, we cannot.
We have to ground all of our aircraft if there's reports of drones over the fire.
[03:20:03] And it's quite a process to get our aircraft back in the area as we try to clear those drones, find out where they're coming from, and chase that down. So we ask that you please remain from flying drones over the fire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Let's bring in BuzzFeed news reporter Brianna Sacks. Brianna following the story live in Redding, California. Thank you so much for taking time with us there. Tell us about the situation, the conditions as they stand now. As people say this is one of the worst fires they've seen before. The temperature there, the conditions on the ground. What are you seeing?
BRIANNA SACKS, REPORTER, BUZZFEED: Sure. So what's interesting is they keep saying (AUDIO GAP) fire that we've been dealing with over the past almost year that each one is unprecedented in its conditions, its behavior, its pattern.
So we've been at triple-digit temperatures for the past few days here, and that's supposed to remain until I think tomorrow morning or maybe Tuesday. And we're going to get some -- but the thing is it's hot, it's dry. The winds are erratic. And it's giving firefighters trouble in terms of trying to actually hold the line.
They're still very much in the saving residents and homes phase. That's why the amount of acreage has jumped up.
We're almost at - we're at a little above 95,000 now, the latest numbers released at 8 p.m. tonight. But the good news is it did jump to 17 percent containment and it had been hovering at 5 percent for the past few days.
HOWELL: And every bit of, you know, acreage that they're able to contain, that is good news, and we appreciate you sharing that information with us.
But I want to press further with the firefighters themselves.
HOWELL: We're seeing an image right now, and now we're seeing the flames they're dealing with. But talk to us about what a day's work must mean for them. Again, you're talking about men and women putting their lives on the line for sure. Dealing with some really long days and nights. SACKS: Yes. I actually just got a story out on this. So these
firefighters, many of them have been constantly on these unprecedented blazes for, you know, months on end and they just few is in -- is from incident to incident. They're out on these lines for like sometimes 24, 48 hours at a time. They come back, they get a few hours of shuteye, and then they're back out again.
And you know, they go for about a week -- like maybe two or three weeks without seeing their kids and they tell me that when they do have a break it's usually about two days, which is really not a lot of time to recharge.
You know, one firefighter said to me, I was like, how do you deal with, you know, kind of the emotional toll? And he's like, I don't have time to have feelings. Like it gets in the way of when I'm of the job.
So it's -- they're stretched. Just like the state's resources are. They're putting everything they have into these fires, and they just keep getting more and more destructive and more frightening.
HOWELL: And now I'd like to talk about the people there. You know, so this area just to the west of the city of Redding, so many roads closed there, so many new communities being threatened. What is the situation with making sure people evacuate in time and also making sure that people get that message clearly and in time to take action?
SACKS: Yes. So alerting residents has kind of been an ongoing hot topic of conversation with the fires now because you know, they do destroy cell towers and the way that people really get the word out is when police are knocking at their door, like (technical difficulty).
And I went home with one man today who lost his home. You know, he was saying that they were kind of just waiting around for police officers to come and get them. They were trusting that. But the fire moved so fast that a literal 'firenado' he called it was at his door in a matter of minutes.
So alerting residents has become a very difficult thing because the fire is moving so fast. What they keep saying is the speed at which the flames move is really, really unprecedented. So it's hard to get the word out.
So like all these people were, you know, are upset. They're like why didn't they tell us sooner? But they're kind of trying to roll with it as much as the residents are. It's really like -- I haven't really found a good answer for that unless they evacuate large swaths of the population days in advance. And that creates chaos as well. So it's tough.
[03:24:58] HOWELL: Brianna Sacks, I'm sure you heard that story just a few minutes ago of Ed Bledsoe talking about the fact that you know, his wife called 911 and they told her that someone would get her. So, certainly the evacuation word getting that out very important. Thank you for your time today. We'll keep in touch with you.
SACKS: No problem.
ALLEN: Well, the good news is the fire went from 5 percent contained to 17 percent contained, and we'll see if the weather's going to get any better. Pedram Javaheri's here with more about it. Pedram?
HOWELL: Hi, Pedram.
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, guys. It is going to improve a little bit. We'll see temps cool off a little bit. That certainly is going to help the firefighting efforts. The winds hopefully will die down. Still see some gusty condition across this region. Triple-digit heat still in the forecast at least the next couple of days.
Unfortunately, no rain to be had to this region. But of you course, you go towards into this area and the explosive growth of the fire is really remarkable. Consuming over 140 square miles of land or about 95 acres of land there. That's equivalent to the size of Manhattan six times over.
And that happening in a matter of days across this region. We've had very gusty winds that haven't helped the situation. And in fact, take you 22,000 miles above the earth surface, use those satellite to look down towards the San Joaquin valley. From space even you can see this smoke the haze really taking over this region.
So the air quality concerns have been really poor across this region as well with the containment again, just now bumped up to 17 percent. We're expected to make some ground over this region in the next couple of days.
Unfortunately, the drought situation hasn't helped. You know, we often say about 90 percent of all wildfires start because of manmade issues, manmade cause, whether to be a vehicle parked on the side of the road, sparks, ignites from the bottom of the vehicle, or cigarette butts are thrown or it's a campfire that's left on.
That's kind of a scenario that's really impacted much of the western U.S. this year and with this particular fire the Carr Fire happening because of a vehicle that was malfunctioning, parked off the side of the road. The dry grass set ablaze there.
And of course the landscape it just doesn't help. Because very elevated terrain, hilly terrain across this region, that helps to exacerbate the situation, and we often say these fire speed tends to double with every 10 degree increase in slope.
So if you've got a 30 degree slope, 24-mile-per-hour winds, take that up to a 40 degree slope you actually double your wind speed and the fire travels in the same general direction as well, upwards of 48 miles per hour.
So this is what's made this fire so difficult to be able to contain over this region. But hopefully the next few days bring better news, guys.
ALLEN: Hope so. Pedram, thanks. HOWELL: Thank you, Pedram.
Well, as the U.S. president starts his Monday, he will have a sympathetic voice next to him. We look ahead at the Italian prime minister and Donald Trump, who may just be kindred spirits.
ALLEN: Also ahead, Malaysia releases a new report on missing flight MH-370. We'll go live to the region. Stay with us.
[03:30:00] ALLEN: Welcome back. You're watching "CNN Newsroom" live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL,: And I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour. In the U.S. state of California, firefighters there are making some progress containing a wildfire that has killed at least six people. The Carr Fire, as it's called, it is now 17 percent contained after exploding to 38,000 hectares or 95,000 acres on Sunday. At least seven people we understand are still missing.
ALLEN: Voters in Zimbabwe are heading to the polls in their first election since former president Robert Mugabe, seen here, was ousted under military threat. Mr. Mugabe ruled the country for 37 years. And now he says he will not vote for his former party. Instead he's suggesting he supports the opposition.
HOWELL: The publisher of The New York Times says that he urged the U.S. president to ease up on his criticism of the media. The two met earlier this month. The publisher described Mr. Trump's language as divisive and dangerous, though the president continues to attack the media.
ALLEN: And President Trump also fired off a number of tweets Sunday slamming special counsel Robert Mueller. He claims Mueller has a conflict of interest because they once had a contentious business relationship. He didn't elaborate. And Mr. Trump again railed against the Russia investigation, calling it an illegal scam.
The president will begin the week meeting with one European leader who shares many of his views.
HOWELL: That is the prime minister of Italy at the White House later Monday. Delia Gallagher reports the two men agree on immigration restrictions and the desire for closer ties to Russia.
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump may see some European countries as foes, but in Italy's prime minister Giuseppe Conte, he's got a friend.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The new prime minister of Italy is great. Got to meet him. Very strong on immigration like I am, by the way.
GALLAGHER: Closing ports and borders to illegal immigrants is one area where Trump and Italy see eye to eye. Italy's interior minister, Matteo Salvini, visited the U.S. president in 2016 on the campaign trail and ripped more than a few pages out of Trump's playbook for his own election campaign, even the winning slogan, "Italians First."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNTRANSLATED).
GALLAGHER: More than 600,000 refugees, most from North Africa, have landed in Italy in recent years. But in June, more than 600 refugees at sea were turned away from Italy. Salvini was defiant. They will only see Italy on a postcard, he said. They were eventually accepted in Spain. Professor Federigo Argentieri says Italy's government is similar to Trump's in random decision making and an apparent incoherent plan.
FEDERIGO ARGENTIERI, PROFESSOR, JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY: Trump has understood or at least he's being told that Italy must be coddled, so to speak, because so far the only -- the only real similarity in Western Europe.
GALLAGHER: Although Italy has refused Trump's request to give more money to NATO, they're behind the president in his support of Vladimir Putin. Prime Minister Conte tweeted, "I agree with the president. Russia should be back in the G8."
Matteo Salvini has made no secret of his admiration for Putin, calling him one of the best politicians of our time and publishing a photo on Facebook wearing a Putin t-shirt in Moscow's Red Square. Italy's government coalition received 69 percent of the vote in March elections, but not all Italians agree with their leaders' support of President Trump.
Sabrina (ph), legal assistant in Rome, says Trump hasn't made the best impression or bella figura, internationally, especially separating immigrant children from their families.
[03:35:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNTRANSLATED).
GALLAGHER: Bella figura or not, in Italy's government leaders, President Trump has got a friend in Europe, something hard to come by these days.
Delia Gallagher, CNN, Rome.
HOWELL: For many years now, MH370 families have waited for answers. Many refuse to give up hope of finding their loved ones alive. Others may just want closure.
ALLEN: Now, the Malaysian government is releasing a new report on the lost flight. It held a news conference to explain its findings. Two hundred thirty-nine people were on board that flight when it took off from Kuala Lumpur in March 2014. It never reached its destination, Beijing. The plane's ultimate fate remains a mystery still today. Let's go to CNN's Will Ripley. He's live from Hong Kong. Hello to you, Will. What we're learning about this report? Is there any significant new information?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sadly, Natalie, and you know, I remember March 8th, 2014 like it was yesterday. It was my first assignment for CNN, covering the missing plane. And for weeks on end, we stood there at the airport in Kuala Lumpur and then we moved to Australia where they were centering the search operations.
And there was so much hope in the beginning that they would find the plane, that they would detect some sort of a signal from the plane. They were confident. And here we are now more than four years later and there is this report, 495 pages released with absolutely no clues as to what may have happened. What investigators have been able to rule out is any obvious signs of anxiety or mental issues on the part of the pilot and the first officer.
They've ruled out any speculation that the pilot's flight simulator at home which showed he had plotted a course, a simulated course towards the Southern Indian Ocean which is where MH370 is believed to have crashed according to the best guess of investigators, looking at radar and satellite imagery and whatnot. They say that's not enough to prove that he intended to fly the plane deliberately.
But of course his family has had to live for four and a half years with this kind of cloud of suspicion over them. All of the passengers, 227 passengers, 12 crew members, they looked meticulously at the backgrounds of everybody on the plane.
No indication that anybody would have been capable of pulling off something like this although investigators can't rule out somebody perhaps breaking into the cockpit, switching off the communication systems and turning that plane around right after it checked in at way point IGARI and of course took the plane on that fateful presumed flight to the Southern Indian Ocean.
There have been three confirmed pieces of debris from MH370, pieces of the wing that washed up along the African east coast. But another 27 pieces of debris have been found that are believed to be highly likely from MH370 as far north as the eastern coast of Tanzania and as far south as the east coast of South Africa.
And yet you have all these little pieces of debris but they haven't found the plane itself, the main wreckage which of course is the final resting place for those 239 people. So for all of these families who have lived in a state of limbo ever since that day, March 8th, 2014, it seems sadly that that state of not knowing is going to continue for the foreseeable future.
ALLEN: That has to be really a living hell for these families and certainly we remember you starting to work for CNN at that time and all your reporting. Will Ripley, for us there in Hong Kong. Thank you, Will.
Well, there's a critical moment for the future of Zimbabwe ahead. It's the country's first election since former president Robert Mugabe was ousted. But he's not going quietly, taking a jab at his former party. We'll have that story for you coming up next here.
[03:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HOWELL: Zimbabwe is holding a historic election.
ALLEN: It is the first time in 37 years that ousted former president Robert Mugabe is not on the ballot. Mugabe resigned last November under military threat. He's been rarely seen in public until now.
HOWELL: And in a surprise intervention, Mugabe turned his back on the party he helped to create and instead appeared to support the main opposition. Our Farai Sevenzo has more from Harare.
FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Zimbabwe's capital Harare was gripped by election fever this last weekend. The city became a tale of two political rallies. Campaigning ended Saturday for the first election since Robert Mugabe resigned under the threat of impeachment last November. He had been in power for 37 years.
Followers of the opposition, MDC Alliance, gathered to hear from their leader, Nelson Chamisa. Around the same time, Zanu-PF supporters of the ruling party once led by Mugabe came to hear from their man, current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
On the eve of the the historic election, with a record 23 presidential candidates, Mugabe suddenly appeared on people's TV screens. He called a press conference not to praise the new dispensation but to put one more knife in his back.
ROBERT MUGABE, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF ZIMBABWE: I cannot vote for those who have tormented me. No, I can't. I will make my choice among the other 22.
SEVENZO: Zanu-PF's candidate immediately released a video addressing the Mugabe intervention.
EMMERSON MNANGAGWA, PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE: Now that it is clear to all that Chamisa has forged a deal with Mugabe, we can no longer believe that his intentions are to transform Zimbabwe.
SEVENZO: The man at the center of Mugabe's dubious praise drew dramatic crowds to his final rally.
As you can see, the numbers have been absolutely massive at Nelson Chamisa's rally. Whether these great numbers in a sea of red will translate into a majority of the vote come Monday is anybody's guess.
I wanted to know from the opposition supporters what they would do if their man lost these elections.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If Chamisa loses, it means they will have cheated him. We do not want to be continually intimidated. We are tired and we don't want any more.
SEVENZO: The Zanu-PF faithful were awaiting their leader.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the old veteran. He's the one who fought for our country.
SEVENZO: Isn't he too old? After five years, he'll be 80 years old.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not old. We need his matured brain.
SEVENZO: CNN caught up with the opposition leader on the last day of campaigning.
NELSON CHAMISA, ZIMBABWENIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Maturity is not a creature of age. Maturity is a creature of your ideas. Mugabe, you know, was known to be a man who was not willing to open the doors of democracy. But Mnangagwa's west (ph) because he's sophisticated. He was in government for 38 years. You can't tell us that he is now a born again. When was he born again?
SEVENZO: The task of rebuilding Zimbabwe will be a tough one.
[03:45:01] The hope is the country will not go up in flames, whoever wins.
HOWELL: Let's discuss what will be a major test of Zimbabwe's democracy with our Farai Sevenzo, joining us via Skype live from the capital city of Harare. And from your report, it is quite clear, this is an important shift, seeing Mr. Mugabe support the opposition.
SEVENZO: Well, yes. It can be seen that way, George. But bear in mind, this is a man who's never really seen in public life anymore. In fact, he's become a bit of an irrelevant. But he has the the capacity in Mr. Mnangagwa's new dispensation to simply call a press conference, and of course being who he is, everybody will rush to listen to him.
Now, those words that came out yesterday are really aimed at the man who took over power from him. He is saying -- excuse me, in no uncertain ways that he does not want to support the people who treated him so badly. Now, whether or not that will make any difference, no one knows what power base he has anymore.
And it is because of Mr. Mnangagwa's very open kind of freedom of speech, freedom of worship, anyone can say what they want, but he's able to call an impromptu press conference like that. Now, the most important thing about his words, where does it put Mr. Chamisa on voting day? He's being accused now by all the local papers, especially the state papers, of holding hands with Mr. Mugabe.
Some even go as far as to say in this morning's editorial that his campaign was funded by the Mugabes. Of course, none of this -- this is all fabrication. No one has been able to put any single cent or dollar trail to the doors of the MDC Alliance but it does make a difference to the campaign style. Having said that, this is by far, George, the most peaceful election this country has seen in a long, long time. The crowds we saw, the crowds you just witnessed, were all passing each other without throwing stones at each other or without any sort of malicious intent. So as far as the voting that will happen this day, it remains to be seen whether the people will still feel free to make their choice democratically.
HOWELL: And let's talk just a bit about that. What this election means, this changing of the guard with Mr. Mugabe not on the ballot this time. It is a striking difference from your reporting, from what we've seen before within that nation. It was a very different situation for people under Mr. Mugabe, as it is now.
SEVENZO: Well, yes indeed. You remember those chaotic and euphoric scenes back in November. They seem to have ushered in a new era of, as I say, openness and debates. The mud slinging that went on in the last 24 hours with Mr. Mugabe throwing daggers at the back of Mr. Mnangagwa by saying he cannot support a party that treated him so badly, these are the first signs we've seen of such badmouthing and ill intent.
But it's absolutely true, George, as you say. It is a new era of campaigning as well as of democracy. Let's see what the results bring and who will accept defeat with the most grace.
HOWELL: Farai Sevenzo live for us in Harare, Zimbabwe. Thank you for your time today.
ALLEN: And next here, Britain battles fake news. Lawmakers are setting their sights on social media companies to stop the spread of misinformation.
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ALLEN: Members of the British parliament are warning that fake news is a threat to democracy.
HOWELL: A committee investigating the issue wants the government to stop using that term altogether, preferring the term "misinformation" instead. And it's calling for greater regulation of social media. Our Samuel Burke explains.
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It's a blueprint for regulation sure to reverberate across Silicon Valley. This 89-page report released Sunday by a British parliamentary committee. The report called on companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to face financial and legal liability when they fail to police fake news on their platforms.
DAMIAN COLLINS, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: We have to create this sense of liability for them to say that if you don't proactively look for and monitor harmful content and I think they classify the real hard fake news, real lies being spread during an election as harmful content, if you don't act to identify that and the sources of it, then you can be liable for the information having been spread. I think if we introduce that liability into law, we'll see them take it more seriously.
BURKE: The committee recommended new taxes on social media companies and stiff fines when they promote political ads that lack transparency.
COLLINS: The tech companies are saying themselves they want to give more transparency. What we could do is write it into our laws.
BURKE: If adopted, the recommendations would radically change the way tech companies are treated in the U.K. Less like passive platforms and more like publishers.
MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: I think that it is inevitable that there will need to be some regulation.
BURKE: But British lawmakers said they weren't satisfied with efforts by social media companies to regulate themselves.
COLLINS: What they do is they pre-empt regulation. They don't like being regulated. So if they think the threat of regulation is real, they will try in their own way to solve the problem.
BURKE: The committee which has been working closely with members of the U.S. Congress also proposed measures to combat election interference. And it slams Facebook in particular for failing to fully investigate how and if Russia uses its platform to influence voters.
In a statement to CNN, Facebook said, "The committee has raised some important issues. We share the goal of ensuring that political advertising is fair and transparent and that electoral rule changes are needed. We will work closely with the U.K. government as we develop these new transparency tools."
RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: The chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, is $16 billion poorer than when he woke up this morning.
BURKE: Last week, the stock prices of Facebook and Twitter each fell almost 20 percent after both companies said they were spending heavily to combat misinformation and clean up fake accounts on their platforms.
COLLINS: You look to the near future, and the problem is probably going to get worse.
[03:54:58] Using virtual reality, augmented reality techniques, you can already create a fake speech given by someone in a place they never were to an audience they never met and pass it off as real and share that online.
Now, we're going to need the help of the tech companies to stop that sort of information spreading. Otherwise, that could have a real outcome on elections in the future.
BURKE: Big tech's willingness to help out will surely be tested now that regulation is growing closer to becoming law.
Samuel Burke, CNN, London.
HOWELL: Sam, thank you. It was one of the biggest stories in the year on the Korean Peninsula. So it's only fitting that one South Korea's hottest stars is offering his take on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: K-pop star "Big Bang" tackles the summit between President Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un in the video for the song "Where Are You From?" It has already had more than 2.5 million views on YouTube since it was released last week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Thanks for watching "CNN Newsroom." "Early Start" is next for viewers here in the U.S.
HOWELL: And for viewers around the world, our colleague Max Foster picks up "Newsroom" live in London. You're watching CNN, the world's news leader.
ALLEN: See you later.
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