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Rohingya Nightmare; North Korea Warns Denuclearization May Fall Apart; Trump White House; Remembering John McCain. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired August 28, 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)
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: Genocide and crimes against humanity. A scathing U.N. report is detailing the horrors faced by Rohingya Muslims living in Myanmar.
Plus, North Korea sends a message warning that denuclearization could fall apart if the U.S. is not willing to compromise.
And a call for action after a devastating Saudi-led airstrike killed 40 children on a school bus in Yemen.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is "CNN Newsroom."
U.N. investigators say the evidence against Myanmar's top military leaders is overwhelming. A new report recommends they face charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity for their treatment of Rohingya Muslims.
Myanmar's government side-stepped CNN's request for comment, saying it has created its own commission to investigate human rights abuses. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority ethnic group who claim what is now Myanmar as their ancestral home, but they're not officially recognized by the government, denied citizenship, leaving them persecuted and stateless.
The U.N. Refugee Agency says more than 700,000 Rohingya have crossed to neighboring Bangladesh in the last year, fleeing a military operation in Myanmar that the U.N.'s top human rights official likened to ethnic cleansing. Most of the refugees are women and children. An estimated half million Rohingya still live in Myanmar's Rakhine State, according to the United Nations.
The U.S. and U.K. are demanding answers from Myanmar's government, but surprisingly enough, it's Facebook that's already taken action. Here's our Alexandra Field.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Myanmar's top military leaders now accused of genocide by United Nations investigators. The findings released in a report on the brutal military campaign waged against the Rohingya people, the stateless Muslim minority that has lived for generations in the majority Buddhist country.
Violence erupted a year ago. Military officials maintain they were only targeting terrorists who had staged an attack on border posts in August 2017. But the violence was widespread. Villages torched, women raped, thousands killed.
The carnage causing a mass exodus from Myanmar with hundreds of thousands running for their lives to take shelter in makeshift refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh. Citing the gravest crimes under international law, U.N. investigators are now naming names and calling for the prosecution of Myanmar's military commander in chief and five generals.
RADHIKA COOMARASWAMY, MEMBER, INDEPENDENT INTERNATIONAL FACT-FINDING MISSION ON MYANMAR: The scale, brutality, and systematic nature of rape and violence indicate that they are part of a deliberate strategy to intimidate, terrorize or punish the civilian population. They're used as a tactic of war that we found include rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, forced nudity, and mutilations.
FIELD: Myanmar's civilian government had little scope to control military actions, according to the report, but there are scathing words for Myanmar's de facto leader, human rights icon and Nobel Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, for failing to do more to stop the violence.
COOMARASWAMY: We are deeply disappointed that the state counselor, Aung San Suu Kyi, has not used her position or her moral authority to stem, prevent or condemn the unfolding events in Rakhine State.
FIELD: The report calls for immediate action, referral of the case to the International Criminal Court. Facebook has responded, moving to ban 20 individuals and organizations, including a senior military commander named in the report.
A statement from the company says, "We want to prevent them from using our service to further inflame ethnic and religious tensions." The company also saying it was "too slow" to prevent the spread of hate and misinformation.
Alexandra Field, CNN, Hong Kong.
CHURCH Phil Robertson is the deputy director for the Asia division at Human Rights Watch, and he joins me now from Colombo in Sri Lanka. Thank you so much for being with us.
PHIL ROBERTSON, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Sure.
CHURCH: Well, this U.N. report recommends that six senior military figures in Myanmar be investigated and prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity. But how likely is this that we'll see that happen?
ROBERTSON: Well, it's going to be a little bit difficult because Myanmar has not ratified the Rome statute, which established the International Criminal Court. So the only way to get them to the International Criminal Court is for the U.N. Security Council to act, and that's what we're calling for.
[03:05:00] There's a briefing today by the U.N. secretary general special representative to envoy to Myanmar to discuss the situation. The U.N. Security Council should be acting, should make a referral of these top generals and other persons who are responsible for these crimes to the International Criminal Court so we can finally get the wheels of justice moving here.
CHURCH And how likely is it that that will happen?
ROBERTSON: Well, it's going to be difficult because China has got a veto at the U.N. Security Council. So, the other things we're doing is we're trying to press the U.N. Human Rights Council to establish another mechanism, to establish the files and other evidence that has been brought together by the Fact-Finding Mission and build on that.
And then work perhaps, if the U.N. Security Council won't act, we will work with the U.N. General Assembly and others to create something like a Rwanda commission or a former Yugoslavia commission, again to ensure that these generals are brought before an international court for their crimes.
CHURCH Now, this report represents the strongest condemnation yet from the U.N. of brutality against Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims including indiscriminate killings, gang rape, assault of children, and the burning of entire villages. But of course, as you've mentioned, Myanmar has rejected this report. So what happens next?
ROBERTSON: Well, I mean, this is going to be a period of time when the international community really has to step up. You know, we're going to see whether they're prepared to really walk the walk. So far, there's been a lot of statements. There's been a lot of hand wringing about concern about how horrible the situation is and how to help the Rohingya but very little action.
And we want to see not only the action at the U.N., but we also want to see United States, the European Union and others take additional sanctions against these top military commanders to once again show that this kind of action, you know, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide, is totally unacceptable in the 21st century.
I mean, everybody always talks about never again. You know, when are they going to actually mean it?
CHURCH: Year never again a lot, don't we? So the U.N. report also criticizes Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, for failing to stop the violence against the Rohingya people. So, how likely is it that Suu Kyi perhaps would face genocide charges herself?
ROBERTSON: Well, at this point, it's not that likely, but she is clearly part of the problem. She's been involved in what I would characterize as a cover-up of the atrocities by the generals. You know, she now has to decide which side she's going to be on. You know, is she going to go down with the sinking ship? This situation now is one where the international community has significantly ratcheted up the pressure on Myanmar. And Suu Kyi, as we've said all along, you know, has the moral authority to step in.
You know, if she says something, the people of Myanmar will follow her. She's still very popular there. And if she steps up and says, look, the military has done something wrong here and we have to hold them accountable, I think she would be followed and supported in that.
CHURCH: We will watch to see what her move is next. Phil Robertson, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
ROBERTSON: Thank you.
CHURCH: CNN has reported extensively on the plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar and the sprawling (ph) camps in Bangladesh. The two countries have agreed to repatriate the refugees but the timing is still uncertain. Here's a look back from CNN's Ivan Watson, Clarissa Ward, and Alexandra Field.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tens of thousands of Rohingya have already tried to make the dangerous escape by sea. Zoya's (ph) teenage son, Mohammed (ph), set sail months ago with human traffickers.
In the weeks after, smugglers called, demanding ransom money for her son's safety. She paid by selling off her family's food ration card and then got a call from her son.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He said, please don't give them money. I have already been sold to someone else.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: The distance they have come is not far, but the journey is long. For many, it begins on this river. That's Myanmar on the other side. Every day, hundreds of Rohingya Muslims try to cross it to safety.
So we can see now coming towards the shore, one, two, three, four, five, six different rafts. All of them have at least 20 to 30 people on them.
The U.N. says that scores of Rohingya have died making this crossing, but that hasn't stopped them from trying. We can't follow them any further. So they drift on down the river, unsure of what awaits them.
[03:09:58] FIELD: She was their baby, a three-year-old's lifeless body, bundled up in her grandfather's arms. Sultana (ph) got sick on the way to Bangladesh.
She says, while we're hiding in the hills and forests, she drank water from canals, ponds, rivers, and from the pipes there.
The family ran from violence in Myanmar to try to save their lives. They were killing us, he says. Shooting us, beating us, slaughtering us. They caught us one by one. Then the slaughtering.
CHURCH: And you can find more of CNN's coverage of the Rohingya crisis on our website and learn how you can help the refugees. That's at CNN.com/impact.
North Korea is warning the United States the denuclearization process may soon fall apart. Three sources tell CNN a letter recently sent to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said denuclearization cannot move forward without Washington's commitment to a peace treaty. And Pyongyang said it would resume nuclear and missile activities unless a compromise can be reached.
For more on this development, our Will Ripley joins us now from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Will. So we don't know the exact wording of this North Korea letter, but we do know that Pyongyang is warning that denuclearization efforts may fall apart. Tell us what more you have learned about this letter.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, this all boils down to a fundamental disagreement between the United States and the North Koreans about what exactly was signed on June 12th in Singapore between North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump.
President Trump walked away thinking that Kim had essentially agreed to quickly give up the majority of his nuclear arsenal in exchange for what Trump feels is a deal that is irresistible -- economic incentives and a new economic relationship with the United States that could open the door for infrastructure development and, you know, the type of wealth that President Trump feels could lure the North Koreans to give up the system that they have fought to maintain for more than 60 years.
But for the North Koreans, far more important than economic concessions are security guarantees, and what the North Koreans have insisted that they want first, before they'll even consider the denuclearization process, is a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War that has been in a technical state of ceasefire since 1953.
So that fundamental disagreement, the North Koreans want the peace treaty first and, you know, the rest of the process after, the U.S. feeling that the peace treaty is a concession that should come at the end of the process. That is where this gridlock has left the two sides.
At this point now, there is real and growing concern that things could revert right back to the tensions that we saw for much of the last couple of years.
CHURCH: So, Will, explain to us why is the U.S. withholding this commitment to a peace treaty? That is the only stumbling block here. Why not reverse this? Get the peace treaty done and move forward from there.
RIPLEY: Because there are a number of voices within the Trump administration who feel that the peace treaty would be one more concession on the part of the United States that weakens fundamentally the United States' position.
Already the u.s. -- many analysts believe that the U.S. is in a weaker position now because China's relationship with North Korea frankly hasn't been this great in years. Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping have a growing rapport.
A lot of people including United States believe that China isn't really enforcing the sanctions, the U.N. Security Council sanctions, against North Korea, and therefore the maximum pressure that the U.S. was to able to put on Pyongyang just no longer exists, not to mention improved ties with Russia.
And also, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is going to be traveling to Pyongyang next month. Even though things between the U.S. and North Korea are going so well, the South Koreans and their progressive administration seem determined to move forward with the peace process.
So now you have the United States, which was kind of at the center of all this process, at risk of essentially being sidelined and not having much leverage. And yet you still have North Korea that has improving relationships with all these other stakeholders and the nuclear weapons that the United States has said simply cannot be allowed to exist.
And the U.S. administration -- some members of the administration feel that giving a peace treaty right now would only strengthen the North Koreans and weaken the United States. But, again, you know, there are also some inside the administration, according to The Washington Post, that do feel that a peace treaty is what needs to happen to move this process forward and that it's not going to undermine the fundamental strength of the U.S. position.
But you can see how, again, that vague statement in Singapore has led to this now kind of chaotic, messy situation with so much at stake, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Yeah. A lot of North Korea experts will be saying, I told you so, right now. Will Ripley reporting live there from Hong Kong where it's 3:15 in the afternoon. We thank you very much. Well, still to come, it was down, then up, and then down again.
[03:15:00] President Trump begrudgingly lowers the White House flag in honor of one of his biggest critics, John McCain.
Plus, deep divisions within the Vatican over clergy abuse laid bare for all the world to see. An archbishop accuses Pope Francis of covering up misconduct. Now a top U.S. cardinal wants answers.
And after a string of Saudi-led airstrikes have killed dozens of civilians in Yemen, the U.S. military has a warning for Saudi Arabia. We'll be back in just a moment.
CHURCH: Well, Monday was a rough day for Donald Trump after being slammed for a less than enthusiastic response to Senator John McCain's death. He tried to change the subject to his new trade deal with Mexico. But the questions on McCain kept coming. CNN's Abby Phillip has the details.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much, everybody.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Under fire for his tepid response to Senator John McCain's death, President Trump changing the subject and refusing five times to spare a word of praise for the late senator.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Mr. President, any thoughts on John McCain, sir?
TRUMP: Thank you, John.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Nothing at all about John McCain?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Mr. President, why won't you call John McCain a hero, sir?
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
PHILLIP: Instead, awkwardly calling the president of Mexico.
TRUMP: I believe the president is on the phone. Enrique?
PHILLIP: To announce a preliminary agreement on renegotiating NAFTA.
TRUMP: It's a big day for trade. Big day for our country. A lot of people thought we'd never get here because we all negotiate tough. We do. So does Mexico.
PHILLIP: But at best, the deal is incomplete without Canada.
TRUMP: As far as Canada is concerned, we haven't started with Canada yet. We have an agreement where both with Canada and with Mexico, I will terminate the existing deal.
PHILLIP: A top Canadian government official responding, "We will only sign a new NAFTA that is good for Canada and good for the middle class. Canada's signature is required."
President Trump eager to eager to fulfill a campaign promise on trade.
TRUMP: NAFTA is a one-way road out of our country for our jobs and our money.
PHILLIP: But unwilling to put aside another 2016 election holdover. His grudge against McCain.
[03:20:00] TRUMP: He's not a war hero.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): He's a war hero.
TRUMP: He's a war hero --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Five and a half years --
TRUMP: He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, OK? I hate to tell you.
PHILLIP: Since McCain's death on Saturday, the president sending more than a dozen tweets praising himself, athletes, and politicians who won his endorsement. But acknowledging the passing of a Republican senator and war hero with just two sentences, offering sympathies to his family and leaving it to First Lady Melania Trump to praise McCain's service to the nation.
A source telling CNN the White House communication staff drafted a more robust written statement that was never released. And after lowering flags at the White House for one day after McCain's death, they were raised again most of Monday, only to be lowered again.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: It is such pettiness. Such pettiness in a reaction to a real American hero.
PHILLIP: Abby Phillip, CNN, the White House.
CHURCH: So let's get more now from CNN political analyst David Drucker. Thank you so much for joining us.
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be here.
CHURCH: Why is President Trump unable to rise above petty politics and so begrudgingly recognize a nation's hero and his legacy? What does it tell us about the leader of this country, that he had to be shamed into saying anything of significance about Senator McCain?
DRUCKER: Well, the president has made an art out of petty politics. It probably propelled him to the Republican nomination and helped him win the presidency. But I think that instead of trying to get inside the president's head, it's just important to understand how this president operates.
He is shameless, utterly shameless. He never apologizes. He never backs down. I think he misses an opportunity to expand his base of support. He never mind bringing the country together at a critical moment. He misses an opportunity selfishly, from his point of view, to expand his base of support, and I think put himself in a better position for 2020.
I don't think most Americans are going to pay much attention to his feud with the late Senator McCain or the fact that he was unable to rise above his usual behavior and simply honor a man who was a war hero and dedicated his life to serving his country.
I do think this sort of behavior is what makes it more difficult for Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections and could make it more difficult for President Trump to win re-election if he ends up running against the Democrat, as I like to say, who is likable, trustworthy and not under FBI investigation like his last opponent was.
CHURCH: Right. I do want to talk about the midterms in just a moment. But first, John McCain's longtime aide, Rick Davis, read a letter Monday written by the late Senator McCain, and this is what he said in part in his final message to the American people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK DAVIS, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER OF JOHN MCCAIN: We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: So, final message from Senator McCain to Donald Trump about tribal rivalries, sowing resentment around the world, and tearing down rather than building walls. How significant is this message from the grave from the late Senator McCain to the president, and is he even listening?
DRUCKER: Well, I doubt he's listening. But I think what's significant about this message is that to the end, Senator McCain was talking about what he cared about the most and urging Americans to avoid what I think he saw in the waning days of his life and his time in public service as the biggest challenge to the United States. That is this desire to pull back from the world.
And having been so removed from World War II, so removed from the Cold War, many Americans don't quite understand why it was so necessary, why it has been so profitable in a sense -- the peace dividend has been so profitable for the United States to have been so outward looking, so internationalists, and so involved in leading alliances both in Europe and the Pacific.
And expending so much blood and treasure at different times, sometimes just a lot of treasure, and controlling the sea lanes and guaranteeing democracy around the world. There's been a question about that coming out of the great recession from the 2008 financial crash. Why is the United States expending so much time and energy when we have so many problems here at home?
And what Senator McCain tried to do -- and it pushed back so forcefully against what President Trump believes -- is explain to Americans why it is so important for the U.S. to continue in this role as the world's global guarantor of peace and prosperity.
And I think to the end, that's where he chose to focus his words because it was so important to him and also because it was what he was so worried about in terms of what comes next for the U.S.
[03:25:04] CHURCH: And just finally, what impact might the passing of Senator McCain have on the upcoming midterm elections? From Mr. Trump's initial refusal to even recognize McCain in death to the shaming of the president by veteran groups to eventually make a statement about the senator and to lower the White House flag to half- staff to honor McCain.
DRUCKER: Yeah. So I think, look, by the time we get into next week and the week after, we're going to be on to new controversies and the president, as usual, will probably be in control of the news cycle for better or ill from his point of view.
And I don't think that this week -- I don't think the senator's death as significant an event as it is in the United States as a matter of American politics and even around the world for many people, I don't think it's really going to have that much of an impact on the midterm elections.
I do think, though, it's another example of behavior from the president that is one of the reasons why there are so many House districts in American suburbs that usually vote Republican but might not this year. It is just another reason why so many of these voters that are traditionally Republicans are thinking about voting for Democrats or might not vote at all.
And so it sort of reinforces the narrative about Trump that while very helpful for him in some of these Republican states where there are battleground Senate races, it's so damaging to him and his party in these battleground House districts. I think that's what this is about.
CHURCH: David Drucker, thank you so much for your analysis. We appreciate it.
DRUCKER: Thank you.
CHURCH: The deaths of Yemeni civilians including dozens of children from Saudi-led airstrikes have sparked worldwide outrage. Now the U.S. is issuing a warning to Saudi Arabia. Reduce casualties now.
Plus, some say he's crazy, others like what he's doing. A Middle East progress report on the 45th president of the United States.
CHURCH Welcome back to "CNN Newsroom." I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we're following this hour. The United Nations accuses Myanmar's top generals of genocide against the Rohingya minority.
A new report details murder, rape, and torture carried out by the military under the guise of a crackdown on terrorists. The U.N. calls for the military leaders to be investigated and prosecuted.
North Korea is warning the U.S. It will resume nuclear and missile activities without a firm commitment to peace. [03:29:59] Sources tell CNN a letter sent from North Korea to the U.S. secretary of state warns the entire denuclearization process is again as stake and may fall apart.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
[03:30:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: -- tell CNN a letter sent from North Korea to the U.S. Secretary of State warns the entire denuclearization process is again at stake and may fall apart. Donald Trump spoke briefly Monday night on the passing of U.S. Senator John McCain, with whom he often sparred. The President's only comment up until then was a single tweet, but after being asked numerous times for further comment, Mr. Trump said, we very much appreciate everything Senator McCain has done for our country.
Well, the Pentagon is issuing a warning to Saudi Arabia on Yemen. It says it may reduce its military and intelligence support for the Saudi-led campaign against rebels in neighboring Yemen. That is if Saudi Arabia fails to demonstrate that it is trying to limit civilian casualties. Now, this follows a string of Saudi strikes that have killed large numbers of civilians in Yemen and prompted worldwide outrage.
Last week 30 people, most of them children, died when Saudi jets targeted a rebel-held area in northwestern Yemen. And earlier this month, 40 Yemeni children were killed when a Saudi coalition air strike tore apart their school bus. Well, let's look back on how all of this violence started in Yemen.
Houthi rebels allied with Iran took over much of the country including the capital of Sanaa in early 2015. In March of that year, a Saudi- led coalition backed by the United States began a military campaign against the Houthis. The crisis escalated into a multi-sided war and allowed al-Qaeda and ISIS to grow stronger in the country. In August, 2016, peace talks failed to end the conflict, in November 2017, Houthi rebels launched a ballistic missile at Saudi Arabia's capital, prompting Saudi Arabia to tighten a blockade on Yemen and worsening the humanitarian crisis there.
And then in June, Saudi led forces began an attack on the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, the main port that brings in badly needed food and humanitarian supplies. Reports of civilian casualties at the hands of Saudi-led air strikes have continued since 2015.
CNN's Nima Elbagir joins us now from London. Always good to see you, Nima. So, in the wake of your CNN investigation confirming a U.S. bomb was used in that deadly attack on a school bus in Yemen, the Pentagon is threatening to withdraw military support to Saudi Arabia if civilian casualties are not reduced. So how is Saudi Arabia responding to that threat?
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Saudi Arabia has always been incredibly defensive on this issue. They are aware that the legitimacy that is conferred upon them by the U.S. backing is crucial to the continuation of their pursuit of the war in Yemen, but at the same time, they also know they do have other options. Russia is very much waiting in the wings to pick up any arms contracts that the U.S. are happy to drop. But the situation, as you so eloquently outlined there, is untenable.
The reality is that for the time being, what the U.S. Department of Defense is hiding behind is they say, well, we don't track where these planes go after we assist with mid-air fueling. We don't track where they go once we have allowed them to land on our aircraft carriers and then take off again. And that is allowed them to maintain some kind of veil of plausible deniability, but that is increasingly becoming -- well, it's increasingly wearing thin. We have been hearing from our contacts within the Pentagon that there is growing frustration that is not felt within the White House, because you remember how excited President Trump was to come back with that $110 billion arms deal.
But the Pentagon is very concerned. They have been concerned for a while about the specificity of the Saudis targeting. They've been concerned about the proportionality. That bomb that was dropped on the bus, we found out it was a 500-pound bomb. That is cause the concern. Disproportionality is, of course, if proved, a war crime. What we're seeing here is the Pentagon really pushing back against what President Trump wants with regards to his ability to deliver jobs and financial stability through this arms deal, by them pushing back regarding the realities on the ground in Yemen, Rosemary.
CHURCH: And, Nima, a group of eminent experts on Yemen set up by the U.N. Human Rights Council is expected to issue its findings very soon on violations committed by all sides in this war. What are they expected to say?
ELBAGIR: Well, they are -- the press conference has actually started, and the few headlines that have already come out are huge concerns about the situation on the ground. They say that the violations that they have been able to document are absolutely horrendous, and they're accusing all parties to the conflict.
[03:35:05] So, the United Arab Emirates as well as the Saudis, as well as the rest of the members of the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi- backed government. Violations that they say could constitute war crimes. The list is absolutely horrible. They talk about mistreatment of prisoners. They talk about rape. They talk about recruitment of children under the age of 15. And they also crucially come back to that point of proportionality. They specifically accuse the Saudi-led coalition of actions that they believe are disproportionate and could, if a competent authority is allowed to look into this, constitute war crimes.
They also have a list that for the moment they're keeping confidential of individuals on both sides that they believe are guilty of war crimes. So it seems this shift in position from the DOD, this public expression of frustration by the Pentagon and the United States has come ahead of this, because they would have known -- make no mistake, Rosemary that this was on its way. And it at least saves them a little bit of face to be expressing their concerns publicly ahead of this kind of litany of abuses being put out into the public domain. CHURCH: And what recommendations might this group of eminent experts
make, do you think?
ELBAGIR: Well, the frustration has been for human rights defenders, for human rights activists, that whenever they have wanted to get something official out of the Security Council, even this panel of experts was a long time coming. This investigation took months to negotiate their presence on the ground. The problem is will this be blocked? Any formal sanction coming out of the Security Council has, in the lasting few years has been consistently blocked by the U.S. and the U.K. who, of course are the biggest providers of arms to the Saudi led coalition.
So, it remains to be seen whether this censure and the DOD's expressions of frustration will be enough to convince the U.S. and the U.K. at a diplomatic level to actually stand aside and allow the Security Council to formally censure the parties to this conflict, but the reality is that is not guaranteed.
CHURCH: And we will keep a very close eye on this briefing there in Geneva. Nima Elbagir, we thank you for your extraordinary reporting here on CNN.
Well, after a year and a half in office, Donald Trump still leaves many in the Middle East baffled. Is he friend or is he foe? And does he really have a plan to help the region which has suffered from so much conflict? CNN's Ben Wedeman reports from Lebanon.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Donald Trump's first overseas trip was to Saudi Arabia, a signal that his stump speeches aside, he might actually be reaching out to this troubled corner of the world.
His every word is followed closely here in Lebanon where regional and global rivalry, run right through the minutia of local politics. A harsh critic of U.S. Middle East policy, commentator (inaudible) was hoping Trump might live up to his promise of putting America first and pull out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When he visited the region and he changed his mind about leaving, because he said he wants to leave. He wants to leave the Middle East. And this is what we all want to hear. We want to be left alone.
WEDEMAN: That was not to be. Since becoming President, he reversed decades of U.S. policy and recognized Jerusalem as Israel capital, nixed the Iran nuclear deal and reapplied draconian sanctions. He is backed Saudi Arabia to the hilt in its Yemen war.
In the Palestinian refugee camp of Shakina (ph), site of the 1982 massacre, maggid an official with the (inaudible) movement, scoffs at Arab rulers who leaped on the Trump train. Trump, he says, considers you cows to milk, but mostly the U.S. President leaves these third and fourth generation refugees baffled. He is crazy, says this shop owner. Not everyone disses the Donald. This analyst gives him high marks for ditching the Iran deal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a beginning to say to the republic -- the Islamic republic of Iran, stop. And not only for the nuclear deal. Stop going all around the region. Stop expanding your empire from Iraq to Syria, to Lebanon, to Palestine, to Yemen.
WEDEMAN: On Beirut's streets, I asked these women what they think of President Trump.
[03:40:00] He is the world's worst, said this woman. He is a mistake.
Back to Shapila (ph) Hanadi, the baker, better known as Umbakhar, doubts the President of the United States of America cares what anyone here has to say.
If I, Umbakhar say Trump, Trump, Trump, do you think he'll listen to me? Good question. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.
CHURCH: In a thinly veiled swipe at U.S. President Trump and his advisers, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says anti-Iranian individuals at the White House will not be successful. Addressing the Iranian parliament just a short time ago, Mr. Rouhani added his government is not afraid of the U.S. His comments come as Iran is asking the United Nations international court of justice to order the U.S. to lift its sanctions against Tehran. Iran claims the sanctions violate a 1955 friendship treaty, because they are damaging the Iranian economy. The U.S. calls the lawsuit meritless and is set to deliver its oral arguments shortly.
Meanwhile, South Africa is striking back at U.S. President Donald Trump for his comments on land seizures in that country. Mr. Trump claimed white farmers in South Africa were being killed so their land could be given to blacks. CNN's David McKenzie spoke to South Africa's international relations minister, who said the President is just trying to appeal to his base.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I think he is resonating with people who stand to benefit because they probably have the same kind of ideology. I have no idea.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is this a racist ideology?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it is rightly ideology, and it is very unfortunate. We've used every opportunity coming through our communications to explain to the world what it is that we're doing. It is the most reasonable way to deal with a legacy such as we have. And we are almost amazed at how, you know, it could be misinterpreted and acceptable in certain quarters.
MCKENZIE: But it seems that the President of the United States has almost made it acceptable to talk about this. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is why I was indicating that I think it was
unfortunate. I would have thought that in a position of a President, the first thing that he would have done is to call his Secretary of State. Our job is to make sure that we can redistribute land. That those people whose land was taken away from them forcefully and illegally by previous governments should be returned to them, because we would like as much productivity as we can on the land.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: CNN's David McKenzie speaking with South Africa's international relations minister.
Coming up after this short break, a far-right protest against immigrants erupts in Germany. We'll explain why it started and what the government is saying about it.
Plus the chaos in Venezuela is no longer just a domestic problem. South American leaders are now working on a regional response before the refugee crisis gets worse.
[03:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. The head of the U.S. conference of catholic bishops is requesting an urgent audience with the Pope to get to the truth of bombshell allegations. An archbishop is claiming Pope Francis covered up alleged sexual misconduct by a cardinal for half a decade and is demanding Francis step down. CNN's Delia Gallagher reports the stunning accusations are exposing deep rifts within the Vatican.
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Pope Francis was asked by journalists on board the papal plane returning from Ireland on Sunday evening about accusations made by his former papal envoy to the United States that the Pope himself knew about sexual abuse allegations, one of his top cardinals, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., and that he failed to do anything about it for years.
The Pope told journalists onboard that he had read the accusations and that he had this to say about it. Read the statement carefully, the Pope said, and make your own judgment. I will not say a single word on this. The letter speaks for itself. So Pope Francis essentially not confirming or denying the accusations, but instead refusing to engage the question.
Now, supporters of Pope Francis say the Pope is right to do this because they say the former envoy is a conservative who has an ax to grind against Pope Francis and wants to embarrass him. Others however say there are details in the accusation that could be easily denied or verified by the Pope and the Vatican should they wish to do so. What is clear is that for the moment anyway, Pope Francis has no intention of doing that. Delia Gallagher, CNN, Rome.
CHURCH: More than 2,000 far-right demonstrators came out in the eastern German City of Chemnitz, Monday night to protest Germany's refugee and immigration policy. It is the second day of protest in the city spark by the fatal stabbing of a German man. CNN's Atika Shubert has more.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chancellor Merkel, spokesperson condemn the man that took to the streets on Sunday and the strongest possible terms he said, quote, the attempt to spread hatred on the streets has no place in our cities. He described the crowds as hunting or hounding anyone who looked different or possibly foreign. Now, tensions in this area of East Germany have been simmering for some time between the refugee and immigrant community and local residents, but it clearly boiled over on Sunday at 3:00 a.m. in a knife fight. A 35-year-old German was killed. Police have since arrested a Syrian suspect and an Iraqi suspect for the murder, but what was already a very bad situation was made much worse when the AFD, the far-right Party, an anti-immigration Party known as the alternative for Germany, called for a spontaneous demonstration later on Sunday.
They sent out a Facebook post that actually had a photo of the bloodstained crime scene, but protest organizers clearly lost control at some point, because hundreds more people then showed up, really an angry mob that completely overwhelmed police. And that was the moment that was captured in a number of social media videos. You can probably see them roaming the streets of Chemnitz, shouting "foreigners out," and "this is our city."
Now, the AFD Party has denied any responsibility for the mobs although it has acknowledged organizing the initial protest. On Monday evening, more than 2,000 also took to the streets, again to protest Germany's refugee and immigration policy. This time, however, police were able to control the crowds, and the protesters were peacefully dispersed. Atika Shubert, CNN, Berlin.
CHURCH: The crisis in Nicaragua is spilling over into neighboring Costa Rica, and there is no relief in sight. Thousands have protested Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega's increasingly authoritarian rule including a hike in social security taxes and a crackdown on decent.
[03:50:07] More than 300 people have been killed since demonstrations began in April. Nicaraguans have been pouring into Costa Rica to escape the fighting, persecution, and threats. The U.N. Refugee Agency says an average of 200 Nicaraguans are seeking asylum in Costa Rica every day, and there are now calls for international help.
The Venezuelan refugee crisis is increasingly putting pressure on South American countries. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans are fleeing the political, social, and economic chaos at home only to face strict border controls and xenophobia when they leave. Now the country is taking in most of the refugees are trying to find a collective response. Journalist Jorge Luis Perez Valery has more now from Caracas.
JORGE LUIS PEREZ VALERY, JOURNALIST, CARACAS: This is going to be two days meeting in Bogota where officials from these three countries, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia are trying to find coordinated solutions to what it is according to the United Nations one of the biggest immigration movements that Latin America has ever experienced. They are also comparing it to the immigrant crisis in the Mediterranean. And what is concerning countries like Columbia, for example, is recent measures that has been taken for these other two countries, from Peru, and from Ecuador. For example, Peru is starting this week is imposing restrictions on certain Venezuelan individual who are trying to enter the country.
Before these restrictions, anyone could enter in Peru just showing an identification card, but now they are requesting their passport. So it is important to remark that many of these Venezuelans that are leaving the country are doing it without any traveling documents, just their own national I.D. documents. So this is causing of course trouble for Ecuador and Columbia, because some Venezuelan immigrants are going to be stranded in there.
Something important also to remark is the position of the Venezuelan government that insists in denying such humanitarian crisis as the international community is denouncing. The government has also criticized those Venezuelan citizens that have decided to leave the country amid one of the worst economic crises that Venezuela has ever experienced. So it's going to be a two days meeting and it is going to be happening in Bogota. Solutions are still not known, but of course what they are trying to contain is such massive movement of people going to these countries.
2.3 million Venezuelans have left the country. 1.6 of them did it since 2015, and 90 percent of them are going to South American countries. So it is causing a lot of troubles for the region. Columbia said it's not a national problem. It's a regional problem. So they want to tackle this.
CHURCH: All right. We'll take a short break here. But still to come, John McCain is being remembered not only for his public service, but for his wit as well. Some of his funniest moments after this short break. Stay with us.
CHURCH: Whether poking fun at himself or his colleagues, John McCain had a quick wit and a sharp tongue.
[03:55:05] For a man known for so many achievements and qualities, it's memories of his good humor that are being remembered right now. Here's Randi Kaye. (BEGIN VIDEO)
SEN JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: Good evening, my fellow Americans. I ask you, what should we be looking for in our next president? Certainly someone who is very, very, very old.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Senator John McCain two months after winning the 2008 Republican Party nomination, cracking jokes on "Saturday Night Live." One of countless opportunities the Senator took to poke fun at himself.
MCCAIN: I've also opposed federal water projects even when they benefited my state. That is why thanks to me, 15 percent of Arizona's citizens must get their drinking water from cactus.
KAYE: He was the first sitting Senator to host "Saturday Night Live" and return to the show many times. His comic timing always impressive. McCain played everything from a creepy husband --
MCCAIN: You're so lovely.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh!
MCCAIN: I could watch you for hours.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god, David, how did you get in here?
MCCAIN: The door was open, Angel. Shall I look for your back?
KAYE: To a character called sad grandpa.
MCCAIN: That is where I get on TV and go, come on, Obama's going to have plenty of chances to be President it is my turn.
KAYE: McCain's humor wasn't always self-deprecating. He could be cutting too, like when someone asked him back in 2007 if he is too old to be President.
MCCAIN: And thanks for the question, you little jerk. You're drafted.
KAYE: But humor suited him and seemed to come naturally. In 2008, he relished putting his opponent, then-Senator Barack Obama, on the spot at the Al Smith dinner.
MCCAIN: Let's not add to the mounting pressure he must be feeling. Just prepare yourself for nonstop hilarity.
KAYE: At times his jokes were spur of the moment, like when he did this to a CNN reporter while he was on live TV.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laying out a series of --
KAYE: McCain got such a kick out of himself, he tweeted about it later, calling it revenge. He liked to joke with the media, even our own Anderson Cooper during this interview in Washington, D.C.
MCCAIN: It's always good to see you here in trying to do the lord's work in the City of Satan.
KAYE: While not everyone appreciated his sarcasm, those who did often enjoyed being part of the joke, like Senator Chris Coons, who fondly remembers McCain teasing him when he was a Jr. Senator.
SENATOR CHRIS COONS, (D), DELAWARE: And he spots me, and he says, Coons, you get off my plane. And I -- what? And Lindsey comes over and grabs my arm and says, that is how you know he likes you.
KAYE: Whatever inspired his sense of humor, Senator John McCain left us all laughing and smiling in his memory. Randi Kaye, CNN, Florida.
CHURCH: And a man of great integrity too. Thank you so much for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter @Rosemary CNN. And the news continues now with Max Foster in London. You're watching CNN. Have a great day.