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Scotland Yard Appoints Investigator For Tower Fire; Democrats, Republicans Play Baseball Despite Shooting; Trump To Announce Changes To Cuba Policy; Special Counsel Mueller Brings On 13 More Lawyers Aired 1-2a ET
Aired June 16, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, as the death toll rises in the London high-rise fire, grief is turning to anger. And now word, Scotland Yard is appointing a senior investigator. And a moment of unity and symbolism at a Congressional Baseball Game for charity a day after a lone gunman opened fire on players from the Republican team. And later, two years after a historic score and diplomatic relations, the U.S. is set to announce tighter economic restrictions on Cuba because of its failure to improve human rights. Hello, everybody! Great to have you with us, I'm John Vause. This is NEWSROOM L.A.
British Prime Minister, Theresa May, says there will be a full public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster. Right now, officials say, it's too early to confirm what caused Wednesday's horrific the fire. The death toll announced stands at 17, but that number is likely to rise as crews continue to search the building. They've warned, some bodies of the victims may never be identified. We're also getting a look at what the interior of the apartment building looks like now. Pictures show the charred remains of what was once home to hundreds of people. Brit community is still pulling together in the aftermath of this tragedy, but many are also furious and they're demanding answers. We begin our coverage with Fred Pleitgen.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Of course, there is a lot of grief here in this community, but there is also mounting anger after this disaster took place here. And the people here say that they are demanding answers. And that's certainly what we also heard when Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, visited the site earlier today; that people came up to him and said, that they want these answers quickly. And he said that he's demanding both the public inquiry, but he's also demanding that there'd be an interim report ready by the end of the summer.
And that's very important, not just because people want to know what happened, but also because there are many other buildings both in the city and of course also around this country, that have similar panels on the side like the one that this building had, that many people believe could've accelerated the fire. Now, Theresa May, the Prime Minister of Britain, also visit today site earlier today and here's what had she had to say after her visit. THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Right now, people want answers
and it's absolutely right. And that's why I am today ordering a full public inquiry into this disaster. We need to know what happened. We need to now have an explanation of this. We owe that to the families, to the people who have lost loved ones, friends, and the homes in which they lived.
PLEITGEN: Many of the witnesses that we've been speaking to say they were amazed at the fact that this fire, which apparently started around the fourth floor of the building, all of a sudden, spread up the side of the building very, very quickly, and then, managed to make its way into the building through a lot of the open windows. So, that's certainly something that the investigators are going to be looking at. But one of the things that they say they need to do first, is they need to shore up the building to make sure that the carcass doesn't collapse.
It's unclear whether the structure was damaged so badly by the flames and the heat that it may be in danger of collapsing, and only then, will the investigation start. And at the same time, of course, the authorities are also involved in what they call a recovery operation where they say they're going to go through the entire building and sweep it to see whether or not there might still be bodies inside. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, London.
VAUSE: For some residents of Grenfell Tower, surviving the fire was just the beginning. One man has been searching for his wife after they were separated while trying to escape the building. Max Foster has his story.
MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: 1:30 a.m., Wednesday morning, Sabah Abdullah and his wife, Khadija Kuluthi, were about to go to bed on the 17th floor when there was a knock at the door. They were told to leave. When they got to the stairwell though, it was thick with smoke and people rushing to get downstairs. Sabah tried to keep hold of his wife's hand, but he struggled.
SABAH ABDULLAH, SURVIVOR: Pushing each other, lots of them, pushing each other. So, but, in this, I just couldn't just keep my hand on my nose and the other one for my wife. So what about my balance?
FOSTER: So you let go of her hand?
ABDULLAH: Yes, because I need to catch something to keep my balance because they keep pushing me.
FOSTER: Sabah assumed she had just got ahead of him. He carried on to the bottom and went outside to find her, but she was not there. He waited, and he waited for six hours. Then he walked to every shelter and every hospital searching for her still in his dressing gown, but he didn't find her and he still hasn't heard a thing. Our thoughts are with you and I know you've got other family supporting you, and I don't know what to say really. The whole event was horrific.
[01:05:12] ABDULLAH: I don't know what to say myself. I might have left this situation, but I don't know what to say. Do you?
SAMIRA BRADY, FRIEND OF MISSING WOMAN: Yes.
ABDULLAH: You were one of his wife's friends?
BRADY: Best friend for 30 years. This is her picture. Like you see her now in here, is the same as usual, smiling, kind, very friendly, and everyone loves her. She makes friends very easily, very clever, and I'm sure she's somewhere because otherwise, she'd look for her husband because she loves her husband and he loves her as well.
FOSTER: You tried everywhere?
ABDULLAH: Every, everywhere we can possibly think of, possible to look for her. I mean, there's nothing else we can do.
FOSTER: They wanted to speak to us in the vain hope that Kadija was still alive, and will see this report. I hope she's watching.
ABDULLAH: I doubt it. I doubt it because if she couldn't leave the floor, she couldn't leave the whole building. I don't think she came down stairs. I don't think so.
VAUSE: Fire investigators say they expect the death toll from the Grenfell Tower tragedy to rise. Here are some of the others still missing: Hashim Arakman, lived on the 28th floor, 57 years old, he was reported missing by his sister. Dennis Murphy lived on the 14th floor, he's 54, lived at the Grenfell Tower for 25 years. Dennis last spoke with his family early on Wednesday morning, when he called to say the building was on fire and he couldn't breathe. Mo Tuccu, his wife and three all daughter, Maya, not being seen since Wednesday; they believed to have visited the tower around 10:00 p.m. local time to see relatives and to break their Ramadan fast.
The U.S. House Majority Whip, Steve Scalise, remains in a critical condition but is improving after a third operation on Thursday. Scalise, the third-ranking Republican in the House is shot by a lone gunman during early morning practice with his Congressional baseball team, several others were also wounded. They were training for an annual charity game that went ahead as scheduled on Thursday night with Special Agent, David Bailey, throwing out of the first pitch. Bailey is a member of the Capitol Police, he was injured in Wednesday's shooting. The Democrats won the charity 11-2, but then they gave the trophy to their Republican colleagues. The game raised more than a million in charity. More than twice what they did the year before. And President Trump offered a message of unity as players took the field.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: By playing tonight,
you are showing the world that we will not be intimidated by threats, acts of violence, or assaults on our Democracy. The game will go on. I want to take a moment to send thoughts, love, and prayers to Congressman Steve Scalise and his entire family. Steve is our friend, he's a patriot, and he's a true fighter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Off the field, Republican and Democrat leaders are still talking about bipartisanship and unity in the wake of the shooting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL RYAN, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SPEAKER: Partisan polarized country. What we're trying to do is tone down the rhetoric, we lead by example, and show people we can disagree with one another. We can have different ideas without being vitriolic, without going to such extremes. And so, that's what we're trying to demonstrate here.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Somehow when it's contentious, it gets more attention than when we're working together. We passed an appropriations and process-the whole federal government, with a great deal of cooperation that made everybody pretty happy.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANDERSON COOPER 360 HOST: Should it take a tragedy though, to bring you two together to do an interview?
SCHUMER: Well, we work together pretty closely before this tragedy, but if it can help bring things closer together and help us work closer together, it's a horrible way to do it. And we all pray for Mr. Scalise's and the other people's speedy recovery. But let's hope we can get some good out of this tragedy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And there's new surveillance video of Wednesday's shooting at that practice field in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of Washington. CNN's Brian Todd has the latest on the investigation.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This new surveillance video from inside a nearby coffee shop shows police officers exchanging fire with the gunman during Wednesday's attack on Members of Congress. Two officers, in dark uniforms, can be seen taking cover behind their SUV as the gun battle rages. Now, investigators are using that footage along with this cell phone video taken by a witness to piece together a timeline of the shooting. Police continued to canvass the D.C. suburb of Alexandria for information about the gunman: James Hodgkinson, examining a cellphone, a computer, and a camera recovered from his white van found parked at the ball field. Police believe he had been in the area since March.
[01:10:08] WILLIAM EUILLE, ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA FORMER MAYOR: It looked like he was living out in the van, because he had clothing, and books, and everything. I said, well with, maybe he's living at the homeless shelter.
TODD: Hodgkinson's visibly shaken wife told reporters, she hadn't seen her husband since March, and says he went to Washington to help fix tax policy.
SUE HODGKINSON, JAMES HODGKINSON'S WIFE: He made preparations for leaving.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What type of preparations did he make?
HODGKINSON: He sold almost everything he owns from his businesses.
TODD: Police say, there's no evidence Hodgkinson's nine-millimeter handgun and his rifle were illegal. A next door neighbor back in Illinois once called police about Hodgkinson for shooting his gun in his own backyard.
WILLIAM SCHAUMKEFFEL, GUNMAN'S NEIGHBOR: I said, don't shoot over there, we've little kids here in the backyard. And he didn't really acknowledge my presence.
TODD: Surveillance video shows the power of Hodgkinson's gun. Watch as the window of a parked SUV is blown out by a bullet. Congressman Steve Scalise remains in critical condition after being shot in the hip.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was no exit wound, so it makes sense there was some internal damage. And multiple surgeries are normal under a situation like this.
TODD: Overnight, President Trump visited Scalise.
TRUMP: It's been much more difficult than people even thought at the time. It's been - he is in some trouble. He is a great fighter, and he's going to be OK, we hope.
TODD: On Thursday morning, Vice President Pence also went to the hospital where he saw the Capitol Police officer Crystal Greiner, who was shot in the ankle but is recovering. Former Capitol Hill Staffer, Matt Mika, who is shot multiple times in the arms and chest, has been upgraded from critical to serious condition. Officials say, he is alert and but still needs help breathing and more surgery. Capitol Hill Staffer, Zach Barth, was released from the hospital and is already back at work. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
VAUSE: Well, still to come here, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible between Trump campaign and Russia, that investigation is expanding, so too his team, his legal team, details in a moment.
VAUSE: Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, has hired 13 more lawyers to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. A bigger legal team comes amid reports: the scope of the investigation is growing as well. Our Jessica Schneider reports on Mueller's next move.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: CNN has learned three top intelligence officials, including one who left the government this spring, will be investigated and interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, as early as next week. Law enforcement sources tell CNN, the interviews are part of an effort by Mueller to determine if there's enough evidence to launch a full-scale probe into whether the President obstructed justice by seeking to end the Russia investigation, and by firing FBI Director James Comey.
The interviews with National Security Adviser, Mike Rodgers; and Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, are the strongest and most public indication yet that Mueller is moving to expand his investigation into the oval office. And come on the Hill with contentious testimony by Coats and Rodgers before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week, in which they denied being pressured by President Trump to help end the Russia investigation.
MUELLER: I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so.
DAN COATS, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: I have never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relation to the ongoing investigation.
SCHNEIDER: While both men issued denials, Vice Chairman Mark Warner alluded to a witness that may testify differently.
[01:15:42] MARK WARNER, UNITED STATES SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE VICE CHAIRMAN: We have facts that there were other individuals that were aware of the call that was made to you and aware of the substance of the call and that there was a memo prepared because of concerns about that call.
SCHNEIDER: CNN has learned that witness is former NSA Deputy, Richard Ledgett. Sources say he documented a conversation in which the President allegedly urged Admiral Rogers, to ask the FBI to lift the cloud of the Russia investigation.
TRUMP: No collusion, no obstruction. He's a leaker.
SCHNEIDER: Despite his denials, questions of obstruction have loomed over President Trump since his firing of FBI Director Comey, May 9th. The next day, he reportedly told Russia's Foreign Minister inside the Oval Office that firing Comey had relieved, quote, "great pressure on him." And he admitted to NBC that he fired Comey in part because of the Russia investigation.
TRUMP: In fact, when I decided to do it, I said to myself, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.
SCHNEIDER: As Mueller's investigation heats up, Congress is expanding its own inquiries. The Chair and Vice Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee will look into Comey's firing and, quote, "Improper interference in FBI investigations." Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee met with Coats behind closed doors.
The Republican Senator, Marco Rubio, told CNN the President should let the investigation take its course.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I think the President would be best served by having this thing looked at so that there's no doubt at the end. He should be very comfortable with that.
VAUSE: Democratic strategist, Robin Swanson and Republican Consultants, John Phillips, are with me now in all of this. OK. So if you ask, the Washington Post moved in what looked to be a big story. The headline read this. Special Council is investigating Jared Kushner's business dealings. You know Robin, I read this five times and there was sort of no there, there, it was an incremental movement. There's a danger of sort of hyping everything that is happening. I guess what we take away from this is the investigation continues to grow with a focus, I guess, in one part on the financial dealings of the Trump campaign and those that worked in the Trump campaign.
ROBIN SWANSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That is right and this will elicit a reaction from Donald Trump because this is clearly family. So it's going straight for the jugular. The truth is, Jared Kushner gave them a reason to investigate. He had a relationship with the Ambassador and did dealings with the bank that was sanctioned by the U.S.
VAUSE: We don't know if he did the business with the bank yet.
SWANSON: He - well, and he asked that they established a line of communications that was secret. There are things that he has done that were suspicious, so, yes, he is going to be investigated and we will see what goes, what happens from there.
VAUSE: Before we get to you, this is the statement from Kushner's lawyer, "We do not know what this report refers to. It would be standard practice for the Special Counsel to examine financial records to look for anything related to Russia. Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about Russia-related matters. He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any inquiry.
JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR AND REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: If Jim Comey's fanboys are going to leak allegations every hour on the hour, could they at least leak some evidence too?
PHILLIPS: Because it seems like every single day, it's like reading the directions on the shampoo bottle where you just rinse and repeat. Every day, there's an unnamed source that brings out a new allegation that is unsubstantiated. We are told it will change the course of the investigation and two weeks later, you don't know what it was because you moved on to the next one.
VAUSE: When Michael Flynn, the National Security Adviser, who was fired, the Russian Ambassador, which was also true. Kushner met with Kislyak and other associates, true; Sessions meeting with Kislyak again, true. It goes on and on.
PHILLIPS: It may turn out to be false including the story that said that when he testified, Jim Comey said -
VAUSE: He looked it out.
VAUSE: Lots of contact between the Trump campaign officials and Russians.
PHILLIPS: Right. The New York Times reported.
SWANSON: Follow the trail. And honestly, Donald Trump and his associates, the idea of a President of the United States enriching himself and his family at the, as President, I think, is at issue.
VAUSE: Again, that has not been proven.
SWANSON: It hasn't, but it sure should be investigated and that's why Jared Kushner is under investigation.
[01:20:12] VAUSE: Well, the President - he made his feelings known about the Mueller investigation. He released an official statement on Twitter. It started like this, "You are witnessing the single greatest witch hunt in American political history, led by some very bad and conflicted people." That was in the morning. And it was followed by a rare afternoon Twitter storm. This was what it read. "Why is that Hillary Clinton's family and Dems dealings with Russia are not looked at but my non-dealings are." That was followed by, "Crooked H. Destroyed phones with a hammer, bleached e-mails and had husband meet with Attorney General days before she was cleared. And they talk about obstruction."
And so Robin, I guess, you know, the Hillary Clinton what about is a separate category. It is concerning though that he starts to describe Robert Mueller as very bad and conflicted?
SWANSON: Well, clearly, anybody who is against him is very bad and conflicted. But this was somebody who served under Ronald Reagan, under two Bush presidencies. He is a Republican investigator. This is somebody who is universally respected. So the fact that the President again is attacking, you talk about rinse and repeat, he just attacks anyone who does not show the party line.
VAUSE: And they did interview Robert Mueller for the FBI position today before he was hired for Special Counsel.
PHILLIPS: Special prosecutors and special counsels do not exist to say there's nothing to see here. They want to go out and find something. Let's not forget the White Water investigation started out to investigate real estate dealings in the state of Arkansas and then ended up about Monica Lewinsky. This could end up investigating Russia and then it could go to Trump clipping tags off the mattress.
VAUSE: I remember last year, there was somebody who made this very dire warning of what could happen if a President was actually under federal investigation. We got the tape. We can play the tape. Who was that who made that warning about the problems?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Trump: Hillary Clinton will be under investigation for a long, long time for her many crimes against our nation, our people, our Democracy, likely concluding in a criminal trial.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: He went on to say that nothing would get done and the agenda would be a stall. And John, that's what is happening right now. Because you know, nothing is getting through Congress and the Republicans will look up and before they know it, it will be Halloween and there will be nothing to show for it.
PHILLIPS: Right, which is why my advice to the President would be to cooperate with the investigators and move along with your agenda. They tried to do it last week with infrastructure. They tried with Executive Orders, obviously. They got the Gorsuch nomination through.
VAUSE: OK. Well, last point here. Mike Pence, the first Vice President to lawyer up four months into his first term. He has his own private counsel. That news led to this tweet from Congressman Ted Lieu. "Anonymous sources sure have caused a lot of real Donald Trump associates to hire lawyers. Flynn, Manafort, Kushner, Pense, and POTUS himself." Robin is there no indication that Pence is a person of interest in the investigation, but he could be a key witness.
SWANSON: Listen, I think everyone is worried. 150 days into the administration, there's a lot of trouble brewing. It's a slow burn and I think people are afraid of getting burned. So I absolutely think he is protecting himself. And there may be something to hide there.
VAUSE: Donald Trump is creating a lot of work for lawyers in Washington.
PHILLIPS: He is the jobs president. Look, if I'm Mike Pence or I'm anyone in the investigation, I'm lawyering up right now. Look what happened to poor Jeff Sessions. He forgot about the Russian Ambassador being an attendance from some speech that he gave at the RNC. If he does not recall that like someone was in the room or something, he could get in trouble. So yes, I would lawyer up.
VAUSE: OK. Good advice. John and Robin, nice to see you.
SWANSON: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: Thank you. VAUSE: Well, Russian President, Vladimir Putin has again been pushing
aside concerns that Russia was involved in last year's U.S. elections. During a wide-ranging televised Q&A session on Thursday, he did make a tongue and cheek offer to former FBI Director, James Comey. Here's Jill Dougherty.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: President Putin spoke for almost four hours in the annual Talk-A-Thon. He answered 70 questions from Russians around the country. One of the most surprising came in a question about James Comey, the former head of the FBI. Mr. Putin, in a classic joke saying, if he faces some type of prosecution, we are ready to give him political asylum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[01:25:04] VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA PRESIDENT (through translator): What makes the FBI director different from Mr. Snowden then? It seems to me that in this case, he is not so much the head of the FBI. He is an activist with his own particular point of view. By the way, if he faces some sort of prosecution for this, we are prepared to give him political asylum too. He should know that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOUGHERTY: Most of the questions as you might expect dealt with the economy. Russians, calling in, sending in questions and texting saying they are having a difficult time with the economy. President Putin agreeing with them and then trying to make the case that the economy is turning around. Sanctions came up a lot. He said that sanctions, economic sanctions, are an attempt by what he said is his partners to hold Russia back, to make things difficult for Russia. He also said that oil prices are hurting Russia, more than sanctions. And he also said that the sanctions are hurting the countries that impose them more than they are hurting Russia.
A new thing this year, on the screen, as the President spoke, texts from various people and some of them quite extraordinary. One saying, when are you going to resign? And another saying, Putin, do you really think that people believe in the circus with all these setup questions? The President also talked about his family. Something he very rarely does. He has two daughters. He said they are living in Russia, and he now has two grandchildren. He said he does not like to give details of their lives because he wants them to live a normal life and people would not leave them alone if he gave many details.
And finally, a question from a person who said he was an American, in Arizona. Why is there so much Russia-phobia? Fear of Russia. President Putin said that's an essential part of America's foreign policy but we have a lot of friends in the United States, there's hysteria in the U.S. media but that we hope to improve relations with the United States. Jill Dougherty, Moscow.
VAUSE: Well, next here on NEWSROOM L.A. President Trump said to make good on a campaign promise with a new approach to Cuba, how it will change the Obama era policy. Just ahead.
[01:29:57] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause, with the headlines this hour.
VAUSE: The White House says said you can't put the genie back in the bottle 100 percent when it comes to U.S./ Cuba policy. President Donald Trump has slammed the Obama administration for normalizing ties with the island and now he is set to announce changes to that policy. All of this is set to take place in the coming hours.
Here's what will not change. No immediate effect to travel for business in Cuba. The White House still deriding Cuba on human right, free elections, and the release of prisoners. And Cuban rum and cigar lovers, you're in luck. Officials says regulations won't change on the items Americans are allowed to bring back from the island.
And we learned that Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio was consulted on these new rules.
For more on the policy announcement, here 'sour Patrick Oppmann reporting in from Havana.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On Friday, President Trump is expected to travel to Miami, the heart of the Cuban exile community, and announce a new tougher line on Cuba.
Trump is not expected, sources say, to break diplomatic ties with the Communist-run island, but is expected to roll back certain measures from the Obama administration opening to Cuba, including making it more difficult for Americans to visit Cuba, prohibiting U.S. companies from making business deals with the Cuban military, which controls much of the island's economy, and prohibiting Communist Party officials and Cuban officials from traveling to the U.S.
Now, Cuban officials that we spoke to said that these measures could make it a lot more difficult for the U.S. and Cuba to collaborate on certain areas of mutual interest like combatting the smuggling of drugs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): The biggest impact will be felt in the United States. Because Cuba is not a country that the drugs are coming to. Fundamentally, the drugs go north. If there's a set-back with the cooperation, the impact will be felt in the United States.
OPPMANN: Cuban officials said they are seeing an increase in drug smuggling through Cuban waters with as much as three times the marijuana and cocaine seized compared to the same time period from last year. And this is just one of the reasons that U.S. and Cuban ties need to continue to improve.
All the same, President Trump, we are told, is committed to keeping a campaign promise to roll back U.S./Cuban relations.
Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.
VAUSE: Well, the White House said that the policy changes are being driven by the Cuban government's failure to improve human rights and doing nothing to reform a repressive political system. Add to that, administration officials say the financial windfall from improved relations is mostly benefitting the Castro regime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Our view is that the steps that were taken over the past few years to improve relations with Cuba to open it up to greater economic participation by U.S. companies and American citizens did not deliver a reciprocal change in policy or behavior by the Cuban government towards human rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: For more, Jose Cardenas, is with us now from Washington. He was a senior official with the U.S. State Department during the George W. Bush administration.
So, Jose, when President Obama announced his policy, he did say that change would not happen overnight, it would take many years. Is there an argument just to wait a little longer and give it a bit more time?
JOSE CARDENAS, AMERICANVISIONS & FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, John, I think that the -- that perhaps one of the most important things that we should recognize right at the top is that President Trump is not going to impose a wholesale reversal of President Obama's policy towards Cuba. What he is trying do is, they are basically tactical changes that he will announce tomorrow. So, that to ensure, as Secretary of State Tillerson said, that there are tangible benefits to the Cuban people quite apart from the Castro government.
[01:35:05] VAUSE: Well, one of the driving factors here is human rights in Cuba. Yet, Human Rights Watch, one of a number of groups, has said any kind of backsliding on the Obama-era policy will not do a lot to actually improve human rights. In fact, it could have the opposite effect.
CARDENAS: Well, again, I think they are operating under a premise that, all of a sudden, we are going to return to the status quo-anti, and that's not what we are talking about. And that's not what we are going to see tomorrow when President Trump gives his speech. Again, we are going to see -- we are not going to end diplomatic relations. We are not going to close down the embassy. We are going to tweak the Obama's policy to ensure that this engagement that President Obama launched two years ago does in fact get as close as possible to what President Obama himself said about it, and that was to improve the lives of the Cuban people. President Trump is not talking about ending all contact with the Castro government. One can expect that we will see most of the engagement launched by President Obama to continue, but it's going to be a little bit more circumspect. It will be less one-sided in that the U.S. government, under the Trump administration, is going to be a bit more circumspect about its dealings and straight-on dealings with the Castro government and focus more of the attention on trying to do as much as we can to get these economic benefits, from increased travel to Cuba, so that the Cuban people enjoy the benefits of this engagement, not just the economic windfall for the Castro government.
VAUSE: But there will be some restrictions put in place, essentially, when it comes to, you know, who can and not travel and where, you know, investments can be made, that kind of stuff. So that, you know, it will be maybe not a wholesale reversal but a tightening in some ways. And with that in mind, you know, there's been this issue of security. Some believe that by doing that, you know, by pulling back from Cuba, if you like, President Trump will be delivering a gift to Russia.
I want to read to you what Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy wrote in an op-ed this week, "The Kremlin again has become the island's savior amid a Cuban energy crisis caused by the chaos in Venezuela, it's largest supplier of subsidized petroleum. This alone should set off alarm bells in the White House. Equally troubling, Putin has agreed to forgive 90 percent of Cuba's $32 billion debt to the Soviet Union and has signed multiple agreements to investment in infrastructure developments and oil exploration."
And he goes on to talk about a military arrangement is next. He said that the way of dealing with it and mitigating Russian influence, is more engagement with Cuba, not less.
CARDENAS: I don't agree with Senator Leahy. I think he is over stating the extent to which that the Russians are going to be exploiting this situation. I think that Vladimir Putin has his reasons, obviously to, as much as he can, to you know, poke, poke the Americans. But, Cuba, the Cuban has as a very limited use to somebody like Vladimir Putin in its current state. I don't think that we are ushering in a return to any kind of a Cold War in the Caribbean, or any such thing. The United States is not leaving Cuba, it's not going anywhere, it's going to be more circumspect in the relations with Cuba.
VAUSE: We will find out in a few hours when Mr. Trump travels to Miami.
Jose, thank you for being with us. It was good to speak with you.
CARDENAS: Thank you very much.
VAUSE: Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., when Emmanuel Macron won France's presidential election, he was a president without a party, but now, with parliamentary elections this weekend, at that looks set to change.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [01:41:24] VAUSE: Liberation of the Syrian city of Raqqa appears to be moving closer with coalition forces surrounding most of the area and airstrikes targeting the last remaining ISIS fights, but the deadly bombings and fighting have forced thousands of civilians to run for their lives.
Here's our Cyril Vanier.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRSPONDENT (voice-over): These have some of the ones that got out. Hundreds of people are arriving at the refugee camp daily. Survivors of the battle for Raqqa 60 kilometers to the south, where they are trying push ISIS from its Syrian headquarters.
For weeks now, civilians caught in the crossfire have ended up here, more than 10,000 of them in total, where basics like a tent and food are a small relief from the death and destruction they left behind.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): We fled because of air strikes there were ISIS bases near our homes. What we want to do is go safely to our homes and find them intact. That is all.
VANIER: But much of Raqqa is already destroyed. Those who have escaped say it's under constant bombardment, and power and water are scarce.
VANIER: For all the dangers inside, the journey out is just as treacherous. Human rights groups say airstrikes have killed many civilians.
VANIER: And ISIS fighters are shooting anyone trying to leave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): They left us with nothing, we were hungry and we had nothing to left. They destroyed our homes and dug tunnels in them. Everything was ruined. Raqqa is destroyed.
VANIER: The coalition estimates that ISIS has 3,000 to 4,000 fighters left in the city, who have had years to fortify their positions, though they are now surrounded by forces on three sides.
It's unclear how long the battle for Raqqa will last. Many say that depends on whether or not ISIS will fight to the death for their so- called caliphate or regroup elsewhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): There's fierce resistance, ISIS fighters are escaping through tunnels and they disguise themselves in clothes similar to ours or to our fellow fighters. They hide among us. But the forces are outsmarting them and gaining control over the situation. VANIER: Not so far from the battlefield, those who once called Raqqa
home, worry about what will happen next, and they wonder if and when they can return.
Cyril Vanier, CNN.
VAUSE: French President Emmanuel Macron's party is projected to win a huge majority in parliament in Sunday's election. His candidates include new faces. There's a former bull fighter and a man that once commanded the elite police unit in France.
CNN's Melissa Bell has more.
MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was known as an award-winning mathematician, now he is campaign as part of Emmanuel Macron's movement to become a member of parliament.
He is one of 525 candidates standing for Macron's movement, about half are new to politics and like this man, hope to bring more to parliament than their goals.
UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH CANDIDATE: I know about science, and science is more important than ever in the public debate. Even very technical scientific questions are now every day, debatable. Climate change or artificial intelligence, you name it. I have been a teacher and very much involved in the scientific culture. And this would be important. One of the crucial things needed in politics now is people being able to explain to a wide audience, not thinking that people are too dumb to understand the complexity, but to explain the complexity in simple terms.
[01:45:04] BELL: He hopes to bring another set of skills to parliament.
BELL: The former head of France's elite police force said that security is the why he joined Macron's movement.
UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH CANDIDATE (through translation): He is a man that can bring people together and, more importantly, for the cop in me, he is a real commander-in-chief.
BELL: Another candidate is this woman. The former bull fighter says she is simply taking to another arena the determination she shows in the bull ring. Polls suggest she is on course to beat the far-right incumbent.
UNIDENTIFIED FRENCH CANDIDATE (through translation): There's an extraordinary movement happening in France with a real renewal of the political class. If I can be a part of that, then I will be very proud. And I'm going to try to meet people to explain to them that they don't need to be scared.
BELL: These candidates will find out Sunday night whether their campaigning and the meetings they have held have paid off.
Emmanuel Macron will find out if he won the second part of his gamble. Last month, he became president without the benefit of an established party, something that is unprecedented. Now he is hoping to secure a parliamentary majority the likes of which has never been seen in the history of the Fifth Republic.
Melissa Bell, CNN, France.
VAUSE: We will take a quick break. When we come back, a deadlocked jury in the Bill Cosby trial. Could it lead to a mistrial?
VAUSE: Well, the jury in Bill Cosby's trial will resume deliberations on Friday morning. The TV start and comedian faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He has been pleaded not guilty.
But as Jean Casarez reports, so far, the jury has not been able to reach a verdict.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, it's been quite a day at the Montgomery County courthouse. It was 11:00 Thursday morning when we were told to get in the courtroom, and once there, we found out that the jury had sent a letter to the judge saying they could not arrive at a unanimous decision, they were deadlocked on the three criminal counts against Bill Cosby. The judge summoned them in, they looked very frustrated, he gave them the instructions, saying, "It is your duty to try to achieve a verdict. We need you to go back out and to continue deliberating, if you can." With that, they stood up, they went out.
And that is when the excitement started out here, because Bill Cosby's press representative gave a short press conference thanking the jury at that point for not convicting, even though they were still deliberating.
And Lilly Bernard, one of the accusers, who has flown in from California, who had a guest spot on Bill Cosby's show way back in the '90s, got in a verbal confrontation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LILLY BERNARD, ACTRESS: The fact that we would go to the hospital and find out what he slipped into my sparkling apple cider.
BERNARD: Yes, we did, sir. (CROSSTALK)
BERNARD: As God is my witness, I love black people and I love black women. Please, hold my hand, this is true, it breaks my heart.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a minute, we can't --
BERNARD: It hurts me to see a blind man going to go to prison for 30 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no --
BERNARD: Come on now!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to answer your question.
BERNARD: Oh, my god.
BERNARD: If he did it, why y'all didn't come earlier?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[01:50:00] CASAREZ: So late Thursday night, around 9:00, the judge summoned, once again, everyone in the courtroom, the jury exhausted, and the judge said, I'm going to relieve you for the night. I have to assume you are still deliberating at this point, I will send you home and you must remember to not deliberate in groups or factions. If it's not all 12 of you in a room, there are no deliberations and you cannot discuss this case with any member of your family.
This jury is sequestered in hotels, all coming from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is hours away.
Jury deliberations resume Friday morning, 9:00 sharp, here in Pennsylvania -- John?
VAUSE: OK, Jean Casarez, thank you for that.
CNN's legal analyst, Areva Martin, joins us now. She is a civil rights attorney and a legal affairs commentator.
In general terms, we don't know what the point of disagreement is among the jurors.
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: We don't.
VAUSE: Generally, in a case like this, does it come down to the issue of consent? It has to be beyond a reasonable doubt on consent.
MARTIN: These cases are always difficult because you do not have the third-party witness, that person that will break the tie. So you have Cosby's story of what happened and he said it was a consensual romantic relationship between two adults, and you have Andrea Constand saying, no, I was given pills, I didn't know what they were, I was frozen, and I woke up and he was sexually assaulting me. And the jurors have to weigh the credibility of these two conflicting stories and that is very difficult to do.
VAUSE: Clearly, they are having a hard time, because they've come back and asked six questions during these deliberations. Question three stood out to me. They asked, "Will you please define what it means, in count three, 'without her knowledge.'" But the judge said he would not go beyond what was in the written charge.
MARTIN: That is the judge's job. He can't start explaining the jury instructions. He reads the instructions, he gives the jurors, you know, their road map in terms of what they can and can't do. But his job is not to sit there and insert himself into their deliberations. "Without her knowledge" could be with respect to her taking the pills. It could be with respect to him touching her. Because, remember, Cosby's story is that, she said she was stressed out, I went upstairs and came back with a Benadryl and said, this will help you relax. According to him, she took the pills voluntarily and engaged in the sexual act voluntarily. We are not sure what was hanging the jurors up in terms of consent. Was it the taking of the pills, the touching of the genitals? Not sure there.
VAUSE: OK. Cosby's publicist -- Jean touched on this in her report -- he was outside the courtroom and he declared this deadlocked jury a win. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW WYATT, SPOKESMAN FOR BILL COSTY: Today, we have really seen Mr. Cosby get the justice he was looking for in Montgomery County. These jurors, they have been very judicious, they have really taken their time to re-do and re-try the case in their deliberation room. And this deadlock shows the not guilty that Mr. Cosby has been saying the entire time, that he is not guilty of these charges that they tried to bring about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: That is an interesting interpretation.
MARTIN: First thing, thank god, he's not a lawyer. (CROSSTALK)
MARTIN: Everything that he said in that statement was incorrect.
MARTIN: The jurors are not retrying the case. That is not their job. That's not what they are there to do. They are deliberating based on the evidence and facts that have been presented in the trial. They are not trial lawyers.
VAUSE: The deadlock does not mean he is not guilty.
MARTIN: The fact they are deadlocked does not mean he's not guilty, does not mean that justice was served. Some bizarre statements and premature at best, and clearly invoked the tension we saw outside the courtroom today.
VAUSE: It didn't help.
Assuming the jury does not reach a verdict, there's reports they look angry and frustrated. It's almost as if --
MARTIN: They are away from their families. They have been sequestered now to close to two weeks. And I think, at some point, the judge will have to accept a hung jury that will result in a mistrial as closure. You are not always going to get guilty or not guilty. This is another option in the criminal process.
VAUSE: How long though, does that go on for?
MARTIN: There are no rules. The judge, as he did this morning, gave them what is called, in this jurisdiction, a spencer instruction, which is, go back, reconsider your views, your opinions, reevaluate the evidence. He cannot coerce them. And no juror inside that jury room should be coercing another juror to make a decision. There's a fine line between asking someone to reevaluate and then putting a kind of pressure that's coercive. I suspect that by the morning, after a couple of hours, if the jurors have not reached a verdict, a unanimous verdict, have come to a decision, the judge will let them go. He will accept that they are hopelessly hung and declare a mistrial.
[01:55:11] VAUSE: OK, so, if it is a mistrial, that leaves a couple of options. It's all over and done and everyone walks away. Or the prosecution can look at this and say, hey, we are going to go again, we will have a retrial. What is the calculation?
MARTIN: I think they will look at how many jurors were not able to find beyond reasonable doubt. If there was one hold out, that's one statement. But if six jurors or five jurors say, we were not convinced that this evidence was sufficiently compelling for us to find beyond reasonable doubt, I think the prosecution and its team will have to go back and reevaluate whether they want to invest the time and resources. And the calculation is, can you do better in the second trial?
VAUSE: So, regardless of what happens, this is the only criminal trial for Cosby, right?
MARTIN: This is the only pending criminal trial. There have been some reports that there had may be some other jurisdictions that might consider bringing charges. I don't think that is going to happen. I think if this jury is hung, the prosecution will evaluate whether to retry him or not. I don't think we will see him step into another criminal courthouse after, you know, this is concluded.
OK, Areva, as always, great to see you. Thank you.
MARTIN: Thank you, John.
VAUSE: Well, the pilot of a blimp is recovering from serious burns after the aircraft burst in to flames and crashed at the U.S. Open championship in Wisconsin. The pilot was the only one on board and he told investigators he was 300 meters up when he decided the winds were too gusty. He was trying to return to an air strip when the blimp went down in the field near the golf course. No one else was hurt.
Holy iconic TV moment. Check out of the skies above, not Gotham City, but Los Angeles. This is it, the bat signal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Los Angeles decided to honor the late actor, Adam West. He played the best Batman of all, as well as Bruce Wayne, in the 1960s TV series. The bat signal was used in the show and the comics whenever the Gotham Police Department needed to summon Batman to save the day. Adam West died a week ago here in Los Angeles. He was battling leukemia. He was 88 years old, and by all accounts, quite a legend.
You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, love from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
Please stay with us. I will be back with more news after a short break.