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CNN 10 - February 20, 2018

CNN 10

The U.S. Indicts 13 Russians; The Trump Administration Considers Tariffs that Could Affect Metal Imports; A Camera Gives a Whale`s-Eye View of the Antarctic

Aired February 20, 2018 - 04:00 ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: I`m Carl Azuz for CNN 10, explaining global news to a global audience.

We start today with a look at an international story concerning the U.S. and Russia. Late last week, an American federal grand jury formally charged 13 Russian citizens and three Russian companies with allegedly interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Russians are accused of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Other charges for some of the dependents included conspiracy to commit bank fraud and identity theft.

Here`s how this alleged happen. The U.S. Justice Department says as early as 2014, a Russian organization named the Internet Research Agency started trying to interfere with the U.S. political system and 2016 elections. The Russians are accused of posing as Americans, creating false American identities, operating social media pages to attract American audiences and posting critical information about American presidential candidates. The U.S. government says employees for the Internet Research Agency were told to, quote, use any opportunity to criticize Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and the rest except for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The U.S. government says that no Americans knowingly participated in the illegal activity. And President Donald Trump says the Russian campaign started before he announced his presidential candidacy and that the results of the election were not impacted. Other American politicians, including some Republicans and Democrats in Congress said it`s clear Russia interfered with the election and that future U.S. elections would have to be better protected.

Russia`s foreign ministry described the charges as, quote, absurd. It`s also said that not a single fact has come out of the U.S. investigation into alleged Russian interference. But that investigation continues.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These 37 pages alleged Russians went a very long way in their attempt to interfere U.S. democracy.

According to the federal indictments, Russian operating out of this St. Petersburg troll farm launched a misinformation campaign to wreak havoc on America`s political system.

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Russians conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy. We must not allow them to succeed.

SANDOVAL: Examples of the alleged misinformation campaign include allegations of voter fraud by the Democratic Party and the purchased of advertisements to further promote the allegations on Facebook. The pages were even designed to look like they were run by real Americans and focus on issues in American life, race relations, immigration, and of course, then candidate Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Facebook estimates close to 126 million Americans may have been exposed to this and other propaganda. Federal investigators say the group behind it is the Internet Research Agency linked to the Kremlin. Russia has denied any involvement in the U.S. elections. In a security conference, Saturday, Russia`s foreign minister again dismissed those claims.

SERGEY LAVROV, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF RUSSIA (through translation): I have no response. Until we see the facts, everything else is just blather.

SANDOVAL: Then there are the rallies. The very month of the election both pro and anti-Trump demonstrations were held in New York. U.S. prosecutors say both events were organized by the same trail group half a world away in St. Petersburg.

Russians traveled to the U.S. on a fact-finding mission in 2014, say prosecutors. It would be the foundation of a massive operation brought to light in recent months and described in detail in these 37 pages.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ (voice-over): Ten-second trivia.

From 1789 to 1914, most of the U.S. government`s revenue came from what?

Foreign investment, tariffs, income tax or corporate tax?

During this time period, taxes on imported goods or tariffs were how the government got most of its revenue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ: There`s a challenging decision ahead of the Trump administration when it comes to steel and aluminum. Both of these metals are important to the U.S. economy. They`re in everything from cars to dishwashers, pipelines to soda cans.

America uses 100 million tons of steel every year and five and a half million tons of aluminum. A third of that steel is imported from other countries. Ninety percent of aluminum is. That`s not good for American middle manufacturers who`ve had to close some plants because of cheaper imports.

But will President Trump impose new tariffs, taxes on steel and aluminum that`s imported? He has until April to decide on recommendations from the U.S. Commerce Department. But while American manufacturers could benefit from tariffs on imported metal, they could cause prices to rise on American metal and everything it`s used for.

One country that tariffs could target is China.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, if tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from China to the U.S. are in fact enacted, how will China respond?

That`s the big question many here in China are asking, after the latest news out of the White House.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross made his suggestions in three basic options. Number one, impose across-the-board tariffs on steel and aluminum from all countries. Two, select targeted countries with even higher tariffs. Or three, limit the total steel and aluminum coming into the United States overall.

All three of those would have major effects on Chinese imports and perhaps signal that the Trump administration is, in fact, more willing to actually carry out tougher trade measures in policy, more like the kind of rhetoric we heard from then candidate Trump on the 2016 campaign trail where he regularly accused China of stealing U.S. jobs while not playing by international rules.

Now, the president has largely shied away from challenging Beijing economically since taking office. So far, not much of a response from China because we are smack dab in the middle of the Chinese New Year holidays, so government offices have been closed and will remain so for a few days now.

We did see a brief article from state media outlet Xinhua, though. They quoted a senior official named Wang Hejun at the commerce ministry here, saying, quote: If the United States` final decision affects China`s interests, we will take necessary measures to defend our what, rights.

Nothing more specific than that though.

It is worth noting that there is wide agreement among economists that China has sold steel at unfairly low prices in the U.S. for years because of cheap production costs here domestically and hundreds and hundreds have helped reduce steel imports already. China is now longer among the top steel importers to the United States.

Now, the president has until mid-April to decide what kind of action to take in regards to potential tariffs, if any action at all. But if he does decide to act, you can absolutely expect China to respond.

Analysts and industry representatives that we`ve spoken to here in China over the last several months or so say there is broad concern that Beijing will target major U.S. industries and companies that rally on access to Chinese markets. Think Boeing and their airplanes or the soybean industry that exports billions of dollars of product to China each year. Restricting access to Chinese customers could seriously hurt U.S. companies in the short and long term.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUBTITLE: Scientists in Antarctica have attached a camera to a minke whale, in what they say is a world first.

DR. ARI FRIEDLAENDER, MARINE ECOLOGIST: We`re trying to understand the behavior of baleen whales, of minke whales and humpback whales.

So, for the first time ever, we could see from a minke whale`s perspective what is life is like in the Antarctic, how it feeds, how it maneuvers in the sea ice and just the things that it does in a daily life of a minke whale is something we`d never seen before.

SUBTITLE: Minkes grow to about eight to nine meters and are the second smallest baleen whale.

Using specialized feeding plates, they filter krill or small fish out of the water.

FRIEDLAENDER: What`s amazing to me is how fast the animal is and how quickly it can feed and then how quickly again it can feed the second time.

Our goal is to try to understand these whales, figure out what they need to survive and figure out what we can men do to kind of protect those whales and keep them from pristine (ph).

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: Not every cafe charges you $10 an hour just to sit down. In addition to any drinks you buy. But not every cafe has this. At Cafe Meow in Minnesota, you stay for and pay for the cats. The goal is to get these fine felines adopted. It`s currently showing older cats who`ve been overlooked by families wanting a kitten. This gives customers the chance to get to know the felines while they get catfinated.

It`s sure truly a unique experience. If you`re looking to Siamese into your morning, if you`re having a rough day or if you feel like a ragdoll or a ragamuffin after work and want a Caligo somewhere exotic but closer than Siberian, Cafe Meow offers free es-fur-sso with every order.

I`m Carl Azuz with news and meows for CNN 10.

END