a very warm welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to our viewers in north america and around the globe. my name's mike embley. our top stories: the us attorney general says he won't resign over contact with russians during the election campaign, but will sit out any investigation. donald trump says the controversy is a "total witch hunt". freed from is for the second time — russia and syria say their forces have retaken the ancient city of palmyra. curbing popular criticism and a free press — china fights to control the narrative ahead of the national people's congress. and jackie's life afterjfk — the lost letters which reveal a love affair with a senior british diplomat. one of president trump's most trusted colleagues, us attorney generaljeff sessions, is under intense pressure
after allegations that he lied under oath about his contacts with russian officials during the presidential election campaign. mr sessions has denied any improper conduct but he has withdrawn from the official investigation into claims of russian interference in the election. president trump has said mr sessions could have been more accurate but hasn't done anything wrong. he accused the democrats of taking part in a witch hunt. our north america editor jon sopel reports. marine one touching down on the navy's newest aircraft carrier, and the president feeling the full downdraught of the latest setback to buffet his administration. his attorney general, jeff sessions, facing charges that he lied under oath during his confirmation hearings over his contacts with the russians. but the president is standing by him. reporter: mr president, do you still have confidence in the attorney general? total. reporter: when were you aware that he spoke to the russian ambassador? i wasn't aware at all.
what's emerged is that then—senator sessions met the russian ambassador at the republican convention injuly. he met him again in september. but at his confirmation hearing this january, he denied any contact with the russians. if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? senator franken, i'm not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and i did not have communications with the russians. i'm unable to comment on it. we've now had the national security adviser fired over his links to russia, we've had the attorney general accused of perjuring himself because of his contacts and the white house is absolutely insistent there is nothing untoward, there is nothing to see, and the crowd should move on. but the questions keep piling up.
senior democrats are demanding jeff sessions‘ resignation and for the appointment of a special prosecutor. the fact that the attorney general, the top cop in our country, lied under oath to the american people is grounds for him to resign. it is grounds for him to resign. he has proved that he's underqualified and unfit to serve in that position of trust. republicans aren't going that far, but a growing number have said that you can't have an attorney general overseeing an investigation into russian activities, if he himself is comprised. they are demanding him recuse himself. based on what we have read on the information is not complete, the attorney general should further clarify and i think he will need to recuse himself at this point. at a news conference a short time agojeff sessions insisted he'd done nothing wrong, but he did bow to pressure from within his own party. i've decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matter
relating in any way to the campaigns for president of the united states. # god bless the usa...# there's no disguising the warmth of the reception the president received today aboard the aircraft carrier. his hope is that these service personnel and rest of the american public are more interested in what he's doing about national security and jobs than they are in latest washington brouhaha. jon sopel, bbc news, washington. let's talk to dr larry sabato, director of the centre for politics at the university of virginia. thank you for your time. the key question is did anyone tired to the trump campaign have contact with russian intelligence, the decor or donate with the russians to down hillary clinton — none of this
proves that? correct. no testimony has been taken and there is no formal investigation but it is clear there is a lot to discover. intent is the key. if he did not do it intentionally, it is not big deal? he's not going to resign, he is not going to be fired, he acted quickly. but there are an awful lot of questions about not onlyjeff sessions but other members of the trump entourage, including his son—in—law a senior adviser in the white house who also met with russians. it matters because of the russians. it matters because of the russian ambassador, an impressive individual, i met him myself and had
it in my home, by all accounts he is a senior official in the ssb and he is considered to be notjust an ambassador but aspire. this is not a normal relationship between the united states and russia. no president since world war two has ever consider to russian leader like donald trump has cosied up to vladimir putin. a bunch of people must surely be more interested in what the administration is going to do aboutjob, bridges, immigration and national security. that is certainly true and i not comparing this to watergate but i remember during the early part of the investigation that was the argument use. investigation that was the argument use. it turned out to be pretty important, didn't it? what about the latest assertions that mike pence
when governor of indiana accused of private e—mail server for state business — that will strike some echoes with allegations against hillary clinton? it is pure hypocrisy. mike pence to lead the fight on hillary clinton about the private e—mails she had at her home it turns out he also had a private account and while hillary clinton to oui’ account and while hillary clinton to our knowledge was not hacked, his was hacked and there was sensitive information on his private account. very interesting to talk to you. thank you very much. the syrian army says it has seized back control of the city of palmyra from militants of so—called islamic state. is has twice held palmyra, which is famous for its ancient ruins, during the six year syrian conflict. during that time they've destroyed some of the city's greatest monuments.
sarah corker reports. across the ancient sands of palmyra, syrian troops backed by russian jets enter the city's western districts. for weeks they've battled through the desert to reach the unesco world heritage site. this video released by the syrian government shows heavy shelling across an almost deserted city. is fighters have now fled. translation: counter-terrorism operations will continue until the last of our territory is liberated from the hands of these foreign terrorist organisations which are wreaking havoc in our country. but the syrian opposition, in switzerland for peace talks, declined to congratulate president assad on retaking the city. translation: this is the second time that we have seen this handover and this is obviously being used for political reasons. if we want to follow the game of assad and palmyra, it will be like watching tom and jerry.
the historic city of palmyra has changed hands several times during syria's six—year civil war. is held the ruins for ten months after seizing them for the first time in may 2015. it blew up temples and destroyed burial towers. the militants were forced out in march 2016 — russia celebrated by bringing an orchestra to the amphitheatre where the militants once staged beheadings. but by december, is had retaken control as pro—government forces were focused on the battle for aleppo. now those syrian troops are back inside the city. these were once amongst the best—preserved classical monuments in the middle east. the destruction here now a symbol perhaps of the civil war that continues to consume syria. sarah corker, bbc news. in other news:
egypt's highest appeal court has found the former president, hosni mubarak, not guilty of involvement in the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising that forced him from power. since his arrest six years ago, the former president has spent most of his time in a military hospital. it is unclear whether he will return home. scientists in britain have created artificial embryos using two types of stem cells from mice, in what they say is a world first. the researchers at cambridge university say their artificial embryo is unlikely to develop into a healthy foetus but they hope it will lead to improving fertility treatments. scientists in france say they've developed a new treatment based on gene therapy for people with the serious blood disorder known as sickle cell disease. doctors claim their patient is free of all symptoms. the disease causes normal blood cells to become sickle shaped, blocking the flow of blood around the body, causing serious health issues like strokes. this weekend china will open its annual parliamentary session
the national people's congress. as usual the weeks leading up to the congress have been marked by a nationwide effort to stop some of the most marginalised members of society from reaching beijing. these petitioners are often prevented from airing their grievances and this year our correspondent, john sudworth has had first—hand experience of the tactics deployed by the authorities to silence criticism. there are some violent images in his report. give us the camera. our interview is not going to plan. we are stopped from meeting the family we've come to see. this woman and her sister claim that their father was beaten to death by a policeman in a land dispute. they're among the many thousands of chinese people who travel regularly to beijing seeking justice, known as petitioners. so the petitioners hope to use china's annual parliamentary gathering to make their point.
but here is the reality. china's communist party doesn't want the pomp and pageantry spoilt by... ..by this country's dispossessed and marginalised. the thugs force us out and smash our cameras. before the start of the national people's congress this weekend, a major security operation is underway. while local officials work to stop petitioners reaching beijing, at the petitions office, where in theory their complaints and grievances can be lodged, hundreds of plain—clothed security guards now lie in wait to catch people and send them home. we meet two women who show us their petitions, one claiming that a well—connected company boss stole money from her, the other trying to overturn an alleged miscarriage ofjustice. "we come here during the congress
because there's a chance for to us meet upright officials", this woman says, "but instead we're treated as troublemakers, and threatened." the interview is abruptly stopped, although for now, at least, the women are free to leave. few petitioners ever succeed in getting justice. along with the persecution, it makes their faith in the system all the more remarkable. we are just a few blocks away from the people's congress, but the reality made plain here is very different indeed. for those who need political representation the most, this is a system marked by suspicion, surveillance and control. jon sudworth, bbc news, beijing. stay with us on bbc news, still to come:
"oh, the places you'll go!"— first lady melania trump reads her favourite book to sick children in new york. first the plates slipped gently off the restaurant tables. then suddenly the tables, the chairs and people crashed sideways and downwards and it was a matter of seconds before the ferry lurched onto her side. the hydrogen bomb on a remote pacific atoll. the americans had successfully tested a weapon whose explosive force dwarfed that of the bomb dropped on hiroshima. i had heard the news earlier and so my heart went bang and bang. the constitutional rights of these marchers have their rights as citizens of the united states and they should be protected even in the right to test them out so they don't get their heads broken and are sent to hospital. this religious controversy, i know you don't want to say too
much about it, but does it worry you it's going to boil up when you get to the stage? well, it worries me, yeah. but everything will be all right in the end of the day. this is bbc news. the latest headlines: the us attorney general, jeff sessions, has denied lying over his contact with russians in last year's election campaign, but said he will sit out any investigation. donald trump says the controversy is a total witch hunt. russia and syria say their forces have retaken the ancient city of palmyra from the islamic state group. let's get more on events in washington. steve reilly, investigative reporter for usa today, joins us. you have more information, more
assertions at least, on meetings with russians. tell us more. that's right. today we posted a story detailing conversations between two members of president donald trump's presidential campaign and the russian ambassador in july. presidential campaign and the russian ambassador injuly. these meetings were held... or discussions took place at events connected to the republican national convention, the republican national convention, the nominees convention, injuly 2016 and they run contrary to a series of statements about the trunk campaign and the trump administration, and trump officials, to the extent that there were no contacts between the campaign and russian officials. and one quick question on that, steve. are you sure? well, these were not secret meetings that took place. these were open rooms, there were many people
there, and two members of donald trump's national security advisory committee spoke with the ambassador there. and they won't say exactly what was discussed. one of them members has told us it was kind of an informal discussion. he talked to an informal discussion. he talked to a number of diplomats at the event, the other individual will not go into detail about what he discussed at all. but these were events in open rooms, and multiple people were going in and out, and did see them speaking. so it has also emerged that jared kushner, the speaking. so it has also emerged thatjared kushner, the president's son—in—law, met the russian ambassador in september. just explain to people outside of american politics why you say this matters. right, it might not be unusualfor an matters. right, it might not be unusual for an official with a presidential campaign or an administration to speak with the russian ambassador, or any diplomat. the reason why this is significant
is because there has been a series of denials over the past few months by trump's spokespeople that there was any contacts between trump campaign officials and russian government officials. and this is all in the context of the us intelligence community investigating possible russian interference with the us election. so it takes on an added significance when we have these continual added reports of trump officials meeting with the russian ambassador. steve, i suppose for context we should note that really nobody‘s hands are clean. i mean, even if the worst assertion here is true, nobody‘s hands are clea n, here is true, nobody‘s hands are clean, are they? it is not as if american intelligence hasn't sought to influence elections around the world. that's right, and i can't speak to that, that wasn't part of what we looked at in our recent reporting. but obviously us officials are very concerned about
any appearance of possible russian interference with us elections. and so we interference with us elections. and so we have investigations in congress and in the us intelligence community trying to probe the extent, the nature, of this involvement. obviously related to hack e—mails from the democratic party in the us. they are trying to investigate why this happened and who is responsible, and so these interactions with russian government officials are things that are being paid close attention to. absolutely, thank you very much indeed. shares in the owner of the picture—messaging service snapchat rose sharply after it floated on the stock market in new york. snap had been offered at $17 per share, but they closed 44% higher. with 160 million users worldwide, our correspondent dave lee says growing further will be a challenge for snapchat. growing is going to be a problem, and that is partly
because instagram, which is owned by facebook, provides a real threat to snapchat‘s model, in the sense that it has basically emulated, or pinched, you could say, some of snapchat‘s popular features. and when snap was preparing for the ipo, they highlighted it as a risk, that others could emulate what they do. so it is important for snapchat to make sure that users stay with them, rather than going to a site like instagram instead. a series of lost love letters detailing the relationship betweenjackie kennedy and a british aristocrat and senior diplomat are to be auctioned this month. the letters were written after the assassination of president kennedy, but ended whenjackie kennedy married the greek tycoon aristotle onassis. our correspondent david sillito has been studying the letters. dear david. your last letter was such a cri de coeur of loneliness. i would do anything to take that anguish from you. it doesn't seem that we can ever help the people we would wish to help.
david is the man here in the middle, david ormsby gore, britain's ambassador in washington. the person writing to him was the woman he wanted to marry, jacqueline kennedy. this is a love story in letters, that was, for the last 30 years, locked in this box. a few weeks ago the lock was forced, and it all came spilling out. this was a man who was close to the kennedys, a confidant inside the white house. david ormsby gore had known jack kennedy for many years. he was more than just an ambassador, he was a friend. the story of this glamorous golden couple and the tragedy of the assassination shook the world. these letters reveals the private story. how, when david ormsby gore
lost his wife, romance blossomed. but his heart was broken whenjackie left him for aristotle onassis. one letter from 1968 says it all. he writes about their plans for a marriage, a possible secret marriage. all that, he says, has become irrelevant trash. as for your photograph, he says, i weep when i look at it. why do such agonising things have to happen? we also have jackie kennedy's response to that letter. she writes back to him, painfully, on aristotle onassis's own stationery, from his yacht, and with a greek stamp on the envelope, and says, no, you know, it's not that bad, really. you know, i'll always love you, and we'll always have something special together. but i don't know how much that placated him. david ormsby gore died 32 years ago. no—one knew what was in the box. there wasn't even a key. these letters are a fascinating glimpse into the world of the white house, the kennedys, and a romance bound by grief. i've shared so many lives and deaths and hopes and pain.
we will share them forever, and be forever bound together by them. david sillito, bbc news. the two accountants responsible for the wrong film being announced as winner of best picture at the oscars have been given bodyguards, after receiving death threats on social media. brian cullinan and martha ruiz are also being provided with additional home security. they have been told they will not be employed to do the oscars job again, after they muddled up the envelopes naming the winners. the first lady, melania trump, has visited a new york city hospital to read to sick children for world book day. she read from a copy of oh, the places you'll go by dr seuss, which she said was one of her favourite books. as well as it being world book day, it also happened to be dr seuss's birthday. congratulations. today is your day. you're off the great places, you're off on the way. how are you? nice to
meet you, nice to meet you. thank you for coming. we appreciate it. great, i will let you lead the way. are they taking good care of you, nice nurses and staff? what is your name? marray. hi, mary. are you feeling better? yes. staying strong? yes. that's good. and i hope you're all feeling well. i pray for you. you are my thoughts, and just get better very fast, ok? thank you. and happy reading day. you have brains in your head. you have feet in your shoes. you can steer yourself any directions you choose. and, in other goings—on about washington, the white house
press corps will remain alerted and caffeinated, thanks to one of the biggest names in hollywood. tom hanks sent an espresso maker for the working press of the white house. it is the third time the forrest gump star has done so. this time he sent a note that read, "keep up the good fight for truth, justice, and the american way. especially for the truth part." a reminder of our top story: us attorney generaljeff sessions has removed himself from overseeing any investigation into russian interference in the presidential election. it has emerged that he met the russian ambassador in washington twice during the campaign, despite telling the senate congressional hearing under oath that he had had no communications with it russians. the president has said it was all com pletely the president has said it was all completely unfair. much more on the bbc website any time. thank you for watching. hello.
the winter months were quite dry. the first week of march is trying to turn that around. and certainly, during friday, many of us will see some wet weather at some stage of the day, and all the way through the weekend it is looking very unsettled. we'll get to that. this is how early friday is looking. and we're dragging in some rainfall from the south, some already across a large part of southern england, south wales, edging through the midlands, and into east anglia, as the day begins. another area of wet weather producing a bit of hill snow for parts of the far north of england and southern scotland. let's take a look around things at 8:00am in the morning. so a wet start across southern england, but you can see that rain advancing through more of wales, the midlands, east anglia, at this stage. it is only going to move further north, so eventually it will get into northern england. but, as you can see, some of us in northern england and into southern scotland seeing some rain, and some snow as well. some of us, even modest elevations, could be waking up to a covering of snow here. further north, in scotland,
it is a frosty start. still a few showers in the far north. so, as we go on through friday, we are taking rain northwards through england and wales. eventually, by late afternoon, and into the evening, that should be across much of northern england. we will pivot an area of rain, starting just to flirt with the eastern side of northern ireland, through northern ireland by the end of the afternoon. the best of the sunshine, without a doubt, will be in northern scotland. turning a bit dry, though, in the afternoon in south—east england, and it actually could feel a bit mild, given any brightness. one or two spots mayjust reach 13 or even 1a celsius. a few heavy showers reaching through parts of south—west england and wales as we go through friday night. the rain marching further north, across into southern scotland, eventually into the central belt, staying with us into northern ireland. frost—free for most as saturday begins. will be frost, though, across northern parts of scotland. so that takes us on to the weekend, and friday. well, the theme of the wet weather continues into the weekend. we will see more rain at times. some of that could be quite heavy and persistent, and particularly on saturday, with this area of low pressure just stalling its rainfall
from northern ireland and into parts of scotland, whereas further south there will be still some areas of rainfall or showers, but it is not going to be a washout all day long. but we will see rain for much of the day, we think, into northern ireland and southern and eastern parts of scotland. and, particularly through eastern scotland, it will be quite cold with that rainfall, and there will be quite a lot of snow developing into the grampians. further south, it is showers. and then, on sunday, it looks like it turns a little bit better. still a few showers around for scotland and northern ireland, another area of rainfall pushing its way through england and wales, with temperatures at around seven to 10 celsius. soggy for the weekend. investigation is a total witch—hunt. the city of, and has been taken by the extremists of the islamic state group. the city has changed hands several times during the conflict. thousands of chinese people have been blocked from seeking justice ahead of people's congress this weekend. authorities have made a nationwide effort to stop some of
the most marginalised members of society reaching the capital to press their case. it is time for panorama. tonight on panorama, how immigration is dividing britain's most diverse population. migrant labour has given it one of the uk's most successful economies. if you ta ke most successful economies. if you take them out, who is going to do the work? when i came here to make it ago the town was struggling with immigration. very angry around here. how many new arrivals could one