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Paris Shooting Overshadows French Election; Russia Tried to Use Trump Advisers; Trump Changes Tune on First 100 Days; Pence Says U.S. Will Honor Refugee Deal; China Works for Cleaner Air; Cuba's Gibara International Film Festival Goes Hollywood. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired April 22, 2017 - 04:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Less than 24 hours before France heads to the polls for its presidential election but the terror attack from Thursday casts a dark shadow over a vote that could affect the future of the European Union.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Also, did Russian spies try to use Trump advisers, including this man, Carter Page, to infiltrate the campaign?

We have an exclusive report.

HOWELL: And later, the story of a little film festival that could become a real player. We'll tell you about Cuba's self-description poor film festival.

ALLEN: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. All of these stories coming up here. We've live in Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell from CNN World Headquarters. NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOWELL: It is 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast.

Millions of French voters will head to the polls Sunday to begin the process of choosing a new president but this happening after a brazen attack, killing a police officer. The backdrop, a nation in shock after that killing. It happened Thursday in Paris, the attacker apparently supported by ISIS.

ALLEN: We've now learned the gunman had been under investigation by French counterterrorism officials for the past several weeks. CNN's Melissa Bell joins us from Paris with the very latest.

Certainly that casts a shadow over this very important election -- Melissa. MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Natalie. It was already looking incredibly unpredictable as elections go, also potentially divisive given the vast differences there are between the different candidates and their programs, many of them radically to all that's gone before.

And I'm not only thinking of the far right leader, Marine Le Pen. Now the question how this will have played in. The last few days of voting, the last opinion poll was compiled before the events of Thursday night, published on Friday.

It suggests that Marine Le Pen, the far right leader and the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron are neck and neck. But what difference could the very dramatic events that unfolded here on Thursday night make?

Have a look.


BELL (voice-over): It was 9:00 pm on the Champs-Elysees, Paris's most famous street and its policemen targeted. Authorities say Karim Cheurfi had parked alongside police and opened fire with an automatic weapon.

Within minutes one police officer was dead, two more wounded. And the killer, a Frenchman, taken down. The ISIS claim of responsibility would follow in short order. Within 24 hours of the attack, Paris' prosecutor was able to say more about the assailant.

FRANCOIS MOLINS, FRENCH PROSECUTOR (voice-over): A piece of paper which was discovered next to Karim Cheurfi's body probably fell from his pocket. It carried a handwritten message, defending the cause of Islamic State.

Also several other pieces of paper were found between the two seats of the vehicle which carried the addresses of several police forces. Finally, in the boot of the car the officers found a large black bag containing a pump action shotgun, rifles, two large kitchen knives, secateurs and a Quran.

BELL (voice-over): Throughout the morning raids were carried out in a number of locations. Three members of Cheurfi's family were taken into custody. As the investigation gathered pace, the government met to discuss security ahead of Sunday's vote and the likely political fallout.

With less than 48 hours to go until polls opened, France's prime minister expressed his fear that one candidate might try to add fuel to the fire.

BERNARD CAZENEUVE, FRENCH INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): The candidate of the Front National, like every drama, seeks to profit from and to control the situation to divide. She seeks to benefit from fear for exclusively political ends. BELL (voice-over): Marine Le Pen has put the fight against Islamist violence at the heart of her campaign. Controversially, she wants all terror suspects thrown out of France and the country's borders closed. Within 12 hours of the attack, she went on the offensive.

MARINE LE PEN, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL FRONT (through translator): I demand that an investigation be opened with the objective of dissolving associated and cultural organizations that promote or finance fundamentalists' ideologies. The hate preaches must be expelled. The Islamist mosques must be closed.

BELL (voice-over): Le Pen repeated her intention of having all terror suspects, some 10,500 people, expelled if elected president. Shortly afterwards, her main rival, the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, took to the airwaves with his reply.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): Do not give in to fear. Do not give in to the vision. Do not give in to intimidation.

BELL (voice-over): With the campaign ending at midnight Paris time, the only measure of the choice the French have made will be the poll itself, a vote --


BELL (voice-over): -- that the world will be watching.


BELL: It's very easy in all of this, Natalie, to overlook, to forget the fact that a brave man lost his life on Thursday night. There is an emotional side of things. Xavier Jugele was not only a proud policemen, he was a proud defender for gay rights.

For his family, for his loved one, this goes far beyond the question of how France is going to it. But that emotional quality probably is also important with regard to the broader electorate. People can choose to vote with their hearts.

And I think the question is how this, how the events that took place here on the Champs-Elysees will play in especially to the final vote of those who had yet to make up their minds.

ALLEN: Right. So we know that element is part of this election.

With that said, how do you gauge the atmosphere right now there?

BELL: It's been such an extraordinary election, there's been so many twists and turns every day. Some people are fed up with it. They're say they're worried about the future. They're worried that none of the candidates have really provided them a positive idea for which to go and vote.

Rather, there's been a lot of very negative campaigning. There are many here in France who are worried about Marine Le Pen's position in the polls. And I suppose one of the facts that we know from the recent opinion polls is Marine Le Pen, the far right leader, does benefit from a very decided group of voters.

That is there is no volatility amongst her electorate. She has a lot of people who are determined to go out there and make the most of what they believe is her real chance of making it to the Elysee Palace.

Emmanuel Macron, her immediate challenger, has the trouble of having never been elected to anything before, never having and not standing the benefit of an established party. His electorate is, therefore, very difficult to gauge, to define, to understand. And it is very volatile.

There are many people who are not convinced that he is the right man to lead France at this particular point. So we go into the polls with this huge amount of uncertainty, great levels of unpredictability and these very different programs.

We're once again, Natalie, looking at an election where -- and this is embodied in the two candidates I've just mentioned -- there is a vote either for continuity and openness or for a great rupture with all that's gone before and a closeness, a retreat behind France's borders.

ALLEN: All right. We thank you so much, Melissa Bell, bringing us the very latest there. Thank you.

HOWELL: Let's bring in our own colleague now, Cyril Vanier, to give us some insight here.

And Cyril lived in France, you've reported on French politics for many, many years. Help our viewers to understand what exactly is at stake here with two candidates who couldn't be more opposite.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: I think one of the reasons why this election is more important than just for French people is you have a lot of European leaders looking at this because, simply put, two of the four leading candidates right now could deal a body blow to European construction.

We're talking about the far right candidate, Marine Le Pen and the far left candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon. His punchline during the campaign was, "Europe, either change it or leave it."

And as for Marine Le Pen, she says the first thing she wants to do if she becomes president is to take France out of the single currency, so abandon the euro, return to the former French currency, the franc, take France of the Schengen area.

That means this whole idea on which Europe is built, that you can just cross those borders freely from one country into another, which is really part of the European psyche, she wants to get rid of that.

And then, thirdly, she wants to organize a referendum on whether or not to stay within the European Union. So bearing in mind that the European Union has been very much built since the very beginning on the partnership between France and Germany, coming out of the Second World War, if you've got a country like France leaving the European Union, it is -- it's more important than the Brexit. It just cripples the European project.

ALLEN: That's why so many people are watching this. And Melissa touched on it as far as this terror happening just before this election and what perhaps impact that might have.

What do you think?

VANIER: Yes. And the answer to that question really could determine the future of France because it could determine who ends up winning that election. I think as to whether it has a lot of impact, you can really convincingly argue this both ways.

On the one hand, you can say, look, these French voters are people who have seen an endless stream of tax over the last 2.5 years. They are fed up. And as anybody, they have their breaking point.

Is this, with that cumulative effect, is that where they reach their breaking point and they are going to turn to anybody who tells them, I can stop these attacks?

Maybe. Maybe. And Marine Le Pen is the person who's been saying that. She says, with my policies, we would have avoided some of the attacks that took place over the last 2.5 years because of her strong anti-immigration policy.

She says some of the people who perpetrated those attacks would have either not come into France in the first place or been deported or, in some other respect, been neutralized and not been able to carry out those attacks. So that's one way.


VANIER: And you really don't need to sway that many votes because all these leading candidates are neck and neck in the polls that we saw a couple of days ago. So only a few votes one way or another could really swing the vote.

ALLEN: It will be a close one and a lot at stake. All right, Cyril, thank you so much.

VANIER: Thank you.

ALLEN: Now we want to give you a CNN exclusive report. We are learning that U.S. intelligence officials have gathered information that suggests Russia did try to use advisers to Donald Trump to infiltrate his campaign. CNN's U.S. Justice correspondent Pamela Brown has that.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We've learned the FBI gathered intelligence last summer that suggests Russian operatives tried to use Trump advisors, including Carter Page, to infiltrate the Trump campaign, according to multiple U.S. officials. Now Carter Page's critical speech of U.S. policy against Russia in

July of 2016 at a prominent Moscow university is one factor. it's part of what raised concerns in the bureau that he may have been compromised by Russian intelligence. But the new information adds to this emerging picture of how the Russians tried to influence the 2016 U.S. election not only through e-mail hacks and propaganda, sometimes referred to as fake news, but also by trying to infiltrate the Trump orbit.

The intelligence that was gathered led to that broader FBI investigation into the coordination of Trump's campaign associates and the Russians as FBI director James Comey has referred to.

But the officials we've spoken with made clear they don't know whether Page was aware the Russians may have been using him because of the way Russian spy services operate.

Page could have unknowingly talked with Russian agents. Now he disputes the idea he has ever collected intelligence for the Russians, saying that at times he actually helped the U.S. intelligence community.

He told CNN, quote, "My assumption throughout the last 26 years I've been going there has always been that any Russian person might share information with the Russian government, as I have similarly done with the CIA, the FBI and other government agencies in the past."

And it is important to note that within the Trump campaign, Carter Page was viewed as someone who had little or no influence. But he was one of several Trump advisors whom U.S. and European intelligence detected in contact with Russian officials. The FBI investigation is still ongoing -- Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: Pamela Brown, thank you.

Now let's get more live from CNN's Fred Pleitgen, joining us in the Russian capital this hour.

Fred, good to have you with us.

So what more do we know about Carter Page and his business, his interactions in Russia?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he is certainly someone who is very active here in Russia, visited the country. He himself says several times over the past 26 years. And especially in reference to these new allegations that have now come out.

He said, look, every time that he came here to Russia, that he took great care not to reveal too much, not to say too much, because he said that he believed everybody he was talking to may, in some way, shape or form, be providing intelligence to Russian intelligence services or to the Russian government.

He said that that's part of the policy that he had not just dealing with Russian officials and Russian business people but also dealing with the American side as well. So certainly he is someone who said that he always took great care when he was in Russia.

Of course as Pam just mentioned, the U.S. intelligence services believe that maybe unknowingly he might have been used by Russian intelligence services and then of course also by Russian government officials as well.

He is certainly someone who is known very well, especially in the oil and gas sector, which is very powerful here in Russia. He's met some top oil and gas officials here in this country.

So someone who is quite well respected here in Russia and therefore certainly also someone who is quite positive towards Russia, even as Russia was becoming a very controversial topic as the election campaigns were going on in 2016 -- George.

HOWELL: And Fred, also, what has been the general response from Russia about Carter Page, about these allegations, as they would say, into meddling in the U.S. election?

PLEITGEN: You know, I think it's very important that you say the general response, because to this specific new allegation, this new information, the Russians have not commented.

It came out very late on a Friday night here in Russia, so it's no surprise the Russians wouldn't comment.

However, we are also seeing an increased, I would say, fatigue here on the Russian side and having to deal with a lot of the new allegations that have been coming out vis-a-vis Russian interference in the U.S. election process. They say they're sick of having to comment on a lot of this.

And you can really see the frustration and the anger among some Russian officials, who really feel that this whole topic is something that's making it increasingly difficult to repair U.S.-Russian relations.

They feel that any sort of notion of them being repaired under the Trump presidency, which, of course, they had hoped for, better relations fairly quickly, they say that a lot of that has been poisoned because of --


PLEITGEN: -- some of the things that have been coming out. They feel that the new president is fending off a lot of these new allegations rather than trying to rebuild the relations with Russia.

So there has been a certain degree of anger to these specific allegations. There have been no comments at this point in time. But the line that the Russians usually use is they say that official Russia was not involved in any sort of hacking around the election, any sort of intent to try to influence the electoral process in the 2016 election in the U.S. -- George.

HOWELL: 11:15 am in Moscow, Fred Pleitgen, live for us following this story, Fred, we always appreciate the reporting. We'll stay in touch with you.

And later in the show, we'll bring you a revealing interview with Carter Page when he spoke with Anderson Cooper back in March when reports of links between the Trump campaign and Russia first came to light.

Also ahead, President Trump made a lot of promises on the campaign trail.

But how has he done his first 100 days?

Has he delivered?

We'll have an interview about that as well. Please stay with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.






TRUMP: Fully funds the construction --


TRUMP: -- of a wall on our southern border, don't worry about it. Remember, I said Mexico is paying for the wall -- fully repeal ObamaCare.

And I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator, establish tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers.


HOWELL: So what were we listening to there?

That was then-candidate Donald Trump speaking back in October. Next Saturday marks a benchmark in his presidency, the first 100 days in office.

ALLEN: That was then and this is now and it's been quite different. He set those ambitious goals on the campaign trail but he has not exactly delivered on them in the White House. Here is more from Jim Acosta. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a critical milestone for any president but nearly 100 days in office, President Trump complains this is no time to judge his performance.

"No matter how much I accomplished during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days -- and it has been a lot, including Supreme Court -- media will kill."

But, in the leadup to the 100-day mark, the president has repeatedly tried to make the case he's putting points on the scoreboard.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're now in the process of rebuilding America and there's a new optimism sweeping across our country.


ACOSTA (voice-over): But the president has yet to follow through on many of the promises he said he could accomplish in his first 100 days in office, such as health care reform, imposing term limits on members of Congress and tax reform.

During the campaign, the president promised there would be so much winning, the American people would grow tired of it.


TRUMP: We're going to win so much you may even get tired of winning and you'll say please, please, it's too much winning.


ACOSTA (voice-over): In fact, the president laid out his 100-day agenda at an event just weeks before the November election.


TRUMP: Coming up, just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days of a Trump administration. We are going to have the biggest tax cuts since Ronald Reagan.

On the first day of my term of office, my administration will immediately pursue the following six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington.

Ethics reform will be a crucial part of our 100-day plan as well. We're going to drain the swamp of corruption in Washington, D.C.


ACOSTA (voice-over): So far, much of what the president has done has come through executive orders, not legislation. The White House is taking another stab at repealing and replacing ObamaCare, something the White House hopes can actually pass the House before Mr. Trump hits that 100-day milestone next week.


TRUMP: The plan gets better and better and better and it's gotten really, really good and a lot of people are liking it a lot. We have a good chance of getting it soon.


ACOSTA (voice-over): But standing in the way, the prospect of a government shutdown. Congress has until next week to pass a bill to fund the government. One potential obstacle: the White House is still insisting on money for one of the president's biggest promises, a wall on the Mexican border.

In the Oval Office, the president didn't sound worried that a shutdown could actually happen as he hits 100 days in office.



TRUMP: I think we're in good shape.



ALLEN: That was Jim Acosta, reporting basically on the empty promises so far. Let's talk more about Trump's first 100 days. We're joined now by Brian Klaas, he's a fellow in comparative politics at the London School of Economics.

Brian, we thank you for joining us.

First of all, why are the first 100 days so significant?

BRIAN KLAAS, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Well, it's a barometer of how effective the president is at delivering on their campaign promises. It is to some extent arbitrary but it is holding the president accountable to the own standard he set for himself.

Remember that Trump set out a contract with the American voter in which he said that he would pass or aim to pass 10 major bills by the end of the first 100 days and he's currently 0 for 10 and we're just a week away from the 100-day milestone.

So it's important to check in and see how he's delivering on his promises or, in this case, how he's failed to deliver on them.

HOWELL: So we just heard in the reporting a moment ago the things that the president has succeeded on, so a Supreme Court nominee. But at the same time, the things that have not come to fruition at

this point, given your read of what you have seen happen, how is the new U.S. president doing?

KLAAS: Well, I think there's two major things that Trump has done in the first 100 days that have been positive. One is the Supreme Court justice for his agenda. That was a very big positive for him to be able to get that through.

I also think that bombing Syria and making clear that if there's no place for chemical weapons in the civilized world, another positive, although it came with no strategy attached to it, which is a serious problem.

But on the other hand, if actually you do this in comparative context, Trump said it was a ridiculous standard to look at him after the first 100 days. In Obama's first 50 days --


KLAAS: -- he expanded health insurance for 4 million people, he passed a $787 billion economic stimulus package and he fully funded the government's budget.

Trump's first 100 days, the signed legislation so far has been repealing the stream protection rule, which allows mining companies to pollute streams, eradicating a requirement for mining companies to disclose foreign payments and a NASA authorization bill.

So if actually you look at signed legislation, Trump is not even close to where Obama was in his 50 days and that's Trump with an extra 50 days beyond that.

ALLEN: And he keeps trying to put a positive spin on it, saying people are optimistic in the country.

But how long can he talk like that, Brian, without getting something tangible done that he promised?

KLAAS: This is the big question because a lot of the optimism came from business, who believed that Trump would deliver on his promise to cut red tape and create tax reform. And businesses were very excited about that.

But after the health care bill stalled and failed after 17 days, people began to become skeptical of Trump's ability to deliver on promises.

That's why, when he yesterday said that a tax reform bill was coming next week, the stock market barely moved and actually went down yesterday because there was effectively no confidence that he could actually do what he said he would do. This is where the 100 days barometer is important in judging a president's ability to deliver.

ALLEN: Brian Klaas, we thank you and we'll talk with you again in a few more days and see what has or hasn't changed there in the White House. Thank you.

HOWELL: Thanks, Brian.

Still ahead here, we are live in Paris this hour, where Thursday's attack will likely be on the minds of voters when they cast their ballots on Sunday.

ALLEN: Plus, who is Carter Page and what exactly was his role in the Trump campaign and what is his connection to Russia?

We'll have a report coming up next here.




ALLEN (voice-over): Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live in Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL (voice-over): And I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.


Returning now to our top story, as French voters gear up for Sunday's presidential election, officials say the gunman in the Champs-Elysees

attack was known to authorities. Let's go live to Paris, where we're joined by Stefan de Vries.

Thank you so much for being with us to give us some context on this.

The big question here, with these candidates in such tight races, will this attack be in the minds of voters when they go to the polls and could it sway this election?

STEFAN DE VRIES, JOURNALIST: Well, it's hard to predict the outcome since the four major candidates are very close to each other in the polls. I have the impression, however, that this attack will not play a very important role in the decision of the French voters.

When I walked around this yesterday and today here on the Champs- Elysees but also in my own neighborhood in the center of Paris, I noticed that the people were not really as shocked as they were in November 2015 with the attack on the Bataclan. It seems that somehow the Parisians got used to the attacks.

So I don't have the impression that it will play a major part. And maybe the two candidates that could profit most from the attack on Thursday night, Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen, their voters also made their minds up many, many weeks ago. So it may have a slight impact but I personally think it won't be a very decisive impact.

ALLEN: This is such a critical election. Let's talk about what it means for Europe, Stefan.

DE VRIES: Well, the impact for Europe can be huge. There are two major contenders. Marine Le Pen, she is outspoken, anti-European. She would love to leave the European Union . She wants to get rid of the euro, she wants to leave the NATO.

And then there's Emmanuel Macron, the other side. He is the only of the 11 candidate who is a real outspoken pro-European candidate. During his meetings, these are the only meetings where you see European flags waved by many, many people.

So if Marine Le Pen wins in two weeks from now, it will be very bad news for the European Union. If Emmanuel Macron will win, then it will be good new for the European Union because he wants to further with European integration.

Now there's a third option which is not very likely but the left-wing candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon, could --


DE VRIES: also be a runner-up against Marine Le Pen. He is also against the European Union. He would love to leave the euro as well.

So if these candidates win tomorrow night, then it will mean very bad news for European Union on Sunday night.

HOWELL: Journalist Stefan de Vries, thank you so much for the context. Of course, all eyes will be on the French election and we'll be following it here on CNN. Thank you.

ALLEN: We turn now to CNN's exclusive report. The FBI had gathered intelligence that suggests Russian operatives were trying to use advisers to Donald Trump, including Carter Page, to infiltrate Mr. Trump's campaign.

HOWELL: CNN's Anderson Cooper interviewed Page earlier this year when reports of possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia first came to light. Anderson asked Page about his work in Moscow and what connections he had exactly with the Trump campaign.

Listen closely here.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Did you ever -- I mean, you were apparently -- I mean, they said early on that you were an adviser to the campaign, a foreign policy adviser. Did you ever brief Donald Trump as a candidate or as a president-elect?

CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: President Trump said it absolutely 110 percent accurate. I never briefed him -- and in reality --

COOPER: Did you ever meet him?

PAGE: I never shook his hand. I've been in, you know, many rallies with him from Arizona to North Dakota to many in New York.

COOPER: Rallies?

PAGE: Rallies. You know, which is meetings, you know? So, you know --

COOPER: Well, let me ask you about that, because you have said repeatedly that you were in meetings with the president.

PAGE: That's it.

COOPER: You were in Moscow in December of 2016. You held a press conference at the Sputnik headquarters and you apparently -- to reporters, you denied claims that you had never met Donald Trump during your time as adviser and said, "I've certainly been in a number of meetings with him."

PAGE: Yes. That --

COOPER: That implies I'm in a meeting, in a conference room, around a table. You're now saying those meetings were actually rallies.

PAGE: That is -- listen, if you look at the definition of meeting in Russian and in a Russian context, when they have large --

COOPER: Do you speak Russian?

PAGE: Yes.

COOPER: Really?

PAGE: I get by. I can understand what's happening in meetings and I can get my ideas across but it's pretty ugly.

COOPER: So, you're saying you were using the Russian definition of meetings. So, the hundreds of thousands of people who have been to rallies --

PAGE: Not -- I've been in smaller rallies --

COOPER: No, no, I'm saying, hundreds or tens of thousands of people who have been to Donald Trump rallies, can they say they've been in meetings with Donald Trump?

PAGE: I've been in smaller ones as well.

COOPER: What's the smallest -- I mean, have you actually been in a meeting where foreign policy was discussed?

PAGE: Anderson, listen, they were often discussed in rallies, et cetera, as well, right?

COOPER: I know. But if I go to a rally of Donald Trump's, it doesn't mean I'm an adviser to Donald Trump. It doesn't mean I'm going to a meeting with Donald Trump. I happen to be -- I'm at a rally. So, you went to a bunch of Donald Trump rallies. PAGE: Yes. And things like that, exactly.

COOPER: You know, Donald Trump says your name, says your -- names you as part of foreign policy team. That was in March. In August, they say you're informal adviser. And then a month later, Jason Miller says you're not an adviser and have made no contribution to the campaign.

And you've been saying that you've been sending policy papers to the campaign as far back as in March.

PAGE: Yes. I never met Jason Miller. I think he joined kind of mid- summer and was --


COOPER: So, did you actually write policy papers and send them to the campaign?

PAGE: I don't like talking about, you know, specifics of --

COOPER: Because you did say -- I mean, you told "The New York Times" you did on March 25th. So, I'm just trying to --


PAGE: That's fair enough. Yes, yes.


HOWELL: So ambiguity over whether a meeting is a meeting. But regardless there, you heard Jason Miller mentioned at the end of the interview there. Miller was a senior communications adviser for the Trump election campaign.

ALLEN: He sat down with Anderson Cooper a few hours ago and spoke about whether he ever had any direct contact with Carter Page.


COOPER: You never met Carter Page?


COOPER: And, you know, candidate Trump did name him as one of, I think, five advisors at the time, at the time when as a candidate, Donald Trump was under pressure to name some advisors. He named Carter Page PhD.

Did to your knowledge Carter Page have any role?

I mean, did he put in policy papers, do you know?

MILLER: No, not at all. Here's the deal. So, Carter Page never met President Trump, he never spoke with President Trump. He said in some article, he went to lunch at Trump Grill, which if you know anything about Trump Tower, by law, the city of New York makes it open to the public to come in.

I mean, look, I went to a Yankees game a year or two ago, that doesn't mean that I'm advising Derek Jeter.

COOPER: Right. I mean, he says he went to meetings with Donald Trump. He's talking about rallies that thousands and thousands of people went to. So --

MILLER: No -- it's completely ridiculous. And I think there's kind of a broader pushback point that I have with --


MILLER: -- regard to the media, it seems that every time that President Trump is starting to put together a very good week or even a really good day, we have a great news of getting the Egyptian-American woman and her husband freed last night, all of a sudden, one of these stories pops up with these baseless allegations from anonymous sources.


ALLEN: Just ahead here, icebergs can be deadly in a titanic kind of way but they are also amazingly beautiful.

HOWELL: And we'll show you some of these stunning images along Iceberg Alley as CNN NEWSROOM continues.






ALLEN: Yes, it is Earth Day, created in the United States. We want to say the first Earth Day held in 1970 and is credited with sparking the environmental movement.

But, as you know, President Trump has rolled back some of those environmental initiatives and environmental cleanups and thinking about pulling out of the Paris accord. So much to think about this Earth Day.

HOWELL: In fact, though, the history it helped prompt U.S. lawmakers to create the Environmental Protection Agency which has taken great cuts and passed critical revisions to the Clean Air Act. Now every year, Earth Day is celebrated by more than 1 billion people around the world in 193 countries.

ALLEN: The bigger picture, China is starting to embrace Earth Day because of their problems. They're hoping to end their notorious toxic smog as part of our Earth Day coverage. HOWELL: CNN's Matt Rivers takes a look at China's love-hate relationship with coal.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): China loves coal. It's cheap and efficient. You can pile it up and burn it to heat your house and it's also powered the economic miracle here over the past 30 years.

But China also hates coal because it's a major reason the skies above places like Beijing are often choked with toxic smog. So enter the San Ho power plant, the happy medium between both sides.

It's a so-called clean burning coal facility just outside of Beijing. Instead of pumping out high levels of pollution, the plant's technology allows it to keep emissions low by retrofitting power units and turbines and recycling wastewater. Emission levels are monitored real-time in this gleaming control room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): People used to look at coal and saw something dirty and polluting. But we have resolved the problem through the technologies you see here. Currently no other forms of clean energy, be it wind, solar or even nuclear, can satisfy China's total needs.

RIVERS (voice-over): The plan is part of a drive across China. The country's environment minister says the cleaner technology will be installed at all coal power plants nationwide by 2020.

RIVERS: China puts more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than any other country on Earth. Frankly, it's not even close. But by 2030, the country wants its CO2 emissions to peak. In order to do that, it's going to need plants like this one burning cleaner coal.

RIVERS (voice-over): It's a model that other countries are trying to emulate, big coal producers like Australia and the United States, which, for the first time in a while, has someone who likes coal a lot in the White House.


TRUMP: The action I'm taking today will eliminate federal overreach, restore economic freedom and allow our companies and our workers to thrive, compete and succeed on a level playing field for the first time in a long time, fellows. It's been a long time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Recent technology that can be deployed elsewhere in the world and indeed should be deployed elsewhere in the world. The lessons that China has learned can be exported --

RIVERS (voice-over): But some environmentalists remain skeptical about the whole concept. They say focusing on so-called clean coal directs investments and subsidies in the wrong direction by ignoring a simple fact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coal is still one of the most hazardous fossil fuels in the world and still generating a lot of negative impact on our pollution and carbon emission and also on water consumption. If we want to solve the problem from the very beginning, we need to change our energy structure, not only just cleaning the coal.

RIVERS (voice-over): Still, despite the criticism, China appears committed to the cleaner coal approach for now, thanks to the abundance of coal. In a country with skies like this, eager to turn the so-called black gold into a silver lining -- Matt Rivers, CNN, San Ho, Hubei Province, China.


HOWELL: Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, it may have a modest budget but Cuba's once self-described poor film festival has big dreams. And Hollywood likes dreamers. We'll explain that story, ahead.





HOWELL: Welcome back. Until this year, it was called Cuba's poor film festival but then Hollywood took notice.

ALLEN: Yes. Because these films are made for less than $300,000. Here is CNN's Patrick Oppmann.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The remote seaside Cuban town of Gibara is a stunning but usually pretty sleepy place. Most days here, someone catching a big fish passes for big news except the one week a year when Gibara buzzes with activity as a movie festival brings in throngs of visitors, including Hollywood stars.

BENICIO DEL TORO, ACTOR: There's great filmmakers that have come out of Cuba that we don't know.

So you know, maybe they'll reach out, you know?

Maybe we'll be able to get a little bit out of Cuba and not just Cuba getting ideas from all over the world but also the Cuban ideas will also -- it's like change.

OPPMANN (voice-over): Gibara is a long way from Cannes or Sundance. There are more horse-and-carts on the road here than cars. But what the festival lacks in glitz, it makes up with pure Cuban soul.

When the film festival began in 2003, organizers celebrated the town and the Cuban movie industry's humble means by calling the event the poor cinema festival. But times are changing. Renewed ties with the U.S. have lured big-budget Hollywood pictures like the latest installment of the "Fast and Furious" franchise to film in Cuba and the --


OPPMANN (voice-over): -- Netflix series, "Four Seasons in Havana." Jorge Purgoria (ph), the star of that series, an organizer of the festival, says, starting this year, it will no longer be called the poor cinema festival but the International Cinema Festival to reflect the changes taking place.

"When this festival began, it was motivated by low budget movies," he says. "Now we want to widen the spectrum of movies that participate and the attendance of movies here and let the quality determine the movies."

The festival's name may have changed, if not the antique equipment on hand.

OPPMANN: It may no longer be called the festival of poor cinema but resources here are still pretty scarce. A screen hung from a tree turns a public park into a makeshift movie theater.

Despite the threadbare conditions, though, many here are convinced that Cuba has captured Hollywood's attention.

OPPMANN (voice-over): How will the increased attention impact places like Gibara?

Just go there, says this Hollywood star.

DEL TORO: But no, I think it's great. I think people here are like -- they'll know how to handle it. They'll know how to handle the change. You've got to have faith in people.

OPPMANN (voice-over): Gibara has resisted change for a long time.

But maybe now this small Cuban town is ready for its Hollywood moment -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Gibara, Cuba.


ALLEN: And that's our first hour. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. More news after the break from around the world. You're watching CNN.