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Diplomatic Proposal; Blame Game; Executions in a Row; We'll Protect You But You Pay Us. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired April 28, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN HOST: The Trump administration says it's looking for diplomatic solution to North Korea, but the president says a major conflict is possible.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: A new investigation into former Trump adviser Michael Flynn. The White House now blaming the Obama administration for his security clearance, though the Obama administration did fire him.

ALLEN: We are just one week away from the French presidential election. We will hear from centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron coming up this hour.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Newsroom starts right now. .

The U.S. president warns armed conflict with North Korea is possible if that nation doesn't give up its nuclear weapons, but in his interview with Reuters News Agency Donald Trump says that he favors diplomacy.

Just hours from now, the U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson will chair a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council. The topic, North Korea.

Here is a bit of what the president had to say in that interview. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, there's a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea, absolutely.


ALLEN: In a major break also from long standing diplomatic protocol, Secretary Tillerson says Washington is willing to talk directly with Pyongyang, but only if the regime is, quote, "ready to talk to us about the right agenda." Our Paula Hancocks is standing by in Seoul, South Korea. Paula, two powerful statements from the president and the secretary of state. Break it down for us.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, Natalie, we have these statements, and they're focusing more now on sanctions and potential negotiations. So certainly over the past couple of days we have seen somewhat of a pullback in the rhetoric from the Trump administration, and so it is interesting as to how that would be taken.

Of course, you do have this buildup of the U.S. military assets in the region still. You have the USS Carl Vinson, the aircraft carrier, obviously the missile-guided submarine as well.

But on top of that you do have seemingly this more conciliatory tone coming from some of the Trump administration officials. Interestingly though, Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, when he was here just matter of weeks aag in Seoul he said it wasn't time for talks. Now of course, it appears as though, they would potentially would be ready for negotiation. So it is an interesting turn there.

ALLEN: Paula Hancocks for us in Seoul. For more now let's go over to George.

HOWELL: Beijing not sounding overly optimistic about resolving the crisis with North Korea peacefully. The Chinese foreign minister speaking to a senior Russian diplomat in New York warned that the current situation risks, quote, "spiraling out of control."

Let's bring in CNN's David McKenzie live for us following the story in the Chinese capital. It's good to have you with us, David, this hour. Certainly, China even mentioning Russia for that matter, staying in close contact, pushing for more dialogue and less incendiary rhetoric.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Both pushing for less rhetoric and generally calling for the military situation to calm down. China has repeatedly said what it's policy is for this is -- what suggestion at least is for both the U.S. and North Korea to cease all military operations, tests or training, and then move towards attempting to restart talks on North Korea's nuclear program.

Certainly there hasn't been any takers on that suggestion in recent weeks, but there is a sense from that same interview between President Trump and Reuters that Trump is really lavishing praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping saying that the president and the government of China will really try to turn the screws on North Korea to try and force them into some kind of diplomatic solution to this problem. George?

HOWELL: And David, is there any indication that China's pressure on North Korea is making a difference?

MCKENZIE: It is really hard to say. I mean, certainly China is one of the few countries with regular diplomatic contacts at a high level, or at least with a reasonably high level with North Korea. And we don't know what's going on in private.

We do know though, that China has said repeatedly that they wish to hold the U.N. sanctions, make -- enforce them very strictly. There is some evidence of that.

[03:05:03] They've also hinted if anymore provocations from North Korea like another nuclear test, they might call for stricter sanctions.

It will be interesting to see what they do at the Security Council, if there are calls for tougher sanctions or just truly implementing the current sanctions. You know, China has said it can't go beyond the U.N. mandate and squeeze North Korea unilaterally, but certainly there's a great deal of displeasure, to say the least, with the continued provocations from North Korea here in Beijing.

HOWELL: CNN's David McKenzie following the story in Beijing. David, thank you.

ALLEN: The tough talk and saber rattling from Washington and Pyongyang are weighing on the minds of many Americans.

A new CNN/ORC poll shows that 86 percent of those surveyed believe North Korea is a threat to the United States. Thirty seven percent think that danger is immediate, while 49 percent say it is long-term.

HOWELL: That view of North Korea that it poses an immediate threat to the U.S. only slightly changed from 2013. That's when Pyongyang said it would restart a nuclear reactor capable of producing plutonium.

ALLEN: The U.S. House will vote next week on new sanctions against North Korea. The Trump administration is also hoping China can persuade Pyongyang, as you were just talking about with David, to change course.

HOWELL: Here is the thing though. Beijing does have leverage because the North Korean economy is heavily dependent on Chinese goods.

We get more from CNN's Will Ripley, the only U.S. television correspondent reporting from North Korea.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: North Korea says it values one thing above all else, self-reliance, a concept they call 'ju chang.'

Driving around the North Korean capital, it's clear this fiercely independent nation is not entirely self-reliant. Many everyday items are imported, from cars on the streets, electronics in the stores, even food in the supermarkets. These shelves are surprisingly full of imports, especially from one particular country.

It is interesting, a lot of the canned food items you see here come from China. It shows that there's a lot of trade happening between the two countries despite heightened international sanctions.

North Korea claims to locally produce most of the products they sell, and the government says domestic production is increasing.

China's is North Korea's neighbor and most important ally, a powerful patron that pumps billions of dollars into this still largely impoverished economy.

We're not allowed to see life outside the show piece capital. Inside, people say life is getting better. "Under Kim Jong-un our living standards are improving," says this doctor.

North Korean economists say China still accounts for at least 70 percent of their trade, and not just consumer items. A Chinese oil pipeline literally helps keep this country's engine running.

President Trump is urging China to use its economic leverage to punish Pyongyang for provocative behavior. North Korean officials say China's actions won't affect their weapons development.

"Whatever new sanctions we're likely to face, whatever trade restrictions, we're not afraid," says Sok Chul Won (Ph). Every day North Koreans also insist they will be just fine with or without China.

"We don't worry much," says this housewife. "We have a strong military. We can overcome anything." Despite five nuclear tests in the last decade, Beijing has been reluctant to get too tough on Pyongyang. North Korea serves as a buffer between China and South Korea where 28,000 U.S. troops are based.

China also worries a destabilized Korean Peninsula could trigger a refugee crisis at its border. China has taken some steps to sanction North Korea, temporarily suspending coal imports, a major source of revenue for the regime.

But in the first quarter of this year trade is still up nearly 40 percent. The true test will come if Pyongyang keeps its promise to launch more missiles and conduct more nuclear tests. North Korea says they will remain self-reliant, no matter how China and the world respond.

Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang.

HOWELL: Will Ripley, thank you so much for the report -- reporting. Again, reporting from North Korea.

Now to the U.S., the former U.S. National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, you could add the Pentagon to the list of U.S. government agencies investigating him. The Defense Department now looking into foreign payments made to Flynn even though he was warned against it in 2014.

ALLEN: And the White House is trying to distant itself from Flynn, blaming a familiar target, someone named Obama.

Here is CNN's Manu Raju.

[03:10:00] MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, now under a new investigation.


ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: We have no evidence, zilch, that he obtained permission from the secretary of the army and the secretary of state to accept any foreign government payments as required by law.


RAJU: New documents show the Pentagon warned retired lieutenant General Michael Flynn in 2014 about accepting any foreign payments, suggesting he failed to get permission to travel to Moscow.


MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Thank you so much for inviting me and having me here.


RAJU: Where he was paid tens of thousands of dollars in 2015 by the Kremlin-backed news station RT where he also dined with Vladimir Putin.

Now the Defense Department's inspector general is announcing its own investigation into whether Flynn broke the law. This after Flynn also allegedly failed to disclose foreign payments on his security clearance forms, a potential felony.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe he may have broken the law?

PAUL RYAN, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I don't know whether he did or did not. That's why we have an investigation.


RAJU: But the House oversight committee's investigation is now breaking down along party lines with democrats accusing the White House of stone walling.


CUMMINGS: I honestly do not understand why the White House is covering up for Michael Flynn. I don't get it. After the president fired him for lying.


RAJU: The White House has refused to provide certain records it says are not relevant to the Flynn investigation. Why are they relevant to your investigation in?

CUMMINGS: Spicer also said that they didn't have documents. Remember that? Come on. These guys are playing games, and when you see Mr. Spicer you can tell him I said that today.

All of these documents are relevant because they go to what his relationship was with the Russians, what his relationship was with Turkey. Did they vet for the highest security position? I mean, we don't know.


RAJU: At the White House, spokesman Sean Spicer said the Obama administration was to blame for providing the security clearance for Flynn in 2016, and pushed back on Cummings attacks.


SEAN SPICER, UNITED STATES WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: All of that clearance was made by the -- during the Obama administration, and apparently with knowledge of the trip that he took. So that's how the process works.



RAJU: Democrats are calling for subpoenas to force the White House to comply, but they are running into resistance from republican chairman Jason Chaffetz.


RAJU: Are you satisfied with Chairman Chaffetz push to get these documents?



RAJU: Today the president ignored questions about he regrets hiring Michael Flynn?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any regrets about hiring Michael Flynn.



RAJU: Michael Flynn's attorney pushing back on the suggestion that he did not get permission from the Defense Department before that speaking trip to Moscow back in 2015.

His attorney releasing a statement saying they disagreed with Elijah Cummings and they said that there's some redacted information in the letter that supports their claim that the department was, quote, "fully aware of exactly what happened." But the question is, were they aware of the payment that he received. That's a question that is not yet answered.

Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.

HOWELL: Manu Raju, thank you.

And in his report he pointed out Sean Spicer putting the blame on the Obama administration, but important to point out that Mr. Flynn was also fired by the Obama administration. So, fired by two presidents.

ALLEN: Yes. So how did the security clearance and the vetting process work?

HOWELL: One person who knows is John Kirby, a former spokesman for the Pentagon and for the State Department. Take a listen.


JOHN KIRBY, FORMER UNITED STATES STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: When I went from the Pentagon to state I had to retire from the navy to become a civilian employee at the State Department. My clearance followed me over to the State Department, although the State Department did they have to petition to make sure that it could be renewed.

But that was just one piece of a larger and more complicated vetting process that I went through by the Obama White House. They looked at all of my social media footprints. They looked at almost every transcript I gave, at a press conference at the Pentagon, interviews I had had done, they talked to more people.

I mean, there was a very extensive process. So if the transition team did this, they have to have paper on that, they have to have a record of it. There's no reason why they wouldn't turn that over.

It's absolutely just ridiculous to me to pitch it all away on the Obama administration. Yes, he got his clearance while he was -- you know, while President Obama was still in office, but that's one piece of a much larger process.


ALLEN: The White House says it simply does not have some of the vetting documents on Flynn that investigators want.

HOWELL: Watching CNN Newsroom this hour, still to come how the European Union is becoming a dividing force in the next month's French presidential election.

ALLEN: Also an ugly scene at the Macedonian parliament. We'll explain why protesters stormed the building and started this.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT REPORTER: Hi, there. I'm Patrick Snell with your CNN World Sport headlines. Starting off in English Premier League where first a big Manchester

Darby has ended goalless. What a frantic finish we saw at the Etihad. Marouane Fellaini sent off with a red card, this for head butting City's Argentine star Sergio Aguero. City thought they'd won it though when Gabriel Jesus scored in the final minutes. Stoppage time in fact, but it was ultimately ruled off side. Nil-nil final score.

In CONCACAF Champions League which covers North Central America and the Caribbean, we do have a winner after Pachuca emerged triumph in Wednesday night tensed title deciding encounter with their Mexican rivals Tigres. After the finals first leg ended one a piece, the all- important goal coming from Franco Jara with just seven minutes left.

Pachuca's victory, meaning, the ninth consecutive time that the Mexican club has won the competition. Pachuca themselves have now won it five times and if they will represent CONCACAF at the FIFA World Cup in the UAE later on this year.

Since returning from her 15-month suspension, Maria Sharapova has been in great form with two straight wins now. The 30-year-old latest victim was fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, this is at the Stuttgart Open in Germany. Sharapova making short work of her as she wins in straight 7-5-6-1. Sharapova hasn't dropped a second since she returned to the sport. She will try to keep up the momentum when the tournament continues.

That's a look at your world sports headlines. I'm Patrick Snell.

ALLEN: Welcome back. If you are thinking of flying any time soon, your laptop or tablet may have to go into the luggage hold. The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warns that restrictions on large electronics could extend to even more airports.

Here is how John Kelly is justifying that possible move.


JOHN KELLY, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: So when I was briefed on some very serious Intel, intelligence about a very serious threat and we focused on a part of the world where that threat was most likely to come from, I made a decision to -- to inconvenience people so they are now no longer able to read their kindles.

They might have to actually buy a book or a magazine or talk to their kids or dogs. But the fact is their lives are more important to me than the small amount of inconvenience. But I can tell you, David, the threat is real, and this thing could expand and I'm looking at it three, four, five, six times a day. It is the thing that keeps me awake at night.


HOWELL: Wow. Right now the ban applies to 10 airports in eight Muslim majority nations. Passengers there can bring smart phones into airplane cabins but not bigger devices. Officials say the measure is needed because of threats from ISIS. [03:20:00] Moving on now to Macedonia, a chaotic scene in the nation's

parliament after an ethnic Albanian was elected speaker. Take a look here at the video. You see hundreds of nationalist protesters rush the building, pushing and shoving, even punching lawmakers inside.

Witnesses say police fired stun grenades to break up the crowd around the building in order to get ambulances in and members of parliament out.

ALLEN: And again, this was after an ethnic Albanian was elected as speaker. One party leader was left bleeding from his head. Elections in December have yet to give the country a functioning government.

E.U. leaders condemned the violence and ask the people to respect the democratic process.

With the election just over a week away, the two candidates battling to become France's next president are fighting for every vote as you might imagine.

In Nice, Marine Le Pen held a rally with supporters Thursday and addressed some of her campaign themes such as limiting immigration.

HOWELL: Her opponent Emmanuel Macron visited a low income Paris suburb where he kicked a ball around with a few kids there and discussed ideas on how to help lift them out of poverty.

Next month's election is seen as a pivotal moment for the European Union since the candidates have opposing views on France's role vision for France ahead.

ALLEN: Joining me now is CNN Paris correspondent, Melissa Bell. Hello to you, Melissa. You had a chance to interview Emmanuel Macron. Tell us about it.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he is -- this was an interview with what is now the favorite candidate going into this second round. You know, we've been following this populous story, Natalie, over the course of the last month, and here in France in this election and the run-up to the first round there were several populous candidates, one of who, Marine Le Pen, the far right leader, made it to the second round.

France is really now facing its choice between her and the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron who launched this most improbable political venture just a few months ago. No one thought he could do it, standing without an established party going into the election. They didn't think that he would get terribly far.

Now as we head into the second round he is the favorite, but still he is having trouble convincing many French people. They're worried really about two things.

First of all, that he is essentially the candidate of the system, who is going to carry on what Francois Hollande began without enough change and there is this thirst for change in France. The other worry that people have is that he is not very clear about what he represents. Have a listen to his answers.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): We are all products of this system but I'm not a product of the political system. I'm new to politics and I haven't got years and years of mandate behind me, with some reproach me with and some understand and acknowledge, and that's the difference between me and Marine Le Pen who has been in politics for ages.

But it's true that I worked in the private sector. I have been in the civil service advice. I have been a minister, so I'm certainly not somebody who comes from outside the system.

Well, there's an element of predictability -- unpredictability in all presidents. The ideological angle has been that of France for more than 30 years. This is absolutely amazing. There's an ideology which allowed Sarkozy to be elected, for example.

What is the basis for the debate which we had during the last presidency? I respect him enormously but his problem over the past five years is that he was immune in an ideology and the left was saying we want to the elect a president and you are not left enough.

The left is saying he betrayed us. He is absolutely unacceptable. So this ideological straight jacket is old ideas.


BELL: Now, Emmanuel Macron there trying to explain that it is precisely because he kind of transcends those old left-right divides that he should be trusted with the keys to the Elysee Palace. Still though, a lot of French people struggling with the idea of sort of pragmatic approach to political life rather than an ideological one.

ALLEN: Melissa, his opponent, Marine Le Pen, holds nationalist views of course, and has said she wants a referendum on E.U. membership. What are his views on ties with the European Union going forward?

BELL: They are, Natalie, diametrically opposed. He was the most pro- European candidate going into this election and he has come out as the champion of Europe. So really all over Europe people are looking towards his possible presidency with something of a sigh of relief.

Still, I put him, Europe would have to be reformed if it is to survive. And I asked him whether given France's weakness going into the negotiations with Berlin he wasn't worried that he might fail to impose himself when faced with Angela Merkel, this was his reply.


[03:25:06] MACRON (through translator): First of all, not going to be against Berlin. We have differences, we have disagreements, but I will not tell the French today that I'm going to defend their interests against Berlin. Why? Because Berlin is a construction. It is ours. We sovereignly took that decision. We did that for our peace, for our prosperity and for our freedom.


BELL: Now, Europe has, of course, turned out to be a defining subject in this election. Should France stay within it, should France seek to reform it from within, that is Emmanuel Macron's view.

Should, on the other hand, France seek to withdraw, leave the euro, that, Natalie, would undoubtedly lead to the collapse of the European project itself.

ALLEN: Which is why so many outside of France are watching this election quite closely. Melissa, thank you once again. Melissa Bell for us.

HOWELL: Here in the United States the Supreme Court denied a stay of execution for an Arkansas man on death row, allowing that state to execute him by lethal injection just hours ago.

ALLEN: Melissa Raney explains for us why his death, along with others in the state have drawn international security.


J.R. DAVIS, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON: The governor knows this is the most grave responsibility he'll ever have.

MELISSA RANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the fourth time in just seven days, Arkansas has executed another death row inmate. These are the first executions in the state in more than 11 years.

Kenneth Williams' execution was at the same prison that convicted murderer escaped from in 1999 before killing another person. Cecil Boren. Boren's widow lives only two miles from the prison.


GAIL BOREN, CECIL BOREN'S WIDOW: He did a wrong. He was, by his jury of peers gave him a death sentence. People have to be punished for things they've done.


RANEY: But the family of Michael Greenwood, who was killed in a car crash while Williams fled from police, fought for his clemency. They even paid for Williams' family to come to Arkansas so he could meet his granddaughter before being executed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it will just show her that people can have unconditional love for you, stranger that's never met you. You can bring a beautiful thing out of any situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RANEY: Williams is one of eight inmates Arkansas initially wanted to put to death this month before its supply of a sedative used for executions expired. The inmates argued that the drug, Midazolam, isn't guaranteed to prevent a painful death, but the state Supreme Court denied the claim.

Even though Midazolam has been used in previously botched executions, states have turned to it after drug makers started refusing to provide their products for executions.

I'm Melissa Raney, reporting.

HOWELL: Melissa Raney, thank you.

President Trump has a message for South Korea. It costs about a billion dollars to guard against incoming missiles, and the U.S. isn't footing the bill.

ALLEN: Also welcome to Trump country. We'll find out what voters in one Texas town think of the president as he marks 100 days in the White House.


HOWELL: A warm welcome back to our viewers around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. It is good to have you with us. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen.

Here are our top stories this hour. U.S. President Donald Trump tells Reuters News Agency he wants to avoid armed conflict with North Korea, but he warns possible hostilities are possible if Pyongyang doesn't abandon its nuclear weapons.

A few hours from now the U.S. will chair a U.N. Security Council meeting on North Korea.

HOWELL: The Pentagon is investigating whether former national security adviser Michael Flynn accepted payments from foreign sources. He was warned against it back in 2014. His attorney says Flynn notified the Defense Department about his payments for a speech in Russia.

ALLEN: The State of Arkansas has executed this man, Kenneth Williams. He is the fourth prisoner to be killed by lethal injection in Arkansas in the past week. The state is trying to carry out a series of executions before one of its lethal injection drugs expires.

HOWELL: U.S. President Donald Trump is asking South Korea to foot the bill for a billion dollar THAAD missile defense system. The word from Seoul? No.

ALLEN: The system is meant to protect South Korea in case of an attack by the north, but it is controversial. Hundreds of people gathered to protest its deployment this week. Here is what President Trump told Reuters News service.


TRUMP: You know, I informed South Korea that it would be appropriate if they paid. Nobody is going to do that. Why are we paying a billion dollars? It is a billion dollar system. It is phenomenal, it's the most incredible equipment you've ever seen. It shoots missiles right out of the sky. And it protects them and I want to protect them, we're going to protect them, but they should pay for that and they understand that.


HOWELL: Let's get some context. Live from Seoul, Daniel Pinkston is professor of international relations at Troy University. It's good to have you with us this hour.

We just heard the President of the United States say he wants to protect them but at the same time they should pay for, they should know that. This is at a time when that nation is relying on the U.S. for full support. Help our viewers to understand how that's being perceived there in South Korea.

DANIEL PINKSTON, PROFESSOR, TROY UNIVERSITY: Well, it's been a little bit disturbing today for South Koreans, but I think we are to pull back and look at this in the context of the bilateral relationship.

The U.S. and South Korea have a mutual defense treaty that was signed in 1953 and has been in effect since 1954. South Korea has been contributing to the cost of stationing U.S. troops in South Korea since 1991.

There's a mechanism whereby the two sides negotiate and fulfill an agreement, sign an agreement that provides for this cost sharing. It is called an SMA or Special Measures Agreement. The last one was signed in 2014. It will expire in the end of next year, 2018.

So the two sides have been through this many times before. There's a way to work that out and manage the relationship and the alliance, and I think that will go forward. Sound bites and so forth I don't think contribute to the managing of the relationship. Nevertheless, we will get past this.

HOWELL: But let's talk about that, because optics are important here. I mean if it is a three-way staring contest, everyone is looking very intently at each other to determine who blinks first.

[03:35:06] How would this be perceived by North Korea with the U.S. president telling South Korea that they have to pay up and South Korea saying no?

PINKSTON: Well, I think everyone in the region might question the resolve of the U.S. in its willingness to fulfill its alliance commitments, and that could undermine extended deterrence.

It could cause adversaries to test the resolve of the U.S., and also friends and allies might become nervous and might not be confident that the U.S. will fulfill its commitments and they might take measures in the realm of nuclear proliferation as well.

They might decide they need to acquire their own nuclear deterrent and of course, that would be destabilizing.

HOWELL: I also want to talk about the U.S. president's words in that Reuters interview, words that state this, "There could be a major, major conflict," but the president saying that he favors diplomacy.

Help our viewers to understand the perception there as these new statements are coming out and now being digested across the world.

PINKSTON: Well, I'm not a Trump whisperer and sometimes I have difficulty understanding what he says and what he means. But I will say this as far as the region goes.

All of the actors in the region, all of the countries are dissatisfied with something about the regional situation. All of the actors would like to change something in their favor.

However, the constraints are so great that if anyone were to act unilaterally, to use force in an attempt to change the status quo, they almost certainly would fail and fail miserably. Even the most powerful states like the U.S. or China, in the past century and there were two examples of states trying to overturn the status quo.

There was Japan in the 1930s and the 1940s, and of course, North Korea, Kim Il-sung in June of 1950. At those times those actors had much, much greater advantages than anyone does today. So, the types of missile strikes we saw in Syria a couple of weeks back or some other kind of unilateral action, I just don't see how that would be in the interests of the U.S. or anyone else for that matter.

Those same constraints operate on the U.S. and North Korea and everyone, so I just don't see that kind can of military adventurism. Today, unless something changes dramatically or drastically but that would almost be certainly to be suicidal.

HOWELL: Daniel Pinkston saying that he's not a Trump whisperer but glad to have you here to give us some context to get as the world is trying to understand exactly the implication of these words from the president of the United States. Daniel, thank you.

ALLEN: Who is a Trump whisperer? Whoever he is, give us a call. Let's figure it out. All right. Let's take you into deep space because this is really cool.

The Cassini space probe has just months to live, but it is going out in style. These are never before seen images of Cassini's maiden path between Saturn and its rings. When Cassini was launched 20 years ago, NASA never expected it would end like this.




HOWELL: That was the moment mission control regained contact with Cassini after it shot through the gap. If all goes as planned, the space craft will zoom back and forth through the rings for the next several months. In mid-September NASA will finally say goodbye and send Cassini crashing into Saturn's atmosphere.

ALLEN: God speed, Cassini, and thank you. Pretty cool.

HOWELL: Absolutely. Still ahead here on CNN Newsroom, a special report from the CNN Freedom Project. You will meet the victim of the Mexico City sex trade who found her way to self-made success. Stay with us.


HOWELL: CNN's award winning Freedom Project series aims to shine a light on modern day slavery and help stop it.

ALLEN: We have been reporting on this for years. Well, now Rafael Romo brings us a Mexico City success story which started in the country's sex trafficking industry.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Just about everyone who stops by La Familia restaurant in Mexico City is welcomed by Neli Delgado's warm smile. But the happy feelings on display are in sharp contrast to her early adult life.


NELI DELGADO, HUMAN TRAFFICKING SURVIVOR (through translator): My father died the month before I was to finish high school and my family completely collapsed.


ROMO: At 18, homeless, penniless and grieving, she says she was easy prey for a charming man who promised to care for her.


DELGADO (through translator): I used to eat cheap apples and coffee, that's all I could afford. I was suffering a lot. And when he approached me offering to help I felt I had no other option.


ROMO: But the promise of marriage was just a trick. Her suitor was a human trafficker.


DELGADO (through translator): One day he told me, I gave my life for you and you're also going to have to give yours for me. I'm struggling financially so you're going to have to help me by being a sex worker in Mexico City.


ROMO: Neli was soon forced to work in an alley in La Merced, a notorious red light district in Mexico City.


DELGADO (through translator): Those of us girls who were new would stand at the entrance. They would show us off as if we were merchandise.


ROMO: Neli says she was forced to have sex with 30 to 40 men every night for a month until a police raid finally set her free.


DELGADO (through translator): Ninety percent of those of us there were human trafficking victims.


ROMO: Her trafficker was convicted and sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison and Neli set out with an ambitious plan to make something out of a second chance.

Opening her own restaurant was a dream Neli had since she was working on getting her business degree after regaining her freedom. Her dream is growing her business enough to make it a franchise here in Mexico City.


DELGADO (through translator): This represents everything for me. Now I'm free to do whatever I want. Back then I wasn't free. He would use me as an object clients could buy as they please at any time. Now I have the freedom to do what I like.


ROMO: Luis Narciso is Neli's friend and business partner who helped open La Familia. He says he is awed by her determination.


[03:44:59] LUIS NARCISO, NELI DELGADO'S BUSINESS PARTNER (through translator): I wonder where she got the strength to overcome so much and prevail because you need a lot of will power to get back up again.


ROMO: And this budding entrepreneur has no plans of slowing down. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DELGADO (through translator): We would like to open another chicken rotisserie in about a year. I used to be discriminated against because I was poor and dark skinned. I would like to empower women so they can become providers for the business group I'll have in the future.


ROMO: And until then, at this restaurant smiles will always be free.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Mexico City.

ALLEN: You go, girl! What a success story of survival.

HOWELL: Absolutely.

ALLEN: President Trump says he would give himself an "a" for his first three months in office. So how do voters in the deep southern state of Texas feel about his performance?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of his promises was he would drain the swamp. Do you feel he is draining the swamp?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The swamp is fighting back.


DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good day. I'm CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

If you would like spring or summertime temperatures you are going to love this forecast, especially if you're located across the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Look at New York, 27 today, 30 degrees for Atlanta. Dallas, in the lower 30s as well. We have a warming trend anticipated for the Deep South and the East Coast as we head into the weekend.

Very comfortable spring-like temperatures expected while a dip in the jet stream across the Colorado Rockies brings in cooler air and even chances of late season snowfall.

Look at this temperature roller coaster for New York City, for instance. Upper 20s through the course of the weekend, then we drop off to the middle teens by Sunday. Warming up nicely for Charlotte, D.C. as well as Atlanta.

Look at the synoptic set up here. We've got a lot of interesting weather taking shape over the next several days. Showers and thunderstorms through the heartland. This could bring the potential of flooding especially across the Ozarks, specifically Arkansas into Missouri, parts of Illinois and Indiana.

We have the potential of over 150 millimeters of rainfall over the next five days and even severe threat is in this forecast as well.

Do you have interesting photos to share with CNN international? I want a chance to see that photo on air. Hash tag any of your social media platforms with your photo using hash tag CNN weather.

ALLEN: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. U.K. police made several arrests in an ongoing terror operation.

[03:49:59] Our Phil Black is following the latest in London, and there was just a news conference held a short time ago. Phil, what are you learning?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, the metropolitan police here gave a short update on what they described as an extraordinary day for London because yesterday there were two significant developments in terror plots here.

The first one took place a short distance from where I'm standing in parliament square front of Britain's parliamentary building. This is very close also to where there was a successful terror attack killing some five people only a few weeks ago.

This is where police very publicly, very openly intercepted a man who was approaching or was in that general area of parliament square. He was approached and intercepted and detained by firearm's offices and he was found to be carrying knives.

It was a dramatic event there, and the police just wanted to make clear that they believe that particular terror threat has been contained as a result of their action there. It was not something that they just happened to cross, they say. It was part of an ongoing investigation.

So what that means is they knew who this man was. They were following him. He was under surveillance of some kind and they believe that he was up to no good. At that point they chose to act and stop him, but they haven't said why precisely.

Now, the second dramatic event took place in Willesden in west London. This was about 7 o'clock last night where police stormed a residential property there, and we have some video which shows what witnesses saw and heard at that time. Take a look and a listen to this.

Now, what you can hear there are large bangs of some sort. We do know that officers fired a weapon at least once because a 20-year-old woman -- woman in her 20's, I should say, was injured and is in hospital.

The police during their update a short time ago tell us they also used CS gas or some sort of stunning gas that was fired into the premises as well.

That could potentially be what some of the bangs are, but there are multiple bangs there as you can hear. As a result of that particular investigation, that particular raid, the police say they have now arrested six people. What the police want to stress is that these two events are totally

unconnected. They just happened to unfold on the same day, but they want everyone to know they believe that the threat that each case posed has now been contained. Back to you.

ALLEN: Excellent police work. Phil Black for us there in London. Thank you.

HOWELL: First 100 days of U.S. President Donald Trump marking the first 100 in his office on Saturday. And for many people it's the time for his first progress report.

ALLEN: The president says he has earned an "a," but that's not what democrats in Congress would give him.


NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MINORITY LEADER: Some people have asked me what grade would I give him. We could take it subject by subject, broken promises on jobs and infrastructure. F. We haven't seen a jobs bill. We haven't seen an infrastructure bill for all the talk. F. Broken promises on America's healthcare. F minus.


ALLEN: Well, many democrats have been predicting Trump supporters will abandon ship once they feel the impact of some of his proposed spending cuts.

HOWELL: But that's not happening at this point.

CNN's Gary Tuchman has this story.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Roberts County in the Texas Panhandle is one of the most sparsely populated counties in the nation. Fewer than 1,000 people live here. But it is number one when it comes to the election of Donald Trump as president.


TUCHMAN: Donald Trump is now 100 days into his term.


TUCHMAN: On a one to 10 scale, with would you give him in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would give him a ten.


TUCHMAN: Ninety five percent of Roberts County voters picked Donald Trump to be their president. The highest percentage of any county in the nation. But many voters we talked to in the county seat, which is pronounced Miami are concerned not so much about the president but concerned for him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has been doing his job, Congress has not been doing their job.

TUCHMAN: Concerned because of the establishment.

One of his promises was he would drain the swamp. Do you feel he is draining the swamp?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The swamp is fighting back.


TUCHMAN: Many of the Trump voters we've talked with here tell us they believe the president won't be able to fulfill many of his promises if he doesn't get help from others.


TUCHMAN: Who hasn't helped Donald Trump be a good president?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both the democrats and the republicans.

TUCHMAN: So you think the republican-led Congress is not helping the president?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Especially the head of the republican Congress, I don't think it has helped him.

[03:55:01] TUCHMAN: You are talking about Paul Ryan?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm talking about Paul Ryan.

TUCHMAN: So you don't put any of the blame on Donald Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I put some blame on Donald Trump, but he is trying to do something that's better than what we had the last eight years.

TUCHMAN: The act of trying means a lot here. Do you feel he has kept his promises that he made for the first 100 days?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's trying to.


TUCHMAN: We asked about his contract with the American voters where Donald Trump vowed to work with Congress to introduce 10 legislative measures and fight for their passage in the first 100 days.

Nine of them have not been introduced. Only Obamacare right here has been introduced and it failed. So he hasn't kept his end of this contract.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When has he had time?

TUCHMAN: He has had 100 days. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has had 100 days but he had the Russian thing

thrown at him. He has a big problem with Korea thrown at him. It's not like he's been sitting down, sitting on his thumb doing nothing.

TUCHMAN: So here is the question. Is a promise a promise? If you don't keep a promise, is that a problem?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A promise is a promise as long as you're working on it. When you throw your hands up and say, I can't do it, it is no longer a promise, it's a broken promise. But he has not thrown his hands up.


TUCHMAN: There are many Trump voters here who are concerned that his presidency hasn't gone as smoothly as they would have hoped, but we didn't meet anyone who wishes they voted for Hillary Clinton instead.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Texas.

ALLEN: Miami, there are many more days ahead. We will see what he accomplishes. Thanks for watching CNN Newsroom.

HOWELL: Thanks for being with us. After a quick break, we'll have more news from Max Foster, live in London. You are watching CNN.