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Trump: I Won't Be Happy If North Korea Tests a Nuke; President Touts GOP's Latest Obamacare Replacement Plan; At Least 10 Killed After Storms Hit South, Midwest. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 30, 2017 - 18:00   ET


[18:00:01] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for spending your Sunday with us.

After 100 jam-packed days, President Trump is in to a busy week, looking for a victory. Last night, he was in full campaign mode, cheered by an adoring crowd in Pennsylvania, talking up his wins and running down the media. And this weekend marking 100 days in office, a new interview touching on everything from replacing Obamacare, to his biggest challenge overseas, North Korea.

Now, as we look to the future, the fate of one campaign promise health care reform remains in the hands of Congress. Could we see a vote on that plan as soon as this week? More on that in a moment.

But, first, President Trump speaking out about North Korea's leader as tensions mount this weekend between the U.S. and Pyongyang. President Trump is describing leader Kim Jong-un as, quote, "a pretty smart cookie."

Trump sits down with CBS News came one day after North Korea carried out another failed missile test -- something Trump seemed to down play.


JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST, "FACE THE NATION": Mr. President, you and the administration said to North Korea, "Don't test a missile." They have tested a missile. Is the pressure not working?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I didn't say, "Don't test a missile." He's going to have to do what he has to do. But he understands we're not going to be very happy.

And I will tell you, a man that I've gotten to like and respect, the president of China, President Xi, I believe, has been putting pressure on him also. But so far, perhaps nothing's happened and perhaps it has.

This was a small missile. This was not a big missile. This was not a nuclear test, which he was expected to do three days ago. We'll see what happens.

DICKERSON: You say, "Not happy." What does that mean?

TRUMP: I would not be happy. If he does a nuclear test, I will not be happy. And I can tell you also, I don't believe that the president of China, who is a very respected man, will be happy either.

DICKERSON: Not happy mean military action?

TRUMP: I don't know. I mean, we'll see.

DICKERSON: The Chinese, our allies, have been allies with North Korea. How are you sure that they're not using this as a way to test you?

TRUMP: You can never be sure of anything, can you? But I developed a very good relationship. I don't think they want to see a destabilized North Korea. I don't think they want to see it.

They certainly don't want to see nuclear on -- you know, from their neighbor. They haven't liked it for a long time. But we'll have to see what happens.

The relationship I have with China, it's been already acclaimed as being something very special, something very different than we've ever had. But again, you know, we'll find out whether or not President Xi is able to affect change. I hope he is.


CABRERA: CNN's Will Ripley joins us now from Pyongyang, North Korea.

So, how are the president's latest remarks being received there, Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, here in North Korea, they view the United States as a warmonger and state media is blasting the deployment of the Carl Vinson U.S. aircraft carrier strike group off the waters of the Korean Peninsula, now conducting joint naval drills with South Korea. They're blasting the fact that there was confusion in South Korea for a time over who would pay the $1 billion for the THAAD missile defense system, in direct response to North Korean aggression, which the U.S. says at least for now they will be footing the bill as agreed upon previously.

But the bigger picture issue here is that they haven't yet conducted the sixth nuclear test despite intelligence that showed that the Punggye-ri test site was primed and ready for a number of weeks leading up to two major holidays here over the last month, the army day on the 25th, and the day of the sun on the 15th. And the nuclear test didn't happen around that time.

Now, the North Koreans would never publicly admit that this is because of pressure from China, because Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did say that Beijing has warned Pyongyang through diplomatic channels that if they did move forward with the sixth nuclear test, that would be a red line even for China, which has resisted over five nuclear tests over the last decade to really impose any serious penalties on this country. The Bush administration relied heavily on China to try to do something. It obviously didn't work. They continued to test nuclear weapons and continued to launch missiles, in fact launching more missiles under the Kim Jong-un era than his father and his grandfather combined, Ana.

But we don't know what discussions are happening. The sixth nuclear test has not yet happened. They've launched a missile that President Trump called a small missile, sending somewhat of a message that the U.S. and China won't respond too strongly if it's a small missile and not an ICBM and not a nuclear test.

So, what is North Korea's next move going to be? We simply don't know, but we do that they do not want a military conflict here either and they are eager to engage with the United States but they want to do it on their own terms. And they don't want to be told they have to give up the weapons that they have invested years and very, very substantial resources and developing.

CABRERA: Will Ripley, thanks for that update from North Korea.

Meantime, President Trump is talking up his revised Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare that's currently making its way through the House. Here he is on CBS' "Face the Nation."


TRUMP: There will be such competition. Right now, there's no competition. There will be such competition by insurance companies so that they can get health care and the people taken care of health care.

[18:05:01] The other thing we're going to have is groups. Groups of people can negotiate. What's going to happen is the competition is going to drive down the premiums, in my opinion, much, much more than people understand.

DICKERSON: So, what you just described is the bill that you previously had said you worried wouldn't help your people and here's why I asked. You said preexisting --

TRUMP: There were things in the other bill, the first version, which were not as good.


TRUMP: But when I watched some of the news reports, which is so unfair, and they say we don't cover preexisting conditions. We cover it beautifully. I'll tell you who doesn't cover preexisting conditions: Obamacare. You know why? It's dead.


CABRERA: North Korea, the health care fight, these are issues sure to take up a fair share of President Trump's time in the days ahead.

So, let's bring our panel to talk about this. Joining me now, CNN political commentator and former George W. Bush White House staffer, Paris Dennard, and CNN commentator and former South Carolina House member, Bakari Sellers. Also with us, historian and professor at Princeton University, and author of the book, "The Fierce Urgency of Now", Julian Zelizer.

So, Paris, even as President Trump says North Korea is a problem which the U.S. will solve if China can't, he is saying South Korea should pay for a defense system the U.S. is deploying, which the U.S. had already agreed do pay for. So, is this a good idea to, in effect, haggle with an ally during a potential crisis?

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One thing we know about President Trump is he is the type of leader who is not going to reveal his hand. He's not going to tell you exactly what he's going to do. And he's actually going to make a good poker player if he was a gambler because he's always stoic. So, you don't know what's going to happen.

So, it's part of the strategy to keep America guessing, but also more importantly, to keep our foreign leaders guessing as to what he's exactly going to do. And I think we have to trust that he has the right leadership around him with Secretary of the State Tillerson, with his national defense leader, secretary, and as the team around him at the White House to make the best decisions for us.

So, if you're looking for this president to go out and tell you exactly what he's going to do, at the same time at the place and manner, that's not going to happen.

CABRERA: Bakari, is that unpredictability perhaps a good thing?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: I'm not sure it's unpredictability. I think Paris is probably giving the president the benefit of the doubt. The fact is when we talked about not paying for that missile system in South Korea, that has already been rebuffed by his own secretary, who had to comfort South Korea, our ally, and let them know that, yes, we will be paying for it.

This is a flip-flop. This is unknowing. Paris I believe and many others call it somewhat hiding your hand, I think it's fundamentally ignorance of foreign policy. Look, Donald Trump doesn't have a traditional foreign policy. Donald Trump doesn't have some new cutting age foreign policy. Donald Trump doesn't have a foreign policy at all and he's figuring this out day by day. It's a lack of experience and it's showing and it's telling.

CABRERA: National security advisor, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, says the deal with North Korea stands unless it is renegotiated. So, Julian, how likely is it that South Korea is going to pick up the tab for this billion dollar system?

JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN & PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Well, it's not likely. And I think many allies are not happy with that.

I think to say this is all a grand strategy might be giving too much credit, we're reading too much into what President Trump is doing. To make statements like this, to move back and forth, that can be OK. But you do need some kind of strategy.

South Korea is an ally. It's a key ally in deterring North Korea from continuing with its provocation. So, to undercut that could be dangerous and it could actually send a dangerous signal, even if he doesn't intend to ask them to pay for it.

CABRERA: And there are thousands of U.S. military men and women who are also in the Korean Peninsula who could potentially be impacted by any kind of provocative action that is happening in that area, right?

ZELIZER: Yes, and that's part of where we see some of the effects of what we have been learning. How the State Department has not been staffed yet and not as much attention to diplomacy. And so, that part of these negotiations and this back and forth, it's not clear that it's being thought through very carefully. And so, there's a lot of risks in trying to handle foreign policy that way.

DENNARD: He sent the vice president to South Korea. The vice president had a very successful trip over there, as well as the meeting with the president of China here in the West. This is part of the strategy of this president.

In many cases, he is testing the relationship with China. He's putting a lot of the nous on them, to see what they're going to do to lead, to help with this issue that's going on over there.

So, I think need to give the president a bit of time and appreciate the fact that there could be a strategy while some don't want to believe it. I believe there's a strategy in place. The White House believes it and knows it. We need to let that process work its way.

[18:10:00] Diplomacy is not easy, it's not quick. But it takes time. And that's exactly what this administration is doing.

CABRERA: Guys, let's turn to health care. President Trump and the Republicans are still trying to work out something that can clear Congress and in his "Face the Nation" interview this weekend, President Trump talked about leaving some of the details of this plan for the states to figure out.


TRUMP: If you hurt your knee, honestly, I'd rather have the federal government focused on North Korea, focused on other things than your knee, OK, or than your back, as important as your back is. I would much rather see the federal government focused on other things, bigger things. Now, the state is going to be in a much better position to take care because it's smaller.


CABRERA: So, Paris, is Congress trying to have it both ways, claiming credit for repealing Obamacare while leaving the tough decisions to the states?

DENNARD: Now, look, this is a fundamental difference between conservatives and liberals on the role of government. Many times, liberals believe there should be a nanny state. The federal government should take care of you from cradle to grave, and everything else in between.

Republicans, conservative say, you know what, let's take some of the power away from the federal government and give it to the states. States are better equipped to do the work to really have an impact on the people that live there.

That's the way conservatives think. That's the way this conservative thinks, reducing the size of the federal government. So, I think that's part of his overall viewpoint on the role of government.

CABRERA: Bakari, if health care were to become more of a state responsibility, could we be looking at 50 states with different levels of coverage that's more tailored to their residents?

BAKARI: Well, I'm going to look at South Carolina, for example, from where I'm from and represented. What you have is U.N. ambassador and former governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, refusing to expand Medicaid. What that meant is there were over 200,000 people who went without coverage. People literally died because of a political decision that she made.

And so, yes, you will have these gaps in coverage and certain states can't afford, certain states can afford to do more coverage and have these Cadillac plans that covered preexisting conditions, so forth and so on.

But the fundamental difference here between Democrats and Republicans is quite simple. The Democratic Party, Obamacare, even with the problems that it has, covers all but 10 percent of Americans. The Republican Party is trying to strip health care from 20 to 24 million people. They're not trying to cover pre-existing conditions. They are stripping essential services, things that people need.

So, listen, we can argue over repeal and replace all you want. That's not going to fly. The question that needs to be answered is, how are we going to make sure we fix Obamacare so that it's fiscally sound and we continue to cover as many people as we can.

CABRERA: Guys, I got to tell you that the AARP is projecting premiums in these high risk pools in which the president and the Republicans plan is saying it's going to help those people with pre-existing conditions get coverage. They are saying premiums in high risk pools could cost as much as $25,700 per year. And even further, American Medical Association is also balking at this idea, saying it could effectively make coverage completely unaffordable to people with pre- existing conditions.

Julian, I see you shaking your head.

ZELIZER: Well, I mean, ACA was created because the state-based, private employer-based system wasn't working. It wasn't providing coverage to these groups of people. Premiums were rising. So, there was an effort to fix that. Returning to the old system isn't going to make things better. And I

think that's part of the response you're seeing from different organizations to some of these plans. I think that's why there's a lot support, even within the Republican Party to try and to fix this system in practice, rather than overhaul it again.

But some of what President Trump was saying was essentially a return to a movie we've seen before, and it was a movie that didn't have a very good ending.

CABRERA: Let's talk about what we have heard from the president just in the last 24 hours at his rally in Pennsylvania last night. President Trump hit on many familiar themes, including the election and the media. Let's listen.


TRUMP: They're incompetent, dishonest people who after an election had to apologize because they covered it, us, me, but all of us. They covered it so badly that they felt they were forced to apologize because their predictions were so bad.


CABRERA: Julian, you wrote an opinion piece. I want to read part of it, saying, "Given his rally speech, it doesn't seem the president will do much to change his ways. That would be a mistake given that history shows that presidents can bounce back from a rough first 100 days", and you go onto talk about Kennedy, Reagan, Bill Clinton and how they had rough begins but did turn the tide.

Why do you feel less hopeful this president can do just that?

ZELIZER: Well, part of the 100 days is about accomplishments. And part of the 100 days is about political learning. It's about president seen what works.

[18:15:00] It's learning to govern. And I don't think there's that much evidence yet that he is fundamentally going to change his approach to politics.

That speech sounded like candidate Trump back in November or October. I don't think there's enough evidence yet to suggest that he will make the kind of moves that Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton did.

CABRERA: Could you put your finger on one thing in particular that he should change to have more --


ZELIZER: One would be a huge investment in the legislative process. So, this health care debate is actually a test. Ronald Reagan was struggling in his first 10 days. After a failed assassination attempt, he recovered and he put all his muscle into really working Congress in selling a tax bill. He learned to love the legislative process, as much as you can, and to learn to build a coalition behind a bill. That will be one thing that we're going to see.

A second is if he goes away from some of this rhetoric about all the institutions that are stacked against him and instead turns to what he wants to offer this country now that he has the keys of power.

CABRERA: I'm glad you brought up taxes because that's another headline and another issue that we know the president wants to work on in the upcoming days. The administration releasing this tax plan proposal just this past week. And yet the president still will not release his own tax returns.

Chief of Staff Reince Priebus addressed that this morning. Let's listen.


JON KARL, ABC NEWS, "THIS WEEK": I just want to clarify, just button this up and we never have to ask you again. Is he never going to release his taxes with or without audit, no audit? Is it now the policy that he simply will not release his taxes?

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: What the president has said is that he's under routine audit. When the audit is over, he'll look at releasing his taxes. But again here's my other point -- nobody cares, Jonathan. You care. No one else.

KARL: But, don't the American people have a right to know how this tax plan will affect the president personally?

PRIEBUS: This issue has been litigated before the American people. And the American people issued a judgment in November and the President Trump won in the most historic presidential victories in the history of our country.


PRIEBUS: The only people asking me this question are people like you.


CABRERA: The Tax Policy Center says that the majority of the benefits under the current plan the president has released will go to the wealthiest Americans. So, Paris, should the president release his tax returns for transparency's sake so the American people can see how he, himself, would be impacted by his own plan?

DENNARD: When the American people see that the president donated his first quarter earnings to the National Park Service, is not taking a salary, they understand where his heart is. It's about serving the American people and making America great again. The American people --

CABRERA: Then why not put his taxes out there if that's what they would show?

DENNARD: Because -- well, it's what they will show, it's what he's doing by donating his salary as president. His past tax returns are something that he says are under routine audit, and like the chief of staff said, once that's completed, he will look into releasing them.

But I don't think that's what the American people care about. If that was an issue they cared about, they wouldn't have voted him as president. The issues that matter today are issues like Obamacare premiums that are on the rise, how to fix this issue of health care, how do we look at making college more affordable, and year round Pell, and making sure that students get to college and get a good-paying jobs ands reducing taxes.

CABRERA: But, Paris, the president is setting the agenda and tax reform is on this agenda. So, we're not bringing this up out of nowhere. The president is proposing on essentially cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans, himself included.

DENNARD: That's how you interpret it. That's how others are interpreting it.

CABRERA: That's not how I interpret it. That's how the non-partisan experts who have looked at this plan have interpreted it.

DENNARD: Well, we have seen a lot of people get things wrong with these alleged nonpartisan experts and polling and things with that nature. But what I would tell you is, no one denies the fact this president wants to make America great, bringing jobs back, hire American, buy American and reduce the tax burden and remove the rigmarole and red tapes, especially for small business owners in this country.

So, if you think that his tax return is going to somehow change the mindset of the American people or make this tax policy even more palpable for the people it's going to impact, I think we're all mistaken, like we were mistaken to think that he wasn't going to win. He won. He's the president and he has the right attitude and the agenda for the people. His tax returns are irrelevant.

CABRERA: Paris, Bakari, and Julian, thank you all for your thoughts this evening.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

DENNARD: Thank you.

CABRERA: Coming up, tornadoes ripped through Texas, leaving death and destruction in their wake. The search and rescue operations are under way right now to reach towns cut off by storm. We'll bring you the latest, next.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[18:23:38] CABRERA: A series of twisters slammed into northern Texas, damaging at least 5,000 homes in its past.


UNIDENTIIFED MALE: Going to hit the power lines. My God.


CABRERA: That's just one of three monster tornadoes that hit near Dallas yesterday. The Texas governor says first responders are still going door to door checking for survivors.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: We've heard some reports yet unconfirmed that there's a possibility that one of these tornadoes was on the ground for up to a 50-mile stretch, which would be the longest stretch of a tornado on the ground that I've ever heard of.


CABRERA: At least ten people were killed in the storms across the South and the Midwest. The death toll has been rising. More than 30 million others are under flood watches and warnings today as the severe weather moves quickly.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is following the storms for us.

Bring us up to speed, Polo.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pictures certainly showing that we certainly are not out of the woods yet. In fact, the National Weather Service continues to issue those warnings and watches for parts of Georgia, Tennessee and also in Alabama as well, because we have clearly seen the deadly potential of the storms including in Canton, Texas, yesterday evening. It's a city about an hour's drive east of Dallas. That's where four of the, so far, 10 of the deaths in the Southeast have been reported.

[18:25:04] Right now, as we heard from the governor, the search continues for survivors, happening there after those tornadoes left a large trail of destruction. Officials there are describing it as stretching about 35 miles long and 50 miles wide there in Texas alone.

And these pictures just disheartening also. And Emory, Texas, you're looking at what's left of the St. John Catholic Church. It was destroyed.

It was actually dozens of people at the nearby parish hall that was celebrating a graduation party yesterday when the storm swept through. They sought shelter in a hallway that connected both the sanctuary and a parish hall. They did manage to make it out OK and the parishioners, they are calling that a miracle. So, it's interesting to see what has played out here.

And then, today, some pictures that perhaps offer some hope here. Their sanctuary may be gone but these people are still coming together. They celebrated mass in the parking lot there at St. Johns in the city of Emory, Texas. These are pictures that we saw earlier today that, again, this is

something that we want to see more often. This is some of the positive news that comes out of some of these horrible storms. But again, that threat remains for much of the Southeast. Folks recommended to at least keep a close eye on this developing weather -- Ana.

CABRERA: Those storm chasers are showing up just incredible.

Polo Sandoval, thank you for that update.

Still ahead on the NEWSROOM, the smallest victims of America's opioid and heroin epidemic. How children left orphaned by drugs are moving forward without their parents.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have forgiven my mom so many times, but like -- like she just keeps going back. It's hard to forgive every single time.



[18:31:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Now that his 100th day milestone has come and gone, the President has promised to focus on a specific epidemic, opioid addiction.

We have a special report now on how it's creating a generation of orphans as children are abandoned by their addicted parents, and a staggering 2.7 million grandparents are now believed to be raising their grandchildren. CNN's Deborah Feyerick met one such family in Kentucky.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good night, mommy.


S. FLYNN: It's impossible to be quiet in the zoo.

FEYERICK: Meet the Flynn family. Grandma Sandra is 64 years old. Her husband, Michael, who everyone calls Poppy, is 73.

You are now raising 5-year-old twins.

M. FLYNN: Yes, I am.

FEYERICK: OK. M. FLYNN: And the other three.

FEYERICK: They are raising five grand kids in a cramped, colorful Kentucky home that's equal parts chaos and love. Willa, now 16, is the oldest.

When was the last time you saw your mom, Willa?


S. FLYNN: She kind of disappeared. No one knew where she was.

FEYERICK: The "she" Sandy is referring to her own daughter whose youngest children were all born addicted to drugs.

S. FLYNN: The state came in and said she could not care for them anymore. And they called to ask us if we would take all five, and we said, of course.

FEYERICK: An estimated 3 million kids in America are being raised by someone other than their mom and dad. The opioid and heroine epidemic has hit Kentucky especially hard. More than 68,000 children there are now being taken care of by grandparents, relatives, or foster parents.

MARY JO DENDY, SCHOOL RESOURCE CENTER COORDINATOR: They've been abandoned. They've been forgotten in a lot of ways in preference for the drugs.

FEYERICK: When you look at the generation of kids that's being raised, how do you think it's going to turn out?

S. FLYNN: It has to impact. There's always going to be want, a need, that something they didn't get from mom.

FEYERICK: Do you feel, on some levels, that you've been abandoned in some way by your mom?

BRUMAGEN: I know she cared about me because she used to be a really sweet person, but now I don't know. I've learned to accept it where I am right now.

FEYERICK: Not far away, in another part of Lexington, Kentucky, grandmother Kathy Allen drops by the high school to pick up grandkids Kayla and Madison.

KATHY ALLEN, RAISING HER GRANDCHILDREN: Did you all have a nice day at school?

FEYERICK: Now 14 and 16, the sisters were small when they were initially placed in foster care.

How does your childhood compare? How would you describe it?


FEYERICK: It was terrible. KAYLA ALLEN: Yes. When you think about childhood, you think about,

like, happy things but there wasn't really any.

FEYERICK: According to Generations United, nearly 40 percent of grandparents caring for grandchildren are over age 60. One in five lives below the poverty line.

KATHY ALLEN: Foster parents can earn as much as 600 to $1,200 per month per child, whereas grandparents aren't even receiving the first food stamp.

FEYERICK: Kayla and Madison are in touch with their father who is currently in prison. They say they have little to no contact with their mom. Her choice, not theirs, they say.

MADISON ALLEN, RAISED BY GRANDMOTHER: Like, I have forgiven my mom so many times, but, like, she just keeps going back. It's hard to forgive every single time.

FEYERICK: A generation of children who feel abandoned by parents who they believe chose drugs over them.

[18:34:32] Deborah Feyerick, CNN, Lexington, Kentucky.



CABRERA: U.S. troops are taking on a new role in the fight against ISIS. They are now patrolling the Syrian-Turkish border, trying to keep the peace between two U.S. allies in the ISIS battle that don't really like each other, Turkey and Kurdish forces.

There have been recent conflicts between the two, and Turkish air strikes on Tuesday reportedly killed now about two dozen Kurdish fighters in Syria. Turkey's President says he is seriously concerned about the U.S. patrols, and he plans to bring it up when he meets with President Trump next month.

We learned just a short time ago that more than 350 civilians in Iraq and Syria were unintentionally killed by coalition air strikes aimed at ISIS between August of 2014 and the end of last month. A report from the anti-ISIS coalition says 42 incidents are still being investigated, including that March 17th strike in a section of Mosul that coincided with more than 100 civilian deaths. This as the fight against ISIS intensifies in Iraq where American troops are flying in extra supplies to forces on the front line.

In an exclusive report, CNN's senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen went along on one of these delivery missions and saw firsthand the dangers facing American troops right now in the region.


[18:40:02] FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: An explosive but also vital cargo for American and allied forces fighting ISIS, munitions bound for Iraq.

Apparently, it's rockets that are being flown into Iraq. It's going to deliver munitions to some of the frontline troops.

We're riding along on C-130 Hercules taking off from a U.S. air base in an undisclosed location in the Middle East. For the crew, flights like this one are common but never routine, they say. For security reasons, we can only identify the crew by their ranks and first names.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just maintain vigilance. Situational awareness are big when there's always other things going on. Everybody gets pretty task saturated so we just make sure that we keep our focus on getting the mission done.

PLEITGEN: The Iraqi army backed by U.S. forces is fighting an intense battle, trying to oust ISIS from its largest stronghold, Mosul. As the war intensifies, the troops unleash more firepower and need new ammo to come in this fast.

That makes cargo flights like this one so important. Landing is the most dangerous part. The C-130 is vulnerable as it flies low over the Iraqi countryside. The crew wearing helmets and flak vest in case they take enemy fire. The aircraft's commander, who we can only name as Colonel Buck, has decades of experience.

COLONEL BUCK, UNITED STATES ARMY: Obviously flying in a war zone, the danger of getting shot at is always there. But we're always prepared for that. We train hard for that, so we're ready for anything that pops up.

PLEITGEN: Unloading only takes a few minutes, the engines running and the plane and its cargo secured by two heavily armed soldiers. Then the C-130 takes off again, ready for another mission to keep up the fight against ISIS.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, reporting from an undisclosed U.S. air base in the Middle East.


CABRERA: Back here at home, we have seen markets rise during the first 100 days of President Trump's administration, the so-called Trump bump. Will we see them go even higher this week? Cristina Alesci gives us a preview in this week's "Before the Bell."

Hi, Cristina.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNNMONEY TELEVISION AND DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. With the first hundred days in the rear view mirror for President Trump, investors are looking for any developments on tax reform. The administration unveiled its very broad outlines for tax cuts last week, but it's clear the details still need to be worked out with Congress.

Look, hope for a tax reform has helped juice this market. The Trump stock market rally is now the second best since the 18 percent jump during the first hundred days of JFK's presidency. But progress on tax reform is key to keep this market rally going. Solid corporate earnings won't hurt either, and we'll get more of those quarterly report cards this week.

There's also a Federal Reserve meeting on the calendar. Wall Street is, of course, betting the Fed will not touch interest rates, but it's going to watch economic data very closely because it might hike rates at the next meeting.

On Friday, the Labor Department will release the April jobs report. Remember, in March the U.S. economy only created 98,000 jobs. It was a really disappointing number. Investors will be looking at whether that was just a blip or whether a slowdown is becoming the trend, Ana.

CABRERA: Thank you, Cristina. After the break, it was a presidential roasting Donald Trump wanted no part of.


HASAN MINHAJ, COMEDIAN AND SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, THE DAILY SHOW: We got to address the elephant that's not in the room.


MINHAJ: The leader of our country is not here, and that's because he lives in Moscow. It is a very long flight. It would be hard for Vlad to make it. Vlad can't just make it on a Saturday. It's a Saturday.



[18:48:11] CABRERA: The show went on last night without the traditional guest of honor. I'm talking about the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame were there. The President of the United States was not.

President Trump announced back in February he would skip the event, but his absence was definitely noted.


MINHAJ: We got to address the elephant that's not in the room.


MINHAJ: The leader of our country is not here, and that's because he lives in Moscow. It is a very long flight. It would be hard for Vlad to make it. Vlad can't just make it on a Saturday. It's a Saturday. As for the other guy, I think he's in Pennsylvania because he can't take a joke.


CABRERA: That was feature speaker and correspondent for Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," Hasan Minhaj. Let's discuss with comedian Mo Amer.

Mo, I know you and Hasan are friends.


CABRERA: You said you guys have a relationship that goes back years.

AMER: Sure.

CABRERA: Be honest, how did he do? What's your grade?

AMER: I mean, it's one of the hardest jobs to do, but I'm going to jump right into it.


AMER: A plus.

CABRERA: A plus. You think so?

AMER: He knocked it out of the park. I mean, under the circumstances and the pressure that he had on him, I mean, imagine what Hasan had to deal with as an Arab -- excuse me, as a Muslim American living in this climate. And to have to take on such a burden, it's very, very difficult position to be in, and I feel like he really, really, you know, just really, really did the best that he could under those circumstances.

CABRERA: It's such a fine line in terms of joking versus making some kind of political commentary, I imagine.

AMER: Sure.

CABRERA: I know you were giving him some advice going into this. He was practicing with you. What kind of advice did you offer him?

AMER: Well, it was very important to highlight that he had, you know, friends that he writes with, and he does that. And I was involved in that and I was there present with him in a support capacity, you know.

[18:50:02] I'm Mr. Spices. You know, I just tell him, like, maybe add a little seasoning here, maybe do a little bit of that, and make sure to remind him of the important thing, is to take his time and to really be deliberate.

And that was really the most important thing for me to deliver for him because it's easy to be under such immense pressure and just to go really fast and to stumble and to go really quickly. And you don't want to do that. And maybe a couple of lines that are really important.

But I think that he had a really nice balance of, you know, joking and roasting and also highlighting how important it is, the tradition of the correspondents' dinner, and how important it is for the President to actually be there because it is --

CABRERA: But his wife was there attending.

AMER: But he wasn't there. Well, I think he was fishing in Pennsylvania. What was he doing? No, I don't --

CABRERA: I mean, he was holding a rally.

AMER: He doesn't fish. No, he doesn't fish.

CABRERA: What does it mean to you, the fact that the White House Correspondents' Association chose a Muslim comedian?

AMER: I think it's a beautiful thing. I mean, I think it had to be him. I remember Mos Def on Bill Maher saying that the country is going so badly, of course, that Obama was going to win, and they're going to give it to a Black president.

And I felt the same way, I felt like America needed it. America needed to see a Muslim American standup comedian stand up there, and that is the beauty of the United States. And having Hasan do it and deliver, I mean, look at those eyes. I mean, who could say no to those eyes?


AMER: That guy just kills it. He's, like, put some boots, you know what I mean? He's just the best. He's the most likeable, loveable person and he's super intelligent at the same time. And he knows how to deliver it, and he came up with the goods. I'm so proud of him.

CABRERA: Did you talk to him afterwards at all?

AMER: I did, I spoke to him earlier. He was on the train.

CABRERA: What was his reaction to how it all went?

AMER: I mean, he's just sitting in and he's just, like, wow, this is -- he didn't realize how big of a moment it truly is. I mean, we all knew that this is a historical moment in our time, and I think that he was just still simmering in it. He was still like processing the entire -- he's in post-game analysis.


AMER: He's just sitting there, like, wow, we just did that. That just happened. And he's --

CABRERA: So he felt really good about it?

AMER: I think so. I think he felt really, really good about it. I mean, you know, we're very critical of ourselves as artists, as comedians. We want to second guess --

CABRERA: I can relate to that. I know.

AMER: Yes. Yes, you want to second-guess everything that you do. However, he just killed it, man. He just knocked it out of the park. CABRERA: Well, let me ask you this because you brought it up, about

just the challenging times --

AMER: Sure.

CABRERA: -- even now being a comedian as well, more so than in maybe years or decades past.

AMER: Absolutely.

CABRERA: With the political and the social climate. We did talk to some Trump supporters who did not find this funny at all.

AMER: Shock.

CABRERA: I mean, do we think what we heard from him last night created more divisions in anyway?

AMER: I don't think so. I think the divide already exists. The divide already exists, and it's important for people to see an Arab- American -- excuse me, I keep saying Arab-American because that's what I am, but a Muslim American on television speaking such truth and realities.

CABRERA: He's Indian. He's from India.

AMER: Yes, yes. Yes, originally from Pakistan but he was born in Sacramento.


AMER: He's first generation. I mean, you have to have on that stage. I mean, it was just an excellent choice. Really, he is. He's just the best choice that could've been in that situation, and he delivered the goods. And I'm so, so proud of him, yes.

CABRERA: Well, Mo Amer, thanks for coming in and sharing.

AMER: I'm glad to.

CABRERA: And giving us a little insight into your world.

AMER: Oh, he worked so hard on it. And I'm so happy for him, absolutely.

CABRERA: Nice to have you on.

AMER: Pleasure.

CABRERA: Have a great one.

Coming up, President Trump's executive orders get a makeover courtesy of Jeanne Moos. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:57:44] CABRERA: President Trump has signed 30 executive orders since taking office covering everything from border security to abortion, but if you're not a big fan of them, there's now a way to give them your own personal touch. CNN's Jeanne Moos explains.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump rarely seems happier than when he's signing executive orders.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anybody want to watch me sign?


MOOS (voice-over): And he's getting lots of practice.

TRUMP: I'm very proud of this. OK.


MOOS (voice-over): He has signed more executive orders in his first 100 days than any president since World War II.

TRUMP: It doesn't get much bigger than that.

MOOS (voice-over): Though he used to bash President Obama for doing it.

TRUMP: And he goes around signing all the executive orders. It's a basic disaster. You can't do it.

MOOS (voice-over): Oh, yes, he can.

TRUMP: So do we have the executive order, please?

MOOS (voice-over): But holding up an executive order can leave the President holding the bag, make that the fox with a panda or the microwave. At the Twitter account, TrumpDraws, the President draws like a kid and spells like one too.

Often the drawings relate to the news. For instance, when the President informed China's leader over dessert that missiles had been launched against Syria.

TRUMP: And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you've ever seen.

MOOS (voice-over): That resulted in this. "New York" Magazine says an L.A. visual effects artist who wants to remain anonymous told the magazine that Twitter account wrote itself when he saw the leader of the free world holding up paper.

There's even a meme generator that lets you create your own executive orders. For instance, you could decree grab them by the you-know-what jokes shall be banned. Or after an audience in Berlin dissed his daughter, hissing at Ivanka Trump shall be punishable by flogging.

So the next time the President holds up one of those executive orders, blowing his own horn, that order could keep on trucking who knows where.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


[19:00:00] CABRERA: Top of the hour. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with me.

We begin tonight with a campaign promise that continues to elude the President and Republican lawmakers, repeal and replace ObamaCare.