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Trump Skips Correspondents' Dinner, Holds Rally; Hasan Minhaj Roasts Trump At Correspondents' Dinner; U.S. Strike Group Begins Joint Drills With S. Korea; Turkey Blocks Access To Wikipedia; Tornado Kills 5 People Near Dallas, Dozens Hurt. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired April 30, 2017 - 02:00   ET


[02:00:00] LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. Thanks for joining us. I'm Lynda Kinkade live from Atlanta. CNN Newsroom starts right now. Exactly 100 days after he was sworn in as President of the United States, Donald Trump on Saturday looks like he was still campaigning for the job. He told a large crowd of supporters in Pennsylvania that he was glad to be out of the swamp of Washington for a few hours. The rally coincided with the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner in Washington.

Typically, the sitting president is the guest of honor. But Mr. Trump decided not to attend. Protesters also marked the 100th day taking to the streets in Washington as well as other cities calling on the Trump Administration to tackle climate change. When we begin our coverage with CNN's Jeff Zeleny who covered the president's rally in Pennsylvania.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump delivering a rerun of his campaign from last year. In a speech on Saturday evening in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, President Trump ran through a litany of grievances with familiar attacks on the media, familiar attacks on the Obama Administration, taking little responsibility for any of his own crises and chaos in the west wing during his first 100 days. But he was speaking in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to loyal supporters at the same time, the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner was going on back in Washington. He made that clear from the very beginning of his speech.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our Nation's Capital right now. They are gathered together for the White House Correspondents' Dinner without the president.

ZELENY: The president did not tell his supporters that he in fact has attended this dinner for years and he will likely attend it next year, he says. He did turn to other issues as well particularly on China. His language on China so different than during the campaign and he explained exactly why he now says China may not be a currency manipulator.

TRUMP: And I think it's not exactly the right time to call China a currency manipulator right now. Do we agree with that?

ZELENY: The president also said he will decide within the next two weeks whether to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Of course this was the accord reached during the Obama Administration about can climate change. He's being advised by some of his officials inside the west wing to withdraw from this. Others say he should stick with it. Now, this is one of the big decisions as he said, that's facing him going forward in the next chapter of his presidency. So many more decisions, as well as well as some legislative accomplishments like health care and other matters he has yet to achieve during his first 100 days.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


KINKADE: Well, about a hundred miles away from that rally the White House Correspondents' Dinner was being held in Washington an event Donald Trump refused to attend. It's the first time in more than three decades that a sitting U.S. President has not attended that dinner. Despite his absence, journalists still address Mr. Trump's attacks against the media.


BOB WOODWARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: The effort today to get this best obtainable version of the truth is largely made in good faith. Mr. President, the media is not fake news.


KINKADE: Well, comedian Hasan Minhaj headlined the event joking that he was advised not to take on the Trump Administration. But of course, he did. Take a listen.


HASAN MINHAJ, COMEDIAN: Oh, my gosh. You know Donald Trump doesn't drink, right? Does not touch alcohol which is oddly respectable, but think about that. That means every statement, every interview, every tweet, completely sober. How is that possible? We've all had that excuse, haven't we? Be, like, I said what? No, listen, babe, I swear to you, I was hammered. That's not who I really am. What does Donald Trump tell Melania? "Listen, babe, last year on that bus with Billy Bush, that's exactly who I am." He tweets at 3:00 am sober. Who is tweeting at 3:00 am sober? Donald Trump because it's 10:00 am in Russia. Those are business hours.


KINKADE: The White House Correspondents' Dinner is held every year to celebrate the press and to raise money for journalism scholarships. Well, President Trump is defending how he's handling the North Korean nuclear crisis and told supports he hasn't fulfilled this campaign promise of calling China a currency manipulator because he's relying on the Chinese president to pressure Pyongyang. And in a new interview Mr. Trump didn't clarify what he plans to do if North Korea carries out a sixth nuclear test.


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.

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST, "FACE THE NATION": Not happy mean military action?

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


KINKADE: Well, South Korea says the U.S. is reaffirming that it will honor an agreement with Seoul and pay for an anti-missile system that costs about $1 billion. A few days ago, President Trump suggested that South Korea should foot the bill. Mr. Trump also seems to be down playing the latest North Korean missile launch calling it, quote, a small missile. Paula Hancocks has more.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another missile launch from North Korea and once again, a failure according to Washington and Seoul. We heard from one U.S. official who told us that they believed it was reasonably a medium range missile, a KN-17, which is solid fuel launched from a mobile launcher the reason that's significant is because this is really a technology that Pyongyang has been trying to perfect in recent months.

The mobile launch and of course, solid fuel means that it is easy to launch very quickly for Pyongyang. Of course this makes it much more difficult to detect, more difficult to track from Washington and Seoul. So we understand from a U.S. official that it did explode and didn't actually leave Korean territory. So it just land in North Korea about 35 kilometers or 22 miles from where it was launched from. Now, it's been widely condemned. South Korea has condemned it, so has Japan.

South Korea has called it a provocative action. The foreign ministry talking of the raging, biliterance (ph), and recklessness. And Of course, the U.S. President Trump also condemning it saying that it was effectively disrespecting the wishes of China. It's one ally in the region. Now, we also know that the USS Carl Vinson, the aircraft carrier is in waters off the Korean peninsula. We heard from the South Korean navy this Saturday that they were carrying out military drills with the USS Carl Vinson.

This has already been reacted to by North Korea. The fact that the Carl Vinson is back in the region calling it a reckless action. Also saying that South Korea will be submerged in the sea of fire. Japan will be reduced to ashes and the U.S. will collapse. That from KCNA state run media. Clearly the rhetoric from North Korea which has been extremely strong in recent weeks has not calmed down.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


KINKADE: Well, for more on this. Chung-in Moon is the professor of political science at Yonsei University joins us now from Seoul, South Korea via Skype. Thanks so much for being with us.


KINKADE: President Trump said that South Korea should pay for this anti-missile defense equipment known as THAAD. We're now learning that the White House National Security Adviser says the original agreement will be honored. The U.S. will pay for it. Can you just explain to us how that mixed message from Washington is playing out there?

MOON: Yes. South Koreans are very much confused about the President Trump's statement even they are very angry because THAAD system is American weapon system. It is to be operated by American forces in South Korea. South Koreans just simply providing American forces with the land site for the THAAD system. Therefore Koreans, South Koreans really don't understand why President Trump needs to be requesting 1- billion dollar payment for that weapons system.

Of course, yesterday, our National Security Adviser had a talk with General McMaster about that issue and General McMaster made sure that original agreement will be honored but still we are very worried about, you know, President Trump's, you know, request.

KINKADE: Absolutely. Well, North Korea's mission to the U.N. released a statement saying that the U.S. is deceiving the public because while it calls for the world, a world without nuclear weapons, it's spending a trillion dollars modernizing its own nuclear weapons in a bid to secure a better nuclear -- a better nuclear weapons in the U.S. is that correct? What do you make of that statement?

MOON: I think the statement has a color of truth because if you go back to be President Obama, President Obama has been or was campaigning for the world without nuclear weapons. Yet, the Trump Administration is planning to spend $1 trillion to modernize nuclear weapons system in the United States. It is quite contradictory. They're advising North Korean -- North Koreas couldn't make the statement. More importantly, that President Obama was thinking about adopting no first use policy but it was abrogated, you know. It was never proposed by the American government. That is why a lot of people around the world are concerned about American nuclear weapons policy.

KINKADE: On the campaign trail, President Trump had a lot of the criticism for China. He is now pulling back on some of that criticism leaning heavily on China to do more in regards to North Korea. They are, of course, major trading partners. How much influence do they have?

MOON: Yes, China has influence over North Korea because 93 percent of North Korean trade comes from China. However, China has a fundamental limitations in its influence over North Korea with regard North Korean national security and regime security. Therefore, outsourcing solely to China will not make any major breakthrough in North Korea nuclear quagmire. I think it is time for the U.S. to think about of more (INAUDIBLE) dialogue and negotiation with North Korea.

KINKADE: All right. Chung-in Moon, we'll have to leave it there but great to get your perspective on all of that. Thank you.

MOON: Thank you.

KINKADE: Well, nearly 4,000 Turkish public employees have been fired over alleged national security concerns. That's according to its government website. It's part of Ankara's ongoing probe into last July's failed coup. TV dating shows have been banned and Wikipedia has been blocked. Turkish state media say the online encyclopedia is part of a, quote, smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena.

Now, this all comes two weeks after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won sweeping new powers in a referendum. While in the U.S State of Texas, officials say a tornado has killed at least five people in a town near Dallas. Thousands of people are receiving emergency care at nearby hospitals. The storm reached through the community destroying some neighborhoods. One house had its roof blown off. Rescue teams are searching for people who may be trapped or injured. We'll continue to follow that. Thanks for joining us for this edition of CNN Newsroom. I am Lynda Kinkade. Marketplace Africa is next.