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Trump's Options On North Korea; Tornadoes Leave Trail Of Devastation; White House Defends Inviting Philippine President; U.S. Warship In Joint Drills With South Korean Navy; North Korean Family Separated For Six Years; U.S. Marines Return To Afghanistan's Helmand Province; Venezuela Raises Minimum Wage; Pope Calls For Venezuela Violence To End;. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 1, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Playing his cards close to his chest. Donald Trump refuses to take military off the table over North Korea. A family divided: the heartbreaking story of a North Korean defector who has not been able to communicate with her family for six years. And a trail of devastation: deadly tornadoes rip through several states in the U.S.

It's all ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM. We're coming to you live from Atlanta, Georgia. Thank you for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen.

U.S. President Donald Trump says the North Korean leader is, "a pretty smart cookie." The U.S. is hoping for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis, although Mr. Trump is not ruling out military action. Kim Jong-un has been accused of brutal human rights violations including allegedly ordering the killing of his uncle. But listen to what the President said in a new interview about the North Korean leader.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People are saying, is he sane? I have no idea. I can tell you this. A lot of people don't like when I say it, but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father - when his father died. He's dealing with, obviously, very tough people, in particular, the generals and others. And at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that power away whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So, obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie, but we have a situation that we just cannot let - we cannot let what's been going on for a long period of years continue.


ALLEN: Also President Trump is being criticized for inviting the Philippine President to the White House. Rodrigo Duterte is accused of human rights abuses and killings in his crackdown on drugs. Not just the people who sell it, the people who take it. The White House says Mr. Duterte was invited because he is essential in dealing with North Korea. CNN is following this story from across the region. Our David

McKenzie is in Beijing for us, but let's start with Paula Hancocks, she's in Seoul, South Korea. Paula, hard to gauge what the President means when he shows empathy for Kim Jong-un maybe on the one hand, and calls him a smart cookie and on the other hand, says, though, he's not ruling out military intervention.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, we've heard this line from President Trump before. In fact, even when he was campaigning to become President, he did mention that he almost gave credit to Kim Jong-un for being able to take control of the country at such a young age. So, this is certainly something that's not new. It's something, though, that has carried over from the campaign Trump to President Trump. Also, we understand that he is consistently saying that all options are on the table. He suggested that the military option was an option that could be considered. We've heard from those below him, from Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, and from others that it would be considered a last resort.

Tillerson just recently said that it would be negotiations that they would be interested in sanctions obviously being the most crucial element in trying to deal with North Korea. But, again, all options are on the table. And, of course, you have these words at the same time as you have increased military assets from the United States in the region at this point. The USS Carl Vinson, the aircraft carrier, we understand is from the Defense Ministry today is still ongoing with those military drills with the South Korean navy in the waters just off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, something that has angered North Korea over recent days. Natalie.

ALLEN: Right. And with all of this up in the air, there's the THAAD missile defense system that South Korea says it is still looking forward to getting. The United States had been willing to pay for that, but President Trump had walked that back. Let's listen to the National Security Adviser and see what he had to say today about that.


HERBERT RAYMOND MCMASTER, UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Well, the last thing I would ever do is contradict the President of the United States, you know. And that's not what it was. In fact, what I told our South Korean counterpart is until any renegotiation, that the deal is in place. We'll adhere to our word. But what the President has asked us to do is to look across all of our alliances and to have appropriate burden-sharing, responsibility-sharing. We're looking at that with our great ally, South Korea. We're looking at that with NATO.


ALLEN: Responsibility-sharing. What's the reaction from South Korea about that or how do they read into that?

[01:04:57] HANCOCKS: Well, certainly we've had a reaction from the Defense Ministry. The Spokesman was bombarded with questions about this from journalists today and specified that this is a deal that's been done. This has been agreed upon between the U.S. and South Korea. It's part of the so-called SOFA (the Status of Forces Act), and it means that it can't be negotiated according to the Defense Ministry Spokesman.

The deal always was that South Korea would provide the land for THAAD, and then the United States would provide the costing of bringing it in and also deploying it and keeping it up and running. Of course, last week we did hear from the Top Commander in the Asia-Pacific region that it could be operational within days. But as far as South Korea is concerned, they have kept to their end of the bargain, and they weren't expected to put up any money for it. Natalie.

ALLEN: All right. Paula Hancocks for us there in Seoul, South Korea. We thank you.

And let's go to David McKenzie who's in Beijing and talk about the other headline coming out of White House it has welcomed President Duterte from the Philippines to come to the White House. Let's listen, David, first to Reince Priebus talk about the invitation to the Filipino President.


REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The issues facing us developing out of North Korea are so serious that we need cooperation at some level with as many partners in the area as we can get to make sure that we have our ducks in a row, so there's something does happen in North Korea, that we have everyone in line, backing up a plan of action that may need to be put together with our partners in the area.


ALLEN: Looking for a partner from President Duterte. That warm tone, David, about the President there from the Philippines is a sharp departure from the previous White House, isn't it?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. I mean, there's a general consensus that the Philippines has very little leverage over the North Korea issue. But on that relationship, just a few months ago, President Duterte was saying the U.S. could, "go to hell." And that's probably the mildest thing he's said that I can actually say on television. He's been very anti-President Obama's administration and saying very personal, insulting things about President Obama.

There's been a dramatic shift with President Trump coming in, and that's possibly partly because, you know, the Filipino President has been making a lot of a pivot away from the U.S. towards China. In dropping the Philippines' really response to the dispute the South China Sea issue and calling for more Chinese investment, this appears possibly to be also about the new President in the U.S. trying to curry favor with the Filipino President to get them back into that traditional alliance with the U.S.

But it also shows that President Trump, according to critics, is far more likely to ignore or at least not publicly say much about the alleged human rights abuses going on in countries such as the Philippines when reaching out to Duterte. Certainly, a far warmer and cozier statement put out about President Duterte than anything we saw from the previous administration.

ALLEN: Absolutely. We'll wait and see if Duterte indeed does arrive at the White House for a meeting. Thank you, David McKenzie, for us there in Beijing. Back to the two Koreas, we are getting a glimpse of how painful life is for families divided by the border. Our Will Ripley is the only western T.V. reporter in North Korea, and he brings us the story of a family that after six years apart, still hopes to be reunited.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Seoul, South Korea. Tens of thousands of North Korean defectors have fled south since the late 1990s. Kim Ryo-hui is one of the rare few who's ever asked to go back. She came here thinking she could work for a while to earn money to pay for medical treatment and then go home. But instead, like all defectors, she lost her North Korean passport and was made a South Korean citizen. Her old home, just a 20-minute flight away if you could fly. I'm taken to see Kim Ryo-hui's husband and her daughter. We sent a crew in South Korea to go speak with your wife and your mom, and she recorded a video message that she wanted, she wanted you to see.

KIM RYO-HUI, NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR (Speaking a foreign language): I am so sorry; your mother is so sorry. I am so proud and thankful that you all grown up confident and bright. I really miss you. I really want to hug you.

[01:10:13] RI RYO-GUN, DAUGHTER OF THE NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR (Speaking a foreign language): There are times it's hard to bear, my mother wouldn't like to see me like this. She wouldn't want her daughter to be weak.

RIPLEY: I'm also taken to meet Kim Ryo-hui's aging parents. Her father is 75. Her mother, 72. When you see her, I can't imagine what you're thinking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Speaking foreign language): This is the first time I have seen her in six years.

RIPLEY: Since she left, her mother has gone blind in one eye. She's losing sight in the other. She worries time is running out, that she'll never see or hold her daughter again. They can't call. They can't e-mail. They can't even write a letter. No way to communicate. We let her husband and daughter use my phone to send a video message back to South Korea. Ryo-gun, tells her mother how she just graduated from catering school, and now she's a chef. She hopes that someday her mother can taste what a good cook she's become. She shows off their new apartment. They moved in here after she left. No matter what's happening in the outside world, this is the reality for this family and many others on the Korean Peninsula. So many families divided.


ALLEN: Earlier, my colleague Amara Walker spoke with Will, she asked whether North Korea could punish this family because their mother defected.


RIPLEY: North Korea said families aren't punished and of course they've taken us to meet other families of defectors to show us that their living conditions are the same or, you know, have even improved and that the community has actually come together to embrace people when loved one's defect. But there are other reports and a number of reports that indeed family members are punished and are, you know, banished from Pyongyang, sent out to the countryside or even the labor camps if their loved one defects. And certainly, if a government investigation were to find that they helped in some way for this to happen. So, we get mixed reports.

South Korea said that people are often punished. North Korea says that's not the case. We only know what we can observe on the ground here. But in the case of Kim Ryo-hui, you know, she really started speaking very vocally in the media a couple of years ago about this, saying how much she wanted to come back, how it was a mistake that she left. She went to South Korea because the medical care for the illness that she has was not available here in North Korea. She went to China, couldn't afford the care in China but was told if she went to South Korea, she could work and pay for the care there and then come back. She didn't realize that once you cross that border, they take your passport. You have to sign a document renouncing your citizenship, and you can never return.

So, she claims that she didn't know that until it was too late, and now she's desperate to come back and has not been able to find a way to do it. But the fact that she is so vocal about it, from the North Korean perspective, this plays into their government's narrative that, you know, defectors are tricked, that they actually do want to come back here even though very few of them ever actually make that request. So, her family, in this case, has actually been in a sense rewarded. They've been given a large, very nice, modern, new apartment here in Pyongyang. You saw in the video there. It's a really comfortable home that they're living in. The father still has his job. The daughter has, you know, graduated from catering school. Now she's working as well. So, the family is doing all right. But we don't know if that's the case for all the families. And in fact, reports indicate that's quite the contrary.


ALLEN: Our Will Ripley there from Pyongyang on that story.

Now we turn to Afghanistan. U.S. marines left the volatile Helmand province three years ago and now they are back. The province has a strong Taliban presence, and it's the center of Afghanistan's opium trade. About 300 marines will train and advise Afghan soldiers and police. The Taliban recently promised to carry out guerrilla warfare on foreign forces. Joining us now from Kabul is Sune Engel Rasmussen, and he's The Guardians correspondent in Afghanistan. Sune, let's first talk about what has happened that the marines need to return?

SUNE ENGEL RASMUSSEN, THE GUARDIAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, since the marines and the other international forces withdrew in 2014, the security all over the country but particularly in Helmand has deteriorated quite significantly. The Taliban now control more territory in the country than they have at any point. There are 14 districts in Helmand and only two of them are firmly under government control. So, the security forces are stretched. They're under a lot of pressure from the Taliban and the problem they face is building an army while they've been fighting a war. And I think at times the task has been too much for them. So, the marines are now back. There have been U.S. forces there until now anyway, but this is the first time the marines are back since 2014 to sort of shore up defenses of the province.

ALLEN: How much help do the Afghan forces need here? I mean, the marines helped them before and then they left, and then the Taliban swept back in - swoop back in. How are they considered these days as far as their strength, as far as their abilities against this brutal Taliban?

RASMUSSEN: I mean in reality, 300 marines are not a big fighting force. They're not going to be able to save Helmand province, and I think what the Afghan security forces really need is reform, and they need to clean up the corruption. They number quite a few fighters, and they outnumber the Taliban by about one to five. But they do have problems with fighting morale, and they do have problems with a lot of corruption with their officers not getting paid or are stealing from soldiers, soldiers are not getting leave on time, things like that. So, they need that, but then they also need obviously more training.

And besides the marines, the American Commander, the Commander for American troops here in Afghanistan, John Nicholson, he has asked Congress for an additional few thousand troops, probably around 3,000 troops that are our guess here. If they get that, that will help also to sort of solidify the Afghan presence even some of these small provinces. But I think, in short, they need to get into a rhythm of fighting more than they have so far.

ALLEN: Right. You talked about problems within the ranks, and as far as corruption as well. How is the Afghan government doing? How are they considered as far as supporting this army and giving them what they need?

RASMUSSEN: Well, the Afghan government has plans to review both political and military leadership in all 34 provinces, but it's been slow so far and that's partly due to a political crisis in Kabul. As you may remember, this government that we have in Kabul is a coalition government between the two former political rivals: Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani. And their reforms have been a long time under way, their cooperation has been hampered by internal squabbling, and that is definitely something that affects the security forces as well.

ALLEN: We thank you, Sune Engel Rasmussen. We'll be talking with you again as the marines return there to Afghanistan. Thank you.

RASMUSSEN: You're welcome.

ALLEN: And still ahead, severe weather making its way toward the Northeastern U.S. after spawning deadly tornadoes and flooding across the south. Pedram will be tracking storms for us coming up. Venezuela's President raises the minimum wage to ease the country's growing economic crisis. But will it help his people deal with the rampant inflation? Also, later this hour, the man who could be France's next President is married to his former school teacher. Why Emmanuel Macron says she's the force behind his political success. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.


[01:22:20] ALLEN: Some vicious weather across the United States. At least four people are dead here in Texas after a string of tornadoes tore through an area east of Dallas, Saturday night. The storms ripped entire roofs off homes and left widespread damage here in Van Zandt County, flattening the town of Canton. One person is still missing, and that dangerous storm system is now continuing to move. Pedram Javaheri is here to tell us more about it. It definitely is tornado season finally but-


ALLEN: This is just more in a string of them we've seen this year.

JAVAHERI: That's what's concerning, you know. Exactly, tornado season peaks in the month of May. We're now going into the month of May. And you look at how it's been so far from January on. The cold season, Natalie, and that's been well above normal. So, we're going to break it down, exactly what we expect to happen. Of course, as you see the maps here, this is what we're talking about. You notice the cold season across the United States, 30 to 40 tornadoes per month.

Once you get to May, June, we're talking almost 300 tornadoes in any given month across the spring season. Here's the layout: yellow color indicated the number there with the yellow code indicating what is average, the red indicates what we've seen so far in those given months. And notice 50 to 100 tornadoes nearly every single month above normal for what you expect for this time of year. So, you run the numbers. We're comparing it to almost 600 tornadoes so far, this year. 270 is what is normal. That is more than 200 percent of what is considered normal.

Now, it's not just the tornadoes that have been life-threatening across this area. In fact, more lives lost this weekend in the United States due to flooding. And you notice this, when an entire state like right there, the state of Missouri is sitting in an area that has a quarter of a meter of water coming down on it, that's why this is such a major issue. In fact, you go in for a closer perspective, about 20 million people underneath flood watches and warnings at this hour.

But over 200 river gauges reporting flooding, 24 of them reporting major flood stage at this hour, almost 50 indicated in the red circles there reporting at least some moderate flood stage. And this is all going to continue downstream. The storm system pushes off toward the eastern portion of the United States. That is, of course, the most densely populated corner of the U.S. as well. Around western Pennsylvania, western New York, at least it is not near the major metropolitan city centers, but still about 21 million people in line for severe weather over the next 24 hours.

Now, this is something I think Natalie could appreciate. When you look at January, record high temperatures so far of this year in the United States. 13,771 have been observed versus record low temperatures, 3,600. That is about a four to one ratio of cold versus warm in the cold season. And of course, the numbers as indicated there, you notice the cold indicated in blue has been limited. In fact, the last time our planet, Natalie, had a cooler than average month was 628 months ago, which is 53 years ago, the last time as an entire planet, we were cooler than average.

ALLEN: Yes, that says something and we still have summer coming.

JAVAHERI: Absolutely.

ALLEN: Pedram, thank you.

[01:25:10] JAVAHERI: Thanks, Natalie.

ALLEN: Pope Francis is pleading for an end to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. During weekly prayers, he said he's united in sorrow, those are his words with the families and victims of the recent violence. He appealed for negotiated solutions and urged all Venezuelans to respect one another. Pope Francis, of course, is the first Latin American pope making this issue a personal one for him. Venezuela's economy is in turmoil, and President Nicolas Maduro is taking the brunt of the criticism. Now he's decided to once again raise the nation's minimum wage, but many wonder whether that will do any good. CNN's Rafael Romo reports.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's the second time the minimum wage has been raised in Venezuela this year, and the 15th time since President Nicolas Maduro took office in April 2013. In early January, there was a 50 percent increase. This time, it's 60 percent. It sounds like very significant increases, but the reality is that it has become virtually impossible for the government to keep wages rising on par with inflation. The International Monetary Fund forecasts inflation in Venezuela will rise to 720 percent this year. This means that prices for food, essential goods, and medicines are skyrocketing, and most Venezuelans have trouble affording the products they need.

In addition to the minimum wage increase, the Venezuelan government is raising the food stamp allotment. What does this mean in dollars? At the rate people exchange dollars on the street, the value is a little less than $47 a month. The new wage announced Sunday will apply to a range of professions including teachers, doctors, firefighters, police, and military personnel. Venezuela has been shaken by violent protests in recent weeks as opposition leaders face off with President Maduro and his supporters, who complain about delayed elections, a lack of respect for democracy, shortages of basic products, and rising crime. According to Venezuela's Attorney General's office, nearly 30 people have died in the protests including members of the country's security forces. President Maduro has been defiant, taking a confrontational tone with members of the opposition and protesters whom he calls vandals and terrorists. Rafael Romo, CNN.


[01:27:41] ALLEN: A signature promise of President Trump's campaign, repeal and replace Obamacare, ahead here. Hear what he's telling congress if lawmakers don't get it done. Also, we take a closer look at what President Trump did and did not get done during his first 100 days in office.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.


[01:31:22] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

And here are our top stories this hour for you.


ALLEN: Well, one of Mr. Trump's biggest promises throughout his campaign was to repeal and replace Obamacare as soon as he was in the White House. But that promise was in jeopardy when the Republicans' health care measure died without a vote. Now Mr. Trump says a new version of the bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is on the way, and he is urging lawmakers to pass it quickly.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to give Americans the freedom to purchase the health care plans they want, not the health care forced on them by the government.


TRUMP: And I'll be so angry at Congressman Kelly and Congressman Moreno and all of our Congressmen in this room if we don't get that damn thing passed quickly.


TRUMP: They'll get it done. We know them. They'll get it done.


ALLEN: President Trump insists the Obamacare replacement measure will guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

But as Athena Jones reports, there are concerns about that.


ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Another big week ahead on Capitol Hill. The White House is hoping the House can vote on this latest effort to repeal and replace Obamacare in the coming days, perhaps as soon as this week.

One big issue that's being discussed right now, one key sticking point is this issue of pre-existing conditions. You have a lot of moderate Republicans who are very concerned about making sure that folks who have pre-existing conditions can continue to get coverage and to get coverage that is affordable. This latest GOP proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare does require insurers to cover people with pre- existing conditions, but it says that they can charge them more than other folks on the plan if, at any point, they allow their coverage to lapse. So there are some concerns about that, and there are some details still being worked out. You have concerns among some Republicans and others outside of Capitol Hill who are trying to influence the votes of members of Congress who are concerned about whether these high-risk pools that have been mentioned as a way to cover folks with pre-existing conditions will truly be able to make coverage be affordable. Will they be subsidized enough to make coverage truly affordable?

Separately on "State of the Union," it was interesting to see a Trump supporter, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, giving the president a bit of advice about how to approach legislation. Watch.


[01:35:12] RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & FORMER SENATOR: The president has to be more engaged and involved in these issues. There's one failing I would give the president that maybe isn't talked about very much, is he really needs to get his policy chops, you know, in line. He has to start understanding the details, particularly when it comes to health care and understand that unless he engages and is convincing members, not, I'm going to run somebody in a primary against you, but here's the policy reasons why we need to do this, here's why this is best for America, we're going to be in trouble.


JONES: Interesting to hear Senator Santorum saying that President Trump needs to be more engaged on the policy front. He also had some words for his former members of Congress as well, his former fellow members of Congress, I should say, saying that Congress dropped the ball on this repeal and replace effort, at least the first time, he said they put together a plan that wasn't passable.

The question now is whether this latest effort is going to be passable in the House and, of course, later on, whether it's going to be passable in the Senate, which is a bigger uphill climb.

Back to you guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: So President Trump hoped to push through a replacement for Obamacare. That didn't happen, at least not yet.

But let's take a look at what he did accomplish. Since becoming president, he has signed 29 bills into law, but there hasn't been any major legislation, meaning a bill, that delivers on a campaign promise or has a significant impact nationwide. He did, however, become the fourth U.S. president with a successful Supreme Court nomination in his first 100 days. And Mr. Trump has also signed more executive orders than any other president in the last 72 years, not since Harry Truman.

Lynn Sweet is the Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun Times," and she joins me now.

Lynn, thank you for talking with us.


ALLEN: Let's talk first about the first 100 days, which on the campaign trail, Donald Trump said you're just not going to believe all the wins. And then, now that 100 days have passed, he said it doesn't really matter. Where do you come in talking about the first 100 days?

SWEET: Well, if I was giving him a grade, I would give him an incomplete. I think that the young -- still young Trump administration is hardly formed at all. If we look at most of the markers from important appointments to important and major legislation passed, he hasn't really done much even though he says he has. I just tell our listeners that you could sign bills, and not all of them are equally important. When I say major, I mean, for example, he had promised to repeal and replace and improve our health insurance system called Obamacare. That hasn't happened yet. One of the notable things in these 100 days, by the way, is his flip-flops. 100-plus days ago, he thought NAFTA was obsolete with little -- excuse me. He thought NATO was obsolete, and now he discerned that NATO was not obsolete anymore, saying that they now address terrorism when, in fact, they did. And another quick example is he said he was going to, on day 100, by then just have ripped up the NAFTA trade agreement. He now decided to renegotiate it.

ALLEN: Right.

SWEET: In sum, it doesn't mean that, you know, evolution is bad in a leader. But in almost all the ways you mark somebody in 100 days, there aren't a lot of solid accomplishments to describe even though we have the 100-day marker in American politics, it may in the end not be all that important.

ALLEN: Right. He's walked back a lot.


ALLEN: You just mentioned that as well. Health care, brought it up for a vote. It went down. Now they're trying to do it again. They did not bring it up for a vote this past week. Now he's invited Rodrigo Duterte to Washington. This is a man who has a very, very -- how do we say -- sketchy leadership as far as what he's doing to people in his own country. Where are we considering Donald Trump and the next 100 days?

SWEET: Well, it's all uncharted territory. Usually when you have a foreign leader come and meet the president, you have an agenda. You want to have what they call a deliverable. We had the leader of China, President Xi, come, and there wasn't a set of deliverables. We did get some more perhaps cooperation in dealing with North Korea, but we -- having a foreign leader come to the Oval Office is not the same thing as then saying as a result of this meeting, we have some policy changes. Also, Oval Office visits in the United States historically have been given to leaders who we more or less want to support and give that honor to. In the cases you just mentioned, of this leader, it's a little more puzzling as to why the meeting is going to take place.

[01:40:15] ALLEN: Do you get a sense that he is getting to a place where he is fully in charge of the White House?

SWEET: I think it's very much a learning curve. He demonstrated even in an interview he did on one of the American networks that ran on Sunday that he didn't have any mastery of his health care policies that he is advocating and wasn't able to explain a very important point to a lot of people in the United States, what the status of their insurance coverage would be if they have a pre-existing condition and what, if any, the change would be in the affordability of it. And there is a sense that for some people, that would be a higher price to pay. So that's just one example. The most general thing I could say is that everything is new. There's not one box you could do to compare President Trump to other presidents. We're opening a new lane, opening a new box. Wildly unpredictable, everything about this administration.

ALLEN: Thank you so much, Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun Times."

SWEET: Thank you.

ALLEN: Thank you, Lynn.

Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, a black man beaten on video, the officers who beat him set free and a city explodes. It happened 25 years ago. Next here, we revisit the historic Los Angeles riots.


ALLEN: It was 25 years ago Saturday that Los Angeles was thrown into a rage. Three days of rioting erupted after four L.A. police officers were acquitted in the videotaped beating of Rodney King, an African- American man.

CNN's Ryan Young looks back at the events that set that city on fire.

And we warn you some of the images are disturbing.


[01:45:07] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who had the camera? Where was the camera? Oh, my god. They caught this on camera.

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: It was one of the most-disturbing things that we'd seen on video.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The videotape beating of Rodney King, it left many Los Angeles residents outraged.

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: It was like the first time we had actually seen it, so it was shocking, but at the same time, it was wonderful, because now we Americans, we African Americans, we had evidence of our claims of, you know, injustice and mistreatment.

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: The idea of watching that video originally, give me your reaction to when you saw the Rodney King video, give me what you felt initially.

UNIDENTIFEID FEMALE: I was waiting for someone to stop it, and the fact that nobody came and no one was able to stop it. The fact of the Rodney King video in itself, ignited a culture of wanting to get involved.


YOUNG: I don't think you'd be exaggerating to say this was the first viral video recorded by an individual on amateur equipment? Here's was have this video of an event that had just happened, and now today, cell phone videos of horrible events are things we see nearly every day. Back then, this was a whole new ballgame.

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: There was no way that these officers could not be held responsible for their action. There's no way they could be acquitted. Now we would certainly see justice being done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Rodney King video laid the ground work for activism because it showed that this was a level of brutally that no one had ever seen. It also showcased that you really didn't have choice to not get involved. I think the Rodney King video was so pivotal in terms of black activism.

YOUNG: What happened to Rodney King, without that video would probably have never even made the news. With that video, that Rodney King beating became a huge story.

UNIDENTIFIED JUROR: We the jury find the defendants not guilty --

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: When the officers were acquitted, it literally said that you could beat a black man in the street, the world could see it, and yet it made no difference. So it was more than a betrayal. The message that's sent, what had said to me was, is that I was worthless.

UNIDENTIFEID REPORTER: Appeals this evening for calm in Los Angeles.

YOUNG: Is it getting better?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard for me to get to say it's getting better.

Mothers are telling their kids to avoid the police at all costs. To be honest, there isn't anything out there that says this is going to stop.



ALLEN: And many people remember that day 25 years ago.

Ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, as France's presidential runoff vote nears, we take a closer look at the unconventional story of front- runner, Emmanuel Macron, and his wife.




[01:52:17] ALLEN: This is the final week of campaigning for the second round of France's presidential election. Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right nationalist, Marine Le Pen, will face each other in a runoff May 7th. French voters will be electing a president with an agenda for change no matter whom they choose. Macron and Le Pen have radically different approaches on key issues, including France's unemployment, terrorism, and immigration.

Macron has captured global attention from being a political novice who could be France's next president. But his marriage has also attracted attention. Some believe it's helping his image.

CNN's Melissa Bell explains.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Their relationship has caught the attention of the world. The favorite to become the next president of France and his wife, his former teacher. Macron was 15 when he met Brigitte Trogneux. She was a 40-year-old married teacher at his school in northern France.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the friend, you know, of the teachers of the high school. You know, he had dinner with them.

BELL: An old school friend says that Emmanuel Macron always did what was expected of him, except when it came to Brigitte.

At age 17, Macron reluctantly left, but not before telling Brigitte that one day he would marry her. And by the time he arrived in Paris, he certainly avoided the girls of his own age.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that they were maybe too young to be interesting to him. He needs to learn something from his lover.

BELL (on camera): And maybe slightly older women makes more sense?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, especially if they are a teacher.

BELL (voice-over): 14 years after first meeting, they were married. But not before Macron asked her three children, one of whom was his age, 29 at the time, for their permission.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): It's a powerful act because not everyone would have taken that precaution to come and ask us for her hand in marriage. I mean it wasn't quite like that, but he did want to know if this is something we could accept.

BELL: Macron says that becoming a family was an important step for him as he turned an improbable relationship into what he calls the commitment of a lifetime. He's now 39, and she's 64 with seven grandchildren.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translation): We do not have a classic family. It's undeniable. But is there less love in this family? I do not think so. Maybe there's even more than in conventional families.

BELL: Trogneux is now at the center of the campaign. Unusual in French politics, visible, but not voluble for now.

"I'll start speaking in two months, and then I'll never be quiet again."

So what kind of first lady would she be?

[01:55:11] MACRON (through translation): She wouldn't be paid for it by taxpayers, but she certainly will have an existence. She will have her own take on things. She will always be by my side, of course.

BELL (on camera): This is the school where it all began. An unconventional story to be sure, but one that Emmanuel Macron has used in his campaign saying that it shows once his heart is set, his determination and commitment are then unwavering.

Melissa Bell, CNN.


ALLEN: That is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

Rosemary Church and George Howell will be back right after this with more news.

You're watching CNN.


[02:00:08] ROSEMARY CHUCH, CNN ANCHOR: Keeping his options open. President Donald Trump isn't taking military action against North Korea off the table.