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President's Topsy-Turvy View; Full Support to an Ally; Mother Nature Strikes; An Unusual Love Story; Venezuela Skyrocketed Commodities. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 1, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: I'm George Howell.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: And I'm Rosemary Church. This is CNN Newsroom.

HOWELL: Good day to you.

The U.S. president seems to be striking a curiously different tone toward the North Korean leader in a new interview; Mr. Trump said that Kim Jong-un is, quote, "a pretty smart cookie." The U.S. is hoping for diplomatic solution to end the nuclear crisis, but Mr. Trump is not ruling out military action.

CHURCH: Kim Jong-un has been accused of brutal human rights violations including allegedly ordering the killing of his own uncle. But listen to what the president said 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 and 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.


HOWELL: "A pretty smart cookie." That comment has a lot of people, democrats and republicans scratching their heads.

In the meantime, U.S. is reaffirming though that it will pay for an anti-missile system in South Korea as previously agreed. It's called the THAAD missile system and it could cost around $1 billion.

CHURCH: Yes. And just a few days ago President Trump suggested South Korea should foot the bill, but now his national security adviser seems to be walking back those comments.


H.R. MCMASTER, UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Well, the last thing I would ever do is contradict the president of the United States, you know. But -- and that's not what it was.

In fact, what I told our South Korean counterpart is until any renegotiation that 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 have appropriate burden sharing and responsibility sharing. We're looking at that with our great ally South Korea, we're looking with that with NATO.


CHURCH: And CNN is following this story from across the region. Our David McKenzie is in Beijing and our Paula Hancocks is in Seoul, South Korea. Thanks to you both for joining us again.

And Paula, as we heard, you know, these mixed messages coming from the Trump administration, just then of course the mixed messages relating to the THAAD anti-missile defense system, that has many people concerned, and of course this appearance of praise coming from President Trump for the North Korean leader. What are people making of all of this?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, to start with the praise that President Trump appeared to be lavishing on the North Korean leader, this is not something that is new. We have seen Donald Trump when he was campaigning to become U.S. President saying he gave Kim Jong-un credit for being able to take control of the country at such a young age.

So this is really a message and a feeling that has progressed from campaigning to presidency. Now when it comes to THAAD though, that has South Koreans more concerned. There was an initial response certainly on social media questioning why President Trump thought the South Koreans should pay for the U.S. missile defense system.

And a very swift defense ministry statement last week, again this Monday morning we're hearing from the defense ministry spokesman saying that this is a done deal, that they have agreed on this and that it can't be renegotiated.

And the deal is that the South Koreans come up with the land, which they have for this THAAD system to be deployed upon, and then the U.S. pays for the operation, the deployment, the costs of the personnel to deal with THAAD.

And when you consider there are a lot of people in South Korea who don't think it's even necessary. A recent poll from Gallup Korea found that 51 percent did say that they supported THAAD. Forty percent though saying they didn't support it. So there's not overall support when it comes to THAAD anyway. Rosemary? CHURCH: yes. Interesting numbers there. David McKenzie, to you now in

Beijing. So, President Trump invited the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House. That has people scratching their heads, given he's deadly and ruthless reputation as a leader. What's the logic behind this invitation and what's the reaction so far?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that said, the logic from the White House, Rosemary, is that this will help the U.S. in its move towards curbing North Korea with its missile program. Though, most experts would say the Philippines isn't necessarily the crucial country to deal with when it comes to trying to do that.

[03:04:58] But there has been this real frostiness to the relationship between Duterte's government and the U.S. government up until President Trump came in just a few months ago.

The president of the Philippines saying the U.S. should go to hell along with far more colorful language about the longtime ally. And there has been this pivot from Duterte towards China in recent months, certainly easing off on the Philippines criticism of the South China Sea moves by China, and also asking and welcoming more investment from China in the Philippines.

So that would be seen as a potentially a strategic worry if not threat to the U.S., and it does seem that the Trump administration seems to be willing to at least on some level turn a blind eye to the allegations of egregious human rights abuses in Duterte's move against drug crime and use in his country.

Even in that readout of the conversation the White House saying that, sort of hinting that President Trump was praising the crackdown or the war on drugs in the Philippines. So there has been already swift criticism of the move to invite Duterte to the White House, but it does potentially play into this larger strategic games of the U.S. to strengthen that relationship. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. David McKenzie joining us there live from Beijing. Paula Hancocks in Seoul, South Korea. And thanks so much for your live report. I appreciate it.

HOWELL: Another big topic, the U.S. President is covering Obamacare. He says that it's dead and a new health care plan is on its way. He's now urging lawmakers to support it and adding bluntly, he will be very upset if they don't.

CHURCH: The measure could hit the House floor as soon as this week, but as Athena Jones reports, these are questions about whether some people covered under Obamacare will keep that coverage.

ATHENA JONES, CNN 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 preexisting conditions. You have a lot of moderate republicans who are very concerned about making sure that folks who have preexisting 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 preexisting 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 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 preexisting conditions will truly be able to make coverage be affordable.

Will they be subsided enough to make coverage truly affordable.

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


RICK SANTORUM, (R) FORMER UNITED STATES 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 he's convincing members, not I'm going to, you know, 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: So interesting to hear Rick Santorum, Senator Santorum saying that President Trump needs to be more engaged on the policy front. He also had some words for his former fellow 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. Key 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.

HOWELL: Athena Jones, thank you.

The U.S. Congress is now at a critical step closer toward keeping the government up and running at least through September. Republican and democratic negotiators have reached a deal on a huge spending bill. If it's approved it would add billions of dollars for the Pentagon and for border security.

CHURCH: But it would not provide any money for President Trump's promised border wall with Mexico. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the plan this week.

Well, a constant theme of the Trump White House has been what it causes the unfairness of the mainstream media towards the president.

[03:10:00] HOWELL: President Trump's chief of staff Reince Priebus said the administration has looked into the possibility of changing libel laws that would make it easier to sue news organizations.


REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I think it's something that we've looked at and how that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story. But when you have articles out there that have no basis or facts and we're sitting here on 24/7 cable companies writing stories about constant contacts with Russia and all these other matters that...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the president should be able to sue the New York Times for stories he doesn't like?

PRIEBUS: I think that, here's what I think. I think -- I think that newspapers and news agencies need to be more responsible with how they reported the news. I am so tired...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think anybody would disagree with that, it's about whether or not the president should a right to sue them.

PRIEBUS: Everyone -- and I already answered the question.


HOWELL: Well, here's the reality of it. Changing libel laws in the U.S. is not easy. They vary from state to state, and weakening press freedoms would require a constitutional amendment.

CHURCH: At least 12 people were killed as severe storms swept through the southern U.S. this weekend. Four tornadoes touched down east of Dallas, Texas, Saturday killing four people, and leaving widespread damage. One person is still missing.

HOWELL: Just look at the size of that thing. My goodness. And here's the aftermath. Dozens of people were inside this church you see in Emery, Texas, that's when a tornado hit it Saturday night.

The church was severely damaged, but thankfully, no one was inside. Let's get the very latest on this deadly storm system and where it's headed now. Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is with us to tell us more. Pedram, when you look at the devastation of the storm, you look at how wide that tornado was.


HOWELL: This was intense.

JAVAHERI: It was, yes. You look at the number of fatalities, it could have been far worse. We've seen such tornadoes cause far more fatalities, but of course, you know, we're talking about at least 12 people, maybe be more, but people are still considered missing.

But very rare to see one of veracity this intensity. And take a look at this, the picture we put together in the last hour for here to show you the approximate size of this. The National Weather Service confirming now a mile wide or essentially 17 football fields across and its widest point there. This is Vansant County tornado just east of Dallas, Texas that came down there with a 55-mile continuous track.

Officials were reanalyzes in the morning and verify if it was just one tornado that left this track of 55 miles across this particular region east of Dallas. But the storm system itself not over. The snow element pushing up towards the upper Midwest.

Of course, temps here were into the 80's Fahrenheit just a few days ago. Snow showers pushing in. Back towards the eastern periphery of this, the storm prediction center has now enhanced the area of coverage the for the severe weather potential. On a scale of 1 to 5, a 3, that right there indicated in orange.

Eighty million people under a severe weather threat. If you think about that 319 million live in the United States. That's one in every four people in the U.S. with severe weather concerns going into Monday afternoon. The vast majority of this I think will be related to straight line winds and damaging winds but some isolated tornadoes can't be ruled out.

And of course, on Saturday into Sunday, 21 reports of tornadoes across parts of the southern and central United States. Look at the areas, the box -- bars indicated in red there. Those are the actual number of tornadoes we saw in given months from January 2017 to April 2017. And the yellow bars there indicate what is normal.

Those 100 plus above normal, and then some months still well above normal coming in. So you tabulate this number we're talking about almost 600 tornadoes so far in 2017. Most of them in the cold season. That is over 200 percent of what is considered for average right around this time of year.

So again, it has been an incredibly hot start for severe weather the month of May and the month of June typically are the peak of it. So we're going to watch this here going into the next couple months.

CHURCH: Thanks for keeping an eye on it.

HOWELL: Thank you, Pedram.

JAVAHERI: Yes. HOWELL: This is CNN Newsroom, and still ahead, the French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron's marriage has raised a few eyebrows, but he says it's the sign of his determination. We'll have that story ahead.

CHURCH: Plus, Air Supplies for the ISIS fight. CNN flies along on a mission to deliver ammo to coalition fighters on the front lines. We'll have that and more when we come back. Stay with us.


HOWELL: In France, presidential candidates are making their final pitch to voters before the runoff election that's set for next Sunday. In a couple hours the far right leader Marine Le Pen will hold a traditional May Day rally on the outskirts of Paris.

CHURCH: Centrist Emmanuel Macron will also address his supporters at a rally in the French capital. Macron has gained attention for making it this far in the election as a political novice. But some believe his marriage is part of the force behind his political success.

CNN's Melissa Bell has the story.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 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 her. She was a 40-year-old married teacher at his school in northern France.


JEAN-BAPTISTE DE FROMENT, CHILDHOOD FRIEND OF EMMANUEL MACRON: He was the friend of the teachers of the high school. He had dinner with them.


BELL: Jean-Baptiste de Froment, 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 (Inaudible), but not before telling Brigitte that one day he would marry her. And by the time he arrived in Paris, says Jean-Baptiste, he ignored the girls of his own age.


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

BELL: And so, maybe slightly older women makes more sense?

DE FROMENT: Of course. Especially if there are a teacher.

BELL: Fourteen 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. [03:20:00] TIPHAINE AUZIERE, BRIGITTE TROGNEUX'S DAUGHTER (through

translator): 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 we could accept.


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


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


BELL: (Inaudible) is now at the center of the campaign. Unusual in French politics. Visible but not valuable for now.


BRIGITTE TROGNEUX, EMMANUEL MACRON's WIFE (through translator): I'll stop speaking in two and then I'll never be quiet again. So what kind of first lady would she be?

MACRON (through translator): 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: 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 that once his heart is set, his determination and commitment are then unwavering.

Melissa Bell, CNN in Amiaux.

HOWELL: Described as an unconventional marriage. Olivier Royant is now with us live. He's the editor in chief of the weekly magazine Paris Match. It's good to have you with us this hour. Sir, first let's talk about this love story. How important is that story in the minds of French voters as we get closer to this runoff?

OLIVIER ROYANT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, PARIS MATCH: Well, I think it's a -- I don't think it's important, but what we can say, is that if Emmanuel Macron is elected next Sunday, France will have a first lady again because for the last five years, France only had a girlfriend, a first girlfriend or third girlfriend. Nobody was seeing Julie Gayet. So, I think the image of Macron campaigning with Brigitte, his wife, has been a reassuring image for the -- for the voters. And I would say we'll going back to a classical -- classic image at the Elysee Palace.

HOWELL: So, we're getting much closer to that runoff. So let's talk about these final pitches. What has been the final pitch for Macron and what has been the final pitch for Le Pen, and has either seemed to gain momentum as we get closer here?

ROYANT: What I would say, George, is the fact that 15 years ago on this very day you had 1.5 million people marching in the streets of Paris to make sure that Jean-Marie Le Pen would not be elected president of France. Today, that doesn't exist.

I mean, the demonstration that will take place will be a meeting by Macron or meeting by Le Pen. So we can say that 15 years later Marine Le Pen managed to get or succeeded in getting both the mainstream. And this is a very important for this taking a runoff.

What we are seeing from voters is that they very are undecided. I mean, we have to find, we have to understand that we, what we have been living through over the past week is no less than the political earthquake. Suddenly, we had the total political reshuffling in France.

Imagine that they have too an election in the U.S. where the democrat would have disappeared, whether republican will not be there anymore. So among the voters, what we can feel is some kind of dismay, disarray and they are not very comfortable with both of the candidates.

So we're having what's going to happen in five days from that. What we can see nevertheless, is that right now Macron still have, he holds a comfortable lead in the polls, for 60 to 40 to Marine Le Pen.

But we have to be very careful with these numbers. If Marine Le Pen managed to secure 40 percent of the vote next week, she will become automatically the official leader of the opposition, and that's why on the traditional mainstream parties on the Republican Party and the socialist, they want to make sure that she's not getting these numbers because they will be totally sidelined.

HOWELL: Let's talk more about that. So, undecided voters that you talk about, but also here in the United States, we saw this, voters who hadn't taken part in an election who then did decide to vote. How important will this be for Marine Le Pen, and has she reached her ceiling or is there a chance that she could still sway that untapped block of undecided voters who haven't taken part before?

ROYANT: George, she hasn't reached her ceiling. I mean, she managed to gather seven million voters on her name last week, and she could -- she could manage to gather 11 million voters next Sunday. Which means Marine Le Pen now, she managed to erase the name National Front, and she rebranded herself as her own party.

[03:25:02] So, she play last week we have seen her playing very humble. While Emmanuel Macron was playing angle too safe. Marine Le Pen right now managed to do something very important. She managed to break what was called the republican front, 15 years ago all the parties gathered and managed to make a war against Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Today, this war doesn't exist anymore. The republican -- the republican and the socialist they were not strong enough to build this wall against Marine Le Pen. So basically it's Marine versus Macron. And this is a very fight important, very important fight and a frontal fight.

HOWELL: Olivier Royant, thank you so much for the insight. All eyes will be watching what happens in France come this runoff election. Thank you.

CHURCH: Yes, certainly shall. We'll take a very short break here on CNN Newsroom. But still to come it is one of the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan. Why U.S. marines are back in Helmand Province.

HOWELL: Plus, Venezuela continues continue its plunge into economic chaos. What that county's president is doing again to try to ease the pain of disastrous inflation.

CNN live from Atlanta, Georgia to the United States and around the world this hour, you're watching CNN.


CHURCH: And a warm welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and of course, all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you.

This hour, negotiations in U.S. Congress have reached a deal on a huge spending bill.

[03:30:03] If the House approves this bill in the Senate as well, it would keep the government funded through September and add billions of dollars for the Pentagon and border security. But it would not provide any money for President Trump's border wall with Mexico.

CHURCH: President Trump says Obamacare is dead and a new health care plan is on its way. He's urging lawmakers to support it and warning he will be very upset if they don't. The measure could hit the House floor within days.

An earlier version of the legislation was yanked weeks ago without ever getting a vote.

HOWELL: The U.S. president seems to be striking a curiously different tone when talking about North Korea's leader. In an interview, Mr. Trump said Kim Jong-un is, quote, "a pretty smart cookie for holding on to power at a young age." Kim Jong-un has been accused of brutal human rights abuses including allegedly ordering the execution of his own uncle.

CHURCH: Joining me now to talk more about this is CNN contributor Julian Zelizer. He is also a professor f history and public affairs at Princeton University and a new American fellow. Thank you so much for being with us.

So, let's start with comments made by President Trump over the weekend about military action still being an option in response to North Korea. Mr. Trump also called the country's leader Kim Jong-un a pretty smart cookie for holding on to power after taking over at a very young age. What do you make of those comments given Un's human rights records?

JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN: Well, one way to think about this is that he is trying to have a little diplomacy through saying some words of praise at the same time that he's acting tough with threats of military strikes and military action. That's the positive way to see it.

The negative way is that there is no plan and that this is a president whose kind of all over the place. And sometimes making comments about very controversial leaders who have human rights violations and other kinds of abuses and not really thinking through the implications of doing that.

We don't know which President Trump it is, but these are comments that are scatter shot, and that's how he's conducting this diplomacy.

CHURCH: Interesting. And we are still getting contradictory comments from Mr. Trump's team. His National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster said the United States would stick to its agreement with South Korea for the THAAD anti-missile defense system but suggested paying for it could be renegotiated.

Now that's not exactly what President Trump said, and there are now concerns this issue has created nervousness in Seoul. How might this be resolved, do you think?

ZELIZER: Well, this is a problem because one of the best allies that we've had in this situation is South Korea. And so there can't be any signs of weakening that relationship because that in itself could embolden North Korea to be more provocative or to take more military actions in the coming months.

And so I think that needs to be clarified. This is not a place where you can send mixed signals because those mixed signals can have disastrous consequences. So, we're going to see in the next few days if the administration starts to clarify what its positions are and to take certain comments that he has made, meaning President Trump, off the table.

CHURCH: And presumably we'll feel pressure to make that clarification. But onto a completely different issue, what did you make of the news that Trump aide, Sebastian Gorka will likely leave his post as National Security Adviser? What do you think is behind that decision and, of course, the timing of it?

ZELIZER: Well, part of this is an effort at least in the public to clean up some of the more controversial parts of the administration as the administration at least tries to present more of a mainstream face to American voters.

He has been a lightning rod controversial for his connections to anti- Semitic organizations. So in some ways this is a little bit like Steven Bannon being pushed a bit to the side as others such as Jared Kushner and Priebus become more of the face of this administration.

CHURCH: All right. Julian Zelizer, many thanks to you for your analysis. We appreciate it as always.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

HOWELL: U.S. marines left Afghanistan's volatile Helmand Province three years ago and now they're back?

CHURCH: Yes, the province has a strong Taliban presence and it's the center of Afghanistan's opium trade, about 300 marines would train and advise Afghan soldiers and police.

And joining us now from Kabul is Sune Engel Rasmussen, he is the Guardian's correspondent in Afghanistan.

So, U.S. Marines are back there after a couple of years. Why will this be any different do you think?

[03:35:06] SUNE ENGEL RASMUSSEN, REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Well, it's been American troops in the province for a while. Not a lot, but also helping to advise and assist the Afghan troops. They're bringing in the marines, there are lead soldiers, and it's a sign that the security has deteriorated to a point that really worries the United States.

What they will actually be able to do on the ground in terms of defending the province, we don't know yet. Advising can also mean go out into the battlefield with their Afghan counterparts. But of five boats with 300 men is not going to change the course of the war, but it might help boost the morale in the Afghan security forces and it might also show the Afghan government that the U.S. is serious about continuing its commitment to Afghan security.

CHURCH: The problem now of course is that it's worse on the ground than it was a few years ago. So the challenges are greater now, aren't they?

RASMUSSEN: Yes, you can say that. And actually if you go to Helmand, I mean, five or six years ago the marines would have outpost in the desert they would be able to walk because the bazaars have made a district that are now completely unreachable even for the Afghan security forces.

So, it's a different site now. The Taliban have encroached on many of the larger towns and cities, district centers in Helmand. There are 14 districts in Helmand, only two are firmly under government control.

One of them is where the commission capital Lashkargah is. And they have pretty much surrounded that, and we expect it to try and launch an attack on provincial capital this spring or over this summer. So, it is a different fight but it is also mainly a fight for the

Afghans now. And they think the Americans keeps stressing that. The marines are not in Helmand to save the province. They're there to help defenses and to help give also I think a symbolic boost to the fight.

CHURCH: All right. Sune Engel Rasmussen joining us there from Kabul in Afghanistan. Many thanks.

Well, Turkey's president says he will bring up the U.S. troop presence on the Turkish-Syrian border when he meets with President Trump in a couple weeks.

HOWELL: U.S. forces began the border patrols after Turkish air strikes killed Kurdish fighters. Two Kurdish groups are helping to battle ISIS. Ankara considers the Kurds to be terrorists.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh following the story for us live in Amman, Jordan this hour. Good to have you with us, Jomana. These fighters, these Kurdish, the YPG, an integral part of the U.S. strategy in Syria and remain though a join -- a major point of contention for the Turkish president.

Mr. Erdogan is set to meet with President Trump in Washington later in the month. Is it possible for these two leaders to form a closer alliance giving this -- given these very important differences?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're going to have to wait and see, George, how that will go. Of course, this is one of the major issues when it comes to the relationship between Turkey and the United States. Turkey hoping with this new administration that President Trump and his administration will change their position when it comes to the backing of these Kurdish groups in Syria.

When it comes to the specific group, the YPG, this has been the most reliable partner, one of the most reliable fighting forces on the ground that has been backed and supported by the U.S. under the Obama administration and they're considered to be a key part of the fight against ISIS in Syria.

Now, Turkey has long objected to the U.S. support for the YPG because in Turkey's -- Tukey believes that the YPG is a terrorist organization because of its links to another Kurdish group the separatist Turkish- Kurdish Workers Party, the PKK that is considered a terrorist organization by both the United States and Turkey.

And Turkey sees the YPG as the Syrian branch of the PKK, and they have really long objected to the U.S. support of the YPG. So you saw those air strikes, George, taking place last week against the YPG positions. We've heard Turkey vowing to carry out more attacks targeting these groups.

And you see this rising tension and these U.S. patrols, this is all promising to be just the beginning. And of course Turkey is not happy about these patrols.

Take a listen to what President Erdogan had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): Unfortunately, on these convoys we see the flags of two countries. I won't even say a country, but we are seriously saddened by seeing the rags of a terrorist organization such as YPG together with U.S. flags at a convoy. We will show these photos to Mr. President at the meeting we will hold on May 16th.


KARADSHEH: And the major concern here, George, is how this is going to be impact the fight against ISIS, and especially with that looming battle to recapture its de facto capital in Syria, Raqqa where we've seen the United States relying heavily on the YPG.

[03:40:12] HOWELL: One other issue that may come up. The cleric Fethullah Gulen, President Erdogan blames him for that failed coup attempt last year. Mr. Gullen living in Pennsylvania here in the United States and President Erdogan wants him back in Turkey.

Will, is there a sense that this will come up during that meeting, and is there a sense that Mr. Erdogan is hoping for a different tone from President Trump than he got from President Obama?

KARADSHEH: Well, we're going to have to wait and see how that meeting on May the 16th goes. It's really unclear how President Trump is going to address these major issues that Turkey will likely, President Erdogan would likely want to address during his meeting with President Trump.

As you mention, there's the issue of the extradition of Fethullah Gullen that did not happen under the Obama administration that they're hoping would happen right now. Then there's the issue of support for these different Kurdish groups. We still have to wait and see like so many foreign policy issues.

It's really unclear what the policy of the Trump administration is, so we're going to have to wait and see how that goes. One indication that we saw last month, George, as you saw with that phone call following that controversial referendum in Turkey, that phone call from President Trump congratulating President Erdogan, did raise some eyebrows around the world and critics of President Erdogan were wondering what the U.S. policy is going to be.

So, we're going to have to wait and see. And how that is going to turn out under the Trump administration.

HOWELL: And calling him for essentially gaining more power, poised to gain more powers here in the weeks and months to come. Thank you so much, Jomana Karadsheh, live for us in Amman, Jordan. We'll stay in touch with you.

Air strikes against ISIS have accidentally killed at least 352 civilians in Iraq and Syria since August 2014. And the anti-ISIS and the coalition says 42 other incidents are still being investigated. CHURCH: The U.S. and its allies are firing so much ammunition against

ISIS. Airplanes are being used to resupply the troops.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen flew on one of those missions in this exclusive report.

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 being flown into Iraq that's going to deliver munitions to some of the front line troops. We're riding along on a C-130 Hercules taking off from 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 identity the crew by their ranks and first names.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just maintain vigilance, situational awareness, there's other things going on, everybody gets pretty task saturated, so we just make sure that we 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 fire power and need more ammo to come in fast.

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously flying in a war zone, you now, the danger of getting shot that is always there. 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 engine's 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.

CHURCH: President Nicolas Maduro announces another hike in Venezuela's minimum wage trying to ease rampant inflation. But hear why many doubt the move will actually help his people.

We're back in a moment.


CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. Venezuela is plummeting further into economic chaos. Now President Nicolas Maduro says he is once again raising the nation's minimum wage.

HOWELL: Here's the question. Many wonder if that will ease the daily strain of life that people there are facing as they struggle to buy even buy their most basic needs.

Rafael Romo has this report.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: It's the second time the minimum wage has been raised in Venezuela this year in 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 sky rocketing 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 have the values 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 violate protests in recent weeks as opposition leaders face of with President Nicolas Maduro and his supporters who complained about delayed elections, a lack of respect for democracy, shortages of basic products and rising crime.

According to Venezuela 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 confrontational tone with members of the opposition and protestors whom he calls vandals and terrorist.

Rafael Romo, CNN.

HOWELL: Rafael, thank you.

Still ahead, some flight attendants for Russia's national airline say their appearance is costing them money. CHURCH: Well, company officials are saying about their claims of

discrimination. That's next.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: What a weekend it was across parts of the United States. Big time storm system pumping all the ingredients in place here to produce at least about 15 to 20 reports of tornadoes over the past couple of days across this region.

The other element with this has been the tremendous amount of rainfall that has come down just since Friday alone. We're talking about a quarter of a meter across the central portion of the United States there has led to us a deadly flash flooding across this region as well.

And you notice the flooding concern will continue kind of inching out towards downstream there the next couple of days. And the storm system finally gets a chance to move out of this region and push in towards a very populated region of the U.S.

So we're watching some risk for severe weather around parts of the Mid-Atlantic state on to parts of New England as well. With it much cooler air tries to filter back in behind this while the western U.S. heats back up.

But we're talking about these temps dropping back down closer to where they should be about a month or so ago. Chicago, 12 degrees, showers, winds. Montreal, around 9. New York City should be mid for another say around 24 degrees.

While around Belize City, Guatemala City expected to be to the upper 20's and will get thunderstorms into the afternoon across this region. Managua also looking at evening thunderstorms at a 36 degrees the latest forecast.

But if you have any weather photos, we would love to see them. It's called a, as we were calling your weather view. You can use your favorite social media platform. Use the hash tag CNN weather and we'll gain access it to and share it. Thank you.

HOWELL: Welcome back. Flight attendants for the Russian airline Aeroflot accused that company of discriminating against them because of their size.

CHURCH: Yes. And Aeroflot denies the allegations despite some outrageous comments from its officials.

CNN's Diana Magnay has the story.

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Perfect lips and a perfect manicure. The hammer and sickle of Aeroflot. Staffed that seems by just the long legged. What if you don't like this.


MAGNAY: Did you do this?

EVGENIYA MAGURINA, FLIGHT ATTENDANT, AEROFLOT AIRLINE: Yes, because my size is more -- so I have to change my...

MAGNAY: But you've done this very well.

Last summer, Aeroflot flight attendant Evgeniya Magurina was told she must be photographed, head and full body shots. And then her career with Aeroflot changed.

MAGURINA: Fifteenth of August, I didn't fly international flights because they said I am fat, ugly, and old.

MAGNAY: Your boss said that to you?



[03:54:57] MAGNAY: Here an internal Aeroflot document Evgeniya let us photograph showing the salary reductions of up to a 100 rubbles or just a little under $2 per flight hour for staff who don't meet Aeroflot standards, size included.

That adds up. Evgeniya and another flight attendant took Aeroflot to court claiming discrimination and lost. An Aeroflot union rep tells me there are plenty of other female flight attendants who are too scared to speak out against Russia's national flag carrier.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Several hundred have been affected by this but most of them have families or parents or small children so they are trying to hold onto their jobs anyway way they can.


MAGNAY: At a news conference last week, a representative from Aeroflot public council encouraged large stewardesses to find another job or to lose weight like he did.


NIKITA KRICHEVSKY, MEMBER, AEROFLOT'S PUBLIC COUNCIL (through translator): It didn't require any active exercise or expensive supplements or anything that would require spending a lot of money. I just corrected my meal plans. Now I weigh 80 kilograms. I don't understand why the requirement to be within this clothing size range is a mission impossible.


MAGNAY: Aeroflot says these men don't speak for the company, they also deny discrimination. But some by their policy saying, "Cabin crew of a national flag carrier are the calling card of their country. Their deportment and how they serve passengers creates the first impression of an attitude towards Russia."

Evgeniya and her colleague planned to appeal. But this story with its suggestions of latent chauvinism by be covered in this country and beyond creates a nasty tail wind for one of Russia's proudest brands.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Moscow.

HOWELL: Diana, thank you for the report. And thank you for being with us this hour. I'm George Howell.

CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. Early Start is next for our viewers here in the United States.

HOWELL: And or our viewers around the world, CNN Newsroom continues with Max Foster live from London.

CHURCH: Have a great day.