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Another Missile Launch From North Korea; The Search Is On For A New FBI Director; White House Grapples With Fallout From President Trump's Firing Of FBI Chief James Comey; Actress And Comedian Melissa Mccarthy Is Hosting "Saturday Night Live"; Aired 7-8p ET
Aired May 13, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:07] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: It is 7:00 eastern time, 4:00 in the afternoon on west. I am Ana Cabrera in New York. We are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you for joining us.
The Pentagon is trying to learn more now about another missile launch from North Korea. It was launched early Sunday local time from a site close to the country's west coast. A U.S. defense official now tells us it has traveled about 430 miles. This comes, this latest launch comes just after two weeks after ballistic missile test that South Korean and U.S. officials say was a failure.
CNN international correspondent Alexandra Field is joining us now.
Alexandra, do we have an indication yet about the type of projectile that was fired?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is something that officials in both South Korea and Japan and actually the U.S. are all going to be look into, trying to see what else they can learn about the projectile that was fired, see if they read more information not just about the projectile but what it could mean about North Korea's ballistic missile program.
Look. You have heard North Korea officials say repeatedly that they will continue these ballistic missile launches. One North Korean official even at one point this year saying that you will see this happen on a weekly basis. And prior to what happened this morning you had already seen nine ballistic missiles launched at least over six different days since just the start of the year and just the beginning of the Trump administration.
Now, this latest projectile will launch happens in the first week of the presidency of the newly elected South Korean President. So surely this will be an interesting test to see how the newly elected President Moon will handle this. You can't imagine but there will be much of a departure from the past president (ph). However, this point, Ana, really what t\we typically see in the outcome of the launches, is the meeting with the National Security Council. And we are told that that is actually happening right now and that President Moon is there. A little bit of background on this, a little bit of context on this,
is that President Moon is the first Democratic Party president here in South Korea in the last ten years. The country has been governed by the conservative party until this point. The conservative party takes a much tougher stand against North Korea. The Democratic Party argues for more engagement that was part of President Moon's campaign platform. He previously served as the chief of staff for the last Democratic Party President in South Korea where he was involved with the sunshine policy toward North Korea. That was a policy of added engagement with North Korea. It is again something that he has argued for. So you have to see what his response will see now that you see another provocative action from North Korea within literally of the first few days that this President has held office here -- Ana.
CABRERA: Again, a U.S. defense officials saying it traveled about 430 miles. Would North Korea consider this a success?
Unfortunately, we just lost Alexandria Field. We will have much more on North Korea and this latest missile launch, again, 430 miles. The U.S. still assessing exactly what type of ballistic missile it was, if it was indeed a ballistic missile. We will have much more as we continue throughout the hour.
Turning now to the latest in Washington. Well, the search is on for a new FBI director. Interviews have been going on all day after department of justice, the candidates paraded in and out, almost a practice-like, and the short list has grown through the day. The latest add is former congressman Mike Rogers, a national security commentator, in fact, here on CNN. He has been endorsed by the FBI association as their pick.
But he is up against at least several other candidates. Today's interviews are all with attorney general Jeff Sessions. Only the top finalists will move ahead to meet with President Trump. Again, this is a little reality-show like. But the importance can't be over- stated. The winner will lead the FBI for the next ten years and have a major role in the investigation into Russia's election meddling and the possible ties to the president's campaign. All this is playing out as goes around President Trump continue to grapple with the backlash from James Comey's dismissal.
CNN White House correspondent Athena Jones is live outside the White House. Also with us CNN crime and justice producer Shimon Prokupecz here in New York.
Athena, I will start with you. What more can you tell us about what is now going on inside the White House?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, I can tell you that it was a tough week for the White House, especially for the President's communications team. These are folks who are tasked with speaking on behalf of the President, on behalf of the administration. And they were kept out of the loop until almost right up until the very end on this whole decision by the President to fire the FBI director. They did not find out until about an hour before it happened. And so that did not leave a lot of time to put together a cogent explanation for reporters for the American people.
And so we saw changing story lines and then the President coming out and contradicting what his aides had said. One of the officials responsible for delivering the stories -- the story line that was later refuted by the President was vice President Mike Pence who went to Capitol Hill and said seven times that the President removed Comey because he was acting on the recommendations of the department of justice. We later learned from the President himself that he was going to fire Comey all along regardless of the recommendations of his attorney general and deputy attorney general.
So it has been a rough week. The President himself tweeted about the challenges that his office faces, saying as a very active president with lots of thing happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at the podium with perfect accuracy. Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future press briefings and hand out written responses for sake of accuracy. Of course there is no way to know as soon as they take his proposal about potentially cancelling press briefings. But he does highlight the struggle that his aides face in trying to explain the president's thinking and the President's moves without having - talk to the president or gotten the straight story from him -- Ana.
[19:05:55] CABRERA: All right. Athena Jones at the White House, thank you for staying on top of it.
I want to bring in Shimon now. Since we spoke last hour, couple of new names, Francis Townsend and now Mike Rogers have been added to this list. What do you make about the new picks?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: It is like, you know, every hour we get a new name.
CABRERA: It happened. It was trickling out throughout the day.
PROKUPECZ: Like a reality show. So probably Trump would not have it any other way. So Mike Rogers, certainly his name came up before. It's not the first time we are hearing of him for some sort of position in this administration. He is well liked. He is respected by the other agents, by staffers at the FBI. He has a long history of public service. He was an FBI agent and retired in 1995. And then he served at some point on the House homeland intelligence committee, I should say.
So he has a history with this. People have pretty much good things to say about him. You know, you never really hear a lot of negative stuff about him, even-tempered kind of guy. And it seems right now has the support of OX staffers at the FBI, at the agency.
Frances Townsend was sort of a surprise. Her name has sort of surface before. She worked for President Bush. She was a homeland security adviser for him for several years, has a whole host of national security experience. So that would seem to be a surprise on us at the late-night add.
But certainly, both of these people, Townsend and Mike Rogers have a lot of history with national security. Have some respect within the intelligence community within the FBI and within the department of justice. So probably no surprise here that their names have surfaced. But I don't think we are any closer to really figuring out who the final choice going to be.
CABRERA: Right. And again whoever the finalists are we don't know how many that is, one person, two, three people, they will eventually meet with President Trump. We heard him today come out today and say that he plans to make a pick soon. Although, that timeline could be before he goes on this foreign overseas trip by the end of the week.
But let me ask you about some of your other reporting. You have been talking to sources inside the FBI and the agency. They are telling you they are worried about the Russian investigation, why?
PROKUPECZ: So the biggest issue I think for agents and staffers, analysts who work counterintelligence at the FBI, for many years it has been a priority. A new director working under this department of justice which seems to have different priorities could come in and say well, we are not going to fund the counterintelligence program the way we have been funding it. It takes a lot of money and a lot of resources to maintain counterintelligence initiatives, to keep the work going.
Russia is one of the biggest focuses of the FBI's counterintelligence program. Beyond the meddling that they are investigating and that whether or not there was collusion, Russian has consistently shown that they want to infiltrate our institutions, our political operations on government. So the FBI consistently, continuously investigates people who are trying to come here from Russia, even, people who are here already. They are under surveillance. That takes money. That takes resources. That takes new people.
So if a new director comes in working with this department of justice could say hey, we are going to focus on something else. I mean, the department of justice recently has been focusing a lot on violent crime saying this is the issue. But there is a lot of other things that are going on that the FBI is focusing on. And the issue for them is could resources be pulled away from a counterintelligence program against Russia, focusing on Russia. What is Russia trying to do in this country?
CABRERA: That is a big important question and it will fall on whoever is the next leader.
Shimon Prokupecz, thanks to you.
Let's bring in our panel to discuss further. Joining us CNN political commentator and assistant editor at the "Washington Post" David Swerdlick and Washington bureau chief of the "Chicago Sun Times" Lynn Sweet.
Lynn, what should be the criteria for choosing the next FBI director?
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN TIMES: Someone who has credibility and someone who could get confirmed by the Senate without a brutal fight. Two big challenges.
[19:10:06] CABRERA: David, let's show everybody those eight that we know of. I don't know if you have a screen in front of you.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
CABRERA: We are looking - OK. So John Cornyn, Andrew McCain, Alex Fisher, Judge Michael Garcia, going on in to say Adam Lee, judge Henry Hudson, we also have Frances Townsend and Mike Rogers we just spoke about. Anybody on this list do you think gets support by Republicans and Democrats?
SWERDLICK: Well, I think there is an intriguing case to be made for Mike Rogers, our CNN colleague, in the sense that his resume is almost perfect, right, both a congressman, chairman of the House intelligence committee and a former FBI agent. The challenge there, though, is that he was also part of the Trump transition. And it seems to me that that is an easy target for Democrats to suggest that he may be partisan.
You know, without questioning the credentials or the choices of anybody on that list, it seems like a pretty logical list to me except for one, the choice of Senator Cornyn seems baffling to me. Someone who is rising in leadership in the senate, I'm not sure why they would want to switch horses in extreme here.
But everybody else, I think the problem for the White House is not the list, it is that they did not do this list in private before they got rid of director Comey. Discuss it, come out with a list, as you said, it's an apprentice-style situation, Ana, where everything in this administration is a big show and big reveal instead of getting their ducks in a row before handing then rolling it out smoothly.
CABRERA: Lynn, we heard Shimon lay out some of the concerns from people inside the FBI about how they will approach the Russian investigation depending on who is leading it. We also know that this person who ever is selected will be in charge of overseeing the Russian election meddling investigation, and both the President and his attorney general are tied to that probe. So if they are both involved in selecting a new FBI chief, to lead the investigation, how are they not going to be inherent questions about the administration's influence?
SWEET: Well, I'm so glad you brought it up. Because that is why one there is one of the reasons that there is an argument to appoint an independent inquiry, either a special prosecutor or whatever is the name of what you want to call it. There is certain categories of a plot you could make. If you have an independent or special prosecutor in place before you do the nomination then, that takes away or diminishes that concern because you know that the main investigation will not be done by the insiders.
And one other quick note, if I may, if one of the wraps against Comey by Trump is that he was a show boat, I think then you probably would not -- Trump probably would not be inclined to pick Mike Rogers or Frances Townsend who have enormous media profiles, because they are terrific commentators and they would be people who are already famous in the media. So if you're not looking for a show boat, maybe, and I'm not saying they are, but that would be an argument against picking people who are already in a sense celebrities because of their status as you know, expert commentators.
But I think the most important thing to getting this answer about the credibility, both of the person who becomes the FBI director and of the institution is if you had this independent inquiry in place that would go a lot towards smoother sailing for confirmation for whoever the eventual nominee is.
CABRERA: And we keep on hearing a lot of Democrats calling for a special prosecutor.
But David, Republicans have been walking a fine line. And they are not necessarily defending the President, but they are not calling for a special prosecutor. Listen to what Amanda Carpenter, she is a former communications director for Sen. Ted Cruz. Listen to what she said about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANDA CARPENTER, FORMER CRUZ COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: This is ridiculous. It is not tenable. And Republicans, it -- they just speak politically. This cannot last. So go ahead and start holding the President accountable. The boogie man is not going to come out from under your bed. Donald Trump special police are not going to come and get you in the middle of the night. If you say Mr. President, please respect those three branches of government, please respect the American institution as it's supposed to work and then you will be much better off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Is it dangerous politically, David, for Republicans not to take more of a stand?
SWERDLICK: I think Republicans are really trying to feel this out. And they sense maybe there peril at this point still to cross President Trump. I think Amanda Carpenter spoke pretty eloquently there on that subject. Just last week in "the Washington Post," we ran an opinion piece by former one-term Illinois congressman Joe Walsh, who said he supports Trump, but in the case of the Comey firing he does not agree with the Comey filing. He called it wrong. And he said it was the act of a think pot dictator.
I think that - I think they are in the minority though of Republicans really to go out there who want a full-throated criticize President Trump for this move. What is the reason? It is because of the poll numbers. President Trump does not have these poll numbers for a president in his first 110 or 120 days. But he really has not lost that much ground, Ana. He is at 41 percent in the Gallup daily tracking right now and he has been between 45 and 35 the entire time he has been in office.
[19:15:18] CABRERA: He hasn't lost much ground but he has not gained any ground and he still is under water. There is also a Gallup poll that finds nearly half of Americans disapprove of James Comey's firing. So Lynn, what does this mean for the president?
SWEET: I think it means that he will probably do what he wants no matter what these polls say because he already has done that and he has created some of the most explosive days of his short presidency just in his change - in the changing explanations of why he fire Comey.
So I would think he wants to get his own person in. And somehow if President Trump thinks that is going to make this controversy go away, it's not, because it is only intensified interest in looking at the question of where there Russian influence and tampering in the election.
But the polls right now I think are just a snap shot of -- a snap shot. I would not read that -- anything more than that in terms of whether or not this tumultuous explosive situation that Trump has self-inflicted on himself, creates any longer term damage. Because a lot depends on who the replacement is and what these probes either find or if these probes are shut down.
So I think the answers or if Trump really tries to shut it down or if he is seen as that, then you actually go into yet another new chapter, where the question of obstruction of justice could be even bigger.
SWERDLICK: Ana --.
CABRERA: Go ahead and -- go ahead.
SWERDLICK: OK, just real quickly I was going to say for Democrats the challenges, they now have to go out and prove they can win elections before the Republicans start worrying about the President's low approval numbers. That is why you don't see Republicans going out there and abandoning President Trump at this point.
CABRERA: A good point. Glad you got it in.
Thank you to you both for being here.
Ahead this hour, an investigation in the possible wrongdoing, a firing of the man in-charge of this investigation.
And White House visit from Henry Kissinger, sounds like something from the Nixon administration, but all that happened recently under President Trump. The former director of the Nixon library looks at the parallels next.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:21:44] CABRERA: As the White House grapples with fallout from President Trump's firing of FBI chief James Comey, a number of Democrats have gone comparison to the Nixon administration. Is that fair? In 1973, President Nixon fires the special prosecutor investigating
Watergate. Comey was investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump administration. Then came President Trump's unusual warning in a tweet. He says James Comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversation before he starts leaking to the press.
Let's talk it over with CNN presidential historian, former director if the Nixon library Tim Naftali.
Before I ask anything, I want to play something you said here on CNN yesterday. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: We look a little bit like a 20th century Banana Republic if the (INAUDIBLE) world. This is outrageous. Second thing, this is not 1973. In 1973, the President could have assumed that he owned the tapes. If for some strange bizarre reason and we have seen so much that is bizarre lately, Donald Trump quick in installed or had installed a taping system, those are federal records, thanks to Richard Nixon's court challenges. I don't believe there are tapes, but if there are, this is not going to be a very long administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So coming from that, my follow-up question is why would President Trump tweet about possible tapes if no tapes existed?
NAFTALI: Why would President Trump invite Henry Kissinger into the White House the day after he fired Comey? You know, for someone who wants a scandal apparently to go away he is doing absolutely everything to look and seem and sound like Richard Nixon. Listen, if I could figure out Donald Trump - no one can figure out what Donald Trump --
CABRERA: You mean he is just oblivious to the parallels?
NAFTALI: Well, actually, there are people in his inner circles who believe that Nixon is much maligned, maybe - I don't know how close he and Roger Stone are, but Roger Stone has Richard Nixon's face (INAUDIBLE). So maybe he doesn't mind the comparison.
What I think is important for the public, OK, is to keep in mind that Richard Nixon committed crimes. The evidence is overwhelming and that when he fired the special prosecutor it was to obstruct justice. When we analyze President Trump's behavior we should ask for information that explains his motive. That is all. If his motive is to obstruct the Russia investigation then there is a real similarity to Richard Nixon.
CABRERA: We don't know what his motives are. But we do know that he was thinking about Russia and the investigation at the time he made this decision to fire Comey.
Now back to the tapes real quick, we have some new reporting literally we just came in across my email. It says Jim Acosta asked the Obama administration if they secretly recorded private meetings. And just for the record, they say they did not.
So, you know, we, you know, a lot of people wonder, did other administrations record? We know Nixon's history as we just discussed and past administrations as well came before the Presidents have also had recordings.
NAFTALI: The lesson was Donald tape - I mean -- because recordings are discoverable, because they -- it's easy to subpoena them. And they are -- they are present records. They are public records now. They were not in 1973.
[19:25:08] CABRERA: What do you mean by that Banana Republic comment that you made?
NAFTALI: Well, look -- I mean, because the President fired the head of our domestic intelligence and criminal service. And could not really explain. In fact, first the White House could -- the White House gets one explanation and then the President himself overturns that. So people wonder why was one of the most important members of the U.S. intelligence committee fired. They realized that the White House, this White House couldn't keep single story.
The fact that you have a Russian investigation Comey is not in-charge of it but he supervised the entire bureau. And then the President after firing this man, meets with the Russian and allows Russian press or at least Russian official photographers in to the meeting and not the American press. Allowing the Russian to tweet of, you know, sort of a victory dance, to tweet pictures of meeting the President.
So looking from -- you know, outside, we look like our President doesn't know what he is doing or if he is doing something, it doesn't look particularly good for the country. And it looks like the Russians are benefiting from whatever our President is doing. I mean, that is an appearance that one could have from the outside.
CABRERA: You talked about Nixon and some of the similarities, but yet you said there is some distance that we need to put between what is happening right now, and we don't have evidence of any crime at the moment that the president would have committed. And so, that is a big difference. But also important to note I think that the articles of impeachment against President Nixon did not contain any charges specifically linked to the firing of the special prosecutor.
NAFTALI: Well, let's not use the "I" word. We will not talk about that because one of the problems in -- well, in the 90s, that word was cheapened. That word was appropriately applied to Richard Nixon in the '70s and then it was misappropriated in the 1990s. So we should not use that word unless -- there is a real reason for it.
Let's just talk about abuse of government power because that is what the House Judiciary Committee and its staff were looking into. They found that President Nixon ordered the misuse of the IRS to go after its political enemies. They found the misuse of the FBI. They found the misuse of the secret service. They found the participation in a cover-up that would prevent a criminal investigation from proceeding.
All of these were reasons -- grounds for resignation, for impeachment. We don't see any of that yet. What we do see is a similarity in temperament. Both men rage. Both men seem to feel that though they won the presidency, effectively winning the game of life, they are victims somehow. It's a remarkable thing that you could be the most powerful person in the world and feel you are a victim. And feel that you have a raid against you, these powerful enemies.
Both Richard Nixon and from his tweets, it is apparent, Mr. Trump feel this way. When people have the enormous power of the presidency and they believe they are surrounded by enemies they can be tempted to misuse power. Richard Nixon did it. We know it. The evidence is clear. We don't know if Donald Trump is doing it. But he is acting in such a way that it leads us to suspect that he has done something wrong. He is acting as if he is trying to cover something up. I'm not suggesting he is, but he is acting that way.
Why he does it this way, I don't know. What we saw on the campaign was that he responded to an attack by being aggressive. That is what he is doing now. But he is President of the United States. Not only that rules different, but decorum is different. And his responsibilities are different. No, he doesn't just speak for his campaign or himself but the United States of America. That is why we look like a 20th century banana republic.
CABRERA: And that is why we are analyzing every word, every tweet, every spoken word that comes out of his mouth is because he is the President and what he says matters.
Thank you so much Timothy Naftali for coming on and providing some good perspective for all of us.
NAFTALI: Thank you, Ana. My pleasure.
CABRERA: Coming up, the latest provocation from North Korea, a ballistic missile traveling over 400 miles and putting U.S. forces and the South Korean military now on high alert. We will talk about why after the break.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:33:47] CABRERA: We are now waiting for a statement from the Pentagon, should be very soon regarding the launch of a ballistic missile from North Korea. A short time ago we do have a few details from U.S. defense officials. We have learned this missile launch before dawn in North Korea, flew about 450 or so miles when it slashed into the water off North Korea's east coast.
I want to get World Policy Institute fellow Jonathan Cristol in here for his expertise.
Jonathan, we are seeing a pattern here with North Korea launching these ballistic missiles. They launched more than a half dozen just since the President took office. Remember one of them happened a few hours after Rex Tillerson spoke against North Korea at the United Nations, another one happened when the Japanese prime minister was meeting with Trump in Mar-a-Lago. And now, the vice president Pence was in South Korea. What would this one be in response to?
JONATHAN CRISTOL, FELLOW, WORLD POLICY INSTITUTE: You know it's interesting, because those tests came after a very tough talk from the United States. And I think this is coming after Trump had said that he would be honored to meet with Kim Jong-un, after track to talks in Oslo took place in week between ex-U.S. government officials and current North Korean officials. And you have a President in South Korea who also talked about tough with the north.
[19:35:01] CABRERA: Yes. It seems like things have sort of ratcheted down, instead of the saber rattling this week. It has been a lot more - talk about diplomacy. And as you mentioned, North Korea also brought up this week saying they would be willing to have talks directly with the U.S. administration. This is according to the South Korean news agency. So why would they fire this off if this is the case that they want to have talks?
CRISTOL: Well, I think they want to both test President Trump and Moon Jae-in in South Korea, and see how serious they are about it. And also to talk from a position of strength. And to show that they are still going to proceed with this missile program, despite the talk of diplomacy from the west and from South Korea.
And you know, they want to develop these weapons. They see it as necessary. And it works politically for them to time to these things. But their tests that would happen anyway.
CABRERA: What would be the response from this new South Korean president that you anticipate?
CRISTOL: Well, this is the big question. I think it is so early in his administration. Only five days, I think now that it is hard to say. I think that it is too early - it is hard to have a very immediate response beyond a statement. Obviously, there will be some sort of statement about aggression from North Korea. But I think we will see whether those operations continue. And he has talked about opening that back up in the parliament. And we will see whether joint exercises continue.
CABRERA: Meantime, China is also hosting all of these other world leaders right now. It's a big summit, 28 leaders in Beijing right now. Is Kim Jong-un trying to send a message to them?
CRISTOL: Well, you know, I think that we have a tendency to make everything about us. And so, we often think that everything anyone does must be because the U.S. did something or said something, or in this case South Korea did. Now, I think it's important to look at regional politics and see if there are other reasons.
But in this case, I don't see why Kim Jong-un would want to necessarily antagonize China in particular and take the spotlight off of what the China as a major diplomatic event. But he also may want to show that, again, that he is not going to be cowed either by his allies or his enemies.
CABRERA: And it makes you wonder if he just wants to get attention, because the world is looking elsewhere right now.
CRISTOL: Well, you know, it could be attention. But it also could be that this is the right time to do it. If the world is looking elsewhere, go ahead with these missile tests and hope that everyone else is distracted by other things going on so they can't mount a cohesive, coherent strategy to prevent these tests from continuing.
CABRERA: Always good information. Thank you, Jonathan Cristol. Good to have you on.
CABRERA: Still ahead, is all the turbulence inside the White House happening? And above all, are people around the world watching? We have been digging into that.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:42:10] CABRERA: President Trump is preparing for his first trip abroad since taking office. But his actions at home this past week have triggered concerns overseas. The political fallout over Trump's firing of James Comey as FBI has prompted some interesting reaction from political leaders abroad.
Global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is joining us from Washington.
Elise, how does the international community view the fallout over the President firing the FBI director?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, I think it's raising a lot of questions. And I think it's a continuation of, you know, the question that people have about this President. You know, diplomats, no one wants to say anything publicly. Their countries have made the decision that this is a domestic, you know, internal political matter and they don't really want to make a public comment on it, Ana.
But it's raising a lot of questions as to whether President Trump is committed to the rule of law, something that the United States has been, you know, really preaching around the world that these countries need to appreciate the rule of law. Now there are questions about the U.S. President, you know. And diplomats are, you know, saying anything from, it's just another question mark of President Trump. It's another weird thing he is doing, too serious concerns about, you know whether the United States is going back on those values that have been so strong in the United States for decades and which the U.S. continues to preach around the world.
CABRERA: I want to read something from the outgoing ambassador to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith. She tweeted this on Tuesday right after the President fired the FBI director. I quote "increasingly difficult to wake up overseas to news from home knowing I will spend today explaining our democracy and institutions."
Elise, how are you as diplomats explaining this overseas?
LABOTT: Well, it is difficult. And you know, Ambassador Smith has been a career service officer for about 25 years. You know, she is expected to -- end her post in Qatar, but could remain in the foreign service. And I think one of the things is, she has been a public diplomacy officer that people are asking, look, you tell us about - again, maintaining adherence to the rule of law, following your constitution. You know, they are asking questions about the U.S. democracy.
And look, it's the diplomat's job to go out and talk about the U.S. diplomatic system. And diplomats are saying it's increasingly frustrating with this, you know, unpredictable president that a lot of questions are being asked. For instance, when they were asked questions about the executive order and a lot of countries were like talking about that. It was anti-Muslim and such. You know, diplomats were trying to say, I can understand how you feel that way. But we have a democratic system. And you notice that our judges, our courts were able to stop this executive order because that is how America works.
And so, I think yes, they are facing a lot of questions but it's also an opportunity to highlight the U.S. institutions and the U.S. democracy that is making sure that the rule of law is not disregarded.
[19:45:14] CABRERA: And the President will have a chance to explain what is going on when he goes out on his first foreign trip later this week.
Elise Labott, our thanks to you.
Moving on, it is called ransomware and it will only give you your computer data back if you pay up. A global computer attack strikes at least 99 countries.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:49:45] CABRERA: We are used to seeing young people take to the streets in protest. A very different crowd in Venezuela yesterday. It was (INAUDIBLE), so grandparents march that captured the headline. There are thousands of elderly Venezuelans took to the streets of Caracas to protest the President Nicholas Maduro. Some of these demonstrators even pushed against the riot shields of police officers who responded with bursts of pepper spray to their faces. Thirty- eight Venezuelans have died in the unrest over the growing economic crisis there. They are facing a severe shortage of food, medicine, and other staples.
We can take comfort about the cyberattack that hit 99 countries yesterday has been halted. Cyber experts warn -- say vigilance, there could be a reboot. Hackers hit hospitals, government offices, major companies around the world with a ransomware called wannacry, when 75,000 computers were compromised.
Here is just some of what happened at hospitals and emergency rooms. Phones stopped working, appointments got moved, ambulances got redirected with hackers demanding payment to make this all stop.
Let's bring in CNN correspondent Claire Sebastian with more information.
How did the hackers pull this off, Claire?
CLAIRE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, eventually, what is believed to have happened is that they used an exploit that was first discovered by the U.S. national security agency. So one hack really led to another. Because this expert was among a number of tolls that were leaked and published online in April.
Now, the interesting thing about this is that Microsoft business is an expert in the windows upgrading system. And Microsoft had already patched it. They had released a security update back in March. But what happened is most people or many people have not updated their systems. And this malware was able to propagate, to spread through the internet, scanning for systems that were not updated with this patch and infect them. And that is why you see so many countries affected, 99 countries, 75,000 that were attacked as far as we know right now. We still don't know the full scale of this. But that is what we believe have happened.
CABRERA: What exactly were these hackers after?
SEBASTIAN: Well, money. I mean, this is a ransomware. Initially, that is what we think. I mean, they are demanding $300 to $600 from people in bit coin payments and they were successful. We now know that at least $20,000 we hear the expert. There have been (INAUDIBLE) three bit coin accounts that people have paid. You have to understand that when threatened with the loss of their data people do want to pay up. I mean, this could be a serious handicap for companies.
CABRERA: Right. So what else could people do then? I mean, should there be a reboot as we mentioned at the top of the segment? Is there anything people can do but pay? Should they already be compromised?
SEBASTIAN: Well, the best defense is protection. If you can do something now, it is update your system, it is back up your data. Because even if you are infected you can restore from backups. But the interesting thing is experts have been telling me the virus itself can be removed but not the files that have been encrypted already. What essentially these are proprietor is the selling is the decryption key to release the files they have encrypted. And at the moment, no one else have that. So if you don't have a back-up, then essentially you either sacrifice the machine, you still from back-up or have to pay.
CABRERA: OK. So that's the answer. Thank you so much Claire Sebastian. We appreciate it. Coming up, the podium is back. White House press secretary Sean
Spicer returned to the podium on Friday. But that's not Sean Spicer. That's Melissa McCarthy. She is hosting "SNL" tonight. Up next, a preview of the episode it just can't wait to see.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:57:18] CABRERA: Expect things to get quite spicy on tonight's "Saturday Night Live" episode. Actress and comedian Melissa McCarthy is hosting show already hinting she will be having a field day with her portrayal of White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
CNN's senior media correspondent Brian Stelter has a preview.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is the Trump administration making America laugh again or just making the press even more frustrated?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President has nothing further to add on that.
STELTER: A credible crises intensify this week. And making late night comic rewrite their scripts right up until airtime.
MELISSA MCCARTHY, ACTRESS/COMEDIAN: Any other questions?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes just mentally though are you OK?
MCCARTHY: Are you kidding me?
STELTER: Melissa McCarthy back this weekend, its perfect timing for her to host "SNL" partly in character.
MCCARTHY: I came out here to punch you. And also I don't talk so good.
STELTER: Friday the same day Sean Spicer returned to his real podium, McCarthy was in full Spicer regalia whizzing down the streets of New York on her podium. "SNL" going the extra mile promoting her return.
One likely purchase line, Spicer's impromptu press briefing among the bushes Tuesday night.
SPICER: OK, hold on. Just turn lights off.
STELTER: The internet has already had a field day with it. But just how long McCarthy will get to play Spicer is an open question. His absence from the briefing room earlier this week stirring speculation about his future. This as the president refuses to commit to keeping him.
TRUMP: He is going a god job but he gets beat up. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will he be there tomorrow?
TRUMP: YES. Well, he has been there from the beginning.
STELTER: For now, "SNL" fans are waiting for McCarthy's masterful impression.
MCCARTHY: You like that? You like that dork?
STELTER: Brian Stelter CNN, New York.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CABRERA: Top of the hour. You Are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera IN New York.
We begin with breaking news here on CNN. A short time ago North Korea launched some sort of ballistic missile. We are waiting for a statement from the Pentagon. But the launch is confirmed from the western part of the country. It flew about 450 miles until it splashed into the water off North Korea's east coast.
Straight out now to the capital of South Korea, Seoul, and CNN Alexandra Field.
Alexandra, what are you hearing about this launch?
Field: Well, what we are hearing from defense officials, Ana, is that this was not a missile that would have threatened the continental United States. It does not at all appear to be consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile. That said they are still trying to determine exactly what kind of missile the North Koreans did launch again. It flew several hundred miles before it landed in the Sea of Japan.