Return to Transcripts main page


North Korea Claims U.S. Mainland Within Striking Range; New Ransomware Versions Target More Computers; White House Eyeing Candidates To Replace Comey; A Texas Take On Trump. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 15, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: North Korea claims it now has the ability to strike the American military in Guam. Is this a game- changer? We'll be getting reactions across the region.

And President Donald Trump is undermining U.S. institutions, that warning coming from the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

Plus, as people go back to work on Monday, they may actually help spread the global cyber-attack that has already infected 200,000 computers across the world.

Hi, everyone. Thank you very much for joining us. I'm Cyril Vanier live from the CNN NEWSROOM in Atlanta.

North Korea says its nuclear program is making major progress. Pyongyang says that Sunday's missile test proves it can now put a large nuclear warhead on a missile, something it's been trying to achieve for a long time. North Korea is also warning the U.S., it can strike the American mainland. We should point out there's no independent evidence to support those claims. Alexandra Field is in Seoul, South Korea. Alexandra, this missile test was apparently considerably more successful than others we've seen from North Korea this year.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's certainly being touted as a major success inside North Korea, and even outside North Korea it's being taken quite seriously by defense officials in South Korea, in the U.S., in Japan, and also by analysts who say that this could be a major step forward for North Korea in its stated goal of working to develop an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead all the way to the U.S. mainland. To be perfectly clear, U.S. officials are saying that the latest ballistic missile launch was not at all consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile, but again, this is a significant step forward.

You've got a U.S. based monitoring group saying that this is a demonstration that North Korea could be able to reliably strike the U.S. base in Guam, in the pacific. They are also saying that this latest launch represents the highest level of performance they have seen from a North Korean missile. They point out that it reached a higher altitude and that it traveled farther than missiles have in other recent tests. And certainly, we have seen a barrage of recent missile tests. This missile landed closer to Russia than it did to Japan. It's said to have been overseen personally by North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un.

Again, they are calling this as a major success, and they say that the U.S. should regard this as a warning against provocation, Cyril. For the U.S.'s part, you've had officials in Washington responding swiftly, of course condemning the latest launch and again renewing calls on all countries to fully enforce sanctions against North Korea. That has been essentially the cornerstone of the developing policy from the Trump administration in an effort to work with partners in the region to further isolate North Korea and try to force some kind of cooperation from the regime. That goes hand in hand with the ever present threat at least of a military option remaining on the table. Don't forget, Cyril, for months you've seen these joint military exercises and a beefed up U.S. Military presence in the region that has rankled Pyongyang.

VANIER: But, look, Alexandra, if it turns out that North Korea has, indeed, developed the ability to strike, for instance, U.S. Military interests in Guam in the Pacific, could that be a game-changer?

FIELD: Look, this is the kind of scenario that the U.S., and South Korea, and Japan have all been preparing for. It's why you see these military alliances, these defense agreements between the U.S. and neighboring countries. Don't forget, you've got some 30,000 U.S. forces stationed right here in South Korea. You've got some 50,000 in Japan. And the U.S. has been taking this threat very seriously. That was the reason behind installing a highly controversial missile defense system. It was rushed into operation.

The word from U.S. Commanders is that that system is now operational. This was something that was objected to by some South Koreans, even by neighboring countries like China, which feared that the radar on the THAAD system could be used to spy on them. But the U.S. has said that given the acceleration in the missile program and the nuclear ambitions of North Korea, they have to be prepared to intercept missiles that could come from North Korea. That's why you've got that system installed here. It's why you've got such a large military presence from the U.S. here as well, Cyril.

VANIER: All right. Alexandra Field reporting live from Seoul in South Korea, thank you very much. For more reaction on the latest missile test by North Korea, we're joined by David McKenzie in Beijing who's covering this. David, the timing of this latest test by North Korea is particularly annoying for Beijing, isn't it?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. Certainly, in the middle of their belt road forum where Xi Jinping is officially unveiling this massive infrastructure and trade plan, Cyril, this is a real slap in the face of the Chinese -- to the Chinese by the North Koreans. Now, China generally doesn't speak forcefully on these matters, particularly, they don't want to take away the attention from this forum. But they did mention through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that they oppose any move like this, this missile test because they say it certainly breaks the U.N. resolutions. So the fact that Putin is here, RecepErdogan and Duterte from the Philippines all hosted by Xi Jinping at the same time that they, in fact, invited a delegation from North Korea to be part of this summit is very embarrassing for the Chinese and certainly won't help the case of Pyongyang if they want to get any kind of help from the Chinese on any matters. Cyril.

[01:05:47] VANIER: China is believed to be the only country that has any kind of leverage on North Korea and ability to influence North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. But it hasn't really used that leverage so far. Does it have -- does Beijing have a breaking point when it comes to North Korea?

MCKENZIE: Well, I think it's -- let me qualify that slightly, that China does have leverage, yes, and they have used a little bit or some amount of that leverage by really enforcing, they say, the U.N. sanctions. And China repeatedly said that they won't go beyond those U.N. sanctions. But the question, you're right, that everyone is asking now, including the U.S. administration, is how far is China willing to go, and when will they eventually say enough is enough?

Kim Jong-un hasn't met the Chinese leader since coming into power. There haven't been the level of close friendship as there was between previous leaders of North Korea and Chinese leaders, and they keep on provoking China by going ahead with these missile tests and nuclear tests even though the Chinese explicitly tell them not to. So, that points that this relationship isn't necessarily as strong as it used to be. I think China has said if there are new provocations like this, the next step would be going to the U.N. Security Council to potentially push forward new or harsher sanctions.

It's unlikely China will do anything unilaterally. Plus, China is also playing this difficult game because they don't want the regime in Pyongyang to collapse. But, you know, as they keep on doing this, there may be some point when the Chinese leader says, you know, they've embarrassed us enough. We need to do something more drastic. We'll have to wait and see if they take that step.

VANIER: All right. David McKenzie reporting from Beijing, thank you very much. The international cyber-attack that was temporarily contained over the weekend could start to spread again as people come into work this Monday morning and turn on their computers. The malicious software encrypts your data and demands a ransom to give it back. And remember, we still don't know who's behind this attack. Here's Clare Sebastian with more.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A live threat. That is how the European Union Law Enforcement Agency (Europol) described the state of the global ransomware attack Sunday. The infection rate had slowed on Friday and Saturday after a researcher in the U.K. accidentally discovered a way to stop it spreading. But according to Europol, that was only a temporary fix.

ROB WAINWRIGHT, EUROPOL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: The cyber criminals have already responded to that and issued a variant of the threat that gets beyond that. So, numbers are rising again.

SEBASTIAN: It's clear we still don't know the full extent of this. Britain's cyber security authority has also warned that more damage could come to light Monday morning as people return to work, and that new cases of ransomware may be reported in the coming days. And meanwhile, Microsoft, whose windows operating system was breached, says governments of the world should treat this as a wake-up call.

In a blog post, the company's President says the fact that this attack used a cyber-tool believed to have been stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency shows that the rules governing cyberspace need to change. He writes: "we need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits. This is one reason we called in February for a new digital Geneva Convention to govern these issues, including a new requirement for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them." Meanwhile, the message to consumers: update your systems and backup your data.

Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.


VANIER: And to talk about this with me now is Rob Lee, a Digital Forensics and Incidents Response Director at SANS Institute and he works typically on this kind of thing. I think it's safe to say there are people within the SANS Institute who are working on this malware attack. Rob, first of all, the most surprising thing to me, I guess, is given the size of this attack; I would assume it would leave a trail of breadcrumbs that would make it relatively easy to find out who's behind this. But apparently, that's not the case.

[01:09:58] ROB LEE, SANS INSTITUTE DIGITAL FORENSICS AND INCIDENTS RESPONSE DIRECTOR: Yes. At this point, most organizations are really worried about the potential infections, (INAUDIBLE) malwares posing toward them, especially with Monday morning coming up for most of the world at this point. They're trying to understand if they should be paying the ransom. They're trying to understand what they could do to protect themselves right now. There are of course always bread crumbs in the actual malware themselves, in the domains that are being registered, in the way that they're being asked to respond to the ransomware.

At this point, it's been determined that it actually requires one of the individuals that are behind it to activate the decryption in order to be able to receive the payment. So, there are a lot of malware researchers out there right now that are actually recommending most organizations not to pay the ransom if they're even considering it at this point because the malware authors of this have created a situation that has overwhelmed them with the amount of requests that are being thrown at them to basically fix the issue.

VANIER: You mentioned Monday morning, and of course it is Monday morning in quite a large part of the world. I'm thinking in Asia, for instance, a lot of people will have already turned on their computer to start their workweek. So, a lot of people they're finding out right now that their computer is infected?

LEE: Yes. There -- that's definitely what potentially is going on with the situations out there. People wake up. They potentially are bringing in their laptops to the work. And that's actually the biggest concern: is that they're at home, and their computers get infected over the weekend. They bring them into the workplace that is probably firewalled off and fairly secure. But once they bring it in the workplace and plug it in, then that one computer that they bring in the workplace could actually infect the rest of the environment. So there's a lot of research-

VANIER: So, what do they need to do for anybody who has just turned on their computer and who maybe has a concern or for anybody to whom that has happened?

LEE: Yes, if that does happen if their computer is infected, the best thing to do is definitely not plug it into any network. Do not bring it into work and plug it into any other system inside that environment. The best thing to do is to leave it powered off at this point if there is a concern or to immediately power it off so it's not a source of infection for the rest of the organization.

VANIER: What's your advice for companies? You usually work for companies that call you once they've been the victims of a cyber- attack. What's your advice in this situation?

LEE: Right now, we're advising a lot of companies to make sure that they're blocking any inbound -- it's essentially a TCB port 445 traffic, is what the exploit currently using to propagate itself. And if they have a strong firewall, they're going to be fairly secure. The other advice we're telling organizations right now is to please tell your employees to probably leave their computer systems at home until they're assured that they're not currently infected. The biggest risk is someone bringing in behind the firewall an infected P.C., and at that point, it's going to rip through that organization like a wildfire.

VANIER: Well, all right. Rob Lee, thank you so much for your expertise. We'll have to talk to you again. Thanks a lot for coming on the show.

LEE: Thank you.

VANIER: And coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, President Trump may be close to replacing fired FBI Director James Comey. We'll tell you what Democrats are saying about a potential Trump nominee.




VANIER: The search for the next FBI Director could soon be over. U.S. President Donald Trump says he might name James Comey's successor before the end of the week. But, remember, any nominee will probably face resistance from Democrats. Athena Jones explains why.

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. The fallout over the President's surprise move to fire the FBI Director continues with Democrats ramping up the pressure to name a special prosecutor to conduct a separate Russia investigation. One of those democrats is minority leader Chuck Schumer, who spoke about this on State of the Union. Watch.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The silence of my Republican colleagues is choosing party over country at a time when we can ill afford it. Foreign manipulation of our elections, no matter who did it, is a very, very serious issue. It damages people's faith in our government. So our Republicans should be stepping up to the plate and joining us in asking for a special prosecutor.


JONES: So there you heard Senator Schumer calling on Republicans to join Democrats in demanding a special prosecutor. We've also heard from Senator Mark Warner, who is the Virginia Democrat, with the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. That's one of the Congressional Committees that is carrying out its own Russia investigation. He has said that Democrats should try to block any vote on a future FBI Director if Republicans don't get on board with this demand for a special prosecutor. The problem is that they would need some Republicans to do that because the GOP just needs 51 votes to get that FBI Director confirmed.

I should mention that as of right now, the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, has indicated that he doesn't believe a special prosecutor is necessary. All of this coming as the President prepares to embark on his first foreign trip. He's leaving on Friday. Before that, though, he'll be meeting with Turkish President Erdogan, where he's likely to talk about Middle East peace and Syria, specifically this announcement this past week where the President authorized the limited arming of Syrian Kurds to help in the battle against ISIS. So a lot on the agenda as this fallout over the move to fire Comey continues. Back to you.

VANIER: So what do Trump voters think about the drama surrounding his Presidency? Our Ed Lavandera went to a small town in Texas to find out why.


HENRY LEWIS, BUSINESS OWNER: Pickup trucks. This is Texas country.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For more than 50 years, Henry Lewis has sold Chevy cars and trucks in Canton, Texas. You wrote this book for your grandkids?

LEWIS: Grandkids, yes.

LAVANDERA: It's full of life lessons, right? But in his spare time, he wrote a book with short life lessons for his granddaughter. And he says page 10 can help explain a lot these days, especially Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey. [01:20:24] DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: He's a showboat.

He's a grandstander.

LAVANDERA: If your presentation is on a sixth-grade level, it will be understood, read, listened to, and appreciate it.

LEWIS: That's kind of fitting.

LAVANDERA: Do you think Donald Trump has mastered that?

LEWIS: I think Donald Trump would agree with that statement. You know, why don't we mail him a book?

LAVANDERA: Lewis still strongly supports Trump. He's not bothered by the President's tweet seeming to threaten Comey. But Lewis acknowledges some of Trump's antics are starting to wear thin.

LEWIS: It bothers me a little bit.


LEWIS: I mean I think he'd be better served if he were more Presidential if he'd take the high road and more Presidential.

LAVANDERA: But your faith in him is still solid?

LEWIS: I'm strong. Yes, that's great. He's a businessman, and that's what the country needs. And I voted for him, and I'll vote for him again.

LAVANDERA: Canton, Texas, sits in the heart of Van Zandt County, the antique shopping capital of the world, where Donald Trump won 85 percent of the vote. As we wandered around town, we found support still runs strong. Carol Sossaman runs her own antique shop and this exchange with her offered unique insight to why Trump's most ardent supporters haven't lost faith.

But with all the crazy headlines we've seen here over the last few months, if you replaced the name Trump, and you put in Hillary or Obama, do you think his supporters would have the same reaction, kind of dismissing things like the Russia investigation?


LAVANDERA: Questions about taxes?

SOSSAMAN: No, no, no, no. Well, because there's so much hope with Trump being in office. I think that's what drives people to believe in him because he's a businessman. He gets stuff done, you know. That's a proven fact.

LAVANDERA: Sossaman voted for President Obama in 2008, didn't vote in 2012, and then voted for trump. She says the clock is ticking and that Trump's supporters can handle the drama as long as work gets done on issues like health care. Is that a sign there's a crack in Trump's armor? SOSSAMAN: You know, but after a couple of years, if nothing gets done

and it's drama all the time, then I don't think he'll have many supporters left.

LAVANDERA: Donald Trump's act might not seem Presidential to even some of his supporters, but in the antique shops of this east Texas town, the act hasn't gotten old yet. Ed Lavandera, CNN, Van Zandt County, Texas.


VANIER: Parts of India and Pakistan are suffering from terrible heat. Let's get more on this with meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. Who's tracking this story, Pedram?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know Cyril this has been an ongoing issue the last couple of days, and the images coming out of this region showing you what people are doing. This is out of a Lahore, Pakistan there across Arabi River where folks are trying to cool off. Where to weigh into New Delhi, finding a unique, creative way to cool off is going -- let's look at one of the local fountains across that region. But when you look outside, you see it's shortly after 11:00 a.m. here on Monday. Temps approaching 50 degrees in places like Lucknow. So we're talking almost 120 Fahrenheit in Kolkata coming at 43 and high around 44 degrees even in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, temps approaching 40 degrees into the late morning hours. And notice the stagnant nature of all of this, just an oppressive setup over the next couple of days. And this is precisely the time of year you get that disproportionate heating as the Indian subcontinent; the solar radiation heats it up more efficiently than the surrounding body of water. And of course, as that occurs, you begin to see the shift in the winds and come the monsoons in place over the next couple of months.

So that is what folks are really counting on to cool these temperatures off. But as you go in towards Tuesday, officials towards Pakistan and India are saying take this very seriously. We know what heat has done in recent years across this region. In fact, you look at the deadliest heat waves on record, it was back in 2003. We know in Europe, over 70,000 lives were lost over the summer because of excessive heat. But were going out towards India, 2,500 lives lost in 2015.

In Pakistan, 1,500 lives were lost that same year because of excessive temperatures. And your body does a fantastic job trying to cool itself off. It begins sweating and that sweating actually causes evaporation off your skin and that evaporation is a cooling process. But when it's so humid outside, but very little moisture can evaporate off your skin, so that sweating stays put, the water stays on your skin, and that's why we need the monsoons to come in to bring the air temps back down to reality. Notice this as we approach the last week of May there, historically speaking, that's when you expect the monsoons to begin the shift in towards portions of India. But we know with heat, it is typically the number one weather killer in the world. It is a leading cause there for aggression when it comes to these weather-related reasons aggression. Violent crimes are typically seen a spike with excessive heat and also

productivity as you would understand also decreases as well. So all of this when it comes to the monsoons being something that folks are looking forward to certainly all makes sense with the next couple of weeks in store. But notice these temps, only warms up even a little more out towards Nagpur. These are actual air temps forecast later in the week, 45, maybe46 degrees. You factor in the humidity, you'll easily be above 50 degrees in towards the afternoon hours. And with excessive heat as well, Cyril, you know we often talk about what are ways to see your body cool off? And you look at this perspective. Folks actually have found a very effective if you can get underneath a tree. Believe it or not, it has a net cooling effect of summer about ten portable air-conditioning units running for about 20 hours.

Again it shows you how effective a tree can be, if it's especially if it's on the western periphery of your house that can reduce the cost of your electricity if your fortune enough to have over a 15 year period. You can see that electricity rate drop by 12 percent, your cost, because of a tree on the west side of your house. So those things can all play a role, and folks in this part of the world have found very ingenious methods to try to keep themselves cool, and they're going to need it the next few days. Cyril.

[01:25:12] VANIER: All right, Pedram Javaheri. Pretty cool tree inside the CNN International Weather Center. Thanks a lot.

JAVAHERI: Yes, thanks.

VANIER: And North Korea says it's now capable of striking the mainland United States. What should we make of that claim? I'll ask my guest after the break.

And a bleak assessment of how the U.S. government is doing in the Trump administration. We'll be hearing from the former Director of National Intelligence. Stay with us.


[01:30:08] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone.

Let's look at your headlines this hour.


VANIER: Plus, North Korea is claiming it has achieved one of its main nuclear goals. Pyongyang says Sunday's test showed it can put a large nuclear warhead on a missile. The regime is also claiming it can now strike the U.S. mainland. We should point out there is no evidence -- independent evidence to support those claims.

For more on this, let's talk to Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. She joins us from Monterey, California.

Melissa, after numerous failed missile tests by North Korea, is this one a success? MELISSA HANHAM, SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, THE JAMES MARTIN CENTER FOR

NONPROLIFERATION STUDIES: Yes. By all measures, it is a success. It came in a little bit strange. A lot of people didn't expect such a high lofting of the missile. It reached over 2,000 kilometers, according to both the Japanese press as well as the North Korean statements, and if you were to have launched at a more general trajectory, that calculates out to being 4,500 kilometers.

VANIER: So, look, as far as I can make out, they test and test and test, and really, the international community condemns and puts out statements but does nothing concrete to stop them. And now we have the evidence that they are, indeed, dramatically improving their nuclear and missile capability.

HANHAM: Yes. Unfortunately, the diplomatic community finds itself in one of the most awkward positions, and that is that there are really no good solutions at this point. Neither sticks nor carrots have worked in the past, and North Korea hasn't created a situation painful enough that South Korea, the United States, Japan, and others are willing to negotiate some of the more painful items that are -- that, you know, have never been on the table before.

VANIER: By painful, do you mean accepting North Korea as a nuclear power?

HANHAM: Yeah. I think, you know, the U.S. is going to have to start acknowledging or, at least from a pragmatic space, that while this country is, you know, completely despicable in terms of its human rights and treatment of its people, that it has accomplished enough very dangerous technologies that they're going to have to make up their mind about how to move forward in the relationship. By developing missiles at longer and longer ranges until eventually they can field an ICBM or an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit the United States, North Korea is going to be able to start negotiating even harder. And by that, I mean they're going to be able to hold the United States at risk while doing what they want with South Korea, and that could potentially cause a wedge between the alliance of South Korea and the United States and end us in an even more difficult position than we find ourselves today.

VANIER: But North Korea says that currently they can hit Guam, the U.S. military base in Guam in the Pacific Ocean. They say they currently have the ability to hit the mainland United States.

HANHAM: Well, there isn't any real evidence that they can hit the mainland of the United States, but U.S. personnel and troops in South Korea, Japan, and now Guam are in range of their missiles. You know, this is one test that was successful. We're not yet sure how good they are at aiming, but the terror quality of the weapon is probably enough to do what North Korea really wants, which is just to sort of terrorize while it pushes ahead with what it wants to do politically.

VANIER: All right. Melissa Hanham, thank you very much for making it a lot clearer. Thanks a lot.

HANHAM: Thank you for having me. VANIER: U.S. President Donald Trump says he could announce a new FBI

director by Friday. But there's a lot of pushback, especially among Democrats. The abrupt firing of James Comey prompted new calls for an independent prosecutor to investigate whether or not the Trump campaign had, indeed, ties to Russia. President Trump denies that there ever was any collusion, and he has pointed to the Senate testimony of the former U.S. director of intelligence to support that claim.

Earlier, James Clapper set the record straight on CNN.


[01:35:07] JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I deferred to the FBI director, both Director Muller and then Director Comey, as to whether, when, and what to tell me about any counterintelligence investigations that they might have under way. So it was kind of standard practice. So my statement was premised on, first, the context of our intelligence community assessment on Russian interference with the election. We did not -- there was no reporting in that intelligence committee assessment about political collusion. We did not -- I did not have any evidence. I did not know about the investigation.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: You didn't even know that the FBI was conducting an investigation?

CLAPPER: I did not. And even more importantly, I did not know the content or the status of that investigation. And there's all kinds of reasons why that's so, but this -- these are sensitive. We try to keep them as compartmented as possible, and importantly these invariably involve U.S. persons. So I try to be very deferential to that.

TAPPER: This week, where the president firing the FBI director while this investigation is going on and then saying that he was thinking about the Russia probe when he was making the decision, have we crossed a line here?

CLAPPER: Well, I will just say that the developments of the past week are very bothersome, very disturbing to me. I think in many ways our institutions are under assault both externally, and that's the big news here is the Russian interference in our election system. And I think, as well, our institutions are under assault internally.

TAPPER: Internally from the president?

CLAPPER: Exactly.

TAPPER: Because he's firing the checks and balances?

CLAPPER: Well, I think, you know, the founding fathers, in their genius, created a system of three co-equal branches of government and a built-in system of checks and balances. And I feel as though that's -- that's under assault and it is eroding.


VANIER: With me now to discuss this further is CNN political analyst, Josh Rogin. He's also a columnist for "The Washington Post."

Josh, do you agree with James Clapper that Donald Trump is eroding the institutions of the U.S.?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANLAYST: I agree with DNI Clapper that there is an attack on those institutions coming from the Trump administration, and this is the biggest test of those institutions that we've seen in modern history. It remains to be seen whether or not they'll survive. I mean, a lot of what keeps the U.S. government in check is the agreement of those involved to abide by basic norms. And President Trump has decided to ignore several of those norms and has attacked, over the last few months, on the judiciary, on norms of transparency, on various oversight mechanisms, conflict of interest rules, ethics rules.

VANIER: But, look, Josh, isn't he just using robustly, admittedly, the powers that are available to him?


VANIER: Because as I see it, the checks and balances are working, at least in part. I mean the travel ban, for instance, was blocked by the courts. The health care reform initially was blocked by the House of representatives and by Donald Trump's own political party, no less. So couldn't you just say Donald Trump is doing what's in his power, but no more?

ROGIN: I think there's two things. A think a lot of what the checks and balances are based on are not things that are illegal, or are just things that presidents over the years have agreed not to do. And, secondly, I think that argument was a lot easier to make before last week's events, because when you have a president that is firing an FBI director who is in charge of an investigation into him, and then admitting publicly that he did it while thinking about that investigation, that is something wholly different, and I think that's what DNI Clapper is getting at here, is that, you know, that takes you into the realm of an actual challenge to the laws and rules that govern the separations of powers. Now whether or not --


VANIER: But case in point, he is allowed to do it.

ROGIN: Well, I don't necessarily agree with that. I mean, in other words, does he have the legal power to fire the FBI director? Yes. Does he have the legal ability to obstruct justice and an investigation? No. Now, whether or not he's crossed that line, again, is an issue probably first for congressional Republicans to determine. Secondly, if there's a challenge brought in the courts, that will be for the courts to decide. So I'm not here to tell you that President Trump has committed a crime. I'm telling you that, you know, his pattern of actions is getting closer and closer to that line. And eventually, we're going to get to that line, and then we're going to have what's known as a constitutional crisis. I don't think DNI Clapper or I would say that we're there yet. But all you have to do is look at what's going on. You can see that this is unprecedented, that these institutions are being tested. In some cases, they have stood up to the test. But I think the more serious tests are yet to come.

[01:40:05] VANIER: So politically now, is there a point where you think it starts hurting Donald Trump? Because I don't believe it has for the moment. His base of support is pretty stable. His popularity rating is low compared to other presidents early on in their term, but his base of support hasn't really eroded that much if at all.

ROGIN: Well, if you just look at the polls, then, yes, his hardcore supporters are still with him. If you look at his ability to institute his agenda, I think it's been poor at best, right? He did get the health care bill passed in the House on the second try. It's not clear what's going to happen to it in the Senate. But the worse his numbers get, the more room that gives vulnerable Republicans and moderate Republicans reason to put distance between themselves and the administration, right? There's going to be a lot of --


VANIER: But we've been saying that for quite a while and in fact there haven't been many Republicans who have broken away from him. We always cite John McCain, Lindsey Graham. But since the beginning of his term, they've been critical of him. Others are pretty much for the moment towing the line.

ROGIN: You have Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Burr saying he was troubled by the timing of the Comey announcement. Again, this was sort of a game-changing decision, when he crossed that line into firing the FBI director who was investigating him, that did bring several other Republicans into the realm of criticizing him, Senator Ben Sasse. Many others are now taking a hard look at this. The leadership is not there, right? We haven't reached the point where mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan has decided to really break from the president in any substantial way. How long does that take? It's only about 120 days or so, OK? That's not that much time, right? If he continues on this path, the Republicans eventually will reach a breaking point.

VANIER: All right, Josh Rogin, great to speak to you and great to get your insights. Thank you very much.

ROGIN: Thank you.

VANIER: Stay with us. When we come back on CNN NEWSROOM, after the break, we've got this.


JESSICA COLOTL, CHILD ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT: I was brought to the U.S. when I was 11 years old through no fault of my own.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VANIER: Changes to U.S. immigration policies are leaving the children of undocumented immigrants with an uncertain future. We'll have the details.


[01:45:20] VANIER: President Trump promised not to deport young people who were brought to the U.S. as children. Under Barack Obama, they were called Dreamers. But for some of them, promises have been broken, and their futures are now uncertain.

Rafael Romo has this one woman's story.


COLOTL: I did not expect this at all.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jessica Colotl's days in the United States may be numbered. The federal government has revoked the status that allowed the undocumented immigrant to temporarily avoid deportation.

COLOTL: On Friday morning, this last Friday morning, I realized that the website had been updated to say my case had been denied. I thought it was a glitch in their system.

ROMO: The 28-year-old has been twice granted an immigration benefit known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. She says she applied for a second renewal in December, but when months passed without an answer, she began to wonder if something was wrong.

COLOTL: Not only was my DACA renewal denied, but my current work permit was terminated.

ROMO (on camera): Jessica Colotl was born in Mexico. She was brought to the United States by her parents when she was 11 years old. The family had no legal status. She had been living a normal life and attending school until one day in the spring of 2010, when she was caught driving without a license.

(voice-over): Colotl, then 21, she was stopped at a Kennesaw University, north of Atlanta for a traffic violation. When she couldn't produce a valid driver's license, she was turned over to immigration authorities, who put her in an Alabama detention center for 37 days.

Her case made headlines, and her ordeal made her a central figure for immigration activists.

UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: We can't figure out any other logical common sense reason why this is happening.

ROMO (on camera): Why do you think the government is moving forward with this case when they haven't done anything before or very little?

UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: We think there's a possibility that they're looking to either -- I don't know -- make an example or try to see how they can look into valid DACA status in terms of revoking the status of other individuals in a similar position as Jessica.

ROMO (voice-over): An immigration spokesman told CNN that about 1,500 DACA people have lost their status since 2012. He also said, "Jessica Colotl, an unlawfully present Mexican national, admitted guilt to a felony charge in August 2011 of making a false statement to law enforcement. Under federal law, her guilty plea is considered a felony conviction for immigration purposes."

But her attorney contends there was never a guilty plea and is headed to court.

UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: There has to be a formal plea of guilt before the judge. There has to be a formal finding of a conviction or a guilty plea by a jury, by the judge. There was none of that.

ROMO (voice-over): What do you say to people who say, she is in the country illegally? She doesn't have a right to be here anyways. What do you say to them?

COLOTL: Well, I was brought to the U.S. when I was 11 years old through no fault of my own.

ROMO (voice-over): Her attorney has filed an emergency motion to avoid deportation, but there are no assurances that her next court appointment won't be her last.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.

VANIER: Stay with us. CNN NEWSROOM comes right back after this.



[01:52:35] VANIER: The legend of King Arthur is a classic story. Film Director Guy Ritchie has a new take on it. But box office numbers say his new film, which debuted this weekend, is not exactly a hit. So is King Arthur, legend of the sword, a double-edged sword?

Neil Curry takes a look.



NEIL CURRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cinematic history has presented us with more than 40 films based on the court of Camelot, ranging from epic escapades to animated adventures --

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Courage and honor.

CURRY: -- and musicals to Monty Python.

(SINING) CURRY: Just as the Python gang took liberties with the traditional tale of chivalry, Director Guy Ritchie has his own story on the style of King Arthur.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What gave you such drive?


GUY RITCHIE, FILM DIRECTOR: The purpose of the myth is transcendence of self. Aristocratic roots, drifts into the material world, gets all dirty. And in a step-wise fashion, climbs up the ladder and becomes liberated, not just by his environment but by himself.


CURRY: The final version of the movie was substantially different to the first cut Ritchie presented.


RITCHIE: Everyone said it's brilliant, but it's three and a half hours long. That's not going to work, pal.

DAVID BECKHAM, SOCCER CHAMPION: So what he had intended not to do, he ended up having to rely on, which is sort of that classic Guy Ritchie, quick-cutting and flashy editing. But like Arthur can't deny his destiny, I don't think Guy can deny his artistic true norm.

CURRY: In one key scene, are legend meets football legend as Ritchie gives his friend, David Beckham, a brief cameo role.

BECKHAM: Where do you think I want you? Hands of the hips, stupid.

RITCHIE: Our kids go to the same school. We go to the same pub. Somehow through no fault of my own or no conscience decision on my part, David ended up in that scene. And I think it was about two weeks before. I went, oh, bosh.

CURRY: The man who once defended England's honor on the soccer pitch has been cruelly lanced by critics of his thespian skills but he was welcomed by fellow cast members.

[01:55:03] UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I was curious just to see, you know, what Beckham would do and sort of nervous for him because I know how difficult it is when a movie camera is pointed at you. I really empathized how nervous he must be. But he came in so well prepared and so determined to do a good job and humble in the process and kind to everyone around him, I really -- I really sort of was blown away by his character.

CURRY: Having famously missed out on a knighthood himself in the British honor system, David Beckham finds himself in the company of plenty of other knights on a bold quest towards the Holy Grail of the ultimate Arthur movie.

Neil Curry, CNN. UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: There's the king.


VANIER: And that's it from me. It's been a pleasure. Have a great day.

I leave you in good hands. Rosemary Church, George Howell will be with you right after the break.

Hey, guys.