Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Urging Peace Deal Between Israel, Palestinians; Muslim World Reacts To Trump's Speech On Islam; N. Korea: Ballistic Missile Ready To Be Mass Produced; Russia Probe Questions; Trump to Head to Israel from Saudi Arabia; Questions on Mike Pence's Role in Flynn Investigation; Kids Give their Opinions on Trump. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 22, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. President to be greeted with open arms by the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu -- just a few hours until Donald Trump arrived in Israel. And earlier in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Trump urged Arabian Muslim leaders to drive out the extremists as he tried to redefine American leadership in the region. Plus, North Korea tests another missile, and now it says it's ready to mass produce them.

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

In just about an hour, President Trump will leave Saudi Arabia and head to Israel -- the next stop on his foreign trip. Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and President Reubin Rivlin will greet him at the airport in Tel Aviv. Mr. Trump will also meet separately with the President of the Palestinian authority, Mahmoud Abbas -- that will happen in Bethlehem on Tuesday. The U.S. President will arrive in Israel just a few days after sources told CNN that he had divulged classified information to Russia; that intelligence, coming from Israel. Now, Israel has not confirmed that, unsurprisingly, perhaps.

Let's speak to CNN's Oren Liebermann who's with us in Jerusalem. Oren, there's so much to talk about. First of all, I'm reading that most Israeli Ministers did not want to show up at the airport to greet the President and that the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had to order them there.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And this comes from the office of one of the ministers who spoke to us the only condition of anonymity because of how sensitive -- everything around President Donald Trump's visit is. The arrival ceremony in Tel Aviv will be much smaller, certainly much, much smaller when compared to the arrival ceremony in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. And ministers had realized -- many of the ministers that is, that they wouldn't actually get the photo op chance, they wouldn't get to shake President Donald Trump's hands.

So, many thought it seems: why bother going? Why bother going through security and showing up early? So, they weren't going to attend. Well, according to this office of the minister, Netanyahu was angry and put in a directive that all of the ministers will be there to greet President Donald Trump. Trump likes the extravagance, he likes the showiness and Netanyahu made sure they will all be there for that arrival ceremony in Tel Aviv.

VANIER: I'm surprised because, for quite a while, Mr. Trump was the darling of the Israeli right.

LIEBERMANN: Well, not going to the event or not going to the arrival ceremony isn't about politics, it's not in protest of either Netanyahu or Trump, it was just a matter of convenience it seems. But you're absolutely right on that point that when Trump was elected, the Israeli right absolutely celebrated his victory. Some even said the era of a Palestinian state is over, especially based on statements Trump had made on the campaign trail saying he would move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; recognized that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

Well, those are all promises that he almost immediately walked back after taking office -- and that's part of the reason the Israeli right's exuberance over Trump's -- weighing the presidency has cooled somewhat. Now, that he's shifted his focus much more onto a two-state solution recognizing the vision of an Israeli state and the Palestinian state. That's not something that some members of the right are that excited about and that makes this visit sensitive on very many issues that could come up here.

VANIER: Oren, as the day goes on, of course, we'll want to hear on whether Donald Trump can make any progress at all in the Middle East peace process. But first, actually, since the place of the President is soon going to be in the air about an hour from now, I want to ask you something else. I understand it's going to be the first time that there will be a direct flight from Saudi Arabia to Israel.

LIEBERMANN: As we understand it, yes. It's been a bit of a novelty item in the Israeli news media pointing out that Air Force One's flight from Riyadh to Tel Aviv will be the first direct known flight -- direct flight from Saudi Arabia to Israel. That's been a bit of curiosity here, a bit of a -- perhaps, if Trump can make some sort of progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace that maybe, just maybe, it won't be the last flight. Interestingly, the press plane that follows the President is not allowed to follow that same path and will have to go through Cyprus before arriving in Israel.

VANIER: Oren Liebermann, reporting live from Israel. Thank you so much. We'll speak to you again, of course.

So, let's speak to Ben Hartman, he's a journalist and writer. Ben, you used to work for the Jerusalem Post, tell me about this. When Donald Trump was elected, he was the dream U.S. President in many ways for Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister. He promised to be Israel's best friend. He promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem. He was extremely critical of Barack Obama and his treatment of Israel. But things are a little more complicated than that now.

[01:04:55] BEN HARTMAN, FORMER "JERUSALEM POST" JOURNALIST: Certainly, it's gotten a bit more complicated since then. What they're seeing with Trump is that he's something of an unknown commodity. He's been famous for decades but you still don't know -- from one, they go next and what he's going to do and he's quite unpredictable. And you know, regardless of the right wing, or left wing, or wherever politician stands for Israeli officials, especially Israeli security officials, what's important to them in stability and somebody who has a steady hand at the controls.

And with Trump, a lot of times we see sort of unpredictability and that something that -- while on the one hand he's conservative like Benjamin Netanyahu. And Benjamin Netanyahu is certainly happy to see a changing of the guards, happy to see Obama out of the White House. He would've wanted to see a conservative in the White House, but I don't think he ever really expected all these years to have somebody like Trump, who he doesn't really know -- from one day the next, what he's going to say.

And this last week with the whole big (INAUDIBLE) with the intelligence -- that the reports that he leaked classified intelligence to the Russians reportedly from Israel. That's really going to cast a poll over this whole visit; it's had a lot of people talking in Israel. It's going to cause a lot of anger in the security establishment. It's going to kind of, you know, sort of tarnish this meeting. Now, it's going to still go -- it's going to still be very positive -- this is after all visiting American, and America is Israel's great ally, the country that Israelis admired, emulated, want to be like.

And even Obama at the, you know, the hype -- when there's great tension Netanyahu when he came, it was a very successful trip. It was a, you know, warm greeting and a warm timing he had in Israel. But the past week, in terms of the intelligence -- the reports about the intelligence leak, that's going to really cast a fall over things. And also, all the controversies that are happening back home, it's starting to really be reported on a great deal on Israeli media and it's looking like-

VANIER: You mean the controversies with Donald Trump?

HARTMAN: Yes, certainly. Certainly, all the scandals happening back home, in Washington, are playing out -- are getting heavily reported in the Israeli press and its creating sort of a picture of a President who's a bit under sieged or a bit -- maybe not making a great -- you know, a really smooth transition into his administration.

VANIER: And what about the possibilities of kick-starting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process? I mean, no U.S. Presidents, of course, had the power and the influence to do that on their own. The circumstances have to be right. We've seen that in the past. How are the circumstances at the moment?

HARTMAN: Yes. I wouldn't bend too heavily on that. I know, Trump has said that he would want to do that. He's put his son-in-law in charge of bringing peace to the Middle East, even though, you know, for decades and decades and over a century there's been anything but that. You know, it's not a really -- peace is certainly a priority for Israel, but the Netanyahu government and Israel over the past several years have not really pursued diplomacy with the Palestinians as a chief priority. The Israeli approach for the past several and certainly Netanyahu's

approach has been more one of withdrawal and sort of -- you know, kind of a fortress to protect ourselves in withdrawal from the region. And also, we don't really have a partner on the Palestinian side, we certainly can't talk to Hamas, so the Israeli approach has been the kind of -- to put that on back burner and there's no domestic demand right now to you know, to have talks with Hamas and to our -- you know, certainly Netanyahu's adversaries on the right wing of the Israeli government. The guys to the right of him in the coalition, they would not be looking -- they would not support any sort of concessions or anything like that; he would really face that opposition. And the Israeli -- for Israeli they don't see any sort of partner.

VANIER: All right. Ben Hartman, thank you very much for your take. Thanks.

HARTMAN: Thanks for having me.

VANIER: During his stay in Riyadh, Donald Trump delivered a major speech to Muslim leaders. He called on them to drive terrorists out of their countries and he pointed out that the majority of terror victims are Muslim. Both the style and the substance of that speech stand in contrast with Mr. Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric on the campaign trail. At the time, he had called, remember, for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. But on Sunday, he stressed that the Middle East and the U.S. shared common enemies.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America is prepared to stand with you in pursuit of shared interests and common security. But the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their country, and frankly for their families and for their children. It's a choice between two futures. And it is a choice -- America cannot make for you. A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists.


VANIER: CNN's Nic Robertson is in Riyadh. Nic, yesterday you were telling me that Mr. Trump's speech on radicalism, on Islam, would need a good deal of tact. How do you think he did?

[01:10:03] NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: He certainly set out to do that to have some aspirational content in there and taught about how 95 percent of the victims of terrorism were Muslims. And he also talked, you know, very carefully saying -- you know, answering the question that was on people's minds, oh, my goodness, the President of the United States has come here to tell us how to live our lives.

I mean, that was a concern that people would have had. And he addressed that very directly -- he said I'm not here to tell you how to live your lives. We have common values and together with those shared values, we can be prepared to take on this evil. And we can provide through our common values, common security here in the region and the United States as well. But he set out I think here to put it to people that, you know, this is a shared thing that this isn't something between fates; between good and evil, this is how he explained it.


TRUMP: This is not a battle between different faiths, different sex, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life and decent people all in the name of religion. People that want to protect life and want to protect their religion. This is a battle between good and evil.


ROBERTSON: So, you asked, you know, how did he do it? And I suppose we have to judge it in part by the reactions of all those sorts of 55 Arabia's President, Prime Ministers, Kings, and et cetera that were in the room listening. You couldn't really tell from them per se, what they were thinking and feeling and how well it pinched them. But later in the day at an event that President Trump was expected to speak at, the Emirati Foreign Minister did speak. In other words, he didn't criticize the United States on a mess -- the United States and Donald Trump.

He did say, pointing the finger at Europe, that Europe cannot blame the Middle East for terrorism and extremism, that in Europe there's sort of incubation for extremism there, and that Europe needs to take responsibility for the extremism there. And then if it doesn't, in essence, there will be more extremism coming from Europe in the future than from the Middle East. So, this certainly was, if you will, some pushback on this notion of a historic reset between the West, which is how the -- how the Saudi have been coping between the than the Arab Muslim world.

VANIER: You mentioned the Muslim world, well actually, there's one major Muslim country that wasn't represented in that room, Nic. Listen to what President Trump had to say about Iran.


TRUMP: Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of countries must work together to isolate, deny it, funding for terrorism cannot do it.


VANIER: So look, Nic, we know that this region is defined by the rivalry between Sunnis and Shiites -- excuse me, Saudi Arabia and Iran. It looks like the U.S. President has clearly picked his side.

ROBERTSON: Perhaps that was part of the fundamental understanding. I mean, the narrative from the U.S. side had been always been about, we need to work together to fight ISIS, that's the terrorism the United States sees. For Saudi Arabia, Iran is a much bigger threat. They see Iran behind the Huthism in the civil war that's going on in Yemen. On their southern border, they see Iran in an expansionist mode, and Iraq across their northern border and then Syria as well.

This concerns Saudi Arabia, they feel threatened by it, they feel that the agreement between the nuclear deal between the Obama administration and Iran was bad for the region, bad for Saudi Arabia. So, to have the President stand behind them now is a strong and clear message. The king, King Salman, who spoke before President Trump was very, very clear on the Iran issue. He felt Iran is behind the terrorism in the region, they had been since the Iranian revolution in 1979.

So, really, what we were seeing here was President Trump echoing and amplifying what the Saudis have said. And that, I think, you know, was very clearly part of the bargain here. The United States is an ally to Saudi if you're an ally to Saudi that means you're going to stand with them against the threat they fear from Iran.

[01:14:38] VANIER: Nic Robertson, in Riyadh. Thank you very much. And a light aside on this trip, it looks like one of the President's men fell asleep during that key speech. Saudi Arabian T.V. captured the moment where the U.S. Commerce Secretary seems to nod off as toward the end of Mr. Trump's speech. Now, to be fair, Wilbur Ross had participated in the sword dance with the President, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Saudi officials the night before. So, in his defense, maybe it'd been a long night for the Commerce Secretary. We're going to stake a short break. When we come back: North Korea continues to defy the International Community. Pyongyang now said it's ready to mass produce and deploy a ballistic missile.

Plus, more on the impact of the U.S. President speech in Riyadh and how it was received by the Muslim world. Stay with us.


[01:17:53] (WORLD SPORT)

VANIER: North Korea is saying that its latest missile test was perfect. The medium range ballistic missiles flew about 500 kilometers before landing in the sea. According to state media leader Kim Jong-un says this type of missile is now ready for deployment and for mass production. CNN is covering the story across the region.

Will Ripley is in Tokyo, David McKenzie is in Beijing, and Paula Hancocks is in Seoul, South Korea. Paula with a start with you, each time there's a new missile test we try to gauge whether there's been any improve in Pyongyang's military. What are we learning this time?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Cyril, the South Korean defense ministry spokesman this morning, this Monday morning said that there has been knowledge gained that they said through U.S. and South Korean intelligence, North Korea has secured meaningful data for improving the credibility of its missile technology. So very clearly saying that they have made progress, and he also mentioned about the reentry process. This is something that North Korea has been working on for some time to be able to have that intercontinental ballistic missile that they say they want to be able to hit mainland United States, they have to be able to reenter a missile into the atmosphere. And clearly what they've done on Sunday and then a week ago, is showing again that they have made some progress into that. In fact, they also published on the front page of the North Korea newspaper, Rodong Sinmun some images of earth, which they say were taken from that missile as it was entering the atmosphere. So clearly this is a very significant and a worrying development for many in the region. The reentry technique is certainly tricky and it's something that most experts believe North Korea did not possess. But certainly, it shows that they are working towards that at this point, Cyril.

[01:21:08] VANIER: Will Ripley, you're currently in Tokyo. But you spent a lot of time in Pyongyang. You have been interviewed North Korean officials' countless times. They're saying they're getting ready to mass produce these are you buying it?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly. I think about the fact that North Korea owns the factories, all of the rocket scientists and manufacturers are state employees. They will work around the clock if their supreme leader orders them to do so. So as long as North Korea can secure the missile component which you know the United States is tried to sabotage and put faulty parts into the supply chain but barely it has not work in stopping the missile program which continues to accelerate. So absolutely North Korea can mass produce and rapidly grow its arsenal faster than most analyst and experts would have predicted just a short time ago.

They want to have these weapons as an insurance policy and the timing of this launch is certainly interesting because they did this just hours before President Trump's major foreign policy speech in Saudi Arabia. And this week, of course, the G.7. meeting as well. North Korea pushing itself right front and center to the conversation with government officials here in Japan saying that they will bring up the North Korean nuclear and missile program, make it a major topic of discussion really that is North Korea wants out of all of this, Cyril.

Vanier: And David McKenzie is in Beijing, you've got the Chinese angle on this. In fact, you told us earlier that China is probably not going to put a whole lot more pressure on North Korea at this stage.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't we know that necessarily. What I'm saying is that it might not publicly condemn this action. China has said repeatedly that actions in Pyongyang and North Korea need appropriate reactions. And for them what would be much more serious of course is a six-nuclear test and they say that they have been pushing the letter of the sanctions that have been in place for North Korea for some time. So any action by China will have to take place through the U.N Security Council. It's doubtful they will react in a way similar to South Korea and Japan in this current missile because really their calculation is somewhat different on this. They don't want a nuclear North Korea in China but they want the process to be led by talks and for everyone just to ease the tension. But as they continue to develop their program and seem to ignore the pleas from China and others to stop, there will possibly be a point where China says enough is enough. But at this day I don't think we're there.

VANIER: Paula in Seoul is there anything that South Korea can do because after all the people who live South Korea's especially in the capital Seoul, are on the front lines of this, and they are the potential victims, I mean narrow within range of North Korea's rockets. Are they resigned to North Korea becoming a country capable of delivering a nuclear warhead on a missile?

HANCOCKS: Well I think that there's a general expert opinion at this point Cyril. That potentially North Korea could already do that if it had one of its shorter-range missiles. And if in fact, North Korea's claim that it has miniaturized a nuclear weapon to fit onto a missile is in fact accurate. Of course, it's very difficult for experts to know whether or not that is part of the propaganda or whether or not they have that capability. People in South Korea though been living under the shadow with this threat for many decades. They've been an artillery range of North Korea for many, many years and certainly, there's an expectation that that could be a potential threat.

The official line is calling the launches reckless, irresponsible but of course, you've also got a new South Korean President here. There's a very different dynamic to what we saw before with the more hard-line approach to what North Korea from the conservative government. You have a liberal President Moon Jae-in who is pro-engagement, he's pro- dialogue with North Korea who said that he would be willing to have economic cooperation with North Korea. But of course, when you have two missile tests in two weeks, within one week, it is difficult to see how they could move that the engagement forward, Cyril.

[01:25:19] VANIER: And let's go back to Will Ripley finally in Tokyo. Will, do you feel -- let me rephrase that, recently North Korea said it would be willing to perhaps negotiate or open a dialogue or some sort of communication with the United States quote under the right circumstances. Do you think there's any shape or form that North Korea could be convinced to abandon this military technology missile and nuclear?

RIPLEY: Speaking very frankly from numerous conversation in Pyongyang with government officials, no, they have made it a part of their national constitution, they wrote it in their constitution back in 2013 that North Korea would become a nuclear power. And they have a policy where they're trying to grow their nuclear missiles program simultaneously alongside their economy and they have gone all in under their current supreme leader Kim Jong-un. And so repeatedly I have been told in North Korea has put out many public statements to the same effect that their nuclear program and their missile program is not up for negotiation. That the key is what you said Cyril, on their own terms. North Korea wants to engage with the rest of the world, but they will only do so if they are acknowledged as a nuclear power.

VANIER: All right Will Ripley, thank you very much to all of you, Paula Hancocks, Will Ripley, David McKenzie CNN across the region on this story, thanks a lot. We're going to take a short break. But after a week of stunning

political revelations, U.S. Lawmakers are asking more questions about the Russia investigation when we come back. We'll tell you what they want to know.

Plus Donald Trump urges a majority Muslims audience to join the fight against extremism. How the Muslim world is responding to his major speech.


[01:30:29] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Let's take a look at your headlines.


VANIER: Let's return to our coverage of the U.S. president's speech in Saudi Arabia. That destination was notable, as Mr. Trump's first foreign trip. This is first time a U.S. president has begun his international travel into Muslim majority country. Some aids say that was intentional to dispel notions that the president is anti-Muslim. Just last year, on the campaign trail, President Trump was not holding back on criticism of Islam and Muslims.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNIOTED STATES: I think Islam hates us. There's something there. There's a tremendous hatred there. We have to get to the bottom of it. There's unbelievable hatred of us.


TRUMP: You'll have to figure that out.


VANIER: But U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says President Trump is reaching out to the Muslim world.


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: This is one of the great attributes of this president. He's willing to call issues out, confront them, speak bluntly about them. In many ways, that motivates these countries to want to understand why the feelings in the U.S. are the way they are, but also to engage and address those. I think that's what we're seeing in this visit to Riyadh, this visit to the country that is the custodian of two holy mosques. And the president said he's learned a lot on this trip and learned about the people and the culture. It's a really important process in terms of how we move forward with this relationship between the Muslim world and non-Muslim world.


VANIER: In a room full of Muslim leaders, Trump called for unity in what he characterized as a battle between good and evil. How did the Muslim world feel about his speech?

Here's CNN's Muhammad Lila.


MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Reactions to President Donald Trump's speech depend on where you are in the Muslim world and what role you want the United States to play. If you're in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait or the UAE, what President Trump said has to be reassuring. He avoided the controversial statements he made during the election campaign and spoke about Islam in glowing terms. And singling out Saudi Arabia, the host countries. It has to be music to the ears of the gulf leaders. That's something they have bye-bye calling on to take a more forceful approach. It looks like they got exactly what they were hoping for. But on the other hand, if you're from Syria or Lebanon or Iraq or Iran, Yemen, Bahrain or one of the opposition groups in the Middle East, the message that you might have gotten out of the speech is it came across as slightly sectarian. Donald Trump was in Saudi Arabia, but made no mention of the fact that, on 9/11, 15 of the hijackers came from Saudi Arabia or what's happening next door in Yemen where a campaign led to a massive fear of starvation. A child dies every 10 minutes in Yemen because of malnutrition, something Donald Trump did not mention. If you're one of those countries that does not appreciate the United States' role in the Middle East, one of the takeaways is that the U.S. foreign policy as far as it comes across until the Muslim world is that foreign policy is for sale and was just sold to the highest bidder in Saudi Arabia, which just agreed to buy $100 billion worth of weapons from the U.S.

Muhammad Lila, CNN, Istanbul.


[01:35:43] VANIER: Some Republican lawmakers are taking cautious steps away from President Trump after last week's developments in the Russia investigation. Senator Marco Rubio, who was an adversary of Donald Trump during the campaign, is vowing to get answers to what he called the cloud of questions about Russian influence in the 2016 election. The House Intelligence Committee is asking for documents from a Trump campaign communications adviser.

Also this, the national security adviser says the president did raise the firing of FBI Director James Comey in his meetings with the foreign minister. "The New York Times" reported he called Comey a nut job during that meeting.


GEN. H.R. MCMAASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I don't remember exactly what the president said and the notes that they have I do not think are a direct transcript, but just the conversation was that the president feels as if he's ham strung in his ability to work with Russia to find areas of cooperation because there's been so much in the news. That was the intention of that portion of the conversation.


VANIER: Senator John McCain called the probe a scandal. History shows two ways this can be handled.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA: With the appointment of Mr. Mueller, we're at that stage of a scandal. The question is how is it handled? The way Watergate was and every day they want more, or like Ronald Reagan handled the Iran/Contra, the scandal. He fired people, he went on national television and said we made mistakes and did wrong and not going to do it again.


VANIER: James Comey is scheduled to testify to Congress about the investigation. A member of the House Intelligence Committee told CNN's Jake Tapper what he wants to hear from Mr. Comey.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D), CALIFORNIA: I think the most important thing in light of the reports are to find out was he being pressured by the president to drop any part of the investigation. I think those allegations concerning Mr. Flynn and whether they asked him to back off are among the most serious we have heard. So I would like to hear from the director about that. I would like to find out whether he kept notes of those meetings. And whether there were any other interactions with the president made him feel uncomfortable, made him feel that the president was acting inappropriately or trying to interfere or impede in the investigation.


VANIER: There were also new questions about the role of Mike Pence in the Michael Flynn investigation.

Athena Jones has more on that.


ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Michael Flynn, the latest bombshell involving former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is raising questions about what Vice President Mike Pence knew and when he knew it. The "New York Times" reporting Flynn told President Trump's transition team more than two weeks before the inauguration he was under investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkish interests during the campaign.

Pence led the transition effort, but the first time he learned of the ties was in March when the general registered with the Department of Justice as a foreign agent. A move that seemed to surprise the Mike Pence at the time.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me say, hearing that story today was the first I heard of it. And I fully support the decision President Trump made to ask for his resignation.

JONES: A top aid saying the vice president stands by his comments in March upon hearing the news. And fully supports the president's decision to ask for General Flynn's resignation. That, despite the vice president receiving a warning about Flynn's foreign ties in a letter last November from Elijah Cummings.

REP ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D), MARYLAND: I sent him a lengthy letter, warning him of --

JONES: The letter detailed Flynn's lobbying work for a Turkish firm and the payment he received for a speech in Moscow that was "highly critical of the United States."

During the height of the campaign, Flynn's consulting firm was paid more than half a million dollars by a Turkish-owned company. Cummings said Pence later said he had no recollection of receiving the document.

[01:40:06] CUMMINGS: When I asked him about it later on, he doesn't remember getting it.

JONES: Adding of Flynn --

CUMINGS: I find it interesting that he told people in the White House about the fact he was being investigated. I mean, come on now. At some point, you say, duh?

JONES: Pence, who often acted as a translator dating back to the campaign --

PENCE: Donald Trump is a good man.

JONES: -- is facing a growing credibility problem. Last week, on Capitol Hill, after the sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey, Pence repeated the White House line seven times, stating that the decision to fire Comey was based on a recommendation from the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.

PENCE: He provided strong leadership to act on the recommendation of the deputy attorney general.

JONES: Only to be contradicted by the president hours later.

TURMP: I was going to fire Comey, my decision. I was going to fire him regardless.

JONES: After reports surfaced that Flynn discussed sanctions with Russia's ambassador during the transition, the vice president dismissed them.

PENCE: What I can confirm is those conversations that happened to occur around the time that the United States took action to expel diplomats. Had nothing to do with those sanctions.

JONES: A move that ultimately cost the national security adviser his job.


VANIER: Staying with Mike Pence, the U.S. vice president got a frosty reception from graduating students on Sunday. The V.P. was giving the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame in his home state of Indiana, but dozens of students decided to take a stand against his policies and they walked out on his speech.



PENCE: Thank you all.



VANIER: This is a student group called We Stand For. They say Pence marginalized people when he was governor and that he's doing the same thing now as vice president.

We're going to take a short break. When we come back, something you do not see every day. Not two or three, but four water spouts all touching down at the same time. Details on this unusual weather event.

Plus, the prom photos these kids will never forget, thanks to a photo bomb by Justin Trudeau, Canada's prime minister.


[01:45:58] VANIER: This is pretty cool and rare sight off the coast of Greece. Four water spouts touched down simultaneously.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now.

I didn't even know what that was.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I was going to ask if you have seen a tornado or water spout in person, but the conversation we had before answered that.

It's fascinating. It's something that can take your life in a matter of minutes. It's extremely dangerous. But at the same time, it's mesmerizing so you're standing there looking at them. Footage is fascinating to get four of them setting up shop. This is in the western periphery of Greece. A couple other ones have already formed. We're talking about water spouts. They are over water. Once they cross land, they are a tornado. Want to show you the perspective in the last several days. We had three other ones in the vicinity come down. One of the lines I always remember from my professor in school. If you're outside chasing storms looking for anything like this, if you have one around, you're looking at another one directly above you. You take a look at the perspective. Ten tornadoes per year is what they expect. Notice the countries in 50. 50 out of the United Kingdom. That area of land is the largest number of tornadoes for any location on earth given its smallest land area. Parts of Greece, but eight tornadoes touch down every sing year. We had seven water spouts. Warm water and warm air directly above that warm water. They form at the surface level and go up to the cloud. But again, if this crosses over land, you have yourself a tornado. That's going to become extremely dangerous and deadly in a few spots. Every continent has experienced tornadoes. The mid-latitudes are the most prevalent. Really fascinating to break this town. Parts of the United States in general, the land area of the United States compared to the land area of Europe, is almost identical. Notice the fatalities every single year per part of the world. Five in Europe while in the United States 72 fatalities. The ingredients in place much more readily across parts of the United States. And we have a storm system right there in the bottom corner of your screen exiting the region. So we could see sol additional severe weather.

VANIER: I just thought they were tornadoes on water. I didn't know they had had a special name.


VANIER: Pedram Javaheri, thank you very much. A pleasure to have you on as always.

JAVAHERI: Thanks, yeah.

VANIER: After five long years, Real Madrid finally won the title back from Barcelona. Fans are celebrating like crazy, says Madrid. Ronaldo scoring in the second minute. Making another after the break, final score, 2-0. It's the first win under the new coach.

Still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM.


[01:50:00] GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What would you ask?

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: What's your favorite part about being president.

TUCHMAN: What do you think his answer would be?



VANIER: Elementary school students give Trump an early report card.

Stay with us.


VANIER: Day after day, TV political pundits give their take on President Trump. What do the mini pundits say? Gary Tuchman asked elementary school students for their take on the



TUCHMAN: This is the Swift Water Elementary School in Pennsylvania. In the heart of the Pocono Mountains. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton finished within 1 percent of each other in this county.

We are sitting here with some of the third graders at Swift Water Elementary.

Are you ready to talk about President Trump?


TUCHMAN: What do you think Donald Trump is being investigated about?

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: I think he's being investigated about, like, how he got elected as president. And if he's working with the Russians or not.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Investigating him to see if Russia was in the campaign to give them more votes.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: It would be good to know if it's real or not. Not investigating to see if he ate a sandwich or not.

TUCHMAN: It would not be popular. A waste of taxpayer money.

What do you think is the best thing Donald Trump has done so far?


TUCHMAN: He's been talking about them but hasn't done it yet. It's a good promise.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: I think the best thing so far is promising to lower taxes because I don't want to be 80 and paying a million dollars for taxes.

TUCHMAN: How much do you want to pay?


TUCHMAN: Give me an amount.


TUCHMAN: What don't you like about what he's done so far?

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Building the wall was a bad idea. What if it someone was in Mexico and stayed there for a couple years and when the wall was built they won't be able to get back home.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Building the walls. Because people from Mexico might want to go back to the United States.

TUCHMAN: So Donald Trump gave a graduation speech. I want you to watch this and we'll talk about it.


TRUMP: No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.


UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: It's not true. He said mean stuff about Barack Obama that he was born in Africa and that's not true.

[01:55:11] TUCHMAN: Maybe Donald Trump is hurting deep down inside and needs to get it out.

Do any of you think that's maybe true?


TUCHMAN: Do any of you feel sorry for him?



TUCHMAN: If President Trump walked in and said what do you want to tell me.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: How much money do you make per day.

TUCHMAN: Good question. He's a financially minded guy. He would probably answer it.

What would you ask.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: What's your favorite part about being president.

TUCHMAN: What do you think his answer would be?


TUCHMAN: It's been a pleasure talking with you thank you for inviting us here.

STUDENTS: You're welcome.


VANIER: That's pretty amazing.

Now in Vancouver, a pretty cool photo bomb. The guy in the shorts on the waterfront has a pretty good job. He's prime minister of Canada. That's Justin Trudeau. He was visiting Vancouver and went for a run along the water front. The students were in their prom clothes. Pretty cool photo. The students spotted him and asked to pose with him. He didn't say no.

That's it from us. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier.

At the top of the hour, behind the des desk, Rosemary Church and George Howell. You're in good hands. Thank you for watching.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Becky Anderson, in Jerusalem, where U.S. President Donald Trump will be in just a few hours.