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Trump to Israel Monday to Kick Off Peace Talks; Trump Delivers Major Address to Muslim Leaders; U.S. & Saudi Leaders Call Iran Terrorists; North Korea Tests Missile Capability; Pence Gets Icy Reception at Notre Dame Graduation; Toddler Rescue Caught on Video in Topeka. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 22, 2017 - 02:00   ET




[02:00:40] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm George Howell. Thank you for being with us. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. president is heading to Israel after kicking off his first international trip in Saudi Arabia. He gave a major speech to Muslim and Arab leaders Sunday and called on them to drive out terrorists. He has a busy couple of days coming up in Israel and the West Bank. He's set to visit several key religious sites in Jerusalem, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and a wreath laying ceremony at the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. He has meetings scheduled with the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and in Bethlehem, with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Our correspondent, Oren Liebermann, is joining us now.

Oren, the president has called a solution to this conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians the ultimate deal and he says he doesn't think this is as difficult as people make out. Is it?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Some of the issues are far easier than they have been out to be, including the right of return Jerusalem borders, security. The major problem, though, has been the lack of political will on both sides at the same time. And that will be the question President Donald Trump faces. Can he make sure the prime minister of Israel and the Palestinian president have the will to make necessary concessions to make peace.

ANDERSON: What sort of leverage to the U.S. president have over both parties?

LIEBERMANN: Arguably more than former President Barack Obama. With the Palestinians, Trump is off to a great start with the Arab states. Specifically, the Saudis. He can use the Saudis, the Egyptians, the Jordanians, to pressure the Palestinians to make concessions. The U.S. also gives the Palestinians $440 million a year in aid. That can be increased or decreased as he sees fit to use that leverage. For the Israelis, he has more options. If Trump were to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, which is land Israel seized from Syria 50 years ago in the Six Day War, that would be a major political win for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and give him some room to maneuver politically to make concessions. He could do the same when it comes to Jonathan Pollard, an American spy, convicted for working for Israel. If Trump releases Pollard from the terms of his probation and lets him come to Israel, again, another win for Netanyahu. There's also the option of moving the embassy, by far, the most sensitive of Trump's options. And Trump can bring Democratic and Republican pressure to bear on Prime Minister Netanyahu to make concessions. So Trump has quite a few options when it comes to the leverage he has over both leaders.

ANDERSON: Oren Liebermann reporting for you.

For more, I'm joined by Amotz Asa-El, a senior commentator for the "Jerusalem Post."

This conflict has defied the peacemaking efforts of successive U.S. administrations. What likelihood that Trump can cut the ultimate deal here?

AMOTZ ASA-EL, SENIOR COMMENTATOR, JERUSALEM POST: I think that the likelihood is low. The reason is it's very prosaic. What we've seen so far is restored network of American alliances in the Middle East that Barack Obama disrupted. This has been restored before his arrival. But yesterday what we saw and today what we'll see here in Jerusalem is the restoration of the spirit of alliance between the United States and the Sunni powers of the Middle East and with Israel. All of this is what he will accomplish. Concerning the conflict, you're asking about, in order for change to arrive, you need a will from below or some gravitas from above. I don't think we'll see either of these in the case of Donald Trump.

[02:05:12] ANDERSON: He certainly reached out to both parties. Have some been surprised how conciliatory he's been, or how much of an extension of that. So what approach do you expect the American administration to take on solving this conflict?

ASA-EL: It won't be up to them. That's why it's going to be so frustrating for this administration to learn, because Mahmoud Abbas, there is no way for him to escape the chasm that's emerged between him and Gaza. It's not just geography. It's attitude towards secularism and religion. And what he faces in Gaza, namely a very hostile Hamas that defies his very leadership, the rightful leadership. He can't confront that. As long as Hamas is there, and can't pacify them, he can't volunteer to make concessions to Israel while they are breathing down his neck.

ANDERSON: Some will argue there are elements in the Israeli administration who are also absolutely determined they will not concede anything in this solution. ASA-EL: That's very true, but Netanyahu does have the political

option of bypassing them. If the situation will behind that. Suppose we would have faced today Palestinian leadership with the kind of charisma and following that Anwar Sadat yielded, then Netanyahu would either be willing to delete from his coalition those components that are to his right or face such demand from the street. There's no equivalent dynamics in the Palestinian side.

ANDERSON: Let's start with the most contentious of issues is. Will we see an announcement of the move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? This is a hotly contested city, of course, for both sides.

ASA-EL: I find that very difficult to foresee. Although I should caution the viewers I did not see Trump's victory, like everyone else. So I'm not such a good prophet despite my very biblical name. But if you're asking for my forecast, I don't see America relocating its embassy in the immediate future. We've been there in the past and no reason to believe this president is any different.

ANDERSON: Amotz Asa-El, pleasure having you on, Sir. Your analysis is extremely important. Thank you.

ASA-EL: Thank you, Becky.

ANDERSON: Mr. Trump will arrive in Israel after giving a major speech in Saudi Arabia Sunday, speaking to Muslim leaders. He has a lot to say about terrorism, but not so much on human rights.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are not here to lecture. We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership based on shared interest and values. A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists. Drive them out. Drive them out! Out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land. And drive them out of this earth.


ANDERSON: Well, for more on Mr. Trump's speech, CNN's Nic Robertson is in Riyadh for you.

Nic, "The Washington Post" this morning describing the speech as a sop soaked in platitudes for the Saudi agenda in the Middle East. What's your interpretation?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, I think that clip that you played there kind of encapsulates the four elements of the speech. There was the reassuring we've got your backs. There was the aspirational, this is for your children. There was the conjoeling, come on, we need to be honest and face this issue. And there was the demanding, as well, which is get them out of your land. You know, the sort of -- the tone and the kay dance was a softer tone and kay dance. White House officials said that they felt he was stronger than they had anticipated. It was absolutely 180-degrees difference to President Trump on the campaign trail with his strong anti-Muslim rhetoric. The reference, of course, to his travel ban or his desired travel ban that effects seven Muslim-majority countries. So my perception is he was pitching it to the audience. It was a pitch to an audience, and they had not met President Trump before or read anything about him or cared about what goes on in the Oval Office and at the White House. They might have felt walking away from that, here's guy who gets us. So "The Washington Post" point there was he was catering to his audience. Absolutely he was. But it was certainly ignoring some of the other audiences for sure, the human rights just one.

[02:10:45] ANDERSON: Nic Robertson is successfully competing with the sound of helicopters above him. A busy Saudi, of course, in Riyadh.

Nic, both Saudi and American leaders accused Iran of terrorism. Here's what Saudi's King Salman had to say.


KING SALMAN OF SAUDI ARABIA (through translation): One of the most important goals of Islamic sharia is perfecting life, and that there is no honor in committing murder. Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. These acts are the products of attempts to exploit Islam as a cover for political purposes who claim hatred, extremism, terrorism, and religious and sectarian conflicts, as the Iranian regime and the groups and organizations tied to it do, such as Hezbollah, as well as Daesh and others.


ANDERSON: That was the king of Saudi Arabia. The U.S. president had similar words. Have a listen.


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


ANDERSON: Clearly, these warnings from both the U.S. and Saudi to Iran, Nic, will be music to the ears of the Israeli leadership. Here we are seeing, are we not, the burgeoning it seems of a regional alliance or relationship between the U.S., Saudi, and Israel that some might call rather strange bedfellows.

ROBERTSON: Yeah, there are certainly are areas of commonality. I think we're hearing the helicopter again. That's an indication that President Trump isn't far away. He's due to go to the airport shortly. This helicopter was flying around when he arrived. That's just the back ground here in a busy Riyadh. There are other areas of commonality where the Saudis and the Israelis

would like to see peace in the region. It was very notable in the speech that the king speaking, President Trump speaking. But you had King Abdullah of Jordan speaking. And you also had President Sisi of Egypt speaking. So it certainly seems to be on the burner, maybe not the back burner, maybe not the front burner, but the burner of the agenda here. So absolutely, commonalities, but huge differences still, the fact that the president is flying directly from Saudi Arabia to Israel is a first. So that kind of shows you just some of the regional rifts that still exist. But these countries actually do have common interests. And if President Trump can grasp and use that, he might be able to move forward.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson is in Riyadh. President Trump and his delegation will be leave thing in about half hour time. We'll see those shots as they come into us.

Nic, thank you.

To both of you back at headquarters, for the time being, that's it for me. Back at the bottom of the hour.

HOWELL: Becky, thank you.

The other big story we're following, North Korea saying that it launched another missile, that its nuclear program is making progress.

[02:14:51] CHURCH: Pyongyang claims it is ready to mass produce and deploy a ballistic missile. CNN is across the region. We'll be back in just a moment with that.




HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. A new threat from North Korea. That country now saying that it is ready to deploy and mass produce a medium range ballistic missile.

CHURCH: According to state media, Leader Kim Jong-Un said the latest test of the missile was perfect. It flew about 500 kilometers Sunday before landing in the sea. That is a shorter range than North Korea's last missile launch about a week ago.

CNN is across the region.

Let's start with our Paula Hancocks in Seoul, South Korea.

Paula, two missile tests within a week and North Korea saying it's ready to mass produce this missile. How likely is it that they have progressed that far and how concerned should we be?

[02:19:41] PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, we heard experts believe that that particular launch was one of the most successful missile launches North Korea had ever carried out. So clearly there is progress being made. Experts in South Korea and the United States are admitting that there has been significant progress made. The defense ministry here in Seoul, just this Monday morning saying the U.S. and South Korean intelligence shows that North Korea has secured meaningful data for improving the credibility of its missile technology. So they are openly accepting that North Korea is making progress. One interesting part of the missile test that happened on Sunday is what we're seeing on the front page of the North Korean newspaper this Monday morning. They have images, of course, of the North Korean leader looking delighted with scientists and his aides around him and the missile launch. Also images of earth, which the newspaper claims was taken from the missile itself as it was going into the atmosphere. This is crucial, because the reentry process is one that's, up until recently, experts did not believe North Korea had the ability to do. This is crucial for a longer-range missile, for an intercontinental ballistic missile. They have to be able to reenter this missile into the atmosphere. And as far as North Korea is concerned, they are showing the world that they are working on that capability.

HOWELL: Let's talk about the reaction in Seoul. So we've seen that nation in transition. A new president there, who has made it clear that he's open to more engagement with North Korea. This latest missile test, how is that new leadership there?

HANCOCKS: That's right. The second since Moon Jae-in took power in this country. The official line of the South Korean government is that it's reckless and irresponsible. But you're right. Moon has pledged that he's pro diplomacy and pro dialogue with North Korea. It makes it very difficult to see how he's going to be able to counter that with these constant missile launches that we are seeing from North Korea. Even suggestions of dialogue are not showing Kim Jong-Un down in any way, shape, or form.

HOWELL: Paula Hancocks, joining us there from Seoul, South Korea. Many thanks.

HOWELL: Let's get some perspective from two other key countries in in crisis. China, for one, seen as the key to leveraging stability in the region.

David McKenzie is live in Beijing. And Will Ripley in Tokyo with reaction from Japan.

Will, first, what has been the response from Japan to this latest provocation?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Condemnation from the highest levels of the Japanese government. We heard today and yesterday after the launch from both the Japanese prime minister saying that Japan will not tolerate this kind of thing. The prime minister saying he will bring this up with President Trump at the g7 meeting this week, making North Korea one of the main issues on the agenda there, which is what North Korea wants. They did this launch just hours before President Trump's major foreign policy speech in Saudi Arabia. And last week, we saw them with that very successful missile test just ahead of the Chinese President Xi Jinping's major global economic forum. So clearly North Korea know it is they launch missiles, people will be talking about them, including world leaders.

HOWELL: Will, given you extensive reporting and travels throughout North Korea, help our viewers understand the mindset of the leadership there in North Korea. Just a moment ago, we saw an image of Kim Jong- Un with a big smile on his face, overseeing this missile launch. Is there any desire to engage what the rest of the world, and is there an openness to abandoning nuclear weapons as world powers are demanding?

RIPLEY: Question number one, there is a desire to engage with the rest of the world on North Korea's own terms. Question two, no willingness at all has been expressed for North Korea willing to abandon their nuclear programs. Officials told me that their nuclear and missile program is not up for negotiation. This is a country that for more than 70 years has told its people that they are living under the imminent threat of invasion, from hostile forces that they believe want to topple their Socialist system. The government has justified to its citizens, the tremendous amount of money they spend on developing these weapons, that they're under this threat. So these weapons they view as an insurance policy to protect their national sovereignty.

[02:25:01] HOWELL: Will, thank you for the report.

CHURCH: Let's go now to David McKenzie in Beijing.

David, how is China likely to respond to this news, that North Korea is ready to mass produce this missile, how concerned would China be?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORERSPONDENT: Rosemary, it's been around 24 hours since the news first came out of this missile test and China hasn't said anything. In fact, that's not entirely surprising, because in the past when these missiles have been tested, it kind of is China saying well, the reaction needs to be appropriate for the action. And in China's view at least, a medium range missile test, would certainly anger the Chinese, they're likely not to rush out a quick statement. We're expecting to hear from them in the next hour or so at their regular briefing, but this is not something they regard in quite the same way as say the Japanese and South Koreans. So there really is a sense that the Chinese want to continue pressure, but to move any increase of pressure on the North Korean regime through the U.N. Security Council. I don't think this will merit in the Chinese eyes doing that.

CHURCH: And, David, what more are we learning about this unique relationship between North Korea and China and whether Beijing still has the influence over North Korea that it used to enjoy?

MCKENZIE: Certainly, most experts believe that influence has waned over time. That's not necessarily because of the ties between the two countries economically. China is by far the biggest trading partner of its long-time ally North Korea. But on the diplomatic front and the leadership front, you haven't had any kind of meeting between Kim Jong-Un and Chinese top leadership since Kim came into power. That speaks to the waning and perhaps straining relationship between the two countries. China has repeatedly said they don't want a North Korea with nuclear weapons and has asked the North Koreans to stop, but that's been ignored in recent years.

CHURCH: Many thanks to our David McKenzie joining us live from Beijing, where it's nearly 2:30 in the afternoon.

Coming up, U.S. President Donald Trump is on his way to Israel right now from Saudi Arabia.

HOWELL: He said he's getting a Middle East peace deal, and it may not be as difficult as some they have thought. We'll take a look at what his visit could achieve, as NEWSROOM continues.


[02:31:21] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: A warm welcome to our viewers around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm George Howell, with the headlines we're following for you this hour.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: All right, more now on U.S. President Donald Trump's visit here to Israel. He arrives in Tel Aviv in just a few hours. Mr. Trump has been pushing for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Listen to what he said about that when the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington back in February.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm looking at a two state and one state, and I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one that both parties like. I could live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two. But honestly, if Bebe, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I'm happy with the one they like the best.


ANDERSON: My colleague, Oren Liebermann, is with me here.

Oren, is it clear at this stage which option is most likely, if any, at this point?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, anything is more clear than the answer he gave there. That was seen as a very uninformed answer about the conflict. Yet his position has fallen into line that it's only a two-state solution. Certainly, the Arab states would have said it's got to be a two-state solution and that looks very much like what Trump is pursuing, a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians and a traditional two-state solution. ANDERSON: And minutes from now, Donald Trump will be leaving Saudi.

He's been there for two days. During that trip, it was very clear that the U.S. administration under Donald Trump was aligning itself very much with not just Saudi Arabia, but with the gulf states. And an effort it seems as he makes a journey to Tel Aviv and then into Jerusalem and then on to Bethlehem, where he will be pushing what feels like rather old alliance between Saudi and the gulf, the U.S., and Israel at this point.

[02:35:20] LIEBERMANN: It's essentially a de facto alliance between Israel and the Sunni Arab states all standing up against Iran. There's little doubt that there's some sort of communication between the Israelis and the Saudis and perhaps some of the other Arab states as well. A lot of that is because of Iran's growing influence in the region and the need by the Saudis and others to counter that. So it is that strange situation. And that rare situation in the Middle East where the enemy of your enemy is indeed your friend. It doesn't always work out that way in the Middle East. That perhaps is the legacy, at least the immediate legacy, of President Obama's Iran nuclear deal, that it has created a de facto alliance between Israel and the gulf states. It won't move out into the open until Israel and the Palestinians make some sort of progress on peace. Then perhaps you'll see a willingness by Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states to normalize relations with Israel. But it's critical that first comes some sort of steps on peace from the Israelis, at least from the perspective of Saudi Arabia and the other states.

ANDERSON: Oren Liebermann reporting. Thank you.

Back in March, President Trump hosted the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House. He said then that achieving a Middle East peace deal is maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years, but he added there needs to be two willing parties. The president spoke again about his desire to see a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Have a listen.


TRUMP: For many centuries, the Middle East has been home to Christians, Muslims, and Jews living side by side. We must practice tolerance and respect for each other once again and make this region a place where every man and woman, no matter their faith or ethnicity, can enjoy a life of dignity and hope.

I will travel to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and then to the Vatican, visiting many of the holiest places in the three Abrahamic faiths. If these three faiths can join together in cooperation, then peace in this world is possible, including peace between Israelis and Palestinians.


ANDERSON: An optimistic note there.

Fellow for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Neri Zilber, is here with us now. He certainly has said all the right things so as far as a solution to the conflict is concerned here. But just how difficult will this be? There have been successive U.S. administrations that have tried and failed.

NERI ZILBER, FELLOW, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: That's absolutely right, going back decades. Look, President Trump warrants what he calls the ultimate deal. He's laid it out publicly. I think as the issue has been for presidents going back decades, the devil will be in the details. We expect President Trump to be able to perhaps get both parties. Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas into a program. I don't think that will be the difficult part. I think both parties don't want to anger this president, so they'll very much try to play ball, at least initially. But after they get into a room, that's where the sticky details come in.

ANDERSON: And the optics would look great. I'm sure that President Donald Trump would love to see that shot broadcast around the world. But it's exactly to your point is what happens when they get in that room. What are their positions at this point as you understand it?

ZILBER: It's no secret both parties are quite far apart as far as coming to what people understand to be a solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the two-state solution and everything that entails. At least in the beginning, both parties will have to show flexibility. Even the king of Saudi Arabia said mutual concessions. So on the Israeli side, perhaps a curb to settlement construction. On the Palestinian side, an end to incitement. But those things, if Trump can get them, will obviously be positive.

[02:39:58] ANDERSON: Is an embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem now off the table? That would be very contentious, wouldn't it? What some experts describe as the top down approach, others describe as the nuclear approach.

ZILBER: Right, depending on who you talk to, both sides have different opinions on the move. The U.S. administration has said it's not on the table at the moment. They haven't taken it off the table, so it might be a card to be played down the road. But they understand reality is reality, and if they want some kind of peace process opposed to the exact opposite, moving them to Jerusalem, doing some that contentious will not be helpful.

ANDERSON: It has to be said that the trip to Saudi was cloaked in great pomp and ceremony. I mean, Donald Trump regales over the 48 hours that he was there. What sort of treatment, what sort of welcome will he receive here in Israel?

ZILBER: Israel doesn't quite do pomp and ceremony quite like the Saudi kingdom, but I think it will be quite warm. Everyone will say the right things. I think optics will be very good. I think everyone should listen to President Trump's words. I think the words tomorrow in his speech, at the Israel museum, will be important to perhaps put some meat on this wider idea of cutting an ultimate deal between the two parties.

ANDERSON: Neri Zilber, thanks for joining us.

ZILBER: A pleasure.

ANDERSON: We're going to take a short break and get back to my colleagues at CNN headquarters.

Back to you, guys.

HOWELL: Becky, thank you.

As President Trump heads to his next stop, his troubles at home may be deepening. The questions U.S. lawmakers are asking are ahead.

CHURCH: Mike Pence gives a graduation speech, and why some students walked out on the vice president. That's coming up in just a moment.


[02:45:16] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Republican lawmakers are beginning to distance themselves from President Trump after a week of stunning political revelations about the Russia investigation. The House intelligence committee is asking for documents from the Trump campaign communications adviser. President Trump calls the investigation a witch hunt. But Republican Senator Marco Rubio says the public deserves answers.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA: I wouldn't use the term witch hunt. These issues are being raised in the press. People are going to the press, who appear to be in the know, or at least pretend to be, they leak information and the press reports on it. Unlike some other people, I am one of the 15 people in the Senate that serve on the Senate intelligence committee. A lot of people say you're being very cautious about this. I am, because the credibility of this investigation depends on every single one of us going in without preconceived notions. I want to know the truth, the entire truth. And I want us to put it in a report and share it with you and the whole country so people can reach their own conclusion.


HOWELL: And in the meantime, James Comey has agreed to testify at a public hearing in the coming weeks. Congressional committees have a number of areas of concern.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D), CALIFORNIA: At this point, I can't tell you that X, Y, or Z is the focus of our investigation. Certainly, we're looking at the issue of collusion, and that's a key issue for us. We also want to make sure that we oversee the work of the Justice Department to make sure there's no impeding the investigation there. Another part of our key responsibility.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOWELL: Right now, to the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. He got an icy reception at the University of Notre Dame's graduation ceremony.

CHURCH: Dozens of students stood up and walked out on his speech.

Rosa Flores reports.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT): The students who stood up and walked out of their commencement ceremony said it best, they said that this is their graduation day, and they graduated from a Catholic university. And on this campus, they learned about religious freedom for all, not just for Christians, but for their Muslim brothers and sisters. They say they learned about standing up for the marginalized, if poor, the LBGTQ community, and these teachings are straight from Pope Francis, and they don't believe Mike Pence re represents those teachings.


UNIDENTIFIED NOTRE DAME STUDENT: If you are trying to silence and not listen to one group and their families, then you're not listening to any of us. That was a speech -- or what we wanted to say today, to the administration, more so than anyone else, the administration. You need to listen to our concerns when you decide who to invite to our graduation.


FLORES: So context is important here, because about 3100 students received degrees, and between 75 and 100 students stood up and walked out once Vice President Mike Pence began to speak.


HOWELL: Rosa Flores, thank you.

CHURCH: We'll take a short break here. Still to come, Ringling Brothers Circus bids a final farewell.

HOWELL: Why the greatest show on earth is coming to an end after almost 150 years.

Stay with us.




[02:52:43] CHURCH: The greatest show on earth has taken its find bow. After nearly 150 years, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus held its final performance in New York.

HOWELL: Declining ticket sales forced the circus to call it quits. The final show was sold out and live-streamed online.

Now I want to tell you about a rescue caught on camera in Kansas. A police officer spotted an autistic toddler walking alone in a park.

CHURCH: There weren't any adults around, and suddenly, the boy disappeared from view.

Our Stephanie Elam tells us what happened next.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Had Police Officer Aaron Balmer arrived at Topeka's Central Park any later, the outcome could have been tragic. He was responding to a robbery call, but found a 3-year-old autistic child who desperately needed help.

OFC. AARON BALMER, TOPEKA POLICE DEPARTMENT: I turn and look and a see a small child about 100 yards away.

ELAM (on camera): Did you see any adults nearby? What were you looking for?

BALMER: No adults. I glanced at him. He looked like my own son. I went around the block, but I lost sight of him. And that concerned me.

ELAM (voice-over): Following his gut, Balmer gets out of his police cruiser.

BALMER: Two or three seconds later, I see Elijah basically drowning right there in the pond.

ELAM: Officer Balmer breaks into a sprint.


ELAM: Elijah is wallowing face down in the water.

BALMER: He was struggling. Then I saw his face in the water and I could see that he was just gasping for air.

ELAM: Without breaking a stride, Officer Balmer jumps in to save Elijah --


ELAM: Nearly seven feet tall, he's standing waist deep in the water.

BALMER: I've got a kid that fell into the pond.

ELAM: -- before handing the boy to a good Samaritan.

Meanwhile, Elijah's father is frantically looking for his son. With his wife at work and their four other children at church, Jacob Hamby had given Elijah some chocolate milk and put on his favorite TV show. He even checked to make sure the doors were locked. JACKLYN HAMBY, MOTHER OF ELIJAH: He said, I went to the bathroom and when I came out, I didn't see him in the bedroom. And he realized the back door was open.

ELAM: Elijah's parents didn't realize their youngest son figured out how to undo the locks. Since he was wearing socks, he made no noise as he slipped out.

Father and son were reunited at the ambulance after officers heard him yelling for Elijah.

Thankfully, Elijah is OK.

(on camera): What do you think would have happened if Officer Balmer hadn't spotted Elijah in the park?

[02:55:26] HAMBY: I fear I would have lost a child that day.

BALMER: He would have drowned. I mean, I would have said, 30 seconds to a minute. But if I wasn't there, he would have drowned.

ELAM: But thanks to his training as a police officer and his instincts as a part, that wasn't the case.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Topeka, Kansas.



CHURCH: Incredible outcome there. It could have gone another way.

HOWELL: Indeed.

CHURCH: I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell.

The news continues right after the break.


[02:59:58] ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson, in Jerusalem, where U.S. President Trump will be in just a few hours to try to kickstart peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Trump arrives in Tel Aviv from Saudi Arabia where he urged Muslim leaders to --