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Trump Ends Overseas Trip But Firestorm Over Russia Grows; Moscow Dismisses Reports of Proposed Backchannel; Trump Calls Overseas Trip a Home Run; Great Manchester Run Goes Ahead Despite Attack; British Airways Aiming for Near Normal Service; FBI Investigates If Portland Attack is a Hate Crime; Racist Rants Recorded on Cellphones; Trump Shows Solidarity With Philippines' Duterte; Trump Voters Question Budget Cuts; Aired 4-5a ET

Aired May 28, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:09] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. president Donald Trump returns home to controversy. Waiting for him at the front door steps the latest over contact between his son-in-law Jared Kushner and Russian operatives.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: In Manchester, city wide event planned around a bank holiday are going forward just days after the terror attack there. We'll have a live report.

HOWELL: And hundreds of passengers stranded when British Airways suspended flights out of London's two biggest airports. Wow. We're live at Heathrow for an update on that story. My goodness.

ALLEN: That couldn't be fun.

HOWELL: No. It does not look fun at all.

ALLEN: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell, from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. NEWSROOM starts right now.

ALLEN: Our top story U.S. president Donald Trump back at the White House after an eight-day trip to the Middle East and Europe but while he was gone the political firestorm back home over Russian meddling in the election grew even bigger.

HOWELL: To the heart of this latest controversy is the president's close adviser, his own son-in-law Jared Kushner. You see the U.S. president Donald Trump there. This video taken earlier as he returned to Washington. Reporters asked Mr. Trump about it as he walked to the White House with the first lady.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, did Jared try to set up a back channel to the Russians?


HOWELL: The president --



ALLEN: As you just saw Mr. Trump would not answer.

For the latest on what happens next, here's CNN's Ryan Nobles.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: President Donald Trump is back in Washington after his lengthy trip abroad and even though his team feels confident the trip was successful, he returns to plenty of controversy including a number of issues involving his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.

Kushner has yet to respond to reports that he attempted to set up a secret back channel line of communication with the Russian government during the transition. Kushner's connections to the Kremlin through a variety of means continue to be a specific line of inquiry by investigators looking to Russia's attempt to intervene in the U.S. election.

Despite these issues, a White House official says, Kushner isn't going anywhere. He plans to just keep his head down and keep focused on his wide portfolio of responsibilities in the West Wing. Meanwhile, the White House is shaking things up, creating a war room designed to quickly rebut the attacks that pour out as a result of the ongoing Russian investigation and the president's children are getting involved as well. Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, his wife Lara, spending the last few days in Washington, meeting with Trump aligned groups in and outside of the White House, including the teams of the RNC and the PAC American Priorities which supports the Trump administration.

The goal of these meetings was to get all of these teams on the same page ahead of the 2018 midterm elections and the president's own reelection bid in 2020.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: Well, setting up the so-called war room that Ryan Nobles just mentioned is in its early stages. Possible members are White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon. Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie are also mentioned. Neither of those two are currently in the Trump administration but they are longtime Trump loyalists.

HOWELL: Top advisers to President Trump are brushing aside questions about Kushner and Russia. Here's how Mr. Trump's director of National Economic Council and his National Security adviser responded to reporters on Saturday about it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY COHN, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER: We're not going to comment on Jared. We're just not going to comment.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Generally speaking, General, would you be concerned if somebody on the National Security Council or in this administration were to seek a back channel communication system with the Russian embassy and with the Kremlin? Would that generally concern you not to even addressing Kushner especially but in general terms?

H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: No. I mean, we have back channel communications in a number of -- with a number of countries. So generally speaking, about back channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner, so it doesn't predispose you to any sort of content of that conversation or anything, so, no, I would not be concerned about it.


HOWELL: CNN U.S. security analyst Juliette Kayyem elaborated on exactly what the word backchannel, what a backchannel is, and when and why it's used. She spoke earlier with my colleague Ana Cabrera. Let's listen.


JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: A backchannel is an authorized, right, overture. So authorized by the president, so I do wonder if Trump authorized this. An authorized overture mostly to a third party to begin discussions about changing policy with another country.

[04:05:04] So the best example of a backchannel is, for example, we wanted to start overtures with Cuba. The Obama administration. That's hard to do. There are laws against it. So you begin -- you go to the Pope actually. This is public knowledge now. The Pope then sort of creates a situation in which the two countries can speak as countries, not as a son-in-law. Speak as countries and what their policies are, to begin to change policy overtime.

So generally a backchannel is authorized. It utilizes United States apparatus. It doesn't go to the Russians or the Cubans, and it involves a third party. So I actually think -- remember today H.R. McMaster said oh, backchannels are happening all the time. He was -- he was, like, being too cute. You know. Because of course backchannels are happening all the time. This was not a backchannel. This was a covert overture to avoid the U.S. apparatus.


HOWELL: So Juliette Kayyem there describing this as a way to begin discussions about changing a policy overtime using U.S. apparatus.

Clare Sebastian joining us now from Moscow. We'll get to that in a moment, Clare, but first I want to ask you generally about this term backchannel. There's obviously a great deal of shock by many here that such a thing was even proposed by an incoming administration through a Russian embassy of all places, but generally speaking is this at all common for Russia to agree to a backchannel with other nations or incoming administrations?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think just like the U.S., George, this is something that is done in kind of diplomatic circles. Certainly a seasoned diplomat like the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, would have been well familiar with this kind of practice.

There are a couple of things that are very unusual here. One that -- the suggestion by Jared Kushner was to set up a channel for, you know, incoming National Security adviser Michael Flynn to speak to Russian military officials in Moscow. That was still while they were in the transition. They weren't even in power yet and the U.S. had ongoing military personnel in Syria so this would have raised serious questions about whether or not they were doing anything to undercut the policy of the current administration. That is not done by a transition team.

And the second thing is not so much the principle but the method. Using the kind of -- the technical equipment in the Russian embassy in Washington would be -- said to be -- seemed to be extremely unusual. Certainly the "Washington Post" reported that Sergey Kislyak was said to be taken aback by this. And I think that really relates towards to the method that was suggested to this backchannel than the principle of that, George.

HOWELL: The storyline itself quite controversial. Important to point that we have not yet heard Jared Kushner's side of the story. He's not a suspect in any particular case yet, just a person of scrutiny by the FBI at this point.

Here's the question. The U.S. president had clearly campaigned on the hope of improving relations with Russia and Russia hoping to see the lifting of sanctions on that end but more to the point here, Clare, as the reality of these investigations, as all the questions continue to harden, what is the view from Russia about that possibility?

SEBASTIAN: Well, there's kind of two aspects to this, George. On the one hand the Russian government is extremely frustrated in all the kind of Russia related controversy that's coming out of Washington. We saw that in the reaction that we got yesterday. A very curt response from Foreign Ministry to the "Washington Post" reports originally about Jared Kushner's suggestion of this secret backchannel.

The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman telling us this was quite McCarthyism or simply internal political squabbles. McCarthyism suggesting that they are concerned here that the whole Russia issue is being used by Trump's opponent to try and discredit him but the other fact is, George, is they are worried in terms of policy. The kind of -- the reset that was promised by the many comments that Trump made on the campaign trail does not seem to be materializing and they think they are looking for any clues, any kind of bread crumbs coming out of the Trump administration as to how does policy develop and comments like this from Gary Cohn on the foreign trip that the president just completed would be extremely concerning to Russia. Take a listen.


COHN: We're not lowering our sanctions on Russia. If anything we would probably look to get tougher on Russia. So the president wants to continue to, you know, keep the sanctions in place.


SEBASTIAN: Sanctions are critical issues for Putin's Russia. It's stinging not only their economy but in terms of national pride here. So that -- you know, capping this -- the frustration of all the Russia related reports coming out of Washington. This is really not very good news for Moscow -- George.

HOWELL: It is a mix of messages.

[04:10:02] There was the photo taken with the president, Mr. Lavrov and Kislyak in the Oval Office so that seemed to be a positive note for Russians but at the same time mixed messages coming from members close to the president.

Clare Sebastian, live for us in Moscow. Thank you for the reporting today.

One place where President Trump did seem more comfortable was when he was addressing hundreds of U.S. troops and their families before returning to Washington. Take a look here at the scene at a naval air station in Sicily on the final stop of his overseas trip.

Mr. Trump didn't mention the growing controversy at home or the alleged contacts between the campaign and Russia. Instead he touted what he called the success of his trip and said that he had hit a homerun.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was here in Sicily to attend very important summit meeting meetings. The meeting of the G- 7. It was a tremendously productive meeting where I strengthened America bonds. We have great bonds with other countries and with some of our closes allies we concluded a truly historic week for our country.

The U.S. is currently paying much more than any other nation and that's not fair to the United States or the United States taxpayer so we're working on it and I will tell you a big difference over the last year. Money is actually starting to pour into NATO.


ALLEN: Well, we should find out in the coming days if the U.S. will pull out of the landmark Paris Climate Accord. President Trump tweeted Saturday he will make a decision about that next week. During the G-7 summit in Sicily world leaders pressed him on that issue. Mr. Trump however left the summit without directly reaffirming his commitment to the accord in the official dispatch from the G-7. Unlike the six other world leaders there including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (Through Translator): The entire discussion about climate was very difficult if not to say very dissatisfying. We have a situation where six, or if you also include the EU seven, are against one. We didn't beat about the bush, but rather made it very clear that we six of the G-7 member states, plus the EU, continue to support the targets. This Paris climate agreement is not just any old agreement, but rather a central agreement for the course of globalization.


ALLEN: Angela Merkel expressing her frustration there.

Scott Lucas joins us now from Birmingham, England, as he often does. He's a professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and the founder and editor of EA World View.

Scott, nice to see you. Thanks for joining us. And we were hearing from Angela Merkel there and we know that President Trump didn't have much to say when the other leaders were talking about climate change. He of course has been a stark opponent of believing climate change. But let's start with the overall trip. We know this president gloats. He spins this as a huge success but what was accomplished for him on the world stage do you think?

SCOTT LUCAS, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: I think in contrast to lavish reception he received in Saudi Arabia where he was on safer ground, and that went relatively well and even the Israeli leg of the trip, you know, the photo ops look good even if very little substance occurred.

The European leg of Trump's trip did not go well. Indeed beyond the controversy over the Trump-Russia investigation it bodes very badly for U.S. relations. That is not only because of the division over climate change which we heard yesterday but before that Trump's remarks to fellow NATO leaders were extremely disturbing because while repeating the mantra, you must pay more, you must pay more, you must pay more, what he failed to do was reaffirm a commitment to self- defense, this Article 5.

Now this article has guided NATO through the Cold War and beyond and Trump is the first leader not to get full back into it. So not only are European leaders uneasy, I think what you're looking at is realignment here. You're going to look at Angela Merkel working with people like France's president Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders to say we can't count on the U.S. anymore to lead. We need to start making our own arrangements. ALLEN: Well, and now he comes home, he had another questionable

action regarding Russia and this time it's regards his son-in-law Jared Kushner who Kushner has so many responsibilities in this administration yet he has no government experience. He's really an unknown. Few have heard him even speak.

This report about a backchannel with Russia and what Jared was trying to do, do you chock this up to inexperience, naivete, incompetence or something else?

[04:15:01] LUCAS: You know, if we were playing football we just finished warm-ups and we're getting into the real game because Jared Kushner is not a naive individual. He's not inexperienced. He is however a businessman. And not only Kushner but Trump had tried to -- you know, deal with Russia as if this is a business transaction, well, you can't do that when you're in government. There are protocols you have to follow. There's a foreign policy that has to be maintained.

And the key here, following on the thought your correspondent said, is if Kushner had done this and if Michael Flynn, the National Security adviser, had done this when Trump was inaugurated they'd be OK. A government can do this. When you do this before you're inaugurated without the knowledge of the Obama administration you're undercutting U.S. foreign policy.

And it does raise, as former CIA director had mentioned, it raises questions about whether that political transgression is one that goes further that actual criminal activity took place. We'll have to wait and see.

ALLEN: There are seemed to be so many tentacles coming out of the Russia investigation, it's probably mind numbing to some people trying to keep up with it. So what do you think will happen with Jared Kushner meantime as the administration looks to set up its war room now to deal with so much on their plate vis-a-vis Russia?

LUCAS: Well, let's get back to fundamentals. We've got an FBI investigation that Trump could not prevent despite its efforts. It's now expanding. We've got two congressional investigations. Those investigations have already led to the resignation of Michael Flynn, the National Security adviser, but now you have gone close as you can get to Trump without reaching the president himself, by reaching Kushner.

Here's the essential background. This is all in the context of Russian interference in 2016 to help Trump get elected. Did Kushner know about this? Did he make promises to the Russians, for example, that sanctions might be removed because Trump had been elected? If that connection is made, and I stress if, then that takes us not only into the football game, it takes possibly into the 4th quarter and the possibility that Trump himself may be effected.

ALLEN: Scott Lucas -- Scott, we appreciate your insights. Thank you.

HOWELL: It is interesting, though, you know, Mr. Kushner, you don't really hear much from Mr. Kushner. You see him in the background with many photos. Don't really hear much from him. But, you know, he's agreed to be, you know, very clear and transparent with Congress if questioned. Those statements would be scrutinized under oath then compared to other statements. So you do see a White House now that will be under a great deal of pressure because the words will matter. The facts are quite stubborn here.

ALLEN: And it continues to get more complex.

HOWELL: Indeed.

Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, Manchester refuses to be broken by terror. The city is moving forward after the concert attack, ahead.

ALLEN: Also British Airways hoping to get back to business after a major computer outage strand thousands. We'll have a live report from Heathrow Airport coming up here. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.




[04:21:56] ALLEN: Well, Manchester is getting back to normal or trying to days after the concert terror attack. Security is tight. Residents are of course still mourning the victims but the city's annual Great Manchester Run has gone ahead as planned.

HOWELL: The half marathon has just gotten under way. Another races are set to follow.

Muhammad Lila following the story live in Manchester this hour.

Muhammad there, if you could set the scene for us. We see there a memorial that continues to grow behind you to honor and remember the people who were wounded, who were killed in this attack. But again, this is a city that continues to move forward.

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. Moving forward is the exact correct description, George. This is a very important weekend in terms of things going on here in the city. There's a half marathon, there's a 10k run. There is some track and field events and some concerts.

Now all of those will draw people from around the region, in fact possibly from around all of the U.K. And there was a concern earlier this week that some of these events might not take place but generally the public rose up and expressed a demand for these things to take place as a way to show the U.K. and the rest of the world that Manchester is moving through this difficult phase but I should point out that there are additional security personnel that are deployed here on the streets. There are armed police officers walking around, patrolling the streets, something you don't see very regularly in the U.K. because we know that officers generally don't carry firearms.

HOWELL: So security, as you say, is tight. We see some of the images there beside you here on the screen. Also the investigation continues. These searches are, you know, continuing to occur. What more can you tell us about the investigation itself? Information about the bomb, where that was assembled, Muhammad?

LILA: Well, George, the bomb police believe was assembled in a flat. So they believe that they have identified the flat, which is an apartment that was being used by the suspect, and of course that's going to be a very key part of the investigation. There would be forensic teams that would go there and try to uncover any evidence, any residue, any leftover materials that might have been there.

And late last night police also released the first security images of the suspect, Salman Abedi. They say the images were taken as he was on his way to the arena to carry out the plot and some interesting numbers, George, in terms of the total investigation. British police have said that there are 1,000 people that have been assigned as part of this investigation. That means they have 1,000 people that are combing through leads and following the investigation and moving that investigation forward.

So that gives you a sense of the scope of the number of people involved and police believe they do -- they are getting closer to tracking down this network that they believe enabled him to carry out this plot in the first place.

HOWELL: 9:24 in the morning there in Manchester where Muhammad Lila is following the story. Muhammad, thank you.

British Airways says that it's hoping to operate at near normal with the schedule on Sunday. This after this, a major computer outage grounded all the airlines flights at two of London's busiest airports.

Natalie, let me just look at that. You just feel so bad for the people there.

[04:25:02] ALLEN: Yes. You know, some of us have been there in some ways but, yes, two airports. Thousands of travelers are still stranded after a power supply issue brought down the system at Heathrow and Gatwick Saturday. Officials say there's no evidence of a cyber attack.

CNN's Nina dos Santos joins us now live from Heathrow and she's been probably talking to people and assessing where they are in trying to get back up and in the air.

Hi, Nina.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Hi there. Hi, Natalie. I have actually been speaking to different passengers just in the last hour or so. Many of them having to spend the night on sleeping bags issued by British Airways because there were just no hotel rooms. Even if the airlines wanted to get them into a hotel room, some of these individuals also went online, tried to book hotel rooms themselves, got to that hotel then found out that it has been triple booked.

Lots of frustration and exasperation among the passengers here. Some of them saying that they're at Heathrow Airport in the terminal, left there without information until 10:30 to 11:00 at night after which a British Airways representative rounded them up and helped them to find some kind of sofa to share in some of these hotels and elsewhere but when it comes to services today British Airways is saying that Gatwick services are resuming as normal. They're hoping that the majority of services here, Heathrow Airport, the bigger and busiest hub will be returning to normal.

I should tell you that having looked at the departure board it does look as though there's a lot of green on there. A lot of flights saying that they're on time but it's for the thousands of people who got stranded yesterday and also crucially their luggage which is also in limbo, for them this is a tense time because they don't know when they're going to be able to get back on to any of these flights because obviously the people currently booked for these flights today may well take the flight and then they'll have to try and find something else and make sure that they're not staying on another hotel room sleeping bag for another night.

ALLEN: I don't know what else to say. And the cause, Nina, was a power supply issue, not cyber attack? Is that something that commented on? How that could have happened or if they'll be able to prevent something like that in the future?

DOS SANTOS: Yes. At the moment there hasn't been any word about exactly what type of power supply has caused this massive IT failures here for BA. Remember that at one point, you know, you couldn't even get on the Web site. I've just checked it now and if you do look for flight status and you're a passenger you can and should check it now. That is working in the last hour. An hour or so ago it wasn't.

But, yes, as you said, twice there, Natalie, they have come out and said this hasn't been a cyber attack. It is a power outage. BA said that they're desperately sorry for this. At one point throughout the course of yesterday they just had to rely upon social media and basically ask the media to tell passengers what to do and whether their flights were cancelled or not.

The departure board at Heathrow are working. The Web site at Heathrow is working. So if you're a passenger go to those kind of Web sites to try and find out whether your flight is taking off. Do not come to Heathrow Airport or Gatwick is still the official word if you don't know whether your flight is confirmed. Back to you.

ALLEN: All right. Very good advice.

Nina dos Santos for us, thank you.

HOWELL: All right. Still ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, two men killed as they tried to calm down a man allegedly shouting racist slurs. Why eyewitnesses are calling them heroes.

ALLEN: Also, racist rant caught on camera. We'll explain why more people are reporting the incident and posting them online.

HOWELL: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta on our U.S. network and around the world. Stay with us.


[04:30:11] ALLEN: And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.

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

ALLEN: British Police have identified the location they say may have been where the Manchester bomb was assembled. They've released two still photographs of bomber Salman Abedi. The images were taken by a surveillance camera on the night of the attack. Police statement says investigators think the bomb was put together at a City Center Apartment.

HOWELL: Thousands of travelers stranded at two of London's busiest airports all due to a major computer outage. British Airways cancelled all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick Saturday after a power supply issue, not a cyber attack, brought down the system. The airline is aiming to operate at a near normal schedule on Sunday.

ALLEN: Senior White House officials are refusing to comment on reports that Jared Kushner wanted to set up secret communication with the Kremlin. Kushner is President Trump's son-in-law and close adviser. National Security adviser H.R. McMaster brushed aside questions from reporters saying the U.S. has backchannel communications with several countries.

HOWELL: And the president says that he will decide in the coming days if the United States will stay in the Paris Climate Accord. At the G- 7 Summit world leaders pressed Mr. Trump to reaffirm his commitment to the agreement. The president refrained from doing and that did not sign on to a joint statement endorsing the accord when the summit wrapped up.

ALLEN: The FBI in investigating whether a deadly attack on a commuter train in Portland, Oregon, is a hate crime. Two men were stabbed to death and another wounded after eyewitnesses say the suspect started yelling hateful slurs at two Muslim women.

HOWELL: Police say the two men were killed trying to intervene and calm him down. A professor of one of the victims described him as, quote, "a wonderful human being who always asked intelligent questions in class." He also called him a hero.

Our Dan Lieberman has more on this attack.


DAN LIEBERMAN, CNN DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Portland, Oregon, police are now identifying the suspect in a brutal stabbing. Thirty-five year old Jeremy Joseph Christian was booked on murder charges and is being held without bail after allegedly stabbing three people on a crowded commuter train during rush hour yesterday. Two of those victims died.

SGT. PETE SIMPSON, SPOKESMAN, PORTLAND POLICE: It's horrific. And there's no other words to describe what happened.

LIEBERMAN: Videos show Christian at a rally, shouting racist slurs and making Nazi salutes just weeks ago. Witnesses say that's what he was doing on Friday, shouting anti-Muslim and other hateful slurs, like --

EVELIN HERNANDEZ, WITNESS: Get out of the country. Plus, you don't pay taxes in here. And he doesn't like Muslim because they're like -- they are criminals.

[04:35:03] LIEBERMAN: Authorities believe the comments were directed towards two female passengers, one wearing a hijab. Other passengers intervened and that's when the violence broke out.

CHASE ROBINSON, WITNESS: I go to reach out to start pulling people apart, and then I see that there's just blood everywhere. Again it happened so fast but it looked like every punch that I saw was actually a stab.

LIEBERMAN: Two men were killed and police say the suspect fled the train. He was later arrested at a nearby neighborhood.

ARSENIA BRITELLE, WITNESS: When he got off the train, I saw he was holding a knife and then he says, "Don't follow me."

LIEBERMAN: First responders tried to save one victim's life, but he died on the scene. The other victim died at the hospital. The other passenger who was stabbed is expected to survive. Two others were also injured.

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley responded on Twitter saying, quote, "Terrible tragedy on Portland's MAX train. Champions of justice risked and lost their lives. Hate is evil."

Dan Lieberman, CNN, New York.


HOWELL: Dan, thank you for the reporting.

Even as some people in the U.S. experience racism firsthand they're also pulling out their cell phones and starting to record what happens.

ALLEN: Our Polo Sandoval explains why many are posting videos online.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A series of racist rants in public and on camera.


SANDOVAL: A woman in a Virginia Sprint store hurled a racial slur at a fellow customer.


SANDOVAL: In Arkansas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said excuse me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go back wherever you're from.

SANDOVAL: "Go back to Mexico" is what this Wal-Mart shopper told another.


SANDOVAL: She then fired the N-word at a woman looking to interject.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're calling me ignorant?

SANDOVAL: Then there's what Orlando resident, Hector Torres, captured on his phone at the Reno airport last week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut up. Shut up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, unbelievable. Mike, that is sad.

HECTOR TORRES, ORLANDO TORRES: I just thought I had to document it.

SANDOVAL: Torres telling CNN he was speaking Spanish to his Puerto Rican mother on the phone when things got heated.

TORRES: Explain what I did to you, one more time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talking that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) stupid Spanish around here when everybody else is (EXPLETIVE DELETED) English, speaking American.

SANDOVAL: Racist rants are not new, says Andra Gillespie, director of the Institute for the Study of Race and Difference at Emory University.

ANDRA GILLSEPIE, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF RACE AND DIFFERENCE, EMORY UNIVERSITY: These videos remind us that race has been a constant and persistent problem in the United States.

SANDOVAL: There's been a spike in the number of racist rants posted on social media, experts say.

TODD GROSSMAN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, TALKWALKER: As technology becomes even more and more mainstream and more and more people are having smartphone devices and video capability, it's just going to be exploding more and more.

SANDOVAL: Recording these kinds of confrontations also may empower people to expose the racism, says Gillespie. There could also be a Trump factor behind it all.

GILLESPIE: People perhaps feel more emboldened to express politically incorrect points of view as a result of President Trump's success in being able to use political incorrectness as a tool, to be able to be elected president. But I think it's important to know that these people held these points of view long before Donald Trump emerged as a political figure.

SANDOVAL: Videos may be ugly.


TORRES: Unbelievable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You live in America.

SANDOVAL: But Gillespie calls them a launching point for a larger conversation about race.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, Atlanta.


HOWELL: You know, the thing about those videos also when they're posted, they're posted and they're there for a long, long time.

ALLEN: Right. Well, his point was hopefully it will spark some larger conversations about race and certainly we've got a ways to go in that conversation.


ALLEN: Next here on CNN NEWSROOM, the U.S. president gives a statement of solidarity with the leader of the Philippines and now parts of that country are under martial law. We'll have a report just ahead.

HOWELL: Plus Iraqi troops say they are close to taking the rest of Mosul from ISIS. What we know about this latest offensive, as CNN NEWSROOM continues.


[04:42:16] HOWELL: The bloody effort to retake the city of Mosul, there are important new steps that are underway. Officials say a large operation started Saturday to retake the last areas in the city's west that remain under ISIS control.

ALLEN: The battle for Mosul began last October but victory does now appear in sight for Iraqi troops. They say they're pushing towards the old city and they're confident as this fight drags on.


ALI ABDULLAH, IRAQI RAPID RESPONSE SOLDIER (Through Translator): Rapid Response Forces advance today into (INAUDIBLE) district. We managed to break their defenses and we entered some 500 meters inside the district. Morale is high and we will keep advancing and god willing we will fully recapture the district today or tomorrow.


ALLEN: Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte appears to have put his foot in it again as he tried to reassure soldiers who might be accused of committing abuses under Martial Law. He jokingly said that if any of them were to rape three women he would personally claim responsibility for it. Mr. Duterte made the remark in a speech to soldiers on Mindanao Island where he imposed Martial Law on Tuesday. He is trying to crush ISIS-linked rebels who have invaded the island.

U.S. president Donald Trump has released a statement of solidarity with the Philippine president.

HOWELL: And that despite concerns over Mr. Duterte's use of the Martial Law and many other things that he has said.

Will Ripley reports.


RODRIGO DUTERTE, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: I have always said do not force my hand into it.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's the mastermind of a bloody drug war, has bragged about personally killing people, and this week imposed Martial Law to fight terrorism.

The Philippines' strongman president, Rodrigo Duterte, has even compared himself to Hitler for his quest to exterminate drug criminals. Human rights groups have condemned him. President Trump praised him in what the White House describes as a very friendly phone call last month, saying, "I just want to congratulate you because I'm hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem."

The leaked transcript obtained by "The Intercept," "Washington Post" and "New York Times." A senior U.S. official briefed on the call verified the basics of the conversation to CNN, adding the president was only acknowledging America's drug problem, not condoning violence and human rights violations.

CNN has reported extensively on the Philippines drug war and the thousands killed in its poorest slums, openly encouraged by the president.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have seen some of those colorful statements in the past.

[04:45:05] RIPLEY: When former President Obama criticized the bloodshed, Duterte called him a son of a bitch and told him to go to hell. But with Trump, Duterte has a good rapport. Unlike his predecessor, Trump seems largely unconcerned with other country's human rights and is known to lavish praise on authoritarian leaders. On the Philippine president's home island of Mindanao, empty streets

and Martial Law, deadly clashes with Islamist militants led Duterte to impose military rule in the Southern Philippines, an order he may expand.

The Philippine Constitution says Martial Law should last a maximum of 60 days. Duterte says it could go on for a year. From the White House, Thursday, a statement of solidarity and a promise the U.S. will continue to provide support and assistance to Philippine counterterrorism efforts.

Will Ripley, CNN.


ALLEN: All right. Let's just move on to the weather. Shall we? Sri Lanka experiencing terrible monsoon flooding.

HOWELL: Derek Van Dam here to tell us about it -- Derek.


HOWELL: Those pictures there really tell the story.

VAN DAM: Yes, it really does.

HOWELL: Derek, thank you.

VAN DAM: Thanks, George.

HOWELL: Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, words of regret from a Donald Trump voter.


WESLEY EASTERLING, VOTED FOR TRUMP: He played me for a fool. I mean, I kind of took it personal.


ALLEN: Why some of the president's biggest supporters are now losing faith in their candidate.




[04:52:45] HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

Greg Allman, the legendary co-founder of the Allman Brothers Band, died Saturday. He was 69 years old battling cancer.

ALLEN: That's one of his hits. Allman had numerous hits of course during his nearly 50-year career including the "Midnight Rider" and "Rambling Man." His band featured a uniquely American sound that became known as southern rock.

HOWELL: Allman was working on a new album at the time of his death.

ALLEN: Donald Trump's budget proposal cuts millions of dollars from social programs even though many of those programs benefit people who voted for him.

HOWELL: And now some of the people in the country's poorest areas say if the election were held today well, it might change their votes.

Gary Tuchman has this report.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wesley Easterling and his 2-year-old daughter Reilly live in the heart of Appalachia. Elliott County, Kentucky.

EASTERLING: I voted for Donald Trump.

TUCHMAN: Which is noteworthy because Donald Trump is the first Republican presidential candidate he has ever voted for.

(On camera): Elliott County was founded in 1869. There have been 37 presidential elections since then. Remarkably in this county the Democratic candidate has won ever one of those elections until this one.

(Voice-over): And Donald Trump won big here getting more than 70 percent of the vote many people like Wesley Easterling believing --

EASTERLING: He had a lot of amazing ideas. He had just this charisma about him. He was something different.

TUCHMAN: This county is one of the poorest ones in the country. The poverty rate is over 34 percent and has one of the highest percentages of people in the nation that rely on federal benefit programs and Wesley Easterling is one of them. He and his family have benefitted from Medicaid and food stamps. During the presidential campaign he took candidate Trump at his word.

TRUMP: Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts. Have to do it.

EASTERLING: When he said that he -- you know, he wasn't going to cut Medicaid or, you know, the benefits I believed that.

[04:55:05] TUCHMAN: But the proposed new health care plan and the proposed federal budget cut hundreds of millions of dollars a year from Medicaid. The budget also makes cuts in programs ranging from food stamps to Social Security disability insurance.

EASTERLING: I mean, I felt just like -- like I was insulted. Just like he played me for a fool. I mean, I kind of took it personal.

TUCHMAN (on camera): If you could do it over again, if Election Day were today, who would you vote for?

EASTERLING: Hillary, without a doubt.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Inside Elliott County's Penny Mart, we talked with other Trump voters like bluegrass musician Sammy Atkins.

(On camera): If the election were held today who would you vote for?

SAMUEL ATWINS, VOTED FOR TRUMP: Well, I'd probably have to wait and see. If he does a lot of cutting and stuff I'm sure I might go the other way, you know.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But Trump voter Tim Fannon said he would enthusiastically cast his ballot for Donald Trump again.

(On camera): So what do you say to other people in this county who are upset about these federal programs possibly being cut?

TIM FANON, VOTED FOR TRUMP: Tough luck. You just have to do -- you have to nip it in the bud. (INAUDIBLE) said you got to nip it in the bud, you've got to start somewhere.

TUCHMAN: Wesley Easterling just graduated from a pipe welding program at a community college and hopes to get a refinery job soon so he can be off federal assistance.

(On camera): Donald Trump during the campaign said he's going to fight for the little guy. You're the little guy, right?

EASTERLING: I am the little guy.

TUCHMAN: Do you feel he's fighting for you?

EASTERLING: No, not at all. The little guy is going to have to fight for himself.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): In the meantime he says he is praying for his family, his country and his president.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Elliott County, Kentucky.


ALLEN: And that is our first hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. The news continues here on CNN right after the break.