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Does Donald Trump Believe in Climate Change?; U.S. Withdraws from Paris Climate Accord; The Upcoming U.K. Election; Black Eyed Peas to Play Manchester Benefit. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired June 3, 2017 - 02:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Does the U.S. president believe climate change exists?

No one seems to know for sure. The White House is ducking the question.

Five days to the U.K.'s general election. And it's an unexpectedly tight race between Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives and Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party.

Plus the Black Eyed Peas talk to CNN ahead of their concert in Manchester. Why a song that they wrote almost 15 years ago has never been so relevant.

Thank you for joining us. I'm Cyril Vanier from the CNN NEWSROOM.


VANIER: The Trump White House is having difficulty answering a simple question.

Does the U.S. president still believe climate change is a hoax?

The world reaction to the president pulling the United States out of the Paris climate accord has been overwhelmingly negative. Several political and business leaders across the U.S. have responded by promising to honor their commitments to the Paris agreement, even if the U.S. government does not. Here's CNN's Jim Acosta.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much, everybody, thank you.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The climate was warming at the White House as officials from the president to the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the president believe today that climate change is a hoax?

ACOSTA: -- dodged the question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the president believe that climate change is real and a threat to the United States?

SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: You know what's interesting about all the discussions we had through the last several weeks have been focused on one singular issue: is Paris good or not for this country?

ACOSTA: Pruitt echoed President Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement as a choice in favor of American workers.

TRUMP: They don't put America first. I do and I always will.

ACOSTA: But the head of the EPA also took some jabs at what he described as climate exaggerators, the kind of language used by global warming skeptics.

ACOSTA (on camera): You were up there throwing out information that says, "Well, maybe, this is being exaggerated and so forth," and you're talking about climate exaggerators. It just seems to a lot of people around the world that you and the president are just denying the reality and the reality of the situation is that climate change is happening and it is a significant threat to the planet.

PRUITT: Let me say this and I've said it in the confirmation process and I said it yesterday --

ACOSTA: Arctic ice and the sea levels. And --

PRUITT: -- there -- we have done a tremendous amount as a country to achieve reductions in CO2 and we have done that through technology and innovation. We will continue to do that. We will continue to stay engaged.

ACOSTA: Are they a little worried that you're putting your head in the sand?

PRUITT: There's no evidence of that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters earlier this week that he would check on whether the president still believed climate change is a hoax, as he stated in the past.

Did Spicer have a chance to clear that up with the president?

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I have not had an opportunity to have that discussion.

ACOSTA: Spicer and Pruitt joined a growing list of top administration officials dancing around the climate question.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Does President Trump still believe climate change is a hoax? GARY COHN, SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: Look, President Trump believes he was elected to grow the U.S. economy and provide great job opportunities.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Does the president still believe global warming is a hoax?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP COUNSELOR: The president believes in a clean environment, clean air, clean water.

ACOSTA: Overseas there were some notable reactions to the president's decision from French President Emmanuel Macron, who invited American scientists to move to France.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: Because wherever we live, wherever we are, we all share the same responsibility: make our planet great again.

ACOSTA: To Russia's Vladimir Putin, who appeared to defend Mr. Trump's choice.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): We should not create a big noise on this issue.

ACOSTA: On the subject of Russia, there are other pressing questions facing the White House, such as whether the president will invoke executive privilege to block former FBI director James Comey from testifying on capital Hill next week. Spicer said that's up in the air.

SPICER: It's got to be reviewed.

ACOSTA: But he insisted the president is standing by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner amid questions about the White House adviser's dealings with the Russians.

SPICER: Absolutely.

ACOSTA: And EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt made it clear to reporters that the president is open to starting a new round of negotiations for a new Paris climate deal. But over the last 24 hours in response to the president's announcement, world leaders, including key U.S. allies, have said that's not happening -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.



VANIER: Joining me now for more on this is CNN political analyst and history professor at Princeton University, Julian Zelizer.

Julian, there's a lot of news today. Let me first touch on global warming and Donald Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris accord. Let me show you some numbers and --


VANIER: -- in particular, the concern that is expressed by Democrats and Republicans about global warming; 66 percent of Democrats, two- thirds, say they are greatly concerned about this. Only 18 percent of Republicans, less than a third, say they're concerned about this.

To what extent was that a political move by Donald Trump, knowing that it's not going to hurt him with his base?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a president who, for much of what he's done right now, plays to the base. So he finds the issue where the base is passionate. This is one of those issues, not believing in climate change, arguing that regulations have to stop, and hoping that as he plays to the base, enough Republicans will come along in the end.

Even if they don't agree with him on something like climate change, they still prefer Republicans over Democrats. That's the bet. But this certainly created a lot of fallout. And there is a lot of concern among voters in both parties about the implications of withdrawing from this agreement.

VANIER: And it's remarkable. In fact, the numbers -- and that's a Gallup poll in March that we just showed you -- there's a bigger partisan gap on the issue of global warming than there is on almost any other national issue that faces the U.S.; that includes race relations, illegal immigration.

So the degree of concern over that is a lot bigger between Democrats and Republicans on global warming than anything else.

That said, back to my first question, do you think Donald Trump is essentially doing this on his belief that global warming isn't that big a deal or big a danger for the U.S.?

Or do you think it's politics for him?

ZELIZER: I think it's both. I mean, I think it plays into the politics of the base and using that as the basis of your presidency.

But of all the issues he's talked about, other than fighting illegal immigration, fighting against regulations to curb climate change have been very important to him. He's used executive power to already roll back many regulations President Obama put into place domestically to curve emissions, carbon emissions.

And he's spoken for a long time -- this is not a surprise that he was going to withdraw the U.S. from this. So I actually think this is one of those core beliefs. He does not believe the regulatory infrastructure we have tried to create as a nation and as a world to curb the threat of climate change is a good idea.

VANIER: Julian, let's move on to the Russian investigation, specifically the hearing of former FBI director James Comey set for Thursday. The noise we're hearing that's coming out of the White House and advisers to Donald Trump is that the U.S. president may try to invoke executive privilege to stop James Comey from testifying.

I mean, what are the politics of that and what are the optics of that?

ZELIZER: Well, the politics will be difficult, in part, because of his own tweets. I think President Trump has provided Congress and the courts with enough fodder through his tweets about why he got rid of FBI director Comey and why he thought about the Russian investigation to create legitimate suspicion about why all this took place.

And that undercuts some of his ability to use executive privilege. The optics look bad. When you are being accused of obstruction of justice, if you then try to obstruct the investigation into that by using the power of the presidency to stop it, it just fuels the picture that you have something to hide.

There are many voters and many members of Congress who will think if there's nothing to hide, then be forthcoming. But this is not an administration that's been forthcoming.


VANIER: CNN political analyst there, Julian Zelizer.

And here's another reaction to the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris accord. The former U.S. secretary of state John Kerry -- and he is furious. He told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that the world is laughing at Mr. Trump.


JOHN KERRY, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: And, regrettably, the world is going to pay a price because American leadership is important on this. It took us years of work and leadership by the United States working very specifically with China.

I mean, I would ask Donald Trump, does he think that President Xi, President Macron, that the prime minister of Great Britain, the chancellor of Germany, don't know what they're talking about?

Are they stupid?

Is he accusing them of somehow buying into a hoax?


VANIER: The French president is among the world leaders criticizing President Trump's decision. Less than a month into his presidency, Emmanuel Macron is making a point of demonstrating diplomatic strength. Melissa Bell reports.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's hard to believe that it was less than a month ago. On May 7th, Emmanuel Macron became the youngest man ever to be elected to France's presidency.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: Let me say a few words to our American friends.

BELL (voice-over): Also the first ever to make speeches in English publicly, which was to come in handy very quickly.

MACRON: Wherever we live, whoever we are, we all share the same responsibility: make our planet great again.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we're getting out. The United States will cease --

BELL (voice-over): It was a stinging rebuke to what Donald Trump had just announced in the Rose Garden.

TRUMP: I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.

BELL (voice-over): Within hours, Macron's call was the most widely shared tweet ever from a French account, leading the French press to ask whether the French president was now the new leader of the free world. For newly elected 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron's first steps on the world stage were remarkably sure.

TRUMP: Congratulations, good job.

BELL (voice-over): As was his handshake with the American president, a handshake that was, said Macron later, far from innocent. He wanted to show his strength.

Days later, Emmanuel Macron welcomed to Versailles another leader with whom he shares little in terms of outlook. Vladimir Putin also got a firm handshake and a challenge that few have had the courage to deliver so directly before.

MACRON (through translator): I precisely indicated to President Putin the intentions of France concerning LBGT people in Chechnya. We came to the agreement that follows this matter closely together. President Putin indicated he will be taking up measures to investigate the actions of local authorities in Chechnya on this issue. And I will be staying on top of this and following up.

BELL: It isn't just that Emmanuel Macron speaks English, it's that he speaks for a vision that has seemed a thing of the past these last few months, a vision based on common values rather than individual interests, a vision that appears to have a new champion -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


VANIER: Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM after the break, five days of campaigning left until Britain heads to the polls.

Also, coming together for Manchester. The Black Eyed Peas are playing a benefit concert for the victims of last month's terror attack and they tell CNN about a song that was written for moments like this one. Stay with us.




VANIER: And there are just five days of campaigning left until the U.K.'s general election. The contest could be a close one. Polls suggest that Labour, the opposition party, is gaining on the Conservatives.

On Saturday the candidates will campaign in the north of England. And while answering questions on the BBC's "Question Time," Prime Minister Theresa May addressed one of the biggest issues right now: the environment.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why haven't you --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- signed a letter to Donald Trump condemning his decision to pull out of the Paris climate change agreement?

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I haven't because I actually have spoken to Donald Trump and told him that the U.K. believes in the Paris agreement and that we didn't want the United States to leave the Paris agreement.

The G7 leaders sat around the table last week and spoke to -- and told Donald Trump -- the six of us told him that we believe the Paris agreement was an important international agreement on climate change, that we wanted the United States to stay in it.

I've spoken to him. I spoke to him last night about this.


MAY: Canada and Japan haven't signed the letter, either.


VANIER: On the same show, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was pushed on something that he has long opposed and that's Britain's nuclear deterrent program, Trident.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the reality where you're faced with the prospect that you may have to use it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just ask you for a simple answer. JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, U.K. LABOUR PARTY: The reality is that we have to obviously try to protect ourselves. We would not use it as first use. And if we did use it, millions are going to die. You have to think this thing through.


VANIER: And another huge issue in this context: Brexit. But the British political landscape has changed significantly since its decision to pull out of the E.U. In fact, many of the prominent voices that called for the U.K. to leave are no more. Nina dos Santos explains.



NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR (voice-over): They were the faces, the headlines and the driving forces behind the Brexit campaign. But since calling the E.U. referendum...

DAVID CAMERON, FORMER PRIME MINISTER, GREAT BRITAIN: I will go to Parliament and propose that the British people decide our future in Europe through an inert (ph) referendum on Thursday, the 23rd of June.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Most of the men behind the country's momentous decision have hardly stuck around to pick up the pieces.

David Cameron, who staked his career on the U.K. choosing to stay in the E.U., resigned almost immediately after losing the vote.

CAMERON: I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Now he is making a fortune on the speaking circuit and has built a reported $30,000 shed in his backyard to write his memoirs in.

One of the most vocal proponents of Brexit was Nigel Farage.


DOS SANTOS (voice-over): For years, he's waged a war against the E.U.

FARAGE: I know that virtually none of you have ever done a proper job in your lives.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Now he is no longer head of the U.K. Independence Party and is instead forging a career in radio and TV...

FARAGE: Good evening, everybody. Well, I think I was the last to know.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): -- and making friends with Donald Trump.

Also, getting close to Trump, Michael Gove (ph), Cameron's former justice secretary, who led his party's hard Brexit battalions with misleading claims of huge savings to be had with the health service.

He stood for the party leadership and lost after knifing his wing man, Boris Johnson, in the back. Gove, a former political writer has now returned to journalism, scoring a major interview with the U.S. president in his first month on the job.

Always entertaining...

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: I can sing the "Ode to Joy" in German.


DOS SANTOS (voice-over): If not always liked...

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): -- one of Brexit's most colorful characters is the only one left in the British government. Boris Johnson was made foreign secretary by the new prime minister, Theresa May. But he has largely been sidelined.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boris is sitting perfectly comfortably and...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- air of repose about the fellow.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.


VANIER: Staying in the U.K., Ariana Grande is back in Manchester in England for her One Love benefit concert; that will be held on Sunday. Ahead of the show, the pop star visited fans who were wounded in the bombing after her performance on May 22nd. Remember, 22 people were killed in that attack.

Her benefit concert will honor the victims and their families as other stars also join Grande on stage. The act will include hip-hop group, the Black Eyed Peas. Hala Gorani asked the bank how they got the gig.


WILL.I.AM, MEMBER, THE BLACK EYED PEAS: Ariana Grande and team reached out to us and asked us if we could lend ourselves to help raise awareness and funds for the families of the victims, so, you know, they didn't even have to complete the sentence.

So we're going to be there to spread love and remind people that we should not let hate and fear destroy our connection with music.

For so many years, we've --


WILL.I.AM: -- bonded around music and melodies and harmonies and messages of love and peace. So we cannot let that, like, break our bond.

HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Obviously, the vast majority from what I've been reading of the families, of the people who were injured or killed, are in favor of it.

But it's happening very close, you know, very soon after, I should say, the attack, a couple of weeks. What message do you want to send by being there?

WILL.I.AM: So for many years, people say that music is, you know, the universal language because it connects us through our hearts and stories, that we are not different from those that we, you know, wish to be around and so we should not let people break apart that bond that connection.

So I'm so happy that it's this close so we could stay close, keep that bond, spread that love, given all the things that, you know, networks cover on T.V., it's awesome that you're covering love.

GORANI: There's the issue of security. Fifty thousand people are expected to attend this even. Is this something that concerns you?

WILL.I.AM: No, because if it concerns us, we wouldn't show up. You know and 2001/9/11 happened and on September the 12th, Black Eyed Peas went on tour. And at the end of that tour, we wrote a song called "Where Is the Love?"

So like I said, when God calls you to do the job of spreading love, you answer that call and you go and you will be protected when you're doing that. And, you know, doubt is always going to come into play but you cannot let doubt destroy your efforts on creating bonds of love.

GORANI: And what are you going to be performing?

"Where Is the Love?" obviously, I'm guessing, will be in the line up?



TABOO: Definitely. I mean, that song, "Where Is the Love?" was created after the events of 9/11. And still, to this day, 2017, people ask for it. You know, people go online and say we need this song.

Whether things are happening in Paris or in the United States or in Manchester, that song speaks to the world and it strikes a chord with the world and we're glad that we're able to perform it. It's sad that, when something bad happens, that song has to be the thing that we rely on to provide our perspective and our therapy for the people that need it.

But we're just going to out there with an open heart and just spread love. APL.DE.AP, MEMBER, THE BLACK EYED PEAS: Yes, it's unfortunate, but it's a calling. And, you know, we have our voices, we have the music to spread the love, so it's our duty to do so.


VANIER: The Black Eyed Peas are performing Saturday at the Champions League final in Wales. We'll checkout the weather forecast for that and at the concert in Manchester. That's coming up after the break. Stay with us.




VANIER: Welcome back. We want to show you these pretty cool pictures.


VANIER (voice-over): The world's largest plane has been rolled out publicly for the first time to begin fuel tests. It's called the Stratolaunch. It has a wingspan of 117 meters and it's powered by six engines, exactly the same kind of engines used for the Boeing 747 jumbo jets.

It's -- a couple more numbers; it's also more than 15 meters tall. It can carry more than 226,000 kilos of cargo, so a pretty big fellow. The Stratolaunch is designed to release rockets that --


VANIER: -- will carry satellites into space.

Two big events happening this weekend across the U.K., the Champions League final and a benefit concert in Manchester. Karen Maginnis has the forecast.


VANIER: And "Wonder Woman" is an international sensation. At least that's what the box office numbers show. It's the origin story of the superhero and how her destiny takes an unexpected turn when she meets a World War I pilot.

Take a look.


VANIER: Warner Brothers is pretty happy. They reported that the action film earned more than $18 million around the world. And that's just from Tuesday to Thursday. In the U.K. it's already earned $1.6 million.

The North American opening is expected to generate $100-plus million.

That's it from us. Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. I will be back with the headlines in just a moment. Stay with us.