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Paris Climate Accord; Putin Admits Possibility of "Patriotic" Hackers; Black Eyed Peas to Play Manchester Benefit; U.K. Election. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired June 3, 2017 - 03:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does the president actually believe about climate change?

Does he still believe it's a hoax?

Could you clarify that because apparently nobody else at the White House can.

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


CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A day after the American president pulls the U.S. out of the global climate deal, it is still unclear whether he believes in global warming.

Vladimir Putin says there is no credible evidence the Russian government interfered in the U.S. presidential election.

Plus five days of campaigning to go before the U.K.'s general election. Prime minister Theresa May's Conservatives are facing a tougher than expected challenge from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

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


VANIER: The Trump White House is having trouble answering one simple question: does U.S. President Donald Trump still believe climate change is a hoax?



Does the president believe that climate change is real as a threat to the United States?

SCOTT PRUITT, ADMINISTRATOR, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: You know what is interesting about all the discussions we had, the focus remained on whether Paris put us at a disadvantage. And in fact, it did.

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

PRUITT: Is Paris good or bad for this country?

The president and I focused our attentions there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shouldn't you be able to tell the American people whether or not the president still believes that climate change is a hoax?

PRUITT: I've answered the question a couple times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he still believe it's a hoax?

SPICER: I have not had an opportunity to have that discussion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would it be possible for you to have that conversation with him and then report back to us at the next briefing?

SPICER: If I can, I will.

VANIER (voice-over): The president on Thursday unilaterally pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, claiming it was unfair to American workers.

Listen to John Kerry's reaction. He is the former U.S. secretary of state and he helped negotiate the deal.



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: So for the latest on all of Friday's action at the White House, here's CNN's Jim Acosta. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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?

PRUITT: 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?

SPICER: 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 --


ACOSTA (voice-over): -- 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, in particular, the concern that is expressed by Democrats and Republicans about global warming --


VANIER: -- 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 --


ZELIZER: -- 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: Russian president Vladimir Putin called on U.S. companies to help Donald Trump. The Russian president was hosting executives from companies like Boeing, Caterpillar and Chevron at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum on Friday and he told them that they would be better off and so would the rest of the world if they helped their president.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Help us restore normal political dialogue. I ask you on behalf of Russia. And I appeal to the American side. Help the newly elected president, the head of the United States administration.


VANIER: Mr. Putin went on to say that lost economic opportunities between Russia and the U.S. have harmed both countries and that he is ready for improved relations.

Clare Sebastian is in Moscow now; let's get the perspective there.

Clare, since the beginning of Mr. Trump's presidency and the Russia controversy, we have looked to the Kremlin for reaction. And we have asked you this question, countless times, now we are hearing from the Russian president, on this topic himself. What did we learn?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a much more frank and vocal Putin that we have heard in weeks, perhaps even months. From that comment that you played, we learned that he's -- the issue of sanctions and getting them lifted is still at the top of his agenda. This is an issue not only politically painful for him but has been painful for the Russian economy.

We learned just how far he is prepared to go in addressing the controversy head-on in terms of the issue of Russian meddling in the U.S. election. He addressed the issue of hackers several times over the last few days, at one point being perhaps deliberately provocative, referring to them as -- comparing them to artists, saying that they're free people. And if they want to wake up in the morning and paint something, they will do what they will.

And they may, he said, act patriotically. But make no mistake. This was not an admission of Russian government involvement in hacking in the U.S. election. He says that the Russian government has nothing to do with this event, to do with this. If anything, he was re- emphasizing their deniability.

That even if the hack can be traced back to Russian soil, the link to the Russian government is something entirely different. He returned to that topic again on Friday in a session with NBC's Megyn Kelly. He said at one point that if the experts wanted to make it look like her 3-year-old daughter had hacked the U.S. election, they could do so.

So I think we haven't learned anything new in terms of Russia's feelings about these accusations. But we did learn that this might be a moment where President Putin feels it is politically expedient to start to speak out --Cyril.

VANIER: Clare, he did have some pretty strong words.

Did you get that the sense he is starting to be annoyed by all the accusations against Russia?

Or was he his usual disciplined self?

SEBASTIAN: I think, if he is choosing to reveal annoyance, which it seemed he was, that is in itself a political calculation. You know, he got, he used extremely strong words and then they got even stronger over the course of the week.

And I want to play you one particularly colorful moment from his plenary session on Friday. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PUTIN (through translator): It's easy to say it's not our fault. It's the Russians. They intervened. They interfered. It's like, anti-Semitism, the Jews are to blame, you are an idiot because the Jews are to blame.


SEBASTIAN: He calls it anti-Semitism, he's called it Russophobia multiple times. And this is something that not just Putin but many people in Russia feel very strongly, that any excuse, anything that goes wrong in America, anything, whether it is Democrats losing the elections or any political trouble for Trump, is blamed on the Russians, whether they support Putin or not.

This is something they feel. And I think we saw just how much the president is concerned about this -- Cyril.

VANIER: Clare Sebastian, reporting live from the Russian capital, thank you very much.

The U.S. Defense secretary has a warning for officials in China. James Mattis said that Beijing was violating international law with blatant disregard by militarizing manmade islands in the South China Sea. Mattis told a forum in Singapore that Washington will not accept unilateral changes.


GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The scope and effect of China's construction activities in the South China Sea differ from those of other countries in several key ways. This includes the nature of its militarization, China's disregard for international law, its contempt for other nations' interests and its efforts to dismiss nonadversarial resolution of issues.

We oppose countries militarizing artificial islands and forcing excessive maritime claims unsupported --


MATTIS: -- by international law.


VANIER: Mattis also called North Korea "a clear and present danger" because of its escalating nuclear program.

Some family members of the Manchester bomber are speaking out. The attack on May 22nd in England after a concert killed 22 people. Salman Abedi's two cousins were questioned by authorities. And they told CNN that they're horrified and ashamed that their own relative was responsible for that attack.

Fred Pleitgen has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): When Salman Abedi blew himself up outside the Manchester Arena, killing 22 and wounding dozens, he not only took innocent lives, he also affected his own family.

CNN spoke to Salman Abedi's first cousins, Isaac and Abz Forjani, who said they were traumatized by the crime he committed.

ISAAC FORJANI, SALMAN ABEDI'S FIRST COUSIN: It took a while to believe, to be honest, when we see his name.

How did this happen?

How did it (INAUDIBLE)?

This is actually really happening.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): As part of the massive police operation in the aftermath of the bombing, Abz and Isaac Forjani were taken into custody two days after the incident. They were questioned for a week and then released, no charges brought against them.

ISAAC FORJANI: What makes it worse is the person that did this, is obviously related to us by blood. And it makes it a whole lot worse.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Abz and Isaac two say they used to see their cousin frequently when they were younger but that changed in recent years. They don't recall whether his personality changed but they say his mood seemed darker when they last met him several months ago.

ABZ FORJANI, SALMAN ABEDI'S FIRST COUSIN: I felt like he was a bit lonely and maybe a bit depressed or...

You know, again, which doesn't mean that it is such a thing.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The two men say they are ashamed of what their cousin did and feel sorry for the victims. And they're angry at him for what he has done.

ABZ FORJANI: Just like everyone else, the victim's parents, they all want answers; I want answers, even though he is my cousin and I have been arrested because of that situation.

Well, I want answers. I want to know, he misled them all. He's got the idea in his head.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The same question British authorities are asking as well as they continue their effort to identify and dismantle the network they believe was behind Salman Abedi's suicide bombing -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, London.


VANIER: The Black Eyed Peas are bringing the love this weekend to two huge events in the U.K. The hip-hop group will perform Saturday at the Champions League Final in Cardiff, Wales. Then they're going to head to Manchester, England to join Ariana Grande's One Love benefit concert Sunday.

The show will honor victims of last month's attack where 22 people were killed in Manchester.

Band members told our Hala Gorani why their song, "Where Is the Love?" is perfect for the occasion.


TABOO, MEMBER, THE BLACK EYED PEAS: 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.


VANIER: Ahead of the concert, Ariana Grande visited fans at the hospital who were wounded in the attack at her previous show in Manchester on May 22nd.

Still ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, facing tough questions. The two leading candidates in Britain's election speak directly to voters live on TV. Hear what they had to say in just a moment.





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

On Saturday the candidates WHITE: campaigned north of England, 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 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 is Britain 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: Another huge issue here, of course, Brexit, but the British political landscape has changed significantly since its decision to pull out of the E.U. And many of the prominent voices that had called for the U.K. to leave simply 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...

(LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- air of repose about the fellow.

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


VANIER: And Britain is hosting one of Europe's biggest sporting events later on, later today, the Champions League final. An estimated 350 million people are expected to watch the match between Real Madrid and Juventus in Cardiff.

Security has been ramped up following the recent attack in Manchester with 2,000 police officers deployed. On the pitch itself, both teams hoping to make football history.

Real Madrid want to become the first team ever to successfully defend a Champions League title while Juventus are hoping for a hat trick after winning the Copa Italia and Italian league. They would be only the ninth European side to get a cup treble.

So two big events this weekend in the U.K., the Champions League final and that Manchester benefit concert we told you about earlier in the show.

What does the weather look like for those two events. Meteorologist Karen Maginnis joins us from the CNN International Weather Center -- Karen.


VANIER: Karen Maginnis from the CNN Weather Center, thank you very much.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'll be back with the headlines in just a moment. Stay with us.