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Trump Considers Terminating Special Counsel; British PM Shores Up Support in Party Meeting; Macron's Party Set to Win Huge Majority. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired June 13, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:07] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: What could be the next major moment in the Russia investigation -- a friend of President Trump says he is now considering firing Robert Mueller as special counsel.

VAUSE: "I got us into this mess and I'll get us out of it." Theresa May trying to stand firm after a bruising U.K. general election.

WALKER: And NBA hall of famer Dennis Rodman making a return trip to North Korea.

VAUSE: That's just what the world needs right now.

Hello and welcome, everybody. I'm John Vause.

WALKER: And I'm Amara Walker. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

VAUSE: Well, special counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating Russian meddling into the U.S. election for a little more than three but a friend of President Trump says Mueller's time may soon be up.


CHRISTOPHER RUDDY, NEWSMAX CEO: I think he's considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. I think he's weighing that option. I think it's pretty clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently. I personally think it would be a very significant mistake.


WALKER: Now the White House says Christopher Ruddy speaks for himself and a source close to the President says Mr. Trump is being counseled to steer clear of such a dramatic move.

VAUSE: We have heard that before.

Meanwhile we may get a lot more insight into the Russia investigation when Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. We begin our coverage with CNN's Brianna Keilar.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The President seen today with the Attorney General. Trump has been seething that Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation three months ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- able to serve you and that has --

KEILAR: Today's cabinet meeting is on the eve of what was expected to be a closed-door congressional grilling of Sessions but it will now take place in full view of the cameras. Senators have pressing questions about the President's meeting with him and the former FBI director.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: The President asked that the room be cleared. The Attorney General apparently hung back. I thought the Attorney General should have said something. "This man works for me. I think I should be here, too Mr. President." But the FBI director ended up alone. And that's kind of where this began.

KEILAR: Senators will also ask Sessions about this testimony during his confirmation in January.

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not -- not have communications with the Russians. And I'm unable to comment on it.

KEILAR: It was later revealed that Sessions, in fact, had two meetings, one of them a private audience in his congressional office with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. And perhaps a third encounter at a Washington hotel.

The Justice Department has denied the hotel meeting but will Sessions and the White House, vague on whether it will exert executive privilege.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It depends on the scope of the questions and it would be -- to get into a hypothetical at this point would be premature.

KEILAR: Meanwhile --

DONALD TRUMP, JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: We were vindicated --

KEILAR: The President's son seeming to back Comey's account of Trump's controversial conversation with the former FBI chief where Comey alleged Trump directed him to stop investigating now ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn saying, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

TRUMP JR.: When he tells you to do something, guess what, there's not ambiguity in it. There's no, hey I'm hoping. You and I friends, hey I hope this happens but you've got to do your job. That's what he told Comey. And for this guy, as a politician, to then go back and write a memo, I felt -- he felt so threatened. But he didn't do anything.

KEILAR: The problem with this explanation -- President Trump says that's not what he told Comey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did say under oath that you told him to let the Flynn -- you said you hope the Flynn investigation, you could like --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he lied about that?

TRUMP: Well, I didn't say that. I mean I will tell you I didn't say that.

KEILAR: Senator Lindsey Graham also had some more advice for the President. Focus on the American people, not Jim Comey. This has become such a distraction for the GOP. They want to focus instead on health care and tax reform.

Brianna Keilar, CNN -- Washington.


VAUSE: Joining us now CNN political commentator and democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and Republican strategist Ashley Hayek. Good to see you both.

A lot to talk about now and start with, you know, word that the President may in fact be considering at least firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russia. So I guess, stock up on the dramamine because things are about to get pretty rough out there, if that's the case.

We don't know if it's true, actually. What we do know is that many conservatives have tried to at least start to discredit Mueller in recent days.

[00:05:03] Former house speaker Newt Gingrich, for example, when Mueller was appointed he was initially supportive. He tweeted this. "Robert Mueller is a superb choice to be special counsel. His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity. The media should now calm down."

But by Monday morning "Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he is hiring, check everything he reports. Time to rethink."

Ashley -- is this an attempt to undercut Mueller, to discredit whatever the findings of the investigation are even before they're out?

ASHLEY HAYEK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think that the GOP is so used to the negative attacks that are happening in the media that they are basically preparing for what is going to come. Russia is just -- it's a dog with a bone. The media is not letting -- letting go of this topic. And I think they're basically bracing for what's going to come with the investigation.

VAUSE: But how did it go from an impeccable choice to, you know, you're delusional if you think he's going to be fair.

HAYEK: I think all the information that came out with Comey in the testimony basically called so much more into question, right. And so now, with the leak and not knowing who to trust, you're realizing he's part of the FBI, Department of Justice -- I think that that's where everyone is starting to feel like ok, wait a minute, if they're such good friends and he's the prosecutor, his job is to prosecute and go after whoever the target, in this case, is it President Trump. I think that's where they're starting to draw some concern.

WALKER: Dave -- what do you make of this about face though because again, Robert Mueller was someone that was praised on both sides of the aisle? And now this. I mean you're hearing criticism now from people who were praising the appointment.

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think what's fascinating also is the statement from the former speaker Newt Gingrich. It comes on the heels of news in Axios (ph) this morning that Michael Dreeben who's from the solicitor-general's office who's argued over a hundred cases before the U.S. Supreme Court who specializes in criminal law I think raise real concerns in Trump world. And I think that's why you've got some of the talking heads, some of the mouthpieces -- whether it's Newt Gingrich or the CEO of Newsmax coming out raising the possibility of just doing away with the Mueller investigation.

VAUSE: Actually legally, the President can fire the special counsel, you know. Ask President Nixon how that worked out for him.

WALKER: Right.

VAUSE: You know, this does have overtures of sort of the (inaudible). And you know, actually only Donald Trump can actually, truly make the decision here --

HAYEK: Right.

VAUSE: -- of what the cost-benefit analysis is. Is the political blowback from sacking Mueller, because there would be plenty, is that going to be better than the outcome of the investigation. And I think his actions in the next couple of days regarding Mueller might give us an indication -- right.

HAYEK: Right. I agree. And I think that tomorrow when Sessions testifies that he's going to be the one who actually puts this to bed.

WALKER: But what do you think the political fall out would be though if this were to happen, if President Trump were to terminate Robert Mueller?

JACOBSON: I think it's a game changer. I think it's a game changer. And I think that's the point.

Look right now you have the Trump administration sort of spiraling out of control, in a flat-out nosedive. You've got Republicans nervous. They haven't accomplished anything meaningful in terms of legislative victories through both the House and Senate. And now you've got this ongoing, ever-evolving, ever-salacious Russian probe that continues to create headlines and it's hurting Republicans down-ticket.

As we move to 2018, Republicans are getting nervous. And so I think you're going to see some pull back from Republicans, from the rank and file in the House and the Senate.

VAUSE: Well that nosedive continues because on Monday, yet another (inaudible) for the travel ban, yet another court ruled that that was not legal, this time exceeding the President's authority. Part of that ruling which was really interesting is that the court considered a tweet from the President on June 5, just the other week.

This is the tweet. This is just after the London terror attack. "That's right. We need a travel ban from certain dangerous countries, not politically correct term that won't help us protect our people."

Three judges decided that because of that tweet, Trump was actually about the countries being dangerous, the citizens. You know, a whole bunch of legal arguments here but actually, you know, the politics here. How many more times will the President shoot himself in the foot with a tweet before he stops tweeting?

HAYEK: For starters, that the Ninth Circuit is going shut down that travel ban no matter what. Whether he sent that tweet or didn't send the tweet, like there's no way that travel ban was going through the Ninth Circuit, period. However, I think you need to look at the law, and everybody agrees that the law is legally sound. It's the same thing that Obama had -- the executive order, I'm sorry. It's the same thing that Obama had put through. And it doesn't even affect more than 90 percent of the Muslims in the world, so.

WALKER: Fair point. So how do you explain that when you -- especially when the judges cited President Trump's tweets and also Sean Spicer's comments in the White House saying that, you know, anything that President Trump tweets is officially coming from the White House.

So he is shooting himself in the foot, don't you think? I mean like Lindsey Graham said, is he not his own worst enemy; and we're talking about President Trump here?

HAYEK: I think that once it gets to the Supreme Court and we look at the actual language of the law which is what we're going to -- what they will focus on, the President will be vindicated at that point.

JACOBSON: I think largely this has been called unconstitutional because it puts forward a religious test, asking people essentially, you know, to come forward basically if they're a Muslim from one of these countries and they can't come into the country, number one.

[00:10:11] Number two, the issue at hand also is that Donald Trump tweeted out last week that he supports not the watered-down version but the tougher, harder version, the first version which by the way included Iraq.

VAUSE: Ok. Well, all of this is naturally making life very tough to work in the White House. Just ask Ivanka. Listen to this.


IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP: There is a level of viciousness that I was not expecting. I was not expecting the intensity of this experience. I think some of the distractions and some of the -- the ferocity was -- I was a little blindsided by on a personal level.


VAUSE: Not expecting the viciousness -- was she in a coma for the election campaign? Listen to her father.


TRUMP: Rosie O'Donnell is disgusting. I mean both inside and out.

I don't know what I said. I don't remember.

I view a person who is flatchested is very hard to be a 10.

When you are led by very, very stupid people --

This guy Ted Cruz is the single biggest liar I have ever dealt with in my life.

But it's political (EXPLETIVE DELETED), you understand.

I call on little Marco, little Marco.

Ok, she forgot you.


VAUSE: Actually, you know, her father ran one of the most vicious, negative campaigns in presidential history. Is there a certain (ph) hypocrisy here coming from Ivanka?

HAYEK: Yes, I don't see him holding that bloody head in his hand, you know, in a comedy routine. And I don't see a play that's being, you know, privately and publicly funded depicting the assassination of an individual. You know, I think the extreme -- yes, there's language. There's the language that's gone back and forth between both parties for a number of years.

But the level that we're seeing, the grotesqueness like how bad it's gotten. And at what is that extreme rhetoric going to inspire somebody to actually try and carry out some sort of physical vicious attack.

WALKER: Well, I think the things critics would say is some of the things that President Trump has said and done have also been unprecedented and at, you know, a level that they haven't seen before.

But let me switch to the testimony that we're about to hear on Tuesday -- Dave. What do you expect to hear from Jeff Sessions? And do you expect him to invoke executive privilege especially when he's talking about his conversation with President Trump leading up to the firing of James Comey?

JACOBSON: I think it's plausible. There's got to be some real tough questions that are going to be asked, particularly by Senator Al Franken, who asked during his confirmation hearing at the Judiciary Committee whether or not Jeff Sessions, pardon me, had had any conversations or meeting with the Russians. Of course, he said no. He lied to the Senate Judicial Committee potentially causing perjury at a time a couple of months later obviously after the "Washington Post" had reported that obviously he had two meetings with former -- with current Ambassador Kislyak from the Russians.

The question also I think that's going to be asked is whether or not there was a third meeting --

WALKER: Right.

JACOBSON: -- at the Mayflower Hotel in April of 2016, of course with Donald Trump -- again with Ambassador Kislyak. I think that question is going to be asked. And it will be telling to see whether or not he invokes executive privilege on that.

And I also wonder, depending on what Comey told the Senators last week in closed session, how that's going to impact how they formulate the question.

VAUSE: Ok. There was the first full cabinet meeting of the Trump administration on Monday. And it seemed it was a session of who loves the President the most.

Sorry -- that's actually the wrong tape. That's North Korean media praising Kim Jong-Un for a successful missile test.

This was the cabinet meeting -- have a look.


SESSIONS: Mr. President, it's great to be here and celebrate this group.

ALEX ACOSTA, U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: Mr. President, my privilege to be here. I'm deeply honored and I want to thank you for keeping your commitment to the American workers.

TOM PRICE, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: I can't thank you enough for the privilege that you've been given and the leadership that you've shown.

ELAINE CHAO, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: I want to thank you for getting this country moving again and also working again. REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you've given to serve your agenda and the American people.


VAUSE: Don't know how that North Korea stuff got in there. But Ashley -- I mean, this seems a little odd, right.

HAYEK: I mean he's done -- he's done a lot of good work. He's trying to focus on, you know, infrastructure and reforming healthcare and this week it's the work force development. And so I think taking a moment to reflect on your accomplishments -- there's nothing wrong with that.

VAUSE: Dave?

JACOBSON: I call it vomit-inducing, particularly when it came to the chief of staff Reince Priebus. I mean this is a guy who's essentially been given a deadline of July 4 to get healthcare passed. And repeatedly there's been rumors about him being fired. And then, of course, he says it's a quote "blessing" to serve the President. It's ridiculous.

[00:15:01] WALKER: Quite bizarre -- the moment.


WALKER: CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and Republican strategist Ashley Hayek -- thank you both for joining us.

HAYEK: Thank you.

VAUSE: Thank you.

WALKER: Well, British Prime Minister Theresa May is holding on to the job, at least for now. She apologized to members of her party for a snap election that backfired. Mrs. May told them, "I got us into this mess. And I'm going to get us out of it."

VAUSE: I've used that line before.

Part of that promise though means trying to strike a deal with a small party called the Democratic Unionist to form a coalition government. Those negotiations could delay the presentation of the government's legislative agenda in a symbolic Queen's speech.

Melissa Bell has more now from Downing Street.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a visibly relieved Theresa May who returned here to Downing Street from a very important with her own party down at Westminster just down the road, a meeting at which she managed to convince, first of all, of her contrition. I think that was the essential thing first of all. Also that she would be rethinking some of the more controversial measures contained within the Conservative manifesto -- measures that have clearly not been accepted by the British people in this election.

Theresa May now faces the next challenge will be -- which will be to try and ensure that the talks with the DUP, the Ulster Unionists do allow her to form that minority government she's to meet on Tuesday here. Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP -- that will be the crucial next step. And from there we should have an idea of when the Queen's speech is to be held.

There is some doubt at the moment that it will go ahead on Monday, clearly until the details of the deal with the DUP have been finalized -- very difficult for the Conservatives to know what can go through in that Queen's speech.

So no doubt there will be some delay and today the spokesman here at Downing Street refused to confirm that it would go ahead on Monday. Clearly it is an embattled Theresa May. It is a weakened Theresa May who goes forward from here but clearly a prime minister who has at least, for now, managed to convince her own party that she's the right woman to try and take things forward.

Melissa Bell, CNN -- in Downing Street.


VAUSE: Cherrie Short joins us now. She is the U.K. Race Commissioner and has been awarded a CBE and you worked for former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Good to see you, Terry. Thanks for coming in.

You are also new associate dean at the University of Southern California which is what brings you to Los Angeles.

Theresa May, a very contrite apology, a supporter of (inaudible) but it seems she's now -- now she has actually a mandate on what sort of Brexit deal she can negotiate.

CHERRIE SHORT, U.K. RACE COMMISSIONER: Well, that's totally true but it's all her own fault really, if one thinks about it. I mean she played game. The game didn't pay off and so what happened and she lost a number of seats which means that she's looking elsewhere for seats which she's looking for the Democratic Union Party of Northern Ireland which is a very interesting party in the sense that it's very right-wing.

VAUSE: Right.

SHORT: A party that will take the Conservative government straight back into the dark ages, I feel.

VAUSE: They're very conservative on a whole lot of social issues.

SHORT: Very totally. I mean they're against gay marriage, one. Secondly, they also are against women rights in different shapes and forms. They're against abortion in any way possible. They have numerous things.

VAUSE: And just on Brexit though, they're part of the camp that want a soft Brexit which is essentially kind of a divorce from the E.U. but staying within the market, kind of like a Norway deal as opposed to the hard Brexit which May has been campaigning on to cut all ties with Europe. No immigration, closed borders but then a free-trade deal which is always going to be uphill, anyway.

SHORT: Right. So, yes. You're correct on that.

So I think that a soft approach is definitely a good thing. One can't deny that. Europe has always been one of our closest allies, our allies indeed. And what we actually see that the divorce from Europe will cause a lot of issues and problems for us, not just the economy but all social issues too.

So I think it's really important to take a soft step but you mustn't forget too that the Labour Party is very much involved in this because if it wasn't for us, the Labour Party in general, then we wouldn't have seen Theresa May in this position.

So we must also look at the diversity that is also existing at the moment in parliament and think to ourselves, well, you know, is the political climate changing? And if it is changing, to join again with the Democratic Union Party is a disaster.

VAUSE: Just very quickly though, the position that Theresa May finds herself in with the hard Brexiters on the one side, the soft Brexiters on the other, this very tenuous coalition if she manages to negotiate this is not a done deal.

[00:20:04] Now she's at sort of the whim of all the lawmakers within her own party, she will have to find ways to make concessions without sparking a revolt and having, you know, a vote of no-confidence or having legislation brought. She has to negotiate this for the next, you know, four or five years.

This is not -- I mean the chances of her lasting as leader under those conditions will have to be what -- three (ph) to nothing.

SHORT: Well, it will be very, very difficult. It's like George Osborne said this week, I think, with CNN that he actually stated that it's like a dead woman walking. And I think that is a very good terminology coming somebody who's very much involved in the party and has been for a number of years. In fact, he was the Treasurer of the party which -- the chancellor for the Exchequer which you can't be any closer to the Conservative Party than having such a ties.

So if you look at all these factors and how they've lined up -- I mean Theresa May took a gamble and the gamble lost.

VAUSE: And I lost. You roll the dice, you pay the price.

Cherrie -- thank you for coming. Good to see you.

SHORT: Thank you. VAUSE: Thank you.

WALKER: All right. Up next, the first round of parliamentary votes in France predicts a major boost for the president's reform plans but critics are pointing out one weakness.

VAUSE: Also ahead, he's defended his past trips to North Korea as basketball diplomacy. Now American Dennis Rodman heading back to Pyongyang. We'll have details from the North Korean capital when we come back.


WALKER: Final results of France's parliamentary elections will be confirmed next Sunday in a second round of voting. But as of now President Emmanuel Macron's young party is on track to win a huge majority.

VAUSE: L'Republique en Marche is expected to win as many as 445 seats out of 577 in the lower house. But the first round saw low voter turnout racing questions about support for Macron's pro-business reforms.

WALKER: All right. Joining us now is Dominic Thomas. He's the chair of UCLA Department of French and Francophone Studies. Dominic -- great to have you here. Thank you for joining us.

Let's just talk about the moment and just yet another remarkable moment for Macron himself, a victory for him for someone, by the way, who did not have the backing of a major party when he ran for president. Then he won. And then now this, a huge victory for a party that's only, what, 14 months old that he created.

DOMINIC THOMAS, UCLA DEPARTMENT OF FRENCH AND FRANCOPHONE STUDIES: Right. Well, actually the party is just a few weeks old because before that it was just a movement. So what's so interesting about this story is that the French electoral system changed in 2002 from a seven-year presidential term to a five so that the presidential election would correlate with the legislatives that are held every five years. And every elected president has gone on to, with that momentum, to gain the support of the parliament.

[00:24:57] But since Macron was only a movement, there was a lot of skepticism about whether or not he could create a party in the sort of the days that followed the general election and then go into this. And so far, the gamble has worked.

WALKER: And this is also a huge, I guess, major humiliating blow for the traditional socialist and Republican Party. You see the centrist right -- and what is -- what are the voters in France saying by, you know, casting this vote even though voter turnout was low? But again, anti-Europe rise that we were seeing is not what we saw in France in this election.

THOMAS: Yes. No. And complete contrast to what happened over the channel where the two major parties, the Conservatives and the Labour got the highest turnout in over 40 years with 84 percent voting for those, right.

In the French system, not only in the presidential election were the traditional parties of the right or the left didn't even make it to the runoff stages but in the first round of the parliamentary elections, the Socialist Party came in fifth yet again and has been sort of completely decimated. Le Pen and those parties did not do very well. And Emmanuel Macron's has risen up.

Now the turnout was low --

WALKER: Right.

THOMAS: -- and I suppose there are many ways of interpreting that. One of them of course is that the polls were pointing to a strong Macron performance and that meant that a lot of people stayed away. But since the general elections, the Front National has had some troubles with Marine Le Pen's stepping down.

The Republicans (ph) are very divided and of course, Emmanuel Macron was so strategic in appointing a prime Minister from the right and in bringing in to his cabinet, representatives from across the political spectrum.

So it's very difficult for voters to sort of decide where they're going to go because his parliament, his cabinet is so representative --

WALKER: Are you not reading too much into this low voter turn out and what that might mean for his pro-business agenda. He's got a very ambitious agenda.

THOMAS: Right. But he will have a very large parliamentary majority and the turnout, you know, in the general -- you know, in the presidential election, you know, was also -- there was a lot of voters that didn't come to vote in the second round and so on, too.

So I'm not particularly, you know, concerned for that for him, you know. The fact is that he stands to win one of the largest majorities since the 1990s and with that he will be able to govern and legislate.

WALKER: We'd love to talk to you more, of course. Next hour we'll talk to you more about the implications of what the Brexit talks will mean across the channel.

Dominic Thomas -- thank you so much. We'll see you in a bit.

THOMAS: Thank you.

VAUSE: And with that we'll take a short break.

When we come back, sentence for speaking out -- a prominent Russian opposition leader facing 30 days detention.

WALKER: And a unique portrait of Russia's president from a leading Hollywood filmmaker -- a look at Oliver Stone's "The Putin Interview".

Stay with us.


[00:30:02] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

WALKER: And I'm Amara Walker.

The headlines this hour.

Here are our top stories.

A friend of Donald Trump says the president is considering terminating special council Robert Muller. He was appointed last month to look into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

A source close to the White House says the president is being advised to steer clear of such a dramatic move.

VAUSE: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify in public before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. The senators want to know about his contacts with Russian official while he was part of the Trump campaign. The White House says Sessions may refuse to answer some questions citing executive privilege.

WALKER: Conservative British lawmakers say they are not looking to replace the prime minister. Theresa May reportedly told members of her party, "I got us into this mess and I'm going to get us out of it."

The presentation of the legislative agenda could be delayed because Mrs. May is still trying to nail down backing from the Northern Irish party.

VAUSE: Kremlin critic Alexi Navalny is backed in jail. The Russian opposition leader will be detained for 30 days after calling for protest across the country. That is his second prison term this year.

WALKER: Now Navalny used his YouTube channel to encourage Russians to take a stand against corruption. But a monitoring group says it is rallying cry ended in almost 1400 arrest.

Diana Magnay has more from St. Petersburg.



DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They were warned it would end up this way. Protests against Putin and on a patriotic Russian national holiday, it's not going to end well.


MAGNAY: In many places, the rallies called by Alexey Navalny's anticorruption campaign were banned, but the young and digitally savvy who follow him on YouTube came anyway.


MAGNAY: Thousands across the country, though, it was St. Petersburg and Moscow where most of the arrests were made.


MAGNAY (on camera): That chant means you will not jail everybody. They've been funneling some people who they've arrested out from the crowds. But as you see, there are so many more who are determined to keep protesting.


MAGNAY (voice-over): Navalny wasn't there. He was detained at his home before the Moscow protests began. But the crowds knew his message. Emblem of these demonstrations, the rubber duck, almost surreal in this setting, but a dig at alleged corruption surrounding Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, claims he calls nonsense.


UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER (through translation): At the prime minister's house there is a pond that has a duck house in the middle of it, so this has become a symbol of how easily bribed he is and his corruption.

MAGNAY: In Moscow, thousands took over one of the city's busiest streets. They unfurled Russian flags and chanted "Putin out" and "Putin's a thief."


MAGNAY: Here, too, riot police rushed in to snatch demonstrators, beating several, some of them little more than teenagers.


MAGNAY: Back in St. Petersburg, as the police buses filled up with protesters, one more surreal moment. In amongst the crowd, a man on bended knees and a little jewelry box, a diamond in the rough of Russian politics, you might say. His choice of time and place seem to have worked.

Diana Magnay, CNN, St. Petersburg.


VAUSE: The filmmaker Oliver Stone who is no stranger to controversial topics gained access to Vladimir Putin for two years.

WALKER: And now he's out with a documentary presenting a different perspective of the Russian president.

Jill Dougherty has more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Who is Mr. Putin? It's been asked and answered many times. But Filmmaker Oliver Stone adds a new chapter.

STONE: They say you want to be czar.

Did you make a mistake in Crimea?

You didn't answer my question.

He was finally admitting it. He was like a fox that just got out of the hen house.

DOUGHERTY: Two years of shooting, more than a dozen interviews on everything from war and peace to, of course, the new U.S. president.

STONE: Why did Russia hack the election?

The NSA is really tracking every cell phone in the world.

DOUGHERTY: The Kremlin says they trusted Oliver Stone, Oscar award- winning director with an anti-establishment bet.

STONE: Did you think the National Security Agency had gone too far in its eavesdropping?


DOUGHERTY: Stone had one precondition, editorial independence. Putin's press secretary, Dimitri Peskov, tells CNN, "The only thing we asked him was not to pervert the words of the president, to be objective."

STONE: Three times president, five assassination attempts, I'm told, not as much as Castro, who I've interviewed.

DOUGHERTY: Stone says the film is not journalism, it's a conversation.



[00:35:00] DOUGHERTY: It wouldn't be a movie about Vladimir Putin without some machismo and tough talk.


DOUGHERTY: But someone who helped mold that image says, now, in a way, Putin is typecast.

GLEB PAVLOVSKY, FORMER KREMLIN ADVISER (through translation): He grew into this image and began to play along with it, like what happens to old actors. They start playing a role but they themselves are a role.

DOUGHERTY (on camera): I've interview Vladimir Putin here at the Kremlin, watched him all these years. But the mystery of who he really is continues. And in this film, we get a flash of a more philosophical side.

STONE: What is your fate, sir? Do you know?


DOUGHERTY: The meaning of life, according to Vladimir Putin. Who knew?

Jill Dougherty, Moscow.


WALKER: Up next, former basketball star Dennis Rodman is on his way to Pyongyang at a time when tensions between the U.S. and North Korea threatened to boil over. We're going to have the latest from Pyongyang, next.


WALKER: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is getting a visit from one of his biggest fans. CNN actually spotted former basketball star, Dennis Rodman, at Beijing International Airport, Monday, on his way to Pyongyang.

VAUSE: Rodman has met with the North Korean leader at least four times, but this trip comes during heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.

Details now from Will Ripley.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is certainly a surreal turn of events here in Pyongyang. Few people expected Dennis Rodman to be returning to North Korea after that infamous visit back in 2014 when he was captured on camera in a documentary acting out of control. The trip described as a train wreck for Rodman, often being drunk, often going on anger rant including famously yelling at CNN's Chris Cuomo during a live interview.

However, Dennis Rodman is one of the few Americans to have spent time with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, who happens to be a big basketball fan just like his father. Dennis Rodman has visited this country at least four times. Three of those trips happening between 2013 and 2014 when he organize a basketball tournament for the North Korean leader in honor of his birthday, even singing happy birthday to him.

And we know that Dennis Rodman also knows President Trump very well. Having appeared twice on "Celebrity Apprentice." And Rodman reportedly said in March that he would be willing to return to North Korea to negotiate on behalf of the United States if President Trump asked him to do so.

[00:40:00] This is a very tense time on the Peninsula. North Korea has launched more than a dozen missiles so far this year. On track, it's the busiest year of missile launches ever.

Also, North Korea continues to hold four Americans. Two professors at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a University of Virginia student and a naturalized U.S. citizen. All of this men being held on various charges. Could Dennis Rodman be acting as a go between, between the United States and North Korea, given his relationship with Kim Jong-un, we don't know but the State Department did say they are aware of this trip but that Rodman is not acting in any official capacity.

Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang, North Korea.

WALKER: And CNN Paula Hancocks joining us now with more live from Seoul.

Hi, there, Paula.

Obviously, a lot of people wondering why in the world is Dennis Rodman returning to Pyongyang. What exactly are his intentions? CNN did catch up with Dennis Rodman and asked him this question.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. Yes, CNN's Matt Rivers just spoke to him at Beijing Airport. And this is the information we have at this point.

He asked him whether or not he had spoken to U.S. President Trump and what Dennis Rodman said was "I'm pretty sure he's happy at the fact I'm over here trying to accomplish something that we both need."

He was then ask, you know, what are you trying to accomplish. To which he said, "Just trying to open the door, to open the door, that's it."

Now he was also asked specifically about the detained Americans in North Korea. At this point, there were currently four that have been detained, asking whether or not he was going to talk about that and he said, "That's not my purpose right now." He is saying that he wants to try and bring more sports to North Korea.

So, of course, there was a lot of speculation as to whether or not he is going there, to try and negotiate the release of one, if not four Americans that are currently detained in North Korea. He said that's not his purpose. His purpose is for sports and saying the main thing is so I hope I can open doors for each other.

And when asked if he thought he can make progress, he said, I'm pretty sure I can do something that's pretty positive.

So this was a brief chat with Dennis Rodman as he was at Beijing Airport, presumably about to get on a plane to Pyongyang.

Amara? WALKER: Yes. It's interesting that, you know, Dennis Rodman didn't say anything. He didn't respond to the question of whether or not he was bringing a message on behalf of President Trump.

But on that note, we do know Dennis Rodman and President Trump do have a relationship, right?

I mean, Dennis Rodman was on President Trump's, when he was not president, on his show "Apprentice" a few times.

HANCOCKS: That's right, yes. He was on the "Celebrity Apprentice" twice in fact. So they definitely have a relationship from the past. That was back in 2013 as well when Dennis Rodman was in North Korea.

The U.S. President Donald Trump was on "Fox News" and actually said he praised that trip that Dennis Rodman was taking.

So, clearly, there is a history between the two men. Trump has praised Rodman in the past. And now from the U.S. State Department they said that he is there as a private citizen. He is not taking a message of any kind. But it will be interesting to see what does happen there.


WALKER: Absolutely. Paula Hancock, live in Seoul. Thank you very much, Paula.

And thank you, everyone, for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm Amara Walker.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Stay with us. "World Sport" with Kate Riley is up next. And then we will be back with another hour of news from all around the world. You're watching CNN.