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Park Geun-hye Faces 25 Years Imprisonment; Trump to Slap New Tariffs on China; Jacob Zuma Haunted by Karma; Russia and British Gap Widens; Palestinians And Israel's Brace For More Violence; Trump Denies Knowing Porn Star Payment; Living Along The Border; Bollywood Salman Khan Seeking Bail. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired April 6, 2018 - 03:00   ET



PAULA HANCOCKS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: -- years in prison. They found her guilty of abuse of power, of coercion, of other charges as well. Some of the 18 charges she was found not guilty of. But the overall ruling at this point and sentencing is 24 years.

Now I'm in a middle of the pro-Park Geun-hye contingents just outside the court, they just heard what has happened to Park Geun-hye in that sentencing and you can see that the reaction is not happy at all. There are a number of people screaming, there are people saying that they cannot accept that this has happened.

And as you can see here, as well, some are actually now trying to sit down and lie down on the road saying that they are not going to move. Now it isn't a massive crowd, there's probably a few hundred here but it is a very vocal tribes, saying that they believe this should not have happened.

There are others though, that believe this should have happen that justice needed and that's being done. Remember, just over a year ago, there were hundreds of thousands of protesters that came out onto the street of Seoul in the middle of the winter to call for Park Geun-hye for impeachment.

So certainly, there are very high emotions when it comes to this massive corruption case. A very far-reaching corruption case but that that is the latest we have at this point. Twenty years of prison sentence for the former President Park Geun-hye. It isn't the end though, it is almost guaranteed that she will appeal. George?

GEORGE HOWELL, HOST, CNN: Again, just to give some context again, Paula, what we're seeing behind you these pro-Park Geun-hye supporters, people who are against this news that we are hearing. But again, as you were pointing out this breaking news, 24 years in prison.

If you could just remind our viewers of that time before she was ousted from the president of that nation, what it was like for that nation, a nation that was polarized for sure, many people who wanted to see her out of the position and many people who thought that she was innocent.

HANCOCKS: Absolutely, yes. It's really centered around one confidante of Park Geun-hye, a woman called Choi Soon-sil, who herself has been sentence to 20 years in prison. And there was -- it was a case that Park Geun-hye was accused and now of course found guilty of leaking certain confidential documents to this confidante. This confidante having power that an elected official should not have had.

And there was that real anger among many people in South Korea that this had been allowed to happened. There were allegations some of which have now been substantiated by these judges and Park Geun-hye has been found guilty of, that there was bribery that she and her confidante had tried to get from some of the big conglomerates here like Samsung like Lotte to fund different organizations.

So, certainly, this has been a very polarizing case as you mentioned, George. There is this demographic here is older, is more conservative. These are the people who, for example, some of them remember Park Geun-hye's father who was in charge of this country back in the 70s and the 80s.

And some feel that this is too harsh punishment that there are those that even if they do believe that Park Geun-hye has done wrong they don't believe that there should be this level of punishment.

And then of course, there are others that mostly the younger as well, who believed that the corruption in this country has gone on for long enough. This close relationship between government and big business is unhealthy. It should not be allowed to continue and they wanted to see justice being done. George?

HOWELL: Paula Hancocks, standby with this if we still have that live image just like to show our viewers again what's happening there on the streets. These demonstrations behind Paula Hancocks of people there who support the former president again, this first democratically elected president. The first to be ousted on criminal charges. These corruption charges that Paula just described again.

Again, the trial broadcast on live television. This was a case, and certainly the entire nation look to the nation certainly polarize around this particular figure.

Let's bring back in our correspondent on the streets following the story. Just to get a sense, Paula, of what this means for people there. This such an important case. What does it mean for people politically?

HANCOCKS: Well, certainly for those hundreds of thousand potentially millions in all that came out into the streets of downtown Seoul, to call for the impeachment of this former president, Park Geun-hye. This will be vindication for them they were calling for an end to corruption, they were calling for an end to this close relationship between government and big business.

[03:04:57] The heir apparently, the head of Samsung was also caught up in this. He was sentence originally to five years, that was commuted to two and a half years suspended on appeal, and he is now three and out of jail.

But there was some frustration among some in this country who feel that he should have paid a heavier price for what they see as his part in this collussion between government and big business. But then of course, it is very polarizing.

There is other element that feels that this is just too harsh, that they feel Park Geun-hye has not done anything wrong. And even those who do feel she's done something wrong they question whether or not it would lead this level of punishment.

So it will be very interesting to see the reaction in the coming hours as to what people think of 24 years. Prosecutors said ask for 30 years but bear in mind that her confidante Choi Soon-sil got 20 years. Twenty four years is high when you consider what the alternatives could have been, George.

HOWELL: Twenty four years in prison, and as you point out the former president sure to appeal. We'll have to wait and see how that plays out, again that's breaking news this hour. Paula Hancocks, thank you.

And now let's bring in Robert Kelly for analysis. Robert the associate professor of political science at Pusan National University via Skype in South Korea. A pleasure to have you with us. So, certainly following this breaking news 24 years in prison.


HOWELL: This first democratically elected leader of the nation ousted over a criminal scandal. Talk to us about the significance of what we are seeing right now.

KELLY: Sure. I agree that sentences really high. Park Geun-hye is 66 which means she'll be 90 if the sentences completed, I mean, she may well die in jail. Certainly South Koreans president have gotten in trouble before, I'm not sure if anyone of them has ever serve such a long jail sentence though. I would be surprised if doesn't been appeal and is reduced.

I think more importantly, I mean, the bigger issue really is the constitutional one which is that in South Korea has really sort of demonstrated that's it's a modern mature consolidated democracy. South Korea was a dictatorship until just 40 years ago and the South Koreans one of the few democracies that are actually gone from an entire impeachment cycle.

And most Americans will remember what happened to Richard Nixon but of course he resigned, and very few democracies actually do the entire thing the whole way and followed, you know, following proper constitutional procedure and the South Koreans did it. It's actually pretty remarkable.

HOWELL: And let's talk about that time when many people remember the images there in Seoul, South Korea. So many large demonstrations just as many people who are in support of the former president as there were against her. And again, we are looking at a live image right now in Seoul, South

Korea, 4.07 there and people we see on the streets. These are many people who support the former president. People who believe that she is innocent.

And Robert, a few moments ago we saw people tearful as they heard this breaking news 24 years in jail. Talk to us about what that was like how this polarized nation is dealing with this news.

KELLY: Yes, that's exactly right. I mean, South Korea really was deeply divided over the South Korea like, and there are certainly in the United States I suppose has a deep generational divide.

Park Geun-hye was elected overwhelmingly with all her voters people over 60, younger voters just couldn't stand her my students just to test her, and eventually, you know, her approval ratings fell below 10 percent as the extent of the criminality and the corruption and everything else became apparent.

But she still has the sort of diehard set out there, right, and again, these are mostly old people if you look at the photographs and you know, South Korea sort of in this existential competition with North Korea. South Korean conservative, she was a conservative where sort of adverse wanting there was some kind of conspiracy by the left and things like that.

And there's a lot of sort like deep and difficult serve in-fighting over this impeachment because, you know, because of the North Korean issue and because South Korea were divided will have to respond, conservatives where it seems like communist conspiracy and things like that.

The good thing which is hopefully is that now that this is all gone through the whole process that kind of conspiracy theory which is slowly fade away ad now she faces justice.

HOWELL: And as you point out, mentioning North Korea certainly as she took a very different approach toward the neighbor to the North than the current president, but all that irrelevant now we're seeing that she will face 24 years in prison, and again, set to appeal for sure. We'll have to see again where that goes.

Robert, thank you for your time today.

KELLY: Thank you for having me.

HOWELL: Now to the looming trade war between the United States and China, the U.S. president is lobbing another threat, an additional $100 billion in tariffs.

Here's the statement released Thursday, quote, "In light of China's unfair retaliation I have instructed the U.S. trade representative to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate."

Mr. Trump first announced a plan for $50 billion in new taxes earlier in the week. China then responded with a proposal for 50 billion in tariffs for American goods.

Now what's the impact on the markets you'd ask, well, Wall Street finish the day up 240 points but the U.S. markets look headed for a disappointing start.

[03:10:04] Right now, Dow futures down 1 percent about 1 percent. The NASDAQ and S&P futures are also pointing lower. And in Asia, snapshot of the markets there. The Shanghai composite closed today but Hong Kong Hang Seng index is higher, Tokyo and Sydney have been relatively flat and Seoul in negative territory.

Our international correspondent Ivan Watson following the story live in Beijing. Ivan, good to have you with us. China responding to this latest threat, what are you hearing?

IVAN WATSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: That's right. China has called the latest threat from President Trump a provocation. It's been a remarkable week. We've seen this week of this tit-for-tat threats of tariffs between Beijing and the U.S. And the latest as you spelled it out the latest escalation of threat of a 25 percent tariff of perhaps on $100 billion worth of Chinese goods.

So you have in the midst of a holiday here the commerce ministry and the foreign ministry putting out an identical statement going on to say, quote, "We do not want to fight a trade war but we are not afraid of it. If the U.S. disregards the opposition of China and the international community and persists in the unilateralist and trade protectionist practices the Chinese side will follow through to the end and will not hesitate to fight back at any cost."

So we can anticipate perhaps in the days to come that China will propose its own possible hundred billion dollars worth of goods to face a possible tariff in response to the most recent threat coming from President Trump.

It's clear in his statement that China's threat to put tariffs on things like soybeans, which was one of America's biggest exports to China in 2016 that that under the skin of the American president because he accused China of choosing to harm U.S. farmers and manufacturers and that led to his latest threat here.

The Chinese have said also that they are happy to sit down and start negotiating some of Trump's aides and top officials have said the same. So there is the chance that this is a great deal of bluster and threats that ultimately might get hashed out when leaders of the two world's largest economies sit down and start to negotiate.

But if the rhetoric continues to escalate, and it becomes difficult for both sides to negotiate a way out of this you could very much lead to a trade war which will affect the rest of the world's economy.

One big difference here, George, is Xi Jinping of China is not facing an election anytime soon. The Communist Party is the only party here where is there is much more dissent in the U.S. that President Trump is facing. The senator from the Republican Party from Nebraska Ben Sasse he put

out a statement saying that if President Trump is even half serious with these tariffs threats it's nuts. And that he threatens to light American agriculture on fire.

So President Trump may face some opposition from within his own party if he wants to go continue down this road of a possible trade war with China. George?

HOWELL: Certainly a lot of differences of opinion now on this topic here in the United States and as you mentioned the president of China though, not facing an election anytime soon or anything of that matter.

Ivan Watson, thank you so much for your time today.

The daughter of a former Russian spy has made her first public appearance since the nerve agent attacked that happened last month. Yulia Skripal says she woke up a week ago and is regaining her strength, her father Sergei Skripal remains in critical but stable condition.

Now in the meantime at the U.N. Security Council Russia's envoy warned Britain that it was, quote, "playing with fire for blaming Moscow for the attack."

Britain's ambassador was an indignant. Listen to this heated exchange.


KAREN PIERCE, U.K. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We cannot ignore what has happened in Salisbury. We cannot ignore Russia turning a blind eye to the use of chemical weapons in Syria and in Salisbury, and we cannot ignore the way that Russia seeks to undermine the international institutions which have kept to safe since the end of the Second World War.

VASILY NEBENZYA, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Lies that are repeated a thousand times has become the truth. We'll demand answers from you to the questions we have put, and if you don't provide answers will we then consider this as evidence of slander you have used against us.


HOWELL: And Britain's foreign office was forced to delete the tweet that blamed Russia were poisoning Sergei Skripal. Moscow seize on that gap as proof that U.K. is lying about the attack.

[03:14:57] Let's bring in now CNN's Matthew Chance following the story live in Moscow. Matthew, there's been a great deal of finger-pointing. But again, this deleted tweet it's really being seen as an opening for the Kremlin to essentially say, we told you so.

MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, I mean, to be clear the tweet that was deleted was deleted because it's at said that the Porton Down chemical weapons facility had identified the source of the Novichok nerve agent as being from a Russian lab.

The head of the Porton Down facility went on later to say actually that's not part of our agreement we don't sort of find the -- we don't look at the place where these chemicals actually come from.

But the general intelligence of the United Kingdom still stands, which is that this was a chemical weapons attack using this nerve agent that was produced in Russia. And that Russia have the motive and the intent and the track record of carrying out these kinds of attacks against the people it perceives as its dissidents in the past and Britain is sticking to that line.

And indeed, it reaffirmed the United Nations Security Council. But you're right, this misstep by the Russian foreign -- sorry, the British foreign office has provided a gap into which the Russians have said look, they got this wrong. They said that the lab had identified a Russian source for this Novichok nerve agent and that means the Russian argument is, that all of the allegations against Russia are fabricated and basically a false flag operation.

The Russians have put out multiple different explanations to explain why or how this Novichok nerve agent could have got to Britain and why this attack took place. The one they are favoring at the moment is that this was an operation carried by the British intelligence services with the assistance of the American intelligence services in order to undermine Russia's reputation in the world, and of course to distract from the problems of the Brexit negotiations.

That's something that's been dismissed as ludicrous by not just the British but also our allies, the Britain including the United States. George?

HOWELL: Matthew, this ever evolving story how is it playing out in the minds of every day Russians?

CHANCE: Well, if you have to remember that Russians, every day Russians get then everyday news from Russian state television, something in the region of 80 or 90 percent of people Russian television, Russian state media is their primary source of news.

And so, their attitudes are often molded by what the tone is in the state media. And the tone in the state media is very often a mirror reflection of the tone set by the Russian government.

And the Russian government has been indignant, it has been almost, you know, very dismissive. It's almost always been joking about this nerve agent attack dismissing it as a Russophobia, throwing at alternative narrative, some of which are absolutely kind of ludicrous making jokes about this, sometimes quite through jokes online about Russia's alleged involvement in this chemical weapons attack on the streets of Salisbury.

And I think you find that a lot of Russian people sort of follow that. They are also indignant about this, they are also dismissing it. They are also making jokes about it, but the truth is the allegations are very serious and Britain is holding to this line that Russia should bear ultimate responsibility for this chemical weapons attack on the streets of Salisbury.

HOWELL: Matthew Chance, live in Moscow. Matthew, thank you for the reporting. Live around the world, you're watching CNN Newsroom. And still ahead, an old controversial deal is back to haunt the South African former president. He's back-and-forth these corruption charges. We're live in South Africa, ahead.

Plus, more violence may be brewing along the Israel Gaza border. A live report from that area as CNN Newsroom pushes on.


HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm George Howell.

South Africa's former president has arrived at court. Jacob Zuma faces corruption charges for his role in the decades' old arms deal. Zuma denies any wrongdoing, but his ruling party still forced him to resign last month.

Following the story our David McKenzie is outside the courthouse live in Durban, South Africa. David, if you could set the scene there.

DAVID MCKENZIE, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, that's right, George. It is hundreds of supporters of former President Jacob Zuma here shouting in unison, supporting the man. And it's an extraordinary day today. You had Jacob Zuma coming into the side entrance of the court, so George, surrounded by police heavy security here.

And just months ago he was in the highest office of the land then he was forced to resign by the ruling ANC and now he's facing serious charges. Charges of corruption, racketeering, fraud and money- laundering that could see if convicted many years in jail.

But at this point it's the beginning, not the end of the saga, though it's been 10 years or more in the making. President Zuma looked relax, confident, but the tide of politics has change in South Africa.

And down there the people behind you fool you because in fact, we spoke to many people they feel it's time that Zuma face justice.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's gotten a lot -- gotten away with a lot and it's quite ridiculous to say the least.

MCKENZIE: So he should have his time in court?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely. And we should see our justice system at work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think he should go to court and make sure that yes, everything is said there.

MCKENZIE: Do you think that he is guilty of any crimes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think he's guilty.


MCKENZIE: Now George, the charges came from a very long time ago, almost two decades around an arms deal, a billion dollar arms deal to South Africa involving a French company. Now the allegation is that Zuma received more than 700 individual payments from his financial advisor who act as a go between with that arms company.

Now Zuma has faced all sorts of scandals since that moment but it seems that this case could be his legal reckoning. George?

HOWELL: David McKenzie, standby, again we're getting these live images right now 9.23 in the morning and Jacob Zuma arriving in court. Again, our David McKenzie just outside the courthouse. And David, you said a moment ago that he did seem to have a cool demeanor about all of this and from people you have spoken to some want to see him face these charges. There are those though others who see this as a witch hunt, yes?

MCKENZIE: Well, I think so. And the people behind me would be in that camp. This case and the issue of Jacob Zuma and the many allegations of scandal over the years have really driven a wedge in the ruling ANC.

Now a few months ago, as I said, it would have been unthinkable that president -- then-President Zuma would face charges. But things have moved very rapidly in South Africa. Many legal analysts believed that the change in politics a new president in South Africa after they forced President Zuma to resign on Valentine's Day because of many of the scandal has shifted the playing field.

So while you do have hundreds of people here, as I said, it does seem people in South Africa want justice to be done. Now this is just the beginning. This is a procedural summons where he hears his charges. We expect his very capable legal team to try to lay yet again. One advocate I spoke to calls it the Stalingrad approach just really delaying, delaying and trying to avoid court appearance, trying to avoid trial.

[03:25:05] Well, today, the state managed to get him into court but it's going to be a very difficult as one other advocate told me it's a 15- round heavyweight fight that could last many years in fact here in South Africa. George?

HOWELL: All right. That live image there of Jacob Zuma in court. David McKenzie on the story. David, thank you for the reporting today. We'll stay in touch with you.

Both sides are bracing for more violence along the Israel/Gaza border. Palestinian start a demonstration like the demonstration that you see here from last week in what they call march of return. At least 17 Palestinians were killed in confrontations with Israeli forces. Now Palestinians are bowing for more protests.

On Thursday, they burned tires that mean to act as smokescreen against Israeli snipers.

CNN's international correspondent Ian Lee is near the Israel/Gaza border. Ian, what's the expectation for today?

IAN LEE, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: George, like you said, both sides are bracing for (technical difficulty)


HOWELL: Audio issues with your report there, Ian, we'll have to come back to you we'll clean that up and bring back that very important report. Stand by for us.

The U.S. President Donald Trump breaks his silence on his attorney's payment to Stormy Daniels, the porn star. But the attorney for the adult film star says that he couldn't ask for better news.

Plus, Bollywood star Salman Khan makes his case for bail after a prison sentence. A live report ahead from New Delhi as CNN Newsroom continues.


HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom live from in Atlanta. I'm George Howell with an update on our top story this hour.

A South Korean court has found the former president of South Korea Park Geun-hye guilty on multiple counts of abuse of power, bribery and coercion. She was sentenced to 24 years in prison. She was fined nearly $17 million.

Park has denied wrongdoing and was not in court to hear the verdict. She is expected to appeal.

Now back to the situation on the Israel/Gaza border. We were following that again. Violence as we've seen throughout the week, and now to talk about what's happening there at this hour, Ian Lee is live on the story. Ian, what are the expectations today?

[03:29:56] LEE: George, they are expecting further violence today. I just want to show you what we've been watching today, I'm going to step out here. That behind me is the border between Israel and Gaza and you can see on the far side there are Palestinians who are already starting to a mass. We've been watching them all morning gathering there. Their -- they are about 200 meters from the border and organizers of this is called the "March of Return." Their goal is for protesters to go across the border. Well, we've seen the last week that those efforts have turned into violence, so to this week they are calling it the "Friday of Fire."

And that's because they been gathering tires all week and they are going to light them on fire. Essentially what they wanted to do is draw a curtain of black smoke across the border to obscure the site of Israeli snipers. For Israel's part, they say the same rules of engagement apply that anyone who gets close the border is taking their lives into their own hands that they reserve the right use whatever force is necessary to stop people from crossing over that border.

You know, one other thing they say they are worried about are this tires on fire. They worry that they could roll down the hill and damaged the border fence. They are right now, we are seeing some tires lit, we had heard what sounds like -- could be gunshots, it could be teargas. We are not -- we're expecting, though, that the intensity, the tensions to pick up later today, especially after midday prayer, George.

HOWELL: Ian Lee, thank you so much for the reporting and -- we will, of course keep in touch with you as you watch the situation there.

Stormy Daniels cloud hovering over the U.S. president has been clearing, but there's new trouble in the forecast. You don't porn star's attorney says that he has new reason to question the president under oath. Our Pamela Brown has this report.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: before arriving back from West Virginia, President Trump for the first time speaking publicly about porn star Stormy Daniels and the $130,000 in hush money, his personal attorney paid her just before the 2016 election.


BROWN: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?


BROWN: Then why did Michael Cohen make those. If there was no truth to her allegations

TRUMP: Well, you'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney and you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.

BROWN: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

TRUMP: No. I don't know.


BROWN: The president also voicing support for his embattled EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt.


TRUMP: I think Scott has done a fantastic job. I think he's a fantastic person. I just left -- I just left coal and energy country, they love Scott Pruitt.


BROWN: And CNN has learned that the president has so much confidence in Pruitt, he has even considered him as a replacement for Attorney General Jeff Session as a recently as this week. Such a move would put Pruitt in charge of the Russian investigation, getting him the authority to oversee and even fire Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.

But aboard Air Force One, Trump denied that he is any intention of changing Pruitt's job. Trump support for Pruitt comes in the wake of a barrage of bad publicity. But as one source told CNN, Trump was 100 percent still trying to protect Pruitt, because Pruitt is his fill-in for Sessions.

A senior administration official tells CNN, the president was not pleased with Pruitt's inability to button up several of his controversies in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, opting to blame critics for his missteps.


SCOTT PRUITT, ADMINISTRATOR, U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PRODUCTION AGENCY: Look, I do believe it is we do our work and is were focused on this tax things, they are transformational and anytime that you do transformational things, there are critics and there are people who kind a finch in that regard.


BROWN: Pruitt claiming he was completely unaware. Two of his top aides received unapproved pay raises.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So one of your friends (inaudible), got a pay raise, that's the medium economic pay raise.

PRUITT: They did not get a pay raise. They did not get pay raise.


PRUITT: They did not. They did not. I stop that yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you've stop it. Are you embarrassed that --

PRUITT: It should not have -- it should not have happen, and in the officials that were involved in that process should not have done what they did.


BROWN: Pruitt, also struggling to explain his rental of an apartment from the wife of a prominent energy lobbyist when he first moved to Washington.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump said he would drain the swamp.

PRUITT: I don't --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is draining the swamp renting an apartment from the wife of a Washington lobbyist?

PRUITT: I don't think that that's even remotely fair to ask that question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so, why did you then accept $50 a night, to rent a condo from the wife of a Washington lobbyist?

PRUITT: Let's talk about that. That is something that again has been reviewed by these officials here, they've said that its market rate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are renting it from the wife of lobbyist.

PRUITT: Yes. She has no business before this agency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on a second. So -- is that Williams and Jensen, right, major lobbying firm, Exxon Mobile's and client.

PRUITT: Mr. Hart --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exxon Mobile has business before his --

PRUITT: Mr. Hart has no client that has business before this agency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exxon mobile has no firm --

PRUITT: He is a member of the law firm to take his relationship --

[03:35:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are not answering the question.

PRUITT: -- it was like an Air B&B situation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- that you were there.

PRUITT: That's exactly right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that's kind a sweetheart deal, because --

PRUITT: No, it's not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never heard of (inaudible) like that. I live in Washington for over 25 years.

TRUMP: This was going to be my remarks. It would have taken about two minutes, but --


BROWN: Meanwhile, as President Trump chose to get out of Washington today, he was in his element at West Virginia.


TRUMP: No, I'm reading off the first paragraph, this is boring, come on, we have to say -- tell it like it is. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: But was supposed to be a roundtable discussion about tax reform, quickly turn into a wide-ranging campaign like speech with the president resurrecting one of his debunked conspiracy theories.


TRUMP: In many places like California, the same person votes many times you probably heard about that. There was like to sell that the conspiracies, not conspiracy theory folks, millions of millions of people.


BROWN: Trump going back to is first political speech and his favorite incendiary topic, illegal immigration.


TRUMP: And remember my opening remarks at Trump tower. When I opened, everybody's said, oh, he was so tough and I use the word rape, and yesterday it came out where this journey coming up. Women are linked at levels that nobody's ever seen before. There were mentioned that, so we have to change our laws.


BROWN: Pamela Brown, CNN, the White House.


HOWELL: All right. For more on the president's comments on Stormy Daniels, my colleague Natalie Allen spoke with CNN legal analyst, Areva Martin. Here is their conversation.


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: The president is now saying he knew nothing about the hush payment, he's finally speaking out about it and now the lawyer for Stormy Daniels who often speak out. Says this could invalidate the agreement. Let's talk about that, but first, here is Stormy Daniels lawyer.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIEL'S ATTORNEY: You can have an agreement if one party claims they knew nothing about the -- one of the principal terms in the agreement, so the president has just shot himself in the foot, thrown his attorney basically Michael Cohen, under the bus in the process, put him in dire straits with the State Bar of New York, because according to president now, Mr. Cohen was negotiating this agreement. In doing this all on his own.


ALLEN: OK, so help us understand, how has the president shot himself in the foot?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well. We have a contract between two parties and to have a binding contract, there has to be mutual consent. There has to be a meeting of the minds and if you listen to what Trump said today. There was no meeting of the minds, because he didn't know anything about this contract. He wasn't involved in the negotiations. He didn't authorize the payment of this $130,000 for this nondisclosure agreement.

So if you can't have it both ways. You can't say I knew nothing about it, but at the same time it's an enforceable agreement. So, I think Stormy Daniels attorney is correct, the president himself just gave the most damaging statement ever for his own case, and I agree with the attorney that Michael Cohen has a lot of issues.

You cannot, as a lawyer negotiate a contract without notifying your client, you can't go off -- you know, wild, making deals, negotiating deals, paying money without your client's knowledge. That is ethical violation under any bar associations rule. And definitely, if you look at the New York State bar, he's violated those rules.

ALLEN: And spokesman for Michael Cohen, release a statement after the president's remarks, saying this. "This is an accurate assessment of the fact, this is exactly what I've been saying all along. Michael Cohen made the payment to protect the reputation, family, and business it had nothing to do with the election." So what is the important fact about this statement?

MARTIN: It seems like they are talking about apples and oranges. So Stormy Daniels attorney is saying this statement undermines the validity of the agreement, the nondisclosure agreement. Michael Cohen's lawyer is trying to address the federal elections law potential violation by saying, because Trump didn't know about this. There could've been collusion between Trump and Cohen, this could had been a payment to prevent negative information from coming out about Trump to, you know, help him win the presidential election.

That has nothing to do with the validity of validity of the contract. I think as it relates to, you know, what happens going forward, Stormy Daniels lawyer is going to use this statement. This statement will probably be played in court, if the federal judge allows them to at the first hearing. At least he is going to make his way into a pleading in that federal court case that's pending and Stormy Daniels lawyers is going to say, this is evidence your honor, that this is not a valid contract.

ALLEN: And what do they get if they prove that? What does Stormy Daniels get?

MARTIN: What she's been trying to get since this entire, you know, matter became a matter of public information which is her rights to tell her story, which is so ironic, because we know she has already did -- a lot of her story, but, you know, according to her lawyer.

[03:40:03] There's some information that is not been revealed, so if the contract is invalid. Maybe we'll learn if there is text messages, if there are photographs, if there is other information that wasn't revealed during the "60 Minutes" interview. It appears that there's something that she's been holding back. Although she has told us a great deal about her one time sexual encounter with the president.

ALLEN: Well, the president has stayed completely numb until this day on Air Force One, returning from West Virginia. Why do you think he opened up and addressed the question on this subject? Why now?

MARTIN: It's -- I can only imagine that this is been the most difficult time period for the president ever. This is a president that never keep silence when someone is attacking him and Stormy Daniels attorney has been on just about every television program every network possible attacking the president. Stormy Daniels attacked the president and Trump said nothing, presumably following the advice of his legal team, but there was going to be a moment in time. I think we all knew it was just a question of when, not if, where Trump would -- would not be able to contain himself would not be able to hold back and would say something and I think this is the moment you have to be announced these 20 questions, he opened up.

And because he opened up and I think he and Michael Cohen haven't got a near story straight. He threw his attorney under the bus. He made a major admission in this lawsuit. And I think he's put himself in a very precarious position. If his goal is to prevent Stormy Daniels from continuing to tell her story.

ALLEN: Areva Martin, we appreciate as always you helping us sort it all-out. Thanks Areva.

MARTIN: Thanks Nat.


HOWELL: For an international city which prides itself on being safe. London is now reeling from the scourge of murders. Officials say the city's murder rate overtook that of New York City, with more than 50 homicides since February. The drug trade cuts -- cuts to police rather budgets and a lack of support for community policing are being blamed for the bloodshed.


DAVID LAMMY, BRITISH LABOUR, M.P.: London and the U.K. is the center of the global drugs market here in Europe. There has been an increase in drugs, 11 billion pound market. And that drives the turf war, not just the turf war in London. It is a turf war of month's long gangs, delivering drugs to towns across the United Kingdom. And there is a sort of viciousness that has come to this recently, because young people as young as 12 and 11 are recruited to run this drugs. These young people up and recruited over this last period and they are now getting older and the callousness towards they are taking life is something we never seen on London streets.


HOWELL: In a police task force is being set up to tackle violent crime in that city. In the meantime, London's mayor, city cons says, other cities across Britain are dealing with a spike in crime as well. He says it's a national problem that demands a national solution.

Still ahead the U.S. president says there's lawlessness on the U.S. southern border, but was that really like living just inside the U.S. boundary with Mexico. Lashed some border town residents just ahead. Plus, Bollywood stars, Salman Khan is waiting for an important court decision and will spend another night in jail before he gets to hear it. A live report ahead, stay with us.


HOWELL: The President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, is pushing back against the U.S. president at the Donald Trump spent the past few days blasting Mexico and its government. Mr. Trump signed in order to deploy National Guard troops at that country's borders. He also threatened to pull out of the trade deal if Mexico doesn't stop illegal immigration -- illegal immigrants rather from bridging the United States. All of this, as a large group of Central American migrants march closer to that very border. Pena Nieto suggested President Trump main issues aren't really with Mexico.


ENRIQUE PENA NIETO, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO (TRANSLATOR): It's your recent statements as a result of frustration due to domestic policy issues to your laws or to your Congress. It is to them that you should turn to, not to Mexicans. We will not allow negative rhetoric to define our actions. We will only act in the best interest of Mexicans, paraphrasing the words of the great president of the United States of America, we will have no fear to negotiate. But we will never negotiate out of fear.


HOWELL: But President Trump saying the border needs more protection. CNN's Ed Lavandera visits one border town and asked residents what they think.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When night falls in Laredo, Texas, Priscilla Villarreal hits the streets. Documenting crime scenes to her Facebook page, titled La Gordiloca, which translate to the Crazy Fat Lady.

PRISCILLA VILLARREAL, LA GORDILOCA BLOGGER: I mean, I have said, safest city in the world, but it's not.

LAVANDERA: She is a reverend outspoken and rarely startled by anything she sees in this border town.

VILLARREAL: As you can see we have our border patrol agents were at the corner of Louisiana and Napoleon.

LAVANDERA: Like this high-speed chase that ended in a dramatic crash in the middle of a neighborhood.

VILLARREAL: Several people were transported to a local hospital, it is being said that there were all undocumented -- undocumented people.

LAVANDERA: When President Trump says that he needs to send troops down to the border, because it's a lawless place. How do you react to that?

VILLARREAL: I think it -- I think he is wrong. I mean, we have enough authority in town to cover whatever is happening in our town. I mean, I think sending troops is going to solve anything?

LAVANDERA: Despite what Villarreal sees most nights, border towns consistently ranked as having some of the lowest crime rates in the country. So the idea of bringing in the National Guard isn't popular among most residents. President Trump says 2 to 4000 National Guard soldiers will be sent to the border until the wall is built. In the past, these soldiers have worked in supporting roles. Not here on the frontlines like the banks of the Rio Grande. National Border Patrol Council spokesman, Hector Garza says, the border patrol force is 2000 agents short of being fully staff. National Guard soldiers can fill void.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is about saving American lives, saving our border patrol agent lives so that they don't get assaulted, so they don't get killed, so they don't get injured.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can see up to five miles, is that correct? Up to five miles.

LAVANDERA: Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar says a better way to boost border security is through technology. His department currently only has one camera, today capturing the movements of an unsuspecting rancher two miles inside Mexico. He's lobbying lawmakers to invest in a $92 million plan that would equip local law enforcement agencies with drones, sensors and more cameras.

MARTIN CUELLAR, WEBB COUNTY SHERIFF: This is a force multiplier and this is only the camera system. We are talking about, were missing drones, were missing the sensors, we're missing all those technology that cold, you know, be deployed and better secure the border.

LAVANDERA: So you much rather have this federal money for your technology instead of troops.


CUELLAR: Absolutely without a doubt.

VILLARREAL: Can they do the job themselves?

LAVANDERA: Priscilla Villarreal says that facility arouses border towns are now order town are now used to the intense presence of law- enforcement. Border patrol, state troopers, local police and all descend on any crime scene. It is the new way of life on the border. VILLARREAL: I have been living in the city for many, many years and

you get used to everything that happens in this city, it is just normal for us. It's normal.

[03:50:00] LAVANDERA: Ed Lavandera, CNN, Laredo, Texas.


HOWELL: Ed, thank you.

One of Bollywood's biggest stars is set to spend another night in prison. An attorney for actor Salman Khan, says a court will decide on Saturday whether to grant bail. Khan was sentenced to five years in prison on Thursday by a lower court in Northern India. He is convicted of coaching protected antelope's. He's attorney says they will appeal that sentence, for the very latest, let's bring in journalist Liz Neisloss with this story live in New Delhi, it's good to have you with this Liz, this again one of India's wealthiest and most recognizable actors, again the criminal proceedings started back in 2001, I believe so, why is it taken this long to reach this point?

LIZ NEISLOSS, CNN REPORTER: Well, George it's not completely unusual in India generally for cases take -- to take years to move through court. Many courts have back logs of cases so this doesn't necessarily the length of time come as a surprise to many Indians, but in this particular case, Khan has a battery of lawyers a lot of money available, so he has at every turn made legal moves questioning witnesses, re-questioning witnesses charges have been examined and reframed, moved to different courts.

Many of his supporters say well this is the reason why he shouldn't be given a large sentence, the length of time that this case is taken to move through the courts. But this actor has also gone through another very lengthy trial in 2002, he was accused in a hit-and-run case. He was eventually acquitted, but that case took 15 years to go to the court, George?

HOWELL: And Liz, just a little on the background here, he has seen as sort of the -- the bad boy of Bollywood, also though the -- very popular so will, of course, have to see how all this plays out. Liz, thank you so much for your reporting today.

Attorneys for South Africa and former President Jacob Zuma have agreed to postpone court proceedings until June. Again, Zuma faces corruption charges for his role in a decades-old arms deal. He denies any wrongdoing, but his ruling party still forced him to resign last month. We will continue to follow that story.

There's no question, the U.S. president wants to wears the pants in the White House, but now there is a mystery surrounding his actual trouser size, look at that-- We will explain. Stay with us.


HOWELL: Well, you pay very close attention to this video that we will show you here, it's the brand-new police headquarters under construction in St. Petersburg, Florida then something went wrong with this huge crane that toppled workers on the ground scrambled to get out of the way quickly. Here's another look, one person narrowly missing getting crushed, incredibly no one was hurt this accident is under investigation.

Well, the U.S. president sometimes appears to be running his administration as if he is flying by the seat of his pants and as our Jeannie Moos reports, there are parts of the story that seem to play after that.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He got a big personality, he's got big hair and now he's got big pants. Vanity Fair asked the pressing question, what is going on with Trumps pants legs?

[03:55:05] On a couple of recent occasions, the president has been photographed with what the magazine calls enormous pant legs, the circumference of a healthy toddlers head. Is something changing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Height 75 inches, weighed 230 pounds.

MOOS: Is the president gaining weight or losing height or just in need of a tailor. And Trumps spent like a billionaire, he wrote, I were Brioni Suites which I buy off the rack. Remember the last clap over presidential pants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your husband wear this --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. But if you are not the mom, then your --


MOOS: Dad jeans, mom jeans, whatever you call them. You are not President Trump's problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has incredibly good jeans (inaudible).

MOOS: But there's one guy with a legged up on President Trump. Forget nuclear button size, look at these babies. One Twitter user launched the deer leader with the caption, final inflation test for the new Kim Jong's balloon, he's massive pant legs have inspired a British journalist to create hashtag Kim Jong-un trouser watch. Another commentator likened his limbs to a pair of those inflatable wind dancers. Forget the arms race, were talking a leg's raise. One President Trump would probably rather lose, at least when the PolitiFact, pants on fire meter lights up, over the president's latest on truth.

You will have more pants to burn and if its money you want to burn these jogging pants with such about 50 bucks. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEO) HOWELL: Thanks for being with us. I'm George Howell at the CNN

Center in Atlanta. More news after the break.