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Pompeo Meets with Kim Jong-un Secretly; Farewell to a Great Woman; Horror Above the Ground; Attack Site Could be Compromised; Trump's Tug-of-War on TPP; American Chemical Inspectors To Go To Douma, Wednesday; U.S. and North Korea Talking At The Highest Levels; Comey Book Reignites Bipartisan Criticism; The End Of An Era; Starbucks Arrest; Public Offers Plenty Of Thug Theories. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired April 18, 2018 - 03:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, HOST, CNN: High level and high-stakes trip. We are learning about the visit to Pyongyang by America's top spy and soon to be top diplomat.

Terrifying moments in the cabin mid flight chaos after engine failure forces an emergency landing.

Americans mourn the matriarch of a powerful political family, remembering the legacy of former First Lady Barbara Bush.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN Newsroom.

The United States and North Korea are apparently closer to a summit than anyone thought. Sources confirmed to CNN CIA director Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong-un during a trip to North Korea over Easter weekend. An administration official says the North Korean leader was personable and well-prepared.

On Tuesday, while hosting Japan's prime minister in Florida Mr. Trump said the U.S. and North Korea have been talking at very high levels, and officials are considering five locations for the summit.

Well, CNN's Will Ripley is live in Hong Kong and joins me now. So Will, what more are you learning about the secret meeting that took place between CIA chief Mike Pompeo and Kim Jong-un?

WILL RIPLEY, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It's remarkable, Rosemary, that the administration which is notorious for leaks kept this a secret for so long, that this actually happened back on Easter weekend the same weekend that Kim Jong-un was photographed meeting with the IOC President Thomas Bach and also attending a K-pop concert.

But sometime over that weekend he also had a very secret, a top-secret meeting with the CIA director and Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo and a source who is familiar with the discussions that took place tells me that Kim Jong-un came into the room very prepared. He had a number of sheets of notes in front of him. He was well-versed

on the subject matter. He was personable. The meeting went well, which may explain Pompeo's optimism when he was testifying before lawmakers at his confirmation hearings in Washington that he believes that the conditions will be right for a summit out with President Trump.

And President Trump, of course, saying on Tuesday that that meeting will happen pretty soon, possibly by early June, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, and of course, this is all about finalizing those details for the face-to-face meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un in early June, they think perhaps or maybe sometime in June. Where they'll apparently discussed not only the denuclearization of North Korea but also bringing the Korean War to an official end, that's a very ambitious meeting. How possible is all of this.

RIPLEY: Well, you're absolutely right. It's ambitious. And I should point out that the sticking point of that meeting between Pompeo and Kim Jong-un was and continues to be finding just the location, the appropriate place for these meetings to take place and then -- and then on the agenda.

The number one priority for the United States is denuclearization trying to convince Kim Jong-un to give up the missile program that arguably has gotten into this point where he was once cast aside as a global pariah. Now you have world leaders lining up to meet with him. Moon Jae-in next week. President Trump potentially next month.

We've learned the Chinese President Xi Jinping could also be visiting Pyongyang at some point next month. We know that Russia has reached out and Japan has reached out trying to arrange their own summits with Kim Jong-un.

This would have been unimaginable as a short time ago. And arguably, Kim Jong-un's nuclear program gave him legitimacy that has gotten him a seat at the table, something that the North Korean government has long claimed or craved something that Kim Jong-un's predecessors Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung also have tried -- had tried during their time in power.

So denuclearization will be -- will come at a great price. Obviously North Korea's nuclear program is of great importance to Kim Jong-un. Giving it up you would have to have a substantial incentive to do so. Analysts are telling me.

And then there is this issue of peace on the Korean Peninsula, signing some sort of formal agreement to end the Korean War, but that also is quite complicated, Rosemary, because a peace treaty of North Korea would argue would mean that there is no need for American troops to be positioned on the peninsula.

[03:05:01] There's no need for the U.S. nuclear umbrella that protects Japan and South Korea. And so, those are -- those are things that could potentially be a nonstarter from the U.S. side, what concessions the North Koreans and the Americans are willing to take, well, I guess we could find out. CHURCH: Two very big issues. One big meeting. We'll see what happens. Will Ripley joining us from Hong Kong just after 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Many thanks to you, as always.

Well, it was just last week President Trump signal he might be willing to rejoin the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal. But those plans are apparently now out the window. Late Tuesday he tweeted this.

"While Japan and South Korea would like us to go back into TPP I don't like the deal for the United States too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn't work. Bilateral deals are far more efficient, profitable and better for our workers. Look how bad WTO is to the U.S."

CNN's Anna Stewart is live in Tokyo and joins me now. So Anna, last week, President Trump was talking about rejoining the TPP trade deal, by Tuesday he change his mind in favor of bilateral deals. What happened?

ANNA STEWART, PRODUCER, CNN: Very brief placation. And I should point from that tweet that South Korea is not actually a member of TPP which have many people scratching their head, perhaps he included there as a sort of candidate for TPP in the future, who knows. But frankly, this is being a quite a turnaround in just a few days.

Now essentially TPP could have been used by Trump as a negotiating tactic. That's what lots of experts spoke to me about in the days leading up to this summit before this tweet even. Negotiating tactic to really force Abe into position where he needs to strikeout a bilateral free trade agreement. That's what Trump wants, it's not what Abe wants.

Now, Donald Trump has long said that its trading relationship with Japan is unfair he wants to reduce some massive trade deficit particularly when it comes to cars. So I set out to go to some of the parking in a car dealership around Tokyo just to see how unfair this trading relationship is.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll talk to Prime Minister Abe of Japan and others great guy friend of mine and there will be a little smile in their face and the smile is, I can't believe we've been able to take advantage of the United States for so long.


STEWART: The U.S. have $68.8 billion trade deficit with Japan, and at least 70 percent of that is the auto industry. Despite Japan having zero car import tariffs, all Japanese car brand Nissan, Honda, and Toyota are a regular sight in the U.S. It's a different story here.

There are just four American automakers with dealership in Japan that would be Chrysler, G.M., Tesla, and Jeep. And it's pretty rare to see any of them. In fact, having done a tour of this lobby parking lot I found just one American out of 65. The tallies with general stats with the country, last month, American

car sales were dwarfs by European and domestic brand. Over 80 percent of the American cars sold were Jeep.



STEWART: From (Inaudible) at fault for Japan's narrow carriages to a right hand drive. Jeep has tailored its cars to the Japanese consumer. There are also things like noise and exhaust sounded.

HAGGSTROM: There are a few things that are unique to Japan. There are regulations that relate to implication and certification of vehicles that are unique that mean, which means that we need to do additional testing, we need to provide unique documentation for Japan.

STEWART: Trump says, these higher standards make trading unfair.

KENJI KOBAYASHI, DIRECTOR, JAPAN AUTOMOBILE IMPORTERS ASSOCIATION: Trade deficit has various reasons, so the single government cannot control.

STEWART: Here being carmakers for trade for same regulations have made greater inroads for Japan. Last month BMW sold over six times the cars of all the American brands combined. This week it launches a new model XV2.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Japan we have the so-called machine parkings. Machine parking with a height of 1 meter 55. But it's not only height, it's also the widths. The door handles of the three series there 10 millimeter more narrow than in a car which you use in Europe.

STEWART: The Japanese market is a tight fit but there is a room for foreign automakers that are prepared to adapt.


STEWART: So the question is what will Trump get from this summit, what will he be able to achieve, will it be a full bilateral free trade agreement that Japan doesn't want often the overtures on making trade fairer or bring down some of those barriers harmonizing some of these regulations you heard about there. We're not quite sure.

[03:09:56] But of course, TPP is now off the table. There is some leverage here because Abe would like Japan to be included on that exemption, the steel and aluminum tariffs. Currently, Japan is one of the biggest U.S. allies to not be on that list, so there's a lot of negotiating to be done. Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, we shall see what happens. Anna Stewart joining us there, live from Tokyo, where it is 10 past 4 in the afternoon. Many Thanks.

In Syria, international chemical weapons inspectors may finally get their first look of Douma in the coming hours. The Syrian ambassador to the U.N. says they will be allowed into the site of a suspected deadly chemical attack. If the U.N. team now on the ground there it says it's safe.

Now this comes as the Russian military is reportedly claiming it found a chemical lab in Douma after Moscow earlier insisted there was no trace of any chemical attack. The military claims the lab belongs to militants.

Well, CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Beirut, Lebanon, he joins me now with a live report. So Ben, Syria will now allow chemical weapons inspectors into Douma after stalling for nearly 12 days. How degraded might the evidence be by now?

BEN WEDEMAN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, there's a very good possibility, Rosemary. Then in fact, after 11 days, 11 days after that attack that alleged attack that left at least 40 people dead. That's the trace elements of may well evaporated. And of course other evidence may been tampered with.

We're hearing from activists there that the Russians and rather, the Syrians are trying to dig up some of the bodies that may, of those who were killed in the attack, so it's not at all clear what the OPCW mission is going to find now that they may possibly be able to finally get there.

Yesterday, there was a lot of confusion as to whether they had reached Douma or not. The Syrian media, the Russians, even the White Helmets that the opposition civil defense group said that the OPCW arrived yesterday in Douma. But late in the day we heard from the U.S. State Department that that wasn't the case.

The OPCW for its part, was declining to comment to the movements of their mission in Syria. So if they do get there today it's questionable what they're going to find. What is interesting, Rosemary, is the day before yesterday a crew from the U.S. television network CBS went to Douma, was able to interview people who did in fact say that there was a chemical attack that they smelled chlorine, and in fact the crew was able to film what appeared to be the bomb that delivered the material.

But ironically, journalists are getting there three days before the OPCW gets there, so it's questionable what they're going to find at this point. We're in a situation where it's essentially, he said, she said, but will we ever get to the bottom of this alleged attack. It's dubious. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes, a very good point. And Ben, the Russian military now claims it found a chemical lab in Douma and they say it belongs to militants. What do you make of that?

WEDEMAN: This is very much in line with previous claims by the Syrian government by the Russians that, I mean, this is always been their argument that all of these chemical attacks going back to 2013 were in fact chemical attacks by the opposition itself. Now we've seen time and time again that any sort of investigations

that have been able to be carried out contradicted that but that is there to refrain from that side notes.

Interesting that a month ago, the Russians did claim that the rebel groups in the eastern Ghouta were going to plan some sort of what they call a false flag chemical attack, and so now they've conveniently discovered this a chemical lab. As far as the veracity of all of that only God knows.

CHURCH: Apparently. Ben Wedeman, thanks so much, live report there from Beirut, Lebanon, where it is 10.15 in the morning. We appreciate that.

Well, the engine of Southwest jet failed in mid flight. And a woman was nearly pulled through a shattered window. The details on the first passenger death on a U.S. airline in nearly a decade.

Plus, remembering former U.S. first lady Barbara Bush, the matriarch of a political dynasty and an inspiration to millions.


BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Find the joy in life because as Ferris Bueller say on his Day Off, life moves pretty fast, and you don't stop and look around once a while, you're going to miss it.



CHURCH: Officials are investigating the first death on a U.S. airline in nearly a decade. One of the engines on a Southwest jet failed shortly after takeoff from New York. Passengers heard two loud explosions, a window was shattered and a woman was killed after nearly being pulled through it.

Investigators say one of the fan blades from the engine is missing and they don't yet know if the engine caught fire.


ROBERT SUMWALT, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: There is no indication by looking at the outside of the engine that there was a fire.

However, there are fire wires that when they are -- it is possible and even likely that once this fan blade separated, it activated an engine fire warning in the cockpit. But whether or not there is an actual fire with the engine, I do not believe there is an actual fire, but they could have gotten a fire warning.


CHURCH: Passengers describe absolute chaos in the cabin. Our Brian Todd reports.

BRIAN TODD, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: This is passenger Marty Martinez, Facebook live streaming of what he thinks will be his death. Martinez tell CNN he was on Southwest Airlines flight 1380 when one of its engines failed, possibly from an explosion, about 30 minutes into the flight from New York's LaGuardia airport to Dallas.


MARTY MARTINEZ, PASSENGER, SOUTHWST AIRLINES: We heard this loud explosion and it's like within a span of five seconds all of the oxygen mask deploy. Then just a few second later another explosion happened and it was the window that just completely exploded.

And as you can imagine everybody was going crazy and yelling and screaming.


TODD: Martinez says the flight attendants appeared to be panicking, the pilot projected calm.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Southwest 1380 has an engine fire. Descending.


TODD: The NTSB says one passenger was killed. It may have been a woman who witnesses say was sitting near this window blown open they say by shrapnel from the explosion.


MARTINEZ: I heard like (Inaudible) and her body was sucked in that like sucked in that direction from my vantage point. So you see people from the back of the seat hold be on to her, you know, trying to keep her or keep her contained.


TODD: Martinez tell CNN a man who attended to that passenger had blood all over his hands. He says the plane experienced violent turbulence that he saw his colleagues sitting next to him typing out a goodbye message to his family.

The plane quickly depressurized and made an emergency landing and (AUDIO GAP)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did an incredible job getting this aircraft here on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TODD: Official (AUDIO GAP) passenger suffered minor injuries.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we landed they told us, I guess they did told us to sit there and then the paramedics came on, but also specifically and ran to the back.


[03:19:58] TODD: Former NTSB official Peter Goelz says initially investigators may focus on possible failure of the fan blades inside the engine.


PETER GOELZ, FORMER MANAGING DIRECTOR, NTSB: Most typically a fan blade fails because of some sort of maintenance oversight. Some sort of foundry failure that there is the tiniest little anomaly that can grow with the enormous pressure that the speed of the rotating engine puts on it. You can have a fatigue crack that could've been hard to determine where it was.


TODD: Now a terrified emotional passenger tell CNN the landing was so violent he thought they were crushing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel just so it's really lucky to be alive. You know I've had of people contact me, and you know, love ones calling, you know, all I could think about as I was going down on that plane was, you know, how my life was being taken away from me.


TODD: This, of course, could have been so much worse. And aviation experts are telling us, one thing that could have happen would have been a partial or catastrophic failure of the plane's left wing.

They say the 737s have fuel tanks throughout the wings. If the explosion of the shrapnel from the explosion had ignited a fuel tank and damage that wing possibly compromise the hydraulic controls then the pilot would have lost control of the flaps and the plane could have crashed.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: Barbara Bush former first lady of the United States and matriarch of a political dynasty has died. She was 92 years old. She is one of just two women in history to be both the wife and mother of a U.S. president.

To honor her, President Donald Trump ordered U.S. flags lowered to half staff through Saturday night. Mrs. Bush's husband former President George H.W. Bush held his wife's hand all day and was at her side when she passed away on Tuesday. That is according to his chief of staff.

They had celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary just a few months ago. Her son, former President George W. Bush said in part, "Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I'm a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes."

And one of his 17 grandkids, Jeb Bush, Jr. tweeted this. "I think my Gany, that is what he calls her, would have wanted us to remember her by picking up a book and reading to our child, grandchild, or finding an opinion different than our own. I love her and miss her very much. She did it her way with grace and class."

And friends of Barbara, Bill and Hillary Clinton said in a statement, "Barbara Bush was a remarkable woman. She had grit and grace, brains and beauty. She was fierce and feisty in support of her family and friends, her country and her causes. She showed us what an honest, vibrant, full life looks like."

And Wolf Blitzer has more now on the life and legacy of Barbara Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: America loves Barbara Bush.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN: Barbara Bush was the woman behind two U.S. presidents. The wife of one, the mother of another. Barbara Pierce was born in Queens, New York on June 8, 1925. She grew up in suburban New York. Out of Connecticut country club desk, she met a young man who would change her life. George Herbert Walker Bush.


BUSH: I've square all through high school. I just try to do the best I could. I married the first man I ever kissed. You talk about a boar, I am the world's worst.


BLITZER: George Bush focused on building an oil business. Barbara Bush focused on building a family. George Bush eventually entered a life of public service. And while Barbara's candor might not have made a good match for his job as CIA director.


BUSH: That's because I can keep a secret.


BLITZER: Her charm was a definite asset to her husband's political career.


BUSH: Find the joy in life because as Ferris Bueller said on is Day Off, life moves pretty fast and you don't stop and look around once a while, you're going to miss it.


BLITZER: George Bush served two terms in Congress and in 1980 was elected as Ronald Reagan's vice president. Eight years later, he sat in the Oval Office. Barbara Bush loved living in the White House, keeping diaries of her time there and using them to help write memoirs. Two other books showed her lighters side and the dog's eye view of the executive mansion.

Mrs. Bush knew well her vision of the first lady's role.


BUSH: I think the person who has the courage to run for the office is the one you should hear, not the wife or the husband.

[03:25:02] Having said that, of course, I told George how I felt.


BLITZER: For George and Barbara they are more than 60 years together included decades of devotion. This letter to her written by George while he was serving in World War II.


GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I love you, precious, with all my heart and to know that you love me means my life. How often I've thought about the immeasurable joy that will be our Sunday. How lucky our children will be to have a mother like you.


BLITZER: Two of those children George W. and Jeb would solidify the Bush political dynasty as president and Florida governor. But in a surprising comment in 2013, as talk of a presidential run by Jeb's world the matriarch told NBC's Today Show there should be a limit on the family's White House claim.


B. BUSH: There are other people out there that are very qualified and without enough Bush's.


BLITZER: But after Jeb did decide to run for the 2016 Republican nomination she fully backed him and hit the campaign trail.


B. BUSH: This decent and honest is everything we need in a president.



BLITZER: In and out of politics the legacy Barbara Bush nurtured will live on through her family, children and grandchildren.


B. BUSH: I know that I'm in the world's luckiest woman. I think if I sort of put it in a nutshell these are the things that are important to me. Faith, family and friends.


CHURCH: Wolf Blitzer with that report on the life and legacy of Barbara Bush.

We'll take a short break here, but still to come, Russia lashes out at the U.S. and its allies over Syria, it claims they're acting like self-appointed executioners. How will this impact efforts for peace in Syria. We will explore that when we come back.

Plus, for the first time in nearly 60 years that Castro won't be at the home of Cuba's communist government. We'll explain that when we come back as well.


CHURCH: A very warm welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour.

Sources confirmed to CNN CIA director Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong-un during a trip to North Korea over Easter weekend. President Trump says the U.S. and North Korea have been talking at the highest levels in advance of a planned summit.

He is meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Florida.

[03:29:58] Syria's ambassador to the U.N. said international chemical weapons inspectors will go to Douma on Wednesday if the U.N. security team on the ground there says it's safe. The town is the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack believe to have killed dozens of people earlier this month. The Russian military said, it had discovered a chemical lab in Douma that it claims belongs to militants.

A woman was killed after she was nearly pulled out of the shattered window of a Southwest jet at 31,000 feet. Passengers say there were to explosions after one of the engines failed shortly after take-off from New York. It's the first passenger death on a U.S. Airline in nearly a decade.

Well the White House is blaming its own ambassador to the U.N. for confusion of a possible new sanctions against Russia for its support of Syria. The uncertainty of that policy comes as Japan's Prime Minister meets with President Trump on another pressing security issue, North Korea. Jim Acosta, has the details. (BEGIN VIDEO)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As the President and the Japanese Prime Minister meet at Mr. Trump's richly resort in Florida to try to get on the same page on North Korea.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have also started talking to North Korea directly. We have had direct talks at very high levels. Extremely high levels with North Korea.

ACOSTA: The White House is attempting to make sense of its policy on Russia, one day after U.N. Ambassador, Nikki Haley warned was would be announced by the administration.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Absolutely you will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down, Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday, if he has not already.

ACOSTA: The White House was walking that back, insisting a decision had not been made and putting the blames early on Haley. Who said Russia would be punish for its support for Syria's dictator Bashar al Assad and the regime suspected gas attack on its own people.

And an off camera briefing with reporters, the President's new Chief Economist Larry Kudlow told reporters Haley simple got it wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She got out of the curve, she has done a great job. She is very an effective ambassador that might had been something momentary confusion about that.

ACOSTA: It was a curios purported stumble for Haley, who is consistently been a top voice on Russia for the administration. And start contrast to the president who is only recently step up his rhetoric on Moscow. Even fellow Republicans are noting something seems off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just sounds like confusion from the White House.

ACOSTA: While in Florida, the President and his aides are busy responding -- former FBI Director James Comey. The President has suggested Comey could face jail time for his actions. Tweeting, the big question in Comey's badly reviewed book are not answered, like, how come he gave up classified information, jail, why did he lied to Congress? Jail. Comey who was promoting his new book reacted to that accusing Mr. Trump of crossing the line.

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: That is not normal, that is not OK, first of all he is just making stuff up, but most importantly the President of the United States is calling for the imprisonment of a private citizen, as he has done for a whole lot of people who criticized him. That is not acceptable in this country.

ACOSTA: Still, Comey has critics on both sides of the aisle. Democrats are still furious with Comey for publicly reopening the Clinton email investigation just days before the 2016 election. The Republicans are upset that he reopened the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was, to some extent, his arrogance that led him to make a very bad error of judgment, but I thought he was an idiot in the context of this election and it was influential in the outcome.

ACOSTA: And there's no uncertainty on the subject of North Korea while the presidential reporters is dealing with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un could happen both very soon. Mr. Trump also said it's possible his face-to-face encounter may not even occur.

TRUMP: Possible things won't go well then we won't have the meetings and will just continue to go along this very strong path that we have taken, but we will see what happens.


CHURCH: Jim Acosta, reporting there. Nikki Haley had a short response to Larry Kudlow suggestion, she misunderstood plans for Russian sanctions in a statement. She said this with all due respect, I don't get confused. A White House official says Kudlow later apologized to Haley. Another senior official says President Trump was annoyed at the confusion about the officials said Haley was not the only one to leave Friday's meeting believing sanctions would be announced in the coming days.

Some U.S. lawmakers are concerned about the lack of a clear policy on Syria after a classified briefing. Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham said, he was unnerve by what he was saying and said the Trump administration is going down a dangerous path. He did not elaborate. Democratic Senator, Chris Coons said this, the only thing worse than a bad plan on Syria is no plan on Syria and the president and his administration have failed to deliver a coherent plan on the path forward.

Well, Russia is warning that Saturday's U.S.-led airstrikes on Syrian targets are a setback to any attempts to negotiate an end of the country's long Civil War. At a U.N. Security Council meeting Tuesday Russia's ambassador to the U.N. called the U.S. and its allies, Britain and France, hypocrite.


VITALY CHURKIN, RUSSIA'S AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N. (TRANSLATOR): In Washington and its allies have already determined who is guilty and in essence are already acting like executioners, self-appointed executioners, the impression is now that Russia needs to change its position under the influence of the impact of airstrikes of the Western troika and the promise new round of sanctions by Washington. It's time for the West to understand that this type of logic against

Russia has never worked in the past and will never work in the future.


CHURCH: And for more on the reaction in Russia, CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, joins me now from Moscow. So, Nic, Russia slamming the United States and its allies of airstrikes on Syrian targets, what is Russia's strategy here? What is it trying to achieve?

NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are trying to keep President Bashar al Assad in power and make the -- in Syria make your Bashar al Assad Syria as strong as it can possibly be. I defeat all his enemies wherever they are that would be any kind of opposition. What Russia wants to do is secure its future in the Middle East, is -- makes sure that the world understands and realizes that Russia is an equal player on the world stage with the likes of the United States with the likes of China, this initially began as an opportunity for President Putin to engage in Syria in a meaningful way.

When the United States didn't follow through on his initial redlines when Syria used chemical weapons several -- several years ago and in the early years of the war, but what we are seeing right now is Russia putting up many different accounts of what may or may not happen in this alleged chemical weapons attack inside Syria.

It creates concerns confusion in advance of the U.S.-French and British airstrikes. They said that this would damage the path to peace, Russia has in recent months over the policy year and a half, perhaps continually pushed in a different direction from the U.N. peace agreement for Syria, a peace plan for Syria, U.N. resolution 2254 that was agreed over three years ago. That it also agreed to continue to try and go in another direction.

To what Russia is essentially trying to do is have its red and its will essentially -- essentially become the future for full for Syria without having a really any meaningful input from -- the outside, from the United States, from the E.U. and other countries. So this is what we are trying to see, Russia pushed through its strategy to have Assad in power, essentially controlling the whole country and that would be part of Russia's interests in the region, be at energy, be at military interest and have those realize in the Middle East.

CHURCH: And Nic, how might the confusion within the Trump administration over Russian sanctions muddied the waters when it comes to sending a message to Moscow about its role in Syria?

ROBERTSON: Perhaps it's, you know, if we think about it as perhaps not muddied in the waters per se, because I think very likely President Putin remembering back at the G-20 meeting in Hamburg las summer. He did have two very long meetings with President Trump, one of those are just one-on-one with his only -- hi own translator there. Is probably formed an impression on what President Trump -- who President Trump is and what he can really deliver and the state of confusion or understanding it may have on Syria.

But what was seen as where there is an absence or an unwillingness to implement whatever policy the United States has in Syria or other areas of the world and this was President Obama's failure to follow through with his red line on the chemical weapons attack and Russia recognizes this as an opportunity, an opportunity it can exploit. So, I think, when you have whether it's muddying the waters or whether it's really an absence of strategy and policy. This creates an opportunity for Russia to gain strength in foothold on the world stage and this is and this is what's happening.

CHURCH: All right. Our Nic Robertson joining us live from Moscow 10 nearly 10:40 in the morning. Thanks much. What is the end of an era in Cuba Prison Raul Castro is to step down this week ending almost 60 years that the Castro brothers headed the Communist governments. Our Patrick Oppmann reports from Havana.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For man frequently accused of being a dictator Raul Castro has an unusual wish, he wants to retire.

[03:40:06] Raul older brother Fidel, ruled Cuba for nearly five decades and said he thought he would die while still in power. Until a mystery illness botched intestinal surgery forced him to step aside in 2008.

Raul Castro took over as president of Cuba, but said he would limit his range it to five-year terms. Only hours remain before a new president of the communist island is due to be elected.

The national assembly reconvenes next year on April 19. Raul Castro said in 2017, I will concluded my second and last term in front of the state and government and Cuba will have a new president and for the first time in nearly 60 years, Cuba's government will not be led by someone name Castro.

For years many Cuban speculated Raul Castro's daughter Mariela a member of the national assembly in advocate for gay and transgender right. Or his son Alejandro a colonel in Cuba's counter intelligence who represented the island in secret talks with U.S. would be the next Castro to take power, but either is now in the running. Cuban government officials say, here is how it works.

It's Cuban's national assembly, not the Cuban people that will pick the next President of Cuba's Council of state and ministers. And on April 19th the anniversary of the Cuban victory at the Bay of Pigs (ph) they will gather here at Havana's Convention Palace to vote in secret. The candidate that comes out with more than 50 percent of that vote will become the next President of Cuba.

Many Cuban believes that would be this man. Cuban first Vice President Miguel-Canel, he so far at least has promise to follow closely in the footsteps of Fidel and Raul Castro. I believe in continuity, he said, I think there will always be continuity. Even though he will remain the powerful first secretary of the Cuban communist Party.

Cuban government officials say, Raul Castro is expected to live in semi-retirement in Cuba's second largest city Santiago de Cuba where residents there say, he recently built this house. And where Rafael Castro was buried in 2016. Castro is stepping down, as the economy of Cuba's close ally Venezuela implodes. The relations with the U.S. are at the worst point in decades and thousands of Cubans are still recovering from hurricane Irma.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It must be a very difficult thing to be the President of Cuba. We have a bureaucracy with the great people who are afraid to do anything. And it's a tough job situation. So, you know, everything has to come back up to you.

OPPMANN: What is certain is that whoever the next President of Cuba is, they have their work cut out for them. Patrick Oppmann CNN, Havana.


CHURCH: And we will take a short break, here but still to come, Starbucks is in hot water after the arrest of two African-American men. The CEO of Starbucks has promised to train his staff about racial bias. We are ask, what else his company can do. We are back with that in just a moment.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone, the CEO of Starbucks has assured critics, he's committed to address what he calls unconscious bias. Kevin Johnson apologized after two African-American men were arrested while they are waiting for a friend at a Starbucks in Philadelphia. The manager said that they could not stay, because they had not bought anything. The arrest have renewed a conversation on what corporations should do to ensure their staff do not discriminate. Earlier, CNN's Don Lemon spoke with the CEO of Starbucks.


KEVIN JOHNSON, CEO, STARBUCKS: One of the actions that we announced today and this suggest one step in a journey to focus on the things we can do to ensure that our Starbucks partners and the experience we create for each and every person that walks into our stores is the kind of experience that we are proud of. The kind of experience were every person that walks in our door can feel safe and welcome.

And so, the first step that we are taking is on May 29th, in the afternoon we are closing all 8,000 plus Starbucks company operated stores in the United States for mandatory training around unconscious bias, conscious inclusion and working not to only educate but sensitize every Starbucks partner to this issue.

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Listen, I think it is great that you are doing something, but you think, you could do, that you can accomplish that in one afternoon. You have 175,000 partner employees across the country that you have to deal with, I mean, realistically, in one afternoon? Is that --

JOHNSON: This is not, this is not the only thing that has to happen. You know, I have been on the ground here for three days. I had very little sleep, I have been actively engaged to listen and understand. And we are crafting a journey. This is the first step in our journey. And I have an accountability to make sure that, you know, we do the thoughtful, analysis, that we are thorough and that we are intentional about of every step we take to ensure that we can do everything that we can so it does not happen again to anyone who comes to a Starbucks. What happened to those two young men should not have happened. The police being called and they being arrested. They didn't deserve that. And so, I am here in Philadelphia with many from my leadership team, to make sure that we listen, learn and that we understand how this could have ever happened.

LEMON: You know, I have interviewed thousands of people in my career, and you know, I don't know if it's a, if you are exhausted or if you, you know, how this really affected you, maybe it is a combination, but you seem to be really affected by this. What is going through your head --


[03:50:27] CHURCH: -- like they would need to actually do something a little sooner than that, but what else do they need to do apart from the training?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you know, again, I think it's, it was a shock that I think this happened in Starbucks. And it also is because their rules were very loose. Basically, you know, each manager with their discretion to how they enforce this whether or not you have to, you know, be a customer to use the restroom or how long you are allowed to loiter. I mean, listen, I live in New York. I mean, there were restaurants up and down the street that has big signs restrooms for customers only.

This is, you know, but the problem is in how you enforce that it and if you are using it as a scapegoat to kick out people you don't find desirable in your store. And that I think in this case, the person made a very bad decision.

CHURCH: Yes, and that is a problem is that there is video to shows that there has been that discrimination. White people have come in, they haven't purchase things and they have used the restroom and that is the problem. And you raise there an issue I want to discuss, that -- this is a problem in the United States, unconscious bias. It is a very nice way of saying racism and the problem is, you know, we see this in Starbucks, we see them in restaurants, we see it all over and for African-Americans, they said, this is, it's time to talk about this and that is why we are seeing these protests unstoppable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think time is up for a lot of issues. From you know, the issues with women, to issues with race. And I think this is right, when the story came out, sadly, it was not a shock for most Americans that this would happened. That people would try to, you know, enforce a rule for one person and not for another. Because all the stories, you know, a white man in a suit or an old lady with a purse is unlikely be refused, you know, the key to the restaurant or call the police, because they are sitting there without buying a coffee.

CHURCH: So you would expect to see other companies go, you know what? We need to do this. We need to be preemptive here. And start this sort of training as well to make people aware that sometimes you might not think you are a racist or you might not think your bias in some way, but when you do some sort of training like that, you might find that you are in fact.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is important and I think it's also that, you know the actions speak much louder than this words. So the actually doing the training and actually it being becoming a better experience in Starbucks. But you know, maybe do we have to lock the restrooms in every locations. Do we have to make it so difficult, I mean, they really have a culture though and I think they need to show this in every restaurant. It was the idea of Starbucks was to be the third place. You had home, you had work and then encouraged you, they told you to hang out. And lots of people have, you know, business meeting and do their research papers and all sorts of things in Starbucks. Yet, they are and unfortunately in some cases, not everyone is allowed the same privileges.

CHURCH: Laura Reese (ph), thank you so much for coming on, we appreciate it


CHURCH: And we will take a quick break here, but still to come, former adult film star, Stormy Daniels and her attorney are asking the public for help. The answers they are getting from people who think they know this man. We are back with that in just a moment.


[03:55:00] CHURCH: A former adult film star, Stormy Daniels and her attorney, put out a call for information on the man she said threaten her in Las Vegas parking lot. After taking a look at the sketch of the suspect. The public had plenty of ideas about who the man might be, Jeanne Moos reports.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When Stormy Daniels released this sketch it unleash the slooze (ph) of the internet casting suspicion on everyone from Bon Jovi to Billy Bush. Just saying --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He looks like an actor sort of. That is why he stood up because I thought honestly that he was, you know, sort of handsome.

MOOS: Which brings us to the internet's prime suspect, quarterback Tom Brady. After all, he is known to all a make America great again hat. Yep, we got him, red one tweet. And some even saw similarity to that infamously unattractive courtroom sketch of Brady. But wait, wrong. Stormy's antagonizer is Willem Dafoe, the old version or the eerie alike young one.

Some of the tongue and cheeks suspects aren't even human. For instance, this puppet from Team America World Police. Having a prior record might be a clue. I found him and she, meaning Stormy, really should be worried about Dexter, the serial killer. Or how about a former member of the administration. Mooch, better have an alibi. The Mooch, Anthony Scaramucci actually responded, countering suspicion by citing height or the lack of it. The Mooch tweeted, I thought the description said he was 6'2", I'm all good. Scaramucci is reported to be only 5'8". Though the actual suspect is described by Stormy as 5'9" to 6 ft. So, the Mooch just misses.

We can only imagine the responses Stormy's attorney is getting to their offer of a $100,000 reward.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIEL'S ATTORNEY: If people go to idthethug@gmail,com, they can send us the information that they have.

MOOS: The internet is no slug when it comes to I.D.'ing the thug. Jeanne Moos CNN, New York.


CHURCH: Well, a lot of possibility there, thanks for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. The news continues now with Max Foster in London, you are watching CNN, have a great day.