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Inter-Korean Summit; Bill Cosby Convicted; Merkel Meeting at White House. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired April 27, 2018 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers from all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And I'm Isha Sesay. We begin with a history-making day for the Koreans.

VAUSE: The two leaders of North and South Korea have wrapped up the first round of talks in the demilitarized zone but the first inter- Korean summit in 11 is all focused on denuclearize will resume in a short time just after lunch.

Kim Jong-un acknowledges expectations right now are high but said he wants to deliver results for his people.

SESAY: The North Korean leader crossed the demarcation line that separates the two countries about 2.5 hours ago. After that handshake, Mr. Kim took Mr. Moon's hand and invited him, as you see there, to step north of the demarcation line.

South Korea's Blue House says the move was not actually planned. President Moon says the demarcation line is no longer a symbol of division but is now a symbol of peace.


KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): I walked 200 meters with (INAUDIBLE). I came here with the mindset that I'm standing at the starting line of the new history of North-South relationships and (INAUDIBLE).

I would like to frankly discuss current issues and matters of interest and have a good result rather than not being able to fulfill it and go back to square one. I would like this to be an opportunity to look at the future and move forward, holding hands.



MOON JAE-IN, PRESIDENT, SOUTH KOREA (through translator): The moment we crossed that demarcation line to Panmunjom, it became a symbol of peace, not a symbol of separation.

The entire world is watching us and I once more want to appreciate (INAUDIBLE). I want to have a frank talk and make a good agreement and give the world a good result (INAUDIBLE).


VAUSE: CNN has correspondents across this region covering this story. Paula Hancocks not far from the demilitarized zone; Matt Rivers standing by live in Beijing and Anna Stewart standing by in Tokyo.

Paula, first to you, where all the action is. They've had a break for lunch. They're about to go back into these negotiations.

Anything unexpected so far?

What's the major headline?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think the major headline at this point, John, is that these two leaders seem to be getting on extremely well. This is interesting not just in the fact that we are waiting to hear what kind of declaration they come out with, what are the details, what are the issues surrounding denuclearize.

But this is really the first time that we have seen the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, in this kind of setting. We're seeing what sort of -- how he deals with this kind of international media spotlight.

And certainly we've seen him playing it fairly smoothly up until this point.

Remember, when he came, he took the hand of President Moon Jae-in and said, let's go back across the border or we assume that's what he said. And then they stepped back into the Northern side of the DMZ. We know that they had a couple of words as well just after that morning session wrapped up.

And it appears as though Kim Jong-un has invited President Moon to go to Pyongyang as well, saying he appreciated President Moon coming to the MDL to welcome him and he would go to the airport in Pyongyang to welcome Mr. Moon.

So already they're talking about another summit. Of course we haven't heard anything about what they have decided within this summit. And that's the real -- the real sticking point here, the crucial part, what exactly are they talking about behind closed doors.

There are jokes; there are smiles; there's handshakes in public. But as soon as those doors close, that is when the difficult part starts and that's what we're waiting to hear about.

VAUSE: OK, I guess we'll just have to keep waiting ,Paula, thank you. Stay with us.

Over to you, Matt, in Beijing. If you look at the overall diplomatic process which is in play, not just the inter-Korean summit happening right now but also that planned meeting between U.S. president and Kim Jong-un, Beijing seems to be sidelined.

So would officials there be watching these chummy images and the smiles and the handshakes coming from the DMZ with some concern?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, it's business basically because they're watching and not really participating, John. That's something the Chinese government officials are going to be nervous about because they want a stake in these negotiations moving forward.

China has a lot of strategic interests in terms of how this all plays out and they want to make sure that that their interests are represented during these negotiations.

But like you said, this is a summit between just the two Koreas, then it will be a summit between the United States and North Korea alone.

Where's China in that picture?

Where's Russia in that picture, for that matter?

Where's Japan in that picture?

These are all countries --


RIVERS: -- that want their interests served and China may be more important than any other in terms of not having really any real allies. Japan, the United States, South Korea, that triumvirate there, usually on the same page.

But China has been on the other side of the coin. So the government officials here in Beijing watching this, not participating in it. And that's new territory for them and certainly uncomfortable.

VAUSE: You mentioned Japan on the sidelines so let's go to Tokyo.

Anna Stewart, you are there live for us this hour and the Japanese, are they concerned when it comes to this round of Korean diplomacy?

Will Kim Jong-un at least travel to Beijing to meet with President Xi Jinping Tokyo seems can't even get a date with Kim Jong-un.

ANNA STEWART, CNN PRODUCER: Japan has asked for a meeting and as of yet it's not had an answer on that. So Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe, has been incredibly busy visiting Donald Trump in the U.S., speaking to President Moon this week on the phone.

And he's got assurances that Japan's interests, particularly on the issue of Japanese adoptees held North Korea will be taken into account but that's far short of anything face-to-face.

So this is a big issue here. And Japan's been very skeptical of the talks so far. It wants to see action, not just words.

We are hearing local reports that tomorrow morning Shinzo Abe will get a call from President Moon to update him on what happens today. That's not yet confirmed by CNN.

So there is a relationship there. However, it's worth noting that the relationship between South Korea and Japan has always been somewhat strained. There's lingering resentment over Japan's colonization of the Korean Peninsula.

And there's ongoing disputes over an island called Dokdo in South Korea, called Takeshima in Japan. And in the preparations for the summit, we were taking photos of the chairs that the leaders will sit in. And engraved on them is a map of the Korean Peninsula. And this disputed island is very clear.

It was also going to be iced on the pudding. So it sends a very difficult message to Japan, who clearly doesn't want this issue to go unnoticed.

VAUSE: We all have days like that, Anna. This is one of them and it was a mango mousse, I think.

OK. Let's go back to Paula very quickly.

The big concern for this summit, much like the concerns for all summits, the expectations are greatly inflated as difficult to see North Korea giving up its nuclear and missile programs.

HANCOCKS: Absolutely, John. I've just been reading through the pool report that we've just got from the reporters who were inside the room and very close to the leaders as they're making these comment at the end of the morning session of this summit.

One thing that Kim Jong-un said was with the results of today's first meeting and the announcement about what we have discussed, even though it would be the only the tip of the iceberg, I hope we can satisfy people's high expectations.

So certainly it sounds, at least from Kim Jong-un's perspective, he has already agreed to something or he has passed on what he was willing to agree to at the end of this summit.

Clear that these two leaders have come to this summit with differing ideas of what denuclearization means. President Moon, before this meeting, said that they have the same concept of the word.

But clearly, the U.S. and South Korea want complete, irreversible denuclearization, which involves Kim Jong-un completely giving up his nuclear weapons. I've not met a North Korean expert or anyone who knows much about North Korea that believes he'll do that.

So there are degrees of denuclearization. Now the working level talks, we're told -- I couldn't get into this too much -- the high- level talks before this summit couldn't narrow down what these word meant. That was basically the main task for these two men today, these two leaders, to actually figure out what the other one thought that word meant.

VAUSE: Paula, thank you. Finally, very quickly to Matt, because a lot was made a couple of days ago when Kim Jong-un said he was basically between the nuclear testing on hold off, they'd done enough because now we're getting the geologists in China. I believe they found evidence which suggests that nuclear test site in North Korea just isn't operational, that it may have collapsed after the very powerful last nuclear test.

RIVERS: Yes, that's what a Chinese university research team came up with. They said that their findings showed that the nuclear test site actually collapsed. That, of course, could mean that radiation could spill over the border there into China.

There's been a ton of pushback from other experts as to whether that collapse actually happened or not. But the fact that we were even talking about it as a possibility shows why the relationship between China and North Korea has been strained.

China feels physically threatened. Its citizens are in harm's way as a result of these nuclear tests. People in that part of China actually feel the ground shake when they do those nuclear tests.

And so that's part of the reason the relationship has been strained. And yet despite all that, you can tell how much China wants a stake at this table moving forward because they invited Kim Jong-un here to Beijing. A Chinese delegation went --


RIVERS: -- to Pyongyang shortly thereafter. So despite China's misgivings about the nuclear program, about the missile testing program, there is also the realization here in Beijing that if they don't reach out to the North Korean regime, they're going to be left out in the cold as these negotiations move forward.

VAUSE: OK, Matt, thank you.

Matt Rivers, live for us there in Beijing, with Anna Stewart there in Tokyo and of course Paula Hancocks there in Seoul. Great -- at the DMZ, I should say, thank you.

For more, joining us now, John Delury, associate professor at Yonsei University; also Paul Carroll, a senior adviser at the nuclear disarmament group N Square, standing by.

Paul, I want to start with you because there's a couple of things we've seen, a little bit unexpected here, notably the fact that North Korean media were talking about the fact that reunification is on the agenda here.

They made no mention of denuclearization but they are talking about reunification.

PAUL CARROLL, N SQUARE: Yes, some of the early reports coming out, both the South and the North, the R word was used, reunification. Now I thought they did a very good job of qualifying it and putting a lot of caveats around that. That is to say that we're not going to see that in December but the overarching goal, the vision, as they put it, as the translation said, the vision of a peaceful peninsula, could ultimately lead to a reunification of the two Koreas. And not -- the South was very clear to say not an absorption. They don't want the North to feel like you're going to swallow us.

But it would be on equal terms and that had to be music to the North's ears.

VAUSE: Yes, and John, to you, because when the North Koreans have talked about reunification in the past, it's -- in the context of some kind of takeover, to talk about it, setting the scene here to begin those discussions, that says a whole lot about, I guess, the tone and the spirit of these negotiations.


VAUSE: Oh, we've lost John.

We'll try and work out what actually is up with John over there. And meantime, luckily, we still have Paul with us.

Paul, I guess, is it too simplistic to say right now that Kim Jong-un has everything to gain here with very little pain, at least in the initial stages?

DELURY: I think that's right. In an earlier report, the phrase, "playing a weak hand" was used. Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea, presided over the country at a time when it was actually more powerful economically than South Korea.

His son, Kim Jong-il, we often said he plays a weak hand well. But they have been a nuclear power now for 12 years. Their first test was in 2006. And while they may have a weak hand relative to, say, the United States or China, militarily, even economically, it isn't as weak as it used to be. Their hand has grown stronger and so now they're very, very good at playing a pretty decent hand.

And the theater we're seeing today I think is testimony to that. Kim Jong-un seems to have been very well prepped. This is the opening act of what may be a very long play but so far he's stealing the show.

VAUSE: Absolutely, Paul.

We have reestablished contact with John.

John, from what you've seen today, the way Kim Jong-un has conducted himself, played up to the cameras, realized the made-for-TV moments, smiled, said all the right things, what does that say to you about how he will deal with Donald Trump, should their meeting actually happen?

DELURY: Well, I think in terms of how a Kim-Trump summit would go, one thing we can see is that Kim Jong-un, first of all, is capable of spontaneity, that moment where he suggested to Moon, let's cross back over into the North. And he does that with a certain aplomb. He is very comfortable. He's comfortable in the public eye. He's doing this live press coverage, which is quite novel from a North Korean perspective.

So we see how he seems to be comfortable in this kind of high-wire, very public diplomacy. He looks for ways to establish a chemistry and rapport with his counterpart. So, you know, in many ways, this is -- this is obviously the lead-up to a summit with Trump. I think we're seeing, on top of meeting with Xi Jinping, in that meeting with Moon Jae-in so far, that, you know, Kim Jong-un is ready for the big leagues and to meet with the American president.

VAUSE: Ready for primetime, I guess, as they would say.

Paul, what we've seen in the last couple of hours out of the Korean Peninsula, filled with symbolism, history-making moments, symbolic gestures, that kind of stuff, the North Koreans are good at symbolic gestures.

Ten years ago, they destroyed the cooling tower, the Yongbyon nuclear power plant and began to dismantle the reactor. About a year later or so, they began to rebuild it since things didn't work out.

So despite all the gestures, despite all the symbolism, is a cloud hanging over the summit, the past, in the sense of trust?

Will the North Koreans seek any agreements and why should anyone believe them?

CARROLL: Well, you're absolutely right. I, too, sort of fell into the trap of today, you know, it was quite --


CARROLL: -- significant. It was historic. But so far we're only seeing the wrapping paper, we really don't know what's inside the box yet. I would hope and expect that, over the next 24 hours or so, we may hear more direct reports from the South Korean government about what was actually discussed.

I wouldn't -- I wouldn't think that we would have concrete agreements or proposals but we would have at least an agenda of here is what we will discuss the next time. And if we see continued engagement by the U.S. government, by now Secretary of State Pompeo and others, at that high level and with that kind of understanding of the context, that would be very encouraging.

VAUSE: And, John, we're almost out of time so I'll give you the last question because summits like this, seen as a test for diplomacy; if the summit fails, then diplomacy is considered to have failed.

Is that the case here?

Could that raise concerns and the possibility of a military confrontation?

DELURY: Well, that concern is out there but, you know, that's not the reason to not try. And when you're dealing with the North Korean system, the only way to get real progress and to get traction on something serious moving, is to do it this way, is to go to a top -- to the top, to Kim Jong-un.

So Moon Jae-in is doing that; Xi Jinping just did it. And it is critically important that Donald Trump goes through that, it they can arrange that summit, to get that meeting because there are two levels to this conflict.

There is the inter-Korean and then there's the U.S. piece. But I think this is really the only way to try. And we are seeing some breakthroughs. And so we just have to hope that they lead to real sustained progress.

VAUSE: Well, if you don't take a swing, you can't hit the ball, right?

OK, John and Paul, thanks so much for being with us. We appreciate it.

SESAY: Bill Cosby's fall from grace: next, how the comedian went from America's dad to being convicted of sexual assault. We'll have all the details just ahead.




SESAY: Hello, everyone.

Bill Cosby is guilty. The 80-year-old comedian is now at his home in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania after being convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in 2004. He faces up to 30 years in prison.

In all, more than 50 women accused Cosby of sexual misconduct. Six testified at this trial. The judge sent Cosby home and he is to be fitted with a tracking device. His attorney says he plans to appeal.

Joining us now on the line is Caroline Heldman. She attended with accusers. She's also an associate professor of politics at Occidental College and she's a friend of our show.

Caroline, great to have you with us on this important day. Let me start by asking you to just describe for us what it was like being in the courtroom when the verdict was read out.

CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I was sitting in between two Cosby survivors, one who has been waiting for justice for 26 years and another who's been waiting for justice for 41 years.

And we were actually escorted --

[] HELDMAN: -- out of the courtroom because they were in tears. I was in tears. Many people in the courtroom broke down just weeping, because, you know, only 2 percent of rapist ever see a day in jail. And so it was an unexpected victory in the sense that it's very rare to get a conviction.

And it's especially rare to get a conviction with someone so prominent and so it was just a moment that overwhelmed a lot of people in the courtroom.

SESAY: We're looking at the pictures of you now, Caroline, as you were escorted out and you're actually leaving the building. And there is a lot of hugging.

But talk to me about what was going through your mind. Obviously, it was a shock; obviously there was the recognition of how rare it is to see justice play out like this.

What were you saying to each other?

Tell me what words you were sharing with the other women.

HELDMAN: Well, the words we were mostly sharing were disbelief and joy. We just didn't expect it to happen. I attended the Cosby trial with the Cosby survivors I worked with last year as well.

And as you may remember, it ended in a deadlocked jury. And so we really just weren't expecting it. But the photos that you're looking at, we actually thought that was a private moment, that we were kind of curling, just hugging and hiding away from a camera. And didn't realize that that they had moved all of the cameras.

So it was just this moment of just unbridled joy and also just this weight lifted off of our shoulders, especially those of the Cosby survivors. It was really difficult to sit in this trial because the defense used a lot of the standard techniques that are used in rape defenses.

So he -- they did a lot of blaming the victim and talking about their promiscuity and assassinating their character. So it was a great relief for it to be over after just the drudgery of three weeks of hearing rape myths.

SESAY: Yes. There's a lot of analysis right now about this moment, the significance of this verdict and how the how the prosecution got to this point, talk of was it because the other five women in addition to Andrea Constand's testimony, were they the element that that made this trial finish up this way with a guilty verdict as opposed to the hung trial the first time around.

Or was it the fact that it's happening at the time of the #MeToo movement being what it is?

How do you see it?

How do you account for this verdict, given the rarity of these prosecutions?

HELDMAN: Isha, I think it's both things coming together. Certainly the five women, the five what are called prior bad act witnesses, were very convincing because they essentially all told the same story, that Cosby groomed them. He befriended their family members. He gave grandma tickets to shows. He talked to their parents and then he drugged them and he sexually assaulted them.

And then after the fact, he gaslighted them. He told them that it didn't happen and he continued to speak with their families and with them much of the time. So the stories were just strikingly parallel.

But I also think the #MeToo movement plays into this in the sense that the Jury perhaps bought into rape myths a little less. The prosecution actually started with a forensic psychologist, who laid out all of these rape myths, for example, the myth that women come forward right away or survivors come forward right away or the myth that they have clear recollections of what happened when, in reality, trauma brain essentially means it's hard to recall details.

So the prosecution really set it up to take advantage of this kind of new knowledge that I think the nation has been given with the #MeToo movement about rape myths.

SESAY: Well, Caroline, thank you so much for coming on and telling us about what was happening behind the scenes. I know how much this means you and all the work you do in support of sexual assault survivors. So we thank you and it's a very big day for women everywhere. Thank you, Caroline.

Let's discuss this further with CNN legal analyst Areva Martin.

Areva, I know you, too, have followed this very, very closely. First of all, just give me your gut feeling when you heard the guilty verdict was in.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I was shocked like Caroline. So few of these cases end in a conviction and Cosby brought on a new legal team and that team was very aggressive in their attack and in their defense.

And they did point out a lot of inconsistencies in Andrea's testimony and they didn't have to prove a case. All they had to do was create reasonable doubt. And as a lawyer, when you start hearing about inconsistencies, you get nervous. You think, OK, maybe that person isn't going to be believed.

And in this case we didn't have --


MARTIN: -- your standard forensic evidence. We didn't have any tangible evidence. It was basically her word against his word. Now we had the deposition testimony, we had the settlement, we had some other elements but we didn't have a rape kit or some of the other things that you would like to see in -- (CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: -- he said/she said and you had the star witness with inconsistency. So I think there was some concern. I know I had concerns so I was surprised to hear particularly how short the jury --


MARTIN: -- it was only out 14 hours or so. The last trial was six days that they deliberated. So a lot of differences in this trial versus the first trial for Cosby.

SESAY: I want to play for you our own Jean Casarez, you know well, Jean Casarez is -- her take on the moments in the court and Cosby's reaction at a certain point. Let's play that.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The state attorney, said, "Your Honor, we believe he's a flight risk. He has a private plane."

At that point, Bill Cosby stood up, looked at the state attorney and said, in a loud, booming voice, "He doesn't have a plane, you asshole."


SESAY: You know what I found shocking about that, and I want to get your thoughts, but it was the fact that since this all started many, many months, Bill Cosby's been this frail, barely able --


SESAY: -- and then you get this about-face and him standing and, as she said, in a loud, booming voice used this language.

MARTIN: Well, obviously he's upset. He's angry. He's had to sit through not one but two trials and listen to woman after woman -- in this case six women -- tell stories of him grooming them, drugging them and sexually assaulting them.

So it could not be easy for him, even as the perpetrator, and I think we saw some of that anger unleashed as he made that statement about not having a plane, not surprising, given what he is facing.

And I'm sure his lawyers have done a good job of --


MARTIN: -- well, they're going to appeal but again, very uphill battle, very few criminal trials, very few criminal verdicts like this are overturned on appeal.

SESAY: The five women who came in and gave the additional testimony, do you think that is sufficient grounds for the appeal --


MARTIN: -- one of the bases used for the appeals. I don't think it's going to work so I think there's sufficient legal precedent for the judge allowing those fact witnesses to testify.

I think something that's not been talked a whole lot about in this case that struck me, the first case -- they didn't talk about that $3.2-$3.3 million settlement, that Cosby deal with Constad. That came in, in this trial.

And although the Cosby team tried to dismiss it, hey, he's a really wealthy guy; this is nothing. But too the average person that makes $50,000-60,000, to hear that someone paid $3.3 million to settle a case, that sends a very powerful message, that there probably was something to this case. This wasn't just nuisance value, this wasn't just a small amount you pay to make someone go away.

This probably was a payment for a case where there was substantial liability. So I think that also had a significant impact on the jurors.

SESAY: A lot more to talk about on this in the next hour, Areva Martin, got to leave it there but thank you so much.

MARTIN: Thanks.

VAUSE: Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., we'll head back to the Korean Peninsula, where the leaders from North and South are about to begin the second round of talks on what has already been a history-making day filled with symbolism.





VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody.

Just months ago, a nuclear confrontation with North Korea seemed more likely with each passing day. Then came the Winter Olympics and a thaw in relations between North and South.

And now, against all expectations, the leaders of North and South are holding their first face-to-face talks in more than a decade and this is the first time a North Korean leader has set foot on South Korean soil since the end of the Korean War.

As Kim Jong-un crossed over the DMZ's military demarcation line, he was formally greeted by the South Korean president Moon Jae-in. And then, in an unscripted moment, Kim took Moon by the hand. Together they stepped back into North Korea. And then after an official welcoming ceremony, Kim signed the guest book and the two leaders went into Peace House to begin these negotiations. Paula Hancocks is covering all of this not far from the demilitarized zone. She joins us now live.

Paula, what we're hearing now from the pool reports is this isn't just friendly talks, it's a lot more than civil. Apparently it seems Kim Jong-un would be willing to actually visit the presidential house there in South Korea in Seoul, the Blue House.

HANCOCKS: Apparently, they were talking about the Blue House when they were looking at some paintings in the lobby, I understand from one of the pool reports. We know also that Kim Jong-un has invited Moon Jae-in back to Pyongyang.

He was talking about the roads in North Korea weren't very good as he was driving from Pyongyang to the border, giving a fair bit away about the infrastructure there in his own country.

And he said he it would be much better if President Moon flew and he would meet him at the airport.

Now he also did say just after the morning summit meeting ended, that session before they went for lunch, that what they had decided was just the tip of the iceberg in the sense that the hopes that that the announcement of what they had decided would please people.

So clearly they have come to some agreement already. We have no idea what it might be. But he said that he does hope that it is something that is welcomed by people.

Now, of course, what people want to hear around the world is about denuclearization.

Is North Korea really willing to denuclearize?

So although at the moment it is all about optics and all about these wonderful photo opportunities that many of us didn't think we would see this soon after such an intense nuclear and missile testing year of 2017.

But the optics is all we have at the moment. We don't have any substance. We don't have any indication on exactly what was agreed within that meeting. They still have this afternoon as well to discuss things -- John.

VAUSE: Very quickly, Paula, one thing which is interesting is that Kim Jong-un has been to Beijing as leader and now he's been just across the border to the DMZ. We know that he was educated in Europe.

It boggles the mind to imagine what he's thinking right now as he looks around.

HANCOCKS: This is really one of the first times, as you say, that we've actually him out of his natural habitat. Usually we see him on state-run media and that is highly choreographed. It would be highly edited. But here, even though this is highly choreographed, of course,

anything that's happening today, we are seeing moments of, well, human moments, for example, we're seeing jokes between him and the South Korean president.

We're seeing Kim Jong-un take Moon's hand and lead him back over to the northern side of the NDL. Clearly, that wasn't planned and I'm sure some hearts sunk in the security detail of President Moon as they saw that happening.

But it shows that we know very little about Kim Jong-un. This is really one of the first times that we are seeing him interacting with another leader. Clearly we did see him with Xi Jinping as well. But that would be highly choreographed, coming out of Beijing, that state visit.

So we're seeing a more relaxed, a, to be honest, a fairly smooth Kim Jong-un, who doesn't have much experience at international diplomacy, if you like --


HANCOCKS: -- international politics, meeting other leaders.

But at this point, he's certainly holding his own. He's managed to veer from the script on a number of occasions -- John.

VAUSE: Yes, absolutely. Paula, thank you. Clearly you'll be busy for a while. Thank you.

SESAY: It is a remarkable day, though.

VAUSE: The thing about the bad roads in Pyongyang and people (INAUDIBLE) how economically backwards it is and then he just crosses that border.


VAUSE: I just wonder what impact that has on a man of about 33 years and whether that changes his outlook in any significant way.

SESAY: Yes, it all, whether the weight of the past and the legacy of his father and grandfather means that he just can't let go of --

VAUSE: Or there's some conflict going on, whatever so --

SESAY: It's interesting, really very interesting.

We're going to take a very quick break.

Trump unfiltered: the U.S. president called in to his favorite TV morning show. We will tell you what happened then.



SESAY: U.S. President Donald Trump will welcome German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House on Friday. They'll sit down for a 20-minute one-on-one, a working lunch and joint press conference.

That comes after Mr. Trump's rather animated phone interview Thursday morning with FOX News. He hit on a number of topics and distanced himself from his long-time attorney, Michael Cohen. This as the president's self-proclaimed fixer, who is under criminal investigation by the FBI.

The president said that even after 12 years, Cohen's not all that important.


TRUMP: Let me just tell you that Michael is, in business, he's really a business man with fairly big business, I understand. And I don't know his business. But this doesn't have to do with me. Michael is a business man. He's got a business. He also practices law --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, how much of your legal work was handled by Michael Cohen?

TRUMP: Well, as a percentage of my overall legal work, a tiny, tiny little fraction. But Michael would represent me and represent me on some things.


SESAY: Michael Genovese is thankfully here with us. He's a political analyst and president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University.

Michael, now Michael Cohen isn't much to him?

I thought Michael Cohen was all about how he'd take a bullet for Trump at one point. Clearly it's not an equal relationship.



GENOVESE: This was surreal. On a plane a few weeks ago, he said, "He's my lawyer. Go to talk to him. He's my lawyer."

And then today he said he only was a tiny, tiny little --


SESAY: -- and he does a little bit of law.

GENOVESE: -- and is that reference to business, is that Trump, in his own strange way, trying to tell the prosecutors, look at his business, look at his business, look at his business. There was the theory in Watergate, John Mitchell, the attorney general

and head of the campaign to reelect, said, look, if we can give them an hors d'oeuvre to the special prosecutor, maybe they won't go after the main course.

Is Michael Cohen the hors d'oeuvre that --


GENOVESE: -- Trump is trying to feed to the special prosecutor so that they'll leave him alone?

It was beyond surreal, a president unhinged, going all over the place. It was a rant that lasted 31 minutes on his favorite program.

SESAY: As he -- what some would say -- unraveled on "FOX and Friends." It comes just hours before he meets with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who's coming to Washington. You couldn't meet a more different world leader.

Talk to me about her ambitions and the interaction we're likely to see with Trump. Clearly we don't expect the same hand-holding and kissing that we saw with Macron.

GENOVESE: The president and Angela Merkel have a very distant relationship. It's very awkward. If you saw the last time they met --

SESAY: Who can forget?

GENOVESE: -- oh, my goodness, it was -- I was in pain watching it. This is kind of the second of the one-two punch from Macron, now to Merkel. And Merkel's been in power 12 years. She is the senior leader of the West.

And when Macron on Tuesday gave the love-in but then on Wednesday, the smack-down, I think what we're going to see with Angela Merkel is a little bit more of a smack-down. She will not, I do not think, be as vociferous and as direct as Macron was.

Macron even went so far as to say in his speech in Congress, let's try to make our planet great again, really as a dig at Trump. So I don't think you'll see a lot of that public digging or agit, as my dad used to say.

What I think we'll see is, behind closed doors, she will continue to give the Macron line, the European line and say to Trump, get in line behind us.

SESAY: Well, as we try to figure out this president's interaction with world leaders, we're also looking at the Korean Peninsula and the meeting between the North Korean and South Korean leaders.

Kim Jong-un has so far put on a very smooth display. The question is how will Washington be looking at that ahead of the expected U.S.- North Korea summit because there is a sense that they have underestimated Kim Jong-un.

GENOVESE: Well, he is easy to make fun of because the president does that all the time with the Little Rocket Man. But you've got to be smart and tough to be in the position he's put himself in, in North Korea. He's wiped out all the rivals and he's taken firm control.

And so I think you don't underestimate him. Remember he's smart as a whip. He's very strategic. He knows what he wants and he knows the method to get it. Whether he'll get there or not, it is uncertain.

But the U.S. is watching him with the most careful eyes because two things are going on here. On May 12th, there is the nuclear deal that has to be recertified with Iran and we're also now asking North Korea to make a deal with us on nuclear arms. And so there's this pas de deux that's going on -- it's just striking how calm and poised and Kim Jong-un has been.

But even more importantly, President Moon of South Korea has been the master of this. He has been the one who's really staging the events.

SESAY: It has been masterful and we'll just wait to find out whether anything substantive toward that goal of denuclearization emerges. But really fascinating, a moment for history. Michael Genovese, thank you.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

SESAY: And thank you.

VAUSE: Who's manipulating whom?

SESAY: And who's pulling whose strings?

VAUSE: Exactly. Sorry. (INAUDIBLE).


Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Stay tuned. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN.