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Kim Jong-un Vows to Shutter Nuclear Test Site; President Snubs Reporters, Holds Campaign Rally; White House Correspondents' Dinner; New U.S. Secretary of State to Meet with Saudi King; Death Toll in Nicaragua Rises after Violent Unrest; The Windrush Generation. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired April 29, 2018 - 03:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A new vow from Kim Jong-un. He says he will shut down North Korea's nuclear test site next month.

Plus this:


VANIER (voice-over): Donald Trump's supporters show their vocal support, endorsing him for the Nobel Peace Prize because of North Korea's actions.


VANIER (voice-over): And listen to this:


MICHELLE WOLF, COMEDIAN: It's kind of crazy that the Trump campaign was in contact with Russia when the Hillary campaign wasn't even in contact with Michigan.


VANIER (voice-over): Comedian controversy: the headliner at the White House Correspondents' Dinner gets laughs, gasps and sometimes silence.

Live from the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier. It's great to have you with us.


VANIER: We continue to follow our breaking news. Out of the Korean Peninsula this hour, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un says his country's main nuclear test site would be shut down next month. And foreign experts as well as journalists will be invited into North Korea to ensure the transparency of this closure. Mr. Kim also says he is not the kind of person to fire nuclear weapons

at South Korea or the United States. All of this, according to a South Korean official. Mr. Kim reportedly made the comments at a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday.

Their talks come ahead of another potential diplomatic breakthrough, a summit between the North Korean leader and, this time, U.S. President Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I remember, it was very rough 3-4 months ago.

VANIER (voice-over): This was Mr. Trump at a rally in Michigan on Saturday and did you just make out what they said?

Some of his supporters chanted that he should get the Nobel Peace Prize for the talks between the Koreas.

And a push for denuclearization. He says he has been speaking with South Korean President Moon and a U.S. summit with North Korea could be just weeks away. In fact, during that rally, Mr. Trump said 3-4 weeks possibly.

For more on this, CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Seoul.

Paula, first I have to --


VANIER: -- I have to get you to comment on this comment by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that he is, quote, "not the kind of person who would ever launch a nuclear weapon at the United States."

Isn't that exactly what he was threatening to do just a few months ago?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pretty much, Cyril. Yes, it's certainly raising some eyebrows. The fact is there were very few people that truly thought that Kim Jong-un would ever actually order the launch of a nuclear weapon to hit mainland United States, not just because that many experts don't think he is quite there yet, even though he has claimed himself that he has completed his program but they know that -- North Korea knows that that would have been suicide.

So there was never really a complete -- many people did not actually think that he would do it. But the fact is, for many months, he has been threatening it. He has even through his state-run media, KCNA, North Korea has produced videos, which show Washington being destroyed in a nuclear blast.

There have been very direct threats to the United States. Now of course there have been threats coming the other way. The U.S. president Donald Trump saying that he would totally destroy North Korea if necessary. So it's a surprising comment but it is in keeping with what we saw on

Friday, all of those comments that we heard from the Blue House, obviously secondhand today from Kim Jong-un, all in keeping with this new, open, transparent, friendly Kim Jong-un that quite frankly many people here in South Korea will be trying to reconcile with the Kim Jong-un that they have known from afar for many years.

VANIER: Reporting live from Seoul, South Korea, Paula Hancocks, thank you.

Jasper Kim is director of the Center for Conflict Management at Ewha University. He joins me from Seoul, South Korea.

Jasper, now there is a concrete timeline for shutting down the nuclear test site at Punggye-ri. It's in May and experts plus journalists will be brought in to ensure this is all transparent.

What do you think?

Are these genuine gestures of goodwill that we should believe in?

JASPER KIM, EWHA UNIVERSITY: Cyril, it's trust but verify. So we have the intent and now a timeline. And so the question is will this be followed up by action?

And really it's action that'll be resounding. It will be definitive and it will help to mitigate some of the skeptics' argument --


KIM: -- that this is all a lot of hot air. There's nothing really substantive behind it.

But if North Korea does open up its nuclear facility and allows both domestic and international players to come in and take a look for yourselves, see, here's the evidence. We have shut down, then that is a great leap forward in this -- what's happening, this remarkable, historical summit that just happened.

VANIER: There have been some reports that there was damage, that there was partial damage at the test site.

Could that be part of the reason perhaps why there -- why the North Koreans are willing to shut it down?

KIM: Well, this might be their best nuclear site to show for international inspectors. We do not really know how many weapons facilities there are. So this might be just the first one. It may not be the last one. It probably is not going to be the last one.

But it's the first one in this showcase (INAUDIBLE) a series of greater opening up and transparency of North Korea's nuclear weapons facilities. So whether it is damaged or not, I think the key thing is really that they're really opening it up and they're doing it preemptively or maybe in some synchronicity with Kim Jong-un's meeting with Donald Trump. So this must be on the backdrop of Pompeo's meeting, in which there was a quid pro quo, followed up by the Kim Jong-un talks with Moon Jae-in. It's real, substantive progress, I think.

VANIER: Almost daily now, there are gestures of goodwill coming from North Korea. And each time we look at them and wonder whether they are an indication of sincerity and a real desire for peace in Pyongyang or not.

What are the factors that you are looking at?

What the important things to look out for to try and figure out whether North Korea is serious about peace?

KIM: There's three parts to this. One is the emotional; second is the economic and third is security. And the first step, I think we already have it. We've seen it, the communication between the two Koreas being followed up by the Panmunjom declaration.

And now we have this dramatic gesture on North Korea's part, about 24 hours after that summit. And so once these countries can get on the ground in North Korea and actually take a look, I think that's real, substantive progress.

And then the next phase after that will be based on that trust and based on this action of allowing international inspectors on the ground in North Korea, which hasn't happened in years, that that will be a good precipice and a good meeting of atmospheric meeting for Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump when they meet.

VANIER: Here's what I keep coming back to, when I look at these gestures of goodwill. I think if North Korea is sincere about peace, then this is exactly what they would be doing and this is what that would look like.

But I also think if North Korea were just tricking the international community, as they've done multiple times in the past, this is also exactly what that would look like.

Is that fair?

KIM: Yes. I think it's completely fair and I agree with that analysis 100 percent. So basically I think the strategy from the U.S.' perspective and South Korea's perspective, where I sit now, is to hedge yourself, hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

And I agree that the best case scenario is what is happening now. In fact, what we've seen with these dramatic visuals and optics is above and beyond anyone's expectations. So but on the flipside is that what happened in (INAUDIBLE) kind of has this echo of what happened in previous agreements in 2007 and 2000.

And I think you see Donald Trump in his tweets and other public remarks, he's also hedging himself, like a good business person would in that he will say, I'm going to go in there with the intent to reach a sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula. But if it doesn't work out, I'm willing to walk (INAUDIBLE). And so I think North Korea and Kim Jong-un know that. And so they really have to follow up.

Sincerity is nice. But it has to be followed up by action.

VANIER: All right, Jasper Kim, thank you for your insights. We appreciate it.

KIM: Thank you.

VANIER: Let me bring you back to the United States now. And you can call this the tale of two Washingtons.

In Washington, D.C., Saturday night, the White House Correspondents' Dinner, where much of the banter targeted the U.S. president, and in another Washington, President Trump targeting the media.

He also touted his role in North Korean diplomacy and blasted the Russia investigation, saying that the Russia lawyer at that Trump Tower meeting with his campaign officials is now changing her story in order to cause chaos in the United States.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Have you heard about the lawyer?

For a year, a woman lawyer, she was like, oh, I know nothing, know -- now all of a sudden, she supposedly is involved with government.

You know why?

If she did that, because Putin and the group said, you know, this Trump is killing us.

Why don't you say that you are involved with government so that we can go and make their life in the United States --


TRUMP: -- even more chaotic?

Look at what's happened. Look at how these politicians have fallen for this junk, Russian collusion. Give me a break.


VANIER: CNN's Boris Sanchez travels with the president and he has more from that rally.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president kicked off his event here in Washington Township, Michigan, by noting that he was invited to another event in Washington, D.C., alluding to the White House Correspondents' Dinner, but saying that he would rather be here among his supporters.

The president calling that event "phony" and saying that he did not want to sit there and smile as he was being insulted.

The president also took aim at a number of his favorite targets, including the media and certain Democrats, like Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and the governor of California, Jerry Brown, before targeting Montana senator Jon Tester.

Of course, Tester is the ranking Democrat on the Veterans Affairs Committee and he had some role in sinking the president's nominee, Ronny Jackson, for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The president at one point seemed to threaten Tester. Listen to what he said during his speech.


TRUMP: Senator Jon Tester of a really great place, Montana, who voted by the way in favor of sanctuary cities, who's weak on the border, didn't vote for tax cuts.

He took a gentleman, who is a truly high-quality human being, and what they said about him, what they said about this great American doctor, Ronny Jackson, an admiral in the Navy and Tester started throwing out things that he's heard.

Well, I know things about Tester that I could say, too. And if I said them, he would never be elected again.


SANCHEZ: The president calling what Jon Tester did "a disgrace."

One other noteworthy moment, President Trump accusing Vladimir Putin of planting Natalia Veselnitskaya, that attorney that was in a meeting at Trump Tower in June of 2016 with Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner among others, saying that Putin intentionally had her declare that she was an informant to the Kremlin this week in order to sow chaos within the United States.

One of a number of claims by President Trump during his speech here. He also talked about immigration and trade, a number of his favorite topics. And the crowd ate it all up to different chants of "Build the wall" and at one point also chanting, "Nobel, Nobel," suggesting that the president should win the Nobel Peace Prize for the ongoing talks between North and South Korea, moving toward denuclearization. The president also saying that he looks forward to the potential meeting between him and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with the president in Washington Township, Michigan.


VANIER: While the president decided again to skip the White House Correspondents' Dinner, White House officials say that he encouraged them to attend the gala this year. But they may have not have been amused with the jokes that were made at their expense. Take a look. CNN's Kate Bennett filed this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The annual White House Correspondents' Dinner is wrapping up here at the Washington Hilton Hotel. The annual Nerd Prom, as people like to call it, that mash-up of journalists who cover Washington and the White House, politicians and, although no president Donald Trump was here again, several members of his administration and his staff at the White House.

We were told the president personally encouraged members of his team to attend this year when last year they were told not to come.

Everyone seemed to be getting along fairly well. There was Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels' attorney, chatting on the red carpet with people like Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Sanders. The dinner got underway. Scholarships were handed out. There was a lot of celebration about the First Amendment and the importance of journalism.

And then comedian Michelle Wolf took the stage. And that's when things got a little iffy. We always expected the comedians at this dinner to make fun of the president, to sort of joke and roast.

However, about midway through her routine, Wolf got a little personal specifically when it came to press secretary Sarah Sanders, who was also sitting at the main table just a few feet away from Wolf as she was giving her routine.


MICHELLE WOLF, COMEDIAN: I actually really like Sarah. I think she is very resourceful. But she burns facts and then she uses that ash got to create a perfect smoky eye.


WOLF: Like maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's lies. It's probably lies.


BENNETT: One topic Wolf didn't avoid was the controversy with Stormy Daniels and the president and the alleged affairs and the salacious headlines. She actually made a joke, saying if we wanted her to be quiet, she might accept a similar payment to the one Michael Cohen made the porn star.



WOLF: I'm a woman so you cannot shut me up unless you have Michael Cohen wire me $130,000.


BENNETT: All in all, I have to say, toward the end of the jokes, we watched the room go quiet. We watched people's faces get stony-faced. I'm not just talking about the members of the White House staff or the president, I'm talking about journalists, who also felt somewhat uncomfortable that the comedian might have gone a tad too far in her personal attacks on members of the president's administration, from Kellyanne Conway, again, to Sarah Sanders, Reince Priebus. She also made jokes about Ivanka Trump.

The evening, the reviews might come out a little bit differently than previous years. But still Nerd Prom 2018 is a wrap -- I'm Kate Bennett at the Washington Hilton for CNN.


Now that dinner is meant to defend freedom of speech. But as Kate mentioned there, not everyone was a fan of comedian Michelle Wolf. Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was at the dinner. He tweeted this, "disgrace."

Michelle Wolf then quoted that tweet and wrote, "Thank you."

And now Spicer is asking the leadership of the White House Correspondents' Dinner to respond to criticism of the gala.

President Trump's new top diplomat heads to the Middle East and his first stop is in Saudi Arabia. We'll be looking at the tough issues on Mike Pompeo's agenda there.

Plus, the saga of the Caribbean migrants, who have lived legally in Britain for decades. Now they're fighting for their right to stay. The details ahead.




VANIER: Welcome back.

The new face of American diplomacy: Mike Pompeo is on his first trip to the Middle East as President Trump's secretary of state. He's in Saudi Arabia right now and he is expected to meet with King Salman and then he continues to tour the region.

He will be heading to Israel. He'll also be heading to Jordan. CNN's Ben Wedeman joins us from Amman, Jordan.

Ben, what's the purpose of this visit?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The purpose, Cyril, is really to shore up ties with two key U.S. allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel, especially when it comes to the question of Iran. Both of those countries are enemies of Iran, have made it clear that they are opposed or they were opposed to the joint plan of action, the agreement that ended Iran's nuclear program.

And, therefore, given that, on May 12th, it will be up to President Trump to decide whether to continue to keep these sanctions off of Iran as a result of that agreement or put them back in place.

So that is clearly going to be the main focus of his tour of the region. Now it is important to keep in mind, for instance, that his predecessor, Rex Tillerson, did not have very good relations with the various --


WEDEMAN: -- countries that are on this tour because he was not in favor of scrapping the Iran nuclear deal.

So Pompeo is much more in line with the thinking of President Trump in terms of his criticism of the agreement, is obviously going to get a much better reception. Also keep in mind that when it came to the Israel-Palestine file, that was the domain of President Trump's son- in-law, Jared Kushner.

But now it appears that Pompeo is also going to be involved with that as well. Apparently also on the agenda, when it came to speaking with the Saudi Arabians, was the question of this long simmering spat between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Now the Saudis, for instance, have played with the idea of digging a moat around Qatar or dumping nuclear waste around the border as some sort of punitive measure against them. The Trump administration has long felt that this was a pointless spat. Ex -Secretary Tillerson tried to mediate. That did not seem to work.

But Pompeo is also going to give it a try. So there is a lot on his plate. And the atmosphere in the region is such that this is going to be perhaps a very hot May in the Middle East.

VANIER: Ben Wedeman, reporting live from Amman, Jordan, thanks very much. We appreciate your insights.

The death toll in Nicaragua is rising after the largest street protests there since the country ended its civil war in 1990. On Saturday, hundreds of thousands gathered for a peace march in a show of nonviolence and unity against the government.

CNN's Rafael Romo takes a look at what led to this crisis and what protesters are calling for now.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): It's been likened to the Arab Spring. Violent protests in Nicaragua, mostly led by students, are challenging President Daniel Ortega's grip on power.

Human rights groups say dozens of protesters have been killed in the clashes. They began last week when Ortega tried to change the country's social security system to halt the deficit, increasing how much workers were paid and decreasing the payout for pensioners.

Since then, he has scrapped the proposal but demonstrators say they want Ortega to resign and call for changes in what they called his repressive policies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We want guarantees that human rights will not be repressed as well as the lives of university students and that of civil society.

ROMO (voice-over): Last Saturday, journalist Angel Gahona was shot in the head while covering the protests. It is unknown who killed him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This situation of freedom, of violence, of liberties, of repression, of being able to inform other risks that journalists face in countries like Nicaragua is not something that is happening now. We have been going through this for many years. And it's come mainly from the presence of President Daniel Ortega in the country.

ROMO (voice-over): Ortega was a guerrilla leader in the Sandinista movement when it toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua's revolution in 1979. He ruled throughout the '80s and returned to power in 2007.

Ortega wanted to build a strong economy and keep drug gangs out of Nicaragua but, in doing so, he also consolidated power by stacking the judiciary, limiting the press and choosing his wife to be his vice president, all of which led to a simmering anger among the Nicaraguan people, a spark that turned into a flame with last week's government action.

Ortega calls the protesters criminals although he says he is willing to talk to end the crisis. But it is making for an uncertain future for the former revolutionary leader as protesters continue to rail against him.


VANIER: That was CNN's Rafael Romo reporting there.

Now to what a U.N. official calls a forgotten humanitarian crisis. A decades-old fight between separatists in the military in Myanmar's Kachin State escalated this month, forcing about 10,000 people to leave their homes.

Reports say thousands are now trapped in a forest with no access to humanitarian aid. Kachin State in Northern Myanmar is more than 800 kilometers north of Rakhine State. That is where violence has forced 670,000 Rohingya Muslims to escape to neighboring Bangladesh.

Protesters gathered in London on Saturday, criticizing the government's treatment of the Windrush generation. That is the group of Caribbean immigrants, who have lived legally in the country for decades. But things changed after the government passed new immigration laws.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin has the story of one woman, who is fighting for her status and her humanity.



ISAACS: That's the way they made me feel. I'm not wanted. I'm not valued. I'm not nobody. I have no identity. As far as they're concerned I'm an alien.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barbara Isaacs says in 2008, her life forever changed. A mother of six, struggling with mental health issues and living on benefits, she applied to the British government to renew her welfare, something she had received for decades, only to suddenly be told there was no record she existed.

ISAACS: How can you throw away a whole generation of people that you invited to come here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is the arrival of more than 400 happy Jamaicans.

MCLAUGHLIN: Barbara is part of what's known as the Windrush generation, a wave of migrants from the Caribbean, encouraged to come rebuild the U.K. after World War II. They were told they could stay for the rest of their lives. Many lived in the U.K. without paperwork.

Decades later, the government would begin to demand documentation to prove their right to stay, documentation many say they don't have. To make matters worse, the British government acknowledges it destroyed thousands of landing cards. As a result, some were threatened with deportation and deprived of badly needed benefits.

AMBER RUDD, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: I bitterly, deeply regret that I didn't see it as more than individual cases that had gone wrong that needed addressing. I didn't see it as a systemic issue until very recently.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Barbara is one of the lucky ones. She kept her old passport, which shows she arrived when she was 6. Even so, she had to prove she had the right to remain in the United Kingdom.

ISAACS: They wanted 42 years' worth of information. They didn't even save their paperwork for 42 years --

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): It took Isaacs three years to come up with the money and the paperwork necessary to apply. In the meantime, she says, she lost all government support.

ISAACS: How can you have lived somewhere all of your life and, 50 years later, you're sleeping on the streets, begging people for certain things.

MCLAUGHLIN: You were homeless.

ISAACS: Yes, totally. I was homeless, destitute. It's so degrading, so degrading. MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Isaacs was granted residency in 2011, the same year she applied, something the home office points to in a statement responding to CNN's request for comment, adding that it's looking into her case, quote, "as a matter of urgency."

Even though she once again receives government support, for Isaacs and so many others from the Windrush generation, the damage is deep and permanent.

ISAACS: I've cried me a river and I've almost drowned in. It. A part of me has died, completely dead.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.


VANIER: That's it from us this hour. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. We'll have the headlines for you in just a moment.