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Giuliani's Bombshell Leaves People Scratching Their Heads; American Prisoners to be Released from Pyongyang; Mount Kilauea's Eruption Reaches Subdivisions; White House Faces New Credibility Questions; At Least 100 Killed In Intense Storm In India; Status Of Americans Detained In North Korea Unclear; U.S. Warns China Over Military Build Up In South China Sea; Iran Signals It Will Exit Nuclear Deal If U.S. Leaves; Celebrating A Free Press. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 4, 2018 - 03:00   ET



NATALIE ALLEN, HOST, CNN: The new narrative on hush money. The porn star and the president. The story is changing. And the White House staff are playing catch-up.

Plus, an erupting volcano in Hawaii forces hundreds to leave their homes and seek safety elsewhere. We'll talk with an expert about what's happening.

Also, a warning from the U.S. to China. Stop the military build-up in the South China Sea. Are they listening to that?

It's all ahead here on CNN Newsroom. Hello, welcome to viewers joining from around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. We begin right now.

Our top story. U.S. President Donald Trump changing his story again about porn star Stormy Daniels. He now admits reimbursing his personal attorney the $130,000 paid to keep her quiet about an alleged affair. Mr. Trump said in a tweet "that type of hush agreement is common with celebrities and people of wealth."

But the changing explanations on this and other topics all leading to a White House crisis of credibility.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta has more.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What a day. What a beautiful day.


JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The skies were clear but the storm clouds have returned for the president who joined Christian conservatives for a national day of prayer.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, why are you changing your story on Stormy Daniels?



ACOSTA: As the White House was scrambling to explain a bombshell revelation from Rudy Giuliani that Mr. Trump has repaid his personal attorney Michael Cohen for the hush money he paid to porn star Stormy Daniels who claims she and the president once had an affair.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Sorry, I'm giving you a fact now that you don't know. It's not campaign money. No campaign finance violation.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS: So, they funneled it through the law firm.

GIULIANI: Funneled through a law firm, and the president repaid it.

HANNITY: I didn't know that. He did?



ACOSTA: That completely contradicted what the president told reporters just last month.


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


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then why -- why did Michael Cohen make this if there was no truth to her allegations?

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

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

TRUMP: I don't know.


ACOSTA: Giuliani's explanation for that the president didn't know about the reimbursement until just recently.


GIULIANI: He didn't know the details of this until we knew the details of which is a couple of weeks, maybe not even a couple of weeks, but 10 days ago.


ACOSTA: But that differs from this tweet from Mr. Trump that claims Cohen was on a monthly retainer not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign from which he entered into through reimbursement. The president went on to tweet. "These agreements are very common among celebrities and people of wealth. The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair."

The stunning admission from the president also runs counter to multiple denials from White House officials.


SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There was no knowledge of any payments from the president and he's denied all of these allegations.


ACOSTA: White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters she only learned of the reimbursement last night.


ACOSTA: Were you lying to us at the time or were you in the dark?

SANDERS: The president has denied and continues to deny the underlying claim and again, I've given the best information I had at the time. And would I refer you back to the comments that you yourself just mentioned a few minutes ago about the time line from Mayor Giuliani.


ACOSTA: But that--


ACOSTA: Sarah, that statement was in reference to the reimbursement, the payment.

SANDERS: Again, I gave you the best information that I had. And--



ACOSTA: In a separate interview on Fox, Giuliani tried to explain away all the past false statements including from Cohen who has also stated he was not reimbursed. Giuliani insisted it wasn't an attempt to go around campaign finance laws.


GIULIANI: It wasn't for the campaign.


GIULIANI: It was to save, save their marriages as much as their reputation.


ACOSTA: There were other jaw dropping admissions from Giuliani such as when he admitted he fired former FBI Director James Comey over the Russia investigation.


GIULIANI: He fired Comey because Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn't, a target of the investigation. He is entitled to that.


ACOSTA: And when he described the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner as disposable.


GIULIANI: If they do to Ivanka, which I doubt they will, the whole country will turn on them. They're going after his daughter?

HANNITY: What about his son-in-law. They talked about him?

GIULIANI: I guess, Jared is a fine man, you know that. But men are, you know, disposable. But a fine woman like Ivanka, come on.


ACOSTA: And when he appeared to liken the federal agents who raided Cohen's office in their investigation to Nazi stormtroopers.


[03:04:56] GIULIANI: The question there was the only possible violation there would be, was it a campaign finance violation which usually will result in a fine by the way, not this big stormtroopers coming in and breaking down his apartment and breaking down his office.


ACOSTA: Giuliani appeared to cross an important line in all of his comments to the media, at one point stating that three American prisoners being held in North Korea are being released. Asked whether the president had given Giuliani permission to discuss foreign policy matters, the White House press secretary said, she didn't know.

Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

ALLEN: The revelations on the president's payment to Stormy Daniels led her attorney to say this.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: I also want to pinpoint one issue that I think is really important here. If this was all above board, as Rudy Giuliani now wants the American people to believe, and there was nothing wrong with this then why did they have to structure the reimbursement of the payment across many months in connection with bogus retainer invoices?

Why wouldn't the president have merely cut a check for $130,000 back to Michael Cohen directly or wired the money back to Michael Cohen directly?. Why create this LLC and go through all of the structuring in order to reimburse the money. The whole thing stinks. And the American people are smarter than this.


ALLEN: All right. Let's talk more about it with Peter Mathews, a political analyst and professor of political science from Cyprus College. As always, Peter, thanks -- thanks for coming on.


ALLEN: We just heard Stormy Daniels' lawyer, this whole thing stinks and the American people probably don't know what to think of it. What do you make of Rudy Giuliani stating that the U.S. president did reimburse his lawyer, Mr. Cohen for payments to a porn actress when the president had previously denied that?

MATHEWS: Totally flabbergasting, because you wouldn't imagine that someone like Giuliani who is say supposed to be the person that he brings in to bring order rather than chaos, would come out and blurt this out on a TV show which contradicts the president's statement completely. And it just created incredible confusion among the president's own legal team. And it cause a lot of problems and puts the president in legal jeopardy possibly too.

ALLEN: Right. His comments seem to blindside the White House legal team. And as well, a White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. And we've been here before when one part of the president's team are saying one thing. And then another thing comes from the president himself. And it leaves more citizens wondering, perhaps where is the truth here?

MATHEWS: I was going to use the word chaos and untruth as well. And we know the president has spoken untruth many times about, 69 percent of the time according to some surveys. Compared to President Obama's 29 percent of the time. And President Bush's 40 percent of the time. So this is something the president already has a reputation for. He's not being a straight shooter. And there's a real problem when he is facing these kinds of investigations and possible criminal charges, who knows coming up with the Mueller investigation.

So he's got to be above board and he is not in this case. And this came across very clearly with these events of today. And I would say also the campaign finance issue is extremely important. Because the president did reimburse that money. He was actually not reporting an in-kind expenditure of the campaign by himself.

Even though he is not limited that he could give as much money to himself as he wants to for his campaign, he has to report that. And this money was not reported and that can be -- it is a violation of law actually.

ALLEN: Right. So Mr. Giuliani could have put this president in legal jeopardy with his comment, I suppose. You know, Giuliani was brought on, Peter, when the U.S. president was trying to beef up his legal team again after two of his lawyers quit. He is now bringing in Emmett Flood, the lawyer hired by Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings. What does that show as far as where the White House would think Mr. Mueller's investigation is going to go next?

MATHEWS: I think they're getting prepared for a possible impeachment procedure because Emmett Flood is an expert in that area. He helped to defend President Clinton and keep him from getting removed from office. And he also was involved in representing President Bush in the relationship with Congress.

He had a lot of experience in the executive branch and someone who is a very tough lawyer. So the president able to get him to come aboard so far can seem as a positive thing. But the next day he comes aboard Giuliani blows it. And what kind of team is this even with Emmett Flood. So it should be very interesting to see how Flood can actually deliver or would he be able to what he needs to deliver.

ALLEN: Right. And we also heard Mr. Giuliani discredit, trying to discredit the Mueller investigation. It seems that is something that exploded over and over again. But then when you ask others aligned with the president they say, the president is not thinking about firing Mueller. It is still kind of keeps it up in the air where this White House is in relation to the supporting the work that Mr. Mueller and his team are doing.

[03:09:55] MATHEWS: It's a double message. One is to discredit Mueller so that it can be seen that no one will believe him and that if he does come up with charges that it wouldn't be credible as the far as Trump is concerned.

The other thing is to say I'm going to comply with what the special counsel is asking for because I am after all a law-abiding president. I'm in the right. I haven't done anything wrong. No collusion. He keeps on repeating no collusion. It's a mantra with him. It's quite amazing. And we have to wait out and see that Mr. Mueller has got a lot of

expert team on his side. And they have got a lot of investigation going very strongly. Lots of interviews. Lots of data they've collected. And I'm sure that the president's team even doesn't know what the Mueller team has on them. Might be quite shocking in the end.

ALLEN: Well, there are reports that some people on Capitol Hill, some republicans are trying to find out perhaps what area that Mr. Mueller might go in his interview of Mr. Trump if it comes to that. What's your reaction to that?

MATHEWS: That's another problem. There's got to be separation of powers, Natalie. And that we half that system in our Constitution, checks and balances. And the president should not be interfering with the investigation.

The Congress should not be interfering with the Justice Department trying to find all this information about Mueller. They should let the investigation continue as it should under the special counsel's aegis.

And instead of interfering, that's violating the checks and balances system and separation of powers that we have. I do not think Congress should be doing this in that way.

ALLEN: Peter Mathews, as always, thank you for joining us. We appreciate it.

MATHEWS: My pleasure. Thanks.

ALLEN: Well, the status of three Americans detained in North Korea is unknown as questions build over their possible release. And it became even more confusing when the U.S. president's lawyer, that would be Mr. Giuliani, said that the three would be freed on Thursday.


GIULIANI: We got Kim Jong-un impressed enough to be releasing three prisoners today.


ALLEN: As far as we know they're still in North Korea. An official with knowledge of the negotiations told us the release was imminent. But the White House says there is still no official word on when they may be freed. North Korea says Kim Hak-song and Tony Kim were imprisoned for committing hostile acts, and Kim Dong Chul is serving a 10-year sentence for espionage.

Our Paula Hancocks joining us now from Seoul. Are you hearing anything more about their imminent release, Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Natalie, it's quite unclear the status of these three detainees at this point. The White House and the State Department, as you say, have said that they're unable to confirm any reports. There have been reports they've been moved from potential labor camp or a labor correctional facility closer to Pyongyang. That simply has not been confirmed by any authorities at this point.

So we do have one official who is familiar with the negotiations telling CNN that the release is imminent but not giving any more of a time frame. Just the word imminent.

Saying that it has been months in the making this deal that the North Korean Foreign Minister, Ri Yong-ho went to Sweden back in March the last month. Sweden representing the United States when it comes to North Korean affairs, and said that he proposed that the three be released.

But we do understand the U.S. officials had said they didn't want it to be connected to the denuclearization or too loosely connected with that, wanting to focus on that within the summit.

But there is and has been an expectation that there would be movement on these detainees, either ahead of the summit between Kim Jong-un and the U.S. President, Donald Trump or during the summit, Natalie.

ALLEN: When releases have been carried out in the past, Paula, of detainees, how has that been carried out?

HANCOCKS: Well, we usually get some kind of indication through back channels, through officials, suggesting that it could be imminent and sometimes in the past it has taken a VIP, for example from the United States to visit Pyongyang in the event of two journalists, it took the former President Bill Clinton to go to Pyongyang and request the release of these two individuals. James Clapper as well has also been to Pyongyang to request release of detainees.

Now in this case, there has been a visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He was director of the CIA at the time that he went to Pyongyang. He met with Kim Jong-un. There were suggestions they had discuss detainees. And certainly it would be expected that these detainees would be discussed ahead of this historic summit. The first ever summit between a sitting U.S. president and North Korean leader.

So certainly something like the release of the three detainees would be something that we are hearing from the White House and from the State Department would be very welcome and a show of willingness to make this work. Natalie.

ALLEN: And certainly the families are holding their breath for that. Thank you, Paula Hancocks in Seoul for us.

[03:14:59] Meantime, the parents of a former American detainee held in North Korea are speaking out. Last year, as you may recall Otto Warmbier was sent back to the U.S. in a coma and died soon after.

His parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit in a U.S. court claiming North Korea tortured and killed their son. They told a U.N. symposium that Pyongyang needs to be held accountable.


FRED WARMBIER, OTTO WARMBIER'S FATHER: We are trying to build a pathway that leads directly to Kim and his regime to force them to be answerable for their actions.

CINDY WARMBIER, OTTO WARMBIER'S MOTHER: How can anybody be quiet when this is going on? The only thing we can do is rub their noses in this. It embarrasses them. They don't like the world to think that they aren't trying to be a member of the world. And they like to act like a victim. Like they have been treated poorly.


ALLEN: Their comments come as the U.S. State Department issued a statement calling North Korea one of the most repressive and abusive governments in the world. All of this just as an historic meeting of the American and North Korean leaders is being planned.

A river of lava on the move in Hawaii. Up next, the latest on the volcanic eruption that's threatening buildings and more than 1,000 people.

Also, the U.S. says China has crossed a line in the South China Sea. What we know about a reported missile deployment on disputed island as we push on here. You're watching CNN Newsroom.


ALLEN: A part of Hawaii is under a mandatory evacuation. This right here is a residential area about 30 kilometers from Mount -- excuse me -- Kilauea. And lava is being thrown up in the middle of the road.

Authorities have opened shelters and it have ordered more than 1,700 to leave immediately. They say almost 800 structures are threatened.

This area is called Leilani States located on the eastern part of the Hawaii's Big Island. Mount Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes. It sent huge plumes of smoke into the sky after hundreds of earthquakes shook the area in the last week.

[03:20:04] Let's get more now from Scott Rowland. Scott is a professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Hawaii and he joins us now from Honolulu. Thanks, Scott for joining us.

I mean, my goodness, 100 people -- 1,700 people to leave immediately, 800 structures threatened. Tell us about how dangerous or potentially dangerous the situation is.

SCOTT ROWLAND, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII: I think it's not super dangerous, mainly because people had a pretty good warning over the last few days of almost constant earthquake. And then yesterday afternoon some crack opened up in one the road in that main subdivision.

And occasionally, that same part of the Big Island was threatened with lava flows only about three and a half years ago. The people are well aware of potential dangers, and certainly in the last few days they knew for sure that something was possible.

ALLEN: And tell us about that warning how they knew that?

ROWLAND: Well, starting Monday afternoon when earthquakes began to move towards this particular part of the Big Island, the civil defense officials were alerted by the volcano observatory staff. And they started putting out notices to people that they should be prepared to evacuate if necessary.

And as those earthquakes became more numerous and certainly once the crack opened up on the road, civil defense basically told people, you know, we don't know exactly when or even if an eruption will happen. But we think it's possible and therefore you should be prepared to leave at relatively short notice if necessary. And I think most people again, because of their experience with other disasters were well prepared to do so.

ALLEN: We can see the lava coming out through the street there as you talk at these states. Is that typical? Seeing it come up through the streets like that?

ROWLAND: Certainly it's not typical for it to erupt in the middle of a subdivision. That has not happened, hasn't come out of the ground in a subdivision for a long time in Hawaii. But certainly, for the beginning of stages of a new eruption having material roll out of a crack in the ground that is definitely typical.

ALLEN: Do we specifically know what caused Kilauea this time to erupt?

ROWLAND: No. I should that Kilauea has been erupting essentially constantly since January of 1983. And this is merely a new phase of that same eruption. But your question is a good one. Do we know why all of a sudden the magma has decided to migrate down the rift zone 20 miles or so and erupt in this new location. And the answer is no. We don't know why that -- why that happened.

ALLEN: Well, danger aside, what kinds of things do you learned from Kilauea when that has an eruption of this magnitude?

ROWLAND: People can learn all kinds of things. Everything from the composition of the lavas that are being erupted have been mixed with magma that's been down in the rift zone for decades. For example, how much gases in the magma to how lava flows on the surface through a forested area. I don't know yet, actually if lava flows are moving very far away from the erupted fissure.

But certainly if the eruption continues they will. And understanding where lava goes and how fast it goes another important aspect of volcanology, particularly for understanding hazardous.

ALLEN: Well, we thank you for your expertise and for joining us. Scott Rowland, we'll be watching what happens next. Thanks very much.

ROWLAND: You're very welcome.

ALLEN: For more on the volcanic activity happening in Hawaii our other expert, Ivan Cabrera. IVAN CABRERA, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: I am so glad you asked him that

question. Good to see you, Natalie. Because as far as like is this typical? We normally see a lava flows in a neighborhood because I hadn't seen something like that on main street all of a sudden you have lava spewing out in a residential neighborhood which is why we have evacuations.

So certainly, is the call you don't get at work, right. We're evacuating your home because we got lava. Although, of course, you know, these are Hawaii they live. These are volcanic islands. This is what you would expect except for the fact that that doesn't happen quite often.

Now the threat, and you made a great point there as far as life threatening situation it isn't because we have so much lead time. The 200 or so earthquakes that occurred letting us know that Kilauea was up to something, and then the 5.0 earthquake that certainly partially collapsed the crater there that we have been seeing with drone footage.

[03:25:02] And that of course is the flow that has been threatening the states further to the east. There is the crater there. And in fact, we're seeing some Google pictures of folks getting right in there. And this is a huge crater there. Not completely collapses but partially and that has been enough to get to some of the flow popping up across the Leilani States.

That's the area that 1,700 people or so are under the potential for evacuation. We understand. Hundreds have already been evacuated. So, let's kind of break it down for you here. It's a bit confusing for some of us especially if we don't live there.

They have different alerts, right. They have watches kind of that we have the typhoons for things like that. Warning is the highest level and that's where we're at now. Obviously the event is underway. Aviation alerts have been posted as well. That 5.0 earthquake was the -- what was responsible.

We fly in here. And upwards of 1,700 people are now under very close monitoring by the civil defense in Hawaii and in case they do have to suddenly get more folks out of the way.

By the way, ahead of this event thousands of hectares had already been are signed off-limits because of the potential eruption here. So it's something that we are going to continue to watch. But it continues to develop and I've been refreshing the volcanology page from Hawaii just to see if we get any additional updates as far as any more fissures that have the possibility to kind of popup.

Because that entire zone that I've showed you there we understand has the potential to have some vents which is not something you want to see. So, it's happening in the Leilani states but it could pop up in other regions. Unlikely but that's a potential. So we're monitoring the whole area very closely as you would understand in case we need to get people out of the way. But lots of leeway time. That's certainly a good thing. ALLEN: The folks that have already been evacuated any word on how

long they'll have to stay away?

CABRERA: At this point it looks like it's going to be several days until the earthquakes kind of start and you know, you don't see the lava coming spewing out of the ground there. But I think it's going to be some time before folks get back in there. And hopefully we won't have significant structure damage as well. But less concerned about folks because they're getting well-treated and well-evacuated out of there.

ALLEN: Yes. Well, residents describe the constant ground shaking as unnerving.


CABRERA: Yes, I would say so. Although I prefer small earthquakes rather than lava spewing out of my backyard. But we'll see what happens.

ALLEN: All right. Ivan, thank you.

CABRERA: Welcome.

ALLEN: Well, we have breaking news to tell you about. This year's Nobel Prize for literature is being postponed until next year amid a financial and sex scandal at the Swedish Academy. That institution is responsible for awarding the prize.

The scandal focuses on Jean-Claude Arnault, he's cultural figure in Sweden who faces multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment including touching Sweden's crown princess inappropriately. His wife is also one of six members of the academy who have step down from their position in recent weeks. Arnault's lawyer says his client denies the allegations.

Coming up here, trade war fears missiles, even lasers. The latest on tensions between the U.S. and China at sea.

Plus, a powerful dust storm lashes northwestern India killing more than 100 people.


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: Welcome back. Thank you for staying with us. I'm Natalie Allen at CNN Center, and you're watching CNN Newsroom. Our top stories. The Trump White House facing credibility questions sparked by new Presidential attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, said she didn't know about the President's repayment to another lawyer of hush money to a porn star until Giuliani said it on TV. Wednesday night.

At least 110 people had been killed by violent dust storms across India's northern states. The weather system brought intense winds, thunderstorms, and countless lightning strikes. Most of those killed were sleeping in parts of their houses collapsed. During the night. The White House says it cannot confirm reports that three Americans

held in North Korea will soon be released. One of those reports came from the U.S. President's lawyer, who said the prisoners would be freed Thursday. All we have been told is that their release is imminent.

The U.S. is again complaining about China's military build-up in the South China Sea. The issue is over a cluster of manmade islands that China claims in a disputed part of the ocean between Vietnam and the Philippines. U.S. Intelligence says, China likely deployed anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles on some of those island posing a serious risk to international shipping. For more about it, our Matt Rivers joins us now from Beijing. And Matt, why is China so intent on this build-up?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they would say this is just well within their rights to do, what they please. With islands that they claim to be theirs in a territorial sense. The International community certainly doesn't recognize that. And, there is a general viewpoint that China is building up these islands to enhance its ability to project its military power far from its shores. So what you have seen over the last, three to four, five years is China really -- ramp up its artificial island building, not only in the Spratly islands where U.S. Intelligence officials believe that this latest missile set was deployed, but also in the Parasol Island that is another disputed set of islands. Kind of doing the same thing. It is, suspected to be, already deployed. Have already deployed missiles in the Parasol Islands, similar to those that had just been deployed in the Spratly's according to the White House. And as you might imagine that has countries in the region quite concerned. And their U.S. representatives in those countries concerned. Here is the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines.


SUNG KIM, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE PHILLIPINES: We are concerned. I think we are concerned, any time, a claimant including China takes aggressive unilateral actions towards militarization. Which is clearly what they seem to have done. I saw the report. It seems to suggest that they're moving towards militarization. So we are concerned.


RIVERS: Now the White House is saying that there will be short and long term consequence for China that will be inflicted by the United States. They've didn't go into detail about what those would be. Would it be further freedom of navigation operation? Where U.S. Navy ships sail close to these disputed artificial islands. Could it be targeted sanctions? We do not know yet, but there is a general thought here in China by analysts, that we speak to Natalie. That there really aren't a lot of good options for the U.S. that China will likely to discontinue to militarized these islands.

ALLEN: Well, that was my question. Whether China ever responds to these international calls. Like we just heard from the U.S. to pull back.

RIVERS: Yes, I mean, what they, are very consistent in saying is that, it is well within their right to, to develop these island. And they also say that none of these missile systems, are anything but defensive in nature. Now, weapons experts will say to you, look, a weapon is a weapon. And if one of the missiles is fired at a ship or a plane. It is going to feel very offensive, China comes back, and says, well, if there is no invasive intent as they usually put it then countries like the United States, like the Philippines have nothing to worry about.

[03:35:04] But that it is certainly not assuaging any fears in those kinds of countries. As they watch China continue this march towards militarizing islands that they said, for years, they never would.

ALLEN: Matt Rivers, following it from Beijing. Matt, thank you.

The U.S. and China face another flash point. U.S. military officials tell CNN personnel at China's first overseas military base in Djibouti had been using lasers to interfere with U.S. military air craft. The U.S. has a base nearby. And U.S. pilots have apparently suffered eye injury, from exposure to military grade laser beams. The U.S. State Department has launched a formal protest with Beijing.

Iran has warned the U.S. it will not renegotiate the nuclear deal. According to Iranian media, a senior adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader said, if the U.S. pulls out. Iran will too. Iran's top diplomat posted this message apparently aimed at U.S. President Donald Trump.


MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, FOREIGN MINISTER OF IRAN: Bluster or threats won't get the U.S. a new deal. Particularly as it is not honoring the deal it has already made. Relying on cartoonish allegations, rehashed from more than a decade ago, and dealt with the by a year to make a case for mixing the deal has fooled no one.


ALLEN: The foreign minister didn't stop there. He also framed the nuclear deal in terms he says, Mr. Trump would understand.


JAVAD ZARIF: In real estate terms, when you buy a house and move your family in, or demolish it to build a skyscraper, you cannot come back two years later and try to renegotiate the price.


ALLEN: The U.S. President is a huge critic of the deal calling it one of the worst ever. He has repeatedly threat to pull out and now faces a May 12 deadline to decide whether to recertify it, something that is done every few months.

Fierce winds and lightning strikes, battered Northern India. The crazy weather collapsed roofs, uprooted the trees and downed power supplies. More on a deadly dust storm just ahead. Also, we have seen it all, to report the truth. An Ethiopian journalist was jailed for years. Just for doing his job. We sit down with him ahead here.


ALLEN: In India, a powerful dust storm has killed at least 110 people. It whipped through the northern part of the country in and around the state of Uttar Pradesh. Authorities say the high death toll is due to people trapped under falling debris. The system brought wild winds that downed electric poles and uprooted trees and triggered countless strikes that ignited fires. Our Nikhil Kumar has more for us from New Delhi.


NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI'S BUSINESS CHIEF: North India is reeling from the aftermath of a deadly night. More than 100 people died after a violent summer storm lashed the region Wednesday. It took the nation's largest state which sits south of Nepal, it was the hardest hit. The deadly cocktail of winds, dust, rain and thunder swept through the area. Even if there is a storm here in Delhi, and with the squall hitting in capital through the evening rush hour. Across Northern India, hundreds more people had been reported injured. And not just people.

Out in the countryside, live stock was hit more than a hundred of cows, buffaloes, goats and other animals were killed. Power to many homes across these states was also knocked out. Now dust storms are common occurrence here at this time of year, ahead of the annual monsoon. This was unusual. And it felt unusual. We don't usually see rains and thunder, after these dust storms.

Weather experts say this happens, because of an unusual combination of factors, as different storms effectively came together. On the ground. Rural areas suffered the most. Officials say many of the deaths occurred, because of falling trees and collapsing ceilings and walls in village communities with weak infrastructure. The wasp pf the storm hit many of this communities very late at night. The victims and the houses they were sleeping in, is simply not prepared. Nikhil Kumar, CNN, New Delhi.


ALLEN: Later this summer. Lawmakers in Hong Kong are expected to discuss a bill to criminalize human trafficking. Advocates hope it is the first solid step to tackle a problem that is thriving in Hong Kong's darkest corners. It is part of CNN's on going Freedom Project, shining a light on human slavery. CNN's Anna Coren has the story of one woman who lived that nightmare in one of the world wealthiest cities.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Through the gate of a busy Hong Kong street is a place called Bethune House. It is basic, cramped and exposed to the elements. But it is the only sanctuary thousands of domestic helpers have ever known, who have suffered abuse and exploitation at the hands of their employers.

28-year-old Atik, who wants to hide her identity for safety reasons, arrived from Indonesia in 2012 with promise of a good paying job by an employment agency.

They told me Hong Kong is a place to earn more money and achieve your dreams, she said. So, I came here hoping to save enough money to one day build a home and support my son's education. Instead, Atik says her female employer deceived her. She claims the woman took her passport, made her work seven days a week. 20 hours a day. Physically and psychologically abused her. Threaten to have her deported, if she didn't resigned her contract. And to top it off, refused to pay her salary.

My employer said if I completed my five year contract, she would give me a bonus pay. That is why I put up with the mistreatment, but it was all lie. After almost five years, Atik claims her employer paid her a total of 1500 U.S. Dollars. 5 percent of what Atik says, she was contractually owed. And it wasn't until a particularly harsh beating where she was punched in the face and kicked. When Atik says she finally gathered the courage to escape.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The experience of Atik is actually also the experience of many domestic workers in the city. The fact is that this is continued to happen again and again, this is quite alarming.

COREN: Atik is one of the 350,000 foreign domestic workers living in Hong Kong. And it its estimated that one in six is a victim of labor exploitation, according to a 2016 NGO report. And while Hong Kong prides itself as one of the wealthiest, and most sophisticated cities in the world. One activist speaking to CNN called its track record on human trafficking appalling.

[03:45:00] The U.S. State Department annual trafficking in persons report last year, placed Hong Kong on the tier 2 watch list for the second consecutive year. On par with countries like, Iraq, Bangladesh and Rwanda. And unless it makes some drastic changes, it is at risk of dropping even further down the list, joining the likes of North Korea, Sudan and the Congo as the worst offenders of human trafficking.

DENNIS KWOK, MEMBER, HONG KONG LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL: We don't want to beep placed, on the same level as, as African -- some African States or North Korea we does not even -- come to, close to acknowledging human trafficking as a (inaudible). We don't want to be associated with that. So, that is why I think the Hong Kong government and the Legislative Council in Hong Kong needs to positively make the change.

COREN: Hong Kong Legislative Counselor, Dennis Kwok has propose a bill based on U.K. and Australian model to create a law that would combat all forms of human trafficking. And while Hong Kong claims it is fighting the problem. Mr. Kwok believes the government which drafted a national action plan to combat trafficking, five years ago, is still dragging its feet. KWOK: This is not just about Hong Kong. If we don't have laws that

are here to tackle international human trafficking. We actually are affecting the rest of the region or the rest of world.

COREN: As for Atik, her fight for justice lies with the courts. Her employer has been charged with assault and is yet to enter a plea, but as long as this court case drags on. Atik must legally stay in Hong Kong. When all she wants is to return home and wrap her arms around her son. Who she hasn't seen in more than five years. Anna Coran, CNN, Hong Kong.


ALLEN: Difficult story there. And it goes on and on with human slavery in this world.

Well, spring time in Japan, you may think of the country's famous cherry blossom trees and the festivals, picnics celebrations that come with it, but this year it is also bringing record amounts of pollen. As Anna Stewart reports, it is going to take a heavy toll on the economy.


ANNA STEWART, CNN PRODUCER: Surgical masks are common fight in Tokyo. Often worn to prevent spreading a cold. But at this time of year you see more than usual. As people, battle against hay fever. This year is one of the worst. The pollen count has more than doubled from last year in some parts of the country. And in Tokyo, half the population suffers from hay fever. According to a local government survey. After the Second World War, Japan started a major reforesting initiative. Unfortunately for hay fever sufferers many of the trees planted were cedar and cypress. Over the years they matured and now many have hits that peak pollen producing years. This year, hay fever is expected to cost the Japanese economy $1.8 billion, according to the Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (TRANSLATOR): Fewer people go out during a pollen outbreak which pushes down consumption. And then the productivity of those suffering from hay fever also goes down. So it hits both demand and supply.

STEWART: Tokyo's local government has started cutting down and replacing trees with lower pollen varieties. It costs over $7 million U.S. dollars each year and it is going to take between 1 and 200 years to complete.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (TRANSLATOR): The trees don't just spread pollen. They also store water. They prevent natural disaster like landslides. And people enjoy them. So we want to act in the public interest as well as tackling hay fever.

STEWART: It is not all doom and gloom. Drug stores and pharma businesses can cash in on anti-hay fever drugs and of course the sales of all those surgical masks. Anna Stewart, CNN Money, Tokyo.


ALLEN: Thursday was World Press Freedom Day. And we are constantly reminded of the dangers journalists face to seek and tell the truth. People like Afghan photographer Shah Marai, of AFP-Getty. He is one of nine journalists killed on Monday in a terror bombing in Kabul. He had an extraordinary eye for simple human moments in chaotic situations. This photo from February for instance shows two Afghan men who lost their legs to landmines.

Then an Afghan man weeping for his relatives at a hospital. Following a suicide attack. It killed 40 people at a Shiite cultural center in December. And these are burned pages from a Koran after another suicide attack on a Shiite mosque last August. Here, Afghan government officials and police run as a cache of alcohol and drugs is destroyed in December 2016. And it was, Shah Marai, who brought us this picture of this young boy in of a homemade Lionel Messi shirt. The boy eventually met his hero largely because of this photo.

[03:50:05] Persecution, imprisonment, murder, deaths, this are just some of the threats journalists face around the world. For simply doing their job. For all of us. To learn truth. CNN's Faria Sevenzo spoke with one journalist in Ethiopia who spent years in prison just because of what he wrote.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For months now, Ethiopia has been engulf in the state of emergency. Protests were met with a government crackdown and thousands fled across the border into Kenya. Under public pressure, hundreds of prisoners were released from the Ethiopia's notorious prison. The Prime Minister resigned. Some of the jailed were journalists, including this man, who served seven years on charges of terrorism, because he wrote about the Arab spring.

As the world marks Press Freedom Day, it is impossible to overstate just how harsh Africa's media terrain can be. The committee to protect journalists, CPJ, estimates that there are 61 journalist in jail in Africa for their journalism. And says Ethiopia, is tied with Congo as the fourth worst jailer of journalists in the world.

Ethiopia's new Prime Minister, Abiye Ahmed has place to expand political freedoms, but there is still a state of emergency. And hundreds of political prisoners remain in jail. CNN caught up with Eskinder Nega, in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, after his final release.

ESKINDER NEGA, POLITICAL PRISONER RELEASED IN ETHIOPIA: I was the only dissident blog art that time from Ethiopia.

SEVENZO: When did they arrested you? What was going through your mind? Did you think, oh my god, not another seven years?

NEGA: The possibility there will be. You know this will be a long imprisonment. I had come cup. In our minds. No, we did not panic. Were we bitter? No, we were not bitter. Why. Because every country has to pay the price to get democracy. SEVENZO: You were telling me earlier as your wife is a journalist.

That your son was born in prison.

NEGA: Yes, he born in prison. There is no way I could think about my family. The nation is also part of the family. This is how, my wife, sees the situation. We have a responsibility in the nation.

SEVENZO: How do you see the state of -- press freedom in Africa at the moment?

NEGA: It would be a mistake to seek an island of liberty by fight specifically for freedom of expression. Democracy is supposed to be in Africa. Where democracy exists, there it's the right environment for journalists to work. Work on democracy. Obtain democracy. Get to democracy. If I am the one who has to pay that price, so be it.

SEVENZO: And what are the prize you would be willing to die for the beliefs?

NEGA: Yes, we yearn for freedom and I think this common to all humanity. Until we get that freedom. We shall not rest.

SEVENZO: Faria Sevenzo, CNN Nairobi.


ALLEN: An example of one very brave journalist. Coming up here on CNN Newsroom, the U.S. Deputy Attorney General has his name in the headlines these days. Now if only people could agree on how to pronounce it.


ALLEN: Well, one of men dominating the U.S. headlines is tripping out reporters and politicians all over Washington. News anchors as well.

[03:55:03] He is President Trump's Deputy Attorney General and his name, Rod Rosenstein. But I could also be Rod Rosenstein, which one is it? Our Jeannie Moos investigates.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Caught between a stean and a steins Rod Rosen- whatever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never Rosenstein?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you Mr. Rosenstein.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

MOOS: No wonder someone finally popped the question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you pronounce your last name? ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: There's no right answer to

that question.

MOOS: No right answer?


MOOS: Take it from this guy's creator.


ROSENSTEIN: My father pronounces it stein. That is how I pronounce it.

Good morning, I'm Rod Rosenstein. But I actually have relatives who pronounce stein, so I'll answer to either one.

MOOS: Will he answer to this guy?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to the House Judiciary Committee. Mr. Rosenstein.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Rod Rosenstein.

MOOS: Please. I don't have much sympathy for all those steins and steins out there not with last name like Moos.


MOOS: In German, the second vowel usually takes precedence, so the ei in Rosenstein is pronounced stein. But then this guy's name should be Weiner.


MOOS: Weiner is an exception to the rule. Sometimes neither choice is great. Want to be a Weiner or whiner. There was some whining on Reddit about the special prosecutor. Does anyone else read the name Robert Mueller and pronounce it like Ferris Bueller?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bueller. Ferris Bueller.

MOOS: But this is Mueller, Robert Mueller. That we sometimes gets the Ferris Bueller treatment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bueller, did you talk with Robert Mueller about his investigation?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To consult with Mr. Mueller.

MOOS: Sometimes it takes a stein to know one. Dianne Feinstein.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Rosenstein, welcome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Rosenstein. Thank you, I remember. It is like Feinstein.

MOOS: Stein, Stean, it's creating a monster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Frankenstein.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


ALLEN: I said it both ways. I will try to remember, Rosenstein. Thank you for watching this hour. I'm Natalie Allen. Next, more on CNN Newsroom with Hannah Vaughan Jones in London. See you soon.