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President Trump Hosts Roundtable in Ohio on Tax Reform Bill; Reports Indicate Special Counsel Interviewed Longtime Trump Friend; Nancy Pelosi Calls for Ethics Committee Investigation into Democratic Congressman Tony Cardenas or Sexual Misconduct Allegations; Fate of Americans Being Held in North Korea Still Under Question; Volcano Erupts in Hawaii. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired May 5, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] ALEXANDER ACOSTA, LABOR SECRETARY: -- corporations. And so the president's vision is, is there a way that small businesses can band together so they can just get the same access to health care as the big corporations. So we're working on a proposal to do just that. And the president's very focused on this.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: You're listening to Alex Acosta there talking about upcoming plans of health care. You've been listening to the president and a host of guests there out of Cleveland, Ohio, who have given their own personal accounts of the benefits of the tax cut plan that the president advocated for and went into effect this year. And in that plan also the elimination of the Obamacare individual mandate.

Let's talk a little bit more about all that we've been listening to in addition to keeping our ears peeled just in case the president has more to talk about, more to add to this discussion about tax cuts and his overall vision of his agenda for this country. Our Polo Sandoval is there in Cleveland. He's outside of the event. Polo, you mentioned earlier this would not be like a campaign style event that we've come accustomed to for the president. But this president did use this forum to his advantage to try to underscore some of the accomplishments that he is proud of, that he is boasting up.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Fred. Do interrupt me if the president resumes his remarks here. But I think what we're seeing here during this short visit to the buckeye state is certainly his attempt here to try to put a face to what he believes is a success for his administration, particularly that tax reform legislation that was passed in December. And according to several folks that we just heard from right now inside that venue, it seems to be working. You heard from Charlene Thornton who says she wrote a letter to the president not expecting a response. And here she is today, one of the people who have been invited to be part of this roundtable that is discussing several issues, but the main focus here of course that tax reform legislation. You heard her say that she is already feeling those positive effects of that legislation. So it certainly is an opportunity for the president and his supporters, including most of which you'll find inside that auditorium venue right now, writing this -- or at least taking this victory rap months later. But it wasn't just about commerce, not just about business here. The president certainly pivoting to other issues that he has made a big part of his agenda --

WHITFIELD: Actually, Polo, I hate to interrupt. Let's listen in to the president right now.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They don't want the wall, but we're going to get the wall. Even if we have to think about closing up the country for a while, we're going to get the wall. We have no choice. We have absolutely no choice. And we're going to get tremendous security in our country.

But Jim has been there all the way. He's highly respected in Washington, just a respected person really knows what it is to go out and make a dollar, go out and spend a dollar, understands business, understands what we're doing in the country, and understands what it takes to make America great again. And I give Jim my full support. And Jim, maybe you could say a few words?


JIM RENACCI, (R) U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE FOR OHIO: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, and welcome back to Ohio. It's really great to have you here. The first time I met you were candidate Trump. And I told you I was with you then and I've been with you every day since.

TRUMP: It's true.

RENACCI: I appreciate what you're doing. I was a small businessman, as many of you know. I created over 1,500 jobs, employed over 3,000 people. So I understand. And I'm still a CAP, and I still have my CPA license. I understand what this tax law does. So I was so happy when the president said we're going to cut taxes for Americans.

As I travel the state, I hear that all the time. I hear from small business owners. I hear it from employees. I'm so happy we're hearing these stories. And I know we're going to hear some more. As I travel the state, it's working. It's working here in Ohio. Everywhere from KeyCorp who raised their minimum wage because of these tax cuts to Smuckers who gave everybody a $1,000 bonus, added money into their pension plan, STERIS right up the road, $1,000 bonus, all these things.


RENACCI: But you know it's not the big companies either because the small companies, the little companies are doing just the same thing. Coach Truck and Tractor, just seven-person business, gave bonuses to their employees. Small business, we also have the First Federal Community Bank in Dover, $1,000 bonus to full time employees and $500 to part time. So it's working.

But you know what the greatest story is when I travel the state of Ohio is when I walk into a restaurant and somebody walks up to me and says thank you. Thank you because I got a couple extra hundred dollars in my check last month, and now I can put a little more away for college, or I can put a little bit more away and pay off my car loan. These are the stories that are working. This is why I'm so proud to be sitting here with the president and knowing that we together were able to put a tax plan together with his vision, and get it passed. So again, thank you for being here.


[14:05:18] TRUMP: And I have to say, I just looked at the numbers, and Jim's doing really great. He's really got a big shot at doing it. He's been, as I said, he's been a fantastic congressman, and I really suspect you're going to be an even more fantastic senator. So we need your vote, we need your help. So go out and help Jim, we'll get it done.


TRUMP: Tony, would you say a few words?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, I want to thank you for inviting us today. Really, truly honored to be here.

WHITFIELD: As the president continues to listen to guests there talk about how they have benefited from the president's vision as it pertains to tax cuts and the job scenario, I want to bring in CNN political analyst Nathan Gonzalez and CNN presidential historian Tim Naftali joining us now. And the president has been weaving back and forth between tax cuts, he even touched upon the opioid crisis, and then he has mentioned border walls, immigration a number of times.

You know, Tim, I guess this session is to taught what the president has seen as real accomplishments, he also seems to be very focused on work yet to be accomplished, particularly as it talks about immigration and border control. And listening to the president there saying, and we have the quote there, we will build a wall even if we have to close up the country. What does he mean?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I think he wants to show strength. I think despite the fact that experts on immigration and the opioid crisis are two different things, but there are overlapping issues, have said that building a wall is not going to do much if anything to stop the flow of illegal drugs into the country. He still tries to link that in the minds of Americans.

He knows what a big crisis the opioid challenge is in this country, and so he's desperately trying to link that to the wall and say somehow that the two are -- should be supported by Congress. Congress doesn't want to support the wall because it understands it's a waste of money.

I wanted to make one point, though, about how targeted the appeal was today. It was very interesting, very interesting to hear how the tax plan has affected Americans, it's good -- it's important to hear that. It's also interesting that nobody talked about wage levels or wages. Everybody talked about $1,000 bonus, which was very helpful and much appreciated no doubt. But I wonder what happened to all their wages. I suspect nothing. So in a year there won't be another bonus. These companies might be making more money. One would hope they would. But are wage levels going to go up, because in effect the real problem in middle America and actually most of America is that our wages are stagnant and have not really kept up as they should have done in the last 10 years.

WHITFIELD: So Nathan, what do you see as the objective here for this roundtable today? It's touted as tax cuts roundtable. The president is using this maybe as a listening post. He's hearing from constituents there who praised the tax cuts that they received, the $200 to $300 that Miss Sheely was talking about, being able to extend the $1000 bonuses to some of her employees. But what do you see is the primary objective here? Why is this important for the president?

NATHAN GONZALEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Fred, you mentioned this wasn't a campaign rally, but I think it was a campaign commercial. I think the objective was to sell the tax cut, cut, cut, cut bill or whatever the president wants to call it, to sell that to the American people. And in general I think Republican strategists and those Republicans that are focused on these midterm elections that are upcoming, I think they would take this president -- I mean, the president in this environment, maybe it's that he's sitting down. But he was fairly focused on the tax bill, and I think that continues to be something that Republicans are hoping helps them maybe stem some of the losses come November.

And also I think one of the goals was to help Congressman Renacci, who was seated to his right. The Congressman has a primary on Tuesday against another candidate named Mike Gibbons who supported the president as well, but Gibbons has never held elected office before. He's running as the outsider, trying to capture that same momentum the president was able to get up to the presidency. So I think there are multiple things at play.

[14:10:00] WHITFIELD: And then Tim, the other big picture, perhaps this shows some composure for the president, and even this setting, particularly after a week of tumult within his administration and the feelings that are being expressed by the people who are the front men or women of Donald Trump of the mixed messaging, not being on the same accord. And perhaps this is a much more controlled setting of showing a unified message?

NAFTALI: Fred, first of all, it's a good thing for the president to have other people, to have people watching him listen to some other people. in other words, we're so accustomed to him sermonizing, speaking at us, pontificating, and lately those speeches have been so full of untruths and lies that it's really undercut his credibility. Today we were listening to other people talk to him. And he was at least pretending, if not actually listening to them.

So in that sense it's helpful. It softens the Trump image. But even before he started to listen to the voters of Ohio, those chosen voters, he was saying things that were just off the charts wrong. He was saying that countries select the people that go into the lottery system. That's nonsense. It's individuals around the world who choose to participate in the lottery because they would like to be part of the United States and to live and contribute to our well- being. It's not that some country decides to dump people they don't like into the United States via the lottery system. He should know that. If he doesn't know it, it's a sign of huge ignorance on his part. So the speech he gave before, we could listen to what folks who are living their lives day to day could tell us. Some of his speech was full of the same hyperbole, misinformation, and frankly some lying that unfortunately we've become accustomed to in recent months.

WHITFIELD: And Nathan, does this setting, this forum help short term Congressman Renacci who's seeking that Senate seat? And how does this assist the president or even the GOP leading into midterm elections, seeing the president in this kind of venue, this setting, having this listening post?

GONZALEZ: It could help. Congressman Renacci was the frontrunner going into Tuesday's primary. It certainly could be an additional boost. But what we've seen in some of the special elections over the last year or so is that the president's coalition or his supporters are not easily transferable to other candidates, because the president, he's such a unique person and his unique aura of who he is and you can't just say, Congressman Renacci, I'm with him, he's with me. Go vote for him. It's not quite that simple.

But I think it's probably a net positive for the Congressman. And looking ahead, also on Tuesday there are primaries in West Virginia and Indiana with major Senate races where all the Republican candidates are trying to cozy up to the president. It's interesting that he didn't go to those states, that he's in Ohio today. But in general I think the Republicans want and need the president to be focused on selling this tax bill because if Republicans aren't excited and don't show up to vote, then the Republicans are going to lose a significant number of seats. If moderates and independents, if they believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, they're going to elect more Democrats to put a check on the president.

WHITFIELD: Nathan, Tim, I want to bring in Anne Zimmerman to the conversation. She's the co-chair of Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform, a national coalition. And so Anne, is this a big feather in the cap of the president? Is this discussion about tax cuts, how helpful it has been for a number of constituents, namely some that you heard from right there in that forum, how helpful will this be for the president and momentum for his agenda?

ANNE ZIMMERMAN, CO-CHAIR, BUSINESSES FOR RESPONSIBLE TAX REFORM: Thank you, Fredricka. I think based on the information we found that the small business community has been left out of this, and so just selectively waving and showcasing a few people who have received an extra $100 doesn't solve the problem for small businesses in this country. We are -- we as small businesses have created two thirds of all the jobs since the recession. And this tax cut bill left us behind. It absolutely is funneling the big savings and the cuts to the large companies and the wealthy, and not particularly helpful for us.

[14:15:00] WHITFIELD: What you heard from Sherry Sheely of Sheely appliances there, who was on the panel there who said because of these tax cuts they were able to award $1,000 bonuses, and while they consider themselves to be one of the largest independent furniture retailers, they are on that stage, perhaps representative of a smaller business that has been able to benefit from this tax cut?

ZIMMERMAN: And That's wonderful they were able to do that. But that is not truly representative of us small businesses. The poll that we did recently did say that 69 percent of the participants and the respondents would not be able to hire someone new because of the tax law.

WHITFIELD: Sorry to interrupt you. Let me just ask you to take a moment. Let's listen in to the president right now.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to spend it wisely at the top. But our country is doing great. It's I think it's maybe doing as good or better than it's ever done before. And it's only going to do better. We have tremendous things planned, and we're going to start being smart about our relationship with other countries and others. And you're going to see tremendous progress over the next hopefully seven years, but it's not even going to take seven years. It's going to go very quickly. It's going to happen really very quickly.

We all love this country. We love it a lot. Those were incredible stories. I really think it's amazing to hear. We could take almost everybody in the room, probably everybody in the room and hear a similar story.

But I'm very honored to have been able to do the tax cut, tax cut plan, because it has led to a lot of jobs, it has led to better jobs. It has led to increased salary, but also not only the increase in the salary, but you have a lot left over, which is money that most people, even the people up here certainly but probably most of the people in the audience didn't expect to see or have. And it's be made a big difference in a lot of lives. We do a lot of these. We meet a lot of people. It's made a tremendous difference. And I am so honored to have been able to help, and we're going to do a lot more over the coming years. Again, thank you all for being here. Thank you. Thank you.


WHITFIELD: The president wrapping it up there in Cleveland, and making a promise there, saying our country is doing great. It can only get better, tremendous things are planned.

So Anne Zimmerman, as you were saying, these tax cuts have very little incentive for this small business. When you hear the president say, tremendous things planned, what are you hoping and how might it be applicable to small businesses in your view?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes. Small businesses have been actually more disadvantaged because of the tax cuts. The joint -- the Committee on Joint Taxation just recently this week I believe it was, came out with some new statistics showing that even of the pass through piece of this, which is really thought of as the small business piece, even of that piece, 44 percent of that is going to the small businesses, 200,000 only that make $1 million or more in this country. And that isn't the true small business. That is not the small business that is the main street mom and pop store or bakery. They're not able to give raises or bonuses because they're getting very little out of this tax bill.

WHITFIELD: So Tim Naftali is back with me, Nathan Gonzales as well. So Time, it seems as though there, at least in that audience there is a lot of affirmation of what the president was saying. But you listen to Anne, it's incongruent messaging. She's saying a lot more needs to be done for it to be a very hopeful scenario for small businesses. And the president has been saying particularly for small businesses for the forgotten people of this land, this is exactly who he's thinking about when proposing these tax cut plans.

NAFTALI: Well, and Fred, I think that the president has laid out a challenge today, and we'll see if the Democrats can meet that challenge. After all, there's some very interesting -- we heard some very important personal stories. We heard about a family that works for the Sheely furniture company that had to use their entire $1,000 bonus to pay for health care costs because their premiums were rising.

[14:20:01] And so the question we have to ask is, how can we bring premiums down? What was it about Obamacare in Ohio that led to the premiums going up? Was it the insecurity that was created by the fact that the Trump administration made it clear it wasn't going to enforce certain regulations? So -- and that's something the Democrats can talk about, after all, it's great that that family got $1,000. Why did they have to spend it on health care? Why couldn't they save it, or why couldn't they use it for a vacation and spread the joy to some other part of the United States?

So these issues, these are pocketbook issues, cost of health care, wage rates. And you know what, that's where the debate should be. And that's a debate that is based on fact, because Americans know what they spend. Americans know how high their premiums are. So that's great. It's healthy for the country. And it's really the basis for democracy. So if the president wants to debate that Americans are better off now because they got a one-time, $1,000 bonus, and yet their health care premiums are skyrocketing, I'm sure that others will disagree.

WHITFIELD: And then Nathan, the labor secretary seemed to intimate there were upcoming health care plans. So is that the next frontier?

GONZALEZ: I think Tim absolutely nailed it on the head in terms of the fight and argument and discussion we're going to see over the next six months. And the Republicans want to talk about the tax cut and jobs bill. But Democrats want people to look at the broader picture and look at health care and look at their premiums and say when you put all this together, are you coming out ahead? That's where I think as Republicans realize, maybe what they've done so far on health care may not have been enough or been productive. And so do they need to come back and try to fix something or change something, because when voters put those two together I don't think Republicans feel like they're on as good a footing coming up to the elections if people are focused on that tax cut and jobs bill.

WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there for now. Go ahead, quickly, Tim. NAFTALI: If it could add something quickly, have this discussion in soybean land. Have this discussion in parts of the country where tariffs are having a negative effect. Have it in steel town. Of course, you're going to see some positive results to tariffs. Somewhere else you wouldn't get the same result. So that's part of the story too.

WHITFIELD: All right, Tim Naftali, Nathan Gonzalez, Anne Zimmerman, thank you so much to all of you. We'll be right back.


[14:26:44] WHITFIELD: Breaking news out of Washington. CNN confirming that Special Counsel Robert Mueller interviewed Tom Barrack, one of President Trump's closest friends and the former chairman of his inaugural committee. This was back in December. Let's go straight to the White House and correspondent Boris Sanchez with more on this. So Boris, help us understand Tom Barrack, the relationship, why Mueller would want to talk to him.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Fred. Yes, this coming from my colleague Gloria Borger. A sources with knowledge of the matter indicates that Tom Barrack met with the special council back in December of 2017. This is notable because of his proximity to President Trump, the two men knowing each other for some 40 years. Barrack was even considered for a top role in the administration.

It's also notable because of his proximity to other figures within the campaign, namely former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates. A source indicating that that was the focus of this interview, that the special counsel wanted to know more about Paul Manafort and Rick Gates and their activity. Of course Manafort has been charged with a litany of financial crimes, including fraud. He has denied all of those allegations. Gates, on the other hand, has pled guilty to a number of charges. That source telling us that the special council zeroed in on those relationships, that he did not ask Barrack about his relationship with President Trump nor about his role on the inauguration committee. Lastly we are told that Barrack was told he was not a target of the investigation, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez, thanks so much.

More breaking news this afternoon as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calls for an ethics committee investigation into a fellow Democratic Congressman accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl. The new developments next.


[14:32:53] WHITFIELD: Breaking news, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is calling for an ethics investigation into an allegation against California Representative Tony Cardenas. CNN's Maeve Reston has been following this story for us. What more can you tell us, Maeve?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, this is a really complex case. Basically what happened last Friday was that Lisa Bloom, a very well-known lawyer in Los Angeles, filed a lawsuit against an unnamed politician saying that he had sexually assaulted a then 16-year-old girl in 2007, and while driving her to the hospital.

The allegation is that this politician was playing golf with the 16- year-old girl, handed her some water that tasted unusual. She collapsed and then he insisted on driving her to the hospital. While driving her there, this alleged sexual assault took place.

Many news organizations had been chasing this, obviously, because the details in the complaint pointed to Representative Cardenas. His lawyer came out on Thursday and said that he was indeed the subject of these allegations but that they were 100 percent categorically false.

So that's where it stands now. He's going to fight them. He's obviously up for re-election. So this really potentially puts Democrats in a bind with -- in the political climate of the Me Too movement, which is what this young woman said inspired her to come forward because they could potentially lose this seat in November depending on how this ends up in the court of public opinion.

WHITFIELD: And then Maeve, timing. Of course, Cardenas's camp would ask about timing, and it is the logical question, why now?

RESTON: Well, certainly you have to wonder about the political ramifications here. Cardenas certainly has his political enemies out there, and he is suggesting that the victim may be the subject of manipulation by her father who was a long time former employee of Tony Cardenas.

[14:35:16] We have attempted to reach the father in every way that we can, have not been able to get comment from him on those allegations by Cardenas, but clearly there are lots of political headwinds here. And the next step will be a hearing before a judge who will decide under California law whether this case has the merits to go forward. And at that point, his name would become public in the court documents. So Cardenas has only responded in that lengthy statement saying these are categorically untrue and that he is basically potentially being falsely accused here. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Maeve Reston, thank you so much.

Let's talk more about this. Joining me right now on the phone the attorney for the alleged victim Lisa Bloom. So Lisa, while the complaint filed says it was an elected politician, and now you have the House minority leader Pelosi saying an investigation needs to involve Tony Cardenas, are we talking about the same person. Is he the elected politician?

LISA BLOOM, VICTIMS' RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I filed this case over a week ago very carefully under California law we allows child sexual abuse cases to be filed later in life under some very specific rules. And that's what we're following. One of those rules is that we have to name the defendant as a John Doe until the court gives us permission to put his real name in the case. So that's the reason why I have not been able to confirm or deny the identity of the defendant. I have to say, it is very curious that even though we have not named

him, that Mr. Cardenas has come out and said these child sexual abuse allegations sound like they're against me. That's one of the more telling situations I've everybody heard of. Nevertheless we are waiting for the court to grant us leave, then we'll follow the procedures, put the proper name of the defendant in the case, and go forward from there.

WHITFIELD: So yours is a civil suit.


WHITFIELD: Pelosi is talking about an ethics investigation. How might the two complement one another or conflict?

BLOOM: Well, assuming that it is a U.S. congressman, which I'm not confirming or denies at this point because of the California law, I would say that I have not had good experiences taking my victims before the House Ethics Committee. I represented Marion Brown who accused Congressman John Conyers of sexual harassment just a few months ago. We've had very poor treatment from the house ethics committee. There are not rules set up to protect victims. There's a lot of silence, you can't get information. The hearing would get cancelled. They don't know what's going on, we don't know what her rights are. So until those rules get changed, I don't know whether I would want to take my victim in front of that committee.

WHITFIELD: And then, Lisa, the complaint is zeroing in on 2007 and a 16-year-old young lady at the time, allegedly sexually battered and assaulted. Just doing the math, now we're talking about 27 years old for this victim. Talk to me about this elapse of time, because timing of course is the first question that anyone would have about why this is being pursued.

BLOOM: What all of the research about child sexual abuse tells us is that very few victims complain at the time. Most take years and years before they're willing to come forward. Some people take decades. I've had clients in their 40s, 50s, 60s talking about child sexual abuse for the first time. And that's especially true when the perpetrator is a powerful person. So thousands of women are speaking out now against sexual misconduct by high profile people.

My client is very determined to see this through, to get justice, to tell her truth, to tell her story, and that's what this case is all about. This is really the only legal way that she can go about this. The criminal statute of limitations has expired. The civil statute of limitations has not. And that's why we spent months and months behind the scenes as we do with any of my cases. I have many, many cases of sexual harassment and assault, talking to her, going over her story, talking to her witnesses, looking at the corroborative evidence. I believe that she's very credible, and I believe we have a strong case. And we're looking forward to getting into the courtroom and proving that case.

WHITFIELD: Lisa Bloom, thank you so much for your time.

BLOOM: Thank you.

[14:40:00] WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: Overnight, South Korean police stopped anti-North Korean activists from launching propaganda leaflets over the DMZ, Seoul seeing the propaganda as a violation of the recent agreement between the North and South to suspect hostile activities. Meanwhile, the fate of three Americans detained by North Korea remains a mystery as calls grow for their safe return.

For more we turn to CNN's senior diplomatic Michelle Kosinski. So Michelle, any word from the State Department, anyone, about those detainees, their fate, and whether they're the subject of some kind of negotiations?

[14:45:07] MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka. Yes, we've been tracking that. And we've also been waiting to hear a date for the summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. But so far we only get signals. We don't get real information on even their fate. We know that there are lots of reports out there, some of them coming from South Korea, that the detainees have been moved. We have heard from Rudy Giuliani, the president's lawyer, his adviser, that they're going to be released any time now.

But we haven't gotten any confirmation on what exactly is their status, officially, where are they, and when are they going to be back on U.S. soil. I think that it is safe to say a couple things, though. It is safe to say that the U.S. would not want to have this meeting between the two leaders if these three American detainees were not going to be released. So we can expect to see them released, I would bet money on it, before this summit is going to happen. Keep in mind, though, We don't know the date of this summit. Also it's very safe to say that there is a lot going on behind the scenes in terms of negotiations and in terms of trying to get these people home and soon, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And so "The Boston Globe" is also reporting that former secretary of state John Kerry is trying to salvage the Iran nuclear deal through some sort of shadow diplomacy. What can you tell us about that?

KOSINSKI: It's unusual. It's unusual to hear about a former secretary of state to work this. But this is what we've been seeing among many people who worked on the Iran deal for a long time to make it happen as well as for anybody who has a stake in it now. Everybody is trying to lobby.

So for former secretary Kerry, he's been meeting with people as high up as the Iranian foreign minister, with European leaders. It's kind of like this influence campaign behind the scenes. And he's been working with former State Department people he worked alongside, other people who worked on crafting the deal. So Obama era officials working together behind the scenes to try to ultimately change President Trump's mind because at this point of course it seems like he is more than poised to pull out of it, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Michelle Kosinski, thanks so much.

And we'll be right back.


[14:53:18] WHITFIELD: More breaking news. More residents on the east side of Hawaii's Big Island are fleeing their homes after the formation of another volcanic event. There are now seven open vents spewing dangerous lava in one neighborhood. CNN correspondent Stephanie Elam joins us live with more on this extremely frightening situation there.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Extremely frightening, especially for people who have been living here and not knowing, Fred, exactly where these fissures are going to open up. We spoke to one man, Steve Gebbie who built his house from the ground up in Leilani estates. He's a carpenter by trade, he bought his land, built his house, no mortgage, said it was just four doors down when one of these fissures opened. And he stayed as long as he could in his house until he realized that he had to go. And he realized that also he may never go back to his home. Take a listen to what he said.


STEVE GEBBIE, LEILANI ESTATES RESIDENT: Life has completely turned upside down. I think it just started yesterday. Yesterday everybody looked like the Beverly hillbillies. Everybody had everything in their trucks and on the run. Now this is the first morning after evacuation. And now trying to figure out what the future brings.

ELAM: Now you're starting to feel it?

GEBBIE: Yes. I said farewell to my house yesterday, but now I'm starting to think about my future and my work, my job. Am I going to have to move to somewhere else on the island? My home may be forever changed.


ELAM: And that's the question a lot of people have. They said that they don't have any information. They don't know what their houses may look like, but it happened so quickly because they say with the lava flow, that moves a lot slower.

[14:55:04] But with the fissure it was bubbling out of there. We've shown you that video of it popping up and erupting out of the earth uncontrollably. And because of that he doesn't know if his house is standing or not, Fred.

WHITFIELD: It's incredible. Extraordinary pictures, too. Stephanie Elam, thank you so much for that. We'll check back later.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We have so much more straight ahead in the Newsroom right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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