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More Conflicting Stories about Trump Porn Star Payoff; Lava Spewing from Cracks in Hawaiian Streets; Korean Diplomacy; Gun Owners Embrace Trump at NRA Convention; Trump Reverses Immigration Protection; Lebanon Prepares for Parliamentary Elections; Credibility Crisis in White House; Harry and Meghan's Royal Wedding; Black Rhinos Being Reintroduced into Chad. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired May 5, 2018 - 04:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): New developments in the story of the president, the hush money and the porn star. "The New York Times" now reports that President Trump knew about the payment long before denying it.

Also this hour, hundreds flee in Hawaii as an erupting volcano threatens homes and turns roads into what one official calls "a highway of lava."

And new details on the pending meeting between President Trump and the North Korean leader. We'll have a live report from Seoul, South Korea.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. These stories are coming up ahead this hour. I'm live in Atlanta. Natalie Allen here for you. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


ALLEN: And we're following breaking developments in the legal firestorms around U.S. President Donald Trump. There are new details about the president's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, stockpiling access to cash. More on that in a moment.

But first even more conflicting stories about the hush money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels.

"The New York Times" reports President Trump actually knew about the payment several months before telling reporters here on Air Force One that he knew nothing about it. This as the White House is doing damage control, trying to clean up the mess left by another Trump attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

Senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny reports from the White House.


How's Rudy doing, Mr. President?

ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump shrugging his shoulders before throwing his long-time friend and new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, under the bus.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So Rudy knows it is a witch hunt. He started yesterday. He will get his facts straight.

ZELENY (voice-over): Damning words from the president, after Giuliani created a firestorm this week by saying the president knew about and repaid hush money to Stormy Daniels.

TRUMP: It's actually very simple. But there has been a lot of misinformation really, people wanting to say -- and I say you know what, learn before you speak. It's a lot easier.

ZELENY (voice-over): Yet he never said what Giuliani got wrong, sparking even more confusion.

TRUMP: Rudy is great. But Rudy had just started and he wasn't totally familiar with every -- you know, with everything.

ZELENY (voice-over): Traveling to Dallas to address the NRA convention today, the president fueling the White House credibility crisis. He insisted he hadn't changed his story on Stormy Daniels, even though he had.

TRUMP: We're not changing any stories. All I'm telling you is that this country is right now running so smooth. And to be bringing up that kind of crap and to be bringing up witch hunts all the time, that is all you want to talk about, you're going to see --


TRUMP: -- excuse me, excuse me. No, but you have to -- excuse me, you take a look at what I said. You go back and take a look. You'll see what I said.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said no when I asked you --

TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. You go take a look at what we said.

ZELENY (voice-over): Here is exactly what he said a month ago aboard Air Force One.


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

TRUMP: No. No. What else?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then why did Michael -- do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

TRUMP: No, I don't know.

ZELENY (voice-over): In a statement, Giuliani sought to clean up the confusion, saying his comments about the payment "were not describing my understanding of the president's knowledge but instead my understanding of these matters."

Meanwhile today, the president all but closing the door to an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller, saying he wouldn't be treated fairly.

TRUMP: Nobody wants to speak more than me. In fact, against my lawyers, because most lawyers say never speak on anything. I would love to speak because we've done nothing wrong. If I thought it was fair, I would override my lawyers.

ZELENY (voice-over): The president also offering a rare public embrace of embattled White House chief of staff John Kelly.

TRUMP: General Kelly is doing a fantastic job. There has been such false reporting about our relationship. We have a great relationship.

JOHN F. KELLY, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I would just say it is an absolute privilege to work for the president that has gotten the economy going. We're about to have a breakthrough, I believe, on North Korea.

ZELENY (voice-over): As for North Korea, the president saying today that details for his historic meeting with Kim Jong-un had been set.

TRUMP: We now have a date and we have a location. We'll be announcing it soon.

ZELENY: So at the end of all that, after a confusing week here at the White House, not much clarity on whether the president did or didn't know about those payments to Stormy Daniels or what his relationship is with Rudy Giuliani.

One thing is clear; there is still a credibility crisis here in the Oval Office -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.


ALLEN: And there is possibly more legal trouble for Mr. Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen. "The Wall Street Journal" reports that, as the 2016 presidential campaign was heating up, Cohen took out --


ALLEN: -- two lines of credit totaling some $774,000. One was on his Manhattan apartment while another was on a Trump Tower condo, owned by his wife's parents.

Cohen is under criminal investigation because of his business dealings, potentially including his role in the Stormy Daniels payoff, which he said he paid out of a home equity line.

Much to discuss here. Amy Greene is a political science researcher and professor at Sciences Po, the Paris institute of political studies. She wrote the book "America after Obama" and joins us from Paris.

Thank you, Amy, for being with us.

AMY GREENE, SCIENCES PO: Thank you, Natalie.

ALLEN: Let's begin with this news from "The Wall Street Journal," that Mr. Cohen, Mr. Trump's lawyer, had access to as much as $774,000 cash at the time he paid Stormy Daniels $130K. This revelation coming as a time when Cohen is being investigated as we just said for his business dealings and how hush money was being used.

What do you make of it?

GREENE: Right. It is part of this nebulous web of actors around the president, the question of the opacity, of the means by which Michael Cohen accrued this sum and then the ways in which he potentially used the money during the campaign to protect then candidate Trump.

It goes back into the question of credibility of transparency of the dealings of the network around Trump, including Trump himself. So this is just sort of another step in this, you know, this growing, sort of amassing snowball of doubt surrounding the president.

Of course, there are legal ramifications and prosecutors in New York are investigating Cohen, trying to find out where the money came from and how it was used. But this goes back into the question of the character and the nature of the people that Trump decides to surrounds himself with --


GREENE: -- not just during the campaign but before that.

ALLEN: Right. Another aspect of this is Mr. Trump being caught in a blatant untruth. He is said to know of the $130,000 hush money paid to Ms. Daniels months before his public denial of knowing about it.

How damaging could that be for the president's credibility?

GREENE: Well, beyond the question of the president's, you know, disregard for telling the truth to the American people, which is already quite grave and you can't imagine that something worse that the president being willing to lie to the American people and even saying that Giuliani said, well, politics always matters. But it is better to lie to the media than to prosecutors.

So there is already that. But then there are the legal questions, which really are important. Of course, one of the primary questions is, you know, did Trump know -- how soon did Trump know about these repayments? Now the president, as a person, as an individual, does have the right

to protect himself from damaging information. But the payments that he would have made personally would have had to have been disclosed. And that is something that he didn't do.

Another real question remains, to what extent did the chief operating officer of the Trump Organization know about the payments and know what they were for?

Because American election law does prevent businesses from getting involved, you know, beyond a certain legal limit in the dealings of campaigns.

So if the Trump Organization knew about not only the payments, which it is clear that they did know that there were payments being made to Cohen, but if they knew that they were in order to protect candidate Trump, then that is an additional level of legal difficulty for the president.

ALLEN: And if the story weren't already murky enough, enter Rudy Giuliani this week. He came on as a lawyer for the White House to focus on the Mueller investigation but went on FOX News and revealed that the president knew about the payment and it wasn't a conflict of interest, vis-a-vis campaign finance laws. That's to be decided.

But he sent the White House legal team apparently into a tailspin with that statement.

How is it that the White House cannot get its messages straight, speak with one voice on something so important?

GREENE: The buck stops somewhere, right?

And the buck here stops with the president. When you have a specific culture coming from the top down, well, then the culture below the president reflects the president himself.

The question of messaging has been a constant problem for Trump and for his team. He keeps some advisers, you know, close to him. And then others are completely in the dark. You saw, after the Giuliani interview with Hannity, Sarah Huckabee Sanders had difficulty even answering a basic question.

It was reported widely that Giuliani and Trump consulted one another before Giuliani did the FOX News interview. But Emmet Flood was completely out of the loop.

This is really a question of leadership and judgment. And if Donald Trump, you know, decides to exercise a leadership strategy of chaos, well, then it is absolutely unsurprising --


GREENE: -- that this would be reflected in his team and in the statements that they make left and right to various news outlets and publicly. ALLEN: Right. And then the president explained Giuliani's error as being, well, it was his first day on the job and he got his information wrong, we'll sort it out, kind of a no big deal.

But apparently it was a big deal on his friendly network, FOX News. Let's listen to this.


NEIL CAVUTO, FOX HOST: Let me be clear, Mr. President.

How can you drain the swamp if you're the one who keeps muddying the waters?

You didn't know about that $130,000 payment to a porn star until you did. Said you knew nothing about how your former lawyer, Michael Cohen, handled this until acknowledging today, you were the guy behind the retainer payment that took care of this.

Let's just say your own words on lots of stuff give me, shall I say, lots of pause.


ALLEN: That is FOX News, which, for the most part, stands by this president no matter how fuzzy the math or the facts, right.

So without FOX News solidifying behind him, that could erode the president's always constant message, that he is in the right, everything he says is right and factual and the media outside of FOX News is always wrong.

GREENE: Yes, it's interesting just the way you phrased it, Natalie, to think that the president takes refuge in FOX News and is hostile to the rest of the news media, it seems.

So of course if FOX News begins to question the president and turn his back on him, we'll have to see if that remains the case and if they continue to ask those questions of the president.

But certainly it can't help the president and it can't do him any favors or reassure him with the nature of the way things are going.

ALLEN: Right. And as one analyst put it earlier, as far as all of these events, he said it is like the White House is twisting themselves into a pretzel. And that is kind of what it is looking like right now, isn't it?

GREENE: Yes, absolutely. And this comes back to the question really of competence. Donald Trump said he wanted to drain the swamp. But you have to come as the president competent and ready to act on day one and what we see is a scrambling, every week it seems, to get worse for the president and at least more complicated.

The question is coming in with competent leadership and with a strong message and a strong sense of how to conduct the business of the nation and what we tend to see week after week is that the current administration certainly isn't ready for that and isn't coming organized.

And, you know, we're seeing that play out with Stephanie Clifford -- Stormy Daniels -- with the Russia investigation and the president seemingly hurling insults as his sole means for defense. So it's certainly not a very optimistic situation, it seems, for the president today.

ALLEN: Not right now. Amy Greene, as always, thank you for joining us.

GREENE: Thanks so much, Natalie.

ALLEN: Long before he worked for the Trump presidential campaign, Paul Manafort had business dealings that have now resulted in federal charges, including bank fraud. But a federal judge on Friday seemed unimpressed by the case against Manafort.

He accused special counsel Robert Mueller's team of going after Manafort, only to get to President Trump. For more on this, here is CNN's Jessica Schneider.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A federal judge in Virginia seemed to reprimand the special counsel's team in their case against President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

So federal judge T.S. Ellis, he even lost his temper at times on Friday morning while he expressed his doubt that the special counsel is acting within its scope or even properly following its mandate.

Now remember, Paul Manafort is facing 18 counts, including bank fraud, in federal court in Virginia. That is on top of the counts that he faces in Washington. So the criticism from his lawyers is that these charges, they don't relate to the campaign and therefore they just go too far for the special counsel.

So Judge Ellis, who is a Reagan appointee, he echoed some of those concerns and he said this in court.

He said, "You don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud," the judge told Michael Dreeben on the special counsel's team. Instead, the judge said that the special counsel was only interested in Manafort because of what he could provide that would lead to the president's, quote, "prosecution or impeachment."

The judge continued to say, "That is what you are really interested in."

The judge also continued to say, "We don't want anyone in this country with unfettered power. It is unlikely you're going to persuade me the special prosecutor has the power to do anything he or she wants. The American people feel pretty strongly that no one has unfettered power." So, of course, it was Friday morning; it was a hearing on Paul

Manafort's motion to dismiss the Virginia case because he does contend that the special counsel went too far in charging him with crimes that don't directly related to the campaign. The judge will rule on that at a later date.

And in the meantime, the judge will be getting access to an unredacted August 2017 --


SCHNEIDER: -- memo from deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. And it spells out the special counsel's authority.

So the memo will remain sealed and only the judge will be able to see it but that will no doubt cast some more light for the judge of how broadly the special counsel's powers are, as to what they can investigate.

And remember that this is the memo that explicitly said the special counsel could examine Paul Manafort's lobbying work in Ukraine and notably whether Manafort himself colluded with Russian government officials during the 2016 campaign -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: We turn to another story next. Hawaiians are used to living near volcanoes but for one community this time, it is different. We talk with a resident forced from his home, as lava moved into his neighborhood.

Also, the U.S. president says we will soon know the time and place of his summit with North Korea while we await the release of three detained Americans. We'll have more on that in a live report later this hour. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.





ALLEN (voice-over): This is what it looks like and sounds like when molten lava tears your neighborhood --


ALLEN: -- apart. This is on the eastern coast of Hawaii's big island and this was the view for nearly 2,000 people, who were evacuated as volcanic frack ripped the streets wide open, all of this coming after a week of near constant earthquakes, including a strong 6.9 tremor, the biggest to hit Hawaii in decades. Officials say the volcanic activity shows no sign of slowing down.

Hawaii's governor is telling people and airplanes to stay away from the area.


DAVID IGE, GOVERNOR OF HAWAII: We have issued an FAA order, closing the airspace around the eruption site so they won't be able to come to look at the eruption.

We would encourage visitors to stay away from the Puna area. The rest of the island is open for visitors. And clearly on the west side and Hilo Banyan Drive is still continuing to operate with no impact.


ALLEN: We've been talking with people affected and we'll talk with one resident now, who was forced to leave his home. Timothy Trun is on the phone with us from Hilo, Hawaii.

Timothy, we appreciate you talking with us so much.

Where are you now and how are you and your family holding up?

TIMOTHY TRUN, HILO RESIDENT: Well, I don't have any family here. And thank you for having me, by the way. I was in Hilo earlier today. We made the decision to drive across the island to a town of Kona, on the west side of island much further away from the activity.

But we're holding up good. I'm with 11 people that have been displaced and are homeless and workless right now, that were also working on my farm. And it has been a real shocker.

The last day we were there, you know, just Thursday, we were making a goodbye dinner for one of our friends, we were making the dinner, we were about to enjoy the dinner and then the cops show up and tell us that we have to go. And everything changed in an instant. You have five minutes to pack your bags with what you think you're going to need and you're off.

ALLEN: Right. And you're told, you got to get out. Yes, you work and live on a farm in Leilani Estates.


ALLEN: What did you experience there as you were told to evacuate?

What did you --


ALLEN: -- what did you experience there as you were told to evacuate, what did you see and what did you feel?

TRUN: So it all started with little tiny tremors, some of us felt; some of us were swimming and you didn't notice them. Then we had word that the lava shelf had collapsed and to maybe expect some activity and it could go anywhere. It could pop up anywhere at any time because we are right on the east shelf.

So the first thing that happened was a crack across our road. So Leilani Estates is where the first (INAUDIBLE) opened up and that is my next door neighbor. So that's literally the next property over from where we're at. And that is where the crack opened up and that's where a fountain opened up and a fissure and it started spewing.

All the clips you see on YouTube are from that exact -- that is my road. So the cops came once and it was no big deal. The cops came twice, and we're, OK, it's kind of serious. Then they came a third time and we were forced to evacuate.

And we stayed in the area, obviously we went to the nearest shelter, which was fine. And then the next day, we went about our business and kind of felt it out.

And I was in a supermarket, when the 6.9 hit, which is one of the scariest places you can be, as you can be, as you can imagine, glass falling, bottles falling, things falling off the shelves.

There was a ton of people in the store, everybody was going crazy. And it lasted a good 10-15 seconds, it felt like. And I didn't know what do. I just became hyperaware of the situation and tried to figure out what was going to happen, should I go outside, should I stay inside. Because I've never experienced an earthquake.

ALLEN: Yes, because I was reading, if I have this right, that you are from Chicago and that you had only been in Hawaii a year. This is supposed to be paradise. So this must be very difficult, what you're experiencing.

Is it frightening?

TRUN: Yes, I kind of felt this -- OK, I'm going to live by a volcano, that's kind of crazy. I was also living in Chicago which is also crazy, dealing with the winter, not the safest place in the world. It's a lovely, lovely city but you still have -- everywhere you move, you still have things to deal with.

And you still have to weigh those things out. And we know hopefully, weigh those out when you move. But it is an eye opener. Feeling my first earthquake was -- earlier today I was standing on a person's porch, we just got done swimming at the beach and the house started shaking.

I thought, I was like, what is this?

Then we felt the big one in the supermarket and I'm seeing smoke come up as we're driving across this road called Red Road, which goes around the outside of the island. You could see the fires. You could see the eruption, you could see everything across from where you were.

And I started joking around and making videos and posting them to my social media, like I was a reporter and I had a fake microphone and I was giving an update on what was happening. I was trying to keep everybody lighthearted because the people that I'm with aren't ready for this.

They are younger than me, they're in their 20s; some are from Europe, some are from all over the world. And they are not -- they were not expecting this to happen. So I'm mainly trying to stay lighthearted and really just keep everybody calm and positive.

ALLEN: Well, that is a very good approach to take. And we hope that it works with those younger people you're with. And, Timothy, thanks so much for taking the time with us. We know this is a very difficult time and we hope that you can get back to your farm at some point.

TRUN: It's not looking likely. You know, I try to make everything positive. I learned one or two things during this experience and that a lot of people try to look at how they're ungrateful or the bad things that are happening to them instead of being grateful for what's in front of them and what they're going Thursday.

And if you believe it's a human fallacy to feel that way and to not be enjoying your day and enjoying your company. And we walk around, thinking that we'll be able to say goodbye.

I had to leave cats. I left four cats on my property. And I didn't know I was going to have to say goodbye to them. I didn't have the chance. But I walked around every day thinking that I was going to.

ALLEN: Yes, that is always so sad when animals are left behind. We so hope they'll be OK. Thank you so much for your time and your good attitude and we wish you all the best.

TRUN: Feel free to look me up if you want to know what happens to me after this.

ALLEN: Yes, we'll stay in touch, Timothy, we certainly will. Thanks so much. Take care.

U.S. President Trump says a date has been set for his meeting with the North Korean leader. And he will let us know soon. We'll go live to Seoul, South Korea, next for the latest.





ALLEN: Welcome back. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen with your top stories.


ALLEN: We are learning more about President Trump's upcoming meetings with the leaders of North and South Korea. The White House says South Korean president Moon Jae-in will visit Washington May 22nd.

Meantime, Mr. Trump is building a little suspense for his upcoming meeting with North Korea. He says the time and place are set and will be revealed soon. Alexandra Field joining us now from Seoul, South Korea.

Yes, the location of the meeting will be important because the North Korean leader hasn't really traveled very far from his North Korea environment, has he, Alex?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. And it is not exactly clear why, if the date and time have been set, this remains a mystery that the president is teasing ahead to. He hasn't said when the big reveal will happen but certainly there has been a lot of speculation about where the --


FIELD: -- meeting could happen. All sides that are involved here have indicated that they are looking very strongly at the possibility of having this meeting at the DMZ. From the optics perspective, that seems to have appealed to President Trump and from the logistics perspective, as you point out, that would certainly be an easy trip for Kim Jong-un to make.

He has really only traveled outside of North Korea once since coming to power as far as we know and that was the trip about a month ago to Beijing, to sit with President Xi Jinping.

The other possibility for this summit is the idea that it could happen in Singapore. And certainly there are those within the administration who seem to be pushing the president, that a neutral option like Singapore could be the right choice to make, that it would appear too conciliatory for President Trump to travel all the way to the DMZ.

Of course, before that summit happens, there is this meeting between the South Korean president and President Trump, a lot of groundwork was being laid for that within the last day.

The national security chief from South Korea traveled to D.C. to sit down with the national security adviser not only to debrief on what happened during the North Korea-South Korea summit but also to talk more about what is expected to happen during that big summit between Trump and Kim.

ALLEN: And as far as forward moving developments between the two Koreas, we know Kim Jong-un reset the clock so North Korea would be aligned in the same time zone as South Korea. And now we hear there are reports of the possibility of flights between the two countries.

What do you know about that?

FIELD: Yes, these are pretty rapid developments. We do know that a U.N. committee will travel to North Korea this week to assess the possibility. They will be looking at the navigation route, at various safety issues. This was a proposal actually first made by North Korea in February,

when we were seeing tensions thaw on the peninsula after North Korea sent a team to the Olympics in South Korea. The request or the proposal is still being weighed by South Korean aviation officials.

But, yes, essentially what they are asking to do is open up an air route that would connect Pyongyang with Incheon, South Korea. It would certainly be a major step forward following another symbolic step forward that we've seen in the last 24 hours.

As you point out, North Korea taking the step to reset their clocks, moving their time zone up a half-hour so they could be in sync with South Korea. North Korea's state news agency saying this was another step toward accelerating the process of making North Korea and South Korea one.

So certainly a lot of developments here as we watch the climate on the peninsula changing quickly.

ALLEN: Yes, we do. And it's all very hopeful. Alexandra Field for us, thank you.

U.S. President Trump came with a message for the world's biggest gun rights group, "I'm with you."

Mr. Trump told the crowd at the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas, Texas, that he would stop any attempt to change gun rights.

However, after the Parkland school shooting in Florida that claimed 17 lives, Mr. Trump outlined some changes. Among them, expanded background checks, taking guns from the mentally ill and raising the minimum age for purchase. He eventually backed off those ideas and didn't even mention them in Friday's speech to the NRA.


TRUMP: Democrats and liberals in Congress want to disarm law-abiding Americans at the same time they are releasing dangerous criminal aliens and savage gang members onto our streets. Your Second Amendment rights are under siege. But they will never, ever be under siege as long as I'm your president.


ALLEN: What happened from just the Parkland shooting and the president's speech there?

Certainly a fiery one. CNN's Anderson Cooper spoke with two survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, specifically about Mr. Trump's change in tone in his speech to the NRA, one of his biggest donors.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We heard from the president shortly after the shooting at the -- at your high school. Obviously he struck a very different tone than he did today. Back then I talked to you, you thought he was heading in the right direction when it came to gun control.

What do you think today?

CAMERON KASKY, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Well, you know, he was saying some things that implied that he was stepping forward into the right direction for gun safety in this country.

And then he had a meeting with some NRA officials, a private meeting, and afterwards he came and claimed that the Second Amendment was under siege and he was going to defend it.

So as to whether or not the NRA meeting changed his views, that is kind of up to speculation. But I will tell you that is, hopefully, the first Russian funded group he has met with.

DAVID HOGG, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: And I would like to say I think it really shows what he's doing right now, proves where his heart and his wallet are and that is in the exact same place.

One of the interesting things I thought Trump brought up was how we don't talk about mental health. Yet in one of the recent spending bills that they had --


HOGG: -- they cut mental health spending for schools by over $25 million. That doesn't sound like improving the mental health care system for schools to me.


ALLEN: We will continue to follow, of course, that story.

Some 90,000 Hondurans in the U.S. now face deportation. This after the Trump administration decided to end the protected status of immigrants who came to the U.S. after a 1998 hurricane in Honduras. They will have 18 months to make other arrangements to stay in the U.S. or leave.

This year the Trump administration has already ended the protected status of nearly 60,000 Haitians, more than a quarter million Salvadorians, about 5,000 from Nicaragua and nearly 15,000 from Nepal.

A sea change could be coming to politics in Lebanon. Coming up, how a election new law could affect Sunday's vote. We'll tell you about that.

Also ahead, helping black rhinos avoid extinction in Africa.



ALLEN: Friday turned into another day of violence along the Israel- Gaza border. Israeli says Palestinian protesters set fire to parts of a border crossing and that pipes carrying fuel to Gaza were damaged.

Israeli authorities say around 10,000 people rioted at several locations. Israel reportedly responded with live rounds and tear gas. Palestinian officials say at least 400 people were wounded but no one was killed. Friday marked six weeks since Palestinians began their so-called March of Return protest.

Lebanon's parliamentary election is drawing global attention as candidates wrap up their campaigns. The E.U. says it is sending around 130 election observers. This is Lebanon's first vote in nine years and --


ALLEN: -- it will likely shape regional politics. Iran-backed Hezbollah looks to gain seats, while its main rival is the party of prime minister Saad Hariri, supported by Saudi Arabia. But old power struggles will also face some fresh challenges. New voters and a new election law could shake up the status quo. CNN's Ben Wedeman reports from Beirut.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Showered with rice, prime minister Saad Hariri takes to the stage on the last day of campaigning. This is his stronghold, Sunni West Beirut, where he is received more like a rock star than a politician.

Since becoming prime minister for a second time in 2016, he has managed to bring relative stability to an often deeply divided country.

SAAD HARIRI, FORMER LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER: What I did two years ago is reunited the country around the political consensus.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): His consensus involved forming a government that included ministers from Iranian-backed Hezbollah. It was a marriage of convenience that didn't please everyone, particularly his Saudi backers.

But Lebanon has been spared a significant spillover of the violence from neighboring Syria. And for a country with vivid memories of its own 15-year civil war, that is no small achievement.

WEDEMAN: This is Lebanon's first election in nine years.

The question is, will all the new voters go for the old politicians or try something new?

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Nohad Machnouk is Lebanon's interior minister and a close political ally of Hariri. He recognizes the times, they are a-changing.

NOHAD MACHNOUK, LEBANESE INTERIOR MINISTER: When you have 800,000 new voters, it means that you have to change all your attitude. You cannot do the same like before, because they will not accept.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): A new election law has opened the door to more independent candidates, many eager to shake off Lebanon's legacy of sectarian politics.

Gilbert Doumit lacks the resources to run a flashy campaign. He just has plenty of energy and a group of dedicated supporters.

"Don't we want new people?" he asked a possible voter.

Impatient, like the drivers in Beirut's congested streets, he wants to rip power from the old elite.

GILBERT DOUMIT, LEBANESE PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE: Because we want to take our country back. We lost it for the last 50 years within the hands of people who don't want to improve it.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Lebanese voters are faced with a mind-boggling array of choices. Politics here is a confusing kaleidoscope of religions, clans, parties and personalities, ranging from the likes of Hezbollah, whose dedicated supporters carried on their rally in a downpour of rain and hail...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

WEDEMAN (voice-over): -- to the likes of Rania Masri, a civil society candidate running in the mountains of Beirut. She is one of 86 women running for parliament this year, seven times more than in 2009.

RANIA MASRI, LEBANESE PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE: More women are educated, more women are employed, more women are being financially independent, more women are single. There is a shift demographically.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Just one shift in a country where change may come one leaflet at a time -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.


ALLEN: Still to come here, the extraordinary effort to help black rhinos survive in the African wild.






ALLEN: One of the most anticipated unions of the year is almost here, the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the American. We're learning the bride's parents will have key roles on the big day, May 19th.

Markle's mother, Doria Radlan, will ride with her to the ceremony at Windsor Castle. Then her father, Thomas Markle, will walk her down the chapel aisle. She will not have a maid of honor.

As for the groom, Prince Harry wants his late mother's side of the family to be involved. Diana's older sister is expected to give a reading. And the couple will not go on an immediate honeymoon trip. We'll keep you posted as the moment marches closer.

Black rhinos are teetering on the edge of extinction, mostly due to relentless poaching of their unique double horns. Only about 5,000 of the endangered animals still exist in the African wild.

Now an ambitious project is returning black rhinos to places where they haven't been seen in years. CNN's Robyn Kriel has our report.


ROBYN KRIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Relocating a rhino is no easy feat but conservationists with the international group African Parks are taking on the challenge.

Nearly 50 years after the species was wiped out in the Central African country of Chad, six critically endangered black rhinos are being transported to the Zakouma National Park from South Africa. It's an effort to bring the large mammals back to their former ranges on the continent.

SAM FERRIERA, SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL PARKS: The key element of when you have got relatively large populations, like South Africa's got, so they can serve as good sources for other places where rhinos used to live, that they now locally extinct, they actually reintroduce rhinos to those areas and allow rhinos to start living in the range that they formerly had in Africa.

And this is a very good thing. But it is always a small start. You have got to see big picture but you have got to start small and you've got to act now.

KRIEL (voice-over): The rhinos were sedated and put into specially designed crates for the 4,800-kilometer --


KRIEL (voice-over): -- flight. The group's goal is to restore biodiversity in Chad. They are also hoping the animals will breed to increase the population of rhinos there.

Rhinos are one of the most threatened species on the planet. According to African parks, there are fewer than 25,000 rhinos in the African wild. Of those, only 5,000 are black rhinos. The rest are white rhinos.

The species has been hit hard by poachers, who supply their horns to a booming Asian market, where they are used for medicinal purposes.

Once they arrive in Chad, the rhinos will be placed into holding pens before being released into a temporary sanctuary to familiarize them with their new surroundings. Zakouma National Park staff have undertaken years of research, planning and preparation and received training in rhino tracking and monitoring to make a park a new safe home for the rhinos -- Robyn Kriel, CNN.


ALLEN: We're all pulling for them.

A dairy farm worker in New Zealand is thanking his lucky stars after making a spectacular but dangerous discovery. He was stunned to find a massive sinkhole 200 meters long -- look at that -- that's 650 feet and six stories deep.

Down below, a deposit from a volcano that erupted here 60,000 years ago. The chasm opened up after days of heavy rain. People here say the farm worker was lucky he didn't ride his motorbike into the abyss in the early morning darkness.

I'll say. Very lucky.

I'm Natalie Allen. I'll be back with our top stories and another hour of CNN NEWSROOM right after this short break.