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Israel Tensions With Iran; Summit Between Donald Trump And Kim Jong-Un; Release Of Americans From North Korea; Ambushed American Troops; Alt-Right Web Domain Names Registered To Company That Paid Cohen; Dozens Killed When Kenyan Dam Wall Collapses; 104-Year-Old David Goodall Ends His Life; Scam That's Out Of This World. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired May 11, 2018 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[02:00:07] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN, ANCHOR: Israel and Iran go toe to as the tension between them breaks out into the open. We'll have the latest from Jerusalem and Tehran just ahead here.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN, ANCHOR: And the date is set and so is the location, so what can we expect now from a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-Un.
ALLEN: Also this hour, (Inaudible) Mr. Trump's lawyer (Inaudible) Michael Cohen cashed in on his access to his powerful client. We'll tell you what the White House is saying. Hello and welcome to our viewers around. I'm Natalie Allen.
VANIER: And I'm Cyril Vanier. This is CNN Newsroom.
ALLEN: Thank you again for joining us. Israel has retaliated for an attack on its troops by targeting what it says was Iran's military infrastructure inside Syria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the airstrikes were appropriate.
VANIER: In his words, Iran crossed a red line when Wednesday's missile attack on Israeli forces in the Golan Heights. Israel warns that any further aggression will be met with overwhelming force.
ALLEN: The region remains tense but relatively quiet right now amid international calls for calm. Even so, Mr. Netanyahu had a stern message for the Syrian regime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We are in an ongoing scenario and our policy is clear. We will not let Iran base militarily (Inaudible) in Syria. Yesterday, I passed a clear message onto the Assad regime. Our operations are against Iranian targets in Syria, but if the Syrian army will act against us, we will act against them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: CNN's Ian Lee joins us from Jerusalem. Ian, is Israel done launching missiles or are there more strikes in store.
IAN LEE, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Cyril, right now it does seem like this crisis is over for the time being. Israel hasn't struck since those more than -- or those dozens of strikes where they hit what the defense minister said is almost all of Iranian targets and the infrastructure inside of Syria. Now we're waiting to see what happens on the Golan Heights. Will Iran retaliate?
You know when following this over the past year really, we've seen Israel go after Iranian targets inside of Syria. And every time Iran says that it is watching, it is going to retaliate. Was that rocket strike by the Iranians at Israel, was that the retaliation or will they try something else. That's what --- just have to wait and see.
But if they do, you can expect Israel to strike again. And when you look at the strikes that Israel did carry out, you had a target (Inaudible) really. Israel has been watching this neighboring civil war in Syria. They have been seeing what Iran has been doing. They have been collecting information, and it seems like they hit everything that they wanted to, so now they will be looking to see how Iran has reacted inside of Syria and potentially creating more targets for, and if there is a next round.
VANIER: Israel had warned that it had a redline, and that it would not allow Iranian forces to cross. That is what they called entrenchment in Syria, right. They don't want to be -- Iranian forces to become inevitable, an inevitable force in Syria. Do they now feel that they've addressed that?
LEE: You know that's a hard question for right now. Israel definitely did go after a lot of Iran's infrastructure, but Iran likely is going to build it back up again. So you know to permanently damage Iran's presence in Syria, that's going to be difficult. But Israel said again, that is a redline for them. They have a couple redlines really.
One is Iran's presence inside of Syria, and the other one is advanced weapons going to Hezbollah and Lebanon. That is an Iranian proxy, and so Israel is watching this very carefully. They want to make sure that they still have the tactical advantage in the northern part of Israel, and they're going to use firepower to make sure that that is still the situation.
You know we have to remember back in February, Israel sends an armed Iranian drone, infiltrated their territory. We saw strikes against Iranian infrastructure then, and so you know they were able to rebuild, so that's likely what Iran's going to do now, is just rebuild what was destroyed.
VANIER: CNN's Ian Lee in Jerusalem for us this hour. Thank you.
[02:04:58] ALLEN: Now we run across to our Fred Pleitgen. He is live for us in Tehran this hour. Fred, we just heard you know stern, a certain message from Mr. Netanyahu toward Iran. Has Iran had any acknowledgment about the rocket attack against Israel? FRED PLEITGEN, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Actually we've heard really
remarkable things that we've been seeing over the past -- more than 24 hours since that skirmish took place during the Golan Heights. There has not been any sort of official knowledge from the Iranians side that first of all, that they would've fired any rockets at Israel during that night.
And second of all, that any of their infrastructure would have been struck inside Syria. It was interesting because we were keeping an eye, aside from trying to call Iranian officials, also keeping an eye or Iranian state media as well. They did report about this and soon they said there were Israeli strikes onto Syrian territory.
Some news networks (Inaudible) made it look as though it was something between Syria and the Israelis. They also said that the Israelis were pointing the finger towards Iran, but there has yet to be any sort of official Iranian acknowledgment of any of this. The only thing that may come close to that was a phone call between Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, where apparently Hassan Rouhani said that Iran does not want further escalation in the region.
That region, obviously being the greater Middle East, which encompasses the obviously everywhere from Iran all the way to the Mediterranean. It is unclear whether or not he was only talking about the aftermath of the United States leading the nuclear agreement, or whether or not he was talking about the incident on the Golan Heights and in Syria as well.
So again, nothing official yet, but we do expect today, Natalie, is that there is going to be a show of force by Iran's hardliners, is of course Friday, which is usually time for -- which is the time for Friday prayers, but also the time for criticism of the United States and Israel, and the hardliners here in this country have called for massive demonstrations against America and against Israel and protest marches as well, Natalie.
ALLEN: All right. You'll be covering that for us. I want to ask you though, what do we know about the military infrastructures that Iran has been building inside Syria, which Israel so wants to take care of.
PLEITGEN: Yeah. Well, you know the Iranians built a pretty big military infrastructure in Syria. They've been there for a very long time, you know. For a very long time, the Iranians were also the biggest and strongest ally of the Syrian government, of President Bashar Al-Assad. They were key in the fight against anti-Assad rebels.
They were also key in the fight against Isis as well quite frankly. And they were big force on the ground. There are basically two things that the Iranians have done over the years in Syria, both before and after the Russians moved into the conflict. On the one hand, they brought in and trained both Syrian and from outside mostly Shiite militias that fought on the side of the Syrian government.
But they also brought in some of their own forces as well. Most of them from the revolutionary guard Quds Force, which is the foreign operations wing of the revolutionary guard, an elite force, which very well versed in sort of -- low -- not low intensity but through guerrilla style warfare, they can bring on small troops.
They can move very quickly. They are very well-versed and they're also quite combat-hardened as well. So they have been building things up for a very long time. And of course, Natalie, they also work hand- in-hand with Hezbollah, which is an organization that Iran has supported for years, and Hezbollah was also key fighting on the side of Bashar Al-Assad.
And I think one of the things that we are seeing right now is that after what is essentially been, the defeat of ISIS in Syria, is that now it seems that the side that we're not really friendly with (Inaudible) the sides that were enemies of one another are now seeming to be going at it. And this conflict between Israel and Iran that's flaring up seems to one side of that, one good sign of that, Natalie.
ALLEN: Absolutely, not a good sign at all, more danger perhaps. Thank you, Fred Pleitgen for us live in Tehran.
VANIER: And Russia has been making its voice heard. It is among the country's urging diplomacy in this new confrontation.
ALLEN: And Moscow is a key player here, not only is Russia deeply involved in Syria, but the Russian President also has close relations with the leaders of both Iran and Israel. Here's some more from CNN's Matthew Chance in Moscow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Well, along with other countries, Russia has been expressing its concern and alarm at the escalation of hostilities between Israel and Iran. The Kremlin is urging restraints and is calling on both countries to use political and diplomatic means to resolve their standoff.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, an official there says that Moscow is in contact with all sides, underlining that Russia has uniquely good relations, both with Israel, whose the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was recently in Moscow attending Russia's annual victory date, military parade, and also with the Iran with which Russia is fighting alongside in Syria in support of Bashar Al-Assad, the Syrian President.
[02:09:52] Now Moscow has not confirmed that it is engaging in any kind of formal mediation, nor will it comment on whether it was consulted about the Israeli plans during the Prime Minister's visits. But the Kremlin certainly has strong interests in easing tensions currently in Syria. Russia has been committed to propping up President Assad for several years and has deployed vast military resources to do so and to impose the degree of Assad's control over large areas of the country.
That control, as well as Russian military assets in place in Syria. Its naval and airbases maybe threatened if the Israeli-Iranian standoff were to escalate and the conflict in Syria (Inaudible). Matthew Chance, CNN Moscow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Our CNN Military Analyst Rick Francona knows the region very well. Rick, does either side, Israel or Iran have an interest in escalating this conflict right now.
RICK FRANCONA, CNN, MILITARY ANALYST: No, not really. Both sides would prefer this went away. This is very strategically smart for the Iranians to ratchet up the problems in Syria rather than waiting for the Israelis to have to go to Iran. So if you can fight them in Syria that is better. Now that doesn't sit well with the Russians.
And if you look at what's going on in Syria, you look at with the Israelis on one side, the Iranians on the other, the Russians are in the middle of this. And when all of this is said and done, the Russians want to emerge as the key powerbrokers in the area. And if you got the Iranians and the Israelis going at it, that really upsets the balance that the Russians would like to strike there.
The Russians would like to have you know -- sort of a colonial relationship with the Syrians that they had years ago. And the Iranians are a rival to that. So the power struggle was going to be between Moscow and Tehran. And they want to keep the Israelis out of this.
VANIER: Israel says it's destroyed almost all of Iran's military capabilities in Syria. That's the claim. Is that claim believable, and if so, does that mean that Israel has essentially won this mini conflict with Iran in Syria.
FRANCONA: Well, they certainly have done a lot of damage it. I can't say they've actually destroyed everything but they hit almost all the targets that they were aware of. The Iranians have spent a lot of time putting infrastructure into Syria. They are using Syrian bases. They're using a lot of the Syrian facilities, and they also have a lot of Russians on those bases.
So everybody's mixed there. So for the Israelis to go after these targets, they have to be very, very precise, and it looks like they work. If you look at what targets were struck, there were almost exclusively Iranian facilities. The only Syrian targets that were struck were Syrian air defenses that engaged the Israelis.
And I believe, if you look at the timeline of what happened, Netanyahu was in Moscow two hours before this skirmish happened. I'm sure he told the Russians this is not about you, this is not about the Syrians, this is about the Iranians. The Russians set this out. So you know -- and Matthew is very, very correct in his assessment there, that the Russians are the ones that can talk to everybody.
VANIER: What's to stop Israel from destroying effectively Iran's military capabilities in Syria?
FRANCONA: Well, they don't want to ratchet up a war they don't need to fight. If they can keep the Iranians from continuing this escalation, then there's -- their problem is basically solved. But the problem for the Israelis is not just what's going on in Syria. They have to look what's going on to the West in Lebanon.
You know if we remember, Hezbollah was created by the Iranians after the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982. So they've been the primary sponsors and the suppliers in support of Hezbollah since then. And every year, we see more and more missiles and more lethal missiles being moved to Lebanon. So the Israelis are very concerned about another war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah did not go well for the Israelis. You know eventually they were able to achieve their objectives, but it was very, very difficult. Hezbollah has increased its capabilities several times greater. So another war would not be in Israel's interest. So they're very concerned about not letting this get out of control.
VANIER: But also they are sending a message and drawing a line in the sand of what they will and won't tolerate. CNN's Military Analyst Rick Francona, thank you very much for joining us today. Thank you.
FRANCONA: Sure thing, Cyril.
ALLEN: (Inaudible) North Korea now. We now know where and when the upcoming summit will be held between U.S. President Trump and the North Korean leader.
VANIER: And it is set for June 12th in Singapore. That was the favorite destination within the Trump Administration, and that includes the Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. ALLEN: Mr. Trump is hopeful an agreement can be reached and views of
the release of these three Americans from North Korea that you see here on Wednesday as an optimistic sign.
[02:14:58] VANIER: He spoke about the summit during his speech to supporters in Indiana.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: For all of us, to the world, hopefully something very good is going to happen, and they understand it's very important for them. It's important for everybody. So Japan, South Korea, China, everybody, I think it's going to be a very big success. But my attitude is and if it isn't, it isn't, OK. If it isn't, it isn't, but -- and you have to have that because don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Our Ivan Watson joins us now from Seoul with more about it. So the date, Ivan, and place are set. So talk about the lead up to this summit, and why was Singapore an important place for Mr. Pompeo, Mr. Trump.
IVAN WATSON, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Well, the date -- decision to choose Singapore had a lot to, according to a couple of officials that CNN has spoken to that were involved in this with the Trump Administration, it had to do largely with the fact that Singapore was seen as a convenient, mutual territory, that it has diplomatic relations with North Korea, which many countries don't have.
There is a North Korea embassy in that wealthy city state of Singapore. It is geographically somewhat close to North Korea, which may have limits in how far its aircraft can fly, carrying the North Korean leader, who, to the best of our knowledge has only flown out of North Korea once since he assumed the top job there six years ago.
And that was just at the beginning of this week to the Chinese port city of Galian. President Trump had floated the idea of holding the summit at the demilitarized zone, where the South Korean President Moon met with the North Korea leader just two weeks ago. But some of his top aides were lobbying hard for Singapore as an alternative to basically not do it in Kim Jong-Un's backyard.
It could have been seen as a bit of a compromise or interpreted as a sign of weakness. But the final location and date, it seems that it was not finalized until Mike Pompeo, the newly dubbed as Secretary of State, made his secret trip to Pyongyang this week and hashed out some of these details in a 90 minute face-to-face meeting with Kim Jong-Un.
ALLEN: And Ivan, is North Korea giving any kind of inkling as to what they are going to bring to the table, what they might want to walk away with from this summit.
WATSON: No, we don't really know. We do know what the goal of the Trump Administration is. And the language is "complete verifiable, irreversible denuclearization." Mike Pompeo has also floated the idea of trying to create a "historic big change in the security relationship between North Korea and the U.S."
North Korea recall, suddenly announced that it had achieved all of its nuclear goals. It had a nuclear arsenal. It had weapons that could carry nuclear warheads, it claimed, as far as North America. And now it was going to suddenly shift and focus on economic development. The big question there is are they willing to, after having invested untold treasure and time and risked international isolation, are they willing to simply bargain away their nuclear arsenal in the interest of a better relationship with the U.S.
President Trump reportedly has floated suggestions of trying to draw down some troops from the deployments here in South Korea, got something that North Korea has demanded in years past, in months past when Pyongyang and Washington were hurling insults at each other, as well as threats, Natalie.
ALLEN: Yes. Now they are making nice. That's a step forward, and just a little more than a month away to this summit. Thank you, Ivan Watson for us.
VANIER: President Trump is celebrating a huge win with the release of the Americans from North Korea. Just ahead, why critics say that he's pouring it on a little thick.
ALLEN: Also ahead, here are new details on what may have led to a deadly ambush of U.S. troops (Inaudible). We'll have the latest on the Pentagon investigation for you, as the CNN Newsroom pushes on.
[02:20:00] ALLEN: Welcome back. There is no question, the release of three Americans held prisoner by North Korea is a huge accomplishment for President Trump.
VANIER: And a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un could also end up yielding another breakthrough. We don't know yet. Yet, the President's critics are unnerved by his recent effusive praise of Kim Jong-Un. Brian Todd reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think you probably broke the all time in history television rating for three o'clock in the morning.
BRIAN TODD, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: A victory lap on the tarmac, standing next to three American detainees just released from North Korea. The President gushes over the dictator who imprisoned them.
TRUMP: I want to thank Kim Jong-Un. It really was excellent to these three incredible people.
TODD: The so-called excellent treatment of one detainee, Kim Dong Chul involved over two years in a North Korean labor camp. President Trump's critics are pouncing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He weakens American foreign policy and puts Americans at risk around the world. If our adversaries look at what the President has said, in reaction to Kim Jong-Un, why shouldn't they detain American citizens and get a huge pat on the back when they release them.
TODD: Analysts say the excellent comment must be especially stinging to the family of Otto Warmbier, the American student who fell into a coma in North Korean custody and died shortly after being released. Warmbier's family hasn't commented on the President's remark. Now, experts are also warning of the dangers of Trump flattering Kim too much ahead of their summit in June.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do worry that Donald Trump is heading into the summer with very high expectations of what Kim Jong-Un is going to deliver, because after some if it's not successful, you don't have a lot of places to go.
TODD: This also illustrates Trump's remarkable transformation on Kim Jong-Un over the past couple of years, from calling him short and fat other insults.
TRUMP: You have this maniac sitting there. Little rocket man, he is a sick puppy.
TODD: To his recent adulation of the North Korean leader.
TRUMP: The really has been very open and I think very honorable. He was nice in letting them go before the meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it is true that the President will take on whatever shape or color is necessary in order to claim a win for himself, and he did it in private life when he talked about his popularity, his ratings on TV, his building projects. But as President, we're seeing that he's willing to declare victory in almost any circumstance.
TODD: A risky proclivity, analysts say when the stakes are so high. Biographer Michael D' Antonio says Trump's desire for a win at all costs, and the pressures of the job have led him to some legitimate accomplishments as President. But D' Antonio says aides to Trump and Kim will have to sift through a tsunami of strange complements to get something done at the summit.
[02:25:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The negotiations between Kim and Trump will be a dance of narcissism. So you're going to see Kim trying to exploit the President's ego. And I would imagine that the President's going to do the same with Kim.
TODD: Experts are also worried what could happen if the summit doesn't go well, or later if a deal was reached and the North Koreans don't live up to it. Their concern that Trump's whipsaw emotional nature could lead him to get angry, to get back on the path of confrontation, and to consider a military strike, Brian Todd, CNN Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Now we now have a much better understanding of the circumstances that led to last year's deadly ambush of U.S. troops in Niger. The Pentagon says that there were multiple failures.
ALLEN: That is the finding of their month-long investigation. CNN's Barbara Starr has details on how a Special Forces-led team was overrun by ISIS-linked militants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA STARR, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. soldiers ambushed by ISIS were in trouble right from the beginning. The team decided to go after a top ISIS operative, but they didn't have permission to do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that the troops were who sadly killed in Niger in October 2017, were engaged in a mission that they were not authorized by law to participate in.
STARR: The military acknowledges the team was short on training, organized by commanders, did not have armored vehicles or the needed weapons that now commanders promised new teams will have access to. The Pentagon promised full disclosure, but it still hasn't released the full 6000 page report and it give reporters this highly edited digital recreation of how last October 4, this team wound up driving right into an ISIS ambush. They were outgunned three to one. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it was a dangerous area. Yes, they knew what
activities went on there. But they had never seen anything in this magnitude. It was a total tactile surprise.
STARR: The soldiers get out of their vehicles and start to return fire. But the ISIS fighters move around them rapidly on motorcycles and trucks, with mounted heavy machine guns. The Americans are separated on the battlefield, amid gunfire and confusion. There are extraordinary heroic efforts to save each other.
Staff Sergeants Dustin Wright, Jeremiah Johnson, and Brian Black are overtaken by enemy fire. Black is killed. Johnson and Wright try to stay with him, but gunfire forces them to retreat. Jeremiah Johnson is shot and can't move. Wright stops to try to help him. They are both killed. Meanwhile, Sergeant La David Johnson keeps fighting and runs over half a mile trying to get to a safe position. His body isn't found for 48 hours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He made his last stand where he fought to the end, under a (Inaudible) tree.
STARR: The entire mission poorly planned. Local rescue forces took four hours to arrive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The medivac (Inaudible) eventually withdrew the team, arrived approximately 5 and 43 minutes after the initial contact began.
STARR: The brother of the Dustin Wright grieving.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a brother, I miss him. He's just gone and it doesn't make a difference that (Inaudible). I know why he was there or I know what happened. I just miss him.
STARR: But the fundamental fact does not change. U.S. military personnel were sent on a deeply flawed mission, and once the ambush began, it was nearly six hours before medical help arrived. Barbara Starr, CNN the Pentagon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Up next on CNN Newsroom, Alt-right web domain is raising new questions about a company linked to Donald Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen and a major oligarch. We'll be connecting the dots.
ALLEN: Also ahead, President Trump is wrapping up a week with major foreign policy developments. We'll talk with his supporters about that, ahead here.
[02:31:36] ALLEN: Thanks for staying with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.
VANIER: And I'm Cyril Vanier. Let's take a look at your top stories this hour. Israel says, it struck almost all of Iran's military assets inside Syria after a missile attack targeted Israeli forces in the Golan Heights. The Israeli military blames Iranian troops in Syria for that attack. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whoever heads this will get hit seven times of.
ALLEN: And a historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong-un is to take place now June 12 in Singapore. Mr. Trump said he's hopeful an agreement can be reached and view the release of three Americans in North Korea as a part this time.
VANIER: The U.S. says a series of failures and deficiencies contributed to last year's deadly ambush of U.S. troops in Niger. An investigation reveal the mission that led to the deaths of four U.S. soldiers wasn't approved as a proper level and the special forces-led team haven't conducted few training.
ALLEN: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has just joined a chorus of Republican voices publicly calling for the end of the Russia investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The interest of the country, I think it's time to wrap it up and I would very respectfully encourage the special counsel and his team to bring their work to completion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: The comments from Pence are his most direct yet on the Russia probe. President Trump has repeatedly called Mueller's investigation a hoax and a witch-hunt.
ALLEN: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham defended the Mueller probe saying when should wrap it up is not Mike Pence's decision to make. And there are new questions surrounding a company with links a major Russian oligarch that paid Donald Trump's personal lawyer a half million dollars.
VANIER: And a Columbus Nova also registered alt-right domain names in the United States. Senior Investigative Correspondent for CNN's Drew Griffin brings us this story.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The investment company Columbus Nova has been on the defense since admitting it paid Michael Cohen a half million dollars. CNN has learned the company has been trying to distance itself from its Russian ties for months. In SEC filings from 2007, Columbus Nova is described as the U.S.-based affiliate of the Renova Group. That is a Russian company owned by Oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Vekselberg was just sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for alleged Russian election meddling and other hostile acts.
The webpage which describe Columbus Nova's CEO as a former director and current member of the executive board of Renova Group has now been changed removing all references to the Russian firm. A page on Renova's Web site once listed Columbus Nova as part of its group structure as recently as November of last year. That too is gone. Now CNN has found three Web site domain names using the word Renova registered to Columbus Nova and still active today.
STEVEN HALL, CNN U.S. SECURITY ANALYST: The fact that there -- that this American company is indeed connected to a Russian company owned by a significant oligarch Vekselberg's particular case is really -- is really the important thing and I think probably why Mueller's team was very interested in Mr. Vekselberg.
GRIFFIN: Columbus Nova released a statement saying it has been and continues to be 100 percent owned by Americans.
[02:35:02] And has never been owned by Viktor Vekselberg or the Renova Group but it is hard to arrays family ties. Columbus Nova CEO is Vekselberg's cousin Andrew Intrater. Viktor Vekselberg's other cousin Frederick Intrater also works at Columbus Nova and is the one who registered dozens of Web site domain names to the company.
MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: They need to be able to explain what their relationship is but it certainly looks like they are closely tied together not only by the fact that this is -- there's a family connection here but there's also a long-standing business connection.
GRIFFIN: In all, there were nearly a hundred domain names registered by Frederick Intrater on behalf of Columbus Nova including a -- with some variation of the words All-Right. They were domain names made within two days of a speech by Hillary Clinton.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not conservatism as we have known it. This is not Republicanism as we have known it. These are racist ideas, race baiting ideas, anti- Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-women, all key (INAUDIBLE) making up the emerging racist ideology known as the Alt-Right.
GRIFFIN: Late today, Frederick Intrater released a statement saying he bought the domain names with the aim of eventually selling them for profit and the only connection to Columbus Nova is that I work there. I never told my brother or anyone else at Columbus Nova that I had done this.
GRIFFIN: Those domain names in fact were never used to build any Alt- Right Web sites, they did expire but it's just another curious episodes surrounding this company with ties to a Russian oligarch and a half million dollar contract with Michael Cohen. Drew Griffin, CNN Atlanta.
VANIER: The Trump administration is firing back against claims that President's lawyer, Michael Cohen has been selling access to the American leader. Another presidential attorney Rudy Giuliani says that Mr. Trump was not aware that Cohen was profiting from his connections with the President.
ALLEN: And the White House spokesman says it doesn't matter anyway because the President makes up his own mind about policy matters. CNN's Tom Foreman has more on the allegations against Cohen.
MICHAEL COHEN, AMERICAN ATTORNEY: We look forward to getting all the information that the --
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michael Cohen presents himself as an open book with nothing but well-known and legitimate ties to Russia. Recent reports however are suggesting a more nuance story of Donald Trump's trusted attorney.
SETH HETTENA, AUTHOR, TRUMP/RUSSIA: A DEFINITIVE HISTORY: He has been tied with Russian and Ukrainians for years.
FOREMAN: Seth Hettena wrote this Rolling Story on Cohen's Russian ties saying Cohen's uncle Morton Levine owned a New York Club infamous as a Russian mob hangout. And Cohen had a share on the place too before the election. Cohen also ran a fleet of New York taxis with the Ukrainian-born partner. When Trump tower went up, there was Cohen urging the family of his Ukrainian-born wife to buy condos. In a five-year period, he and people connected to him would purchase Trump properties worth $17.3 million, Rolling Stone says. Money push Trump's way by the scrappy graduate from Cooley Law School in Michigan.
HETTENA: Trump didn't hire him because he went to Harvard Law School and he clerked for a Supreme Court Justice. Trump hired him I think because he has these kinds of connections. And to Trump those are seen as valuable and beneficial.
FOREMAN: Once he was in with Trump, Cohen proudly proclaimed his loyalty.
COHEN: If there is an issue that relates to Mr. Trump that is of concern to him, it's of course concern to me. And I will use my legal skills within which to protect Mr. Trump to the best of my ability.
FOREMAN: But Cohen's connection continue to raise curiosity. Just after Trump took office, Cohen passed on a proposed peace plan for Ukraine favorable to Russian interest. There are new reports of money flowing in Cohen's accounts from a company with ties to Russia. And back in 2015, a Russian-born American real estate mogul e-mailed Cohen about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow saying, I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected. The deal never happened and today.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But you didn't know anybody close to Putin or connected to Putin who is telling you they wanted to help Trump become President of the United States.
COHEN: No, I did not.
FOREMAN: Cohen denies doing anything wrong in all of this. Nothing has been proven against him, the special counsel has already looked at many of these connections and indeed there is nothing inherently improper about knowing or dealing with Russians. Still the entirety of Cohen's contacts is undoubtedly part of what drew the attention of investigators to begin with. And they're not done looking yet. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
ALLEN: Well, despite some of the apparent chaos surrounding Mr. Trump in our circle, his voters, many of them continue to support him.
VANIER: What are they thinking now after this week's foreign policy moves?
[02:40:03] Martin Savidge visits Trump's country to find out.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Armstrong County, Pennsylvania and I was driving Northeast of Pittsburg along the banks of the Allegheny River. Here the hills are green and the politics red.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans --
SAVIDGE: President Trump is now talking foreign policy may trouble some diplomats but not his base. Did you vote for Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I did.
SAVIDGE: How are you feeling>
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great, great. I finally got somebody with some balls.
SAVIDGE: I'm at Bench Racers Gas Station in Pennsylvania's Route 66 talking to trekker Ron Farster who believes for too long enemies, even allies have taken America for granted.
RON FARSTER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Everybody has taken advantage of United States. We've always been too easy in games and what they wanted.
SAVIDGE: It should be up to be quite a week in Trump's world withdrawing from a nuclear deal with Iran welcoming home three Americans detained by North Korea. Then announcing the time and place of a historic summit with North Korea's leader. And Monday, going forward with his controversial (INAUDIBLE) over the U.S. Embassy and Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
DAN WAGNER, TRUMP VOTER: It's not rock at times --
SAVIDGE: Dan Wagner loves all of it. Retired from the Air Force. He says as presidents Trump has become his new foreign policy favorite. WAGNER: Reagan used to be, his -- what he did, he told Gorbachev tear down this wall, Trump's more, you down, I'm going to smack you. And that's what the world needs.
SAVIDGE: Trump got 74 percent of the vote in Armstrong County and voters we talk to say when it comes America's international dealings, forget diplomacy. It's all about respect. Brian Klingensmith says the U.S. has been too soft for too long and he's not bothered one bit America is out of the Iran Nuclear Deal.
BRIAN KLINGENSMITH, TRUMP VOTER: There were some bad deals made and, you know, you can't trust all these regimes that are out there and, you know, I think he is doing what he thinks is right.
SAVIDGE: That is not what most American believe. According to a recent CNN poll, 63 percent of those ask if the United States should not give up on the Iran Nuclear Deal. Calvin Lane voted for Trump and now regrets it worrying that Trump has become too unpredictable. So you voted for the man but you're thinking now maybe you shouldn't?
CALVIN LANE, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Yes. That's what I'm thinking. A little too reckless to be in-charge to everything.
SAVIDGE: Dawn Piper has no regrets. She likes what Trump is doing. At a restaurant in Kittanning, she tells me unpredictability can be a positive since it keeps opponents guessing.
DAWN PIPER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: And I think that it is a good thing to not know, you know, because sometimes the best defense is not knowing what the offense is.
SAVIDGE: Back at the gas station when I asked co-owner Chris Tolliver if he ever worries Trump's words could go too far and maybe lead to war.
CHRIS TOLLIVER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Yes. That does worry me a little bit for the war part of this because he does come across a little harsh sometimes but like I said, he says what everyone else was probably thinking, you know.
SAVIDGE: The reason Trump voters don't have a problem with how Trump sees the world is because of them see it the very same way.
SAVIDGE: At the end of this interviews, I always ask one last question which is, would they vote for President Trump again? And lately I've been noticing a trend, the answer is still yes but some do qualify it by saying, it might depend on who's running against him. Martin Savidge, CNN, Kittanning, Pennsylvania.
ALLEN: Martin, thank for you that. Well, President is furious as you know that undocumented immigrants keep crossing the border into the U.S. and he took his anger out on his home plan security secretary but she now says she shares his frustration. The President lashed out at Kirstjen Nielsen during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday and the source tell CNN it turned into a long-heated argument.
VANIER: The New York Times reported that Nielsen even drafted a resignation letter though the Department of Homeland Security actually denies that. So, in this statement after that story came out, Nielsen wrote this. The President is rightly frustrated that existing loopholes and the lack of Congressional action have prevented this administration from fully securing the border and protecting the American people. It is my great honor to represent the men and women at DHS who work every day to enforce of laws and secure our nation.
ALLEN: Still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM. Tragic scenes in Kenya after a dam burst after weeks of heavy rain. We'll have the latest on the search and rescue efforts.
[02:47:00] ALLEN: A disaster in Kenya, at least 44 people were killed when a dam collapsed. Dozens are still missing.
VANIER: The areas been hit with weeks of heavy rain and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. For more on this disaster, here's CNN's Farai Sevenzo.
FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A search and rescue operation is underway in Kenya, after a dam burst killing dozens and sweeping away homes. It happened in the farming town of Solai, located in the country's Rift Valley. About 150 kilometers northwest of the capital, Nairobi. The Patel dam gave way late on Wednesday, just as residents were sitting down for their evening meals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIPSANG KIPLANG, RESIDENT, KENYA (through translator): I found people running away and thought they were running after a thug. A few minutes later, I stopped my motorbike, then, heard a huge sound coming from the mountains, and thought they were explosions or someone firing a gun. Little did I know, it was the sound of buildings which were being destroyed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEVENZO: The dam wasn't strong enough to hold rushing water caused by weeks of torrential rain and flooding. Kenyan authorities and humanitarian organizations have airlifted many residents to safety and provided aid to isolated communities.
Heavy rainfall and floods have hit East Africa hard in recent months. The Red Cross estimates up to 500 families have been displaced in this disaster, while at least 200 people have died and nearly 260,000 have lost their homes in Kenya just this month due to the heavy rain and landslides.
Forecasters say the flooding could continue to get worse as the Rift Valley and Lake Victoria Basin are set to receive more rainfall over the next few weeks. Farai Sevenzo, CNN. VANIER: At Hawaii's volcano troubles are getting worse. Kilauea has been oozing lava and toxic gas. The problem, those pollutants could now mix with moisture and dust in the air to create volcanic smog and ultimately, acid rain.
ALLEN: A geologist are now also warning steam explosions could send boulders, rocks, and ash flying in the air. And we're talking about anything from pebbles to boulders weighing several tons, and our Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera, following more fall out from Kilauea.
[02:49:20] IVAN CABRERA, CNN INTERNATIONAL WEATHER ANCHOR: Yes, it's amazing. Every time we're come in right, there's a new threat from this volcano. But to now, we're talking not about the fissures so much, right? We talk about a few days ago. But now, it's the potential explosive eruption, I'll talk about why, I think, that may happen as we head into the next just several days.
So, get this thing, you might give as the youngest volcano across the archipelago is the busiest here. And that we've been talking about multiple threats. Let's just reset, and let you know what's happening currently and what will additionally, potentially happen here.
So, the lava activity along those cracks, along those fissures, well, that remains pause right now. But geologists say that additional breaks or fissures could actually come back along Leilani Estates, right that area that was impact across the eastern part of the Big Island there.
We continue to see despite the pause in lava activity, sulfur dioxide, that steam that comes up with those nasty chemicals that folks should not be inhaling, we'll that's still ongoing. And then, this last threat, that is what we're watching for. An explosive -- an explosive erosion, why? Well, specifically, take a look at this.
This is the time lapse. I think this basically, tells you the story. 23 April, this is the lake of lava. Watch what happens in just a few days to the level of the lake. May 5th, it continues to drop, a day later that is dramatic stuff here as it continues to go down. And you initially look at this and think, this is good thing, right? The lava is going ay from the surface, everything is going to be just fine.
The problem I guess where that is headed? That is headed towards the water table, and you know what can happen when you are frying something on your stove, and you're throwing some water, and the heat is where -- and you create an incredible amount of steam. Think about that in this scale, right?
So, this is our magma here which is basically lava that's underground. All those rocks there along the crater continue to collapse as you saw there on the lake, the magma is now going down. Those rocks as we speak are being super-heated. And when they reach the water, my goodness that is going to release just incredible amounts of pressure and steam. And where is that going to go? Well, it can't go down, it's kind of going go up, and it will come up as quite an eruption. And it could bring up, as we mentioned, not just pieces of rock, yet not too but the size of boulders we're talking, and that could be impacting a good deal of the area here over the next few days.
Oh, and end there's this, I had to break out the P.H. scale. You know, thanks for going on when we have to do this. Basically, seven is neutral, right? We're talking about battery acid coming out from the clouds. But if we get any kind of rainfall because now there's sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere, those aerosols come down in the form of acid rain, and that I'm not too concerned about hitting your skin because -- you know, lemon juice is about the equivalent and that wouldn't be an issue.
But if you get that kind of water mixing in with the ecosystem there, now you are involving trees, animals, plants, all this thing, and that is not going to be good. It's kind of like when marine water with hurricanes approaches the coast and then, hits the marshlands and just destroys them. That's another thing we're going to be watching here. So, multifaceted, multi-threaded event from one volcano.
ALLEN: Keep going on.
ALLEN: Ivan, thanks.
VANIER: The 104 year old Australian scientist and pro-euthanasia campaign, Dr. David Goodall, has ended his life in Switzerland. Goodall raised $20,000 in donations just upon the journey from his home in Perth, Australia where euthanasia is illegal, to Basel, Switzerland where the procedure is allowed. The grandfather of 12 told CNN earlier this week, why he made the controversial choice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GOODALL, AUSTRALIAN SCIENTIST: I get up in the morning, I find a bit of breakfast. And then, well, generally speaking, I just sit. What's the use of that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: A representative of the Swiss clinic where he died says Dr. Goodall passed away while listening to Beethoven's Ode to Joy. Often considered an anthem of freedom.
[02:54:59] ALLEN: All right, here the one for you, a father and son have been busted and publicly shamed for a scam that involved fake space suits.
VANIER: The alleged rumors featured magnetic rice and some very real money, though. Here's CNN's Michael Holmes, with some cosmic justice.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A crime that's out of this world. A father-son duo dressed in space suit paraded Thursday through a police station in India's capital. After they were arrested for allegedly conning a businessman out of more than $200,000. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
BHISHAM SINGH, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, NEW DELHI POLICE (through translator): The con man told the businessman that there's this metal called rice puller which attracts grains towards it and that NASA pays millions for such a metal.
HOLMES: A rice puller is a made up object which the pair claim was a piece of compass struck by a thunderbolt, yes, a thunderbolt. Giving it the power to attract rice. Delhi police, say the con men coated a copper plate with a liquid magnet and inserted magnetic wire in pieces of rice, having fake scientist pretend to perform experiments --
SINGH: They charged fees for testing which required a space suit, chemicals, and a scientist.
HOLMES: And charging $18,000 for the space suit's each use. Delhi police say the duo has made a living selling fake objects like rice pullers, magic mirrors, and dual headed snakes. The investigation is ongoing by the Delhi police with additional arrests still on the way. Michael Holmes, CNN.
ALLEN: I got nothing after that story.
VANIER: Well, I got something. Maybe if you're sold a rice magnet, don't fall for it. All right, you've seen him before. He's an old- school cinema hero, and he's coming back to a screen near you. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAN SOLO: I'm a driver and I'm a flyer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Recognize him? That would be Han Solo. So the Millennium Falcon landed in Hollywood just in time for this much-anticipated world premiere. The movie is called Solo: A Star Wars Story, and it brings you the tale of smuggler Solo, before the Star Wars movies.
ALLEN: (INAUDIBLE) cited a stars and fans gather in L.A. The latest Star Wars spin-off goes on wide release in two weeks. That means, Avengers: Infinity War, has a shot, it staying number one at the box office for the third weekend in a row.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THANOS: In time, you will know what it's like to lose. To feel so desperate that you're right, yet to fail all the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: The Disney and Marvel studio's blockbuster has already pulled in more than a billion dollars and expects to have a massive opening in China.
VANIER: Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. We'll back right after this with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM.