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Anticipation Grows One Day From Royal Wedding; Final Preparations Underway For Royal Matrimony; White House Is Moving Forward With Summit Plans; Giuliani: Doesn't Matter If Dirt Came From Russians; Race and Royalty; Markle's Mother to Visit Queen Elizabeth; One Woman's Quest to Halt Sudanese Woman's Execution; Kilauea Volcano Erupts; Prince Harry and Meghan Prenuptial Road Show. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired May 18, 2018 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:12] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everybody, I'm John Vause live in Los Angeles.
Ahead this hour, deal or no deal, Donald Trump's advice to Kim Jong- un, reach an agreement on nuclear disarmament and you'll be happy, and you're country rich. If you don't, potentially face total decimation.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: And, I'm Isha Sesay live in Windsor, England, where anticipation is high for the royal wedding. After a week of drama, we are now just one day from Harry and Meghan saying their I do's.
Well, it is 6 a.m. here in historic Windsor, England, the epicenter of royal wedding fever. It's also pretty Baltic (ph), let's be honest. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have just one more day of the singles life before they exchange their vows and then greet their excited fans in a procession around town.
But, the joyful day will come with a bit of sadness for the bride.
On Thursday, Meghan Markle cleared up some rumors about her father saying this, "Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding. I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health."
(inaudible), Thomas Markle, has told media outlets that he's recovering from heart surgery and he's been in the British tabloids for whether he staged some paparazzi style photos.
Well, the Royal Family is looking ahead and it's going to be a very busy day for them.
CNN's Anna Stewart joins me now from Windsor Castle for lots more. Anna, good to see you. A busy day for the Royal's, fill us in, what's happening?
ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now I'm in the grounds of Windsor Castle, itself, Isha, I just hope I don't wake up the Queen with (inaudible), but today lots more preparations. Yesterday, we had the big rehearsal through town, the military procession with all those incredible soldiers and the marching band, and the carriage.
Today, what we are expecting is Meghan Markle's mother, Doria Ragland to arrive to the castle to meet the Queen, we don't know what time that will be happening. Of course, Prince Harry will be with her, as well.
Yesterday, Doria Ragland got to meet Prince Charles, his wife the Duchess of Cornwall, as well as Prince William, Kate and all the little children. So, I'm sure she had a nice time, it was a tea, so let's hope she had some scones and cucumber sandwiches.
SESAY: Look at you, worrying about the food at this hour.
What do we know about the happy couple? What are their movements as we countdown to their big moment?
STEWART: Well, you know, it's all quiet on that front, Isha. I'd love to know what they're up to today. I guess the rehearsals were done maybe yesterday. So, perhaps it's just last minute prep.
You know, if I were Meghan I'd be getting on some fake tan.
And, you know, doing all that sort of stuff, but you know, I'm sure she has people to help her with that, right?
SESAY: Yes, you can only dream, Anna.
Aside from the couple, we know what the large Royal family are doing, what's happening around town? I mean, give me a sense of the mood out there in Windsor.
And, just really with the hours to go, the anticipation building, we're expecting something like 100,000 people flooding this small area. STEWART: 100,000 people and this town is small, as you've seen, it's
not like London - - this is a much smaller place to have a Royal wedding and the fans are incredibly excited. There are many who've been camping out in this Baltic temperature, as you said - - there for three nights now, they've got one more night to go and they've got all bags in best spots, so many people are already set up.
However, Isha, it wouldn't be Britain, right, without a little bit of moaning. Have a listen to some of Windsor's lovable locals who just have a bit to complain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Where are they going to the toilet?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It's costing the nation, I should say, an awful lot of money, isn't it?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Well, it was the Queens' birthday - - was it, a few years ago, had some guy in a dress with a beard, who tried to get into the party. You will get the extremists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: I really love the concern about the toilet. I need to go track down that man, because I have found some temporary facilities all set up here, so he needn't worry.
SESAY: You're right, it just wouldn't be the U.K. without a little bit of moaning.
We are also - - as we talk about the locals looking forward to the day, of course, the celebs are going to be jetting into to town, as well. (inaudible) this is going to be a curious mix, because of course we'll have high society and we'll have the Royal's.
But, there is this big contingent coming from the U.S., all these kind of Hollywood types, it's going to be quite a curious feel to this wedding.
STEWART: I really does and it makes it very different from the last Royal wedding, actually, because we will have much more of a celebrity vibe. Some of Meghan Markle's friends are pretty famous, like Serena Williams, Misha Nonoo, so they'll be coming into town.
And, it will be interesting to see how the Americans dress, because obviously British weddings are very highly traditional events, men in morning suits, women in hats. I'm sure the Americans have had lots of fantastic advice from all the stylists over there, as to what to wear, but I cannot wait to see as they all make their arrivals tomorrow.
[01:05:10] Just one day to go, Isha, I'm so excited. SESAY: It is very, very exciting, but for the love of God I wish you'd put a coat on, it's freezing out there.
It's great to see you and we'll see you in the hours ahead.
Many thanks. Many, many thanks, Anna.
Alright. Let's bring in Sophia Money-Coutts, she comments for the Sunday Telegraph and a former director of features for Talent magazine.
SOPHIA MONEY-COUTTS, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: No problem.
SESAY: Thank you. Good morning.
As I said, this is going to be quite a unique wedding in this melding of high society and you know the kind of more box stand of celebrities coming in from across the pond.
SESAY: Give me your sense of what we're going to see.
MONEY-COUTTS: I think it's going to be fascinating everyone arriving there tomorrow and we're going to have, yes, as you said, the British aristocracy - - we're going to have the Beckham's rolling out. We're going to have various cast members of Suit's. So yes, it's going to be sort of fascinating mix.
But, I think everyone's been told - - or certain guests have been told to arrive and be in their seats from about 9:30, I think.
SESAY: Oh, wow.
MONEY-COUTTS: There's some who have been told to be in place very, very, very early. So, yes, fairly early on the day we're going to see all these interesting people start walking up.
SESAY: I mean, the in essecance (ph) of these things is fairly well established. I mean, the question is how well those from the U.S., how well they blend? Whether it will matter as much in this wedding?
MONEY-COUTTS: I think the Palace tend to - - or they will issue guidelines, they will be looking after everyone pretty carefully. Yes, there'll be the ceremony and you know, lots of hymns and things for everyone to get through.
SESAY: No selfies.
MONEY-COUTTS: No selfies. No, I think - - and certainly later, phones are having to be handed in, I think. So, yes, hopefully no selfies, certainly no selfie sticks. (LAUGHTER)
That will be very much forbidden. But, yes, like I said the palace will have - - you know, they've done Royal weddings before, not one necessarily quite like this, but they've done many Royal weddings before and they will be careful looking out for everyone.
In terms of Meghan and the dress, what are you thinking? What are you thinking? What are you hearing?
MONEY-COUTTS: We have heard that it's going to be Ralph & Russo.
MONEY-COUTTS: That's been the biggest rumor for a while now, at least a couple of weeks, British bookies have the shortest odds on Ralph & Russo, an Australian born couple, but they're based here. And, they're the ones who designed the dress that Meghan wore for the engagement shots, the 56,000 pound couture dress, which raised some eyebrows that she wore such a sort of expensive frock for that.
But, that is what people are expecting for at least one of the dresses tomorrow. It may be that she has a very different one for the ceremony and then has something else for the evening, we don't know yet.
SESAY: And, to the issue of price - - you said it was 56,000 pounds for the engagement dress, $75,000 I think it worked out at. If she does go that way for the actual you know, bridal gown, how will that go over generally speaking with the British public?
MONEY-COUTTS: Yes, it would not be very popular, but I don't think we'll know the actual - - people will speculate, obviously, I'm pretty sure people speculated about the Alexander McQueen dress that Kate wore.
It's very difficult to put a figure on it. The designer has made a couture dress for a Royal bride, how do you put a price on that? So, no, we absolutely will not be given the official figure. People will speculate, so we'll just have to sort of wait and see, and there'll be grumbling, obviously, but . . .
SESAY: In terms of the day itself and how it unfolds, of course, there'll be the service and then talk to me about the festivities, and what's planned.
MONEY-COUTTS: Yes. There's going to be the service tomorrow and then the evening party is the - - sort of the most private thing that's happening.
That is for their 200 closest family and friends. I understand that the invitations have come from Has and Meg (ph) for that.
So, it's going to be obviously much less formal, they can sort of let their hair down a bit more, there won't be cameras prying. So, that will be the sort of party that would go on - - I would imagine, knowing Harry, late into the night.
SESAY: And, I heard the canapes are going to be quite substantial, because I read somewhere - - because Harry says his friends have a big appetite and they like to drink. So, you know, there's going to be all of that.
Before I let you go, in terms of the walking down the aisle, what are you picking up on - - on - - on that front?
Of course, there's a lot of interest in seeing whether Meghan Markle's mother will actually be the one that accompanies her.
MONEY-COUTTS: Wouldn't that be amazing to see Doria going down the aisle with her? I just think that would be phenomenal.
Again, we don't absolutely know. There's been some extraordinary (inaudible) and some odds from the bookies yesterday, technical term is 100 to 1, I'm pretty sure we won't see (inaudible)
So, yes, hopefully Doria, I think that would be sort of spectacular, but we don't know yet. So, we'll see. I mean, Prince Charles, maybe, but I'm hoping Doria.
SESAY: I'm kind of hoping like the whole cast of 'Suits' accompany her down the aisle.
That's what I'm going for, they could dance down and become a viral video. This is why I'm not being invited.
[01:10] Sophia, we appreciate it, thank you so much. Thank you.
Alright. Well, let's head back to my colleague, John Vause, in Los Angeles, for some other news. We know he will not be walking Meghan Markle down the aisle.
VAUSE: You can always hang out outside the bars and maybe meet some guys there. Just saying.
Okay, next here on Newsroom L.A., the ghost of Gaddafi looming over next month's U.S.-North Korea summit.
As President Trump warns Kim Jong-un could face the same fate as Gaddafi if there's no agreement on the summit.
Also ahead, an early morning display of explosive power from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano raising concerns of even worse to come.
VAUSE: U.S. President Donald Trump says preparations are still moving ahead for next month's summit with North Korea, but he also says the meeting may or may not happen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Earlier this week, the North Koreans warned they would not show if the U.S. was expecting total nuclear disarmament as a precondition, the so-called "Libya model". The U.S. President offered first reassurance that was not the plan, but then, it was followed with a warning.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: The model, if you look at that model with Kaddafi, that was a total decimation, we went in there to beat them. Now, that model would take place if we don't make a deal most likely, but if we make a deal I think Kim Jong-un is going to be very, very happy. I really believe he's going to be very happy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: CNN's Paula Hancocks is in the South Korean capital of Seoul, she joins us now live with the very latest.
Paula, even though the president was confusing the 2011 overthrow of Kaddafi with the 2003 disarmament of Libya, what was fairly clear was that threat. You know, that regime change is likely if they don't make this deal.
How will the North Koreans respond to that threat? Especially the hardliners, you know, within the regime who may be arguing that the North Koreans need to keep their nuclear arsenal.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we've heard pretty clearly from the North Koreans through the vice minister of the Foreign Ministry, that if they are looking for this unilateral nuclear disarmament - - nuclear abandonment they called it, then there's really no point in talking.
So, they've made that abundantly clear. This is something we were expecting to be a sticking point during the summit. It's obviously happened a lot earlier than most experts expected. [01:15] But, from North Korea's point of view they won't be - - I shouldn't imagine, they won't be feeling better because Mr. Trump has said that the Libya model is not going to be used. As far as they're concerned, it doesn't matter whether he's referring to the 2004 Libyan model, or he's referring to the overthrow of Kaddafi, they see them as one in the same.
Because they've said in KCNA articles in the past, they don't want to be another Libya and they are talking about the fact that they don't want Kim Jong-un to be overthrown. They say they don't want to be an Iraq model, as well, and have used these - - both of these occasions and examples as reasons why they have to remain a nuclear power.
So, really we're getting much more clear view of how the North Koreans see this issue of talking about denuclearization now and it's certainly not the same as Washington thinks.
VAUSE: Yes. It's certainly shifting, very quickly and it'll be interesting to see what the final parameters of that summit will be, if and when it happens.
Paula, thank you.
Paula Hancocks, live for us in Seoul.
Well, for more now, we're joined by political commentator and radio host Mo Kelly, also Joe Messina, a conservative commentator, who's also a radio host.
Okay. Well, there are some questions about how prepared the U.S. President is heading into this summit. It seems the North Koreans are learning as much as they can about Donald Trump.
Here's the former chief British negotiator Jonathan Powell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN POWELL, FORMER DOWNING STREET CHIEF OF STAFF: When I was there in December, they were reading "Art of the Deal' and wanted to discuss the book and what it showed about the president. When I went back at the beginning of this year, they were reading "Fire and Fury" all on PDS (ph), not buying the book itself, and trying to discuss what that told them about Trump, too.
So, they're planning this very carefully since last November-December, they've had a clear strategy and so far it's all about reaction on the side of the West.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Mo, the North Koreans have a plan. I'm not entirely sure you can say the same thing right now about the U.S.
MO KELLY, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the U.S. has a plan, I think they've overstated and not managed expectations well, because if the goal is complete denuclearization you're not leaving yourself anywhere to go. The deal is you're going to get something, but may not get everything.
And, if the U.S. goes in thinking they're going get everything regardless of what they're offer in return, then it's not likely they're going to have a deal. Kim Jong-un is probably going to want troop movements, he's probably going to want these military exercises to stop, fewer troops in South Korea and Japan, and I'm not so sur the U.S. is going to be opened to that.
VAUSE: And, Joe, I guess if the president is prepared to accept less than everything he may walk away with something which is valuable, if wants all of it he could leave with nothing.
JOE MESSINA, POLITICAL RADIO HOST: I don't think it's his MO if you look at what he does and I wish more people would read "The Art of The Deal" here, you know, and the bottom line is he's never gotten everything he wanted. I don't think he goes in looking to get everything he wants, but he goes in with a very strong ask, if you would, and he's willing to back down a bit.
VAUSE: I just wonder, is there much value in "Art of the Deal" given that Trump didn't actual write it? And, "Fire and Fury", the questions about the credibility and the accuracy of at least part of the book.
MESSINA: I read the Bible, I didn't write it. I mean, there's good stuff in there, there are good things in "The Art of the Deal", there are processes that he follows in that book. So, seriously . . .
KELLY: We have a comparison point here. As he's pulling out of the Iran deal, we can directly compare that in terms of what level of access that we would get in North Korea vis-a-vis Iran.
We could look at how much money that we would have given to Iran, which was their money, as opposed to putting into North Korea, which is our money. We could make a direct comparison.
VAUSE: It's interesting because the Americans are saying it would be private investment and (inaudible), you know, the North Koreans aren't too keen on that. So I guess, again, "Art of the Deal" . . .
MESSINA: Look, we were investing all kinds of money in the Middle East with countries that hate us, I can't see why we wouldn't invest some money in North Korea, because to give them some stability, they might turn around.
VAUSE: No regime change in North Korea has been a policy for previous administrations, but on Thursday the president took it to a whole new level. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We're willing to do a lot and he's willing to, I think, do a lot also, and I think we'll actually have a good relationship, assuming we have the meeting and assuming something comes of it, and he'll get protections that will be very strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Mo, you sort of eluded to this - - is the promise of hyping this sort of overpromising what could actually be delivered?
KELLY: Yes, he always speaks in very hyperbolic rhetoric as opposed to nuance rhetoric, and I'm more accustomed and more appreciative of nuance rhetoric when you're talking about a nuclear summit with a hostile entity.
We don't have diplomatic relations with Kim Jong-un and to be so presumptuous as far as what he wants, what he likes, in such a public forum. It makes him more likely to just pull back all together.
VAUSE: Under promise and over deliver?
MESSINA: I think we're presuming the same old, same old works. It hasn't worked in North Korea for years - - decades and I think the president has done things that are unconventional, non-presidential as some would say . . .
[01:20:10] KELLY: This is not Kim Jong-Il, this is Kim Jong-un.
MESSINA: No, but my point is even with this guy - - even going in and - - and - - and dealing with him, what brought him to the table to begin with? Do you think he just decided - - Kim got up one morning and said, 'Hey, maybe this is a good day to try to get along with America'. It's not what happened.
I'm sure he sat in his office one day and said, 'He may just push the button. He may just wipe me out. I need to talk to this guy'.
KELLY: Or, this is the guy who I can mentally manipulate.
MESSINA: Okay. Right. That's going to work out well.
KELLY: Well, given his behavior on Twitter, yes, he is rash and he is given to impatience, and utterances and outbursts.
MESSINA: And Kim is sitting there going, yes and he might just turn me into the next great lake of North Korea.
It was a special day, we shall move on now to the U.S. Special Counsel in the Russia investigation now being in office for a year, which meant some serious Twitter time for the president.
"Congratulations America, we're now into the second year of the greatest witch hunt in American history and there is still no collusion, and no obstruction." VAUSE: Here's how the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, explained that Tweet during the daily briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This morning the president marked the one year anniversary of the Mueller investigation saying it's disgusting, illegal, unwarranted and a witch hunt, but his own FBI director yesterday said it's not a witch hunt.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They've found no evidence of collusion and still strongly believe that it's a witch hunt. I'm not sure how we could be any more clear, and certainly not sure how the president could be any more clear about his beliefs and his opinion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Mo, yes the president has made it very obvious his feelings and his opinions, that doesn't actually make them right.
KELLY: You know, we're clear on how he feels, but there's also a very declarative of nature where he wants to tell us what the summation is, how this is going to end. And, if any of that were true, then he wouldn't have to tell us, he would just be able to write it out.
Be it another month, even another year, because if you're not actually guilty of anything and there's no evidence - - any indication of your wrong-doing, then act accordingly.
VAUSE: And, with that in mind, it does seem more likely the president will agree to that interview with the special counsel's office. We have this report from Politico, that lawyers are planning a series of prep sessions.
"The planning meetings - - to be held during off-hours at the White House and perhaps over rounds of golf at Trump's private courses. Rudy Giuliani said we'll mirror the then-GOP nominee's 2016 debate preparation in which aides briefed an impatient Trump in several brief sessions over many weeks. Giuliani said the briefings likely will begin after Trump returns from a June 12 summit in Singapore with North Korean Kim Jong-un, if a Robert Mueller interview is agreed to."
Joe, if the president wants this Russian investigation over sooner, rather than later, then agreeing to an interview with Mueller is one way to make that happen, right?
MESSINA: It's one way to push it along quicker. I'm not so sure - - did you read the questions that were leaked?
(CROSSTALK) You look at a third of those questions - - what - - what - - what are your strong points? What's strong about you? I mean, what does that have to do with the Russian . . .
But, my point is if you want to sit down and have a serious conversation, then sit down and have a serious conversation, and ask the president direct questions, and then it will move along. If it's a bunch of questions that look like it's trying to entrap him, I think it's a waste of time. It's more of the same old, same old.
KELLY: Well, all he needs to do is just tell the truth. If there's nothing to hide, then there's nothing to hide. I don't want to make it any more complicated than that.
VAUSE: What was the Washington Post's last count? 3,000 lies?
KELLY: Well, he's undisciplined and that's the fear.
VAUSE: Okay. President Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani - - the world's greatest lawyer is still making the case that the president cannot be forced to testify, he cannot be subpoenaed, because a sitting president cannot be indicted even that sitting president actually shoots someone. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: He once said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and nothing could happen to him. If he did that now, he wouldn't be indicted?
RUDY GIULIANI: He's' not going to do that, that's obviously just a metaphor. In order to indict a president and not just for impeachment, when he's out of office he can be indicted for anything anybody else can. But, until then impeachment or resignation, and then prosecution.
So, for example, Nixon resigned and then he got pardoned, but he might have been indicted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: I mean, he's speaking the truth. There is no legal precedent for indicting a sitting president, but it does not mean that Mueller may not come forward and recommend articles of impeachment. We don't know the cards that he's holding, we're just assuming that he's not holding any cards, because he hasn't shown then to us. That doesn't work, not even poker.
VAUSE: We're almost out of time. We'll get to another clip from Rudy Giuliani, he was talking about the recently released Senate testimony of Don, Jr. It sort of talks about how eager was to collude with that Kremlin linked lawyer in June of 2016, to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. Again, Rudy Giuliani.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The headlines today from CNN, 'Don, Jr. admits he was looking for dirt on Hillary from the Russians'. . .
RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S PERSONAL LAWYER: Oh wow. And they weren't looking for dirt on Donald Trump? Even if it comes from a Russian or a German, or an American, it doesn't matter.
[01:25:05] They never used it is the main thing, they never used it, they rejected it. If there was collusion with the Russian, they would have used it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Joe, the issue here is yes, politics is a dirty game. Yes, everyone does opposition research, but no it's not business as usual to go to an adversary or government and ask them for dirt on your opponent. That is not what happened, despite what Mr. Giuliani may think.
MESSINA: Right. That never happens. Like when Ted Kennedy reached out to the Russians and asked them to get involved. You don't remember that, when Ted Kennedy actually reached out to the Russian government and wanted them to get involved and make sure that he became president.
Here's the fake outrage. If you're outraged about it today, were you outraged about it then?
KELLY: I will survive.
MESSINA: If you're outraged about lying today and transparency, I've said this before, if it looks dirty, investigate it. I don't care which side of the aisle it's on.
VAUSE: Okay. We'll talk about the here and now. So, right now do you think Rudy Giuliani - - this is normal business practice?
MESSINA: I think it is normal business, you saw with the DNC . . .
No, it should not be normal business, I didn't say it should be, I'm saying it is. They all do it to each other, they do it on a regular basis and when they finally get caught, everybody knows they're going to. It's that little dirty secret that's kept just under the desk.
But, once people find out about it, all of the sudden we're outraged. Where was all that outrage for Sanders and Clinton - - that's - - that's - - that's present time.
No, no, what I'm saying to you I don't know what - - you don't, either. You don't know what took place in closed sessions.
KELLY: You should say what the DNC - - the DNC is a private political organization, the Democratic Party. It's different from a public election. They can nominate whoever they want for president, just like the Libertarian Party, or the Green Party at the convention.
VAUSE: Okay. Again, Joe gets the last word. You got the first word, so I guess that worked out well.
Mo and Joe, as always thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Okay. We head back now to the U.K. where it is Royal wedding eve. Everyone is all a quiver and not just because it's really cold.
SESAY: Thank you, John. After the break, we'll take a closer look at how this union is getting people here. Talking seriously about race and royalty. Stay with us.
[01:29:54] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.
I'm John Vause with the headlines.
President Trump says his administration is still making plans for the June 12th summit with Kim Jong-un, even though North Korea has threatened to pull out. U.S. officials believe Kim is posturing and the meeting is not in jeopardy.
Russia is again pushing for a political solution to Syria's civil war. The Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad flew to the Russian city of Sochi to meet with Vladimir Putin -- Assad's main political and military ally. Putin says he expects foreign armed forces to withdraw from Syria, but he did not say which foreign troops he was talking about.
And Britain counting down the hours now until Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot. She's announced her father will not be at the wedding on Saturday. He's recovering from heart surgery. But her mother is already in Windsor and set to meet the Queen in the coming hours.
Let's head back now to Isha Sesay in Windsor for the very latest. And you know, I don't care how cool you are, I think having tea with the Queen, would be totally nerve wracking right now.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: I agree. I agree especially given the -- (CROSSTALK)
SESAY: -- the build-up to this meeting. Yes, it's sure to be the elephant in the room, so to speak, Thomas Markle's absence. But yes, I agree. It's going to be fascinating. We'll look to see if we'll get any tidbits from that meeting -- that first meeting, mind you, between Meghan Markle's mother and the Queen which will be taking place on Thursday at Windsor Castle. So a lot to look forward to.
I mean this is a romance that has fascinated the world ever since it came into public view. Much of it has to do with the bride's identity as a biracial American actress. And that has sparked a real conversation here in this country about race relations.
Jason Carroll reports.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brixton -- it's a district of south London where you'll find black, Asian and white cultures all in one neighborhood. It's a place Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have visited before.
Markle is celebrated here like in much of Great Britain and because she is biracial, her marriage to Prince Harry has also inspired discussion about race relations.
Raise your hand. Does everyone know who Meghan Markle is?
CARROLL: These elementary school girls in Brixton are well aware this is a first for the royals.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's surprising because like she's one of the first black, like, people to go -- to join the royal family.
CARROLL: Did any of you ever think that you could grow up and perhaps marry into a royal family? Was that something that any of you even actually thought of?
CARROLL: No. Why not?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not many like mixed race black people can join like the royal family.
CARROLL: Do you think it's a good thing?
CARROLL: Why is that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it just shows you that anyone can marry into the royal family. CARROLL: A recent study found a little more than half of those polled
in the U.K. say race shouldn't matter in a royal marriage. 75 percent say they would feel comfortable if their children married someone of a different race. But a government study also found a 27 percent increase in hate crimes in the past two years.
Stedman Scott has lived in Brixton for some 50 years.
STEDMAN SCOTT, BRIXTON RESIDENT: There's a problem in this country and that is a color problem. That is a problem that we have to address.
CARROLL: There have been a number of negative public comments and headlines made about the Markle family and their background.
Take this one in the "Daily Mail". It reads, "Harry's girl is almost straight out of Compton."
And then there was the comment made by the sister of the U.K.'s foreign secretary. It reads, "Miss Markle's mother is a dreadlocked African-American lady from the wrong side of the tracks."
At one point, Prince Harry stepped in to defend Markle and her family. In a statement his communications secretary cited "the racial undertones of comment pieces and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments".
Sunder Katwala conducted that recent study on race in the U.K.
What did you make of some of the horrific things that the British press were writing about Meghan Markle.
SUNDER KATWALA, DIRECTOR, BRITISH FUTURE: Racism still work in British society, but it's receded quite a lot especially across the generations.
CARROLL: And though these girls never expected to see a mixed-race bride in the royal family, they see their marriage as a sign of hope.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it will make a difference likely because like some people like are really racist to other people because of their color. And because Meghan Markle is joining the royal family, I think it might make them change their minds.
[01:35:01] CARROLL: Jason Carroll, CNN -- Brixton, London.
SESAY: Let's bring in entertainment journalist and former royal correspondent. Yes, that is him under that -- former royal correspondent Sandro Monetti from Los Angeles. Sandro --
SANDRO MONETTI, ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: What's up -- Windsor.
SESAY: -- with a Meghan Markle mask on.
MONETTI: Say hello to my new subjects.
SESAY: And that is why they didn't let you back in the country.
To pick up on that piece that Jason Carroll did looking at race and royalty, you know, he specifically spotlighted the "Daily Mail" and some of the very, very ugly commentary that has been published in that newspaper -- outright racist in some cases and some just kind of inferring with this negative undertone.
Do you think that's going to continue after the wedding here in Windsor on Saturday? What do you think?
MONETTI: A royal wedding really makes us focus on the fact that Britain for a long time has been more about the class divide than the race divide. The majority of the press and the public has reacted to Meghan Markle first, that she's American; second, that she's an actress; and third, being biracial.
And I would just point out she's not the first biracial royal. King George III, the one who famously gave away the colonies -- he married Princess Charlotte from Africa. So it's not a first. But yes, the conversation is certainly being had, but I don't think it's, you know -- it may dominate the "Daily Mail" but not so much out there in the public. It's more who she is and what she does rather than the color of her skin.
SESAY: And to that point, you know, the "Daily Mail" having this very specific segment of the population, its readers, the fact is they are tapping into something that exists here in this country, and that is that all is not necessarily right.
All is not right, especially when you take into account the recent events surrounding the Windrush generation, the children of those from the Caribbean invited here after the Second World War to help rebuild this country. And then in recent times their offspring being effectively stripped of benefits, housing and health and all the rest of it and in some cases asked to leave the country.
All that being said, what impact can Meghan have on improving the state of race relations here in this country? I mean how do you see it? Do you see it as being something she has to be overt about? Or does her mere presence signal or initiate a change here in the U.K.?
MONETTI: Yes. I mean, it's really an opportunity to change the narrative. And it's going to be interesting to see which particular issues she chooses to highlight with this incredible platform that she now has.
My instincts tell me that it certainly won't be a topper for her agenda, but you know, I think that she has never shied away from social issues. We need to look at her blog, her work as an ambassador. So it's certainly nothing that she's going to shy away from, but there's a whole bunch of societal issues that I think she's going to tackle head-on. This is great because the royal family has so often avoided these kinds of things. But this is a modern era, a modern royal. And it's going to be so fascinating to see how she uses this opportunity that she has.
SESAY: Also fascinating, Sandro -- that meeting between Meghan Markle's mother Doria and the Queen scheduled for Friday here in Windsor. Do you think the elephant in the room, so to speak, the absence of Thomas Markle Sr. will be something that hangs over this first meeting between Meghan's mother and the Queen?
MONETTI: I really don't think it will be brought up. No, it would be very unusual for it to be discussed. I think Doria, like any of us going to meet the Queen would be nervous.
She'll be undergoing the briefings this morning. That is that first of all, you have to address the Queen as "Your Majesty", and on second reference, "Ma'am". So I think she's probably nervous about getting that right before what else is going to be said.
It's going to be just a pleasant getting to know you thing. And yes, it would be very unlikely for that to be brought up. I mean it has been pointed out in some quarters that maybe the royal family could have avoided this whole problem they've had with the Markle family if they'd sent some kind of delegation over weeks ago and said look, this is what's expected of you. Don't go racing to the press. This is how you should behave. There's been nothing like that.
I don't see a reason for it to change at this last moment. And I think the Queen, not given to huge emotions would probably welcome Doria with open arms because, let's face it, she's the only Markle relative that hasn't sold out Meghan.
And you know, I did wonder at one point earlier this week if it was going to be one of those weddings where the bride's side of the church was empty and everyone was going to be on the groom's. But luckily we'll have enough celebrity friends to fill up her side of the church.
[01:40:09] SESAY: And speaking of celebrity friends that are in town. I mean what are you -- what are you looking forward to? What are you nervous about? I mean, it's quite an eclectic bunch that are flying in for this wedding, mixing with the British aristocracy. It's going to make for a wonderful time and potentially maybe some missteps. I mean how do you see it?
MONETTI: It's going to be a bigger fashion showcase than the Met gala. It's going to be really interesting to see who is wearing the silliest hat, you know. Who is wearing the shortest skirt? And whether this will be more informal than other royal weddings that we've seen.
I'm not suggesting karaoke and shots at the after party but, you know, hopefully it will be a little looser and it has an opportunity to set the tone. We were talking earlier about Meghan having this sort of huge platform to drag the royal family into the 21st century, to address emotions, to address social issues. I think it all could potentially start at the wedding, you know?
This is an opportunity to put down a marker, turn a page in history and say, yes, we're dealing with centuries of tradition here, but we are a modern family because I just look at the Windsors as the British Kardashians.
SESAY: Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness. Yes, I think many would agree with you but --
MONETTI: Keeping up with the Windsors.
SESAY: -- much older homes.
Sandro Monetti -- we appreciate it. I'm trying to see who to put my money on for that first selfie in St. George's Chapel, even though I believe they're not allowed to do that. Something tells me there will be some pictures to emerge.
Sandro Monetti joining us there from Los Angeles -- always a pleasure, my friend.
Pausing here for a break.
Next on NEWSROOM L.A. -- the Kilauea Volcano erupts sending smoke and ash high into the skies of Hawaii. An update just ahead.
VAUSE: Around the world there has been outrage but now there is also action to try and save Noura Hussein from execution in Sudan. She's been sentenced to die for killing her husband -- the same man who raped her and married her as a child bride.
CNN's Melissa Bell reports on one teenage girl trying to save Noura for the many other Nouras the world has never heard of.
[01:44:59] MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is all the world has seen of her but the story of Noura Hussein, sentenced to death in Sudan for killing the husband who raped her, has already inspired a global campaign, partly thanks to this girl.
Zaynub Afinnih (ph) is just 16 years old and still at school near her home in (INAUDIBLE) in northwestern France.
ZAYNUB AFINNIH: How are you?
BELL: But from the ground floor flat she shares with her Nigerian mother, two sisters and brother, she decided to fight for Noura's life.
AFINNIH: I don't know her. I never spoke to her. I don't know who she is, but she is my sister. She's not my sister like my sister from my mother, but she's my sister in humanity. I can't let her die for being -- for defending herself against the man who raped her. And stories like this always happen and we can't just close our eyes and be like, ok, it happens, we can do nothing about it.
No, we are part of the problem because we're letting this happen every time. And it's awful because we know but we don't act.
BELL: So Zaynub did act, creating a petition online -- a petition that has already collected more than 700,000 signatures. Zaynub says she hopes to reach a million because she believes that Noura's story has touched a nerve.
AFINNIH: The thing that makes people angry is that she is going to get killed for using self-defense. Like she did not murder him -- she did not murder and say "I'm going to kill". If he did not -- if he hadn't come to her to try to rape her again, would she have killed him? That's the thing.
BELL: But it's a good point. I mean in a sense, Noura's story is a story of so many women around the world every day, Zaynub --
BELL: The difference is she killed him.
AFINNIH: Yes, that's the difference and they will punish her for doing this. That's the thing. They don't want like -- they're going to punish her for defending herself so they expected her to be quiet and to be, like, being raped every day and every day and every day.
BELL: Zaynub's campaign has been run from her bedroom and she believes that Noura can be saved.
AFINNIH: I would like to meet her. She's a hero and yes, she defended herself and she's not scared, you know, about it. I admire this girl.
BELL: You admire her and you've given her a voice that she didn't have. Was that the point?
AFINNIH: Yes. And she is representing all the women who have been oppressed in their lives. There's Noura Hussein and there are all the other Nouras.
BELL: Melissa Bell, CNN -- (INAUDIBLE).
VAUSE: After two weeks o4 lava flows, Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano erupted violently on Thursday. Smoke and ash were sent about nine kilometers into the air. Residents on the Big Island were given masks and were urged to wear them and stay indoors. And experts say more violent eruptions are likely.
Here is CNN's Stephanie Elam. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're getting a look now inside of Leilani Estates. I want you to see where I am standing. This used to be a road that went downhill. But take a look at it now. It is just a sea of lava that I'm told up until about a day or so ago was still red hot right here.
You can see now that it rises up into a hill that is still smoking and emitting those toxic volcanic gasses. The other thing that I'm told is that all of these trees around here used to be lush, dense garden and jungle, just bright green. And now you can see that it's all brown.
And the road still marked by these fissures that in some places are as wide as five feet across. And when you look into them, in some places you can't even see down to the bottom of them.
All of this as you can see the rocks that we're stepping on, that crunching sound -- those are the rocks that were tossed out as the lava was so hot interacting with the earth and getting spun and thrown out on to the road.
This is what the people here are watching. This is what has been eating up some of the homes that have been lost here. And this is what neighbors are still concerned about as the Kilauea eruption continues.
Back to you.
VAUSE: Stephanie -- thank you.
Meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us once more with more on all of this. You know, Hawaii -- everyone wants to go to Hawaii. Just not right now.
DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. And the big question on people's minds as well, John is that is this the big one? Or was this the big one? Because it was pretty impressive to see from a distance -- I mean seeing the volcanic ash spewing 30,000 feet or nine kilometers into the sky -- well yes, you'd be terrified as well if you were on the Big Island.
But this was the webcam image from the Hawaiian Volcanic Observation Network. You can see some of the ash. In fact, it was so large, this volcanic eruption that it was caught on the local weather radar. That little blurb there you see on the screen, that's the actual magma and the hot lava that was being picked up by the radar -- unbelievable.
What's also interesting is that volcanologists are starting to see similarities to a much more dangerous volcanic event with the same volcano back in 1924 when eight-ton boulders just like this picture were hurled over a mile into the space or into the sky I should say. [01:50:08] And of course, that can become extremely dangerous for anyone living within that area. Volcanologists are starting to realize that the lava is starting to recede within this magma chamber.
And this is a concern because remember lava is just magma on the surface of the earth. Magma is actually below the surface. But once that lava starts to recede within the magma chamber, so do the boulders and the rocks that you saw in that picture just a moment ago.
So you can imagine just the amount of pressure that builds up in the ground underneath it before another explosive eruption occurs, sending eight-ton boulders just like the one in 1924 into the sky.
Well, the other concern here is for the aviation industry. John -- 30,000 feet of volcanic ash -- that is not good for jet airlines that's for sure.
Back to you.
VAUSE: Absolutely. It can throw air traffic into chaos.
VAN DAM: Yes.
VAUSE: So I hope it won't get to that point.
Derek -- thank you. >
The U.S. Air Force has apologized for an insensitive comment playing off the Yanny and Laurel online debate. The word you hear depends on the pitch. But there's blowback for the Air Force after this tweet. "The Taliban forces in Farah City, Afghanistan would much rather have heard Yanny or Laurel than the deafening BRRT they got courtesy of our A10".
That tweet was replaced with an apology, rather. "We apologize for the earlier tweet regarding the A10. It was made in poor taste and we are addressing it internally." It has since been removed.
Ok. The U.K. flush with royal fever. Even more so after Prince Harry and his bride to be hit the road for some face time with their adoring subjects.
More on that in just a moment.
SESAY: Hello, everyone.
Well, in the months before their wedding, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle travelled across Britain for public engagements. The photogenic couple attracted large, large crowds. And people who saw them say they were down to earth and fun.
More now from CNN's Nick Glass.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRINCE HARRY, BRITISH ROYALTY: I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly was sort of confirmation to me that all the stars were aligned. Everything was just perfect.
NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After the talk of romance, they've been showing us how they feel in person. Harry just bouncing around; Meghan smiling away like a good tag-team happily working the line. Unusually for a royal couple, both publicly very tactile; as with a certain Princess Diana, Meghan likes to hug.
This 10-year-old was singled out in Birmingham. She wants to be an actress one day just like Meghan.
ARUTHUR EDWARDS: It reminded me of Diana, actually, in those early days with Diana. Remember that tour of Wales? The weather was like this, pouring rain. She threw herself into it. And I see the same with this young lady.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my hand and Prince Harry with his tongue out at me which I think is a pretty cool --
GLASS: The Harry and Meghan road show around Britain has clearly been a lot of fun, infectiously so. Harry buoyant, lot of thumbs up and waves; Meghan had fan before, but nothing, absolutely nothing quite prepared you for serious royal wedding fever.
Acutely camera-aware and camera-friendly, she's become the first choice cover girl for the British celebrity magazines week after week.
And if he didn't before, Harry is learning to love dogs. Meghan has brought over her beagle mix as well as her photogenic smile.
[01:55:07] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're having both of them.
PRINCE HARRY: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are they your children?
PRINCE HARRY: Yes, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they're lovely. I've got some lovely photos of them as well. And they're charming. Absolutely charming.
MEGHAN MARKLE, PRINCE HARRY'S FIANCEE: Hi. Nice to meet you. Hi, how are you? Nice to meet you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.
MARKLE: Thank you so much.
GLASS: You're friends now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we are.
GLASS: Ok. Where are y'all from?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm from London originally.
GLASS: there was a rare intimacy here, a spontaneity, a royal couple happy to banter.
Shouldn't you be at Work then? Would you even tell anyone? Someone's going to see you here.
MARKLE: -- on your camera. Oh, he's so handsome. Very sweet. I love that.
GLASS: As a successful TV actress, Meghan Markle was a U.N. advocate for women's rights.
MARKLE: Women need a seat at the table. They need an invitation to be seated there. And in some cases, where this isn't available, well then, you know what? Then they need to create their own table.
GLASS: Now she's marrying into the British royal family, a carefully apolitical institution, but that evidently hasn't inhibited her. She has a new platform as one of the so-called Fab Four -- William and Kate, Harry and Meghan.
MARKLE: I think right now in the climate that we're seeing with so many campaigns, me too and time's up, there is no better time than to really continue to shine a light on women feeling empowered.
GLASS: These have been a frenetic few months for Meghan Markle -- baptism, acceptance into the Church of England and a little wedding to plan at Windsor Castle. And along the way, she's been getting to know us and we've been getting to know her.
Nick glass, CNN -- on the road with Harry and Meghan.
SESAY: Just a little wedding to plan for. >
Well, one more thing that royal watchers are obsessing over as we talk about this wedding is the wedding cake. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are breaking with royal tradition. They are not serving fruit cake. Instead their cake will incorporate flavors that are in season. They chose a lemon and elder flower cake with butter cream icing, decorated with fresh flowers. It does sound very lovely. And it's being designed by an American pastry chef living in London.
She's offered few details about the final design but says it will look like a traditional wedding cake. Can't wait to see it.
Well, CNN is giving you a front row seat to Harry and Meghan's big day. Be sure to watch our special coverage of the royal wedding. It all kicks off Saturday right here on CNN. It is going to be a fantastic time.
That's all the time we have this hour. I'm Isha Sesay, live in Windsor, England.
VAUSE: Yes. There is always another hour. And I like the fruit cake. I don't know what this lemon thing is.
I'm John Vause in Los Angeles. A lot more news after a short break.
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