Return to Transcripts main page
Kilauea Lava Hits Ocean Unleashing Dangerous Steam Clouds; Muqtada al Sadr Coalition Wins Most Seats; Secret Salons in Paris; Designer Talks About Meghan Markle's Wedding Dress; Maduro Wins Re- Election in Venezuela; Trump Demands Investigation Over Whether FBI Spied on Campaign; U.S. and China Vow Not to Engage in Trade War; Memorial Services Held For Victims of School Massacre. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired May 21, 2018 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:13] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: As cheers and celebrations Nicolas Maduro waves to his supporters, as he wins another term as Venezuela's President.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. President Trump lashes out, demanding an investigation over alleged FBI spying on his political campaign.
VANIER: Plus, new dangers in Hawaii as dangerous clouds of acid steam are spread from molten lava reaching the ocean.
ALLEN: One man apparently hit by what's called a lava bomb, we'll have more about it.
ALLEN: Thank you for joining us, I'm Natalie Allen.
VANIER: I'm Cyril Vanier, it is great to have you with us.
ALLEN: We begin in Venezuela where the President, Nicolas Maduro, is celebrating victory in Sunday's Presidential Election, but the vote is being criticized both inside and outside the country as a sham.
VANIER: Officials say Maduro won a second six-year term with 68 percent of the vote. However, voter turnout was only around 46 percent, despite the fact that the government kept many polls open late so more people could vote.
ALLEN: Maduro won despite an economy in turmoil with many Venezuelans struggling to get even basic necessities like food and medicine, but the president is promising to turn things around.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICOLAS MADURO, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT: Today I am a president with more experience. I am a human being more prepared. I swear to you I will fulfill my promise and will dedicate myself entirely to recover the economic growth, to heal our economy, to prosecute criminal mafia. You will see me throughout the country in the streets to activate the motors of the economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: The main opposition boycotted Sunday's vote calling it illegitimate and Maduro's main opponent, Henri Falcon, is calling for a new election.
ALLEN: Eric Farnsworth is vice president of the Americas Society and Council of the Americas, he joins us from Washington. Eric, thank you for being with us.
ERIC FARNSWORTH, VICE PRESIDENT, AMERICAS SOCIETY AND COUNCIL OF THE AMERICAS: Thank you.
ALLEN: Maduro wins again, no surprise there. How is he managing to stay in power when his country is crumbling? Its people are starving. Is he selling something that people are still buying? Is it manipulation? False promises? What is it?
FARNSWORTH: It's a combination of all of the above. He's selling promises to people and he can't cash the checks that he's trying to give them, but more to the point, he's taken steps that have put the opposition back on its heels.
He's jailed opposition leaders. He has dominated the press and refused to allow the opposition access to it. He has taken steps, which have put the resources of the state at the disposal of his own electoral ambition. So the military and the national energy company are all at his service.
So, he's not just building support among his base by direct benefits and gifts, but he's also doing everything he can to make the life of the opposition very, very difficult. So, that combination has, at least for the time being, kept him in power.
ALLEN: We hear from people who are desperate there that they're scared to let go of Maduro because it could get worse. They're barely eating, he gives them a little food, you have to stand in line for about 37 hours to get that. So, the question is, though, are people starting now to pull away from him? Even poor people, is his support waning at all?
FARNSWORTH: You know, the support has clearly been decreasing over time and people are voting not just with their votes, but with their feet. We're seeing hundreds of thousands of people leaving Venezuela as refugees across the border to Columbia, to Brazil, into the Caribbean's and the islands there, and seeking asylum as well in the United States and other countries. So, people are leaving the country, there is a certain desperation that has set in and the people that depend on the regime - - you're right, they feel that if they're going to stay, they really have no alternative, but to continue to support the regime, because their livelihoods, their jobs, their access to food and limited medicine may depend on that.
And, the regime does know who its supporters are, because it's - - it's - - it's keeping score by who receives the benefits and who is in their system. So, they know who the people are and it's become a very, very authoritarian state, almost dystopian state.
ALLEN: So, a lot of people left, I think almost 1.5 million, where does this go? How does this end if he just continues what he's doing, which is nothing for his people and everything to keep himself in power?
FARNSWORTH: It's hard to see how the economic situation gets any better at all. In fact, Maduro himself has said that he's going to double down on the revolution, he's going to make it even more - - you know, take it in the same direction it's been going now for the past several years.
[01:05] Meanwhile, the production of Venezuela's primary commodity, oil, is decreasing by the month and that's because of incompetence in the sector, and a lack of investment, a lack of skilled capital people who are leaving. So, they're going to have less and less resources.
So, people of Venezuela are going to have to make a choice. They can leave, and again that's what may people are doing, or they can try to find a different way to try to change the circumstances within Venezuela.
Obviously, the vote is now a path that circumscribed to them, that's not going to be available, so they're going to have to look for something else. And, I think what a number of people are beginning to think about is the possibility of additional public protests, additional civil disobedience perhaps and perhaps violence, not that anybody wants that, but that could be something that we will see increasingly after this election result concludes fully.
ALLEN: Alright. We're out of time. Wanted to talk to you about what the U.S. is doing and what the world is doing, but next time we'll discuss that. Thank you so much for coming in and talking to us.
FARNSWORTH: Thank you.
VANIER: U.S. President, Donald Trump, wants to know if the Obama administration had the FBI spy on his campaign for political reasons and he's demanding a justice department investigation into that.
ALLEN: This follows reports the FBI had a confidential source talk to Trump campaign aides about possible ties to Russia.
CNN's Ryan Nobles has more on the justice department's response.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Donald Trump busy on Twitter this weekend.
Taking aim at the department of justice and the FBI about their conduct in the lead up to the investigation into his campaign and whether or not that campaign had any ties to Russia.
The president particularly upset about reports that there was an unknown source who tried to gain access to Trump officials and learn information about the Trump campaign.
The president topping his Tweet storm off with this Tweet. "I hereby demand and will do so officially tomorrow", talking about Monday, "that the department of justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump campaign for political purposes. And, if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama administration."
But, here's the thing about the president's call for an investigation, there's already one under way. The inspector general for the attorney general's office has been looking into whether or not those applications for surveillance of members of the Trump team were done so appropriately.
And, they did respond to the president's Tweet on Sunday, saying that they're going to expand that investigation to look into whether or not there were any political motivations for asking for those wire taps.
And, the Deputy Attorney General, Rob Rosenstein, who was of course in charge of the rest of the investigation put out the following statement saying, quote, "If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about and take appropriate action."
So, the president getting results pretty quickly. The question is, is this more about an effort to discredit Robert Mueller and his investigation?
The president continues to call that a witch hunt and wants to see it come to an end. Of course, we are now just passed the one year anniversary of the launch of that investigation.
At this point there's no indication when it's going to wrap up.
Ryan Nobles, CNN at the White House. VANIER: So, the political implications, the legal implications, let's try and untangle all of this with political analyst, Peter Mathews, also a criminal defense attorney, Troy Slaten.
Peter, first to you. The president wants an investigation into those who are investigating him. Now, he' concerned that perhaps his campaign was spied on for political reasons.
Does he have good grounds to - - to - - to believe that?
PETER MATHEWS, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, CYPRESS COLLEGE, POLITICAL ANALYST: We don't really know that yet.
We will have to wait until the investigation that was ordered by him and by Bob Rosenstein and the inspector general to go through with that, then we'll know more whether or not it was grounds for it.
It's also just a political ploy for Trump to divert attention from the fact that his campaign's being investigated and so is he. So, I think that's a very good possibility as well.
We've got to wait just a little bit more to see what happens tomorrow and letter they send out tomorrow, the content of that could make a lot of difference.
VANIER: About that letter, Troy, Donald Trump's going to officially ask the department of justice on Monday to begin this new investigation into the investigation. Is he allowed to do that? Can he tell the department of justice what to do and what to investigate?
TROY SLATEN, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, if you ascribe to the theory of the unitary executive then he absolutely does.
The department of justice is in the executive branch for which the president is the chief of that co-equal branch of government. So, the president having the power to hire and fire the attorney general, the FBI director.
[01:10] He can, yes, essentially under that theory direct any investigation.
VANIER: So, it's not interference? Because usually it is said that the department of justice needs to be independent.
Including independent of the president - - from the president.
SLATEN: Yes. So, for the last 30-40 years, even a little bit longer, the White House has taken the position that the department of justice is to operate independently. However, the president is entitled to be kept abreast of any investigations, if he wants to.
VANIER: Peter, Donald Trump wants to know whether the investigation of his campaign was politically motivated, but don't we already have a pretty good idea of how that investigation began?
I mean, the FBI was informed by foreign diplomats - - we've found out, of a conversation that they'd had with a Trump campaign staffer and that set off alarm bells to them and then they applied for a FISA warrant, so that they could wiretap that particular former Trump campaign staffer.
So, there are objective elements that sent the FBI looking into this.
MATHEWS: Absolutely and those elements were pretty real. You know, this former advisor - - he was actually a foreign policy advisor for President Trump and he had lost of ties to Russia, for example, and - - here's the thing, though, about the internal unitary executive.
The justice department is - - is - - is the cabinet department, the FBI is under the cabinet within the justice department. It has to have some independence or you'll have just a mockery, because it's investigating the president himself and his campaign.
How can you have the president in charge of his own investigation? That's where you're talking about we call a unitary executive. (inaudible) checks and balances within the executive branch itself, in that sense.
So, I don't quite agree with the unitary executive theory and it's obviously they need for the FBI to be independent, or Mr. Mueller to be independent of the president. The president cannot control everything in the executive branch, especially if he's being investigated and if his particular campaign is being investigated.
VANIER: Troy, I'd like you to cast your lawyer's eyes for me on the deputy attorney general's statement. Rod Rosenstein, he said, "If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action."
What's it look like to you? Because to me it looks very carefully crafted.
SLATEN: Well, certainly - - look, if - - if - - if the Obama administration implanted informants into the campaign of an opposing party, that would be a huge scandal, if they did it for some sort of political gain. So, if there was some sort of evidence that that was occurring, it should certainly be investigated.
The whole purpose of the special counsel investigation is to look at interference in the campaign, whether it be from the Russians - - now we're hearing information that Gulf States (ph) may have been trying to exert influence. So, we're trying to figure out what exactly happened and certainly if that did happen by the current administration - - meaning the Obama administration during the campaign, to look into and try and affect the campaign of the opposing party, that would be a huge scandal and we'd definitely need to know about it.
VANIER: Peter, the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, says he want to know what the source reveals.
What that FBI source revealed in the investigation, because they are convinced it is going to clear Donald Trump. That sounds like A. Good lawyering and B. good politics.
MATHEWS: It does and I guess that's what they're grasping onto, because other things look quite bleak for the president this time in the investigation. I do agree with Troy, though, that it needs to be known whether or not there was any kind of political influence in that particular counterintelligence operation and political counterintelligence.
So, that's very important that we get to the bottom of that. However, I think that should not derail the major investigation which is to see whether or not there was any interference from foreign countries, not just Russia. Now it looks like possibly the UAE and Saudi Arabia may have been involved, their representatives met with Trump, Jr., I believe.
But, that's really a problem there and that has to be focused on and this shouldn't be a distraction, but on the other hand I do believe the rule of law does call for any kind of untoward to be exposed, if it was political. I agree with Troy on that one.
VANIER: Alright. Troy Slaten, Peter Mathews, thank you very much for answering our questions.
And, of course, we look ahead to Monday. Find out how exactly the president is going to word his request to the department of justice, that they start looking into the investigation that is itself looking into the president, his campaign and potential Russian meddling in the election.
Thank you very much.
MATHEWS: Thank you, Cyril.
SLATEN: Thank you for having us.
[01:15] VANIER: Coming up, the latest on the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii.
It is still erupting, spreading its fiery tendrils across neighborhoods, highways and now into the ocean.
ALLEN: Also ahead here, a Pakistani exchange student is being remembered as a bridge between two cultures. We'll take a look at her life cut short in the Texas school shooting.
ALLEN: Well, the U.S. and China have agreed not to engage in a trade war, at least for now.
In a joint statement the two countries announced China would significantly increase its purchases of U.S. goods and services.
VANIER: This comes after two days of trade talks in Washington with Chinese officials. The U.S. plans to send a team to China to hammer out the details of this, which the U.S. Treasury Secretary spoke about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: We're putting the trade war on - - on - - on hold. So, right now we have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework.
We are immediately going to follow this up with Secretary Ross going there with very hard commitments in agriculture, where we expect to see a very big increase. 35 to 40 percent increases in agriculture this year alone.
[01:20:07] In energy, doubling the energy purchases - - I think that you could see $50-60 billion a year of energy purchases over the next three to five years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Let's talk about it with CNN Matt Rivers, he joins us now live from Beijing.
Hello to you, Matt.
About those details - - one U.S. manufacturer's association says it's anxious about what time this commitment really will be.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, I think you're going to have a lot of different industries in the United States who are hoping that if China says, for example - - and we don't know the figure yet, but let's say they throw out a figure like we're going to buy $150 billion more of American products.
Well, there's going to be a lot of U.S. companies that would hope that they're products would be a part of that $150 billion figure.
Now, that said, this agreement that's been put out there - - the framework of an agreement, really, we shouldn't call it an agreement because nothing has been signed on the dotted line yet; it's really just a framework. We don't know the specifics of it, we don't know how much China is going to - - how much more China is going to buy from the United States.
You know, a significant amount is the way U.S. officials have put it, but we don't know exactly how much that dollar figure will be and how much it will then subsequently reduce the deficit. There's also a couple other things that U.S. officials have said that the Chinese side has agreed to - - protections on technology, for example.
Agreeing to make structural changes to its economy, but that is vague. Those are promises we've heard from China's policy makers for years now. What's the timeframe? What are the specifics? Those are the things that we don't have answers to quite yet.
ALLEN: Right, because a part of what really angered President Trump was the stealing of U.S. information, as far as technology goes, by China. We heard the treasury secretary say that tariffs imposed by the U.S. would be put on hold.
That probably is quite critical to China, isn't' it?
RIVERS: Yes, absolutely. I mean, that was something that China had made a top priority in its negotiations. We know that these tens of billions of dollars have been put on hold as of right now and what we've seen - - you know, even if there's' not a ton of details yet, what we have seen I think is a willingness from both sides to work together to avoid a trade war.
Let's listen to Liu He, who is the top economic negotiator for the Chinese side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIU HE, CHINESE VICE PREMIER: This round of talks have been pragmatic, fruitful and efficient. We reached many agreements. We resolved some of our misunderstandings from the past. These meetings will not just help bilateral economic and trade relations, and build overall ties, it's good for people in both countries. It's also sending a positive signal to the whole world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIVERS: And sure it's all sounding very good at the moment, but really when it comes down to it, we're going to find out what's in this deal, or what a deal could really look like when the next round of negotiations takes place. That's going to be when Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, comes here to Beijing.
We don't know the timeframe on that yet, but he is going to lead the delegation that will 'hammer out' the details as the U.S. side has put it.
to really figure out what's going to happen in this trade agreement, what it's really going to look like both in terms of how many more American goods are purchased by China and also, if China is going to make any true substantive structural reforms to its economy.
ALLEN: Well, the devil is in the details and that is next, and we know you'll be covering it for it us, thanks, Matt.
Matt Rivers in Beijing.
VANIER: Anguish in Texas and the demand for answers. Why did a gunman kill 10 people at a high school and how does this keep happening?
ALLEN: And, it does keep happening. The victims of the latest massacre, this time in Santa Fe, Texas, were mourned and honored during memorial services Sunday. The Texas Governor on site was offering hugs to parents who lost their loved ones and friends and on his website, an offer of a shotgun. The timing of that drawing and giveaway was quite controversial.
VANIER: The teenager believed to be behind the rampage used a shotgun and a revolver to kill eight students and two teachers, 13 others were wounded. Authorities have revealed the shooting lasted about 30 minutes, most of that time was taken up by a gun battle between the shooter and police officers.
ALLEN: The suspect is being held without bail. So far, no plea and no clear motive. The mother of one of the students who was killed says her daughter had rejected his advances. The suspect's lawyers say that has not been proven.
VANIER: Among the victims is 17 year old Pakistani exchange student, Sabika Sheikh. Her body will be flown home in the coming day. A memorial service was held for her at an Islamic center in Texas on Sunday.
ALLEN: And, Pakistan's Prime Minister is saying that the whole country is grieving. You can imagine what her parents are going through.
Linda Kinkade tells us about this young woman's life cut so tragically short.
[01:25] LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sabika Sheikh will never return to her room in Karachi. The bookshelf stuffed with Roald Dahl novels, a diary and a scrapbook where Sabika would write down her favorite quotes, laid out by her little sister.
The 17-year old was so excited to be shortlisted for a scholarship to study in Texas, she uploaded this video on YouTube.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SABIKA SHEIKH, PAKISTANI EXCHANGE STUDENT: I was squealing, jumping like a mad man. I prayed to God, (inaudible) a lot, then I was like over the moon. I wrote in the diary that day, because it was really special for me and seeing those proud smiles on my parent's faces, that was the best (inaudible).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: She couldn't know that opportunity would cost her life. When a shooter walked into the classroom in Santa Fe and killed her, along with nine others.
The stream of visitors arrive at her family home in Karachi, her mother too shocked (ph) to speak to anyone, coming to terms with the fact she'll never see her daughter again. She was killed 19 days before she was due to fly back to Karachi to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid.
Downstairs, her father deals with the media. Heartbreakingly repeating the events of how he found out his child had died thousands of kilometers from home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABDUL AZIZ SHEIKH, VICTIM'S FATHER: I switched on the TV to see the news and on a local channel there was a ticker airing about a shooting in Texas. I quickly switched to CNN and saw that is was from the same school my daughter was attending.
Two to three hours later, the host family called, they didn't speak to me. They weren't speaking, just crying, I knew then that there was a reason why she wasn't answering my calls, why she wasn't responding.
I asked them clearly to tell me, "How is she?" And they replied, "She's dead."
KINKADE: When asked about gun control and what the motive behind the shooting could be, her father's too grief stricken to care.
ABDUL AZIZ SHEIKH: I haven't discussed this topic with anyone. I'm just worried about Sabika, just bring Sabika back to Pakistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: As the wait to bring Sabika's body home continues, the family grapples with the loss of their child's dreams, hopes and future. Stolen by a senseless act thousands of kilometers away.
Lynda Kinkade, CNN.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: A senseless act that just continues to happen in this country,
New dangers from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, coming up here, why geologists are urging people to stay away from parts of the ocean now.
[01:31:08] VANIER: Hello and welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories.
VANIER: As expected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been declared the winner of Sunday's presidential election. Earlier, the government announced that he won a second term with 68 percent of the vote but voter turnout was low at about 46 percent. Maduro's main opponent Henry Falcon said he will not recognize the vote because it was not legitimate.
ALLEN: U.S. President Donald Trump is demanding the Justice Department investigate whether the FBI spied on his presidential campaign. Reports say the FBI used a confidential source to speak with Trump campaign aides about possible ties to Russia. The President offered no proof the source was embedded in the campaign.
VANIER: Health officials are set to begin thousands of Ebola vaccinations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Forty-six cases of the deadly virus have been reported since earlier this month.
The World Health Organization says the situation can be controlled. It is not yet an international emergency.
ALLEN: In Cuba authorities are still investigating the cause of Friday's deadly plane crash. Funerals have now begun for some of the 110 people killed. Many of the victims though remain unidentified.
Officials say they have recovered the cockpit voice recorder. They're still looking for the flight data recorder.
This enormous cloud is what forms when molten lava meets the sea. As you can see from these dramatic new images it's happening now on the East Coast of Hawaii's Big Island where rivers of lava are dumping into the Pacific Ocean.
VANIER: So geologists have a name for this. They call that giant cloud laze -- a combination of lava and a unique kind of haze. And they're making a dire warning that laze clouds are extremely dangerous because of what's in them.
Stephanie Elam explains.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two heads of lava that flowing to the ocean came together as one and they broke part and they did enter the ocean. But the U.S. Coast Guard is asking people to stay away by about a thousand feet in a 360-egree radius.
And the reason why is because of something called laze. And that is when that lava hits the ocean and creates hydrochloric acid and also little small particles of glass that can cause irritation to the eyes, to the lungs, to the skin. And so they're asking people to stay away.
But I want to show you what that lava looks like here on land. Take a look at this lava fountain that has been bubbling nonstop here. We can see that from there it oozes down into this black sea of lava that goes down towards the ocean. We know that there were a couple of structures that were taken out by this flow as well as this has been bubbling up.
It's been raining here all day. And that has no effect whatsoever on the lava that is flowing here. And beyond that on the other side of me there is a fissure which sometimes you may be able to hear in the background from where I am -- it's about a mile away.
And that fissure when the volcanic gases come erupting out of there, sometimes it feels like it is a jet engine right next to you or a plane taking off. Other times it sounds like a cannon.
One was so loud and I happened to be standing back to where I could see it. It shot up rock and debris several hundred feet into the air. And that is another concern as we know that one man was lit by a lava bomb as he was on his balcony. We understand that his leg is shattered. So they're asking residents here to be very vigilant as this is a very active eruption and it doesn't seem to be ending anytime soon.
Back to you.
ALLEN: Yes. There used to be a commercial don't mess with Mother Nature. And certainly don't mess with Kilauea.
Pedram is here to tell us more about it. You know, I heard and some report I was watching the fissures making that noise and I was thinking is that part of what's happening? And she just said it is.
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know it's incredible because the elements, right, that we've talked about whether it be vog, now we hear about laze. Of course the fissures and we've had multiple eruptions take place, an explosive eruption as well.
[01:35:08] And the earthquakes that seem, you know, you shouldn't forget about as well. We're talking about 50 to 100 per day still across this region at times that we're seeing earthquakes begin to really shake the ground as well; so just a scary, scary situation for a lot of people across this region. Of course, we now know these sulfur dioxide levels tripling in the past several days compared to where they were just a few weeks ago. And of course, you see none existed in April. You push away into the beginning of May already significant. The latest data suggest much of this being pushed off farther and farther away towards the southern portion of the island. So certainly that's a scary situation set up across this region.
Some of the photos here, showing you the perspective in Kapoho Village. In fact this is satellite imagery going back to last May. Looking at the communities, of course, you see the homes scattered about this region. And then you look at this particular May and, of course, the eruption itself, the lava flow themselves kind of consuming everything in their path as they make their way toward the ocean.
And they've traversed about five kilometers from fissure number 20. That's where we have this lava flow that has made its way to the ocean. That's where the laze or lava and haze are coming together here to create this steam that sets up that is very dangerous -- extremely dangerous because not only is it going to be a very sharp, irritating sort of a sensation if you're around this area but also it could loft very fine granulars of glass-like material into the atmosphere and make it dangerous. Of course, it's highly corrosive.
What is found with these hydrochloric acids similar to what you find in batteries -- so again, you put this into the air on a large quantity it becomes a scary situation across this region -- guys.
ALLEN: My goodness. You've got to so feel for the people that live there. They're just stuck and in harm's way.
Thank you -- Pedram.
JAVAHERI: Thanks -- guys.
VANIER: Coming up after the break, he was and still could be a major U.S. foe and his coalition could now lead Iraq's government. How Muqtada al Sadr appears poised for power.
ALLEN: Also she is had to keep it secret for months but now the designer of Meghan Markle's wedding gown is finally speaking out. Yes -- we've still got royal wedding fever so don't go anywhere.
[01:37:13] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ALLEN: His militia was blamed for brutal sectarian violence in Iraq but Muqtada al Sadr is now sending a message of unity. His coalition won the most seats in a parliament vote earlier this month. Al Sadr can't be prime minister because he wasn't a candidate but the controversial Shiite cleric may well be Iraq's power broker.
VANIER: He's been reaching out to other parties -- the former government. This is him meeting with a Hadi al-Amiri whose pro Iran bloc won the second most number of seats in the election. He also met over the weekend with incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. With us to shed some light on this is Feisal Istrabadi. He's the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East at Indiana University.
Let's start with the beginning. Is Muqtada al Sadr, you think, going to be able to form a government?
FEISAL ISTRABADI, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF THE MIDDLE EAST, INDIANA UNIVERSITY: Well I think that he is -- the sort of two camps forming. The camp of the list that he nominally has and another list which is headed by a man named Hadi al-Amiri. Those are going to be the two competing lists.
And if I were put money down I would say that al Sadr has an advantage. He has more seats in parliament -- a total of 54, at least that's the last number that I saw, about 54 -- 55 seats all together. So he's closer to that magic number of 165. And he's already announced that he is willing to work with certain other coalitions such as that of the incumbent prime minister.
So I think he has a certain momentum coming into this. His list does. His big drawback is that the list that he sort of nominally presides over and of course, he himself has not been elected to parliament. But the list he presides over is a coalition of a very broad range of parties ranging from individuals who are sort of on the conservative religious end up to and including the Iraqi Communist Party.
So the real question for the Sadr list is will they be able to hold together. If they do, then I think they have an excellent chance of forming a government because they have the support of the people for a reform agenda.
VANIER: Ok. You've explained that he might not be able to do it, that he is the person in the Iraqi political landscape at the moment who is best positioned to manage to form a government. So let's delve into -- a little bit more into who he actually is and what that might change if he becomes the kingmaker.
He used to be a mortal enemy of the United States. So what would happen to U.S. troops in Iraq if he were indeed to come to power? Not as prime minister, we know that, but as the person in the shadows who is exerting influence.
ISTRABADI: Well that, of course, is an excellent question and it isn't entirely clear. My guess is that he has, first of all his party, his coalition ran on a platform that included minimizing foreign interference in Iraqi politics. That includes -- he has been critical of Iran and he's been critical of the United States.
However my hope is that everybody learned the lesson of 2011 which is that when the United States withdraws and when intelligence and training cooperation cease, bad things happen in Iraq.
So my hope is that we will not repeat the same errors of 2011 and l believe that there are people in his list who will be the -- he may be sort of behind the scenes or kind of a spiritual leader or whatever spiritual father whatever of the movement.
VANIER: Well, I think pulling the strings is more like it, isn't it?
ISTRABADI: Maybe so. But on the other hand it's a broad enough coalition that with -- and a diverse enough coalition. I mean how much is he going to be able to pull the strings of the communists in his list?
So ok, but even if I concede pulling the strings hopefully there will be people who will have understood the lessons of 2011 who will be able to sit down and explain that to him. That's my hope.
My fear, of course, is that you're absolutely right. And that we go right back to 2011 with a demand that the Americans leave which you will remember of course was one of his demands back in 2008 and 2009 when the Bush administration was negotiating. He demanded that the Americans set a withdrawal table which they ended up doing.
[01:44:59] VANIER: Yes, yes. So that explains why the U.S. is a little bit concerned that he's currently poised to become this very influential figure once again in Iraqi politics.
The other interesting thing about him, I find and you touched on this, is that he's an independent figure. He's not a puppet of Iran either. And in fact Iran is also worried about him rising to power. Why?
ISTRABADI: Well that's right. And that's really important. Now he is a very odd sort of political figure and there have been reports over the years about sort of his stability which are obviously concerning.
But he has always had a nationalist discourse. And an Iraqi -- when I say nationalist I don't mean hyper nationalist, I mean the sort of an Iraqi -- a pan-Iraqi patriotic discourse. Although we should never forget that some of his followers committed atrocities against the Sunni (ph) of Iraq in 2006 and '07. That's something we ought to always remember.
But nonetheless he always had a pan national -- or pan Iraqi rhetoric regardless of the actions of some of his followers. So I think he has built on that and he has really appealed to the disenfranchised particularly in Baghdad and in southern Iraq amongst the Shia but also amongst Sunni Arabs in Iraq.
So I think he will have a wide appeal at this moment and that has to worry Iran. Iran likes to have a little more control than I think it has over his list. In my view Iran is going to be pushing Hadi al- Amiri's list to work with Maliki and potentially some others to try to deprive Sadr and whatever grander coalition he's able to put together to prevent them from coming to power. We'll see how it plays out.
VANIER: Feisal Istrabadi -- thank you for joining us.
ISTRABADI: My pleasure. Thank you. >
ALLEN: The British royal family turns a new page as Prince Harry begin their life as husband and wife. We'll have what's next for the newlyweds -- ahead here.
JAVAHERI: Good Monday to you. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, CNN Weather Watch here watching what's happening in the Gulf Coast area of the United States here. A lot of wet weather stretching all the way from say Key West and Miami eventually towards Tallahassee. A disturbance here that' exhibiting some tropical characteristics.
Of course, you check your calendar, this is the time of year you watch that region carefully. But at this point just a wet weather maker.
And down into -- eventually into the parts of the Midwestern U.S. we're watching some stronger storms beginning to pop up across Indianapolis and Chicago as well. Rainfall ranging anywhere from say 50 to 150 millimeters and the highest amounts there across parts of the Midwest.
[01:20:08] Chicago, yes some rain could be expected, maybe some disruptions there when it comes to the morning commute. Denver looking at 27 with some thunderstorms while back around the western U.S. -- southern portions of British Columbia a very warm setup in store.
And that is what eventually is in store for much of the eastern U.S. after we get through the first couple of days with some clouds and wet weather keep the temps at bay. We expect it to warm up rather nicely across that region.
How about Portland? Brings in May and with it significant warmth here in the third week of May -- up to 30 degrees across the region.
That in fact, will be warmer than what's happening down in the Caribbean. Nassau looking at mostly cloudy skies at 28. Havana, Cuba -- getting some of those storms, again an area we watch carefully this time of year. Some thunderstorms begin to show some interesting features across that region. Paranam -- around 31.
VANIER: Let's go back some 200 years now to one of the most scandalous salons in Paris.
ALLEN: You're not talking about a hair salon, right.
VANIER: I am not.
ALLEN: Not that kind.
Ok. In our series, "Icons", CNN Style goes on an exclusive photo shoot with a renowned photographer to re-create the salon's heyday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELLEN VON UNWERTH PHOTOGRAPHER: Laperouse is a very unique place in Paris with a lot of the history where rich men would come and visit their mistresses in those rooms. So you can just imagine all the scenes and the scenarios going on. As a photographer I always think of inspiring ideas for my pictures. I always try to re-create scenes so when I come here I just imagine all these things which happen in the room.
It's really wonderful. What I try to capture is a little piece of life -- a sense of fun, a bit of naughtiness, a bit of mysterious. A good picture is just like this one image which is haunting and changing your life in a way. A good picture is something a bit magical too.
ALLEN: All right. We're not going to let it go yet.
Britain's royal newlyweds are getting back to work after their all-day wedding celebration Saturday. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are delaying their honeymoon to attend their first engagement as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex -- a charity event for Prince Charles' 70th birthday.
On Saturday they celebrated late into the evening with family and friends and danced to Whitney Houston's "I Want to Dance with Somebody" as their first dance. The bride also broke with royal custom and gave a speech.
VANIER: Now Meghan Markle did continue another royal tradition. She sent her wedding bouquet to Westminster Abbey to rest on the grave of the unknown warrior.
Something happier -- her wedding dress getting rave reviews. Its designers Givenchy's Clare Waight Keller talked about what inspired it.
CLARE WAIGHT KELLER, DESIGNED MEGHAN MARKELS WEDDING DRESS: It was an enormous honor to be asked to be part of this historic moment. It's truly a privilege to have worked on this project.
I think with Meghan she's so modern and fresh. I think that was part of what she wanted I to be. He really wanted to (INAUDIBLE). I wanted her to feel absolutely incredible in the dress. And also I wanted her to feel like it was absolutely right for the occasion.
I truly do believe that we worked very closely together on actually bringing ideas to the table. She had definitely a vision of what she thought and then I very much tried to bring even more to that part of the discussions around the veil over what we were going to do.
Would it be a lace edge or a border? I said wouldn't it be amazing if we took the 53 countries of the Commonwealth and embroidered a flower and flora and fauna from each one of those and that they would go up the aisle, have that journey up the aisle with you.
She was absolutely radiant. There was just a glow to her. You could tell they were so in love in that moment where it has all come together for them.
VANIER: Do you want to get an even closer look at the royal wedding procession? Of course you do. You can zoom in to our Gigapixel@CNN.com and see just about everything. Alternatively, you can have Luke do it for you which is what he's doing now.
We think it's about as close as you can actually get to the wedding without having been there. I believe we saw some royals in the distance.
[01:55:05] ALLEN: I didn't. But thank you -- Luke. I saw a lot of people. And it's beautiful.
All right. The royal wedding came in for some ribbing on American television.
VANIER: "Saturday Night Live" of course, presented its version of the otherwise private wedding reception.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this condo here. Meghan's great uncle talking to my grand mom, the Queen of England.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey man I was just telling her majesty here that she has got to start watching "The Crown" because they make her look like a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) on that show.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sister-in-law Kate Middleton, right. You look a little tipsy -- Kate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well yes, you know, for the past six years I've been like pregnant the whole time. So I'm going hard tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes I can tell.
Chilling alone, right? What are you drinking mate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Virgin-hot toddy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So tea then.
So sorry to hear that your hair could no make it tonight -- so sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brilliant. What a brilliant boy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: They're something.
VANIER: Thank you for watching newsroom. I'm Cyril Vanier.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Rosemary and George are up next with more news. See you later. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)