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Trump Escalates Attack On Russia Investigators; Trump Meets With FBI, Department Of Justice Intel Leaders; Trump To Host South Korean President Moon At White House; U.S. Announces Sweeping Demands For Iran. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired May 22, 2018 - 00:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, the Trump White House levies tough new sanctions on Iran while growing increasingly concerned the upcoming summit with Kim Jong-un will not end successfully.

The president meantime has unleashed a new political earthquake accusing the FBI of spying.

Plus, incredible pictures (inaudible) erupting volcanoes spews thousands of lava.

And filmmaker (inaudible) will be with us to talk about his extraordinary new documentary about Pope Francis with insight into the pontiffs beliefs and aspiration through a series (inaudible).

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause. NEWSROOM L.A. right now.

The U.S. president is escalating his attacks on the Russia probe moving beyond witch hunt rhetoric to demanding for an investigation of the investigators. The president held an extraordinary meeting with intelligence and law enforcement officials at the White House on Monday.

It came a day after his tweet calling for a probe on whether the FBI spied on his campaign for political purposes. All of this because Mr. Trump had read there were reports the agency had a confidential source who is talking to campaign aides about possible ties to Russia.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think it would be very troubling to millions of Americans if that took place, but we are very confident and that as the inspector general has been doing their work, looking at the conduct of the FBI during that period by adding their focus to this that we'll get to the bottom of it, because the American people have a right to know.


VAUSE: CNN political commentators joining us here in Los Angeles, Dave Jacobson is a Democratic strategist, and John Thomas, a Republican consultant. OK, John, let's just pick up on what the vice president said. Get to the bottom of what? What specifically is he talking about? What do the American people have a right to know about? What are they talking about here, specifically?

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Whether or not there was coordination between the FBI or the Justice Department and looking into Donald Trump's campaign. And what we do know is that there was somebody who was probing whether it was George Papadopoulos, Carter Page and others for information about what did they know about the e- mails, was there -- were they coordinating with the Russians?

Whether or not this person was just an independent actor acting as an informant to the FBI, or if this actually was in coordination with the FBI, and that's significant.

VAUSE: Isn't the key to this for political purposes? Otherwise, it's called a standard investigation?

THOMAS: We don't know what we don't know here. I think we have to get to the bottom it.

VAUSE: I mean, Dave, this just seems -- there doesn't seem to be a basis for this allegation, apart from that report in the "New York Times" and a blog by a conservative which was put out a week before that. (Inaudible) had no evidence to say that there was any political purposes but you make any allegations?

THOMAS: It's interesting because the same professor, it appears that he was an informant for the FBI on numerous other things. This is a long-time informant.

VAUSE: Right.

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: By the way, was also recommended for a job in the Trump administration.

THOMAS: Which is amazing because he's leaking that there might be misdoings in the Trump campaign, yet he still wants a job in the Trump White House.

JACOBSON: But going back to your original question --

VAUSE: Because so far everything that's comes out about, you know, what the FBI did with the Trump campaign appears to be standard operating procedure.

JACOBSON: Right. The president is trying to capitalize on this, politicize the issue, create political fodder to muddy the water around the Russia probe. Bottom line is he's out there articulating that there was a spy totally infiltrating his campaign as if they were embedded.

They were in the war room. They were talking about the campaign budget and advertising and strategic decisions in the campaign. That didn't happen. There were three meetings that took place with someone who was perhaps having conversations with the FBI. Let me just say the bar is very high. There is a very high standard for the FBI --

THOMAS: We don't know, though, Dave, if there was a judge that signed off on this --

JACOBSON: Can I just say -- if there was any politicization of the FBI, it was against Hillary Clinton. Let's not forget reports came out from the "New York Times," "The Washington Post," among others just weeks ago that the FBI was investigating Trump and Russia months before the election, but we didn't hear about that before the election. What we did hear was the director of the FBI, James Comey coming out twice talking about Hillary Clinton.

VAUSE: Which is that "New York Times" report is the basis for what Donald Trump is now saying about his campaign being spied on for political purposes. It's nowhere in the "New York Times" report.

So, you know, it seems -- you can't really (inaudible) the "New York Times" report lied. I mean, either you take all of it or none of it. Either it's all credible or none of it is credible.

[00:05:05] But you know, we had the Republican congressman, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes, who is one of the driving forces behind this push to investigate the FBI. Here he is.


REPRESENTATIVE DEVIN NUNES (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: This whole thing is a scam. There's real FISA abuse here. I just can imagine if what's -- if what's in these stories is true, how can any American stand for this?


VAUSE: And just to clarify, FISA is the FISA warrants which the FBI needs, they go to a judge, it's a very high bar so they can have surveillance --

THOMAS: I heard it's a low bar. They get them easily.

VAUSE: But what happened though is that there were four Republican judges who ruled there was enough evidence for the FISA warrants to continue, which were issued under the Obama administration, enough evidence for those FISA warrants to continue under, you know, the Trump administration. So again, what are they talking about? I mean, I thought we've done away with the FISA issue once and for all?

THOMAS: No, clearly, Nunes wants more information, but I think it's a combination. It's not just the FISA warrants. It's also this spy that was potentially embedded in the campaign, they want to know, did a judge sign off on that? And if a judge didn't, how does something like that get authorized into a presidential campaign?

VAUSE: By a Republican judge -- you mean the informant?

THOMAS: Yes. VAUSE: When no one knows about the investigation, you send someone in and they gather information, and you use, you know, sort of covert measures to gather information so the people don't know about it, and then you move to surveillance. That's what the FBI does.

JACOBSON: Bottom line, we know it is a fact, it's not disputed the Russians meddled in our election. What would the Republicans say if they have thought or there was news coming out or potentially FBI somehow found out that Hillary Clinton was coordinating or colluding with the U.K. to win the election and beat Donald Trump --

VAUSE: At least the U.K. is a friendly government -- China.

JACOBSON: Another foreign government, right, like Republicans would want the FBI to look into it, bottom line.

VAUSE: Here's part of a political strategy it seems -- all of this rather was part of a political strategy hatched by Trump advisers outside of the White House. Here's Jake Tapper's reporting.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Part of a push to paint the president as a victim of a deep state conspiracy, the campaign is about convicting Trump friendly media and the president himself to take a more adversarial position towards Rosenstein and the FBI. One member of the group told me, quote, "Outside supporters don't believe that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly or White House Counsel Don McGahn are being aggressive enough in defending the president," unquote.


VAUSE: So, John, if there is nothing to hide, the president is squeaky clean then why is there this need to demolish the reputations of men like Rosenstein, Mueller and undermine the credibility of the Department of Justice and the FBI.

THOMAS: Well, it's fairly easy to do when guys like Jim Comey come out throwing mud and destroying their own reputation over reaching. So, I just don't see -- we're seeking the truth and every time they try to release a memo, it's we can't because people may die. It's classified.

VAUSE: No, you can't release the memo because the FBI and the intelligence community said please don't release the memo. That's why they didn't want to release it, but they released it anyway.

THOMAS: Despite them not wanting to release it, they were forced to release it. Now we're hearing we can't release the name of this professor's name because it's so confidential. It turns out he's well known. I just don't understand why it's -- more information is bad.

Dave may be very right, maybe it was necessary to investigate, but how do they come to that process, did a judge sign off on it? And why can't we know exactly how they came to that conclusion? JACOBSON: Look, I just don't think that like Rosenstein or the FBI should be dictated on what to do by the president -- hold on a second. I don't think there's anything wrong with looking into it, right. If there was wrong doing, then we should put a spotlight on that, and if there was misconduct then that should be dealt with aggressively. I don't think that there was like I don't that there was three meetings --

VAUSE: The problem is there's a reason why the Department of Justice is independent of the White House. This is because of Watergate. It's a situation where the president is now directing the Department of Justice to investigate his enemies, and this what Watergate was all about. That's the problem. Do you see that, John?

THOMAS: I don't think it's investigating his enemies. It's making sure that it was done fairly.

VAUSE: Stay with us. President Trump is set to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday. This comes as doubts grow if the U.S.-North Korea summit will take place next month. Ivan Watson is in Seoul for us.

Ivan, the Vice President Mike Pence added to those doubts repeating a threat the president made last week. Do we have Ivan? I think we have some problems with Ivan right now. We'll get back to Ivan in a second. I think he can't hear us.

[00:10:05] We had Mike Pence on Fox News doubling down on the Libya comment that basically if Kim Jong-un does not agree to this deal that potentially he'll be forced out of power and drag through the streets of Libya and you know, horrible things will happen to him like what happened in Moammar Gadhafi.

So, you know, Dave, if Trump wants this to go ahead, making those kind (inaudible) I think isn't going to help the situation?

JACOBSON: No, and I think increasingly it's becoming clear that Kim Jong-un -- Trump playbook, right, and he now has leverage over Donald Trump because expended so much political capital making this unprecedented meeting public without any sort of negotiations happen beforehand. And I think, look, if this thing crumbles and falls apart, it is going to be one of the biggest embarrassment of the Trump White House.

VAUSE: (Inaudible) you mentioned that because there this report from the "New York Times" which CNN has confirmed. Here's part of it, "President Trump increasingly concerned that his summit meeting in Singapore next month with North Korea's leader could turn into a political embarrassment, has begun pressing his aides and allies about whether he should take the risk of proceeding with a historic that he had left into accepting according to administration and foreign officials."

So, John, you know, it's taken this long, this many weeks for the president to realize what everyone was saying don't do this. It comes with huge political risk and certainly don't say, you know, this is what's going to win the midterms. This is what's going to win you a Nobel Peace Prize at the end of the day. I mean, this seems like massive overreach by Donald Trump.

THOMAS: Well, some people said about the sanctions against China and look what's happening now. We have the deficit. The trade deficit being reduced by more than any president has in a single year. So, it's early in the art of the deal. We'll see where it goes. I still optimistic they can get done.

At least they are toying with and I think that's right. This is all part of a broader negotiation that North Korea is putting their cards and see what they can extract for the meetings and seeing if Trump is going to blink.

JACOBSON: Well, I think Democrats want to deal to happen. The challenge is we are dealing with two very irrational actors.

VAUSE: Let's go to Ivan Watson. He is in Seoul. Ivan, what do we know about any reaction there or how the North Koreans are likely to react to this threat coming from Vice President Mike Pence essentially repeating a threat the president made a week ago?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the North Koreans right now are beating up on the South Koreans and that's, you know, striking considering that it is the South Korean President Moon Jae-in who is going to be meeting with President Trump in a matter of hours in Washington.

And he's kind of pitched himself as this grand mediator, the North Korea whisperer, and the North Koreans keep beating up on the South Koreans for joint U.S.-South Korean military drills. They are using their state media to continue criticizing.

And they've excluded South Korean journalists from a ceremony that they say they are going to a hold at their main nuclear testing site this week where they're going to dismantle that site and they've invited journalists from five different countries.

But at the last minute, they've basically rejected applications for South Korean journalists to come. There has been criticism lobbed at the U.S. in the last week, but we haven't seen those same kinds of measures used for example to try to exclude U.S. journalists.

CNN has been invited and we have a team that is going to that nuclear testing facility this week for this North Korean ceremony, but basically the North Koreans have made it clear that they are not going to be pushovers and it's raised questions about the upcoming Singapore summit between Kim Jong-un and President Trump.

Questions that, I guess, the U.S. and South Korean presidents will be discussing at the White House again in a matter of hours here -- John.

VAUSE: Yes, a lot to discuss between those two leaders about this summit and whether or not to go ahead and what the goals are. Ivan, thank you. Ivan Watson there for us in Seoul. Also, Dave and John here in Los Angeles. Appreciate it. Well, let's take a quick break. When we come back, the U.S. throwing down the (inaudible) when it comes to Iran demanding sweeping changes, an end to its nuclear program or be crushed by sanctions and military pressure. We'll have Iran's response and what this means for relations with Europe.

Also, ahead, after weeks of nearly constant eruptions, the Kilauea Volcano is still raging in Hawaii. We'll find out any signs it may be slowing down.



VAUSE: A few weeks after Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, the U.S. is now threatening to crush Iran with economic and military pressure unless it changes its behavior in the Middle East and ends its nuclear program.

That threat came from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking to a conservative think tank in Washington. Among the demands, Iran pull out of Syria and stopped its support Hezbollah and Hamas where they also reiterated President Trump's stance that Barack Obama should never made a deal in the first place.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Strategically, the Obama administration made a bet that the deal would spur Iran to stop its rogue state actions and conform to international norms, that that was a loser with massive repercussions for all of the people living in the Middle East.


VAUSE: Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, fight back at Pompeo reportedly saying, who are you to make decisions about Iran. Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif says the U.S. is imprisoned by delusions and failed policies.

For more now, CNN European affairs commentator, Dominic Thomas, and Dallia Dassa Kaye, director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at RAND Corporation. Nice to have you guys here for the start of the week.

OK, Dallia, first to you, there 12 big demands the US is making of Iran, and some people have pointed out that the bar here is just incredibly high that there is no realistic way that Tehran will agree to any of this. And that's a sign that essentially, you know, Washington is not serious about diplomacy (inaudible).

DALLIA DASSA KAYE, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR MIDDLE EAST PUBLIC POLICY, RAND CORPORATION, Yes, I think that's right. I think the Europeans were trying to strike a deal with the Trump administration before this thrall and the demands today are certainly not going to make them anymore eager to do so. I think they really went much further. The question isn't just the issue of the administration withdrawing from this deal, but how they are withdrawing with such a hard exit and such inflammatory rhetoric and a threat to actually punish a European company. So, it was as strident as the speech as I think we might have expected.

VAUSE: I just need to go back here in time because the reason why issues like Hezbollah and Hamas in Syria weren't dealt with initially is because you never get a deal. That's why it's all (inaudible).

KAYE: Yes, and the issue of enrichment and so forth, all of these things were thought about. It's not like the negotiators would have wanted the grand bargain or the ultimate deal with Iran, right.

But you can have, you know, negotiations aren't about a capitulation and this administration's kind of operating style like they did with the Palestinians is just basically give up everything and then we can strike a deal. That is just not realistic.

VAUSE: A little more from Iran's foreign minister, this is a tweet, "U.S. diplomacy sham has merely regretted the old habit imprisoned by delusions and failed policies dictated by corrupt special interest. It repeats the same wrong choices and will thus reap the same ill rewards.

Iran meanwhile is working with partners with post-U.S. JCPOA solutions, in other words post-negotiation deal solutions." So, Dominic, in the speech, Mike Pompeo also seemed to concede the obvious that the Europeans are sticking with the deal, though, we know European exit.

[00:20:10] And the Europeans actually continue to the negotiate as Zarif says in his tweet and increased investment by the Europeans in Iran to make up for the absence in the U.S.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Well, yes, I mean, the distinction to be made I think between what the European Union is saying and what individual European heads of state are facing on the ground at the domestic level. The fact remains that the great fear, of course, is a trade war with the United States and sanctions from the U.S.

The United States is a far more important and trade partner, of course, than Iran is for the European Union now part of 28th. It's the number one place to which the export, and of course, Germany, France, the U.K. This is the same thing.

So, I think that these leaders are, you know, dealing with expressions in a very real way. The other aspect of this I think, which is of tremendous concern, is -- I wouldn't say that we are getting a clear indication as to where US foreign policy is getting that problems are emerging.

And we saw this in some of Pompeo's remarks later on that as far as he's concern, the alignment with Israel, the alignment with gulf state leaders and so on actually is trumping if you excuse the pun the connections with Europe and those with long historical relationships are moving towards a kind of a new relationship with the U.S., with Europe and another partners are emerging.

VAUSE: OK, so with that in mind, Dallia, Pompeo did not really explain how unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States could actually to be more effective than multilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe and China and Russia as per the old agreement. So, which force Iran to negotiate. So, can there be stronger U.S. sanctions put in place than there were already were?

KAYE: Well, the idea is to get even -- their ideas to get even stronger multilateral sanctions, the strongest sanctions we've seen ever is what he's promising. The problem is Russia and China weight weren't even mentioned in the speech. I mean, I don't exactly see them going along with this plan.

And an alienated Europe is leaving the United States pretty isolated and we know that if there's that multilateral pressure on the Iranians, you are not going to get a result that you want. It's very unclear how we get from Point A to B with this new policy.

VAUSE: And Dominic, you mentioned the European Union because this was the Plan B after ripping up the nuclear deal. It's not much of Plan B according to most people. Here's reaction from the E.U.

"Secretary Pompeo's speech has not demonstrated how walking away from JCPOA has made or will make the region safer from the threat of nuclear proliferation will help puts us in a better position to influence Iran's conduct in areas outside the scope of JCPOA. There is no alternative."

It seems from a European point of view, they've got this united front against Iran almost to this united front against Donald Trump and also, talking about the trade issue and yes, the U.S. in a trading partner, but there is also the very real threat and the design to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions, which goes into that equation as well.

THOMAS: As (inaudible) and then Angela Merkel when she came over and then Boris Johnson was a new deal, at least keep the paths of communication open. It seems absolutely clear from Pompeo's remarks and Donald Trump's strategies that U.S. foreign policy is moving towards an outgrowth of the Bush policy, which is not just resume change.

It is in its feet writings of some of the personality traits of President Trump and his bullying. We are in a position of power. We are threatening, and we are seeking conformity and compliance, and everything falling short of that will lead to you being crushed, right?

And this kind of rhetoric is of extraordinarily disturbing to European leaders for obvious reasons, the proximity of the Middle East, the particular instability of the region, the impact of further conflict in that area would have. It does not seem that the U.S. administration is moving along in the way that it has would just say the North Korea deal when it comes to Iran. This is far more threatening, and the partners and the Iranian responses is obviously, you know, a tough one.

VAUSE: And Dallia, instead of Iran being isolated through all of this, it now seems in many ways is the U.S., which has been left isolated.

KAYE: Well, that's the most worrying aspect of all of this and we could very well end up with the worst of all worlds, which is Iran resuming its nuclear enrichment activity with a very weak sanctions regime in place to prevent it.

So, the idea that Europe can save deal I think a lot of people are questioning if that's really possible. Their companies are already suggesting they are pulling, but we don't know what China and Russia are going to do.

And the Iranian certainly are not indicating they are ready to come back to the table anytime soon. So, we are really I think the outcomes here are extremely dangerous.

THOMAS: But Pompeo provided a list, a fairly, you know, expanded list that included South Korea, Australia, Gulf states, Israel and so on, right. So, Europe knows is not in the equations. Let's think beyond Europe, right.

[00:25:10] Let's think of a kind of post-Europe-U.S. foreign policy here and he provided a fairly long list of partners that the U.S. (inaudible). I don't see the U.S. as being isolated here.

I see a kind of a strategy developing of new alignments with like or similar thinking people, many of whom, of course, are exploiting this sort of the vacuum that is being left by the inconsistency in U.S. policies and actually getting what it is they've been going after for a long time with Iran, which is regime change and compliance.

KAYE: But only five of those countries actually supported the U.S. first off in the deal, so I think the point, you know, it's still going to be a big question whether that new multilateral regime can be constructed, and China is going to be the big wildcard here. They have the most invested in Iran and Russia.

VAUSE: We are seeing (inaudible) alliances with Europe and so anyways, that could have been, you know, in place since the end of World War II. Dominic and Dallia, thank you so much.

Another short break, when we come back, what Pope Francis said that have some asking if the church is actually moving towards changing one of its controversial teachings.

Also, is Pope Francis, a true (inaudible) or is he's just really good at PR? (Inaudible) the Holy Father may have an answer to that. We'll be back in a moment.


VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live in Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. We'll take the headlines this hour -- U.S. President Donald Trump met with senior intelligence and law enforcement officials on Monday after demanding an investigation and whether the FBI was spying on his presidential campaign for political purposes. Reports say the FBI had a confidential source to talk to Trump campaign aides about possible ties to Russia.

The U.S. is demanding Iran and its nuclear program, pull out of Syria, and make other sweeping changes or face crushing sanctions and increasing military pressure. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlining demands on Monday. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani fighting back dismissing the ultimatum and saying the international community does not accept the U.S. as being the world's enforcer.

And President Trump is imposing sanctions on Venezuela a day after Nicolas Maduro won a second term as president in an election many are calling a sham. U.S. companies and citizens will be banned from buying debt from the Venezuelan government. Venezuela calls the sanctions illegal.

Well, some in the LBGTQ community Catholic has struggled in trying to reconcile their identity, who they love and their faith, and now Pope Francis has reportedly expressed another message of inclusion. A gay man who survived sexual abuse by a priest in Chile says Pope Francis told him that God made him gay. Juan Carlos Cruz spent three days with the Pope at the Vatican in April. Cruz tells CNN he discussed the abuse he endured and his sexuality with the Pope. Cruz says Francis told him quote, "God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this, and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say."

The immediate reaction to those comments from the Pope has been headlines like this one from the Los Angeles Times, Pope's reported comment to a gay man may indicate a new level of acceptance of homosexuality, and this from the associated press, LGBTQ community cheers pope's 'God made you like this' remark. But the fact is the Pope's comments don't contradict the church teachings in anyway.

The catechism says men and women with homosexual tendencies should be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity but then goes onto state homosexual acts are intrinsically discordant. They are contrary to the natural war in the homosexual persons a call to chastity. Nothing the Pope said to Juan Carlos Cruz, the victim of sexual abuse, actually changes doctrine when it comes to homosexuality. And it seems this may be another example of what many have long debated about this pope, is he a true radical, a progressive in pontous (ph) clothing or just a mercer of the message? Spinning the angles, so it sounds to me like the Catholic Church is changing, becoming more accepting, more inclusive. The answer to that question might just be found in a new documentary about the Holy Father.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a divided world - UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (foreign language)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: - one mire (ph) has a mission -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (foreign language)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: - to bring us together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (foreign language)


VAUSE: Wim Wenders is the director of "Pope Francis: A Man of His Word" and he is with me now here in Los Angeles. Thank you for coming in and congratulations.

WIM WENDERS: Thank you, too.

VAUSE: The reviews are mostly great for the documentary, and it seems to reveal a side of this pope which many suspected was there, but we were never too sure about it. So why did he agree to this interview?

WENDERS: More than that (inaudible) the Vatican asked for a film to be made and asked me if I was up for it, and yes I was.

VAUSE: But why? It's only these (ph) sort of documentaries are so controlled. You don't get this kind of access. You know, you don't actually see the real person. They was a spin up (ph).

WENDERS: They didn't want to control it. They actually said you make your film and we are not producing it. We're not interfering. You have access to the Pope and to the archive, but you make your movie. And they really kept their word. They never ever interfered.

VAUSE: Did you have a doubt that they would?

WENDERS: Well, it sounded to good to be true, but in the end, they kept their word and they didn't ask me to cut anything, and I could ask all the questions I wanted. And I had final cut on this. So to answer your question, I think he is the real deal.

VAUSE: I want to get back to that because is he really trying and is he succeeding in changing the church, or is he just good at PR? Is he good at haling (ph) the parts of the, you know, the church doctrinment (ph), people of grace and they like about acceptance and inclusion or downplaying the stuff that people don't like, you know, about, you know, homosexuality being grave to parity (ph). Which is it?

WENDERS: I think he means it when he talks it. Tenderness is strength and not weakness, and I think he's talking from a great love of people and he's living up to his name. And St. Francis was a great revolutionary in the church and no pope ever dared to take on his name with the fact that he did, from the beginning, make it clear here -

VAUSE: This is (inaudible) first. He's the first one to take St. Francis. Why? Please elaborate on it because you said that's the most significant part about this pope.

WENDERS: This man had answers to questions that still disturb us today. St. Francis redefined our relation to nature, and he said, "we got it all wrong, guys. We have to take nature more seriously." And today, 800 years later, that is more poignant than ever. And he not only spoke about poverty, St. Francis, he lived with the poor and with the outcast, and that was the first signal from Pope Francis was, "I want a poor church for the poor," and that, too, he means it. He shows this with his own life.

VAUSE: Very different compared to his predecessor.


VAUSE: You interviewed Pope Francis for more than 8 hours. He spoke without notes. It seems he spoke without a filter. You know, I just want to play one of those moments. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (foreign language)


VAUSE: Was your strategy here allow him to talk, speak without argument, just let him go?

WENDERS: Yes. I just started him with a question and I encourage him to incorporate my question (ph) or I put it in a way that he is to start from scratch with the answer, and he does go into all these topics on his own. I didn't interfere much. I didn't want to appear as voice (ph). I really wanted him, as you saw, to talk to everybody, talk into everybody's eye. I thought that was such an incredible prevalence. I was face to face with him. I wanted to put everybody into my seat. And you saw he's speaking to all of us.

VAUSE: It's very personal.


VAUSE: There are some very warm hearing (ph) moments throughout this. At one point, though, there is real anger from the Pope and it comes when you ask him about pedophilia. What happened?

WENDERS: It was almost a shock how angry he got and how upset he was and how much you realize he would go so much further and he would do so much more if he could do it on his own. But then you realize he can only instigate it and it's still a hige institution to move, and there was a lot of anger. He was furious when he said -

VAUSE: (inaudible)

WENDERS: - zero tolerance. I had expected that he was going to be angry, but not that it was - that he was steaming.

VAUSE: You know, would you say - what would you say is your final impression of this man in terms of his leadership, his character, the type of person he is?

WENDERS: It's genuine concern for humanity and a great love for people. And if you look at his past, he's been like this since he was a young priest. Even as a bishop or a cardinal, he went out to the slumps. He went to all these places where it hurts to go, and that's the first thing he did. He went to see the refugees on the Italian coast, and who on this Earth travels around the world and not just meets leader of state, but goes to the prison, goes to hospitals, goes to slums and refugee camps? Nobody does that.

VAUSE: As much as he is loved, there are those who oppose him as well, and he knows there are - there's opposition out there to him.

WENDERS: He always has opposition and I found out a little bit about it, but then again, this was not my - this is not the topic of the film, but -

VAUSE: But I think you said he's fearless when it comes to the opposition, those against him?

WENDERS: I think so. I think so. He - I mean, there's a scene in the church - in the film where he speaks to his cardinals and he tells them all the sins that they also just as well victim to like anybody else. So he's not afraid, and I don't think he's not exactly thought - said what he though when he spoke to any other world leaders. You see Putin come to him and Adderdon (ph). All of them he's telling them what he thinks.

VAUSE: OK. Well Wim, thank you very much for the movie, for the documentary. It is well worth a watch, so we appreciate that. Thank you for coming in.

WENDERS: Thank you so much.

VAUSE: Congratulations. Thanks. Good luck.

WENDERS: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, still to come here, stunning but deadly. Authorities in Hawaii are urging everyone to stay far away from these clouds, and we'll tell you why in a moment.


VAUSE: The Kilauea volcano is erupting more violently than ever. T his mountain of molten lava went from fissure number 20. Rivers of lava are flowing towards the east coast of Hawaii's big island. Authorities are warning residents to be ready to leave with little or no notice. Also to stay away from toxic gas clouds like this one. They're called laze and they're filled with hydrochloric acid and tiny glass particles formed with lava dumps into the ocean. Pedram Javaheri joins us now with more on the conditions right now in Hawaii. So, it's getting worse.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. You know, John, it doesn't get much scarier too when you think about when you have a volcanic eruption, an active one, one that's been so ongoing across an area, that has been so impactful for a lot of people. You know, with hurricanes, with tropical systems you see a warning.

With even severe weather you have a heads up on this. Earthquakes, yes, you're surprised but oftentimes they come, you have an aftershock or so afterwards, a few aftershocks afterwards conditions taper off. This particular one is a long drawn out event for folks across this region and geologists certainly taking it very seriously as well.

We're seeing pretty spectacular photographs across this region of what folks are doing here, what officials are doing here when it comes to just surveying the situation. Of course, protective gear on and then you look at the aerial videography from this region showing the lava flows better. Just decimating communities farther and farther downstream.

But to give you a good sense of scale, perspective of how many people are impacted, how broad of an impact we're talking about here and the variables that play. I want to give you a three dimensional look at what's all happening across this region because, of course, when you bring this in you bring Mauna Loa in across the big island of Hawaii, you've got a lot to work with.

And with the initial eruption we've had the main concern, look at the ash cloud. We had of course the aviation industry, they were on alert because of this. The ash fall associated with this also a major concern. It's an eye area stands (ph). Of course respiratory irritant as well. So, these all play a significant role.

That was just one element of it. Then we introduced the laze which is the lava haze that forms when you have lava itself work its way towards some of the coastal regions. When that interaction with sea water occurs another pattern of eye irritant, skin irritant, however this is highly corrosive so if this makes contact with your skin, it not only can destroy it but this can actually kill you in a very short amount of time if you're caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And of course the evacuations widespread across this region and then you bring in the next element of concern that we've had to deal with in the last couple of weeks and that's sulfur dioxide levels which frankly have been on the increase for many, many days now. But you put that in with fog, acid rain once you have precipitation in place.

That all becomes a major, major player across this region. Now, let me know you this because the forecast, at least, weather wise across the area has shown some signs of improvement. We're looking at here no chance for rain showers. At least very little chance in an area that frankly get quite a bit of rainfall. That's good news, eliminating the acid rain concerns.

The prevailing winds, they're beginning to shift everything farther to the south, population near the south point, John, sitting around 5,000 people. Kilauea a factor of 10 greater there, seeing 50,000 people.

So, again, when you break this down with all of the negative things, that bad things going on across this region the elements of taking the pollutants to a lesser populated area, of course, not sobering news when you're living there, all of these at least having some benefit to think of versus how far worse it could be if this was shifted towards some of the other higher populated items, John.

VAUSE: Yes, bad but not as bad as it could be I guess. This is as good as it's going to get for a while.

JAVAHERI: Exactly.

VAUSE: Pedram, thank you. And, thank you for watching CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us for World Sports with Kate Riley. You're watching CNN.


RILEY: Hello. Welcome to World Sport. I'm Kate Riley.