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North Korean Official Warns of Nuclear Showdown; Pompeo Contradicts Trump; Storms Expected in Southeast; Trump Weighs in on New NFL Policy; Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired May 24, 2018 - 06:30   ET


[06:32:18] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, breaking news.

International investigators now say the missile that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 came from a Russian missile launcher. The head investigator says the missile's fingerprint matches that of Russia's 53rd Brigade and not to any other. I'm saying this slowly because I was in Ukraine. I was in those fields. People believed this then. Russia always denied it. They said we needed proof. And now here it is.

Two hundred and ninety-eight people from 17 countries died when that plane went down. And those people who were in those fields wouldn't even let the bodies be claimed and cleared. It was a disgusting situation. The truth had to come out. Now it has.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the war of words between North Korea and the United States escalating again ahead of next month's planned summit, raising more questions about whether this summit will actually happen. A North Korean official warns that the regime is ready for a nuclear showdown with the U.S. if dialogue fails.

CNN's Ivan Watson is live in Seoul with more.

What is the latest, Ivan?


You've got senior U.S. and North Korean officials publicly arguing basically right now with the fate of the summit in question. The North Korean top diplomat has responded to Vice President Pence's comments on Monday where he threatened effectively that North Korea could go the way of Libya if it doesn't make a deal with President Trump. So this diplomat responded calling Pence a political dummy, pointing out that North Korea had basically spent a lot of money and suffered a lot to create nuclear weapons, specifically to avoid the Libya model, to avoid what happened to Muammar Gaddafi, where he was shot dead by U.S.-backed rebels after an uprising, and then used some choice and quite threatening words, going on to say, quote, whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States. Pretty threatening stuff there. Meanwhile, North Korea is going ahead, it appears, with a plan to have a ceremony for the dismantling of its main nuclear testing site. And there are international journalists, including reporters from CNN, on the way to that location. And, curiously, the Trump administration is sending top officials to Singapore this weekend as if this summit next month will go ahead between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.

[06:35:01] We're also hearing that the Trump administration would like to have another round of high-level talks before that possible summit to get confirmation that North Korea truly does -- is ready to give up its nuclear weapons.


CUOMO: Now, Ivan, as you've been pointing out, all of this hot rhetoric expected. The question is, what do you do about it? How do you forge progress out of it? I know you'll stay on it. Thank you very much.

The intelligence community under attack from President Trump. To be clear, he's been attacking the entire institution. This new talk about just some at the top, that's exactly that, new and convenient. Can he prove any of what he is now admitting is a conspiracy theory about politicizing intelligence? Let's dig deeper into what is known and what is B.S., next.


CUOMO: President Trump continues to attack the U.S. intelligence community. He continues to push an unproven deep state conspiracy, one that his own secretary of state says is not true, and he just finished running the CIA, all right? The idea that there are these forces in government that are out just to sabotage him.

[06:40:09] CNN's Jim Sciutto is live in Washington looking into this and what it's all about.

What have you got?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Chris, I think we just have to remember that this is intentional. It is not subtle. It is long term. It started during the campaign. It continues as the president has used the power of his office to make these same arguments. And along the way it is not just Obama era intelligence and law enforcement chiefs who contradict the president, it is Trump era intelligence and law enforcement chiefs, appointees of this president who contradict the president's sometimes outrageous charges. And we saw that again on Wednesday.


SCIUTTO (voice over): The president again called the Russia investigation a witch hunt, carried out by a, quote, criminal deep state. And yet, just hours later, his newly appointed secretary of state can see no such deep state exists.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't believe there's a deep state at the State Department.

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: You formally served as CIA director. Do you believe your colleagues at CIA are part of the criminal deep state?

POMPEO: You know, this -- this term deep state has been thrown around. I'll say this. The employees that worked for me at the CIA, nearly uniformly, were aimed at achieving the president's objectives and America's objectives.

SCIUTTO: In fact, the president's alarming charge that the intelligence and law enforcement agencies are out to get him has been contradicted by the heads of each of those agencies, all appointed by the president and confirmed by a GOP-led Senate. And yet Mr. Trump continues to make the same allegation.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's never been anything like it in the history of our country.

SCIUTTO: Beyond his ongoing public attacks on the nation's intelligence community, the president has dismissed those agency's assessments of some of the most critical national security issues. Trump ignored the intelligence community's assessments that Iran is complying with the nuclear agreement and, instead, cited Israeli intelligence from 2003 as justification for killing the deal. Intelligence which U.S. officials tell CNN did not change the current U.S. assessment of Iranian compliance.

TRUMP: Israel published intelligence documents, long concealed by Iran, conclusively showing the Iranian's regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.

SCIUTTO: And now the questioning of U.S. intelligence extends beyond the president himself. On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said that she was, quote, unfamiliar with the intelligence community's high confidence assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. An assessment made public in January 2017.

KIRSTJEN NIELSON, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I do not believe that I've seen that conclusion. What I do --


NIELSON: That this specific intent was to help President Trump win, I -- I'm not aware of that.

SCIUTTO: The former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who served both Democratic and Republican administrations, warns that the president's latest allegation of spies inside his campaign is particularly damaging.

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Politicizing what is a legitimate activity on the part -- an important one on the part of the FBI. They use informants and have strict rules and protocols under this. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: Remember, there are two things going here. You have the president attacking the intelligence community, law enforcement community, to his benefit, but also contradicting the law enforcement and the intelligence community when they make recommendations relevant to national security decisions today. We saw that with the Iran deal. And as the president negotiates -- possibly negotiates with North Korea for the end to its nuclear program, what happens if they intelligence community tell him that a concession is not actually a concession. Does the president make a political judgement and contradict those agencies again? Watch this space. It's important and it's relevant today.

And let me just -- and as I see you, Alisyn and Chris there, boy that Alisyn Camerota, she is a patient, patient woman.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: I -- you know, how did you survive? I don't know, but --

CAMEROTA: I have the patience of Job. It's been said before, but --

CUOMO: Nobody's ever said that.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it's said constantly. But I know what you're alluding to, Jim. And we will certainly miss this frustrating, trying, patience-jarring person.

CUOMO: Did you not hear the racuen (ph) pop.

CAMEROTA: Person that we've been sitting next to.

SCIUTTO: He's not going far. He's not going far. But, anyway, congratulations, Chris. I know -- I know we'll be seeing a lot of you.

CUOMO: Jimmy, we've been together since college. You're not getting rid of me that fast.

SCIUTTO: I know that.

CUOMO: But thanks for the good word, brother. Appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: We'll see you guys.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, so much, Jim.

CUOMO: Please, go ahead.

CAMEROTA: All right, I will.

[06:44:50] A new threat, if you know what I mean. This one from Hawaii's erupting Kilauea volcano. Wait until we show you again the live shots that have riveted the world. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: A tropical system brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, expected to make the southeast stormy for this holiday weekend.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has the forecast.

You had one job!

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Make a good Memorial Day. That's it. That's all I had to do. But I want to see you again. And the next time I'm going to see you is a tropical storm, so maybe I'll just make one here and then I'll see you --

CUOMO: You and me, matching t-shirt. I like it.

MYERS: Christopher Charles, I will see you in prime time.

Good news here, only a 70 percent chance of something developing here in the Gulf of Mexico, although the bad news is, it will be a wet mess all across the southeast for the next few days. In fact, all the way Monday or Tuesday. It will still be wet here. So your Memorial Day vacation may be inside in some spots here.

Temperatures are going to be nice, but the rainfall could be four to five inches deep in some spots. That could make flooding.

Back to you, Alisyn.

[06:50:00] CAMEROTA: Thank you, Chad. We're very disheartened by what you've done down there.

Thank you.

All right, so President Trump weighs in on the NFL's new national anthem rules, saying that anyone who does not stand proudly should not be in this country. Is that what he said or in this job. Anyway, reaction from a former NFL star, next.

CUOMO: So much for the First Amendment.

And now let's tee up a really cool series that CNN has. 1968 was one of the most consequential years in American history. This special, it's a two-night CNN original series. It starts Sunday at 9:00 Eastern. It takes you inside that year in a way you've probably never experienced before. Here's a taste.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the spring of '68, we had the most violent period in the entirely war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Awful sick. I'll be so glad to go home.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: I've seen the promised land. But I want you to know tonight that we are the people will get to the promised land.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For my parent's generation, King was the dream.

And then he's gone.

ROBERT KENNEDY: I am announcing today my candidacy for the presidency of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), Senator Kennedy has been shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was really the death of hope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wallace knew how to get a crowd energized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I know (INAUDIBLE) you don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police and the demonstrators tussle over this busy intersection.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Graduate" is probably the most important movie of the '60s.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I hope to restore respect to the presidency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the most dramatic and consequential years in history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 1968, a four-part, two-night CNN original series event. Starts Sunday at 9:00.



[06:55:59] CUOMO: President Trump weighing in on a new NFL policy requiring players to stand during the national anthem if they are on the field or they face a fine.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that's good. I don't think people should be staying in locker rooms. But, still, I think it's good. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn't be playing. You shouldn't be there. Maybe you shouldn't be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem.

I think the people pushed it forward. This country is very smart. We have very smart people. And, you know, that's something ideally that could have been taken care of when it first started. It would have been a lot easier. But if they did that, they're doing the right thing.


CUOMO: Joining us now is George Martin, the former president of the NFL Players Association. A Giant great.

It's good to see you, sir.


CUOMO: I'm doing well, thank God.

George, if you don't want to stand for the anthem, get the hell out. Get out of the league. Get out of the country. What do you think of that?

MARTIN: Well, I think it goes against our whole principal of the Constitution. And I think the forefathers, as they framed it, gave us the right to stand up and protest and that's something that should not be challenged and shouldn't be short circuited. I don't think that you can -- can mandate or you can require someone to be patriotic. It is either in them or not.

And I somewhat disagree with the premise, although having played 14 years in the NFL, I always stood for the -- and stood proudly for the anthem. And my dad served in World War II, and I respect the American flag. But, at the same time, I respect our right to protest.

CUOMO: So, you've got a lot of things coming together at once, right? Some of the men who don't stand say they're doing it as an act of patriotism. That they are speaking out about issues that matter to them as part of their democratic right and First Amendment right.

Then you have the flip side, which is the league is a private concession. They can make their own rules. And this will be one of them. What do you think of that?

MARTIN: Well, I think there's a conflict there. And I think they have the right to make those rules. I don't -- and I think we have the right to either adhere to them or not. And I think that our rights supersedes theirs. And we can face the consequences that as a result of that.

But one thing I want to make clear, Chris, almost from the inception, the narrative of this protest has been hijacked and hijacked quite successfully. It was never intended to be a -- a challenge of the -- the anthem. It was intended to call to the plight of African-Americans being mistreated in this society. That was the narrative. And somehow it's been successfully hijacked. And I think that's a travesty in and of itself.

CUOMO: Well, we've heard that from many people who engage in the protest, that they're not disrespecting the flag, they're saying the flag is being disrespected and they're taking that moment during the anthem to express that.

However, the politics of it have played to the point that we just saw in the president. And we're going to hear about this during the midterms. You know, it will be football season, of course, as we're coming up to the Election Day in November. We're going to hear about this and see its effects every Sunday.

This rule was not done in consultation with the players. Was that intentional? Was that wrong?

MARTIN: Well, I think it was quite intentional. And I think you see the reaction from the NFL Players Association that they're quite upset about that, and rightfully so. I think without having any buy-in from the player's side is -- was misguided. And I think they should go back and look at it. And it should have been something that was done with both sides considered.

CUOMO: The Jets. Chris Johnson, Woody Johnson's brother, Woody Johnson, obviously, working for the administration right now as the ambassador to Britain. His brother is running the team and say, I will cover all fines in this regard. Do you think every team should do that?

MARTIN: Well, I think that would be a great gesture. And I think it would be something that would be appropriate, even though the ruling that came down was supposed to be unanimous by all 32 teams. We know that initially there was some dissent among owners. So I don't think that all of them have been on board. And I guess given Johnson's current status, that shows that a lot of people did not agree with that unanimous consent. So I support that wholeheartedly.

[07:00:03] CUOMO: George Martin, always a pleasure. Thank you for the perspective.

MARTIN: Chris, good run on NEW DAY and the very best to you in the future.

CUOMO: Appreciate it, big brother. Thank you very much.

MARTIN: You got it.

CUOMO: All right, thanks to our international viewers for watching.