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NEW DAY SATURDAY

North And South Korean Leaders Meet To Discuss U.S. Summit; Two Injured As Teacher Disarms Student Shooter; NBA Player Demands Accountability After Police Tasing. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired May 26, 2018 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:17]

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour and there is major breaking news this morning. Another sign that the summit between the U.S. and North Korea may actually happen. Good morning. I'm Victor Blackwell.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Sorry about that. Good morning. I'm Christi Paul. Just moments ago, South Korea confirmed its president did meet with the North Korean leader just a few hours ago. The discussion held at the DMZ on the North side focused on how to get this sit-down between the U.S. and North Korea back on track.

CNN's Will Ripley just returned from North Korea a few hours ago and spoke to regime officials there. He is standing by for us. We do want to start with CNN Matt Rivers live in Seoul, South Korea.

BLACKWELL: So, Matt, what are you learning about the meeting?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this has just come out in the past 30 minutes or so. It came as a huge shock to those of us here in South Korea and frankly all around the world. We know that these two leaders met in a surprise visit from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. local time here in South Korea.

That would have been in the wee hours of the morning on the east coast of the United States and not a ton of detail yet. We're just getting this video now in for the first time showing those two leaders meeting, greeting each other like old friends at this point.

We know they met for the first time in late April at the first inter- Korean summit. Not a ton of details about what they spoke about so far other than the Blue House here, the office of the presidency here in South Korea saying that they spoke about implementing the joint declaration that came out after that first meeting in late April.

But the more important point would be that they spoke about the potential U.S./North Korea summit. We didn't get any more details than that. We are expecting to get some more details throughout the night tonight in South Korea and then expecting a press release from the office of the presidency in South Korea at 10:00 a.m. local time tomorrow morning, 9:00 p.m. Saturday evening in the United States on the east coast. But this is truly a remarkable moment, completely unexpected, especially when you consider how disappointed people here in South Korea were. President Moon Jae-in more than any other leader had really set the stage for the potential summit between the United States and North Korea.

He really laid the groundwork there with that first inter-Korean summit, but what we see with this meeting is despite the fact they were incredibly disappointed the summit had been canceled by the Americans, they did not sit around and feel sorry for themselves.

Clearly, they're engaging in proactive diplomacy trying to make sure, do their part to make sure this summit can get rescheduled at some other point.

BLACKWELL: All right, Matt, thank you.

PAUL: So, Will, I know you just returned from North Korea and you spoke to government officials. What are you hearing about this regime, and is this a sign that they could seriously get this back on the books?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's a very encouraging sign that the summit could happen in Singapore on June 12th as planned or potentially at a later date or a different location. Look, North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, has kept up a very busy schedule.

Just yesterday he was in the same city, Wonsan, that we were, he was inspecting a construction site there right next to our hotel. We didn't get to see him because his security people wouldn't let us look out the windows.

But we were kind of locked down for three hours while he was there and then to find out that just a matter of hours ago, he went back to the demilitarized zone and it's significant too that the South Korean president crossed over the military demarcation line into the Northern side of the DMZ.

He met at the North Korean equivalent of the peace house. It's where they had their first summit. (Inaudible) in North Korea is where they had their summit just during the overnight hour in the United States.

When I left Wonsan earlier today local time and I spoke with North Korean officials, they were cautiously optimistic that diplomacy was back on track. We know the lines of communication between North Korea and the United States were reopened. The North Koreans hadn't been returning phone calls.

They were angry about comments by the vice president, President Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton comparing North Korea to Libya, a country that gave up its nuclear weapons only to have its government and dictator overthrown and killed by U.S.-backed forces a few years later.

But it seems now that the North Koreans have decided, and their messaging to President Trump indicated they want this dialogue to happen. They've toned down their rhetoric. This meeting between President Moon and Kim Jong-un really is an attempt by the North and South who want these talks to happen to try to figure out how they can make things work with the United States and sit down face-to-face Kim Jong-un and President Trump.

BLACKWELL: All right. Matt Rivers and Will Ripley for us this morning, thank you both.

PAUL: CNN political commentator, Matt Lewis, with us now as well as CNN national security analyst, Samantha Vinograd, who worked under two presidential administrations. Thank you for being here.

[08:05:01] Samantha, wanted to start with you first, what do you think has to happen? How can South Korea specifically be instrumental in crafting this meeting with President Trump and Kim Jong-un and bringing it to fruition?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Christi, it's interesting because we're all saying that this meeting between Kim Jong-un and President Moon was a surprise. I don't actually think this meeting was a surprise.

It was unannounced, but I think for all of us that have been tracking these negotiations, it is unsurprising that President Moon would do whatever it takes to keep this summit on schedule, including going on to the North side of the border.

President Moon has so much invested in this personally that I think that he will pull out all the stops to try to ensure that a meeting between President Trump and Kim does happen. Now the problem is that President Moon who is a strong ally of the United States is not completely an unbiased middle man here.

And it is entirely possible that he oversold what North Korea was willing to do back in March when we first announced this summit. So, I think that President Trump welcomed him in Washington, D.C. He went there just a few days ago to try to keep negotiations on track.

He now went into North Korea to achieve the same objective, but I think that this time around, if I was still in the White House, I'd be urging President Trump and Ambassador Bolton to consider everything President Moon says and to try to verify its authenticity.

BLACKWELL: Matt, let's look at the chronology here. We heard from the North Koreans demands that started to be made where they wanted defectors back that have gone through China and were in South Korea. They want some military air exercises to stop. They were spooked by the Libya model.

Then the president says, all right, talks are off based on these statements you're making and now we're getting this conciliatory tone from the North Koreans. The president said everybody plays. Did the president make a play here that seems to have worked?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think so. I think that this is gamesmanship and I think that, you know, if you're going to go into a negotiation, you have more leverage if people believe that you're willing to walk out of it.

And I think this was preliminary jockeying for position. I think that the North Koreans started it, although you could argue that Bolton's comments, that maybe they started it. And I think Donald Trump wanted to demonstrate that he's not that anxious to make a deal.

The person who wants to make the deal worst has the least amount of leverage. This is a case where Donald Trump actually, I'm hopeful. There's a lot of areas where I've been critical of Donald Trump, and he's very unorthodox and very unpredictable in a lot of ways. That's dangerous and problematic.

But when it comes to dealing with someone like the North Korean leader, I think it might be more of a feature, not a bug.

PAUL: So, Samantha, if this meeting does happen, first of all, how plausible is it that it would happen in the time frame it was first discussed on June 12th, and secondly, what does the U.S. have to walk away from that meeting with in order for it to be seen as a success?

VINOGRAD: Well, I think that based upon the president's tweets, he said that the meeting could still happen on June 12th in Singapore. So, he said that less than 36 hours after an official statement of U.S. policy canceling the summit.

So, I'm anticipating a lot more ups and downs in terms of when and where this meeting is happening in between now and June 12th. But the problem here is that the president back in March laid out what he said the United States needed to get out of this meeting. That was a commitment to complete and verifiable denuclearization.

So, he set the bar high publicly a few months ago. It's entirely possible that the United States could have a productive meeting with Kim Jong-un on June 12th and walk away with something less but something still significant.

Like, for example, allowing weapons inspectors in to monitor nuclear sites and verify North Korea has frozen its program. So, I think that the president defined what success was publicly back in March.

But it's quite possible that the summit occurs, and we get something less than that that is still a net benefit for security in the region and around the world.

BLACKWELL: Matt, your degree of confidence that this summit happens as scheduled?

LEWIS: I think that it's probably more likely than not that it will happen. To me, the real question is the outcome and I remain cautious. We'll say cautiously optimistic. Anybody who sees these pictures and the idea of these two leaders coming together, it feels good. It looks good.

But at the end of the day, it's what they negotiate, what the outcome is. And it could be -- it's a lot of range there between the positive outcome and the potential negative outcome.

[08:10:06] PAUL: Matt Lewis and Samantha Vinograd, your perspective is certainly appreciated here. Thank you.

All righty. CNN has learned that President Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, met with a Russian oligarch back in January 2017 during the transition period and just before his inauguration. This is according to a source and this video reviewed by CNN.

BLACKWELL: Special Counsel Robert Mueller questioned the Russian oligarch, Victor Vekselberg about the meeting at Trump Tower. In the video obtained by CNN, you can see Vekselberg wearing the hat waiting to go up to Cohen's office in Trump Tower. The source says the aim of this meeting was to improve U.S./Russia relations.

PAUL: A firm connected to Vekselberg paid Cohen more than half a million dollars for consulting work. Last month, the U.S. imposed sanctions on the oligarch for election interference.

A teacher in Indiana is being called a hero because he helped stop a school shooter. Students who were in that room explain how that terrifying scene unfolded and how that teacher took the shooter down.

BLACKWELL: Families in Hawaii -- look at this. They just had to watch this as the lava crept closer and closer to their homes. Nothing they could do. You'll see more of this.

PAUL: Also, former NFL player, Donte Stallworth is joining us next to talk about the league's new policy that punishes players who don't stand for the national anthem. His reaction just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:15:42]

BLACKWELL: Two people are now recovering from gunshot wounds in Indiana after deputies say a middle school student started firing two handguns in the middle of class.

PAUL: Yes, there is a teacher that is being called the hero this morning for his quick response during this ordeal. CNN's Dianne Gallagher with us here. I think what is so really impressive here is that this is a school shooting where we're talking about no fatalities. And a big reason for that is this teacher.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's what the kids are saying. The kids are saying that their science teacher at the time, 29-year-old Jason Seaman is the reason why this shooting wasn't worse than it was in the first place. We're talking about Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Look, according to the kids, they were in science class with their teacher, Jason Seaman. They were taking a test. They said that the shooter asked to be excused. He came back into the classroom and he had two handguns. And that's when he began shooting. They say that he shot a female student and that their teacher threw a basketball, ran at him. I want you to listen to the way the children describe their teacher just sort of going at it right away. Not thinking twice to try and save their lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And everybody started screaming and freaking out and Mr. Seaman ran up and tackled him and secured him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then he started screaming to call 911 and get out. We realized he got him to the ground and the gun was out of his hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: So, Jason Seaman is a former college football player. He is the football coach of the seventh-grade football team there at the middle school. And just about everybody who has ever met him has essentially come out of the woodwork saying we're not surprised by this whatsoever.

This is sort of his character. This is -- he wants to be there for the children and he loves being a teacher for these kids. His mother did post on Facebook kind of the extent of his injuries. He was pretty badly hurt. He was shot in the abdomen, shot in the forearm and the hip. So, she's been updating on Facebook with that right now.

BLACKWELL: Yes. The quick action is so remarkable here. How are they, the two victims?

GALLAGHER: We actually heard from Jason Seaman. He issued a statement. I want to read to you what he said. It came out late last night. He said, "First of all, thank you to the first responders from Noblesville for their immediate action and care. I want to let everyone know that I was injured but I'm doing great. To all the students, you are all wonderful and I thank you for your support. You are the reason I teach."

Again, that statement sounds like what everybody says he is, but that 13-year-old girl who was hurt, she's still in the hospital. According to her parents, they spoke with CNN early this morning. They identified her, 13-year-old Ella Whistler. She is at Riley Hospital for Children.

Her family said they're still trying to process all of this. Why it happened, what happened. They issued a statement and said in part, "Her status is critical, yet we are pleased to report she is stable. We'd like to thank everyone across the country who prayed for our family today. We felt those prayers and appreciate them."

Victor, Christi, they went on to thank first responders and surgeons. They asked for some privacy while trying to deal with this right now. As far as the shooter is concerned, he has been arrested. All we know, they haven't identified him by name. He's a seventh-grade boy.

PAUL: Seventh grader? Dianne, thank you so much. BLACKWELL: Thank you so much.

Still to come, NBA player, Sterling Brown, says he felt defenseless when police tased and arrested him back in January. Now he is demanding accountability from the Milwaukee police force. We'll have more on that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:23:55]

PAUL: It's 23 minutes past the hour this morning. Good morning to you. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning.

PAUL: We have some breaking news to tell you. The people of Ireland just made history overturning a ban on abortions. Ireland say predominantly Catholic country. Some of the most restrictive abortion laws are in existence there.

The votes are still technically being counted, but Ireland's anti- abortion "Save the Eighth" group has conceded. That campaign said in a statement abortion was wrong yesterday, it remains wrong today. The Constitution has changed but the facts have not.

BLACKWELL: Milwaukee Bucks player, Sterling Brown, is demanding accountability for the actions of the officers involved in his tasing and arrest back in January. Police released this body camera footage showing officers -- this was a verbal dispute with Brown. They threw him to the ground and tased him.

PAUL: Brown said he felt defenseless when police surrounded him. Now wants justice not only for himself but for others just like him. CNN correspondent, Ryan Young, reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN YOUNG, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Milwaukee Bucks player, Sterling Brown is speaking out for the first time since his arrest in January and the release of this body cam video Wednesday.

[08:25:05] The video showing how the incident escalated from a parking violation to Milwaukee police officers pulling the NBA rookie to the ground and tasing him.

STERLING BROWN, MILWAUKEE BUCKS PLAYER: I get mad every time I watch it was I was defenseless pretty much.

YOUNG: In an interview with ABC News, Brown, the son of a retired police officer, says at first, he didn't want the footage to be released because he saw it as a personal matter but now believes he can be a voice for victims of police misconduct.

BROWN: This happens from coast to coast. It's something that's being shown more now that technology has advanced and it's something that's been happening for years and people's stories have not been told, not been heard and I feel like me doing this helps a lot.

YOUNG: The body cam video shows Brown's car double parked across two handicapped spaces in a Walgreens parking lot. The officer approaches and asks for Brown's I.d. A back and forth ensues after the young basketball player is told to back up.

(VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Then the officer calls for reinforcements. Around 8 minutes into the video, one of the officers yells for Brown to get his hands out of his pockets.

Four officers then grab Brown and wrestle him to the ground -- and tase him. You can hear Brown grunting. The encounter resulted in Brown's arrest, but the basketball player was never charged. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett calls the video disturbing.

TOM BARRETT, MILWAUKEE MAYOR: No citizen should be treated this way. The actions I saw also demand accountability.

CHIEF ALFONSO MORALES, MILWAUKEE POLICE: I'm sorry this incident escalated to this level. Our department conducted an investigation into the incident which revealed members acted inappropriately and those members were recently disciplined.

YOUNG: The Bucks also released a statement saying in part the abuse and intimidation that Sterling experienced at the hands of Milwaukee police was shameful and inexcusable. Brown has said he plans to file a civil rights lawsuit against the city's police force with the hopes of preventing situations like this in the future.

BROWN: Really just hold the officers accountable, hold future officers accountable and have the city make a commitment to people in the community saying that they're going to try to change some of the ideas and thoughts and policies and try to help as many people in the community not get involved in a situation like this.

YOUNG: Ryan Young, CNN, Milwaukee.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: All right. The president is praising the NFL after it announced the organization will now require players to stand during the national anthem if they are on the field or their teams will face a fine. Teams could then discipline the players as they see fit.

Now this new rule comes after players began kneeling during anthem performances to protect racial injustice or rather to get people to know or to spread their message about some of the injustices. Trump says the NFL made the right decision with their policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Not only people should be staying in locker rooms, but 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 and the NFL owners did the right thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Joining me now, CNN contributor and former NFL player, Donte Stallworth. Donte, good morning to you.

DONTE STALLWORTH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: So, your view on what the president went on to say about players who do not stand and maybe they should not be in the country.

STALLWORTH: I think it is detestable for the president of the United States to say that American citizens who are peacefully protesting social injustices and racial inequalities in this country that they shouldn't -- maybe they shouldn't be here. This follows a long pattern of what the president has said about NFL players.

You listen to the words that he's used. He's called them sons of bitches. These attacked NFL players at every turn and yet you see the language and you contrast that with the way he spoke about white supremacists and Charlottesville and neo-Nazis marching, screaming Jews will not replace us.

He called them very fine people on both sides. So again, this follows a disturbing pattern from the president of the United States, and it's something that I think, you know, we've got to keep an eye on because it's not just NFL players.

He's attacked allies. He's attacked personal adversaries. He's done a number of things you, I think, that should be alarming to the American people.

BLACKWELL: So after the new policy was announced this week, you re- tweeted this side-by-side of a story about the new NFL policy and here it is. A story here, a headline at least about a German football club presumably in the '30s or '40s that was punished for not giving the Nazi salute. You think that's an appropriate comparison?

STALLWORTH: I think it's dangerous to not pay attention to the warning signs. You see how back in the 1940s, in the 1930s, the Nazi legal scholars, Nazi lawyers, attorneys, when they were trying to figure out how they were going to configure their new Nuremberg laws, they went to the United States as a model for their racial laws. And that's just the truth of history. And, you know, there are distinctions that I think we need to be careful not to miss these signs. And again, I'm not saying we're not Nazi Germany, but, you know --

BLACKWELL: But you know that's how some received that. I mean, usually comparisons between -- comparisons to Hitler or Nazism are usually ill advised. But you see this one as a fair one. STALLWORTH: Well, you know, I don't think that -- obviously, the

Nazis were atrocious. But again, you know, you look at the history of what the Nuremberg laws, where they got their ideas from, their racial -- their racial laws, where they got them from. They looked to the United States as a model. This isn't, you know, something -- this is actually documented in their history. It's documented at the Nuremberg laws and you can see this throughout the south where they looked at Jim Crow laws for -- you know, for certain laws that they wanted to bring forth in their country.

So I think we'd be remiss if we don't pay attention to history and if we don't see that. You know, again, I'm not calling America obviously Nazi Germany, but I think we need to pay attention and not allow creeping fascism to happen in this country.

BLACKWELL: So let me get your reaction to what NFL Hall of Famer Warren Mood told TMZ this week of the policy. He said, and I'm quoting here, "This way all the attention goes back to the anthem and takes away from the players which it should be because the anthem is and it should stand alone because it's for everybody, not just for the players." He says, and I'm paraphrasing this portion, is that it's not perfect but this is as close to perfect as the NFL is going to get.

STALLWORTH: I think these players are expressing in, you know, using their First Amendment rights, and we soon forget that dissidents are patriots. Dissent is patriotism. You look at Dorothy Day. She was a patriot. She was a huge dissenter. You look at Martin Luther King. He was a patriot. He was a huge dissenter. Daniel Ellsberg is a huge dissenter. He was also a patriot. And dissent is patriotism. In this country, it's the First Amendment, it's what our country is founded on. And if we allow ourselves to start stripping people of those rights and acknowledging that they have those rights, I think we're treading down a dangerous path.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about what -- and I'll wrap up after this. What you expect to happen now? Will players stop kneeling? Because the fines go to the team. The team will then decide whether or not they will then fine or punish the players. Will there be other types of protests? I mean, the policy requires standing and respecting. Respecting is a subjective term, what that looks like. But what do you expect to see?

STALLWORTH: Well, I think that's one of the important pieces to note that in the NFL statement it says it's basically parroting what the president had said that the players weren't or that the players were disrespecting the flag, disrespecting the anthem because the NFL's own language says that the players should stand and respect the flag and respect the anthem. And again that goes back to what we're talking about dissent. Where dissent is not supposed to give you the fuzzies, it's not supposed to make you feel good.

Dissent is raising critical issues, important issues in our society. And, you know, the players, I think they're going to continue to protest. They'll find more creative ways to protest because this is supposed to be something that gets your attention. It's not supposed to make you feel comfortable because it's not comfortable for the people who have to deal with this on an everyday basis.

BLITZER: All right. Donte Stallworth, good to have your thoughts on this.

STALLWORTH: Thank you.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: But union leaders say the president has launched an attack on federal employees. We are going to take a closer look with you here next at some executive orders that were quietly signed by the president yesterday maybe under the radar. We're going to bring them up to the surface in a moment. Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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Savage Race is a five to seven-mile obstacle course race. We have on each course 30 military-style obstacles. Cargo nets, mud, and your barbed wire, giant water slides, fire, dumpsters filled with ice. It takes the average person about two hours to complete.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is horrible.

SCOTT: Participating in this event is going to develop you athletically, emotionally and psychologically. In 2011, I was about to start a construction company. I ran a competitors' event and my wife thought that I could build better obstacles. I turned in my letter of resignation and started the company.

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[08:40:06] We're always trying to make our business better. We're adding obstacles. We listen to participant feedback. One of the keys to our success is surrounding ourselves with great people. I'm so proud of the team that I have. I did not predict that we would get to where we are right now but it's been a fun ride.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: Forty-two minutes past the hour. And President Trump quietly signed several executive orders yesterday, the Friday before a holiday weekend.

BLACKWELL: So if you missed them, that may have been the point. They took aim at federal employees and union protections.

Here to help explain them, CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood.

All right, tell us all about it.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: President Trump departing from his showman style yesterday signing three executive orders quietly behind closed doors the Friday before a holiday weekend as you mentioned.

The trio of executive orders will impose new restrictions on unions that represent federal employees. Limiting how much time federal workers can spend on union activities during the workday and requiring agencies to start charging rent to unions that currently use space in government buildings for free. And now federal employee unions are reacting with fierce disapproval of Trump's attempts to target their collective bargaining rights as well as their civil service protection.

The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employees union, saying in a statement, "President Trump is attempting to silence the voice of veterans, law enforcement officers and other frontline workers through a series of executive orders intended to strip federal employees of their decades old right to representation at the work site."

Now the White House is characterizing these orders as part of Trump's attempt to drain the swamp and shrink the size of government. And some of the changes imposed by these orders have been sought by conservatives for years such as a regulatory change that will now make it easier for agencies to fire poor performing employees. But critics, including Democratic lawmakers and a number of federal employees unions are saying this amounts to an assault on civil servants.

BLACKWELL: All right. Sarah Westwood, thanks so much.

Let's learn more about what this means.

PAUL: All right. So we want to bring in U.S. Senate candidate Geoff Diehl -- Diehl, excuse me. Diehl with us. He's former state co- chairman for the Trump campaign in Massachusetts as well.

Thank you so much. We appreciate you being here. First and foremost, if this is the president's attempt to drain the swamp, we have Jay David Cox, another statement from him, the president of the AFGE who said this is more than union busting. It's democracy busting.

What do you think, Mr. Diehl?

GEOFF DIEHL (R), MARYLAND SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, I don't agree. First of all, my mother was a union worker for four years from the day she started until the day she ended. I think unions obviously have their place in American society in the workforce. I think it's great. I think all this is trying to do is put, you know, there's 80 percent of the American workers are working in the private sector. It just allows government employees to be subject to this same performance standards and potentially being fired if they're not doing their work. I think that's all that's being attempted here.

PAUL: Congressman, there is a little point here as well. This organization, the AFGE, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2016. Can this action be separated from politics at the end of the day?

[08:45:06] DIEHL: No, I think, again, look, we had a very successful tax reform package that passed recently that is giving more to the economy right now, and I think in order to pay for that I think we need to make sure that, you know, public employee unions are again performing accordingly. I think what they're trying to say is look, 25 percent of your workday, you know, going towards union activities. I think that should be the cap. That seems reasonable.

So I don't think there's politics. I think it's just trying to make sure that public sector employees are doing the work they're expected to do.

BLACKWELL: All right. So let's talk about the news of the day and you are running against Senator Elizabeth Warren. So let's use a summation from her that fits pretty neatly into what we're talking about, the breaking news this morning. She tweeted out, "President Trump's wild back and forth with Kim Jong-un shows once again that he has no strategy. If Donald Trump wants to demonstrate real leadership, he needs to develop a plan, commit to work toward a peaceful resolution with North Korea."

This vacillation between talking and not and potentially talking now, does this validate the concerns that many have that the president does not come into this talk with North Korea with the plan and didn't go through the typical steps?

DIEHL: Boy, nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, Elizabeth Warren just shows how out of touch she is to what's going on. She was the one that tried to block Mike Pompeo from becoming secretary of State. We've had wild success since he's come in to the scene. And look, we've seen three Americans return from North Korea. We've seen them dismantle -- literally dismantle their nuclear testing facility.

We've just seen this warning that North Korean president and South Korean president meet together. We're seeing tremendous success that could end that Korean conflict. Something that hasn't happened in a long time and Elizabeth Warren certainly is wrong on this.

BLACKWELL: We know you were an early and still a vocal supporter of the president. I want you to listen to President Trump just a few weeks ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was watching during the campaign, and Hillary was sitting right there. And Pocahontas was up and she was so angry. Look, we love each other, the women, the men. We love each other. Everybody loves -- she was so angry. I said you know, I think she's losing the entire male audience and many of the women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: The most important word there in that statement there was Pocahontas from the president. I read that you will not use that as the president has to describe Elizabeth Warren. As you know, the Native American population is very important there in the state of Massachusetts. I'm sure the population is important to you.

The National Congress of American Indians consider the president's use of Pocahontas in describing Elizabeth Warren as a slur. So will you call on the president, the man you support, right now to stop using Pocahontas as a racial slur against Elizabeth Warren?

DIEHL: You know, I think Elizabeth Warren needs to stop pretending that she has a heritage that she's unwilling to take a test for. The fact is, she took two minority hiring positions, one at University of Pennsylvania, one at Harvard, that she wasn't entitled to based on, you know, family lore which, again, she won't apologize for.

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKWELL: Mr. Diehl, I'm going to bring you back to the question. Should the president continue to use Pocahontas as a racial slur? Will you call on the president to stop calling Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas as a racial epithet?

DIEHL: Well, like I've said. I'm not going to use that term during this campaign.

BLACKWELL: Are you comfortable with the president using it?

DIEHL: Look, the president -- you know, certainly it goes about the way he talks in politics differently. He tweets obviously differently than I would. So I think in this case, you know, it's up to the president what he's going to do. For me, my race is all about making sure the people of Massachusetts know that Senator Warren has never been working for them since the day she was elected. She put our state in the rear-view mirror to run for president in 2020 and my job is to work for the people of Massachusetts for the next six years, something she's unwilling to commit to even when she was on television just a few weeks ago.

BLACKWELL: And you're unwilling to commit to calling for the president to stop using Pocahontas as a racial epithet against your opponent. Last time, and then I've got to go.

DIEHL: It's not up to me to determine what the president does. I mean, again, it's something that I won't be talking about other than the fact that she took two minority hiring positions she was not entitled to.

BLACKWELL: All right. Geoff Diehl, good to have you this morning.

PAUL: Thank you, sir.

DIEHL: Thanks so much.

PAUL: Well, listen, no end in sight. This video is just -- it's intriguing. It's frightening. It's compelling. It is Hawaii right now. That is what is coming up creeping towards a family's home. And all they can do is sit here and watch it. We'll show you more in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:53:59] PAUL: Listen. Look at this. There's a family there in Hawaii who has no choice but to just sit and watch this lava edge closer and closer to their property and their home. Somehow they were able to stay calm the entire time, though. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lava is advancing about, I don't know, three feet per minute. Two feet per minute.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Over there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have traffic cones being moved. Mail box is on fire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Can you imagine? There's nothing they can do. And right now lava from the Kilauea volcano is covering a little more than three square miles of the big island.

The earthquakes are ramping up as well. Yesterday there were 90, 9-0, 90 earthquakes in a span of six hours.

[08:55:04] Our thanks to NASA, look at these, we're getting a glimpse of what it looks like from space. These photos were taken from the International Space Station. And NASA has been helping Hawaiian officials track the fissures and understand where that lava is headed.

PAUL: And listen, ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, Scott McLean is talking to a man who was hit by a lava bomb as he was trying to defend his neighbor's home. So you're going to learn more about him and what's happening there where he is. That's coming up at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

BLACKWELL: All right. That's if for us this hour. We'll see you back here at 10:00 Eastern for an of NEWSROOM.

PAUL: Yes. Don't go anywhere, though. "SMERCONISH" starts now.

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