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U.S. Delegation Crosses Into North Korea for Talks; Trump-Kim Summit May Be Back On; Giuliani Claims Basis for Mueller Probe Illegitimate; Nine Million Under Tropical Warning from Alberto; Utah Man Imprisoned in Venezuela Back in U.S. Soil; New Evacuations as Lava Threatens Escape Routes; Aired 2-3p ET

Aired May 27, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:24] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with breaking news, in a sign the summit with North Korea appears to be back on track, a U.S. delegation has crossed the Demilitarized Zone into North Korea for preparatory talks. That according to a senior U.S. official.

This follows a surprise meeting between Kim Jong-un and the president of South Korea on Saturday. The summit was supposed to take place June 12th in Singapore but on Thursday President Trump pulled out citing threatening statements by North Korea.

CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott joining me now from Washington.

So, Elise, what exactly do we know about this team? This is according to more than one, you know, senior White House official. They're crossing the line over the deep militarized zone, how meaningful is this?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's very meaningful, Fred. You've seen this kind of back and forth over the last few days after President Trump cancelled the summit. And why did he do that? Because the administration felt that the North Koreans were not really engaging on the substance of the talks. What Kim Jong-un and the North Korean regime were willing to put on the table at this summit. And the administration didn't feel that that really gave a lot of chances for success.

Now we understand that Sung Kim, who is currently the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, he also is a former U.S. envoy to North Korea talks. And so he has a lot of experience in dealing with the North Koreans. We understand him and White House NSC officials and Defense Department officials went in, crossed into the North Korean side of the DMZ and started talking about this kind of substance.

And hopefully, administration officials feel that this would give the U.S. more comfort that the North Koreans are serious. They've made some comments in the last few days since President Trump sent his letter to Kim Jong-un. Now they're going to be able to see at the table hopefully what the North Koreans are prepared to discuss. And primarily, that's about whether North Korea is ready to so-called denuclearize, and that's in effect give up its nuclear weapons -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: And Elise, take to listen to what Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Jeff Flake had to say about this issue of denuclearization.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I think that we're going to have to live with that. I think that the North Koreans realize that total denuclearization on their part is not in their national interest. That's how they see it.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Ultimately, I remain convinced that he does not want to denuclearize. In fact, he will not denuclearize, but he wants to give out this perception that he's this open leader, that he's peaceful, that he's reasonable.


WHITFIELD: So Elise, is President Trump going into this summit potentially with realistic expectations about what North Korea is willing to give up?

LABOTT: Well, I don't know if President Trump himself is but certainly he has advisers that are. National Security adviser John Bolton has been, you know, a skeptic over the years of North Korea. And while he's supporting the idea of talking to the North Korean, he is, you know, going in I think with no rose colored glasses as is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who talked to Congress earlier this week about, you know, what the U.S. would expect and obviously, they don't want to give North Korea a lot of goodies up front as the U.S. has in the past.

They want to make sure that North Korea is taking steps, and, you know, Fred, the North Koreans have taken steps in the past. In 2007 they blew up a cooling tower related to its nuclear program. You just saw last week that they took steps towards dismantling its nuclear test site. The question is whether it's going to be verifiable. Are the North Koreans going to let in inspectors to see if this is actually taking place. And I think that's what the U.S. is going to be looking for.

But, Fred, I think we need to have managed expectations about what is achievable at this summit. They're not coming out with a full nuclear deal, all the technical details. If they could come out with some understanding about the road ahead, some small deliverables about what the U.S. is willing to give and what the North Koreans are ready to do, I think that's really the measure of success at this point. So expect Kim Jong-un to lay out a plan for denuclearization in the coming months is a little bit unrealistic.

WHITFIELD: All right. Elise Labott, thank you so much.

Let's talk more about all of this with my panel, Nathan Gonzales is a CNN political analyst and editor and publisher of "Inside Elections," and Julian Zelizer is a CNN political analyst and a historian and a professor at Princeton University.

[14:05:07] Good to see you both. All right. So we're talking about denuclearization. And we haven't heard much from President Trump about what the U.S. is willing to concede with North Korea.

So, Julian, could that ultimately, you know, sink the talks or at least sink the potential outcome of any talks?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it could, if there is no progress on that once they're meeting and once they're in discussions. So obviously North Korea will want something in exchange for abandoning its principal weapon and principal source of security. So that will have to involve some mix of military security, so that the regime is not fearful of being toppled, and economic security. That some of the sanctions are lowered. But they don't have to enter into the discussions knowing all this. The key is that the discussions do actually take place.

WHITFIELD: And then CNN's Will Ripley, of course you've all seen the images. He was one of the journalists who witnessed the explosion at that nuclear test site. But, you know, despite promises to the contrary, there were no experts.

And Nathan, the North Koreas destroyed a cooling tower 10 years, as Elise was making reference to. So is this North Korean public relations strategy or is it perhaps a serious step toward denuclearization?

NATHAN GONZALES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I guess we have to leave ourselves open to the fact that it could be both. I mean, it could be -- we try to give them the benefit of the doubt, although there's certainly reason to be skeptical. But, you know, we still have two weeks to go before this is taking place. I mean, I'm old enough to remember just a few weeks ago, and Julian and I were on this show talking about North Korea when this is all starting to take place.

And I know that some of the president's supporters were ready to deliver the Nobel Prize to him. But I think this is just a good example of how we just have to wait and see how this plays out. I mean, just look at how much has transpired over the last few days from the letter to the remarks that the president made, you know, it's on again, it's off again, we still have two weeks until June 12th and so I think we have a long way to go.

WHITFIELD: So, Julian, even if there, you know, is no real agreement, but say the meeting happens, or perhaps, you know, these steps towards this meeting, are these things, you know, historic enough?

ZELIZER: Absolutely. That could create the basis for an agreement. If you look back at other big agreements, whether it's the INF agreement between the U.S. and the Soviets in '87, the Camp David under President Carter with Israel and Egypt. Often these start simply by laying out some kind of roadmap for future discussions. They're putting something on the table on each side without actually resolving the details or often still having big areas of dispute. So this could still be a historic moment, again, if it comes together on June 12th and if there is an agreement after June 12th to continue talking.

WHITFIELD: And then, Nathan, you know, there has been, you know, reported distrust, perhaps even some real dislike, you know, on both sides. Our Will Ripley has been inside North Korea for so many times and talked to people who say, you know, they don't trust the United States and vice-versa, so from a potential summit, might that change all of that?

GONZALES: It could change. I mean, it depends on what tangible things come out of it. I mean, what is -- does North Korea, as a country, do they feel safe, as Julian was talking about? I mean, I think that's critical. Just look at us. I mean, as Americans, if we don't feel safe, we react very differently. And so I think the outcome is very important. And, you know, what does President Trump do and say and tweet about the deal because that could also affect whether, you know, they think they got the raw end. Because we know that President Trump, if there is a deal, that he's going to think that, you know, the U.S., that he got the best end of it and so how does that play in North Korea.

WHITFIELD: And then, Julian, how much does whatever happens here with North Korea either shape, dictate, you know, the overall foreign policy or the tactics of this White House?

ZELIZER: Well, it certainly would be a huge accomplishment if some kind of agreement is worked out. I think even his detractors would have to concede that. And it could push his foreign policy in a different direction. He is someone who likes victory. He likes praise and he likes success. So if this is the means of success, he might be less interested in the more bombastic side of his foreign policy and this becomes more appealing, but of course if it fails, he can easily go back to a military threat. That is President Trump in a nutshell.

WHITFIELD: All right. Julian Zelizer and Nathan Gonzales, good to see you both. Appreciate it.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

GONZALES: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Rudy Giuliani says that basis for the Russia investigation is, quote, "illegitimate." But also says the president is adamant about sitting down with the special counsel. When might that happen and under what conditions.

Plus on alert, 900 million people under tropical storm warnings this Memorial Day weekend as Alberto inches closer to the U.S.

And final warning, residents living near an erupting volcano are told to get out now as lava moves closer to neighborhoods.

[14:10:04] Is Kilauea headed for a massive eruption? We'll take you there live.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

WHITFIELD: All right. This breaking news now into CNN, we're learning from a spokesman that President George H.W. Bush is back in the hospital due to low blood pressure. The tweet indicates that the 41st president is awake and alert. And of course we'll bring you more as we learn it.

Another day, another attack by President Trump. And yet again, he is taking aim at the Russia investigation. The president tweeting this morning, "Who's going to bring back the young and beautiful lives, and others, that have been devastated and destroyed by the phony Russia collusion witch hunt? They journeyed down to Washington, D.C. with stars in their eyes and wanting to help our nation. They went back home in tatters."

Joining me right now is White House correspondent Boris Sanchez.

[14:15:03] So, Boris, anything more we know behind that tweet?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not yet, Fred. I actually asked the press team who the president was referring to when he talked about those young and beautiful lives, no response there yet. It's possible the president could be referring to Rick Gates or George Papadopoulos, or Michael Flynn, all of whom have pled guilty to various serious crimes.

The president also yet again referring to the Russia investigation as a witch hunt, despite the fact that there have been some 20 indictments in the investigation including some dozen or so Russians who have been indictment for meddling in the 2016 election.

The president's attorney Rudy Giuliani was on "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning with Dana Bash, and he sort of echoed the president calling the Russia investigation illegitimate. He's arguing that it was founded on illegitimate grounds because of what he called the illegal leaks of classified memos by former FBI director James Comey.

Now Dana actually pressed Giuliani on the question of whether the president would sit down one-on-one with Robert Mueller, something that there's been widespread speculation on, as both sides, the president's legal team and the special counsel, continue to try to iron out the terms for a possible interview.

Here's the former mayor of New York's response.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Well, if he wasn't thinking about it and it wasn't an active possibility, we'd be finished with that by now and we've moved on to getting the investigation over with another way. But he is adamant in wanting to do it. We are -- we have, the president. We're more convinced as we see it

that this is a rigged investigation. Now we have this whole new spygate thing thrown on top of it. On top of already very legitimate questions.


SANCHEZ: Now the president or rather the president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani there referring to this conspiracy theory that's been espoused by the president that the deep state implanted a spy within the Trump campaign to help benefit the Hillary Clinton campaign, something that neither the president nor his attorneys nor lawmakers on Capitol Hill provided any evidence to support.

Giuliani, though, at one point during the interview, suggested that he and the president are specifically pushing this theory to defend the president in the court of public opinion, revealing that this isn't really a legal strategy but something, Fred, that could potentially protect the president from impeachment.

WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.

Joining me right now, CNN legal analyst and constitutional attorney, Page Pate.

All right. So, Page, what is there to that strategy that perhaps this is, you know, to taint public opinion as much as it can with the, you know, bully pulpit that the White House has to potentially avert any legal recourse on impeachment or otherwise?

PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Fred, I think that's exactly what they're doing. They've decided they're going to attack, not the substance of the investigation but the investigators themselves. And it's a strategy you use if you're concerned about what they're going to find, if you think you're going to have to defend yourself either in the court of public opinion or in an actual trial court.

I think here Trump's lawyers have decided probably correctly that the special counsel no matter what he finds is not going to try to indict the president. So this will all end up in a report that goes to the deputy attorney general and eventually will go to Congress. And so the president and his team are basically saying we want half of America at least to think this is a corrupt investigation. It's a rigged investigation as Giuliani said to really undercut its credibility.

I think that's a bad strategy. I think the opposite strategy to build up that credibility and then if it finds you did nothing wrong, then trumpet that. But that's not the approach they're taking.

WHITFIELD: So former National Security director Michael Hayden has his own theory about why the president is going after the Justice Department. And this is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER NSA AND CIA DIRECTOR: I think he is simply trying to delegitimize the Mueller investigation, the FBI, the Department of Justice. And he is willing to throw almost anything against the wall.

Martha, this is part of the stream. Remember wiretapping Trump Tower. Unmasking U.S. identities, FISA applications that were abused. And now we have this. By the way, all of those are wrong. All of those are incorrect. All of those are stunningly normal in the development of intelligence and law enforcement. But you know what, I talked to a lot of people in the country. And for a lot of people in the country one or another or many of those things have already stuck.


WHITFIELD: So is the president winning, you know, in the court of public opinion or does this potentially make the president or the White House look like there is something to hide and they're working really hard in which to do so?

PAGE: Well, perhaps both. I think he is winning in a certain segment of the public. The segment that has always believe this was a witch hunt. They're going to believe it regardless of what Robert Mueller ends up determining as a result of the investigation. The rest of the public, the ones that really want to see a credible investigation, I think this hurts the president's chances of surviving a negative outcome of the investigation because he is making it appear to be all personal. And I think that's a bad idea.

Now again, as far as legally, I don't think we'll ever see this in a court so the court of public penalties will be the ultimate jury here.

[14:20:06] WHITFIELD: And so if you are a member of the Mueller team, may have to be paying attention to everything that's said just in case it leads them into a direction. But at the same time is this not at all influential?

PAGE: I don't think so. I mean, the one thing Robert Mueller I think has done when he selected the people to be on his team is he got the right folks. These are career civil servants and prosecutors. They're going to focus on the ball. They're going to do their job. They're going to try to put blinders on, not pay attention to what's being said in the public. Unless of course it relates to obstruction and part of the focus of the investigation. But we'll see at the end of the day, I think a credible report. And how the president responds to it, that remains to be seen.

WHITFIELD: Now, you're not hearing from the White House counsel, but instead we are hearing from the personal counsel attorney of the president, Rudy Giuliani.

PAGE: Right.

WHITFIELD: What does that say to you?

PAGE: Well, it says that the White House doesn't want to get behind this narrative I think. And perhaps they want to have it both ways. As the White House, we're going to sit here let the investigation play out, which would be the right strategy for the president. But at the same time the president gets these folks like Giuliani who will go on TV, undercut the investigation, the investigators themselves. They're trying to have it both ways.

At the end of the day, I think the best strategy is to really support the credibility of the investigation and see what's there.

WHITFIELD: How frustrating would that be for White House counsel, choosing to remain silent but then the president has his own outside counsel who is being more than loquacious?

PAGE: It could be frustrating or it could be a relief. You know, I get to stay in my lane here. Let them deal with Mueller and let them deal with the public outcry of the investigation. Let them deal with it when the president calls it a witch hunt. I'm just going to focus on what's on my desk. So in some ways maybe Don McGahn is happy that somebody else is taking the front.


WHITFIELD: All right. Page Pate, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

PAGE: Thank you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead 9 million are under a tropical storm warning as Alberto threatens the Gulf Coast just in time for Memorial Day. You're looking at live pictures from Miami where the rains and the wind are already moving in. Dark ominous clouds there. We'll take a look at where the storm may potentially hit hardest. We'll be right back.


[14:26:40] WHITFIELD: We continue to follow breaking news, we're learning from a spokesperson that former president George H.W. Bush is back in the hospital due to low blood pressure. The tweet indicates that the 41st president is awake and alert. The tweet from Jim McGrath, President George H.W. Bush was taken to, and I'm reading now, to Southern Maine Healthcare today after experiencing low blood pressure and fatigue. He will likely remain there for a few days for observation. The former president is awake and alert and not in any discomfort.

Just a few days ago, Jeb Bush tweeted out a picture of his father in seemingly good spirits there. Again former president George H.W. Bush back in the hospital in Maine. He is there for low blood pressure. So far it does not sound too serious according to that previous tweet but we will continue to bring you more information as we get it.

Meantime, a massive storm is looming off the coast of Florida this Memorial Day weekend. A subtropical storm Alberto is barreling towards the Gulf Coast. It's strengthening and expected to slam into Florida as a tropical storm tomorrow afternoon. Florida, Alabama and Mississippi all declaring states of emergency already. Nine million people are under a tropical storm warning. And you can see the winds picking up in the Fort Lauderdale and Miami images there right now.

Meteorologist Jennifer Gray is live in Pensacola, Florida, close to where the storm is expected to hit land. So how are people there preparing?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Fred, it's Memorial Day weekend so a lot of people have plans to come to the beach. And you would imagine that beach to be a little bit more crowded on a weekend like this. But the city has definitely taken some precautions. Normally there would be beach chairs lining the beach from the hotels. Those have all been taken out and it's a red flag day.

So the lifeguards have been out telling people if they're in the water to get out so no one is allowed in the water. The surf is much higher than normal. Rip currents are a huge concerns this weekend for the beachgoers so they are just telling people to get out of the way.

You're right, this is going to hit tomorrow but the latest advisory has actually sped this storm up quite a bit so it could be making landfall as early as tomorrow morning. Now, right now, it does have winds of 15 miles per hour, it's moving to the north at 13 so it has picked up quite a bit of speed, and it is starting to get its act together. It's becoming more organized, more confined. And so it is going to continue to head to the north.

It is going to take that northwestward turn eventually but there's a little bit of uncertainty in that so when you look at that forecast cone, it's extra important not to focus on that center line. Look at the entire cone because it could make landfall anywhere within that cone sometime tomorrow morning. So that's what we'll be looking for. In the meantime, we are going to be dealing with impact like beach erosion, coastal flooding.

Inland flooding will be a concern as well. And also maybe one of the biggest risk factors will be the tornado threat. Basically in that right front quadrant of the storm, we will have a huge tornado concern. They're not going to be massive tornadoes, but EF-0, EF-1, possibly EF-2 come ashore. So if you're anywhere from, say, Panama City beach all the way to the Big Bend, Florida, I would definitely be concerned about that.

[14:30:01] And then Fred, as we know, when these storms move on shore, we could get some of those showers that could just train one after another and so we could see some big time flooding from that. We'll just have to wait and see where those set up, though, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jennifer Gray, thank you so much.

And that is the sound of rolling thunder Ride for Freedom, and nearly 200,000 bikers all riding today in the nation's capital on this Memorial Day weekend. Many of them are veterans themselves, remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice. The riders left the Pentagon early today with the streets lined with supporters as you see there. And then they made their way to the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorials, hoping to bring awareness, too, to prisoners of war and those missing in action. All right. Still ahead, for the second time in three weeks, a U.S.

citizen is welcomed home after being held in a foreign prison. How the U.S. negotiated Joshua Holt's return. Next.

Plus, a final evacuation warning is in effect for some residence in Hawaii as new lava flows and it threatens to cut off escape routes there.


[14:36:57] WHITFIELD: A Utah man who has been held in a Venezuelan prison for nearly two years is now free and back in the United States. The president greeting him last night.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to welcome you to the Oval Office, welcome to you to the White House. It's really very special to have you both. You've gone through a lot. You've gone through a lot. More than most people could endure.


WHITFIELD: All right. And this is video of Joshua Holt's reunion with his family. The woman in the blue shirt is his wife, who was also detained there. And helping to win their release, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee who traveled to Venezuela and met with the country's president before bringing Holt and his wife safely back to the U.S.

So let's take you back a little back in 2016. 26-year-old Holt set out for Venezuela to marry his fiancee. But then he ended up in prison without trial after police claim to have found weapons in the woman's apartment.

Joining me right now, Charles Shapiro. He served as U.S. ambassador to Venezuela from 2002 to 2004.

So before we get to the circumstances surrounding Holt's release, how unusual is this story to hear? This is why he and his then fiancee were detained that there were weapons found in the place of residence.

CHARLES SHAPIRO, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO VENEZUELA: BS is the way the government of Venezuela works. So --

WHITFIELD: Why would they be after him or them?

SHAPIRO: His crime is essentially being a gringo and a Mormon. They are paranoid. They're shrewd.

WHITFIELD: He was a Mormon missionary worker.

SHAPIRO: He was not a missionary in Venezuela. So --

WHITFIELD: Right. But that's his background.


WHITFIELD: And so he may have been targeted or once that discovery was made, that was enough?

SHAPIRO: They are -- again they're paranoid, they're shrewd, they're all kinds of people that stuff up their sleeves or doing bad stuff to them. And they've got a particular grudge on current missionaries in Venezuela all of whom I think have left and Mormon missionaries.

WHITFIELD: So two White House National Security Council officials tell CNN that the U.S. offered nothing to Venezuela for Holt's release. Many Americans didn't even know that he was being held. But then come to find out we saw some video of him, you know, pleading for some kind of assistance. What would have had to be promised or given in exchange for his release, you think?

SHAPIRO: Well, first of all, nobody is talking about if there was a quid pro quo.


SHAPIRO: So I don't really know.

WHITFIELD: You're saying nothing was offered.

SHAPIRO: We don't know. It may have been, we do not know. But you got to remember, the government of Venezuela is desperate right now. The economy is in free fall. They've got 15,000 percent inflation.

WHITFIELD: So they need good news?

SHAPIRO: It is an active dictatorship. Then they're worried that we're going to put sanctions on them. And so I think that Nicolas Maduro, the president of Venezuela, is trying to find some way to get, you know, like he's falling off the cliff and trying to grab on to something.

WHITFIELD: In his reelection.

SHAPIRO: Election is a wrong word.

[14:40:01] It was a sham election. He was -- selected himself.

WHITFIELD: He's back in there.

SHAPIRO: He was not reelected. Yes.

WHITFIELD: OK. So Utah Senator Orrin Hatch said this in a statement, I want to read right now. "Over the last two years I've worked with two presidential administrations, countless diplomatic contacts, ambassadors from all over the world, a network of contacts in Venezuela, and President Maduro himself and I could not be more honored to be able to reunite Josh with his sweet, long-suffering family."

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee also traveled to Venezuela and met with President Nicolas Maduro, returning with Holt and family. And you saw the images there. How might these two senators have had leverage? Or what would be their specialty in being able to secure this?

SHAPIRO: Well, first of all, they've been very persistent. I mean, it has been in the news, if you read the news in Spanish and read the news in Utah for the last couple of years ago. I mean, it's not secret that Mr. Holt has been held prisoner by these guys.

WHITFIELD: What's different this time?


SHAPIRO: Well --

WHITFIELD: What (INAUDIBLE) together potentially?

SHAPIRO: Well, first of all, President Trump, to his credit, has made it a priority to get American citizens from being held around the world released. Now I won't say he's working harder than the Obama administration because they were working it as well. But President Trump has made it a real priority, this administration. We saw that in North Korea as well.

WHITFIELD: Right. This is a feather in his cap.

SHAPIRO: He got him released.


SHAPIRO: Which is great. Bob Corker is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His aide Caleb McCarry has apparently been going behind the scenes. I worked with him in the Bush administration. He is very, very good. Speaks Spanish about as well as any American I've ever met and has been going back and forth with the approval of the State Department to try to negotiate something.

There are also a couple of chips that they might have used. The first lady of Venezuela has two nephews who are in prison in the United States for narcotics trafficking.

WHITFIELD: Potential swap, are you saying?

SHAPIRO: A swap. Reduction of sentence. I don't know. And Hugo Chavez has a daughter who I understand is living in Florida. So you know, who knows, but there is some chips there that might have been used.

WHITFIELD: It will be interesting to see if we've ever learned whether there is a real correlation there.

Ambassador Charles Shapiro, good to see you. Thank you so much.

SHAPIRO: Thank you. Thanks.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, mountains of lava blocking streets as the residents get a final evacuation warning to get out. We have new video from inside Leilani Estate in Hawaii on the big island where molten rocks continues to spew and flow.


[14:47:27] WHITFIELD: A dire warning for many on Hawaii's big island, get out now. Fresh lava is taking over homes and streets, cutting off neighborhoods, as officials issued their final evacuation orders. Families now having to leave everything behind.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This house, in itself, the house on that side over there, also gone. This is insane.


WHITFIELD: My goodness. New lava fountains are actually opening up and spewing into the air. And one fissure doubling in size over the past 24 hours. The lava has now invaded almost four square miles, an area so big it can be seen from space. All of this as scientists stand by watching Kilauea to see if it's headed for another massive eruption.

Miguel Marquez joins us live from Pahoa, Hawaii, and we are in now the fourth week of this nightmare. No end in sight. Tell us what you're seeing.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there is no end in sight. And one geologist who works on the mountain here said that they think they're only seeing a tiny percentage of the amount of lava in the system so far.

I want to show you exactly where we are. A couple of concerns right now, the geothermal plants that is near here. The lava is encroaching on to that land. It has slowed overnight. The concern there, that if it hits it, only about a half mile away from where we are right now. If it hits those wells in that geothermal plant, it would create sort of a hydrogen sulfide gas, which could be deadly to people.

Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens are just about less than a mile from where we are just down this way. In front of us is that famous picture that CNN has had up for several days now. That live camera. That pile that what has now formed a new cone of lava is built up so much that you can no longer see it fountaining in that area. But it is fountaining in several areas in Leilani Estates. In the last 24 hours, we have seen lava fountaining as high as 100 feet in that area.

And that is the concern for homeowners. More than 80 homes have been lost. There are about 2,000 people that lived in those two neighborhoods. It is a slow moving and terrifying situation for them.

And I want to show you what's happening here right now, just in front of us, this is fissure -- I believe it's fissure 22. And we're starting to see, I don't know if you could tell, but there is a lighter gray lava in that area. That is new lava that has formed overnight.

[14:50:03] And at certain points you can see cracks of that molten red lava starting to pop out. And if you go all the way down to the ocean, you can see that's where lava is feeding all the way down into the ocean there, creating that laze, which is basically tiny microscopic pieces of glass and hydro -- and sulfuric acid which is incredibly deadly if you come in contact with it.

Incredible to see the degree of damage to this area. Also keep in minds, we're about 25 miles away from the summit of Kilauea. This thing is far from over say scientists. Kilauea itself, the summit, has sunk about five feet since all this began -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Really. OK. So really quick then, Miguel, what about the air quality where you are, as we look at all of that -- you know, that haze and what you call laze right near the water, one has to wonder, how are you able to breathe? What's it like for you?

MARQUEZ: We are lucky because we are here, the wind is blowing that way. So all of that bad stuff is blowing that way. If the trade winds stop and that -- and all that gas starts to settle down on where we are, we will have to don the masks, and that's when it becomes extraordinarily dangerous not just for us but residents in the area as well -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Wow. OK. Miguel Marquez, thank you so much for that. We'll check back with you.

Still so much straight ahead in the NEWSROOM after this short break. But first, here's this week's "Staying Well."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jump to the left. Surf.

This is surf inspired fitness. And it's done on a surfboard with air underneath to create that fluidity and balance that you feel when you're on water. The surfboard is on top of these sheer cushions that makes the board rocks by the side. And then there's some strips that kind of give it a little bit of stability.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm essentially a wannabe surfer. In the beginning, there is that fear of just balancing or stabilizing on the board, but it doesn't take too long before you kind of get your feel for the board. So I just find that that's a great core workout.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't let your mind wander. You've got to focus on what you're doing. My core is stronger. My legs are stronger. My balance is definitely better.

KATE MIHEVC EDWARDS, PHYSICAL THERAPIST: In your feet, we have little muscles called the intrinsic muscles. If you're having to balance all the time and move with the board, then what it will do is it will get those muscles to be stronger, which will create a better support system in your entire body.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Move, move, move, move.

EDWARDS: It can also increase your core stability because you have to move dynamically. If you're an older person that doesn't have great balance, it may serve you better to do some other kind of balance work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now I would surf. Just make sure that it's in the warm water and not like somewhere cold, and I'll be fine.



[14:56:59] WHITFIELD: Next month marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. For decades theories over who killed him have puzzled investigators and legal analysts. And now a new report in the "Washington Post" quote one of his son's questioning whether the man convicted for the shooting is actually responsible.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says he met with Sirhan Sirhan who has spent the last 50 years behind bars for the 1968 murder of the Democratic presidential candidate. And after years of his own research, Kennedy believes a second gunman is to blame. In the "Post's" story, Kennedy is quoted as saying, "I went there because I was curious and disturbed by what I had seen in the evidence. I was disturbed that the wrong person might have been convicted of killing my father. My father was the chief law enforcement officer in this country. I think it would have disturbed him if somebody was put in jail for a crime they didn't commit."

As we approach this traffic anniversary, we take a look back and remember the sights and sounds of RFK's final moments.


ROSEY GRIER, FORMER KENNEDY BODYGUARD: We were at the Ambassador Hotel and sitting in his room, in his suite. And all the reports are coming in across the country. We all felt that now is our chance to lead America to this better place. We were going downstairs and I leaned on, and I popped him in his stomach. I said, we got this one. He says, yes, now on to Chicago.

ROBERT F. KENNEDY, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My thanks to all of you and now it's on to Chicago and let's win there.

ESTELYN DUFFY LAHIVE, WITNESS: There were steps in the back of the stage, and they came down right in front of us, as the doors closed. And then this noise that sounded to me like it was either balloons popping or fire crackers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People were falling down in front of me, either they were hit or they were trying to get out of the line of fire. I knew that people had been injured because you could hear them screaming. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The suspect now being held by Los Angeles police

in connection with the Kennedy shooting is 24-year-old Sirhan Bishara Sirhan.

GRIER: I wrenched the gun out of Sirhan's hand and put it in my pocket. And I'm looking around, I knew people were down on the floor and I realized that one was Bobby.

PAUL SCHRADE, SHOT DURING RFK ASSASSINATION: I was facing Sirhan as was Robert Kennedy. He was shot in the back, it was four shots, three of it wounded him, one went through the shoulder pad of his coat, back to front.

GRIER: I went to the hospital, went up to the room, where Ethel was lying on the bed beside Bobby. He wasn't going to make it. And we were just in mourning in a sense because all of our hopes and our dreams was going down because Bobby had been shot and killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had the death of Martin Luther King in early April followed by riots all across the country. And so for a lot of people, Robert Kennedy's campaign was kind of a last hope if you will. We've got a chance to change the country through the political process. And then suddenly it stops, dead still. The Democratic Party had lost one of its most important compelling voices. And I think that resonated far beyond 1968.