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Is Trump Winning Effort to Demonize Mueller; Puerto Rican Deaths from Hurricane Maria Higher than Reported; Trump: U.S./North Korea Summit Back on Track as former Spy Heads to U.S.; ABC Cancels "Roseanne" after Star's Racist Tweets; English Teach Corrected Trump Letter, Sent It Back to Him. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 29, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Quoting him, "The 13 angry Democrats, plus people who worked eight years for Obama working on the rigged Russia witch hunt."

The rigged Russia witch hunt has resulted in guilty pleas and charges brought against all of these people on your screen.

Trump then accused of Department of Justice and the FBI of meddling in the mid-term elections. He wrote, "With the meddling of the mid-term elections especially now that the Republicans (stay tough) are taking the lead in polls."

News flash, the election was 437 days ago. The sitting president is still harping on an election and calling for an investigation into his former opponent? This should not be normalized. And all of this, these tweets, these attacks, it's all political.

Remember what Rudy Giuliani told Dana Bash this weekend, it is all about dragging Mueller through the mud in the court of public opinion.


RUDY GIULIANI, (D), FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR & TRUMP PERSONAL ATTORNEY: We're defending -- to a large extent, remember, Dana, we're defending here, it is for public opinion, because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach/not impeach. Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans are going to be informed by their constituents. Our jury is, as it should be, the American people.


BALDWIN: It's only some of tweets this morning. What Trump is doing day in and day out, it's working, at least along partisan lines.

That's why CNN political director, David Chalian, is here to talk about all this misinformation.

David, this conspiracy theory blitz, if it's working with Republicans, would you consider that still a win for President Trump?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, again, I'm talking in the realm of politics here, Brooke. BALDWIN: Realm of politics.

CHALIAN: It's not good for the president to lie to the American people and expand upon theories that has no basis in fact.

In terms of the political effect here, I think it important to note that it is working, as you're suggesting. And, yes, I don't think Rudy Giuliani in that sound bite to Dana Bash is saying we need to win offer the entire country to our point of view that the Mueller investigation is a hoax. They don't. They just need to keep the Republicans on board with that because, if you muddy the waters enough, as President Trump has been doing, into a real partisan to and fro, and fight, then you end up with sort of politics as usual. That's the state of our politics. So if they can get this investigation out of the realm of the huge majority of the country opposed to the president, whatever Mueller finds, they want to get to the place at least where it is regular day-to-day partisan politics. Then they can move on from that, they believe.

BALDWIN: I'm also just curious on the falsehoods. Maggie Haberman, "New York Times," she was on "NEW DAY" this morning and she was talking about why she feels there's a difference between the word lie and falsehood. I see her point on watering down the dangers and watering down the word lie, with Trump, or else we'd be saying lie 20 times a day, but if he lies, don't you have to call it a lie?

CHALIAN: Yes. I believe if there's a lie, we into the president need to call it out. I also think we can't treat everything he says the same and that there are gradations to his speech and to his rhetoric. And it is important for us to explore what is an active lie, if we have reporting to suggest that he actually concocted something totally false, knowingly passing it on to the American people, versus maybe he is spewing some information that is incorrect, but he's totally ill- informed about it. There's been a whole range of Trump's rhetoric that needs exploration and exposing by the political press corps.

BALDWIN: A range of lies, here we are.

David Chalian, thank you as always.

CHALIAN: Thank you.

[14:34:33] BALDWIN: Just ahead here, he used to be Kim Jong-Un's top spy. He's the guy accused of masterminding the Sony hack. And now he's on his way to the U.S. in hopes of saving this nuclear summit with President Trump.

And also, back to our breaking news on ABC canceling "Roseanne" after her racists tweets. New reactions coming in. We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: A shock being study estimates Hurricane Maria caused more than 4,000 deaths when it slammed into Puerto Rico last September. That's far more than the official death toll than 64.

CNN's Leyla Santiago joins me live from San Juan.

Leyla, does the government find this to be valid?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT; You know, I asked that very question of the governor, as well as the secretary of public safety in charge of the death toll and they do. I said are you questioning the validity of this study? And the response was no. So let's talk about this study. What exactly did they find? This comes were some researchers from Harvard on the island. They visited more than 100 barrios, talked to more than 10,000 people and based on the trends that came out of those interviews and the data they were able to get, they believe that the death top is at least 4,600. I spoke with one of the researchers, he is standing by that and yet the official government death toll remains at 64. This is not the first red flag. CNN, we, did the investigation last year. Last year when we talked to funeral homes, we found that they were reporting nine times what the government was reporting in terms of deaths related to Hurricane Maria. Now, the governor has said he will be using this study as part of the report.

The other thing is the timing of this. The government commissioned a study from George Washington university to look into the death given all the red flags and the reports and questions about it. There are delays in that study and now this study comes out and we are just days away from the next hurricane season. The next hurricane season will begin June 1st and still they really don't have enough answers in terms of who died, how, when, and, more importantly, as they prepare for the next hurricane, they how will prevent those types of deaths in the future -- Brooke?

[14:41:04] BALDWIN: You have reported so thoroughly on this story, since last September. Leyla, stay on it, keep asking the tough questions. Those numbers are stunning.

Leyla Santiago, in San Juan.

Back to our breaking news here. ABC canceling "Roseanne" after her outrageous racist tweets. New Reaction coming in. We have the very latest after the quick commercial break.


[14:45:52] BALDWIN: You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Back to the story of the day, mega popular. We're talking 20 million viewers on a single night for the "Roseanne" reboot. It has now been cancelled.

Our senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter, has gotten a little more scoop on the background of all of this, as a result of the racist tweets from the star of the show.

But advertisers? What was happening?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDICA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES": I don't want to take away Disney's moral stance here, corporate America doing the right thing against racism, but there were also some financial pressures and that's a reality of the television business. One of those pressures I'm told was from major advertisers. It's the TV up fronts, where advisers begin to buy ads up front. Roseanne came out and pitched her new season and she was the star of the show.

However, now today, some advertisers were starting to get on the phone, starting to express second thoughts. I think the reality is ABC was not going to be able to get sponsor to pony up big money for ads on Roseanne and the other were some of the actors and producers were getting on the phones with their agents saying I'm not so sure I want to be part of a show, part of season two. But that's because of the outrage and disgust of Roseanne's words. That made it a little bit easier for Disney to take this action and cancel the show.

BALDWIN: We saw the name. She's the executive producer of the show, Wanda Sykes, when she backs out, it makes you wonder --


BALDWIN: There are other people calling off.

Brian Stelter, thank you very much.

STELTER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: More on this.

Plus, as I speak, Kim Jong-Un's former top spy on his way to the United States in hopes reviving the summit with President Trump. But he's also the alleged mastermind behind that Sony hack. We'll discuss that next.


[14:52:35] BALDWIN: Right now, Kim Jong-Un's former top spy, the one suspected of masterminding the Sony hack, is making his way to New York. The president calls this visit of the current vice chair of the ruling party a, quote, "solid response" to his letter last week cancelling his meeting with the North Korean dictator. It is also a solid indication, along with the meeting underway at the DMZ and the host nation, Singapore, that a Trump/Kim meeting is back on track potentially as soon as June 12, two weeks from today.

Duyeon Kim is with me, a visiting senior research fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum in Seoul.

Duyeon, welcome to you.

Here you have this North Korea sending over this very high-level official, a former spy chief. Before I get your take that he is coming and setting foot on U.S. oil, how significant is this visit diplomatically?

KIM: It's significant for two reasons. First, it's the first time in 18 years such a high-level North Korean official has set foot on American soil. The first time was in 2000 when the vice marshal met with President Bill Clinton to deliver a message from the late Kim Jong-Il, and it led to what was called a U.S./North Korea communique that charted a new chapter in the relationship. So the this visit to New York, this time, it's bringing back those memories and raising questions in speculation as to whether he's bringing a message to President Trump and if he is going to meet with President Trump.

The second significance is it seems his visit is a good sign that the U.S. and North Korea are in their final stretch of negotiations to prepare for the summit.

BALDWIN: Did you ever think again, this a man - and I had to go back and re-read. That 2014 Sony hack, that took down major studio heads and celebrities. I understand the why as far as why he would come to further the summit, but did you I ever think this person from North Korea would be stepping on U.S. soil?

KIM: Before that, in 2010, he is believed to have masterminded the sinking of a South Korean vessel. This guy is no joke. He's a former military guy, but he seems to have risen up the ranks and appears to be parts of Kim Jong-Un's inner circle. You see him sitting next to Kim Jong-Un in summit meetings and high-profile meeting. And he's a veteran on the issue of denuclearization, peace regime, deeply involved with negotiations with South Korea in the early '90s on denuclearization and issue of aggression, so he knows his issues.

[14:55:31] BALDWIN: Duyeon Kim, we shall see if this happens June 12, two weeks from today.

Thank you very much. We'll speak again.

Meantime, I have to get to this story. This retired English teacher's attention to detail made her a viral sensation. Yvonne Mason is her name. She taught in Greenville, South Carolina. She took President Trump to task over a letter he wrote to her. She originally sent Trump a letter about school safety and gun violence, specially asking him to visit the families who lost loved ones in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. But when she received his written response, she noticed it was filled with grammatical errors. So she did what any English teacher would do, she pulled out her purple pen and got to work.

Yvonne Mason is with me now.

Yvonne, first of all, thank you for all of your teachings throughout the years. My mom is a teacher, so I want to say that.

Normally, when people get letters from the White House, they frame them. What possessed to you start marking it up?

YVONNE MASON, ENGLISH TEACHER: People who know me know that I mark a lot of things up. I don't typically send things back, but I think an official communique or communication, excuse me, should be a little more grammatically correct, even though I understand the White House style book is a little different than the style books I use teaching, but all of the capitalizations and I did focus mostly on the grammar, which was distracting, to say the least.

BALDWIN: Which mistake was the most egregious?

MASON: I think capitalizing states and nations and common nouns which had been modifiers. And there was a dangling modifier and there were at least three "I" statements, three or four, which I would have dinged a student on.



BALDWIN: Do you worry at all, from mistakes made just even if tweets from the president alone, that this nation's emphasis on grammar and proper English is deteriorating?

MASON: I do. And it's really very unfortunate because, as I have said before, language is the currency of power. And if you do not use language properly and appropriately and consistently, then you're never going to get what you want. You're never going to be clear. And I think that this whole thing with capitalizing sort of hot-button words, like president, like nation, like state, like flag, for instance, if you emphasize those words rhetorically, then your reader is going to put more emphasize on those, and that is going to appeal to emotion than we really need. Consistency in communication is more important that your personal preference.


BALDWIN: Words, language is indeed powerful.

Yvonne Mason, thank you very much.

Remind me not to write you a letter. I'd hate to see what that purple pen would do. Hopefully, not as bad. Let me just say that.

MASON: Hopefully, not at bad.

BALDWIN: Yvonne, thank you very much.

MASON: Thank you.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: We continue on here. You're watching CNN. Top of the hour.

Major breaking news here this afternoon. The top-rated television show of the season is no more. ABC has cancelled "Roseanne" because of racist tweets today from its namesake start. Among the offensive remarks Roseanne Barr sent out were this one, quote, "Muslim Brotherhood and 'Planet of the Apes' had a baby." She follows this by an equals sign and the initials V.J.. V.J. stands for Valerie Jarrett, the former senior advisor to President Obama. Barr deleted that tweet.

She then eventually sent out an apology, quoting her, she writes, "I'm truly story for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me. My joke was in bad taste."

But that was not enough. It was the first African-American female here, who runs to ABC Entertainment, Channing Dungey, to issue this single sentence: "Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show."