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ABC Cancels "Roseanne" After Star's Racist Tweet; Roseanne Barr Apologizes To Show Staff; Top North Korean Official On His Way To The U.S.; White House: Progress Being Made With North Korea; Ivanka Trump Awarded Trademarks Amid Trade Talks; San Salvador Special Police Force Has Dubious Links. Aired 12m-12:45a ET

Aired May 30, 2018 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, massive ratings and a presidential endorsement was not enough to save the tv hit "Roseanne" after its star's racist tweet.

One of the most powerful men in North Korea sent to the U.S. to visit to keep the Trump/Kim summit on track.

CNN gets exclusive access to a police unit accused of acting like a death squad, a unit partly funded by the U.S. government.

Hello, everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. We are now in the first hour of two hours of NEWSROOM L.A.

We begin with a stark example of the political and social divide in the United States. One of the most popular shows on television has been cancelled by ABC after a racist Twitter rant from its star, Roseanne Barr.

"Roseanne" returned just a few months ago to a blockbuster ratings and Donald Trump claimed some of the credit, saying the show was about him and his supporters in Middle America. But Barr crossed the line on Tuesday with this tweet, "Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes had a baby equals V.J."

V.J. stands for Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama and an African-American woman. Amid a storm of outrage, Barr took down the post and replaced it with this, "I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all-Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me. My joke was in bad taste."

A lot to get to with this subject. Joining me here now in Los Angeles, Ron Brownstein, CNN's senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic," also here Rebecca Sun, senior reporter for "The Hollywood Reporter," and Jarrett Hill, politics and pop culture journalist. Ron, I want to start quickly with you. One argument in defense of Roseanne Barr, it seems it's difficult to know the difference between the racism which gets you fired and the racism which gets you elected to the White House.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there is something to that. I mean, you know, when this happened today, I remember thinking back to a moment in the fall of 2015. I was on "NEW DAY," our morning show in CNN, and Alisyn Camerota had done a focus group with a group of Trump supporters.

And they were saying things out loud that I could not imagine them saying at the Thanksgiving dinner table a year before. You know, essentially what we've watched over the past two years is the barriers being consistently knocked down and the boundaries being pushed out.

And people feeling comfortable making overtly racist comments, and then every so often, especially when you have an institution that has to deal with not only red America and kind of the Trump coalition but blue America, the traditional response occurs.

But there is no question that this, I think, is part of pattern of what we have seen over the last several years where both the president and many people around him feel comfortable making more overt appeals to white racial resentment than we have seen on the national stage since George Wallace.

JARRETT HILL, POLITICS AND POP CULTURE JOURNALIST: I think all of what you said is correct, but I think there's a word that's missing. You said that people are feeling comfortable saying all of these, you know, horrible, horrible things again, right. We have been through it before many years ago and many of the people -- many of us were talking about during the presidential campaign that make America great again was an interesting thing.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, the keyword is again.

HILL: Again being the interesting word, right? Again is the conversation about like where do we want to go back to and what have we started to go back, and I think that again is an interesting insert.

VAUSE: What was interesting is that there was a campaign rally a few hours ago in Tennessee. The president was there campaigning for the Republican candidate for Senate. He did not say anything about this controversy. He did not defend Roseanne Barr or go on the attack against the Hollywood liberals and elites. That's not to say Donald Trump hasn't had a lot to say about Roseanne Barr in the past, like this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Look at Roseanne. I called her yesterday. Look at her ratings! Look at her ratings. I got a call from Mark Burnett. He did "The Apprentice." He is a great guy. He said, Donald, I called just to say hello and to tell you, did you see "Roseanne's" rings? I said, Mark, how big were they? They were unbelievable. Over 18 million people, and it was about us.


VAUSE: It was about us. Rebecca, the reboot and the rise of the "Roseanne" show has mirrored the rise of the Trump presidency in so many ways.

REBECCA SUN, SENIOR REPORTER, "THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": Yes, absolutely. You know, I think that the way that the show was marketed is finally a show for families that looked like us, you know. That is veiled way to say that, hey, we know you've felt alienated by all of these black families and Asian families on television.

[00:05:08] And in fact, you know, one of the episodes during the first season of the rebooted "Roseanne" made a dig at "black-is, as fresh off the boat, and this, you know, sort of new diverse landscape we have on television.

And so, you know, the audience behind -- I don't want to say the audience, actually, the marketing behind "Roseanne" sort of mirrored the marketing behind the Trump campaign which is, hey, guys, you know, let's go back to pre-civil rights movement.

HILL: Again, yes.

BROWNSTEIN: Look, I mean, the contrast with the president is what is so striking here, right. I mean, Roseanne Barr says this and is -- was on thin ice maybe already and is gone within -- within hours. The president says that African-American players who are kneeling during the national anthem maybe shouldn't be allowed in the country.

Talks about immigrant gang members, MS-13 as animals, not humans. You see the Republican Party though in Congress, I mean, at this point barely shrugging and clearly making the decision to rally -- I'm struck today the same thing, not only did Roseanne Barr face this kind of sanction.

Eric (inaudible), the governor of Missouri who is accused of abusive behavior of women was forced to resign. Again, the contrast with the way -- the kind of the institution of the Republican Party are kind of locking arms around President Trump is so striking.

I mean, the calculation that we are getting the policy that we want on judges, on regulation, on taxes, and we are willing to accept this. You see today I think what the real cost of that is, how it kind pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable to say -- what people think is acceptable to say out loud.

VAUSE: What was interesting within a few hours on Tuesday officials of ABC made a decision, they put out a statement. The president of entertainment (inaudible) said it was repugnant and inconsistent with our values and we decided to cancel the show.

Jarrett, this is not the first vial tweet that Barr has sent out and not even the first time that she has compared an African-American woman to an ape. She did that back in 2013 with the national security advisor then, Susan Rice. If Tuesday's tweet was a fireable offense, shouldn't the 2013 tweet be the disqualification from being hired in the first place?

HILL: Well, I think that's the question that a lot of people are asking is like why did they give this chance, right? She's had a track record of doing all kinds of offensive things on Twitter, of saying all kinds of things.

She's been photographed in a Hitler costume. She's been saying anti- Semitic things, all kinds of stuff like that. I would have to imagine that they thought maybe she'll tone it down, but that kind of ignores what came before it.

I think that they maybe thought that this was a great opportunity for, you know, maybe an olive branch, if you will, to a conservative audience. But I think she was a live wire. I think she was a third rail for them to try to -- that they put their hand on it and apparently got burned.

VAUSE: Rebecca, was she fired for being a racist or because she was unable to keep her racism to herself?

SUN: That's a great distinction. You know, I think that people knew -- I mean, it is not a surprise that Roseanne Barr is a racist. So, I think it was the fact that, hey, you know, we -- there's this unspoken agreement, you know, you be your crazy self but don't let it affect, you know, our bottom line and what we're trying to do. And so, I think it is being a public racist.

HILL: Here's a great tweet someone says, ABC -- the "Horse Whisperer" said ABC didn't fire Roseanne for being a racist. She was always a racist. ABC fired her because she wouldn't keep her racism below the surface where ABC could profit from it. And I think that's right. I think they took a gamble on her hoping that they would be able to -- you know, kind of get by with it and she wouldn't say anything else.

VAUSE: I just wonder because after they had this huge season opening, the 18 million viewers that Trump keeps talking about, Barr told the "New York Times," "I just wanted to have that dialogue about families torn apart by the election and their political differences of opinion and how we handle it. I thought that was an important thing to say at this time." Ron, that conversation is an important one to have.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. There is an audience and look --

VAUSE: This tv show didn't make that conversation happen.

BROWNSTEIN: No, well, look. I mean, there is interesting -- Stan Greenburgh, who is a veteran Democratic pollster, the one who really (inaudible) Democrats in McCone County back in the '80s. Just did a series of focus groups the in McCone County, the classic blue collar county outside of Detroit that's the seed bed for the Trump voter but also for the Roseanne viewer. They talked about people in the focus groups talked about how generationally their families are torn -- were torn by this election and remain torn by this election. Look, there is an audience for a lot of the things that Donald Trump has said, and the question is, you know, how do you -- how do you speak to the legitimate concerns of that audience without feeding some of their racial and cultural resentments?

Pete Waynehart who was director of strategic planning for the Bush White House said something I think very profound during campaign. He said not everybody who votes for Donald Trump agrees with is racial nationalism but everyone who supports him is willing to accept him.

[00:10:03] And that is what -- that is the position that the Republican-elected officials are in by excusing this behavior, which I think is creating a climate in which people like Roseanne feel comfortable doing what they did.

VAUSE: (Inaudible) over at Fox, I mean, there was criticism of Roseanne Barr and the tweet. You know you're in trouble when Fox calls you a racist, but they're also quick to defend the president as well. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think that President Trump had anything to do with this tweet, but because Roseann Barr had been supportive of him in the past, I think some people are taking it to extreme, suggesting that this has something to with the president.


VAUSE: So, Rebecca, when the president is praising Roseanne Barr for her ratings, when he is supposedly calling her to say congratulations, when his son, Don Jr., is retweeting her anti-Semitic tweets about George Soros, the argument on Fox that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump seems to be incredibly thin.

SUN: No, it is disingenuous because the nature of Roseann's controversial tweet is perpetuating a dehumanizing stereotype in which you are calling a person of color an animal, and that's exactly the same rhetoric that we heard a few weeks ago with Trump and what he was saying about immigrants and people from certain countries. And so, it comes -- it is the exact same context and exact same sentiment that both are espousing.

HILL: I think this touching -- Donald Trump seems to touch every story, right. I think we see this with the NFL, with the kneeling ban and people -- the reason people are boycotting the NFL and we are talking about the -- the First Amendment angle of that. Yes, it is a private corporation, but the president of the United States came out and said these people should be fired, these public should be fined and that actually happened.

I think when the president comes back and endorses a show or endorses an organization or anything and has some kind of like a political spin on it, I'm sorry, there's blood on his hands.

VAUSE: Roseanne has spent the last few hours retweeting and thanking her tweets of defenders and been out there thanking them for their support, also apologized to the staff who worked on the show for the show being cancelled. So, clearly, she has her supporters still out there.

HILL: Sure.

VAUSE: Will there be a conservative backlash here for ABC?

BROWNSTEIN: I think this was too egregious for that to really get off the ground. I think it is very hard to, you know, find -- the president often finds a little kind of, you know, wiggle room of ambiguity. There was no ambiguity. It was an openly, unabashedly racist tweet. I think that makes it hard to kind of sustain. I'm sure there will be places on the internet and places in the conservative media ecosystem, but I don't think you can sustain a backlash after this.

VAUSE: Sorry, Rebecca, this is probably the deliberate strategy by ABC, they wanted (inaudible) the heartland programming. They came up with this strategy the morning after the election. Does this now mean that that strategy is being moved at or is it sort of full steam ahead with more of this kind of programming on television?

SUN: I think there's still a legitimate place for programming that speaks to this type of family. I think it is wonderful to have family where white working-class households can feel reflected, but "Roseanne" did not necessarily represent that. There's a big difference between being conservative and being a racist.

BROWNSTEIN: By the way, real quick. It is a version of the same question the Democrats are facing politically. Is there a way to talk to white working-class voters without appealing to culture and racial resentments? I mean, can ABC find a way to talk -- the answer has to be yes.

VAUSE: We are out of time. Jarett, 30 seconds?

HILL: I think that there probably will be backlash. I think that the president and conservatives can message anything. If there's anything conservatives are good at, it is messaging. But I do think that there is an appetite for that anger.

I think you see a lot of people that angry on social media that want to have something to be upset about, and this is one of those moments where they will be able to say something was taken away from them.

VAUSE: OK, we'll leave it there. Jarrett, Rebecca and Ron, good to see you all. Thank you.

OK, a short break, when we come back a senior North Korean official is on a mission to try and save the summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Where he is heading and who he plans to meet with. The surprising details just ahead. Also, Israel says it was the largest barrage of mortars rockets fired from Gaza in years and the country's military has responded. We will have the very latest on the rising tensions later this hour.



VAUSE: North Korean's former spy master is on his way to the U.S for a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Kim Yong-Chol is to lay the ground work for a summit next month between Donald Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Kong-un. He is most senior North Korean official to visit the U.S. since 2000.

Cnn's Paula Hancocks live from Seoul, South Korea. This is a spy chief and a man some say should be in jail for war crimes, and yet his trip to the U.S., another indication of how protocol and norms are being pushed aside to make the summit happen.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's true, John, yes. Also, it says a little bit about North Korea, the fact that obviously this is a man that the leader, Kim Jong-un, trusts explicitly. The fact that he is carrying out this very important mission, going to talk to U.S. officials, to talk to the U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who himself is a former head of CIA, so a former spy chief.

And what we saw also on the South Korean side is it was the head of the NIS, the National Intelligence Services, that went up to North Korea. So, it is really interesting how the main negotiators at the top here, just below the leadership, all appear to be within the intelligence sphere.

Now, obviously it makes sense from the North Korean point of view because a very intelligence and internal-looking country that it is, and certainly from the South Korean point of view, they were not happy at the beginning when this man, Kim Yong-Chol was sent by Kim Jong-un to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic.

He came leading the delegation to the closing ceremony and he is widely blamed in South Korea as being responsible for the sinking of the (inaudible) warship several years ago which killed about 46 sailors.

Certainly, it is, as you say, another indication that the playbook has been thrown out. This is not the normal protocol they're following.

VAUSE: Yes. Going on charted waters yet again. Paula, thank you. Paula Hancocks live for us there in Seoul. For more, CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein back with us. One thing about what we are seeing over the last week or so, there is this dizzying pace.


VAUSE: For preparations, which was being set simply to make this summit happen on June 12th. It seems probably the only reason I can work out for why it must happen on that date is because that's the date that was agreed to by Donald Trump and he wants it to happen on that date.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. I mean don't you feel that the volatility and the on-again/off-again and swerving of the lead up to this in some ways reduces the potential importance or impact of the summit?

Because what it basically says to us is there's no chance that whatever happens, whenever it happens is the last page and the last word. I mean, you know, the idea that we kind of would be going into a meeting like this and the most volatile person in the room might not be the North Korean leader is pretty remarkable.

VAUSE: It is.

BROWNSTEIN: And I think what we're watching in the last few weeks says to me that the story in the next few months and the next few years is likely to be much like what we have seen. Whatever they decide, on-again/off-again, many more moments to erase the board and write on it again.

VAUSE: Yes. To me it feels always as if now the most important thing out there is not the talks or the negotiations or anything, it's just simply that the summit happens.


VAUSE: Because it is a means to an end, is all it is.

[00:20:10] BROWNSTEIN: Although in fairness, you know, often the case the belief is once you get the leaders committed to a summit they don't want to walk away with nothing getting done. I guess my feeling is more that we are being reminded how conditional anything is in the Trump presidency, that no decision is entirely final.

And that even if they are able to reach what seems like an agreement on day one, the odds that that will simply kind of roll forward for 365 or 730 days seems to be utterly --

VAUSE: So many things being ripped up.


VAUSE: And I guess it was an end itself rather than anything beyond that. Setting up the venues, security, transport, that's a challenge, but nothing compared to preparing a president, who at best is unfamiliar with the details of the specifics when it comes to North Korea's nuclear program. That's the real challenge.

BROWNSTEIN: And look, and also who has set an unbelievably high bar by saying the Iran agreement, which was laboriously negotiated over months and months of detail with international involvement was insufficient in the level of verification that it provided, and he has to do better in what the most closed regime in the world really, way beyond what Iran has been.

VAUSE: Already has nuclear weapons.

BROWNSTEIN: Which already has nuclear weapons. So, you know, you could easily imagine a summit in which kind of broad language is used to cloak the differences that still remain, and then we have an endless process of dispute and disagreement as we go through the steps of analysis. I think Peter Baker and David Sanger are going to be writing analysis for the next two and a half years no matter what.

VAUSE: A solid job -- negotiating nuclear treaties may be unfamiliar for the U.S. president, but you know, demanding money for the wall on the border that's classic Trump. We were back at that just a few hours ago. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Mexico, I don't want to cause a problem. I don't want to cause one but going to pay for the wall. I'm just telling you, I'm just telling you. All right. I don't want to cause any problem. But in the end, Mexico is paying for the wall.


VAUSE: That was a campaign rally in Tennessee a few hours ago.


VAUSE: What is interesting though is that, you know, getting Mexico to pay for that wall, it may as well be negotiating a nuclear treaty because neither has happened.

BROWNSTEIN: Neither happened.

VAUSE: And getting Mexico to pay for it is unlikely to happen. There is a tweet from the Mexican president in response to that, no, Mexico will never pay for the wall. No now, not ever. Sincerely, Mexico. All of us.

BROWNSTEIN: There's no way Mexico will ever pay for the wall. The president may try in some way to extract a payment from Mexico. During the campaign they talked about withholding remittances from Mexican nationals in the U.S., somehow to do that.

Look, what the president has shown is that he is better at tearing down agreements than at creating new ones. He's walked away from Iran, from the climate treaty, from the Transpacific Partnership. He has not yet renegotiated NAFTA. He has not renegotiated the bilateral trade treaties that he promised after walking away from TPP.

He has not found a better Paris climate agreement that he wants to come back into, and certainly, there is, you know, none of our allies who believe that the kind of global agreement with Iran that he has talked about is possible.

So, whether he can do this is an open question, and I guess my bigger feeling is just watching the run-up to this tells me that even if they are able to pull the summit back on to track, walk out of the room with some kind of piece of paper, the odds of that piece of paper will lead to years of kind of, you know, Pacific relations between the U.S. and North Korea seems to be highly unlikely.

VAUSE: Actually, that rally though --


VAUSE: -- I think the build the wall, late 2015, you know, we're now into 2018. It's been three years. He's been in office for a year and a half and hasn't happened. How much longer will there be an applause for this?

BROWNSTEIN: Look, we are reminded constantly how central to the Trump coalition is anxiety about the changing face of America and how central to his appeal is the idea of restricting immigration in all forms, from building a wall to cracking down on undocumented immigrants to reducing legal immigration which we've talked about, which is a new area for the party.

It is not something that he is able to execute, but, again, going back to our previous conversation, he empowers people who have had these feelings for years.

VAUSE: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: And vocalizing it in many ways is the deliverable, John. That is an important point to understand about Trump.

VAUSE: That's good enough.

BROWNSTEIN: He doesn't have to deliver the policy, he validates the emotion and the feeling. For a lot of voters who have been uneasy, somewhere on the spectrum from uneasy to openly hostile to a more diverse America.

[00:25:03] The idea that the president of the United States in effect is saying they are right when everybody at the dinner table was shouting them down a year ago that is a powerful connection.

VAUSE: OK. With that in mind, Donald Trump did campaign to the ordinary guy, which he is not, but going to drain the swamp and that kind of stuff. Then we had this reporting from CNN. Seven trademarks were officially registered to Ivanka Trump this month with China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce, according to government trademark database. Therefore, items such a kitchen wear, furniture and paper products and cosmetics. The approval comes as President Donald Trump remains engaged in trade negotiations with China on a wide range of issues.

BROWNSTEIN: We could do the Kushner -- we could do the Kushner tower in Manhattan with Qatari funding. There's an endless entangling of public business and private business and it really again comes back to the choice by the only effective oversight that exists which is Congress in this case. They have clearly made the case on challenges to the rule of law, on corruption, on racist signaling, and sometimes more than signaling, that in essence they are going to look the other way as much as humanly possible, if not actively abet him in some cases, for example, opening the second front on Bob Mueller as the price of what they believe is required to advance their policy agenda.

You know, it is a big change from where it started. I think Republicans were kind of keeping their distance a little more. They have now decided to lock arms over the last 18 months around the president, and it is a profound moment. You talk about Ivanka Trump. What if Bob Mueller comes back and says, look, as I interpret the evidence this adds up to obstruction of justice.


BROWNSTEIN: And the Republican majority in Congress says, we don't care.

VAUSE: Which is entirely possible.

BROWNSTEIN: It's entirely possible.

VAUSE: Ron, as always, it's been a while.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks. Good to be here.

VAUSE: Thank you very much. Happy to be here with us and very much appreciate it. Thank you.

Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., CNN exclusive, inside the dangerous wall on gangs in El Salvador and the controversial tactics being used by police.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour. U.S. television network, ABC, cancelled the popular program "Roseanne" after racist tweets from its star. Roseanne Barr has apologized for comparing a former White House senior adviser to an ape. They called the comments abhorrent, repugnant and in consistent with its values.

A senior North Korean official is headed to the United States to try and salvage a summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Former spymaster, Kim Yong-Chol is expected to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York. The summit is planned for June 12th in Singapore.


Prison inmate on temporary release went on a rampage in Belgium Tuesday, killing two policewomen and a bystander before he shot and killed. Authorities are treating it as a terror attack. Belgium media reports Benjamin Herman was sentenced to drug offenses and may have been radicalized. There's a disturbing side to the fight against gangs in El Salvador, particularly against MS13 that's been called the most dangerous gang in the world.

In a CNN exlcusive, Nick Paton Walsh gained access to an elite police squad, a law enforcement unit with a dark history and backed by U.S. money. Here's Nick's exclusive report.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's an undeclared war here in El Salvador. Elite police against MS13 have gang menace that beheads, rapes and terrorizes. And it's America's war too, because President Trump has declared MS13 animals that must be eliminated. And these men are fighting with U.S. money and help.

A lot of this equipment American government supplied, part of an effort to try and tackle gang violence back in El Salvador.

These men, the Janguar Unit, say their targets are gang leaders to cripple the gang hierarchy.

COMMANDER CESAR ORTEGA, JAGUAR POLICE UNIT (through translator): The U.S. participate in training as well as providing equipment. The only thing that the U.S. does not supply is lethal equipment, the weapons and the ammunition, but it does supply us with protective equipment, helmets, bullet proof vests and knee pads.

WALSH: Well, there's something U.S. taxpayers should know about how America is fighting this proxy war. This unit has a dark history. Many, once in an elite unit called the special reaction forces, the EFS, or FES. It was disbanded after troubling allegations.

The FES had a very lethal track record on the street, killing a staggering 43 people they say were gang members in just six months last year. Some -- and it has been repeatedly been alleged -- illegal executions.

That's a problem for the U.S. who wants to post a fund unit guilty of human rights abuses, quickly to say some FES police evaded this dark past by being folded into the new Jaguar Unit, so the U.S. had no issues funding them.

In fact, the number of gang members killed each year by police has risen five times in two years, a high body count that hasn't, say polls, make people feel safer.

It's a culture of alleged impunity, exposed in WhatsApp messages CNN obtained where FES police discuss executions and ask informant's help identifying gang members.

"Can you send us a picture of Shadow?" The message says. "We're going now. We've located him. Send me his photo right now. We're going to crash that (EXPLETIVE DELETED)."

A local police office rails at the sloppy cleanup of an execution of a gang member by fellow police nearby.

"There are witnesses who saw that they were beating that son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) before killing him, but our comrades portrayed it as a shootout. Here, you have bad procedures in practice. If you're going to do some (EXPLETIVE DELETED) like that, you better be sure there are no witnesses."

Brutal tactics can drive people away from the police towards gangs like MS13, into whose world here we get rare permission to enter.

We're headed now to one of the scenes of the more prominent killings here deep inside gang territory, carried out by what locals here say was effectively a police death squad.

Nobody disputes that Eclipse, as he was known, was a local gang figure, but they do dispute that Eclipse was armed when police shot him dead. Neighbors say it was simply an execution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They came inside and a little time passed. They are screaming hand in your weapons. And they replied, there they are, mister. they're surrendering. And all of a sudden, we hear the first shot. And after hearing the first, there was some silence, and after another four shots were fired.

WALSH: This distraught mother shows us the scene: his bedroom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Here he was, lying down, his hands like this as if he had been sleeping. They killed my son.

WALSH: She claims they shot him in the back. They say the police never come around here now.

This case was investigated, but charges weren't filed. Police rarely, if ever, prosecute their own. In fact, one of the officers accused in this shooting likely now serves in the new Jaguar Unit. Using his photograph, a facial recognition expert who used to work for British police, identified him in our footage of the new Jaguar Unit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These images are very, very clear, very good images. I'm 85 percent certain, at least, that this is one and the same person I'm looking at.

WALSH: An officer accused of a killing in the old unit, the FES, is likely in the new one, the Jaguars.

The forthcoming UN report will declare a pattern of behavior by security personnel amounting to extrajudicial executions.

Salvadoran police replied they are fighting, quote, terrorists, and often arrest them without the use of arms, while keeping human rights paramount. More than 200 officers faced court for improper armed aggression last year, they said.

ORTEGA (through translator): There's a general belief about this unit having a green light to kill these gang members, but that's a lie. This does not happen here, not in any other country. We stick to the legal norms of our country. We can only respond against aggression, and we use the force level that applies to all of police corps. And as a last resort, we fire our weapons.

WALSH: In a statement, the U.S. embassy said, "the U.S. government takes allegations of extrajudicial killings extremely seriously and has consistently expressed concerns regarding allegations of security force abuses. It provides assistance to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate all types of violent crimes, including those involving suspected human rights violations."

They added, "the U.S. recently provided 500 bodycams and tracks alleged abuses so no corrupt officers get their help."

The U.S. has tried brute force here and elsewhere before and failed, or gotten caught in a long conflict as the threat of MS13 rises, they will have to hope the gangs crumble rather than escalate the fight.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, San Salvador.


VAUSE: When the Trump administration ended a policy known as temporary protected status for immigrants from 10 countries, nearly 200,000 El Salvadorans who are at risk of deportation. In his next exclusive, Nick Paton Walsh speaks to deportees who lived in the U.S. for more than a decade, but now they face gang violence, homelessness, and the challenge of making a living in El Salvador's capital.


WALSH: Cristian Lara (ph) lived in the USA for 20 years and was deported coming out of his Florida construction job. He had only committed immigration offenses. The best choice now is a $5 a day farm job.

Oscar is more complicated, he's 20, went to America aged 10, and served four months for assault and bodily harm in Houson. Yet, back here, he trembles.

Are you scared of the gangs here now?


WALSH: Are you scared you may end up involved and caught up in it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I was in the USA, I see the news like 16 people killed every day. It's scaring me, man.

WALSH: 48 hours past since we meet Cristian (ph) and Oscar in which there were two beheadings, over 20 murders, and a policeman is killed.


VAUSE: Watch the rest of Nick's report on Thursday from what's considered one of the most dangerous cities on Earth starting at 5:00 a.m. in London, that's noon in Hong Kong. You will see it only here on CNN. And we'll be right back.


VAUSE: Well, now to the escalating tensions in the Middle East where the Israeli air strikes have targeted dozens of sites in Gaza, a response, they say, to the biggest barrage of rockets and mortars fired from Gaza in years. And it comes after more than 35 airstrikes on Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets on Tuesday.

CNN's Phil Black joins us now live with the very latest. And Phil, this looks to be a flare up of violence and, you know, exchanges between these two sides we haven't seen since the 2014 war.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, indeed. That's right, nothing like this has been seen since 2014, the full scale conflict between Israel and Hamas, the militant group, that controls Gaza. It kicked off early yesterday morning. And then Israel responded with airstrikes.

And we've seen more of that happening overnight. We're told there's been more going on overnight.

In the Israeli communities all along the Gaza border, warning sirens have been sounding. Isareli military says that there have been more launches of rockets into Israeli territory through the night, that its air defense system intercepted some of those. And Israel also launched further airstrikes, 25 of them, against targets that it says are military or terrorist in nature, munitions and rocket factories, sheds for housing, drones, it says.

At the moment, Gaza behind me here seems quiet. But after this extraordinary day of violence between the two sides, the key question is what happens next. Both sides say they don't want to escalate, but they will defend themselves.

There was talk last night of a formal ceasefire. We were hearing that from Palestinian officials, but Israelis denied that. So we'll be looking ahead over the next day to see whether or not this escalation continues, whether this has just simply been a momentary and pretty extraordinary in the sense of recent history, flare up.

VAUSE: In many ways, (inaudible) gamble by Hamas that maybe if they carry out these rocket strikes and engage Israel that somehow may ease the tensions for them inside Gaza, that's at least one theory being put forward by the Israelis.

BLACK: Yeah, so Israel is pointing to two militant groups here. Hamas, it says, was involved in these rocket and mortar launches. And of course it has overall control of the Gaza strip, so it says it has primary responsibility. But it's also making a point of implicating, of blaming, Islamic Jihad, another military group, which it has said -- which the Israeli military is pointing out -- is heavily influenced by Iran, and which, over the last 24 hours, it says, has been firing Iranian weapons.

Now, both of those groups have said that they are working together. That's not necessarily the case, but they both say they have been working together. And there are questions about the timing here, because remember we've seen those largescale largely civilian protests in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks and months that the Israeli military has been criticized for internationally for using lethal force against, some 100 or more Palestinians have been killed.

There has been sympathy for the people of Gaza in recent weeks. And now we have this, a return to the sort of old school violence that the Gaza Srip was famous for.

VAUSE: Phil, thank you. It all looks depressingly familiar. Phil Black there live for us in Gaza.

Thank you for watching CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. World Sport starts after the beak.