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Steel And Aluminum From Canada, Mexico, And E.U. Hit Hard; Germany: Trump's Tariffs Harm Europe And U.S.; North Korean Envoy To Deliver Kim Letter To Trump; Italy's New Populist Government To Be Sworn; Trump Flexes Pardon Power In Face Of Russia Probe; Two Companies Suspend Ads From Samantha Bee's Show; The Brutalized Women Of El Salvador's Gangs; Russian Journalist Defends Staged Assassination; Jihadi Who Urge Attack On Prince George Pleads Guilty. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired June 1, 2018 - 00:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Ahead this hour, fears of a trade war between the U.S. and some of its strongest allies after President Trump slaps tariffs on three big trading partners.

Also, the White House condemns a comedian's bad joke as a vial and vicious attack on Ivanka Trump.

And the plot targeting Britain's Prince George. How one terrorist thought he could get close to the young royal.

These stories all ahead here this hour. Thank you for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen in Atlanta and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

As of this moment, U.S. imports of aluminum and steel from Mexico, Canada and the European Union just got a lot more expensive. Americans can now expect to pay more on a wide variety of popular goods like automobiles and beer.

Many Republican leaders in Congress had pleaded with U.S. President Donald Trump not to impose tariffs on U.S. trading partners, but he did it anyway. The U.S. stock market hated it. The Dow fell 251 points. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce warns it could cost nearly a half million U.S. jobs.

What's next? Probably a trade war between the U.S. and many of its allies. CNN's Anna Stewart has the reaction from Europe.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. is imposing trade tariffs on the E.U., 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. It is targeting over $7 billion worth of European exports. Now, this may come as no surprise because despite all the last-minute 11th-hour discussions between the E.U. and the U.S. Just on Tuesday the E.U. trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, has said that she hoped for an agreement but thought it was rather unlikely. Today after this announcement she said today is a bad day for world trade.

Now, the E.U. has long-held that these tariffs are unlawful and unjustified, and they've been very quick to respond. Here is what the European commission president had to say earlier today.


JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: We are able to do exactly the same. It is totally unacceptable that a country is imposing unilateral measures when it comes towards trade.


STEWART: Of course, the trade spat is unlikely to end there with Europeans slapping tariffs on U.S. products. The U.S. are already investigating slapping tariffs on European-made vehicles that are imported into the U.S. So, plenty to keep investors on their toes over the days and weeks to come. Anna Stewart, CNN, London.

ALLEN: Well, that's the big picture. Let's look at it a little bit closer with Alex Cherin in Los Angeles, senior vice president at the communication firm, EKA, and he is an expert on international trade issues. Alex, thank you for being with us.


ALLEN: What's the president's motivation here? First, it's China and now Europe, Mexico and Canada, what is his goal?

CHERIN: That's a good question, Natalie. Well, look, we are well passed the preliminary rounds of this thing and well in, unfortunately, to what will be the main event, and that is in the eyes of the global trading community protracted and complex trade war.

It is going to be a war that's going to be fought as the news indicated today on many different fronts. Look, just this week, the administration announced early on, Steve Mnuchin indicated that they were going to revamp or reset the tariff structure that they had initially talked about against China.

That's, you know, 20 percent to 25 percent of an additional tariff structure on 50 billion with a "b," dollars of Chinese imported goods. Within the last 24 to 48 hours you have this announcement from Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, indicating that the U.S. will not extend exemptions for countries like Canada, the E.U. and Mexico.

Look these are big-ticket items as you mentioned. This is aluminum, which from the E.U. alone constitutes about a 50 percent of the imported aluminum into this country, and steel from the E.U. alone constitutes nearly 40 percent of the steel product that we bring into this country. So, this is going to be a long, complex war. ALLEN: All right. And obviously there's been a lot of reaction, not just here in the U.S. but from our trade partners. Let's listen to a few of the comments.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: The American administration has made a decision today that we deplore. Obviously, is going to lead to retaliatory measures as it must, but we regret that. We would so much rather move together in partnership understanding that no two countries have economies as interwoven and mutually beneficial as Canada and the United States.

PETER ALTMAIER, GERMAN ECONOMY MINISTER (through translator): Today's decision of the U.S government is wrong in itself. It is harmful for Europe but also for the U.S. itself. Those have succeeded who backed protectionism and one-sided measures, that is unfortunate.


[00:05:09] ALLEN: So, our international partners not happy about it. Why does the U.S. president want a trade war?

CHERIN: Well, it is a good question. You know, I think the administration has set -- sent the signal and today was no exception, that we are going down a path of protectionism. Even more than that, Natalie, I think what the administration signaled today by going after Canada and the E.U. and Mexico was that we are an equal-opportunity protectionist administration.

You know, there was some thought early on that these measures would be aimed at China because of currency manipulation issues or technology issues, but today the signal was sent loud and clear that protectionism is going to be the cornerstone of this administration's trade policy.

Look, what makes this so dangerous and what makes it some different from past discussions about tariffs and the prime minister of Canada brought it up, there is no safety net.

Prior administrations would engage in aggressive trade talks, knowing that the World Trade Organization or NAFTA or even with our Asian trading partners under Transpacific Partnership, the TPP, there were resolution mechanisms or arbitration procedures.

This administration has abandoned any faith in those, and so we're on very dangerous ground here.

ALLEN: Yes. And why now? I mean, look at the U.S. economy and the president has, of course, touted that every chance he can? So why do this now?

CHERIN: Well, you know, I believe -- and this is the consensus in the global trading community, is that Trump is playing to his base. The irony is that these tariffs will impact those states directly that he considers safe for him and other Republicans in the midterm elections. But, look, I think it is part of a larger strategy that this administration has adopted, to go away from multi-lateral trade discussions and negotiations and revert back to the days of bilateral trade discussions and negotiations.

Perhaps he's doing that because it's the next best thing to a real estate negotiation, and maybe he's in his comfort zone. But I think that this administration is clearly sending the signal that they're going to be aggressive moving forward.

ALLEN: But we have also seen them take a tough stance on certain issues and then walk it back. There were questions about whether or not they would follow through with the tariffs imposed on China, so he could pull back or change course because he has certainly done it before.

CHERIN: He could. In fact, that's what Steve Mnuchin indicated earlier this week. Said look, we know we announced these tariffs and then we laid out a whole host of exemptions and we were fine with those, but, guess what, at the 11th hour just before the exemptions are going to expire, we're not going to extend them any further and I think we are going to force countries to the table to enter into trade negotiations.

What it creates, Natalie, and you hinted at it, is a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the global economy, a tremendous amount of uncertainty with our trade partners. That will trickle down, for lack of a better term, to the consumers here in the U.S.

ALLEN: The big question is if the trade partners come to the table, what will happen then. We will wait and see. We appreciate you helping us understand the magnitude of what this could mean. Alex Cherin for us in Los Angeles. Thanks, Alex.

CHERIN: You got it. Thank you.

ALLEN: Well, in a matter of hours, the former North Korean spy chief, the man thought to be behind the attack of a war ship of a U.S. ally, will be in Washington. Kim Yong-Chol is expected to be welcomed into the White House, possibly even the oval office to meet with the president of the U.S.

He is to hand deliver a letter from North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un to President Trump. It is all ahead of a historic summit that could happen in less than two weeks. Here is what President Trump had to say about it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Hopefully, we'll have a meeting on the 12th. It is going along very well, but I want it to be meaningful. It doesn't mean it all gets done at one meeting. Maybe you have to have a second or a third, and maybe we'll have none, but it is in good hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN: Our Alexandra Field joins us from Seoul. This on-again/off- again meeting, the president saying it is in good hands. What hand might Kim Yong-Chol be playing when he comes to the White House?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, certainly, the optics of this will be incredible when you talk about Kim Jong-un's right-hand man personally delivering this letter. You have to think back to about a week ago, I know it seems to be much longer than that, but that was when President Trump seemed to summarily cancel the summit, writing the letter to Kim Jong-un, talking about North Korea's hostilities as the reason that this summit could not go forward, but leaving the door open for dialogue.

And then, of course, you'll remember that North Korea responded via an official through its state news in really a conciliatory way, expressing a hope that the dialogue would continue, and seemingly expressing a desire for this sit-down.

[00:10:05] Fast forward a week, you have this former spy chief from North Korea not only in the U.S., not only in New York, but traveling all the way to Washington. Certainly, it seems to be a sign that both sides are willing to bring the summit forward.

What will the contents of that letter be? We can't say, but Natalie, this would certainly be the proper diplomatic format here, you have President Trump writing a letter and this will be the first official response now from Kim Jong-un.

Certainly, it would be an opportunity for him to express his desire for the dialogue to continue. But as for the nitty-gritty, as for what really determines whether or not this summit will happen, that is being hashed out between Secretary of State Pompeo and also this former spy chief, Kim Yong-Chol, who has been in New York meeting with the secretary of state.

They are the ones who are really tasked with working out the conditions that will determine whether or not both sides do ultimately agree to sit down in under two weeks -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Yes, two weeks away and they're still hashing this out. That says something about the complexity, doesn't it? There have been some reports that perhaps maybe the Trump administration doesn't quite know what it wants concretely from this meeting.

Meantime, where is South Korea in this? Is there a concern there? They've opened a door and working with North Korea, that this could be a step back if this meeting doesn't take place?

FIELD: Well, look, Natalie, at this point, South Korea is sounding notes of optimism, and they've been doing that for months. They're really the ones who facilitated this unprecedented dialogue in the first place. The talks between South Korea and North Korea do continue. Even today you've got high-level inter-Korean talks happening at the DMZ. They are very much hoping that this summit will go forward, but, frankly, Natalie, it isn't in South Korea's power to do much to ensure that this happens.

They've essentially played their role in teeing the summit up, in bringing both of these leaders to the table. It will now come down to whether the U.S. and North Korea want to sit down, but we have heard from an official with the Blue House this morning expressing relief that his letter from Kim Jong-un was being delivered to President Trump.

They see that as a positive step forward, a sign that this summit could, in fact, happen. Again, certainly, they are the ones who are arguing or pushing for dialogue between the United States and North Korea.

But if anyone understands complexity and the difficulties of dealing with North Korea and of understanding what it means when they talk about a willingness to talk about denuclearization, it is officials right here in South Korea. So, really what they're doing right now is watching and hoping for the best.

ALLEN: Right. We'll all be watching to see if this meeting takes place there in the oval office. My goodness. Thank you so much, Alexandra Field following for us as always.

The president has granted a full pardon to a conservative pundit, and he says he is thinking about clemency in two other cases, both former contestants on his old tv show, "The Apprentice." What's going on here? (Inaudible) coming up.

Plus, a comedian in hot water for her especially vicious attack on the president's daughter. Is it enough to pull her off the air? Stay with us. CNN NEWSROOM is just getting started.



ALLEN: Italy finally has a new government three months after the country's election. It will be led by political novice and law professor, Giuseppe Conte. His appointment as prime minister was announced Thursday just hours after the populist League Party and Five-Star Movement reached an agreement to form a coalition. Conte says the new government is ready to get to work.


GIUSEPPE CONTE, ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER-CONSIGNATE (through translator): We will work intensely to realize our political objectives which we have already put together in our government contract. We will work with determination to improve the quality of life of all Italians.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN: Italy's new government is set to be sworn in on Friday. Well, President Trump is using his power to issue pardons in what could be a message to his allies and aides caught up in the Russia investigation. Here is a quote, "If I think you have been treated unfairly by prosecutors, I can get you off the hook."

For more now, here is CNN's Jeff Zeleney.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump sending more signals than ever today. He's in a pardoning mood. Out of the blue, the president announcing a full- scale pardon for conservative author and filmmaker, Dinesh D'Souza, who is perhaps best known for his conspiracy theories about former President Barack Obama.

Flying to Houston, the president telling reporters on Air Force One, "I called him last night. First time, I've ever spoken to him. I said I'm pardoning you. Nobody asked me to do it, I've always felt he was very unfairly treated."

D'Souza pleaded guilty in 2014 to violating federal campaign finance laws by illegally asking two women, an employee, and a woman with who he was romantically involved to donate $20,000 to the campaign of an old college friend running against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in New York.

He told them he would reimburse them. The president described those charges as a quick minor fine, like everybody else with the election stuff. It's that election stuff specifically Russian meddling and the special counsel's probe that seems to be weighing on Trump's mind.

He is flexing his presidential powers as his own fight escalates with the Justice Department, the president talking openly about the possibility of even more pardons, for Martha Stewart and a commutation for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in what could be a signal to the president's friends caught up in the Russia investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm here with Donald and Melania Trump and we're going to make a scrumptious meatloaf sandwich, which is Donald's favorite sandwich according to Melania. Is it true?

ZELENY: Stewart convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice in security's fraud case is an old friend of Trump's, even though she told CNN in 2016 he shouldn't be president.

MARTHA STEWART, BUSINESSWOMAN AND TV PERSONALITY: I'm voting for Hillary Clinton. We can't have a country run by someone totally unprepared for what comes.

ZELENY: But a possible pardon for Stewart could also be a way to settle scores with the prosecutor in the case, James Comey, that's the same James Comey the president fired last year as FBI director. Blagojevich also has ties to Trump, seen as a contestant on "The Apprentice." PRESIDENT TRUMP: Governor, you have a hell of a lot of guts. I have to tell you that. I have friends where things happen to them, they crawl into a corner and die. You are out there punching so I respect that.

ZELENY: Blagojevich, a former Illinois governor convicted of abusing the powers of his office was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2011.

(on camera): Now from a federal prison, Rod Blagojevich wrote an op- ed in the "Wall Street Journal" this week saying that he believes that the Justice Department is corrupt and if they can't prove a crime they create one.

Now all of this is coming as he and others are trying to get the president's attention here, trying to use their cases to prove that the Justice Department simply is not always fair. But in the president's mind, all of these cases revolve around James Comey.

His ongoing feud with Comey, of than a year ago still front and center in the Russia investigation and potential obstruction of justice. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Houston.

Let's talk about these developments with our guests. Political commentator and host of the "Mo Kelly Show," Mo Kelly, and conservative commentator and radio host, Joe Messina. Thank you both so much for joining us.

Let's talk about these pardons, the why now? What is the point behind it? Is it a employ and are the folks somehow pawns? Let's begin you with, Mo?

MO KELLY, HOST, "THE MO KELLY SHOW": Well, if you look at it, there's a common thread, yes, he talks about his personal relationship or you can glean the president's relationship with Rod Blagojevich and Martha Stewart, people that he thinks have been treated unfairly.

[00:20:07] There is a commonality of kind of white-collared crime. It is not like the customary pardons of those people who have been wrongly imprisoned and been in jail for 30 o 40 years. It is almost like he wants to feed the idea that these people have been wrongly treated as I've been wrongly treated by the same Justice Department. It is that flimsy on that level and I would say obvious as far as the point he is trying to make.

ALLEN: Jodie, do you agree he is kind of trying to chip away at the Mueller investigation, something that he has continued to do and for reasons that he doesn't like it and he thinks it's a witch-hunt?

JOE MESSINA, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR AND RADIO HOST: No, I think he has been mistreated for so long, again even people on the left agree. They've gone after this president over and over and over again, Harvard or Yale study recently said that 90 percent of the press is negative on Trump. Are you telling me you can't find anything positive about what the man has done?

You know, as far as Martha Stewart goes, last I checked they're not the best of friends. I don't think Trump likes it when somebody says they're not going to vote for him and don't support him. So, I'm not sure it is done because they're the dearest of friends.

You know, it is interesting how we're really upset about the pardons that are taking place or could take place right now and you could look at past administrations and see some of the pardons they instituted as far as, you know, drug dealers, people with life sentences that were pardoned (inaudible) in the last administration.

ALLEN: So, why is he doing it? Why is he doing it then?

MESSINA: Well, why is he pardoning these particular three people? I don't know, I mean, Dinesh D'Souza again, the man really -- think about what he did. How big was his crime? Was he prosecuted like most others who do what he did? I can't talk about the president's timing.

Maybe it is just one of those things where, you know, we keep talking about how non-presidential he is. Is there a time frame in which you have to do these things or when they come up and they are on your plate, most successful people get this stuff off their plate, move it gone so they can get on to bigger things.

ALLEN: This isn't the common thread James Comey?

MESSINA: The common thread is both of them Mueller and James Comey. I mean, look, when you have been mistreated like this, again, what did Martha Stewart go to jail for? She went to jail for lying to the FBI. You want to talk about a common thread?

KELLY: That's a crime.

MESSINA: That's all they can get her on? I'm sorry?

KELLY: That's still a crime.

MESSINA: OK. So, let's go through the list of people that weren't put in jail for lying to the FBI.

ALLEN: Let's not.

MESSINA: We can do it, but we would be here for an hour, right?

ALLEN: We'll move on to the next issue. Let's talk about James Comey. The president is still tweeting about James Comey, why he was let go. Let's look at that tweet if we can pull it up there, "Not that it matters," the president tweeted, "but I never fired James Comey because of Russia. The corrupt mainstream media loves to keep pushing that narrative, but they know it's not true."

Well, let's listen to the president's words when he talked with NBC's Lester Holt.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It is an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.


ALLEN: All right. Who wants to take that? I mean, go ahead, Mo.

KELLY: I mean the video is what it is. Now whether it was 15 percent Russia, 85 percent Russia, it speaks to his state of mind where it was on his mind. He wanted James Comey out of there, part and parcel because of Russia. He is mad at Jeff Sessions because he recused himself from the Russia investigation.

It was on his mind. It continues to be on his mind. If anything, it says to me there's a case for obstruction of justice because there's corrupt intention in his actions.

ALLEN: Do you have comment to that, Joe?

MESSINA: Well, of course, I do. First of all, look, the investigation doesn't stop because you get rid of Comey. So, saying that he got in the way of the investigation is not really a true statement. Getting rid of Comey, I mean, the Democrats wanted this guy gone a year before that.

They were screaming about how untrustworthy he was, how bad he was, he needed to go, and the president decided to get rid of him. The thing nobody wants to talk about is who really suggested they get rid of him.

It was Rosenthal who said he has to go, I suggest you fire him. So, you can't put the 100 percent blame on Trump unless you're going to try to tell me that there is some kind of conspiracy that Trump threatened Rosenthal.

ALLEN: All right. We will turn to another issue that's surrounds the president's daughter. I'm sure you have both seen it, but let's look at it again. Advertisers are pulling out of comedian, Samantha Bee's late-night show after she used an extremely vulgar ward to insult Ivanka Trump. Here's what Bee said.


SAMANTHA BEE, COMEDIAN: Ivanka Trump, who works at the White House, you know, (inaudible) supposed the second most oblivious tweet we've seen this week. You know, Ivanka, that's a beautiful photo of you and your child, but let me just say, one mother to another, do something about your dad's immigration practices, you feckless (inaudible).

[00:25:13] He listens to you. Put on something tight and low cut and tell your father to (inaudible) stop it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN: Well, that was part of a scripted monologue criticizing President Trump for allowing policies that separate undocumented immigrant children from their parents, but Bee's language shocked fans and critics alike.

The White House press secretary blasted Bee and TBS, the network that airs her show, Samantha's show, saying, the collective silence by the left and its media allies is appalling. Her disgusting comments and show are not fit for broadcast and executives at Time Warner and TBS must demonstrate such explicit profanity about female members of this administration will not be condone on its network.

Tbs and CNN are owned by Turner, a subsidiary of Time Warnet. The network apologized saying it was our mistake too and we regret it. After a storm of criticism, Samantha Bee tweeted, "I would like to sincerely apologize to Ivanka Trump and to my viewers for using expletive on my show to describe her last night. It was inappropriate and inexcusable. I crossed the line and I deeply regret it."

Let's go back to our guests. Joe, is this a double standard now? We saw ABC fires Roseanne Barr for racist tweets. TBS apologizes, Samantha Bee does and looks like march on.

MESSINA: This is classic double stand when it comes to somebody on the right, if we said something like this about somebody on the left there would be calls -- you saw what happened with Roseanne. And now that I find that it was scripted, it makes it even worse.

Somebody had to look at it and think it through. I don't have to watch her. She is too raw, I don't like her, but here is the difference between the right and left. I'm not calling for her to be taken off tv. I don't have to watch her. L have the right to watch any channel I want or not watch her. That she said was wrong and I'm glad she apologized for it. I don't know if I believe it, but I'm glad she apologized for it.

ALLEN: Yes. Let's get you to weigh in on his as well, mo. Why did she go there? Yes, as Joe says, she pushes the envelope, but to have a program that's on tape and she has a team, and this was planned. This was signed off on.

KELLY: Yes, unlike the White House I'm not going to make any excuse. It was unacceptable and inexcusable. Here is the difference. When people want to say there's a double standard, in media there's in unifying standard much conduct. Sexual harassment seemed OK at Fox News.

Kathy griffin was fired from CNN. We know that Martin Bashir was fired from MSNBC for his comments on Sarah Palin. We know that Bill Maher was fired from ABC for one comment. That's not true. We don't have to politicize it is not about right and left but right and wrong.

What Samantha Bee did was wrong. What Roseanne Barr did was wrong. It is that simple. We don't have to complicate it. No, whether TBS wants to keep Samantha Bee on, that will be their business decision in the way that ABC realized, oh, no, this is the second time that Roseanne Barr did an ape tweet in connection to African-Americans.

ALLEN: That is true. That is true, and that was, you know, extremely repugnant as well and everyone agreed with that. Do you think this is the final shoe to drop here, Joe, or do you still think that, you know, we could see something else happen with Samantha Bee and her program?

MESSINA: At least I hope she gets some kind of fine, reprimand or what have you. Again, they knew what they were doing. I'm sorry, they just knew what they were doing. To Mo's point about Fox and other stations, we have seen it with other networks, the same thing happen.

Bill O'Reilly is not on Fox anymore. For what reason? Eric Bolling is not on Fox anymore. So, yes, they let it go too long but they're gone now and I would like to see more of that happen, frankly, because sexual harassment is wrong, period.

There's in reason to keep a show on at that point. The nasty language, you know, the "c" word I have been told is as bad as the "n" word. There's never a reason to use it. When she wrote it, she knew what she was doing.

ALLEN: You don't agree, Mo?

KELLY: No, the C-word is not as bad as the n-word because it's not attacks to genocide, slavery, segregation. It's just not the same. It is horrible and abhorrent, but it's not the same.

MESSINA: Mo, I've been told when you use that C-world for a woman, it is as bad as using the "n" word for a black person.

KELLY: You've been mislead.

ALLEN: That's a larger debate. We appreciate so much you guys taking on these issues and talking with us. As always, Mo Kelly, Joe Messina, thank you both so much.

We have this programming note for you. Be sure to tune in Friday for Fareed Zakaria's one-on-one interview with former White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon. He talks about his hopes for the midterm elections and his plans for populism around the globe, 9:00 p.m. in New York, 9:00 a.m. Saturday in Hongkong. No matter what you think about it, you'll want to see this interview with Steve Bannon. That's only on CNN. We'll be right back with much more.


[00:29:50] ALLEN: Be sure to tune in Friday, for Fareed Zakaria's one-on-one interview with former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. He talks about his hopes for the midterm elections and his plans for populism around the globe. 9:00 p.m. in New York, 9:00 a.m. Saturday in Hong Kong. No matter what you think about him, you want to see this interview with Steve Bannon. That's only on CNN. We'll be right back with much more.


ALLEN: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen, thanks for being with us. Here are our top stories. The Trump administration has imposed steep tariffs on steel and aluminum from some of its biggest trading partner. The duty specifically hit Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. All have vowed to retaliate with their own tariffs on U.S. goods.

In a matter of hours, North Korea's former spy chief is to hand deliver a letter from Kim Jong-un to U.S. President Trump. Kim Yong- chol has been meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, laying the groundwork for a possible summit between the two leaders.

Italy's new government is set to be sworn in Friday, led by political novice Giuseppe Conte. Conte's appointment as the country's new prime minister was announced Thursday, just hours after the two leading populist parties reached an agreement to form a coalition government.

In El Salvador, someone is murdered every two hours. It is a country racked by crime and rampant gang warfare, but women are especially vulnerable to the violence. In his exclusive reporting on El Salvador's gangs, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, look with how the women in the gangs are treated. And we warn you, his report contains images that are disturbing.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What you're about to see at the side of the highway on a very ordinary morning happens to women in El Salvador every 19 hours. This is where Jennifer Landaverde was shot eight times at dawn on her way to work. Age 22, clothes around her ankles, scuff marks on her knees. Her shoes are put aside, handed to her mother who heard the gunshots and found her daughters' body.

Even police here fear to show their faces. Nobody will talk, but to say, it was the gang, Barrio 18. Out here far from the city used to be safe from gangs. But now, Jennifer's wake is silenced with only fear filling the stifling air. The daily toll mounts and its graphic scenes follow.

One in every 5,000 women here is murdered each year, the highest rate in the world by some counts. And only one in 20 crimes ends in a conviction in El Salvador. Gang culture is at its most twisted with women, gang-raped as an initiation right, or conversely if their family are police or military. Gang drug mules or sex slaves forced foster parents to the children of gang members and sometimes they are the assassins themselves.

Across town, we gain rare access to where the gang's targets turned hitman end up. This women's prison is crammed, but this is comparatively good for El Salvador. A jail is so rarely a place for sympathy, but women are so often dragged into barbaric gang culture and often find themselves on the receiving ends of a violent society.

Here we meet Roxana, who belonged broadly to the gang that killed Jennifer. She is 37 and remembers how she murdered a male gang member to end up here. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[00:36:10] ROXANA, FORMER MEMBER, GANG BARRIO 18 (through translator): Perhaps, I was scared, scared because it was the first time in my life something like that happened. I was scared, but when I realized what I have done, the police have already arrested me.

WALSH: And that's the name of her son, Raphael, 24 on her arm, a gang member killed in gang violence. He died four months ago on this day, she says.

ROXANA: It was very painful for me because I didn't want him to follow my very same path, but before I realized he had become a gang member already and I wasn't able to do anything for him.

WALSH: She remembers her initiation into the gang Barrio 18.

ROXANA: I got kicked a hit that was necessary to be a part of it.

WALSH: How long did that last for, I asked?

ROXANA: 18 seconds. Yes, there are women that go through wars, sometimes they are raped, beaten up, mistreated.

WALSH: He was young when she joined. It wasn't her choice.

ROXANA: My father died, and my mother was an alcoholic and left us. I looked after five brothers and that's how I ended up on the streets and in the gangs. I thought it was a game and in the end, it was. While I was inside here, I've lost my son, my mom, all of those I loved. Most people I knew when I joined are dead now.

WALSH: While they have victims of their own, they were likely once victims themselves, a cycle of brutality that drags El Salvador deeper into penury and despair. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, San Salvador.


ALLEN: Next here on CNN NEWSROOM, a terror threat against Prince George foiled. The latest on the man who urged the four year old be attacked at school.


[00:40:10] ALLEN: Welcome back. A Russian reporter who staged his own death is pushing back against critics who say the plot undermines trust in journalists. Arkady Babchenko said he was thinking about his own survival, not journalistic ethics when he agreed with Ukrainian authorities to take part in a scheme to foil an assassination plot against him. At a news conference on Thursday in Kiev, he talked about some of the bizarre things he went through.


ARKADY BABCHENKO, TELEVISION JOURNALIST, RUSSIA (through translator): In the very end, I made that shirt with bullet holes in it and I laid on the floor. It was real pig's blood on me. They have poured blood over me, I took some of it in my mouth and let it out. They took some blood clots into the bullet holes and I was dead.


ALLEN: Babchenko is a staunch critic of Russia's government. Ukrainian security services are holding two suspects in connection with the plot to kill him.

In the United Kingdom, the man accused of encouraging terrorist to target four year old Prince George at school has entered a plea of guilty. CNN's Nina dos Santos has more about this from London.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 32-year-old, who's named, Rashid from Lancashire, in the north of England dramatically reversed his plea after two weeks in a trial when he denied the charges against him. He eventually pleaded guilty to three counts of preparing to commit terrorist attacks and one count of encouraging others to do the same.

Prosecutors described Rashid as a prolific user of social media channels and also, in particular, encrypted messaging apps to spread his message encouraging some of his supporters to commit jihad both in the west and also in places like Syria.

When it comes to the messages that he sent to his followers in the west, he encouraged them to attack public places and also target public figures. One of those public figures was four year old Prince George, third in line to the throne. He'd only just started at his new school in Southwest, London, when one month after the start of term Rashid, is said to have posted a message to his followers on telegram with a picture of the young prince outside the school building complete with the school's address, and superimposed onto that image were images of jihadi fighters.

And the message was, "Even the Royal family is not alone." That was taken as one of many threats that this individual has made. He will be sentenced on June the 28th. Nina dos Santos, outside New Scotland Yard, in London.

ALLEN: The actress and model Brigitte Nielsen is celebrating baby number five. The Danish actress and model recently announced her pregnancy on Instagram and Twitter. Now, the reason this is news, she is 54 years old. Nielsen has been married to 39 year old Mattia Dessi, since 2006. It will be their first baby together. The Rocky IV actress is already mom to four adult sons.

Well, that is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen, I'll be back with more news at top of the hour. "WORLD SPORT" with Vince Cellini is coming up next.