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North Korea Summit Back On; Tariff Troubles; Spain's New Prime Minister; Puerto Rico Struggles as New Hurricane Season Begins; Vulgarity in Politics. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired June 2, 2018 - 04:00   ET





DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it is a getting-to-know-you meeting-plus. And that can be a very positive thing.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): U.S. president there ahead of a summit June 12th set, Donald Trump says the United States is getting along with North Korea but Republican leaders urging caution.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Also ahead, fears that the U.S. is sparking a global trade war with North America, Europe and China.

HOWELL (voice-over): Still recovering from Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico now preparing for the next major storm as hurricane season begins anew.

ALLEN (voice-over): One would only hope Puerto Rico will be spared this year.

HOWELL (voice-over): Indeed.

ALLEN (voice-over): Welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. We're live in Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL (voice-over): And I'm George Howell. From CNN World Headquarters, NEWSROOM starts right now.


ALLEN: It is 4 o'clock Saturday afternoon in Singapore and, 10 days from now, history is set to unfold there .

HOWELL: That's right, the summit between Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, that is back on. President Trump made the announcement on Friday. This after an unprecedented meeting at the White House, he and the number two man in North Korea, that country's former spy chief, met face-to-face in the Oval Office.

ALLEN: That man, Kim Yong-chol, hand delivered a personal letter from the North Korean leader. Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta reports from the White House.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: After meeting more than an hour with the North Korean envoy carrying a letter from dictator Kim Jong-un, President Trump emerged from the Oval Office and declared the Singapore summit he canceled last week back on.

TRUMP: I think it is a getting-to-know-you meeting-plus. We'll see where it leads, but we're going to be -- June 12th, we'll be in Singapore. It will be a beginning. I don't say and I've never said it happens in one meeting. You're talking about years of hostility.

ACOSTA: The president is already making it clear he's not expecting to sign onto an agreement in Singapore that will guarantee North Korea gives up its nuclear arsenal. Still, the president signaled he is taking the pressure off the regime.

TRUMP: I don't even want to use the term "maximum pressure" anymore, because I don't want to use that term, because we're getting along. You see the relationship. We're getting along. So it's not a question of maximum pressure. Why would I do that when we're talking so nicely?

ACOSTA: There were some conflicting comments from the president, who described the letter from Kim Jong-un as "nice" and "interesting."

TRUMP: A letter was given to me by Kim Jong-un and that letter was a very nice letter. Oh, would you like to see what's in that letter? Would you like it? How much? How much? How much?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you just give us a flavor of the letter?

TRUMP: It was a very interesting letter.

ACOSTA: Then he revealed he hadn't read it.

TRUMP: I haven't opened it. I didn't open it in front of the director. I said, "Would you want me to open it?"

He said, "You can read it later." I may be in for a big surprise, folks.

ACOSTA: Fellow Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are urging caution. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: If you fall in love

with a deal and it's too important for you to get it and the details become less significant, you could get snookered. And I think the president is fully aware of that as he goes in, assuming this meeting occurs.

ACOSTA: Still, the upcoming summit has lowered tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, at least rhetorically.

TRUMP: They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

ACOSTA: For the moment, the name-calling has stopped.

TRUMP: Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.

ACOSTA: But reaching an actual agreement that leads to a breakthrough will take more than talk. Former President Bill Clinton chased a deal with North Korea through the '90s, but it didn't last.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This agreement represents the first step on the road to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. It does not rely on trust.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump left for Camp David for the weekend without the first lady but with his children, Don Jr., Tiffany and Ivanka. Before leaving for the weekend, the president offered to continue talking with the leaders of Canada and Mexico, after slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports coming in from those countries.

TRUMP: I love Canada. I love Mexico. I love them.

ACOSTA: Canada's prime minister all but described the tariffs as a betrayal.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: These tariffs are an affront to the long-standing security --


TRUDEAU: -- partnership between Canada and the United States and, in particular, an affront to the thousands of Canadians who have fought and died alongside their American brothers in arms.

ACOSTA: As for that letter from Kim Jong-un, the White House says the president did finally read it. But the question moving forward is not what is in the letter but what is in a potential deal with North Korea. That is, if the president can reach one -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


HOWELL: Jim, thank you.

The U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis is already in Singapore for a previously scheduled event.

ALLEN: He said one thing in particular will not be on the table at the upcoming summit, the U.S. troop presence in South Korea.


GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Any discussion about the number of U.S. troops in the Republic of Korea is subject to, one, the Republic of Korea's invitation to have them there and the discussions between the United States and the Republic of Korea, separate and distinct from the negotiations that are going on with DPRK.


HOWELL: Let's break all of this down now with our Alexandra Field, following the story in Seoul, South Korea.

Alexandra, the summit is back on again, the optics seem promising for sure. But as for the details on things like denuclearization, did anything of substance really come out of this?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, those details, George. Certainly we've heard the administration say that their aim is the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea. They haven't said how they will accomplish that.

First of all, secretary of state Mike Pompeo said earlier this week that he wouldn't be publicly discussing the shape or elements of any kind of deal. And certainly President Trump has tempered expectations by saying that he doesn't plan on going to Singapore June 12th and signing a deal. This is a get-to-know-you meeting or a first step in a process that could involve a number of meetings to follow.

Certainly the goal from the U.S. is to get all the weapons out of North Korea, all those nuclear weapons. No indication of how quickly they think that could happen or how exactly they incentivize North Korea to agree to that without a major concession like a troop drawdown or withdrawal from the Korean Peninsula, which you've heard U.S. officials say repeatedly is not on the table when it comes to these negotiations concerning denuclearization.

We know that those weapons are considered by the regime key to their survival, so the objective from U.S. officials now has been to convince North Korean leaders that the country is safer without its cache of weapons than with those weapons.

A tough task and certainly the administration isn't laying out how they will accomplish that; they are just saying they are ready to go to the table with North Korea, willing to still sit down and have this summit, even if all those details are not hashed out yet or far from agreed upon at this point -- George.

HOWELL: Looking at it from 50,000 feet right now, it feels like it is more about the optics than the details. So obviously time will tell whether this is more of an Instagram moment, a photo op, or if in fact there will be something substantive that comes out of the meeting.

So thank you so much, Alexandra Field, live for us in Seoul. We'll stay in touch with you.

ALLEN: One would certainly hope it would be amounts more than Instagram. But let's talk about that with Martin Navias. He's a research associate at the Center for Defense Studies at Kings College in London.

Thanks so much for joining us to talk about, Mr. Navias. The meeting is set now.

Before we talk about expectations, what are your thoughts on what was behind the back and forth, it is on, it is off, that we saw from the White House in the past few days?

MARTIN NAVIAS, KINGS COLLEGE: Well, I think this is part of President Trump's negotiating style. If you look at what he's written about negotiating in "The Art of the Deal," for example, he says you must be very careful of not showing total commitment to reaching a deal because, if you do that, then the other side will, as the president put it, send blood.

And you are, as President Trump would say, dead. So he has made it quite clear to everyone involved, especially the North Koreans, that he is not totally committed to a deal and will walk away unless the North Koreans make significant concessions.

ALLEN: Do you think the White House knows what it wants from this initial meeting?

NAVIAS: I think so. I've got confidence in President Trump's negotiating style. I know lot of people do not. But he is an experienced negotiator.

Mr. Pompeo, the secretary of state, has been meeting with the North Korean official and they no doubt set out certain targets, certain immediate quick wins, let us put it way, that will be reached in Singapore.

It is not just going to be a get-to-know-you meeting, it is a get-to- know-you-plus meeting as President Trump says. And I expect that there will be some concrete statements coming out of that in respect of arms control.

ALLEN: How should do you think the U.S. approach denuclearization in this initial meeting?

NAVIAS: The North Koreans will not give up their nuclear weapons anytime in the near --


NAVIAS: -- future. But President Trump cannot admit that. So it will be aspirational. Both parties will say we are working towards denuclearization, we are going to try to get rid of all nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula but it won't be an immediate thing.

They will have to be immediate objectives and I suspect some of those immediate objectives will include getting rid of those ballistic missiles that are capable of hitting the United States with nuclear weapons. That must be the main objective of the United States in these negotiations, to rid itself of that threat. And if President Trump can come away from these negotiations or the

process of negotiation with a timetable that is medium-term, whereby that threat from United States cities is removed, that would be a major achievement.

ALLEN: And I know you say you respect the president in how he comes to things with his negotiations. But neither leader has a smooth track record when it comes to negotiation. They have played games, issued threats, dangled misinformation in front of the world.

Here is what the president had to say about the initial meeting on Friday.


TRUMP: I think it is a getting-to-know-you meeting-plus. And that can be a very positive thing.


ALLEN: So how do you envision these two men sitting across from the table?

How might that go?

NAVIAS: Well, the first thing is to set the tone. President Trump is again correct, there has been a lot of vituperative language bandied about. He has to change the atmosphere. And I think he is going towards that.

Once that feeling has been put in place, they will start moving to the talking points which have been agreed. Those talking points, the main issues will be set out on a piece of paper and they will work their way through it.

The North Koreans will demand certain concessions, they know what the Americans are prepared to give. The Americans know by now, more or less, what the North Koreans are prepared to give in the medium-term.

And the key question will be the timing and the verification and the process of the negotiations. President Trump is not going to fly back to the United States from Singapore without some plan, some kind of roadmap, which will involve more meetings and more objectives being reached.

And I suspect there will be those objectives, the ballistic missiles, possibly a freeze on nuclear weapons testing and ballistic missile testing and a promise by the North Koreans not to export any of the weaponry out of the country -- that's a main American objective -- in exchange for certain economic concessions, sanctions relief, et cetera.

The timing and the verification of the key points with those issues are, I believe, ultimately resolvable.

ALLEN: All of that sounds very positive and we hope that we'll have some good news after this meeting and we'll talk with you again. Martin Navias, thank you so much for joining us.

NAVIAS: Thank you.

HOWELL: The U.S. Defense Secretary has a blunt message for China. James Mattis says the United States is in the Indo-Pacific to stay. During a speech on Saturday in Singapore, he called out Beijing for turning artificial islands that it built up in the South China Sea into military outposts, bristling with heavy weapons.


MATTIS: Despite China's claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion.


ALLEN: China claims 90 percent of the entire South China Sea even though six other countries have competing claims. In May, the Chinese military landed nuclear-capable bombers on the islands for the first time.

HOWELL: U.S. allies are fighting back against new tariffs imposed by President Trump and China warns a trade war with the United States is responsible. The U.S. Commerce Secretary has gone to Beijing to work out a deal, that is, if he can. We'll have that story ahead.

Plus this --


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) Reyes has no experience doing this, climbing poles, working with live wires, restoring power, something he says he learned in one day from a retired power worker.

ALLEN (voice-over): Nine months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico struggles with the longest power outage in modern U.S. history. We're on the island a little later this hour, where residents now face a brand-new hurricane season.








TRUDEAU: Canadians have served alongside Americans in two world wars and in Korea. From the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan, we have fought and died together. That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable.


ALLEN: Canada's prime minister there explaining how deeply offended his country is by hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum levied by the Trump administration.

HOWELL: Mexico and the European Union also stunned. On Friday, the E.U. lodged a formal complaint before the World Trade Organization, calling the Trump tariffs illegal.

Canada, Mexico and the E.U. say they have no choice but to retaliate with their own tariffs on U.S. goods, setting the stage for a global trade war. That is a scary word being thrown around. It is just beginning, it seems.

ALLEN: U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is now in China for trade talks after the White House said it would pursue tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods. For more, here is Jeff Zeleny at the White House.


TRUMP: We are restoring our wealth at home. It's about time.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump hailing today's robust monthly jobs report, an economic ray of sunshine amid rising fears of a trade war.

TRUMP: We have reached yet one more historic milestone with 3.8 percent --


TRUMP: -- unemployment.

ZELENY: In May, the economy added 223,000 new jobs, bringing the unemployment rate to an 18-year low. He was so eager to trumpet the news he broke years of presidential protocol, by signaling the strong jobs number in a tweet, more than an hour before the Labor Department's announcement. At 7:21 a.m., the president declared, looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning.

Yet despite sustained signs of a booming U.S. economy, new fears of a global trade war in the wake of the president's new tariffs on steel and aluminum to Canada, Mexico and the European Union. The U.S. allies denounced the move and vowed retaliation.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blasted the tariffs as totally unacceptable.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: This is not about the American people. We have to believe that at some point common sense will prevail. But we see no sign of that in this action today by the U.S. administration.

ZELENY: The Trump tariffs were also condemned by the conservative editorial page of "The Wall Street Journal." It scolded the president for starting a needless trade war with America's best friends. The paper typically supportive of the president went on to say, so much for Donald Trump as genius deal maker. He aspires to be Ronald Reagan but his tariff folly echoes of Herbert Hoover.

The fears of a trade war played out in key red states in the country with unknown consequences. From carmakers in Tennessee to farmers in Wisconsin and in Kentucky, home of Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell, he said a trade war could stifle economic growth.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: You've got Toyota impacted. You've got farmers impacted. I don't think anything good will come out of a trade war and I hope we pull back from the brink here because these tariffs will not be good for the economy.

ZELENY: The president pushing back on the criticism today.

TRUMP: They're our allies, but they take advantage of us economically and so I agree. I love Canada. I love Mexico. I love them.

But Mexico is making over $100 billion a year and they're not helping us with our border because they have strong laws and we have horrible laws.

ZELENY: So the president making clear there at least some of his anger toward Mexico is about immigration. Of course, that has been a constant refrain since he started running for the presidency.

As for those new tariffs on Mexico, Canada and the European Union, chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow here at the White House said it was simply a family quarrel, suggesting all of this may be a negotiating tactic -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.


HOWELL: All right, Jeff, thanks.

Let's bring in Leslie Vinjamuri. Leslie is the head of the U.S. and Americas program at the Royal Institute of International Affairs and also teaches at SOAS University of London.

It's good to have you with us to talk about the situation. Let's start by listening to the reaction from the European Union about what they see as a betrayal, forcing these U.S. allies to defend themselves from an ally.


CECILIA MALMSTROM, E.U. TRADE COMMISSIONER: Our offer was that you take this gun away from us, we sit together as friends and equals and we discuss and eventually this could lead to negotiation. This, of course, would require a mandate from the member states. So we never got this. And now that door, for the moment, is closed.

FEDERICA MOGHERINI, E.U. HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Clearly the European Union has to defend its interests and this is why, as announced by the president yesterday, the European Union will today proceed with a WTO district settlement case and impose additional euros on a number of imports from the United States.


HOWELL: So Leslie, where do you see this going?

LESLIE VINJAMURI, SOAS, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: Well, this is very difficult. Europe has faced a number of setbacks in its relationship with the United States in recent days, certainly the decision to pull out of Iran and now this.

Now this has been anticipated for some time. And the European Union has been drawing up a list of potential tariffs to retaliate with. So this will undoubtedly be the next step.

I expect it will be moderated because, of course, it is in nobody's interests to see a trade war escalate rapidly.

But it is a very troubling and difficult situation and hard for those in Europe to understand why it is that the United States president would seek to use tariffs on the grounds of national security when it is a very difficult justification to back up.

HOWELL: Let's take a look now at the retaliatory measures planned by Mexico, by the E.U. and Canada. You get a sense there of the goods that are at stake here. These are products mainly from red states in the United States, so clearly these are the states that will feel the burn.

Should the Republican Party or, as the former Speaker of the House John Boehner jokingly called it, the Trump party, should the --


HOWELL: -- party be concerned about the impact on these states?

VINJAMURI: Well, absolutely. And remember that it is very hard to understand what the economic logic is behind these tariffs. We understand politically that the president is very concerned about the midterm elections, he is very concerned about holding firm to those campaign promises. He is thinking about his base.

But broadly speaking, there are far more people in the United States that stand to lose than stand to gain. So this is not popular for the Republican Party. It doesn't look like the reaction from Europe, as you have shown, and elsewhere will be good in terms of the impact on those that Trump is seeking to court.

But the other thing that is important to remember here is that the threat of tariffs has been in place for some time. And even in this period prior to the actual decision, the announcement of tariffs, has been a very negative effect as well because, of course, what has happened is that it has driven the behavior of steel consumers in the United States to actually buy more than they otherwise would have.

So the impact is already being felt across the United States and this will, of course, make it worse because now the question is what will the response be.

HOWELL: Leslie Vinjamuri, thank you very much for your perspective. We'll keep in touch with you.

VINJAMURI: Thank you.

ALLEN: The former chief strategist at the White House has been speaking out to CNN.

HOWELL: Steve Bannon spoke exclusively to our Fareed Zakaria and he made a prediction about one of the president's main campaign promises as the U.S. heads toward midterm elections in November. Listen.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP STRATEGIST: I think that where President Trump's nationalizing this, the wall is central. The wall is not just totemic. The wall is absolutely central to his program.

I believe that what he is going to do is, as we come up on September 30th, if that appropriations bill does not include spending to fully build his wall, not some $1.6 billion for prototypes, I mean to build the southern wall, I believe that he will shut down the government. I believe the government will actually shut down in the run up to the election.


ALLEN: A bold statement there. Bannon was fired from the White House last year after having worked on the campaign and in the administration.

When we come back here --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Torture, public execution, secret executions. You are talking about a regime that is investing heavily in its tools of death.

ALLEN (voice-over): A stark reminder of North Korea beyond the photo op.


HOWELL: Plus sweeping political changes in Europe. A Socialist prime minister taking power in Spain, a populist government forming in Italy. How it could all affect that continent -- ahead.





ALLEN: Welcome back. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell.


ALLEN: It wasn't that long ago the highest profile American that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un had likely ever met was basketball star Dennis Rodman.

HOWELL: That's right. But since then, a look at the dizzying pace of developments in recent months. But we're reminded of the turbulent past year.

Why such calm now?

Our Brian Todd has this perspective.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kim Jong-un is on a roll. One of his top lieutenants, a man believed to have a lot of South Korean blood on his hands and who led a major cyber attack on the U.S., met in the Oval Office with President Trump and, in a remarkable moment, got a handshake from the president.

JOSEPH YUN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: This is an amazing turnaround in events.

TODD (voice-over): All the more amazing considering that, less than six months ago, this violent, impulsive dictator was considered an international pariah.

JEAN LEE, DIRECTOR OF KOREA PROGRAM, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: At the end of 2017, Kim Jong-un was a leader who hadn't even met the president of China and was very reclusive -- much like his grandfather and his father. And really lived up to the moniker: leader of a hermit kingdom.

TODD: At that time, CNN was even told plans were being drawn up for a possible U.S. military strike. Then came Kim's New Year's Day speech, expressing his desire to soften relations with his enemies. The so-called Olympic thaw with his sister, Kim Yo-jong, extending a warm hand to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Two meetings between Kim and Moon, including the optics of a ground- breaking summit, even holding hands and the announcement of a planned summit with President Trump. TRUMP: We'll be meeting on June 12th in Singapore. It went very well.

TODD: There were two meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, along with Secretary of State of Mike Pompeo. And now, the Russians want in, arranging their own meeting with Vladimir Putin.

A crucial question now: what made Kim change?

GREG SCARLATOIU, COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN NORTH AMERICA: The maximum pressure campaign, the sanctions regime against North Korea has taken a serious bite out of the regime. Kim Jong-un has been quite desperate.

YUN: Most important, he now has the weapons. He has the weapons. And he has the delivery system, so he feels more confident.

TODD: Fueling Kim's confidence, the fact that the U.S., South Korea and China have been willing to look past his egregious human rights violations.

TRUMP: We did not talk about human rights.

SCARLATOIU: You're talking five to six political prison camps 120,000 men, women and children held in political prison camps pursuant with a system of guilt by association. The induced malnutrition, torture, public execution, secret executions -- you're talking about --


SCARLATOIU: -- a regime that's investing heavily in its tools of death.

TODD (voice-over): A record that a veteran diplomat says Trump and his allies might have to look past to reach the ultimate objective.

YUN: If we are to lower the agenda to include denuclearization, human rights. And we'll have to include Japanese abductees would be another example, biochem weapons, conventional weapons, it does get overcrowded. So, I don't blame them for prioritizing denuclearization and security at the highest.

TODD: What are the dangers of embracing Kim Jong-un as a statesman?

Veteran security experts warn that President Trump, Moon Jae-in and their allies could lose sight of Kim's ultimate objective: staying in power. And they worry that the leaders who Kim is dealing with will look past the fact that he'll do anything to stay in power, including possibly cheat on a nuclear deal or maybe even start a conflict -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: Brian, thank you.

And now to Europe, some major political shakeups to tell you about. First in Spain, where, in less than an hour's time, a new prime minister is set to be sworn in. The Socialist Party leader Pedro Sanchez takes over after Mariano Rajoy lost a no confidence vote.

ALLEN: Corruption allegations against Rajoy's party came to a head last week when a court convicted some of his former aides. Meantime, Sanchez says he plans to keep Rajoy's budget and is open to talks with Catalonia separatists but will not support independence.

And now to Italy, a country entering a new political era with Giuseppe Conti as its prime minister, a law professor and political novice will lead Italy's new populist Eurosceptic government. Let's bring in Barbie Nadeau from Rome.

Hello, Barbie.

First of all, how do you characterize this day for Italy with this particular leadership coming in?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is an interesting day. Today is the Republic Day, a day to celebrate the formation of the republic in 1946. Traditionally, both of the populist leaders have shunned this day, saying there was nothing celebrate.

Today they find themselves in the VIP box with a president, who just a week ago, didn't want them in the government. And I think that really underscores the complicated situation we have here, the euroscepticism, the idea that Italy is a slave to Brussels.

Some of these feelings I think are going to be seen in legislation as this government starts to try to put forward. They will have to pass a confidence vote sometime next week.

And after that I think that you will see a strong push toward anti- skepticism, nationalism, anti-immigration, lifting of Russian sanctions. The list goes on and on. And I think that is worrying the rest of Europe.

ALLEN: And that was my question, how has the European Union responded to this?

What are you hearing?

NADEAU: Well, the European Union, I think, was very nervous about a week ago when the government tried to put in place a very eurosceptic economics minister. The leaders right now have moved that controversial figure to become the minister of European affairs, to try to renegotiate some of Italy's debt issues and some of the other stipulations that Italy doesn't feel it needs to can really realistically abide to in the European Union.

But I think there became a fear in the course of the chaos of the last week that new elections in this country would just strengthen the populist movement and I think that everybody is just waiting and watching and wondering how Italy will get itself forward, how long this populist government might last. These two populist parties really have very little in common. They

share some principles but really not a lot in terms of practice. So I think that it will be a rough ride ahead for Italy and probably for the European Union going forward.

ALLEN: All right. Barbie Nadeau in Rome, thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know how long did I don't see the light on in my house?

Nine months. In nine months.

SANTIAGO: Now another hurricane could be around the corner for the next season.


HOWELL (voice-over): That's right, a new hurricane season, Puerto Rico still trying to recover from last year's. CNN returns to see how islanders are holding up.


ALLEN: Also ahead, what is the sitcom "Roseanne" without Roseanne?

The network that canceled the show may try to find out.





ALLEN: We have a new hurricane season, it's already in its second day. But Puerto Rico is still struggling to recover from last year's Hurricane Maria.

HOWELL: It is just hard to imagine that is the case but that is the case; 20,000 homes still have no power. Officials on the island are worried that even a smaller storm could mean the repeat of what we saw in last year's crisis. Our Leyla Santiago went to see how residents there are faring.


SANTIAGO (voice-over): This looks like progress. It is actually a sign of desperation in Utuado, one of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

He says they're repairing the power themselves because they're almost at nine months without power. And they feel abandoned.

Charlie Reyes has no experience doing this. Climbing polls, working with live wires, restoring power, something he says he learned in one day from a retired power worker. Using any materials they can find, their risky mission turned the lights back on for more than a dozen. The home of Samuel Vasquez is next.

SAMUEL VASQUEZ, RESIDENT: I feel bad because it just -- I can't get no power. I can't get no light.

SANTIAGO: In Utuado, tarps are still being used, roads washed out and emergency plans are still being worked out. Mayor Ernesto Irizarry says his municipality cannot take another storm. So how frustrating is that as the leader of 30,000 people in Utuado?

MAYOR ERNESTO IRIZARRY, UTUADO, PUERTO RICO: It is difficult and hard because you see in the eye of the people the frustration.

SANTIAGO: He says he doesn't have the basic resources or the money to respond to a natural disaster. Eight months after Maria, parts of the island are still dealing with what FEMA calls the longest power outage in modern US history more than 10,000 customers are still in the dark.

Can this power grid, can it sustain itself if another hurricane were to come?

WALT HIGGINS, CEO, PREPA: Most honest thing to say about our grid is that it is weak or fragile.

SANTIAGO: Walt Higgins is the new CEO for Puerto Rico's power authority, tasked with fixing a power grid never built to handle a four or five hurricanes. Just weeks ago, an island wide blackout was caused by a --


SANTIAGO (voice-over): -- fallen tree. Higgins promises most of those still without power, though, not all will have it restored in a matter of weeks. When it cannot say is what will happen if another storm plunges the island into darkness.

HIGGINS: My straight answer to that is we are readier this year than we were last year.

SANTIAGO: And people on the island will be counting on it for their very lives. Harvard study now indicates a lack of power after Maria is partly to blame for more than 4,600 deaths, far more than in Puerto Rico's official death toll of 64. Will this be enough?


SANTIAGO: For FEMA's part, it is showing off this warehouse full of disaster relief supplies. The plan for the next disaster compared to Maria preparations to have seven times more water and meals, six times more generators, eight times more tarps, all on the island before the next hurricane. The agency admits it learned some lessons. Will FEMA be ready for a faster response if a hurricane --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely, there's no doubt. No doubt.

SANTIAGO: But for those in Utuado, taking matters into their own hands, any sign of recovery is a victory.

You get a little emotional about it?


You know how long that I didn't see the light at my house?

Nine months. Nine months.

SANTIAGO: Now, another hurricane could be around the corner for the next season.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I guess I got to do it again, by hand again, the people.

SANTIAGO: The hope here is that power returns before the next storm.

And I talked to seven mayors from across the island, asked them all the exact same question.

Are you prepared if another hurricane were to hit?

One would only say I'm as prepared as I can be and he acknowledged the vulnerabilities of the island. But the rest pretty much immediately said no. When I asked what the biggest issue would be should that happen, all agreed it would be the vulnerable power grid -- Leyla Santiago, CNN, San Juan, Puerto Rico.


HOWELL: Leyla, thank you.

And she has been covering this just so extensively, so many important things to share, just surprising.

ALLEN: They are hanging onto a thread with what they have and barely building it back.


ALLEN: Ahead here, after two vulgar outbursts by comedians just days apart, people are asking whether we are entering a new age of nastiness in U.S. politics or is it just --


ALLEN: -- more of the same? We'll have a story for you coming up.





HOWELL: Welcome back.

The ABC television network is considering a version of the show "Roseanne" without Roseanne. The network canceled its show just days ago after Roseanne Barr's racist comments against a former Obama adviser.

But now a source tells CNN that ABC is holding preliminary talks to discuss the reboot of the show, a prospect that would keep many of the "Roseanne" cast and crew employed. We'll see.

If you are paying attention to political conversations in the U.S. lately, it may seem we're in a brand new age of vulgarity.

HOWELL: Celebrities, politicians and even TV personalities have been insulting each other a lot. Our Nick Watt points out it is getting worse.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Samantha Bee calls the first daughter a feckless (INAUDIBLE) on TV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who the hell talks this way?

WATT (voice-over): And Roseanne Barr likens Valerie Jarrett to an ape on Twitter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, they should have never had a show to begin with.

WATT (voice-over): And this is just this week. The cussing is nothing new.

President Obama said this of Kanye West before an interview began.


WATT (voice-over): George W. Bush once caught calling a reporter this on a hot mic.


WATT (voice-over): But the incivility is now more blatant.


WATT (voice-over): Kathy Griffin posing with an effigy of the president's severed head. And it's more bilious. White House staffer Kelly Sadler joking Senator McCain's opinion doesn't matter because he is dying anyway. And there is now even more exaggerated pearl-clutching for political

point-scoring on both sides.

As one commentator tweeted, "Good morning, Twitter, what shall we pretend to be outraged at today?"

Now we all have a platform.

Without social media, how did anyone vent when Harry Truman called General MacArthur a dumb son of a (INAUDIBLE)?

Trump tweeted, "Why aren't they firing no-talent Samantha Bee for the horrible language used on her low ratings show?

"A total double standard but that is OK."

Double standard?

Because Roseanne's show is canceled after the Valerie Jarrett tweet?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is pointing to the hypocrisy in the media, saying that the most horrible things about this president and nobody addresses it.

WATT (voice-over): Yet he's called Mexican immigrants rapists, (INAUDIBLE) reporter, mocked Heidi Cruz's looks, called Chuck Todd --

TRUMP: He's a sleeping son of a bitch, I'll tell you.

WATT (voice-over): Crickets.

Incivility is not an impeachable offense. In fact, Trump supporters spin it into a positive after the president called a bunch of countries (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't say that on TV?

SANDERS: One of the reasons that he won and is sitting in the Oval Office today is because he isn't a scripted robot.

WATT (voice-over): Economics might not be trickle down but incivility just might be.

TOM ARNOLD, COMEDIAN: They do it because we have a white trash racist president. That's a fact.

WATT (voice-over): Too strong, Tom, too strong. I demand you apologize and are fired.


ALLEN: We'll try to keep it civil in our next hour.

HOWELL: We'll keep it classy for sure. NEWSROOM will be right back after the break.