Return to Transcripts main page
NEW DAY SATURDAY
Trump Hunkers Down At Camp David As North Korea Summit Looms; WSJ: U.S. In Early Talks For Potential Trump-Putin Summit; Kim Jong-Un Letter To Trump "Carefully Examined" For Toxins; Mattis Accuses China Of "Intimidation And Coercion"; Parkland Student Survivors Prepare For Graduation; Trump Ignores Human Rights Abuse Issues Ahead Of Summit. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired June 2, 2018 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think it's going to be very successful. They're incredible people. I think it's going to be a great success. We will see you on June 12th.
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I think for these situations to work, you have to not want the deal too much. You could get snookered.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're no longer seeking speedy denuclearization. We are now seeking a "get to know each other" session. That's alarming in and of itself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Despite China's statements to the contrary, the placement of weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sources say the White House is working on a possible summit between President Trump and Vladimir Putin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How's Melania?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: She's doing great right there. She's doing great. She's just looking at her right there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. The date and location are set. Next up, planning for what should happen at the summit with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: . Other U.S. allies, though, not quite as optimistic about it.
BLACKWELL: Japan is warning against history repeating saying overnight, do not reward North Korea for just agreeing to show up. PAUL: We are live from Singapore where it's set to take place in a little more than a week. We're also at the White House where we start now with Ryan Nobles. Good morning, Ryan. What are you hearing from that vantage point?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christi, good morning to you. Well, it seems in many ways the White House is dialing back expectations about exactly what is going to come out of that summit. And that was necessary in order for it to take place.
You'll remember that it wasn't too long ago that President Trump sent a now famous letter to the North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un saying the summit was off. There were no longer going to do it.
But despite sending that letter, the president continued to insist that he wanted the summit to take place on June 12th. This despite many in his administration and some prominent members of Congress saying it was a bad idea to forge ahead.
At the end of the day, the president has the most important opinion on this topic and he decided after a meeting in the oval office yesterday of more than an hour with Kim Yong Chol, the former intelligence chief at North Korea, a close deputy of Kim Jong-un, that the summit was going to go forward.
It was a surprise to everyone when they emerged from that oval office meeting. A lot of the criticism leveled against the president right now is that this is giving North Korea everything they want and nothing that the United States wants. But the president said yesterday he still has some options on the table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: One thing I did do, and it was very important, we had hundreds of new sanctions ready to go on. And the director did not ask. But I said I'm not going to put them on until such time as the talks break down. We had hundreds -- we have hundreds ready to go. But I'm not going to -- why would I do that when we're talking so nicely?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: Talking nicely but clearly a veiled threat from the president there to Kim Jong-un that he has those sanctions at the ready if something goes wrong in the summit. The president now saying that this is not going to be the summit to end all summits, instead just a get to know you meeting.
Begin the process of serious talks about denuclearization and a formal end to the Korean war. As you mentioned, the president at Camp David this morning, he's there with many members of his family, including his children, Tiffany Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Not making the trip to Melania Trump, his wife, the current first lady. She is still recovering from that procedure that she had just a little while ago -- Christi and Victor.
BLACKWELL: Ryan, what do you know about the potential for another summit this one with Vladimir Putin?
YOUNG: Well, the White House confirming to "The Wall Street Journal" that they are in the early stages of a conversation with the kremlin to make that summit happen. A bilateral meeting between President Trump and the Russian president.
In fact, Jon Huntsman, who is the ambassador to Russia, was here at the White House yesterday. He is said to be taking the lead in the negotiations for the summit to take place.
Of course, President Trump and President Putin have only met in person on two different occasions and the president has been somewhat reluctant to be all that critical of Russia.
Their role in the world and particularly how they are handling the situation in Syria, which would certainly be on the top of the list of discussion points if the summit were to take place.
The "Journal" reporting the White House and the president not really thinking all that much about this summit until they get everything clear with the North Korea summit. After that, that's when they'll begin that conversation.
[08:05:12] So, this is still a long way off, but the top line is they are talking, and they do want it to happen.
BLACKWELL: All right. Ryan Nobles for us there at the White House. Ryan, thank you.
PAUL: Thanks, Ryan.
BLACKWELL: Intelligence officials are now doubting what North Korea said was a goodwill gesture when the regime claimed to destroy their nuclear testing site in front of a select group of journalists.
PAUL: Remember, no experts were invited to that. Joining us now, one of the journalists who was on that guest list, CNN correspondent, Will Ripley. Will live for us in Singapore. So, help us understand what people are saying in Singapore. What is the feeling there about this meeting that's just ten days away now?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously, they have a very limited amount of time to handle a lot of logistical challenges, accommodation, the venue, security, the infrastructure, controlling the press, what kind of access, what photo ops. Those are all details that the North Koreans and Americans logistical teams are on the ground here trying to figure out.
Journalists have been chasing them around the city trying to figure out exactly where President Trump will be staying, where Kim Jong-un will be staying. There are reports that are out there. Nothing yet confirmed or officially announced. Obviously, this announcement was made on the heels of that meeting in the oval office. That oversized letter about the size of a folded newspaper presented to President Trump, a grandiose gesture from the North Koreans.
Kim Jong-un clearly a fan of letter diplomacy, trying to set the stage for a positive summit even though the big question here is can the U.S. and North Korea agree to a definition of denuclearization.
It is somewhat reassuring for the security officials, who are gathered here in Singapore for a big regional security summit that President Trump is talking about sanctions if this meeting doesn't work, if things fall apart as opposed to his talk last year about the phase two military option against North Korea that had a lot of people in this part of the world very concerned.
PAUL: All right. So, Will, I know this is happening as the U.S. is accusing China of intimidation. Walk us through what's going on there.
RIPLEY: Yes, it was interesting when the U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis spoke here in Singapore, a lot people were expecting him to go heavy on North Korea. He really didn't say a whole lot that made news, but he did make news when he was talking about China and specifically China's aggressive expansion into the South China Sea, constructing what the U.S. has accused of being essentially permanent aircraft carriers.
They point out the fact that the China landed its nuclear capable bomber on some of those artificial islands in the South China Sea and the defense secretary saying that's clearly a ploy by China to intimidate its neighbors and, frankly, the United States by trying to restrict access to what the U.S. considers free waters, freedom of navigation. That's a word we heard thrown around a lot. Listen to more from the defense secretary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES MATTIS, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: China's militarization of artificial features in the South China Sea includes the deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface to air missiles, electronic jammers and the landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island. Despite China's claims on the contrary, the placement of these weapon system is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIPLEY: Obviously, those weapons systems in place would potentially pose a risk to U.S. assets in this region. The U.S. shows force by deploying large aircraft carriers, but some of the missiles that China is developing could be launched potentially from those artificial islands could be a major threat to American forces in the region.
And so, in private conversations that I've had here in Singapore, while the United States is focused right now on the short-term issue of North Korea, as we heard from the defense secretary, speaking here in the long term, the United States remains very much concerned about China's intentions down the road.
Which is why they have insisted, Victor and Christi, that they'll continue those freedom of navigation patrols, sailing U.S. warships very close to those artificial islands despite the strong protests coming from Beijing.
PAUL: All right. Will Ripley, thank you so much, sir.
BLACKWELL: While President Trump is praising North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un, is he ignoring much of the history of North Korea's murderous regime? That's ahead.
PAUL: Also, you heard Ryan mention it. The president is going to be at Camp David with most of his family, minus the first lady. It's been 23 days since we've seen Melania Trump. Where is she?
PAUL: Well, in just hours, thousands of protesters are expected to march in the Wear Orange Campaign. It calls attention to gun violence and raises gun safety awareness. Why orange? Organizers say that's the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others from gunfire.
Student activists from Stoneman Douglas High School are supporting this campaign and it's going to be a tough day for those kids. The class of 2018 there at Stoneman Douglas High School is layered today with sadness. The graduating class will be short four seniors. Actually, it's at tomorrow's graduation.
And CNN's correspondent, Dianne Gallagher, has more for us here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been doing graduation for two decades now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not your typical graduation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of hard to be really excited about it because not everyone is here.
ANDREW POLLACK, FATHER OF PARKLAND VICTIM: It's the same every day. It's no different because, I think, we're here because it's graduation. I lose track of days I work so much, but every day has been the same since February 14th.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Because Andrew Pollack has spent every single one of those days without his daughter, Meadow. And it will be a graduation without Meadow Pollack, without Nicholas Dworet, without Carmen Schentrup, without Joaquin Oliver.
SAM ZEIF, MSD SENIOR: It's just not fair and it's very angering. They worked just as hard, if not harder than us to do this, and they can't for no reason. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I heard the gunshots, I was in denial this was real.
[08:15:10] GALLAGHER: Seventeen lives were stolen in the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, four of them seniors.
POLLACK: Meadow was my youngest child and the most like myself. And she was going to graduate, and she was going to be enrolled in Lynn University. She wanted to be an attorney.
GALLAGHER: Since his daughter's murder, Andrew Pollack has immersed himself into carrying on Meadow's legacy.
POLLACK: So, I channel it on things that are positive, flying to Texas, talking to the governor, putting a fund-raiser together for the families. I'm just going to keep doing projects like this that are positive for the country.
GALLAGHER: He's passionate about making schools safer telling everyone from the school board to the president his thoughts on adding metal detectors and armed guards. He wants to set up a nationwide survivor to survivor support system.
POLLACK: I want to do that with my not for profit. Any kid gets murdered, we can send a team of parents to help them.
GALLAGHER: But Andrew's ultimate goal is for no parent to experience the loss that he has. He did prom this year, a special request from Meadow's friends.
POLLACK: I went, and I wanted to see them get dressed. They wanted me to come see them. It killed me, but I did what I had to do, and I was happy for them that they were going.
GALLAGHER: But Andrew won't be there to see the class of 2018 on Sunday.
POLLACK: I don't feel that much of an attachment to go for graduation. I've been working so hard on other stuff. I can't even stop to go to a graduation right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Woke up to the news that my best friend was gone.
GALLAGHER: Some graduating seniors like Sam Dyke, whose best friend, Joaquin Oliver is now gone, feel detached from the ceremony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll really just be walking across the stage and be handed a piece of paper.
GALLAGHER: The school hopes it's found a way to delicately balance grief and graduation.
JEFF FOSTER, MSD AP GOVERNMENT TEACHER: It's going to be sad, it's going to be, you know, we're obviously going to look back and honor the kids that perished. And then we're going to try to end it on an upbeat by bringing in someone that's going to lift the spirits of the kids. Graduation is always bitter sweet because it's always so hard to watch the kids go, especially this year with the connection we've had.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We really are going to have a graduation like no one has ever had. I don't know. I have no idea what to expect.
GALLAGHER: For Sammy Feuerman there is no expectation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm looking forward to graduating on Sunday.
GALLAGHER: He's putting on that cap and gown for his best friend, Joaquin, who can't.
SAMMY FEUERMAN, MSD SENIOR: Just an awesome kid. I love you, man. I'm going to graduate for you, for myself, for all of us. We're all strong. We love you. And it's just tough, man, but we're going to do it for you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. Maybe thinking about doing some stuff for him on my cap.
GALLAGHER: And while Andrew Pollack won't be there, he does have some advice for the graduates.
POLLACK: Vote for what you believe in, get involved in your local community and be watchful of wherever you go.
GALLAGHER: Diane Gallagher, CNN, Parkland, Florida.
BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you, Diane.
Praising Kim Jong-un and meeting with the former spy chief of North Korea, calling them incredible people. Is President Trump wiping the slate clean for Pyongyang's murderous regime ahead of this summit? We'll talk about that next.
PAUL: And it's a family weekend at Camp David with the president and most of his kids. The first lady, however, is absent which has a lot of people wondering if she's OK. We haven't seen her in 23 days. That's coming up.
PAUL: Welcome back. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Let's push forward on the top story this morning, President Trump and this date with Kim Jong-un on June 12th, for now at least. The on again/off again/on again summit looks like it's going to go ahead.
The president welcomed former North Korean spy chief Kim Yong Chol to the White House, who had a letter for him from the North Korean leader, very prominent there. This is in its effort to make sure the summit stays on track.
In that is the Trump administration ignoring North Korea's history of human rights abuse? CNN's Brian Todd has details for us here.
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 cyberattack 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, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TO NORTH KOREA POLICY: This is an amazing turn around in events.
TODD: 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: He 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.
[08:25:03] 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 groundbreaking summit, even holding hands and the announcement of a planned summit with President Trump.
PRESIDENT 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 Mike Pompeo, and now the Russians want in, arranging their mean meeting with Vladimir Putin. A crucial question now, what made Kim change?
GREG SCARFATOIU, COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN NORTH KOREA: 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We did not talk about human rights. SCARFATOIU: You're talking about five to six political prison camps, 120,000 men, women and children held in political prison camps, pursuant with system of guilt by association, induced malnutrition, torture, public executions, secret executions. They are talking about a regime that's investing heavily in its tools of death.
TODD: A record that a veteran diplomat says Trump and his allies might have to look past to reach the ultimate objective.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we are to lower the agenda to include denuclearization, human rights, we then 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: One of 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 start a conflict. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
BLACKWELL: Thank you. Let's bring in now Patricia Murphy, columnist for the "Daily Beast" and "Roll Call." Patricia, welcome back to the show. Let's start where Brian left off there. The president not talking about human rights with Kim Yong-Chol and just a maybe, that's as far as he'll go with a commitment to talk about on June 12th. Significance?
PATRICIA MURPHY, COLUMNIST, "THE DAILY BEAST" AND "ROLL CALL": I think it's very significant. I think past American presidents have insisted that a discussion of human rights inside North Korea be a part of any negotiations and North Korea has sent a signal that that's a nonstarter.
They don't want to have that conversation as a part of nuclear discussions. I think it's important that it shows another way that President Trump is being unconventional. He's not requiring what American past presidents required before they started talking. He's willing to have North Korean leaders in the oval office.
He's making a number of concessions before they sit down to talk in the goal of talking. And even during his campaign, he made it clear he'd be happy to talk to North Koreans. He disagreed with what Americans have done in the past and it's relevant and very typical to Donald Trump.
PAUL: We had an analyst in the first hour here in the 6:00 a.m. hour who said Kim Jong-un has already won just because he's secured this meeting. Is there credence to that? MURPHY: Well, I think you can look at it from a number of ways. We've seen three Americans be released from North Korea recently. That was a big victory for the president. And I think that old standards don't apply at this point.
North Korea in the past several years has accelerated the nuclear program. It's much more sophisticated than it used to be. Kim Jong- un was much more aggressive in his missile demonstrations to show that he can and will try and reach America.
So, I think the dynamics have changed, and I think it's too early to criticize the president for changing his approach to it until we see what the result is because North Korea has certainly changed their approach, too.
BLACKWELL: Let's play some of the video from Punggye-ri a few days ago. The explosions at the tunnels and some of the reporting that an international arms control expert tells CNN that these explosions, partially from the dust clouds, were too shallow to do what North Korea wanted the world to believe they were doing by completely dismantling this.
And the U.S. intelligence, according to the reporting from Barbara Starr, corresponds with that. Have they undermined themselves going into these talks? I mean, this was not complying with a request. This was something they offered to the world.
MURPHY; Well, North Korea are known professional propagandists. And I think that's what we should assume until the end. I think any American diplomat knows that going into this. But I think that we shouldn't take that as anything more than exactly what that is.
I think we need to make sure that the president goes into this with his eyes open. I'm sure somebody like Mike Pompeo with his background at the CIA is going in with his eyes open. I think it's very important that we saw in those meetings that it was Secretary of State Pompeo who was in that meeting, not John Bolton. So I think that there's a diplomatic team that has a steady hand but it s not naive as to what North Korea's -- what their intentions are with a display like that.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And with that said, you know, the president at one point, you know, we're hearing about fire and fury, and this competition about nuclear weapons and the size of the nuclear buttons and whatnot between the two of them and then just in the last 24 hours, the president saying, look, this is a -- I want to get it right here. It's a getting to know you meeting plus. So he's dialed it back a little bit.
PAUL: How realistic? You know, on the surface you might say well, he's trying to establish a relationship. But how realistic might a real relationship be between these two men?
MURPHY: We don't know. We absolutely know nothing going into this. These are two men who are unpredictable. These are two men who seem to be making their own decisions from a gut level. So we don't know what the outcome is going to be. I think it's relevant and important that the president is scaling back his ambitions verbally. Before he was saying we are going to require and we fully expect immediate denuclearization.
That's just not going to happen. And I think everybody knows that. So it's smart to dial that back. I think that probably is Secretary of State Pompeo's influence on him. But we just -- we simply don't know. I think it's important not to be naive to go into this assuming that this is going to lead to full denuclearization, but I think to most Americans, it feels better than the president tweeting about rocket man in North Korea. That was very destabilizing.
PAUL: It's a good point.
MURPHY: And I think that -- that having a more subtle approach. That is not naive. I think that's very important.
PAUL: Part of his negotiations.
PAUL: Being a negotiator. Right?
MURPHY: Exactly. But you have to remember North Korea was not static. They were not sitting still on the nuclear ambitions. They were accelerating them and they were threatening the United States in the process. And so the American tactics needed to change as well.
BLACKWELL: All right. Patricia Murphy, "Daily Beast," "Roll Call," thank you both.
MURPHY: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
PAUL: Thank you for being here. Good to have you.
So, still ahead, the president and his kids head to Camp David for the weekend. There is a really present absence there. The first lady. She hasn't been seen in 23 days. Actually people getting a little concerned for her. We'll talk about that.
BLACKWELL: First, collecting rare sneakers was just a hobby for the owner of the Sneaker Don but now the 18-year-old is cashing in on his obsession with high-end sneakers. It's all in this week's "Start Small, Think Big."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN KAPELUSHNIK, OWNER, THE SNEAKER DON: My name is Benjamin Kapel, AKA, Benjamin Kickz, and I'm the founder of The Sneaker Don. Right before I was 13 I feel in love with sneakers. It's a passion which turned into a hobby which of course turned into a business from a hobby. The first, first sneakers was a LeBron 9 Galaxies. Looks like all
these, I wore them to school. Sold one pair to kids for double. Business has skyrocketed since I've started and it just keeps going up. A mutual friend introduced me to DJ Khaled because he needed some sneakers. Got him a few pairs of the shoe. He was like so amazed he introduced me to some other celebrities.
Once I got to a more serious level where I was like a Web site and like managing stuff, managing orders. Clients coming through for them. It was like, you know, the trust factor you're having from customers. And I would still wear -- I still love doing it. It's still my passion but now it's a lot more work.
It put me on the map in the sense of reselling. Posted a picture with 100 pairs. Sold almost all 100 pairs. Now they're going for more than double. We probably sold (INAUDIBLE) to 2500 shoes all the time. All the rappers needed sneakers. All the little kids look up to the rappers. Where do they get their sneakers. Now the rappers direct them and say hey, we got our sneakers from Ben.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[08:38:48] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How's Melania?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She's doing great. Right there. She's doing great. She's looking at us right there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Well, that was the president several days ago. The last time he mentioned the first lady in public there. Now there's been no sign of the first lady in more than three weeks. Melania Trump did not go to Camp David with the president and the family this weekend. He was joined, you see here, by his children when he left Washington yesterday.
Melania Trump was treated for a benign kidney condition in May but has not been seen in public since which has a lot of people wondering about her whereabouts. A few days ago, she tweeted, "I see the media is working overtime speculating where I am and what I'm doing. Rest assured I'm here at the White House with my family feeling great and working hard on behalf of children and the American people."
Joining me now to discuss is Huffington Post reporter Laura Bassett. The tone of that tweet many say sounds familiar, but let me ask you about why or what the explanation is from the White House. If she's doing work, why we have not seen her.
LAURA BASSETT, REPORTER, HUFFINGTON POST: Exactly. I think that tweeting was a really interesting way to try to end the speculation. It seems like all she really needs to do is just step outside of the White House, just show her face to prove that she's fine, to prove that everything as she says it is.
[08:40:05] Instead she gives off this tweet which doesn't sounds like Melania at all. It actually sounds more like her husband. She jabbed at the media a little bit. That's not something Melania usually does. And so instead of ending the speculation and putting out the fire, it just kind of fanned the flames.
BLACKWELL: You know, there are some who say that she doesn't owe us an appearance because she wasn't elected. She's not a federal employee. In fact, CNN contributor A.B. Stoddard wrote this for RealClearPolitics. She wrote, "Missing Melaniagate needs to end now. No, the first lady doesn't need to resurface in a smashing outfit at a public event with President Trump. The media and Twitter -- the Twitter mob just need to just let her be. What do you say to those who say that it's not our business where the first lady is.
MURPHY: I mean, I think that is a little bit of a double standard. People were practically pawing through Michelle Obama's trash when she was first lady. Melania is not just the president's wife. The first lady of the United States is a position in itself. It is her job to be seen, to be present, to participate. Every first lady before her has done so. No one has ever disappeared for 23 days before.
This is a really conspicuous amount of time. And so I think that it's fair to ask these questions. Where is she? Why is the White House not being honest about what's going on?
BLACKWELL: We should also point out, you know, for those who say that she deserves her privacy, certainly she does. She is someone who, you know, again, is not a public official but the federal taxpayers pay for the home in which she lives, the cars and planes in which she's transported. She manages a staff of federal employees, of 10. And if anyone were to ask where are -- where's the boss of these 10 people, this group of federal White House employees, and we were to ask where is this person, to simply send out a tweet saying, I'm OK, things are fine, we probably would not accept that from anyone else working in the White House.
Let me ask you about if this being potentially the new normal? We know that this was not a role that Melania Trump initially wanted. Should we expect that she'll be more private moving forward?
MURPHY: You know, I wouldn't be able to answer that question for her. I will say that Melania has always been a little bit more independent than other first ladies. There was speculation at the beginning of Donald Trump's presidency as to whether she might just remain in New York. She didn't necessarily want to move to D.C. She was pretty clear about that. She has at times not appeared at her rallies, done separate motorcades.
I think she has been a more independent first lady this whole time. This is just really interesting timing because she's had a more high- profile month leading up to this disappearance. And she was -- she rolled out her "Be Best" campaign. She hosted the state dinner, everyone was talking about her fashion choices, her approval ratings have been ticking up. So I think it's just really interesting that right now she suddenly disappears. I don't know what it means going forward.
BLACKWELL: All right. Well, you know, we know that she had that benign kidney operation, and she is -- has recovered from that. So we hope the first lady is doing well and we hope we get more answers on her whereabouts and condition.
Laura Bassett, thanks so much.
MURPHY: Thank you for having me.
PAUL: So Hawaii's Kilauea volcano obviously was a huge tourist draw at one point. Now it has just devastated that island and that industry. We're going to talk more about that in a moment. Stay close.
[08:47:36] PAUL: We have some dramatic new video we want to share with you this morning of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano crater.
BLACKWELL: Yes. More than 80 homes now have been destroyed since the volcano began erupting four weeks ago. Hawaii's Civil Defense has issued new evacuation orders for several neighborhoods on the big island. The lava is threatening to trap some people. But it's not just people and property.
As Miguel Marquez reports, Kilauea is also taking a toll on Hawaii's bottom line.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lava. Typically a draw to Hawaii's big island, now fountaining 200 feet in backyards.
AMEDEO MARKOFF, HAWAIIAN BUSINESS OWNER: This is insane.
MARQUEZ: Devastating homes, the land, and the economy of those living close enough to hear it roar.
MARKOFF: We are used to lava. But we're not used to it coming out in our subdivision.
MARQUEZ: Amedeo Markoff runs two businesses in Pahoa.
MARKOFF: Aren't those cool?
MARQUEZ: He also heads up the tourism board.
(On camera): And how much is tourism down?
MARKOFF: I'd say 80 percent to 90 percent.
MARQUEZ: Eighty to 90?
MARQUEZ: Over the last few weeks?
MARKOFF: Three weeks, yes. Since the event began.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Pahoa sits just outside the exclusion zone, Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens, where the lava so far shows no signs of slowing down.
MAYOR HARRY KIM, COUNTY OF HAWAII: For the people here, meaning southeast Kilauea Puna, it is very bad.
MARQUEZ: Sitting below the eruption's orange glow, Kaleo's, a popular restaurant, typically packed. Not these days.
JANELLE DELACRUZ, EMPLOYEE, KALEO'S BAR AND GRILL: We had to cut our staff, reduce hours. We even have to shut down every two days.
MARKOFF: We ship anywhere.
MARQUEZ: For people here, it's like being hit twice. The lava destroying their homes, tourists staying away, and damaging their livelihood.
The impact to their entire island unclear. Arrivals by plane to the big island are up 25 percent but future hotel bookings are down. Its national park, the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, has been closed for weeks. A Norwegian cruise line has decided to forego weekly stops in Hilo at least for now. All of it costing millions.
[08:50:02] KIM: I think a lot of people are not fully aware of the island. So far it's covered maybe 2,000 to 3,000 acres. This island is 4,000 square miles.
MARQUEZ: It really is a big island.
Where life goes on even in the shadow of Kilauea as the community hopes the volcano goddess, Pele, takes a breather soon.
Miguel Marquez, CNN, Pahoa, Hawaii.
BLACKWELL: All right. In southwest Colorado, a wildfire has forced more than 800 families from their homes.
PAUL: 750 others are under pre-evacuation orders right now but officials in La Plata County say the 416 Fire has already scorched about 1100 acres and they've declared a local state of disaster. Now the county has been facing these extreme drought conditions here and obviously that's what is contributing there.
Could the president's cell phone be a target of spies? According to a new government study, they say, yes, it could.
BLACKWELL: It found that cell phone surveillance devices have been detected near the White House and other sensitive locations in Washington, D.C. and it could be a potential national security threat.
Here's CNN's Jessica Schneider.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A study just released is now revealing the presence of cell phone spying devices all around Washington, D.C., including near the White House. Now this spying technology which is often known by its brand name Stingray, it was discovered by the Department of Homeland Security during a study in 2017. It had been previously reported that some of the devices were discovered around D.C. But this is the first time we're hearing they were also near the White House.
Now these devices they essentially act as fake cell phone towers as mobile devices connect to them, the people and the entities operating them are able to snoop on the traffic that goes right through them. That means they can track phones, they can intercept phone calls, they can access some text messaging that isn't encrypted and they can even plant malware on the phones they pick up.
And this is creating particular concern because of our reporting from multiple sources that the president has increasingly been using his personal cell phone to talk with friends and even to tweet. A senior White House official, though, insists that the president's phone is secure but a Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, he's now demanding that telephone companies and the Federal Communications Commission act to stop any potential spying, especially because, as he puts it, the president and his personal phone could be a target of foreign intelligence services.
The FCC, though, declined a previous request from Democratic lawmakers to investigate other devices that were found around Washington. The FCC at that point said there was no evidence yet that those devices were being unlawfully used.
Now when it comes to all of this and these cases law enforcement has already done some investigation. They've determined that at least some of the devices and the signals came from legitimate devices. But it appears, of course, there are lingering questions about whether any foreign entities may have set up any of these spying devices.
Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
PAUL: Thanks, Jessica.
And as if traffic is not crazy enough in Southern California, right, add this to the mix. A small plane forced to land in the middle of the street.
[10:57:48] PAUL: In this week's "Impact Your World," rugby is helping students around Memphis build character and succeed in school. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rugby just doesn't build character. It reveals character. I think it does that for our kids.
SHANE YOUNG, MEMPHIS INNER CITY RUGBY: This is Memphis Inner City Rugby. We are operating and serving six schools. Nearly 200 kids around the city. We've got boys and girls. In the communities we're bringing rugby to, so many of the kids are lacking outlets in life and pathways to opportunities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In inner cities, like we even have to have a certain GPA. There's like zero tolerance with the attitude.
YOUNG: Partnering with teachers allows us to fuse mentoring for these kids along with coaching them.
Scholarship eligible. 5,000 bucks, boom. Living on campus now. At 24.
Hundred percent of our kids have been accepted to college or university. Now a couple handfuls of our kids have earned college rugby scholarships.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I absolutely adore my coach.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes you don't think that you can do something until somebody pushes you to do it and then you're like, oh OK, I just did that. What else can I do?
YOUNG: A fantastic job just like we always ask you.
The need for rugby who really needs a sport. We leverage love for a game and accountability to a mentor to go the right direction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: So witnesses are calling this an absolute miracle. The pilot of a small plane says she was experiencing some engine trouble and was forced to land in a busy Southern California neighborhood right in the middle of rush hour.
BLACKWELL: OK. So here's the thing, she didn't hit anything or anyone and walked away without a scratch. There were no passengers on board and the FAA is investigating.
PAUL: Glad she's all right.
The epic romance of former President Bush and Barbara Bush is living on even after she's passed. Bush 41 tweeted this message. "Enjoying a great book and a wonderful walk down memory lane this morning. Yet another reminder of just how lucky I've been in life."
BLACKWELL: The tweet includes a phone of the 93-year-old Bush in his hospital bed holding a copy of "George and Barbara Bush: A Great American Love Story." The former president is in the hospital for low-blood pressure and fatigue.
PAUL: Wish him the best.
BLACKWELL: We'll see you back here at 10:00 Eastern.
PAUL: Mm-hmm. "SMERCONISH" starts now.