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Trump Discussed Playmate Payment on Cohen Tape; Duck Boat Tragedy; Trump Administration Defends Putin Invitation; Middle East Violence; "Mamma Mia!" Sequel Now in Theaters. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired July 21, 2018 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): U.S. federal agents have secret recordings of the U.S. president made before he took that office. And one involves the silencing of a former "Playboy" model. We'll explain.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): We'll take you to the state of Missouri, where there is much sadness. We'll hear from a woman who lost nine family members when their tour boat sank during a thunderstorm.
HOWELL (voice-over): And here we go again. The long awaited sequel to the ABBA movie musical is hitting theaters.
ALLEN (voice-over): We'll have those songs (INAUDIBLE) --
ALLEN (voice-over): -- why not?
Welcome to our viewer here in the U.S. and all around the world. We're coming to you live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL (voice-over): And I'm George Howell. It is good to have you back.
ALLEN (voice-over): Thank you. It's good to be back.
HOWELL (voice-over): You want to do the honor?
ALLEN (voice-over): Shall I say it?
NEWSROOM starts right now.
ALLEN: And our top story, before Donald Trump became president, his former attorney secretly recorded him talking about a payment to a former "Playboy" model.
HOWELL: Karen McDougal says she had an affair with Mr. Trump in 2006, which he denies. The recording was made by Michael Cohen about two months before the 2016 election.
ALLEN: It was one of many items the FBI seized from Cohen earlier this year. A source says when Mr. Trump found out about the tapes, he said, quote, "I can't believe Michael would do this to me."
HOWELL: And all this, of course, comes as a welcome distraction for the president following backlash from his controversial summit with the Russian leader last week. This story, however, it is still unfolding with more details likely to come out. Jessica Schneider explains what we know so far.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Cohen secretly recorded multiple conversations with Donald Trump, sources tell CNN. And those tapes are now in the hands of federal investigators.
Two months before the election, Cohen recorded a conversation with Trump, discussing a payment to the former "Playboy" model, Karen McDougal. That's according to Trump's current attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
McDougal claims she had nearly a year-long affair with the president right after Melania gave birth to Barron in 2006.
KAREN MCDOUGAL, FORMER PLAYMATE: I was attracted to him, yes. He's a nice-looking man and I liked his charisma.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): McDougal has said Trump tried to hand her cash after their first night together.
MCDOUGAL: After we had been intimate, he tried to pay me and I actually did not take that.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Did he actually try to hand you money?
MCDOUGAL: He did.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Trump denies the affair. McDougal says she didn't take the money that night but McDougal eventually sold her story to the "National Enquirer" for $150,000. The tabloid never published it.
Giuliani told CNN that Trump didn't know he was being recorded during that discussion. But on the tape, Trump and Cohen discussed buying the rights to McDougal's story from AMI, the parent company of the "Enquirer."
Trump advised Cohen to pay by check so that it could be documented, according to Giuliani. The recording was one of several seized by the FBI during a raid of Cohen's hotel room, apartment and office back in April.
There are other tapes of Michael Cohen and other powerful individuals that the FBI seized, beyond the president, that could be embarrassing for the people on the tape and for Cohen, according to a source familiar with those tapes.
Prosecutors in New York City are examining possible election law violations related to payments Michael Cohen made to women who alleged sexual encounters with Trump. Adult film actress Stormy Daniels received $130,000 to keep quiet about an alleged affair. She has since sued Trump over that agreement.
Daniel's attorney is now urging Cohen to release the recordings.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: If Michael Cohen, in fact, is a true patriot, as he wants the American people to believe and as Lanny Davis wants the American people to believe, then Michael Cohen should release all of the audio recordings.
And I will tell you for a fact, there is more than one. There is multiple recordings. And all of them should be released for the benefit of the American public.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): For now, Michael Cohen isn't commenting. He's been seen on the streets of New York City but has stayed mostly silent, at least publicly. He sat down with ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos off camera earlier this month, signaling his willingness to work with special counsel Robert Mueller, stressing his family, not the president, comes first.
And late last night, after a week of twisted words from the White House regarding Russia, Cohen quoted the legendary broadcaster Walter Cronkite and said, "It has never been more important than it is now for everyone to distinguish between innuendo and fact" -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
ALLEN: The tape, of course, raises new legal issues in the Cohen investigation and potentially raises issues for the U.S. president. Let's bring in CNN legal analyst Areva Martin from Los Angeles.
Areva, thank you for being with us.
ALLEN: From what we know about this tape, does it hurt the president?
One of his lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, says it won't.
Has he explained that?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: One thing we know for sure is that the president lied to us. This story broke in 2016. "The Wall Street Journal" broke a story that Trump knew about the negotiated deal between Karen McDougal and AMI, the parent company for "National Enquirer."
When asked about that deal, Donald Trump, his team, denied any knowledge of it. This tape now of Donald Trump talking to Michael Cohen about purchasing or trying to acquire that non-disclosure agreement, that was entered into between AMI and Karen McDougal, clearly, clearly reveals that the president knew that Karen McDougal was telling her story or potentially trying to tell her story about an affair that she said she had with the president.
So, if nothing else, it proves that Trump and his administration have not been honest with the American people.
ALLEN: That is one factor.
The other big question is, does the tape reveal whether, in the payments made to Ms. McDougal, did the payment violate campaign finance laws?
MARTIN: And that is a big question. Of course, Rudy Giuliani says that the tapes exonerate the president because there is no conversation, there is no mention during the 90 seconds or 2 minutes of this tape, where there is any conversation about the election or about trying to suppress information.
But it remains to be seen. We don't know exactly what other information may be available. We know that there were millions of documents seized from Michael Cohen's office and his home. We don't know what those documents reveal about what Trump and Michael Cohen were doing leading up to the election.
We do know that, from this tape, from the deal that AMI had with Karen McDougal and from the payment to Stormy Daniels, that Trump had real issues with women coming forward alleging affairs with him. And he didn't want those stories to break before the election.
Now whether the dots can be connected by federal prosecutors to prove that payments made by Donald Trump were indeed to prevent negative information from coming out right before the election and constitute a campaign violation, it remains to be seen.
ALLEN: Cohen typically secretly recorded meetings. There are other tape beyond this one. But according to our sources, this is the only one of substance with Donald Trump. The president has waived privilege on this recording, according to two sources briefed on the legal discussion.
What is the significance of that move?
MARTIN: There is some reporting that Donald Trump and his team waived privilege and that they made this tape available to the media because they were trying to divert our attention away from this horrific week that the president has had, you know, beginning on Monday with the press conference, where he stood side by side with Vladimir Putin and pretty much agreed with Putin that, despite evidence from our national intelligence and our law enforcement agencies, that they did not interfere in the 2016 election.
It is not certain, though, why -- it is not clear to me at all why Donald Trump wanted this tape. Then Giuliani's theory that this somehow exonerates the president.
ALLEN: Will Cohen, the former fixer to Donald Trump, be a danger to this president?
Will he cooperate with the investigation?
Does this give any hint which way he's going?
MARTIN: I think if you look at the tweet that was made by one of the new attorneys that has joined the Michael Cohen team, it is pretty clear that there has been a shift in the way Michael Cohen considers the president, a shift in their relationship.
If you look back months ago, he talked about taking a bullet for the president and being one of his most loyal confidants. We saw, with his recent interview with Stephanopoulos, he said, look, my family, my children first. He hired a new legal team.
And it is pretty clear that Michael Cohen is frustrated. He doesn't believe that the president has had his back. He believes that the president is trying to undermine his credibility.
And it is not so certain at this moment that Michael Cohen is going to continue to be loyal to the president. The lawyer that he has hired is a former U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York.
And that suggests to some that Michael Cohen is gearing up to try to strike some kind of deal with the federal prosecutors, if and when he is actually charged with any crimes.
ALLEN: Legal analyst Areva Martin, as always thanks for helping us understand.
MARTIN: Thank you, Natalie.
HOWELL: Here in the United States, a woman who lost nine of her family members in a deadly tour boat accident, she is speaking out about the horrifying experience from her hospital bed.
TIA COLEMAN, DUCK BOAT SURVIVOR: I couldn't see anybody. I couldn't hear anything. I could hear screams. I just -- it felt like I was out there on my own.
And I was yelling and I was screaming. And finally I said, "Lord, just let me die. Let me die. I said I can't -- I can't keep drowning. I just can't keep drowning."
And as I fell in, then I just let go and I started floating. And I was floating up to the top. I felt the water temperature raise to warm. And (INAUDIBLE) the water temperature raised, I jumped up and I saw the big boat that sits out there, I don't know what kind of boat, it was huge, though.
And when I saw them, they were throwing out life jackets to people. And I said, Jesus, please just keep me so I can get to my children. Keep me, Lord.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: What a tale she has, my goodness. While Tia Coleman recovers, vigils have been taking place in Branson, Missouri, to mourn the 17 people who died. The so-called duck boat -- it's an amphibious vessel -- was carrying 31 people.
HOWELL: That duck boat sank in a lake Thursday during a severe thunderstorm in that area. Our Miguel Marquez has this report.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, God.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cell phone video capturing the unthinkable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it's going under.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): A tour boat full of families disappearing beneath the swells on Missouri's Table Rock Lake. Fewer than half the people on board would make it back to shore alive; 17 passengers, from ages just 1 year old to 70, including the boat's driver, Bob Williams, are now gone.
MIKE PARSON, GOVERNOR OF MISSOURI: One lady lost nine members of her 11 members of her family.
MARQUEZ: Oh, dear.
PARSON: So I had a chance to talk to her and it's difficult to find the right words to say.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): It is one of the deadliest duck boat accidents in history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What a storm.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): As strong weather rolled in Thursday evening, the waters on the lake became treacherous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never seen it quite this bad. Boats can't get in, boats can't get out.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): This video from a man who had a ticket for the duck boat and turned back, tweeting, "We saw high winds and bad weather roll in. So I decided to get a refund and leave with my wife."
Severe thunderstorm warnings for the area were first issued at 5:45, then again at 6:30, just before the accident.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Welcome aboard Ride the Duck.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Still, two duck boats continued with their advertised tour. Radar shows the fast-moving storm heading toward Branson, hitting the lake with 63 mile an hour wind gusts, just as the boats tried to turn back at 7:00 pm. Only one made it to shore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to make it.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): The first emergency calls for the other came in at 7:09.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Western units, we need a water rescue. Will be north of the show boat. Will be a duck that has capsized.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there is somebody out there with a video of this, please send it to our Stone County Sheriff's Office Facebook page.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): As investigators pour in to Branson to find answers, the president of the duck boat company tells CNN, this never should have happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was perfectly calm and we had a high-speed wind system that just came out of nowhere. Obviously, we shouldn't be out there in severe weather. We're absolutely devastated and we couldn't feel -- we feel terrible.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): For so many here now, grieving such sudden loss, terrible is just the beginning.
MARQUEZ: The next step in this investigation is to bring that boat out of the water. It sank just 30, maybe 40 feet off the shore into about 40 feet of water, then slid down into 80 feet of water. They hope to bring it out by Monday -- Miguel Marquez, CNN, Branson, Missouri.
HOWELL: It was the handshake heard around the world.
But the real question, what happened behind closed doors?
And will we ever know?
ALLEN: We'll get into that ahead here. Plus we'll discuss the possible impact of the tape recorded conversations between Donald Trump and his long-time personal attorney; one recording could become a political problem for the president. Much more ahead here. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. The Trump administration is defending its decision to invite the
Russian president Vladimir Putin to Washington, D.C.
ALLEN: U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo says the meeting planned for this fall makes, in his words, "enormous sense."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm happy that the two leaders of two very important countries are continuing to meet. And if that meeting takes place in Washington, I think it's all to the good.
Those conversations are incredibly important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: But still four days after the Helsinki summit, we still don't have a clear picture, an indication of what the two leaders said, what they talked about in private during that face-to-face meeting.
ALLEN: Most of what we know has come from Russia. It points to agreements made between the two leaders. But the U.S. is pushing back on claims that the U.S. would support a referendum in Ukraine.
HOWELL: Following the story live in Moscow, our Sam Kiley is across the details and joins us this hour.
Sam, on this side of the pond, still unclear what the U.S. president discussed with his Russian counterpart. But it seems over there President Putin is putting forward some details.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and I think the interesting thing here, George, is, if you go back to Pompeo's remarks about the future White House meeting with President Putin and Donald Trump in the fall, in the autumn, that's a good thing in terms of international diplomacy, not talking is a bad thing. Talking has to be a good thing.
Then the question is, who owns the narrative?
When Donald Trump emerged from the Helsinki talks, he was extremely vague. And at that point, Kremlinologists could have anticipated that former KGB agent, former head of the FSB, trained intelligence operator like Vladimir Putin does not forget anything. And then, of course, on top of that, can start tweaking --
KILEY: -- what was said in the absence of any kind of evidence from the Russians over the American side.
So what we've seen so far is a limited little hint from the ministry of defense here in Russia, saying that both sides agreed to restart the SALT talks, the talks about weapons nonproliferation. Those would have been scheduled to start anyway.
The Russians are saying they are starting preparations. Nothing terribly controversial about that.
And then a little bit more controversy leaked out through various means from ambassador briefings by President Putin, suggesting that there was some kind of an agreement on humanitarian repatriation of refugees in Syria.
Now this is awkward for the Trump administration because the official position of the Trump administration, the United States of America, is that there would be no repatriation of refugees into any area under the control of Bashar al-Assad, who, of course, is supported by the Russians.
If the Russians have any leverage there, it would be only to return refugees into Syrian government territory. So that creates a schism of potential friction between the White House and the policy wonks within the United States of America.
And ultimately, the Russians are also saying that we've got a lot of great new weaponry, so we really need you to talk to us about deescalation more widely. So they are starting to own the narrative.
HOWELL: Sam Kiley on the details there, live for us in Moscow. Thank you.
Now let's bring in James Nixey, the head of the Russia and Eurasia Program at Chatham House, live this hour from London.
A pleasure to have you on the show as well. You just heard what we discussed there with our correspondent there in Moscow. Typically and in previous administrations, we'd hear the U.S. version of events, we'd hear the Russian version of events.
And there would be a noticeable difference, right, in what was said and even agreed to. In this case, we're not hearing from the U.S. really. And, as Sam rightly points out, Russia owning the narrative here.
JAMES NIXEY, CHATHAM HOUSE: Yes, that is exactly right. That is because Donald Trump has managed to go back on everything that he said, then tweet something different, then change his mind and, therefore, the American idea on this has been to keep sturm as much as possible.
Sorry, there is a great deal of feedback here, so its very hard for me to speak to you.
HOWELL: Oh, it is OK. We're hearing you fine. It's always difficult when the feedback comes into these exchanges.
But, yes, your point quite interesting and certainly important to hear. Let's talk about the backlash that we saw from the Helsinki summit. President Trump recently insisting, though, that he has never given Russia a pass. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: There has been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia. All you have to do is look at the numbers, look at what we've done, look at sanctions, look at ambassadors not there.
Look, unfortunately, at what happened in Syria recently. And I think President Putin knows that better than anybody, certainly a lot better than the media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: So want to make sure you did hear that. President Trump saying he is the toughest on Russia.
But James, in your view, on Mr. Trump's approach with that nation and with what U.S. intelligence has clearly indicated about Russia being an ongoing threat to U.S. democracy, where has the president been tough here?
Where do you see him as being weak with Russia?
NIXEY: Well, America has been tough. The sanctions are greater than they were under the Obama era. Syria has been bombed more so than it was under the Obama era.
But this was not really Trump's doing per se, especially not the sanctions. So really, American policy has been tougher despite Donald Trump, not because of him.
So the Russians are laying a great deal of hope into what Trump can do to sort of supersede the American system of government and to win out. And they are looking to see if that can be done through means of these summits, by getting him on his own and trying to get what they can out of him as a result of these one-on-one conversations.
HOWELL: So we're looking at video right now, the two leaders standing together. The world has seen them stand together and now I want to show you this cover of "Time" magazine, where the world is seeing these two leaders together.
Your thoughts from this image.
And as allies look on, what does it mean for Western allies?
NIXEY: Again, I can't actually see the image on my Skype screen here but I do think that there is a fundamental misunderstanding with every American president but it is amplified with Donald Trump, whereby they believe they can get on with Russia. It happened with Bush, with Clinton --
NIXEY: -- with Obama as well. They all believe that their predecessor was incompetent and that they can do a lot better. They all want to be Nixon in China. But the fact of the matter is, there is a reason Russia-U.S. relations are bad, is because of the nature of Russia itself. You can get on with another country if you share interests or if you
share values or both, of course. But if you share neither interests nor values, then it will be very, very hard to have a formidable relationship.
HOWELL: James, just to describe that image, it is President Trump's head with President Putin's face morphed into it. You will see it for sure on the cover of "Time" magazine. It is a sight to behold for sure. James Nixey, thanks so much for your time today.
NIXEY: Thank you.
ALLEN: It's certainly a creepy cover, isn't it?
HOWELL: Creepy is the word.
HOWELL: It's interesting.
ALLEN: All right. Another story that we're following, of course, a woman mourning a family tragedy after two relatives were killed in a tour boat accident in Missouri.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They lost their great-grandmother a month ago and now they lost both their grandparents.
ALLEN (voice-over): More on this tragedy and the other lives lost when that boat sank -- when we come back here.
ALLEN (voice-over): Welcome back. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL (voice-over): And I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you.
HOWELL: This story is certainly still unfolding. Many more details to come out to light. And let's talk more about it with Kate Andrews, news editor at the Institute for Economic Affairs in London and writes a column on U.S. politics for "City A.M."
It's a pleasure to have you here on the show. The simple fact here that we know about this, it speaks volumes really.
It speaks to the fact that there is a leaker and leads to the question, what is the motive and why the timing?
KATE ANDREWS, "CITY A.M.": Thanks for having me, George. So it is still unclear if Michael Cohen has actively handed over these tapes or if they were discovered as part of Mueller's investigation.
I've seen some mixed reporting there about exactly how the tapes were acquired. So I actually think that the bigger question is what else are they going to find. A lot of people will now want to know what else has been recorded.
Cohen has made it clear that he had recorded multiple interviews with the president. We have yet to find anything illegal on these tapes. At least there hasn't been any reporting that there is a real smoking gun.
So you know, there are several questions here. What else has been recorded, what else will be discovered, will anything illegal actually crop up?
And if not, to what extent has the humiliation actually damaged the president?
And I think that could go in different directions to be quite frank.
ALLEN: Questions have been raised about why this was leaked now, a diversion perhaps from the summit fiasco from this week. And it doesn't really make sense though from one muddy issue to another.
ANDREWS: Yes, I mean it would be a strange way to try to cover up what happened in Helsinki and I don't think anything can cover that up. The president overstepped a red line, I think particularly for Republicans but really for the whole country, undermining U.S. intelligence and security. So nothing will make that go away anytime soon.
The problem with this leak is that, from his supporters' perspective, it will be seen as a attempt to humiliate the president and if anything that might make them double down and defend him even more.
For others, the question isn't necessarily what is on these tapes about Karen McDougal, the woman that they allegedly tried to pay off, but really what else has been recorded. And if there could be a smoking gun in those recordings, not necessarily related to the president's alleged affairs or issues with other women. A lot of voters knew about that kind of thing before they elected him.
We have to be honest about this. You kind of knew what you were getting ethically when you voted for Donald Trump in 2016. What we still don't know is whether or not there were any attempts at collusion between the president and foreign groups, foreign people, especially in Russia. And that is really surely what people will want to know.
HOWELL: And generally speaking here, what are the possible positives for this president?
What are the negatives?
Really it all depends on what is on that tape.
ANDREWS: Absolutely. We have to remember that the economy is growing in the States, growth is up. People are feeling that. They are feeling the bonuses they are getting from their businesses, thanks to the tax breaks.
If you go to hard on the president with his personal life and put the ethics aside, I think we all agree the ethics of this are extremely questionable and make many of us uncomfortable.
But if you put that aside, you want to be very careful in the ways that you attempt to humiliate the president because that can backfire. What you really want is hard evidence that something illegal occurred. And that's what I think the press can really run with.
ALLEN: But it also shows -- and you did talk about this a little bit, perhaps how Donald Trump and his associates handle scandal, involving his personal and perhaps business affairs. And you have to wonder how much more can people absorb.
ANDREWS: Absolutely. And for a lot of people, this will just be another piece of ammunition to use against the president. For others, it will be another reason to turn the TVs off or to put the newspaper down, just another attack on the president, which is why evidence is so crucial in situations like this.
But I do think we're starting to see a slight change with the president and the White House. And I think it really did happen at Helsinki. I think that was a turning point. So often with the president's scandals, he just says fake news, not true, being misreported, et cetera, et cetera. But, in Helsinki, he wasn't able to swing --
ANDREWS: -- that press conference with the PR slant that he wanted. People really saw through, I think what was just an issue of underpreparation and a desire to please the person in the room rather than thinking about the country and our security as a whole.
And I think that really affected him. He hasn't been able to give that the slant that he usually is able to do, especially amongst his base. So as more of these stories come out, it may be harder and harder for people to believe the president's angle on things.
But I think this one is particularly difficult because we knew about his history and his issues and his language around women before the 2016 election.
And I think a lot of people have already said that is an issue I've already dealt with, I've already decided I'm a Never Trumper or I've decided I can forgive it and move on. So until more evidence comes out of these tapes or lack thereof, it would be hard to know how impactful they will be. HOWELL: And as you talk about the spin, which has already started -- we heard from President Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, saying, essentially, this is good for President Trump, that it exonerates him.
But digging deeper, what does it mean for President Trump's base?
Mr. Trump at one point even saying that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and they would still vote for him.
ANDREWS: Yes, I do remember that line indeed. I think he is having to become slightly more cautious about what he can come out and say in such a boisterous and obnoxious way.
I don't think that this is good news for the president, that's very good attempts at spin. But it's obviously not. These kinds of stories will damage him personally, they will be humiliating. And it has issues in the news today that aren't about the economy, aren't about job growth, aren't about the things that the president I'm sure would like the media to be discussing. So it's never a good story to have come out.
But it's a pretty impressive attempt at spin, let's give them credit for that.
ALLEN: Kate Andrews, we appreciate your analysis. Thank you so much.
HOWELL: Thank you, Kate.
ANDREWS: Thank you for having me.
ALLEN: A husband and wife married 45 years were among 17 people killed in that tour boat crash in Missouri. One of their relatives spoke to the media about what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I started calling my brother and sister-in-law's phone and there was no answer, so I called their stay -- they were staying at The Windmill. And I called there and they hadn't seen them. They went to check the room and it was empty.
So needless to say, as every minute passed, I panicked a little bit more and more. My great-grand -- great-nieces and nephews now have no grandparents. They lost their great-grandmother a month ago and now they lost both their grandparents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: It is a terribly sad story. The 17 people killed on what you see there, a duck boat, as it is called, an amphibious vessel like this. It carried 31 people when it sank in a lake during a severe thunderstorm near the popular U.S. tourist town of Branson, Missouri, Thursday.
Vigils were held Friday to mourn those lives lost. Still not clear why the boat sank or why it went out into that threatening weather. ALLEN: There's an investigation going on to try and determine how it happened.
HOWELL: Still ahead, fighting threatens a fragile truce between Israel and Gaza militants. We'll have the latest on the cease-fire and a live report from Gaza City.
ALLEN: Plus, it seems like a futile effort, hundreds of people in the Dominican Republic are trying to clean up plastic garbage that is washing ashore by the tons. We'll have more about that coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM.
HOWELL: Welcome back. It appears a ceasefire along the Israel-Gaza border is barely holding. We've received word an Israeli tank targeted a Hamas military post in Gaza Saturday morning.
This comes after the Israeli military said that civilians living near Gaza can now return to their normal routine. Israel hit dozens of targets in Gaza after an Israeli soldier was fatally shot.
ALLEN: Hamas says three members of its military wing were killed in the airstrikes but it says a truce is now in effect. For a look at how or if the cease-fire can hold, CNN's Ian Lee is joining us from Gaza City.
You've been covering this story for months as they've gone back and forth, Ian. And you certainly can appreciate how fragile it is but it is a cease-fire at least.
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Let's just call this Gaza call, where you do have the cease-fires that we hear from the different militant factions in Gaza but usually afterwards, after they make this declaration, there is some sort of tit-for-tat, although it usually is low level, nothing where you see someone killed or injured.
And we saw this last weekend, where we had probably one of the highest upticks of violence we've seen for quite some time, when you had over 200 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel and Israel responding with the largest bombing campaign since 2014. They had a cease-fire then. And even after that, there were still a few rockets and a few bombs until it really returned to a somewhat of this calm.
But this just underlines how fragile this whole situation really is, where you do have these upticks in violence that could spiral out of control. And many people here yesterday, war was on their lips. They thought that another war could be happening.
And we saw from the U.N. special coordinator for Middle East peace, Nickolay Mladenov, he urged everyone to step back from the brink, to not let this turn into a full-scale war.
And there was a lot of efforts, I've got to say, by the Egyptians, by the U.N., to talk to both sides, to get them back to this, again, Gaza calm because again yesterday we saw first Israeli soldier killed since these tensions really began at the end of March.
And we heard from the defense minister, saying that they were going to hit hard, hit Gaza hard if there wasn't calm. So it looks like they dodged a bullet literally, metaphorically, but, you know, it is going to take real hard efforts by the U.N., by the Egyptians to keep this calm and not let it spiral out of control another weekend -- Natalie.
ALLEN: Ian Lee, following it for us, Ian, thank you so much.
As we mentioned, plastic waste is threatening to choke the oceans and destroy marine life and tranquil beaches the world over. Here is what some of it looks like up close.
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ALLEN (voice-over): Waves of garbage being pushed onto a beach in Santo Domingo. You can't even see the water through all of this. Hundreds of people have been working to clean up the trash. But each day brings more and more. They say, in five days, they have removed some 60 tons of trash. Yes, folks, that is what we do to the oceans.
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HOWELL: And it is that plastic cup, that straw that you use, that you just threw away.
ALLEN: Everything manufactured in plastic.
HOWELL: And that is the result.
ALLEN: And that is one beach. Yes.
HOWELL: After the break, this next story, the question, does movie magic strike twice?
The sequel to the ABBA musical, "Mamma Mia!" just hit theaters. We'll see if it has what it takes to wow audiences once again around the world.
ALLEN: It was a decade ago the movie musical, "Mamma Mia!" was a box office smash and here we go again.
HOWELL: The sequel, of course, features the songs of the Swedish supergroup, ABBA, so let's hear it again. CNN's Neil Curry has this.
NEIL CURRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So they did it again. Ten years after the original "Mamma Mia!" musical moved from theater to silver screen, Amanda Seyfried returns as Sophie, the offspring of a holiday romance between Meryl Streep's Donna and one of three men, played by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard.
The new film tells the backstory of the main characters and adds young actors playing fresh-faced versions of the senior stars. And Croatia is cast in the role of Greece as if the football World Cup hadn't given enough screen time to the sun-kissed Vulcan nation.
But it is Lily James as the young version of Donna, who steals the show with an effervescent performance of pop classics and some lesser- known ABBA songs, which form the heartbeat of the movie. And the composers of those songs, ABBA's Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson return with cameo appearances to delight their fans.
CURRY (voice-over): But the most iconic cameo came from an Oscar- winning actress, better known as the singer. It was a moment the entire cast wanted to share.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody came in that day, all the cast that weren't working, and they brought their husbands, wives, children and dogs. I've never seen a set like it. And so -- and when she finished the song, this storm of applause. It was extraordinary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we were just sitting there like, this is the craziest thing ever, like literally she is like right there, singing "Fernando."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mom was there, we watched it backstage. She is the biggest Cher fan. Like she introduced me to Cher. Like I -- we watched there. We watched in the monitoring room. My mom was like, this is (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't believe that was our life.
CHER, SINGER AND ACTOR: I just thought, oh, these people are like great actors and I didn't know if they were going to be serious or what they were going to be. But I've never been on a set where people were so easygoing and having so much fun. CURRY (voice-over): The first movie soundtrack went platinum, despite the much maligned vocal talents of Pierce Brosnan.
PIERCE BROSNAN, ACTOR AND SINGER: I found it easier because they cut my singing down, thank God. And so I just had --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep singing. Your singing is great.
BROSNAN: Little moment. Thank you.
CURRY (voice-over): This time, it is Andy Garcia, who finds himself making an unexpected appearance on the music charts.
CHER: Well, he just found out yesterday that he was going to --
ANDY GARCIA, ACTOR AND SINGER: Yes, I was charted. So you're on the charts. And I said, it's no surprise, I'm singing with Cher.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like to say why not "Mamma Mia!" (INAUDIBLE) DNA test. We still don't know who the dad is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's just see how this one goes first. I know everyone had an amazing time and we should be so lucky. But who knows.
CURRY (voice-over): If he does know, the director is keeping mum about it. Or should that be keeping mamma -- Neal Curry, CNN, London.
CHER: Let's get the party started.
ALLEN: It has started. It has opened in theaters around the world.
HOWELL: And also an announcement to tell you about that is so shocking, you could say it might raise the dead. Take a look.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still ready to deal with this world on its own terms.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're all going to pitch in and make sure the sanctuary --
HOWELL (voice-over): We're talking about the star of the zombie TV series, "The Walking Dead," says the upcoming season will be his last.
ALLEN (voice-over): It will be his ninth season, Andrew Lincoln's, playing Rick Grimes. The sheriff turned zombie fighter, the next season of "The Walking Dead" debuts in October.
The day's top stories are just ahead.
HOWELL: We'll be right back after the break. Stay with us.