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Authorities Scramble after White House Bomb Threat; Trump Aides Had Contact with Russia; U.S. Secretary of State Meets with Chinese President; Rock Legend Chuck Berry Dies at 90; Airport Attacker Wanted to "Die for Allah". Aired 5-6aET
Aired March 19, 2017 - 05:00 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): A bomb scare at the White House. A man drove up to the White House checkpoint, claiming to have a bomb. He is now in custody. And we have details ahead for you.
Plus getting some answers. The FBI director James Comey set to testify Monday on the possible connection between the Trump campaign and Russia during the election.
And "Roll Over Beethoven," fans and celebrities say goodbye to rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry.
From CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
HOWELL: It is 5:00 am on the U.S. East Coast and in Washington, D.C., The situation there around the White House is returning to normal after a security scare. Officials tell CNN that a man drove up to the White House in the vehicle that you see right there late Saturday night. He told a guard that he had a bomb.
CNN's Ryan Nobles has been on this story and has the very latest for us.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This all started just after 11 o'clock Eastern time here in Washington. That's when a man driving a vehicle pulled up to a security checkpoint on the east side of the White House near the Treasury Department. He told the guard at that checkpoint that he had a bomb.
That started a security situation which lasted for more than four hours. Secret Service agents and bomb technicians methodically checked the vehicle from front to back, bringing in a robot to pull items out of the trunk and a bomb technician in full bomb gear to go through those items. After that long search, the Secret Service agents declared the
situation cleared and re-opened a series of roads that had been shut down near the White House for several hours.
This marks the third security incident here at the White House in just a little more than a week, including one where a man jumped over the fence and was on the White House grounds for more than 16 minutes.
Then earlier on Saturday a man jumped over an extended barrier, attempting to get over the fence on the North Lawn but was stopped by Secret Service agents.
The president was not here at the time. He is at his Resort, Mar-a- lago in South Florida. So he was never in any danger. But you can bet this is going to start yet another debate about security conditions here at the White House over the next couple of weeks -- Ryan Nobles, CNN, Washington.
HOWELL: Ryan, thank you for the reporting.
Also in Washington, Monday will mark one of the most crucial days yet for the new president and his administration. That's because the FBI director James Comey is set to testify publicly before the House Intelligence Committee. The focus: possible Russian meddling in last year's election, especially any Russian connections with the Trump campaign.
CNN presidential historian Timothy Naftali says that it could be a revealing moment, even if the director is short on details.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I suspect that Monday, we will hear a little bit about the extent to which the FBI has undertaken a counterintelligence investigation about possible U.S. assistance to the Russian active measures or deception campaign.
I don't expect a lot of detail because that's highly classified information. But I suspect we will learn a little bit about the extent of the investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Now we get some insight on how the Kremlin will view what comes ahead on Monday. Clare Sebastian is live in the Russian capital.
Clare, first of all, let's talk about what we know. The FBI director set to testify publicly. This will be an opportunity for many people around the world to hear what he is focused on, if there is an investigation, what might have happened between the Trump campaign or the administration and Russia.
On that side of the world, though, is this a major story? CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting, George. The Kremlin publicly is saying that they are very busy with their own work, they don't follow these hearings, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling us Friday he doesn't expect to hear anything new, using the colorful phrase, that this is a, quote, "broken record with futuristic songs," essentially making the point that these accusations against Russia keep coming, despite the fact that Russia has strenuously denied that it was ever engaged in any meddling in the U.S. election and has insisted that any contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign, now Trump administration, were nothing more than the day-to-day business of diplomacy.
But I think it's fair to say, when you have the FBI director testifying under oath on Capitol Hill --
SEBASTIAN: -- about Russia, we understand that Russia will be watching. Certainly this is an uncomfortable moment for the Trump administration. But also perhaps for Russia because, over the last two months, we've gone from a situation where many of those high up political circles, certainly the media, were engaged in a frenzy of enthusiasm toward potential improvement in the relationship with the U.S. under Trump.
And those hopes have been repeatedly disappointed. We're now at a stage where there's a realization really that Russia, it may be Trump's biggest Achilles heel. And I think that's why you see these kind of offhand dismissals from the Kremlin and why you've seen here in Russia a marked reduction in the amount of media coverage of the Trump administration.
They are very much trying to distance themselves from these accusations against Russia that are coming out of Washington -- George.
HOWELL: Clare Sebastian live in the Russian capital with perspective, Clare, thanks for the reporting.
Let's get some perspective now on Monday's upcoming hearing with Scott Lucas, he is a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham in England.
Scott, always a pleasure to have you with us here on CNN. Clearly this could be a telling moment when we see the FBI director speak publicly about whether there was any sort of connection between Russia and the election.
SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Well, I think it's just the opening. We've got a long play ahead of us because, while the FBI director, I think, will come out and say, yes, there is substance to the investigation; otherwise, they wouldn't be pursuing it, he's got to be cautious because substance doesn't mean proof.
And you don't go in with all guns blazing unless you have all the evidence assembled. And that's going to take some time. I do expect him to say however, first of all, there's no truth to the allegations the Obama administration wiretapped the Trump campaign, thus clearing away this diversion and then emphasizing, yes, we do have a serious situation here, with which the FBI is justly engaged and, therefore, giving substance to those who say there has to be a significant independent investigation of these claims.
HOWELL: Director Comey has come under fire in the past, how he handled issues, like the Clinton e-mail situation, for one.
Is his credibility in question here?
LUCAS: I think people do remember what happened last October, that he really went against protocol when he said that the investigation into Clinton's e-mails had been reopened only days before the election. And that's going to reinforce his caution that, on the one hand, he's got congressmen on both sides, Democrats and Republicans, that will look at any point where they think he stepped over the line.
And then on the other hand, he's got to defend the independence of the FBI because Donald Trump has tried to push back and tried to contain the FBI and, indeed, other intelligence agencies by saying they're not legitimate.
Well, it's not just Comey but the FBI, whose reputation is on the line, just as Trump's reputation will be on the line in the weeks to come.
HOWELL: And when it comes to the United States and dealing with intelligence, certainly there has been that wiretapping claim, did get the ire from the United Kingdom.
How does that play out with the president continuing to double down on these unsubstantiated claims with no evidence to back them up?
LUCAS: Just when I think our jaws have dropped as far as they can go, he comes out with something and there's just -- they sink even further.
The willingness by Trump to alienate America's closest allies -- the British, the Germans in recent days -- simply because, one, he cannot stand any criticism; two, I think he's justifiably worried about the exposure of possible links to Russia, and three, just because he's unpredictable and has no filter on his thoughts, that's a really toxic combination.
And we see it in very serious areas. We've seen it in terms of NATO, we've seen it in terms of the position versus the Russians on key foreign policy issues.
But Trump's, as it were, Twitter tirades, they're sort of like the tip of an iceberg that is, I'm afraid, is going to sink America's reputation if it continues.
HOWELL: Scott Lucas, live for us in Birmingham, thank you so much for your insight. And we'll be back with you, I'm sure, to continue talking. LUCAS: Thank you.
HOWELL: Another provocation from North Korea. The nation now claiming to have made a great leap forward in their rocket development. Reports on state media say the regime has successfully tested a powerful new rocket engine.
Earlier, CNN spoke with our military analyst Mark Hertling about the technological significance of this test.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Some of these technologies which the North Koreans are including in their rocket expansion program actually have to do with a covert method of firing missiles without being detected in advance of actually exploding the devices. So that's part of the issue.
The other piece is, when you are talking about an intercontinental ballistic missile, the types of warheads and the amount of weight that are in the missile itself have to be launched off of a pad.
And the better they can improve their technology to do that, the more accurate these systems are going to be, not only from leaving the pad but also going into the atmosphere and then hitting the target on the other side.
So all of these things are steps in a grogram that continue to advance their technology.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: CNN's Will Ripley is live in Beijing, where the U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, just met with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.
And, Will, I have a feeling that what we just talked about was certainly on the table.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely. Secretary Tillerson has said repeatedly during this Asia trip, George, that North Korea is the most pressing concern that he faces right now. So that it has really dominated conversations in Japan, South Korea and here in China.
Yesterday he met with China's two leading diplomats. And while it was very pleasant statements that were made publicly, behind closed doors, very frank and candid exchanges.
And China and the United States have very different opinions about the best way to deal with North Korea. China would like to see the U.S. discontinue military exercises with South Korea that are ongoing right now. Pyongyang always gets very angry and we often see missile launches and these tests during those joint military exercises.
But the U.S. says these exercises are conducted in full transparency; they're a necessary part of two militaries learning how to work together and there is no plan to discontinue those exercises.
What the U.S. thinks China needs to do is to more heavily sanction, more heavily penalize North Korea for their ongoing nuclear and missile activity.
There was a United Nations report that showed that the North Korean regime, led by Kim Jong-un, has really found a way to get around sanctions and continue doing business with companies, including entities here in China in defiance of those U.N. sanctions.
So Secretary Tillerson was actually expected to say that if Beijing was not prepared to rein in North Korea, the U.S. could start slapping unilateral sanctions on these companies that are doing business with Kim Jong-un, which is certainly something China would not be happy about.
HOWELL: Will, this is a very important story. It's good to have you there in Beijing covering it. But I do want to pivot and kind of talk about the process for which it takes for a reporter to be there to cover the secretary of state. I know that he only traveled with one reporter on the plane.
Explain, the situation for journalists trying to travel, trying to follow and report on news with the secretary of state on big stories like this one, where the world wants information.
RIPLEY: It's been a very frustrating situation for the diplomatic press corps, which is accustomed traditionally to traveling with the secretary of state on a larger plane, allowing them to have access, conversations with staffers.
And in a country like China, where it's very difficult for journalists to get a visa to work on the ground here, traveling with the secretary of state would have allowed these seasoned diplomatic reporters to be able to cover the trip more extensively.
Thankfully, CNN has a bureau here. Other networks have managed to squeak out coverage in China and in South Korea and Japan. But it has been very frustrating. A lot of the diplomatic press corps have felt that it's been a struggle to uphold the right to freely report about the secretary of state.
So that's certainly something they are hoping the administration will re-examine, the State Department, moving forward.
HOWELL: CNN international correspondent, Will Ripley, live for us in the Chinese capital, Beijing, Will, thank you for your reporting. We'll stay in touch with you as well.
Japan is not taking any chances when it comes to North Korean aggression. That country is used to preparing for natural disasters. But now children are being taught how to react to a potential North Korean missile attack. Our Ivan Watson has this report.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Japanese schoolchildren at play, overseen by teachers who sometimes join in the fun until they're suddenly interrupted.
At the sound of the siren, children hit the deck and wait for further instructions.
"This is a drill," a loudspeaker announces, "a missile has been launched."
This is Japan's first missile evacuation exercises, a simulation preparing people for the threat of a possible North Korean missile strike against this country.
WATSON (on camera): The Japanese government is trying to demonstrate that as North Korea's missile program grows more sophisticated, communities like this could become a target.
When it's all over, a government official thanks the volunteers and promises the Japanese armed forces will do all they can --
WATSON (voice-over): -- to shoot down North Korean missiles. But earlier this month, neither Japan nor its U.S. and South Korean allies could stop North Korea from successfully firing at least four missiles in a single day, three of them landed in the sea less than 200 nautical miles from the small coastal town.
In this sleepy fishing port, locals are waking up to a growing threat.
"It's scary," says this fisherman who'd just hauled in freshly cut octopus. "You never know what the North Koreans might do next."
For some here, the missile exercise brings back painful memories.
"During World War II, we performed evacuation drills," 89-year-old Reinosuke Ishigaki (ph) tells me.
"We put on gas masks and dug tunnels to hide in and in the future, we might have to do that again."
The principal of the main elementary school here says his students need to be prepared for a manmade disaster.
"Usually we perform drills for natural disasters," he says.
"But the potential threat from a missile is beyond imagination."
In addition to its fresh air and sea foods, this remote corner of Japan is famous for Namahage, a fairytale monster that kept kids awake at night. But now, there's a very real threat that may leave everyone here losing sleep -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Oga, Japan.
(END VIDEOTAPE) HOWELL: Ivan Watson, thank you.
Some sad news to report, a big loss to the music world. The father of rock 'n' roll has died.
HOWELL (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) a foundational icon, we're talking about Chuck Berry, who was found dead at his home near St. Louis, Missouri, on Saturday. Berry's six-decade career included hits like "Sweet Little 16", "Johnny B. Goode" and "Rock 'n' Roll Music." Nischelle Turner has more on this rock 'n' roll legend.
NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chuck Berry was one of the pioneers of rock 'n' roll. His powerful guitar licks fueled hit songs such as "Johnny B. Goode" "Maybellene" and "Roll Over Beethoven."
During the '50s and '60s, Berry's music signaled a new era in rock 'n' roll. The singer's owes ability to seamlessly blend R&B and rock music made a strong impact on the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, to name a few.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very difficult for me to talk about Chuck Berry because I lifted every lick he ever played.
TURNER: Berry experienced a career resurgence in the mid-'80s and '90s. His music re-entered pop culture in films such as "Back to the Future" and "Pulp Fiction." In 1984, Berry received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a year later, he became the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame's first inductee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Berry.
CHUCK BERRY, ROCK LEGEND: God Almighty. God Almighty, thank you.
TURNER: On the heels of his induction, the Stones' Keith Richards invited a roster of great musicians to celebrate the rock icon's 60th birthday and then in 1987, Berry was humbled to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
BERRY: I cannot describe, I don't have the voice, I don't have the wind, I don't have the spirit, but believe me, I'll remember it the rest of my life.
TURNER: The married father of four repeatedly had trouble with the law. He was behind bars three times for charges ranging from attempted robbery to tax evasion and convicted of transporting an underage girl across state lines. However, Berry's career was not derailed.
BERRY: That margin of glory is not too high. That margin of defeat then is also not too low. So I lived right through it without any pain. TURNER: Berry received the Kennedy Center Honor Award in 2000 and continued to perform well into his 80s. His remarkable contributions to music will forever remain a part of rock 'n' roll history.
HOWELL: Chuck Berry dead at the age of 90 years old. NEWSROOM we'll be right back after this.
HOWELL: We're learning more about the attacker at an airport outside of Paris. French troops shot and killed the attacker after he tried to grab a soldier's rifle and put a gun to her head. He's been identified as Ziyed Ben Belgacem. We believe the 39-year-old also shot a police officer north of Paris earlier in the day. CNN's Melissa Bell has been tracking the story for us, is live with us in the French capital.
Melissa, what more do we know this hour?
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A much clearer picture of course now of precisely the series of events of yesterday, George. This man, Ziyed Ben Belgacem, began his rampage just before 7:00 am local time, shooting a police officer, as part a group of police officers, wounding one of them.
Police officers who tried to stop his car and check his identity papers. He then ditched that car after fleeing, carjacked another and made his way to Orly Airport, essentially bringing France's second biggest airport to a standstill for several hours.
We heard yesterday from Francois Monance (ph), who is the Paris prosecutor who gave us lots of details about the preliminary findings of the investigation, the fact that Ziyed Ben Belgacem was not only known for common crimes such as robbery or drug trafficking but had already come across intelligence services' radars for radicalization.
His home was searched back in 2015 after the terror attacks in which 130 people were killed but it was deemed that not enough was found and that level of surveillance was obviously not sufficient to prevent him acting yesterday.
Now one thing we don't know yet is exactly what he was intending to do. He'd set out from home, armed with this canister of petrol in his backpack and a lighter. We don't know what his initial intention was.
Where would he have headed, had he not been stopped by those policemen first thing in the morning?
That for the time being remains a mystery -- George.
HOWELL: Melissa Bell, live for us in Paris, Melissa, thank you for the reporting.
A story in China now, that nation has seen an incredible urbanization of its population within the past half-century and Shanghai is the perfect example. Derek Van Dam is here to tell us more about that -- Derek.
DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, George, there are geographers who study this phenomenon. And they have one word to describe what is happening here: incredible. Shanghai is the perfect example --
VAN DAM: -- of what is taking place with this urbanization. Just put this into perspective. Back in 1960, 16 percent of China's population lived in cities. Today, 56 percent of China's population, 770 million people, now living within city centers.
And even to put this into further perspective, the United States at last check, the census is at 318 million people, that's for the entire country. So we're talking about over double the population of the U.S. living within the major cities across China.
Let's break it down for Shanghai.
This is a NASA satellite image taken back in 1984. I show you this because you've got to see the urban sprawl. It's starting to begin in Shanghai. Let's fast forward to 2016.
You see that shading of gray that spreads west, north, east and south?
That is urbanization. That is what we see the population growth grow so quickly across this area. In fact, we saw over five times the square kilometerage of this particular area grow within that period, four decades, from 308 square kilometers back in 1984 to nearly 1,400 square kilometers back in 2015. Unbelievable to see what's happening in China.
What's also unbelievable is the rescue stories that are coming out of Peru. We keep showing you this footage, we keep talking about this story of the flooding in Peru because it needs to be highlighted.
This situation is very serious. Unfortunately, the death toll has climbed to 72. There are 811 communities under state of emergency across Peru at the moment and it's all thanks to the excessive rain that continues to fall.
HOWELL: Still ahead here, they are responsible for protecting the President of the United States. But the Secret Service has been suffering some major security problems lately. We'll have that story.
CNN is live from Atlanta, Georgia, on our networks both in the United States and around the world this hour. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. It is good to have you with us. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.
HOWELL: When it comes to protecting the President of the United States, the Secret Service has been facing a number of challenges, from a stolen laptop to leaked photos of the first family and a man making it inside the White House grounds, just some of those recent security breaches. Here's our Brynn Gingras with a closer look for us.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A stolen laptop potentially compromising the security at Trump Tower in New York is the latest setback for the Secret Service. A senior law enforcement source confirms an agent's computer was stolen out of her car in New York City Thursday.
On it, floor plans and evacuation protocols for Trump Tower. Sources say the laptop was highly encrypted, but it can't be traced or erased remotely. A spokesman for the department says there is no classified information on the computer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did had a really bad week.
GINGRAS: Two agents are also the subject of an internal investigation after being accused of photographing the president's grandson. The entire Trump family and their children receive protection and sources say the agents took pictures of Donald Trump Jr.'s son as he was sleeping while being driven around New York City. This comes as we are learning new details about a security
breach at the White House where an intruder spent at least 15 minutes evading security on White House grounds while inching closer to the president.
According to a Secret Service source, 26-year-old Jonathan Tran scaled a Treasury Department fence last Friday and set off several alarms. But still managed to sneak past a Secret Service security post before being caught in the inner portion of the White House grounds.
A criminal complaint shows he was carrying two cans of mace and was walking close to the exterior walls of the White House while the president was home. Trump praised the Secret Service's response.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Secret Service today, fantastic job. It was a troubled person. Very sad.
GINGRAS: But former Secret Service Agent Jonathan Wackrow says the breach is disturbing.
JONATHAN WACKROW, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT FOR OBAMA: He was able to beat the physical security measures at the White House, the technological security measures and the human capital, the uniformed guards and that's very alarming.
GINGRAS: Now a House Oversight Committee wants the breach investigated, writing, quote, "If true, these allegations raise questions about whether the agency's security protocols are adequate."
WACKROW: All of these things are embarrassments to the Secret Service and --
WACKROW: -- compounding that problem is that there's no director of the Secret Service right now. Joe Clancy has retired and there's no acting director. So really the onus is on DHS.
GINGRAS: Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.
HOWELL: Thank you for the report.
The U.S. president wants to substantially increase military funding while making massive cuts to other agencies. And that could mean trouble for parents with children enrolled in after-school programs in the United States. Our Gary Tuchman reports.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the students at the S.L. Lewis Elementary School in College Park, Georgia, the school day is done. But the learning is not over. More than 130 of the students, most of whom live in low-income households, are part of an after school program called Wings for Kids. It's called Wings because the goal of the program is to encourage kids to soar. They learn, they socialize, they have snacks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three, two, one.
TUCHMAN: They even have their own creed. But under President Trump's new proposed federal budget, Wing's primary source of funding would be eliminated. There are 11 Wings for Kids programs in three states with about 1,600 children participating. Bridget Laird is the CEO.
How does that make you feel?
BRIDGET LAIRD, CEO WINGS FOR KIDS: It makes me feel devastated. I've been with this organization for 19 years and thinking about the kids losing this program really honestly breaks my heart.
TUCHMAN: Wings for Kids gets $1.6 million a year from the federal program called 21st Century Learning Centers. That program receives about $1.2 billion a year from the federal government that it then gives out to after-school organizations across the country. All of that money would disappear under the president's budget plan.
What will that do to you?
LAIRD: It will eliminate our programs. We will not be able to have the programs that we have operating in the fashion that they do and our kids will no longer be able to come to the program. They will go either home to unsupervised houses or their parents will be required to quit their jobs and stay home with them.
TUCHMAN: Jessica Williams has two daughters in the program. What happens if it goes away?
JESSICA WILLIAMS, MOTHER: I really don't know how I could -- I don't know. I will be lost.
TUCHMAN: President Trump's budget director declared there was no demonstrable evidence that after-school programs help kids do better in school, but the people in charge here demonstrably disagree.
The CEO says her organization participated in a four-year long controlled study and says it clearly showed --
LAIRD: Increases in positive behavior, decreases in negative behavior.
TUCHMAN: As for the elementary schoolers -- what do you like best about Wings for Kids?
TAYLOR LAMBERT, FIFTH GRADER: Building friendships with some of my friends.
TUCHMAN: Is it fun to be here too?
AMADO RANGEL, THIRD GRADER: Of course. It's a good place to learn and it's fun to know everything. And there's a lot of fun you can do and activities.
TUCHMAN: You like hanging out with your friends?
RANGEL: Very much.
TUCHMAN: And they seemed blissfully unaware that it could be going away soon -- Gary Tuchman, CNN, College Park, Georgia.
HOWELL: Gary, thank you.
Still ahead, fighting an endless drought and now famine. Four countries are facing a dire emergency. We'll hear how aid workers are trying to stave off a disaster -- next.
HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.
Millions of people could starve to death without emergency help. The United Nations says the communities suffering in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Kenya are facing a devastating famine. Some areas are dealing with years of ongoing fighting. Other regions have seen little rain there and there's no end in sight for the drought.
The U.N. leaders are calling the situation the worst humanitarian crisis that has been seen in decades. Let's see how aid workers are trying to prevent disaster. Jeremy Cole is here on set with us, the managing director for the southeast region of UNICEF USA.
Thank you so much for being with us, Jeremy. So I want to show our viewers, just if we could, the images that we saw, just a portion of a moment ago but these images, you get a sense of exactly what people are dealing with there on the ground.
Can you tell us exactly what your teams are seeing, what they're dealing with as well, to help the people like this child?
JEREMY COLE, UNICEF USA: Absolutely I can. This is a humanitarian crisis that's only going to get worse unless we act now; 1.4 million children in just four countries today are under imminent risk at starving to death. We've got to get them food.
And UNICEF has been around for 70 years. We just celebrated our 70th birthday. We've been doing this work, we respond to over 200 emergencies every year. And really the core of our work is putting children first.
So what we want to do in this crisis is make sure that these children get the food that they need, the nutrition that they need to survive, because we believe in a world where no child should die from not having enough to eat.
HOWELL: How difficult is it for your teams there on the ground?
COLE: It's very challenging. These are complex environments for us. The more -- there's -- more political conflict there is, the more difficult it is. Our UNICEF workers are tremendous. They're heroes in the field, they're working in these difficult circumstances to deliver aid directly to kids.
The other things we do is we work with governments. That's what's very unique about UNICEF's work is that we're working to deal with these issues on a long-term basis. So we're not going to see this again in two years and three years and four years. We've got to feed the kids now and then we've got to build systems so that these kids are never hungry again.
HOWELL: This is an interesting time in our world. Just over the last several years, we've seen the largest migration that the world has seen since World War II.
COLE: That's right.
HOWELL: How does a group like UNICEF respond to that?
COLE: Yes, 50 million children on the run. The most since World War II. The first thing to say is that these are not refugees, they're not migrants, they're not displaced people. For us and for the world, they should be children, children first.
These are children who need our support, children on the run. Children just like our children, George, yours and mine, who want to snuggle a teddy bear at night, who want to have an education, who have dreams to build a better world for our world. And we need to help them. We need to support them. We need to provide what they need at point of origin, in transport, when they're moving --
COLE: -- from one country to another and wherever they arrive. That's what UNICEF is doing. We have the expertise, we can have the scope, we have the reach to do that work. But we need support. We need support to do this work.
HOWELL: This is a time where the demand, as we are talking about here, as you explained, is quite high. But at the same time it's a time where nations are shifting their priorities. The recent budget that's being suggested by the president, Donald Trump, would lead to major cuts in U.S. foreign aid to groups like UNICEF.
What does that mean?
If this type of budget, if it were to be approved, what would that mean for efforts like your group to help these children, to help the many people around the world?
COLE: I would make two points on that. The first point is that children know no politics. UNICEF is an apolitical organization. You've got starving children, you've got children on the run, we need to support them. It's the right thing to do.
But the second point I make is that it's the smart thing to do. Investing in children, investing in the resilience of children and the dreams of children, this is good for our global security, our national security, it's good for security within countries, it's a smart thing to do.
And what we need to do is draw on the spirit of the great philanthropic spirit of our country, public and private support, to provide for those most in need.
HOWELL: But under a budget like this, that would be even more important, correct?
COLE: Potentially challenging but which means all the more reason that we need the American people to step up and to raise their voices for children. We need to build a movement for children so that we know that investing in children is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.
HOWELL: Jeremy Cole with UNICEF, thank you for being with us to explain what your group is doing around the world. We appreciate it.
COLE: Thank you, George.
CNN NEWSROOM will be right back after the break.
HOWELL: The man you see right there, he was known as the father of rock 'n' roll. Chuck Berry, he's died at the age of 90 years old. Berry had a career spanning more than half a century with hits like "Sweet Little 16," "Johnny B. Goode" and "Rock 'n' Roll Music."
His music, influence his and performance style have been both widespread and enduring. Legends like Elvis and The Beatles covered his songs. Chuck Berry was one of the first inductees into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
We have this from Bruce Springsteen, "Chuck Berry was rock's greatest practitioner, guitarist and the greatest pure rock 'n' roll writer who ever lived. This is a tremendous loss of a giant for the ages."
HOWELL: Earlier our colleague, Cyril Vanier, spoke with entertainment journalist Segun Oduolowu about the legacy of Chuck Berry.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Joining me now is Segun Oduolowu, an entertainment journalist and pop culture contributor to Access Hollywood Live.
Segun, each time I talk to you, an artist has died; Prince, George Michael, David Bowie, they were all people who were just not very successful, they were also artists who broke the mold. They influenced generations of others. Tell us about Chuck Berry.
SEGUN ODUOLOWU, ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: Well, Chuck Berry is an icon. And it is a pleasure to be joining you, Cyril, I wish it was under better circumstances. But Chuck Berry would have to go down as one of the godfathers if not the godfather of rock 'n' roll.
If you imagine his guitar licks, his instrumentation, hiss songwriting, influenced The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and, of course, Elvis Presley. So there is no rock 'n' roll without Chuck Berry.
VANIER: That's interesting because I was talking to the team in the control room and the team that produces the show.
And I said, hey, guys, what is your favorite song?
And some people said we're not that old.
He doesn't necessarily resonate that much with a younger generation.
ODUOLOWU: Well, I think what is --
ODUOLOWU: -- lost on the younger generation is the history of music. So you don't have Led Zeppelin, Guns N' Roses, (INAUDIBLE) --
ODUOLOWU: -- any of the bands that people love today or listen to, they don't have that without Chuck Berry.
And if you've haven't seen "Back to the Future," with Michael J. Fox doing the Chuck Berry duck walk and playing "Johnny B. Goode" in the movie, then you really haven't lived. Chuck Berry is an icon from all corners of the world. His music and the music of rock 'n' roll has spread.
VANIER: That's what's interesting. He's one of those artists, even though -- even if you don't listen to him specifically, probably what you are listening to today, there has been some influence from him.
ODUOLOWU: Absolutely. If you think about it, rock 'n' roll music is rebellious music. It's revolutionary music. And, at the time that Chuck Berry and Little Richard and other icons were just formulating this type of anger against the system and putting it into their music and telling where they came from, it speaks to everybody.
So you could be a reggae artist in Jamaica that guitar spoke to you and you get some Bob Marley music. You could be English kids and The Beatles are influenced, the Stones are influenced, The Who is influenced. You can be a white kid in California and the Beach Boys are hearing guitar licks from Chuck Berry and it's being woven into their music. So Chuck Berry is the fabric of rock 'n' roll. You don't have this music without him.
VANIER: Now that's fascinating. Tell me about the revolutionary rebellious side.
ODUOLOWU: Well, sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, they never existed more closely than in one man. You think of --
ODUOLOWU: -- those three terms. He was arrested. He had battles with substance abuse. But the music was that underlying passion and that rebellion against the system.
Chuck actually said, I lived in the middle. I never got too high, I never got too low with the career. And he was still playing shows into his 80s. So that gives you an idea about how much that music meant to him, how much it stirred his soul and, I think, kept him young.
VANIER: All right, Segun Oduolowu, we thank you so much. And I make you a promise. Next time we speak it won't be, even though this is a celebration of Chuck Berry's life, it won't be after a passing. We'll find another topic. I make that promise. Thank you very much, Segun.
HOWELL: And before we go, one other thing about Chuck Berry that you may not have known. Decades ago, when the U.S. Space Agency launched the Voyager space probes, they included a sort of time capsule meant for whoever or whatever might find them.
And in it, NASA sent a record album of some of the most well-known music on Earth. And Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" was included in that album. The Voyager probes are still hurtling through space nearly 40 years later, with Chuck Berry's musing waiting to be discovered by someone -- or dare we say something.
HOWELL: It is cool to think that music is out there playing in outer space.
Thank you so much for being with us for CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. For our viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is next. For other viewers around the world, "BELIEVER" with Reza Aslan starts in just a moment. We thank you for watching CNN, the world news leader.