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Washington Post: Kushner Proposed Secret Line To Kremlin; Sources: Comey Acted On Russian Intel He Knew Was Fake; British Airways Grounds Flights Amid "Global System Outage"; World Leaders Pressure Trump On Climate Change; Two Stabbed After Trying To Stop Anti-Muslim Rant; Electronics Ban May Expand To Flights Leaving US. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired May 27, 2017 - 08:00   ET




SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): -- scientists used to think that exercising at night is bad for sleep that only early morning workouts improve your snooze. Now the say listen to your internal body clock. If you're a night owl, evening workouts can be just as good. What's important is that you just get up and go to catch some better z's.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law proposed setting up a secret means of communicating with the kremlin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: White House has declined to comment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me that sounds an awful lot like colluding with an adversary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't make a whole lot of sense for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All you have to do is talk to anybody in the Russian embassy and it will lead you back to Moscow.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Jared Kushner going rogue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a pattern of senior Trump officials concealing conversations with Russian spies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are all these guys doing this? Are they doing to it protect themselves or Trump?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a feeling that Jared is going to do a great job. He's going to do a great job. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, up and at them on a Saturday morning. Good morning to you. I am Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Happy to be with you. New reporting in "The Washington Post," that Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser proposed setting up a secret means of communicating with the kremlin.

PAUL: The "Post" reports the requests came from intercepts of conversations between the Russia's ambassador to the United States and Moscow. But three people with knowledge of the discussion tell "New York Times" that the line was meant to be used to discuss strategy in Syria and on policy issues.

BLACKWELL: "The Post" reported that Kushmer made the proposal to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during an early December meeting at Trump Tower to use Russian diplomatic facilities in an effort to shield pre-inauguration discussions, according to U.S. officials. Here's what "The Washington Post" reporter who broke the story is telling CNN.


ADAM ENTOUS, STAFF WRITER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Basically you had a meeting in New York, Kislyak comes up to see Jared Kushner and to see Mike Flynn. Jared is the one who sets up the meeting and Flynn is invited a few days later.

And during that discussion according to Kislyak's account you basically have Jared Kushner proposing the idea of having a secure private communications channel and Jared actually proposes doing so at a Russian facility, specifically the Russian Embassy in Washington, which Kislyak according to his reporting at home was he was taken aback by that. He thought that was a bizarre suggestion.


BLACKWELL: The White House has not commented on the report from "The Post." At this point, Kushner is not a target of the probe and there are no allegations of wrongdoing.

PAUL: Want to be clear about that. All of this comes as President Trump's overseas trip is drawing to a close today. He spent this morning attending a G7 round table. In a few hours, he is going to speak to U.S. troops at an air base in Sicily before heading back to Washington. The ongoing investigation, though, certainly hanging over the White House as he returns.

CNN senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, live for us in Sicily. Jeff, what are you hearing there about the headlines that we're seeing here in the U.S.?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, there's no question that the headlines that you are seeing in the U.S. are indeed reverberating here. I am told that the president has been following this moment by moment, every incremental detail here.

Of course, it is stacking up and waiting for him when he returns to Washington. He is having meetings as you said this morning. He is going through the motions here. One thing about the Russia investigation, his reluctance to talk about the country at all has actually given some concern and worry among European leaders here.

They are looking for this U.S. president, new U.S. president to speak out against the invasion into Ukraine, Crimea, the aggression of the Russian president. So the silence of Russia, which is a strategy for the White House is playing out to a different degree.

But the lawyer for Jared Kushner issued a statement about the story that you just talked about. Let's look at that statement. It says this. It says "Mr. Kushner participated in thousands of calls in this time period. He has no recollection of the calls as described.

We have asked Reuters for the dates of such alleged calls so we may look into it and respond, but we have not yet received such information." So they are not denying he made these phone calls, but they said they simply don't have the information.

But they do stress that he is not a target of the investigation. The reality here is, this Russia investigation has grown and deepened in the week that the president has been away. So again, he comes back to this as being one of his many, many things that are waiting for him when he returns to the White House tonight.

PAUL: It certainly does. Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

[08:05:04]BLACKWELL: Let's bring in Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun Times," Lynn Sweet. Lynn, good morning to you. There are several reports here we want to discuss. So let's start with "The Washington Post" that Jared Kushner wanted to initiate this secret line of communication with the kremlin.

It is 2:00 p.m. where the president is. There's not been a response from the White House via Twitter from the president and as Jeff Zeleny just said, the president is following every incremental detail of this. What do you glean from silence from the White House and the president?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "CHICAGO SUN TIMES": Well, I glean from this that somehow there's some discipline that President Trump has imposed upon himself or has imposed on him because of all of the stories and reports from the unfolding Russian saga, this one is the most damaging if not legally then politically.

It is hard to see how Jared can continue in the world he has without this allegation hanging over him being a major distraction. Having said that, Victor, the silence from the Trump camp is better if you look at the damage that could be done if Trump starts tweeting out things that could get him in further hot water.

These tweets aren't harmless right now when you talk about potential obstruction of justice, what Trump was involved in. The tweets could be used against him. Serious turn of events, so from the Trump staff team perspective, nothing is better than the wrong thing.

BLACKWELL: All right, so you make a good point here, your question is how can Jared Kushner continue in his role as senior adviser? Some have called him the secretary of everything. His portfolio includes China, updating the government innovation, mid-east peace, Mexico.

Let's put up the three members of the Trump administration who have been part of this Russia investigation, this discussion, and let's start with Michael Flynn who had to resign after the truth came out about his communications with Sergey Kislyak.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the truth came out about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, and those meetings that he had, he had to recuse himself from the investigation.

What does a Kushner, I guess, consequence mean to the White House, considering he is so involved with so many topics on the president's agenda?

SWEET: Well, we could take it from the most basic, his judgment. "The Washington Post" story had an interesting line in it, Victor, this could have been the most naive stumble into a situation. Why this is so dangerous for Jared is that no matter what they want to discuss, policy or otherwise, the idea that you would even suggest using a Russian so-called secure line, which is not secure for the Russians.

It means the Russians would know what you're talking about and not your own team, so talk about the height of naivety. What judgment is this of somebody that has in his portfolio all of the items you just mentioned.

So the functionality of Jared Kushner is now I think in question because the prudent course of events is to leave this to your lawyer and not talk about it, not say anything.

He is not much of a talkative public figure anyway, but this is the president's top adviser. Now he has a big cloud hanging over him personally in the worst potential scandal of the administration.

BLACKWELL: Yes, in the discussion of naivety, to expect that the Russians would disclose how they have those secret communications to the president's senior adviser, and that the FBI would not see Kushner or whomever the designee was to go and have those conversations may expose some of that naivety. Lynn Sweet, thanks so much for being with us. We will continue the conversation through the day.

SWEET: Thank you, Victor.


PAUL: And there is more breaking news to talk about. New revelations that fired FBI Director James Comey acted on Russian intel he knew to be false while investigating Hillary Clinton's e-mail during the 2016 campaign.

BLACKWELL: CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, has those details.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christi, CNN has learned that then FBI Director James Comey knew that a critical piece of Russian information related to the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation was fake.

But he felt that he needed to take action anyway because he was concerned that if the information became public it would undermine the investigation and the Justice Department itself. This is according to multiple sources talking to my colleague, Shimon Prokupecz, Gloria Borger, and myself.

These concerns were a major factor in Comey deciding to publicly declare that the Clinton probe was over last summer without consulting then Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

[08:10:05]Now you may remember earlier this week "The Washington Post" reported on this intelligence and doubts about its credibility.

The fact that Comey felt he had to act based on Russian disinformation is a stark example of how Russian interference impacted decision- making at the highest levels of the U.S. government during the 2016 campaign.

The Russian information at issue claimed to show that the Attorney General Lynch had been compromised in the Clinton investigation because of emails between then DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and a political operative saying that Lynch would make the FBI probe into Clinton go away.

Now according to one government official in classified briefings, Comey told lawmakers he was afraid that the information would, quote, "drop and undermine the investigation," but Comey didn't tell lawmakers that he doubted the accuracy of that information even in a classified setting a few months ago.

According to sources close to Comey the FBI director felt that the validity of the information didn't matter because if it became public they had no way to discredit it without burning sources and methods.

Now think about the chain of events all of this help sent off. When Comey held his press conference in July of 2016 announcing no charges against Clinton, he also took an extraordinary and what many people say inappropriate step of calling her extremely careless.

Clinton aides are convinced that her reputation was damaged with voters and she never recovered. Now that probably wouldn't have happened without Russian interference. Also talking to many officials on Capitol Hill and elsewhere dissemination of fake information is still a major issue.

Multiple sources tell us that Russia is still trying to spread false information in order to clout and confuse ongoing investigations -- Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All righty, Dana, thank you so much. Three big headlines this morning and all three involving Russia. We will take you live to Moscow and see what their reaction is this morning.

BLACKWELL: Also, two men have been stabbed to death after trying to stop an anti-Muslim rant in Portland, Oregon. One other man tried to stop that attack and you're going to see the cell phone video recorded in the aftermath.

PAUL: Also we know so many of you are hitting the road for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The Trump administration is considering tightening security in the skies meantime. How some new regulations regarding that electronics ban may affect what happens in the next few days? Stay close.



BLACKWELL: This morning, Russia is watching the headlines regarding President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner's contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. "The Washington Post" is reporting that Kushner wanted to establish a secret means of communications with the kremlin.

PAUL: CNN's Claire Sebastian live for us from Moscow this hour. So what are you hearing from Russian leaders there?

CLAIRE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, Russia not (inaudible) to kind of reemphasize that sense of political chaos in Washington. The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman this morning, calling that report by "The Washington Post" quite McCarthyism or simply internal political squabbles.

We followed up with a question on whether the Foreign Ministry was aware that Jared Kushner had made this request for a secret communication channel, secure communication channel as reported by "The Post."

We have seen that the ministry was since the original report came from an intercept of communications between the Russian ambassador in Washington, Sergey Kislyak, and his superiors in Moscow, she would not be drawn on that.

But I think it's interesting we're seeing increasing level of exasperation in the rhetoric here in Moscow as a stream of Russia related news comes out of Washington. The same Foreign Ministry spokeswoman warning that the U.S. media should stop spreading lies about the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

It had from President Putin the previous week has called allegations that President Trump had revealed classified intel to Russian officials in the oval office, called that political schizophrenia.

And all the while, the Russians are closely watching to see any coherent strategy or policy as relates to Russia come out of Washington. We know that President Trump today is wrapping up his first overseas trip at the G7, they'll be closely watching that for any kind of comments as it relates to Russia, be it Syria, Ukraine, or the issue of sanctions.

So you know, while they continue to dismiss reports about this, they're closely watching for how the politics and policy behind the situation will develop -- Christi.

PAUL: No doubt. Claire Sebastian, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: All right, Lynwood Michael Kaine, son of Virginia senator and former vice presidential nominee, Tim Kaine, is now facing several misdemeanor charges. He is charged with fleeing on foot, concealing identity in a public place, and obstructing the legal process by interfering with a peace officer.

Now the obstruction charge carries a possible sentence up to a year in prison and fine as much as $3,000. This all comes out of his arrest in March after an incident at a pro-Trump rally.

Kaine was in his group and some in his group reportedly used smoke bombs and maze at the rally. Police officers said that they tried to run but they were caught a block away. Now the county initially declined to press charges against Kaine and five others, but the St. Paul city attorney charged Kaine yesterday following an investigation.

PAUL: I want to tell you that former U.S. national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has died. He served under President Jimmy Carter during the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 70s.

[08:20:02]President Carter described Brzezinski as a superb public servant saying in a statement, quote, "He was brilliant, dedicated and loyal and remained a close adviser to my work at Carter Center. I will miss him."

His death was announced on Instagram by his daughter, MSNBC's Mike Brzezinski. She calls him, quote, "The most inspiring, loving and devoted father any girl could ever have. He was 89 years old. Certainly our thoughts and prayers go out to Mika.

BLACKWELL: President Trump is wrapping up his first international trip abroad, but he'll return to a White House many say is in crisis. Can he right the ship and stay focused? The newest challenges facing his administration are next.

PAUL: And world leaders team up to pressure President Trump when it comes to climate change. Can they convince him to change his mind?



PAUL: All week long you wait for the weekend. Sometimes Saturday morning still comes early. We are glad to have you here. I am Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you. New threads now popping up in the Russia investigation. "The Washington Post" putting out one of three big headlines in just the last 16 hours. You see the others from Reuters and "New York Times."

But from the "Post," President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is also a senior adviser, proposed a secret communication channel with the kremlin at a meeting last December. This morning, the "New York Times" says it was to discuss strategy in Syria and policy issues.

The meeting was attended by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Listen to what CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem, told us this could mean just last hour.


JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: This is not a back channel as people in that law enforcement and national security community came to sort of understand back channel. Back channel is actually a president or president-elect uses the resources of government to sort of secretly start a communication with a country, let's say Cuba or Burma to begin to lay ground work for more public diplomacy.

This is Jared going rogue. But the idea that the Russians were going to open up their own apparatus, intelligence apparatus to a 30 something son-in-law of a president-elect is just -- it so defies any sort of good explanation, that the best explanation for Kushner at this stage is he is incredibly naive.


PAUL: Now the FBI investigation into President Trump's Russia ties has been inching closer to the White House as you know. At this point, Kushner is not a target of the probe. There are no allegations that he committed any wrongdoing, want to be very clear about that.

But the latest report certainly could serve as yet another distraction as the president meets with world leaders at the G7 Summit in Italy today. Just last hour, they sat down for a working lunch, pictures from that. Before the president heads back to the U.S., he will speak to American soldiers stationed nearby later today.

BLACKWELL: CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, is there in Sicily. Nic, any reaction to this newest reporting from the "Post," "Times," and Reuters on Jared Kushner?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, Victor, as you know, President Trump isn't giving a press conference here, his national security adviser did give an on the record briefing last night, H.R. McMaster when he was asked about Jared Kushner's connections with the Russian ambassador in Washington, he declined to answer that. He said we are here at the G7. We are focusing on that. He indeed shut down that question. We do know, however, that Reuters is reporting from their sources which are seven former and current U.S. officials that they say between April last year and November last year that Jared Kushner had undisclosed contacts, yes, undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak in Washington that included at least two phone calls.

Now his lawyer has said, Jamie Gorelick, said that at this time he had thousands of communications with many, many different people at that particular time. Again, Reuters is concluding this new round of reporting that this doesn't indicate Kushner has done anything wrong at this stage.

This is just another detail layering upon information that "The Washington Post" has already published. As I say from here, H.R. McMaster shutting down a question on that last night.

BLACKWELL: Yes, same thing coming from Gary Kohn yesterday as well. Nic Robertson there for us in Sicily. Thanks so much.

PAUL: Meanwhile, world leaders are looking to the United States for an answer on the climate change accord. The president tweeted about that very issue. We will talk about that in a moment.

BLACKWELL: Also police say two men are stabbed to death trying to stop an anti-Muslim rant. What the suspect yelled at officers when they tracked him down. You'll see the video.


[08:31:03] PAUL: Here's some breaking news we want to share with you right now. Major delays for British airway passengers. The airline says they are experiencing a "global system outage." I know, it doesn't sound good.

British Airways says it's grounded all flights from London airport, Heathrow and Gatwick. This statement was released by the airline just a short time ago. They say, we apologize to customers who are facing some delays following an IT outage. We're working to resolve the problem as quickly as possible. But, again, all flights grounded out of London this hour. We'll bring you more information, of course, as it develops. And happy travels to you.


TRUMP: We're going to cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop - unbelievable. And stop all payments of the United States tax dollars to UN global warming programs.


BLACKWELL: That was then candidate Trump determined there during the campaign. One of the several times that he said he would cancel the Paris climate agreement. But now, after pressure from world leaders at the G7 Summit, his aides say that the president is - and this a quote - evolving on climate change.

And just moments ago, really just minutes ago, the president tweeted this. I will make my final decision on the Paris accord next week.

Now, this comes after several announcements of a decision that have been delayed. But really no matter what decision he makes, it's likely to further divide this administration that's already dealing with so many issues.

Stephen Moore, CNN senior economist - an economics analyst, I should say, and former economic advisor to the Trump campaign, and Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, they're both with us this morning.

[08:35:15] Good morning to you. And Stephen, I want to start with you. You have advised that the president should withdraw from the agreement. Are you confident that he will after the evolving that we're hearing from his aides?

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: Well, I sure hope he keeps his promise. And you just played that clip of what Donald Trump said on the campaign trail. I heard him say it dozens of times when I traveled with him and I think it's an important promise to keep.

The American people want jobs first. They want high wages. We want to rebuild our economy.

This is a climate change deal that we've done some analysis at The Heritage Foundation that finds that it would dramatically increase the cost of energy in America. American consumers and families would pay thousands of dollars a year more for electricity prices and so on.

And it would put at risk potentially millions of jobs. We'd become an energy powerhouse with respect to shale oil and gas and we don't want to put those jobs at risk.

So, if this is going to hurt jobs, then absolutely no. We should not do this deal. And I think the American people agree with that.

BLACKWELL: Let me come back to jobs in a moment. But, Elizabeth, something you wrote for "The New Yorker" not too long ago. I want to put it up on the screen.

You wrote this that this administration has already passed up the chance to make the right decision on Paris. The only choices that remain are different shades of wrong. Explain.

ELIZABETH KOLBERT, AUTHOR OF THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY: Well, the administration has already taken steps to roll back some of the changes that the Obama administration had put in place.

For example, greater fuel efficiency standards for cars that were part of the US' commitments under Paris. So, it's going to be very difficult for the US to meet its obligations under Paris. So, it's simply going to - even if it stays in the agreement, which I think would be a good idea, and I have to beg to differ that it would cost a lot of jobs.

In fact, the president's own economic advisor, currently on the plane back from Sicily, made the same point that we are already in an energy transition right now. In fact, a transition to natural gas is part of the Paris accord.

BLACKWELL: Let me come to you with the question about jobs and I want to play what the Director of the Office of Management and Budget Rick Mulvaney - or Mick Mulvaney said just a few months ago about the priorities of this administration. Let's watch.


MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: Regarding the question as to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward. We're not spending money on that anymore.

We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that. So, that is a specific tie to his campaign.


BLACKWELL: And the White House has set up this dichotomy between policies relating to climate and job growth. There are clean energy jobs. And that sector is growing, is it not?

MOORE: Well, actually -

Sorry, is that to me or -?

BLACKWELL: Yes, that's to you, Stephen.

MOORE: No. All the jobs that are being created right now are in the fossil fuel industry. We're seeing massive increases in the number of people who are working in the oil and gas industry.

And by the way, Donald Trump has fulfilled one of his promises where he said he would rebuild the coal industry in America. We've seen 45,000 increased jobs in mining just since Donald Trump took office.

I traveled around - to a lot of these coal towns in America that were decimated by Obama's regulations that just destroyed communities and families. And this is the kind of cost that we would see throughout the economy with this kind of climate change fanaticism that the left is propagating on America.

Look, if you look at opinion polls, it's very clear. The top two concerns of Americans are jobs and the economy and wages. Climate changes is somewhere like 20, 25 on the list of what people are concerned about.

We shouldn't pay $100 billion. That is essentially a payment that America has to make for the rest of world. $100 billion. Can you think of how many jobs we could create in America with $100 billion?

BLACKWELL: So, Elizabeth, I didn't get an answer there from Stephen on the clean energy jobs. I did see - and we put up on the screen. Just to be fair, the numbers of growth in the mining industry that had been 31,000 since inauguration, about 46,000 since the election.

Elizabeth, to you, what do you make of that job growth in the mining sector? And also, what's your degree of confidence that the president will withdraw or stay in this Paris accord?

KOLBERT: Everyone agrees - and this includes high-level members - executives in the fossil fuel industry that we need to transition to clean energy. And coal is the energy of the past and, obviously, renewable is the energy of the future.

If we want to prop up these jobs, that's precisely what the Trump administration vowed not to do, to sort of go backwards. We want to go forwards. And propping up coal is just - according to all economic analyses - the wrong way to go.

[08:40:10] Now, in terms of what the Trump administration is going to do, that is anybody's guess. They have sent very mixed signals on that.

BLACKWELL: We've got to wrap with this.

MOORE: One quick thing.

BLACKWELL: We've got to wrap with this. Unfortunately, we've got to wrap it.

MOORE: Turn it over to the Senate and let the Senate ratify this as a treaty. Let's see if they can get the 67 votes.

BLACKWELL: Thank you both.

PAUL: Well, policy say two men have been stabbed to death after trying to stop an anti-Muslim rant. Next, as (inaudible 0:42), sympathy on the rise. One group says, the president could help stop them.



[08:45:00] CHASE ROBINSON, ATTACK WITNESS: Again, it happened so fast, but it looked like every punch that I saw was actually a stab.


BLACKWELL: Chase Robinson thought what he was watching was a fistfight, but in fact that witness saw two men getting stabbed to death on a commuter train. This was in Portland, Oregon.

PAUL: Now, this happened as they tried to confront a passenger who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs at two other passengers. The suspect, 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian is facing two charges of aggravated murder and several other charges now this morning.

Police say he may have been targeting two young women, one of them wearing a hijab. And that's when several people tried to intervene and that's when they were stabbed.

Now, one man died at the scene. The other died at the hospital. A third man was also stabbed after he tried to help. He is expected to survive, but the suspect was caught after he left the train and yelled at officers to shoot him. Police say they are considering his remarks to be hate speech.

Ibrahim Hooper is with us now. He is with the - national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Mr. Hooper, we appreciate you being here. Thank you. What is your reaction first of all to this?

IBRAHIM HOOPER, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: I think this is just representative unfortunately of the overall rise in bigotry in our nation within the last months in a year, particularly during the presidential campaign and since the election in November.

We've seen minorities increasingly targeted with violence and hate speech. American Muslims have been targeted. Mosques have been targeted, but also African-Americans, Hispanics, refugees, immigrants.

There's an overall rise in bigotry unfortunately (inaudible 1:48) to a large degree by president's - President Trump's rhetoric, his appointments, his policy proposals. These things have led to an atmosphere in our society in which it seems to be acceptable to target the minorities.

PAUL: So, Mr. Hooper, what would you say to the president if you could sit down with him? Do you think he could alleviate some of the problems here?

HOOPER: Yes. He needs to speak out directly and forcefully against this rising tide of bigotry. When the person at the top sets the tone either in a negative way or a positive way, it makes a difference. And he really needs to speak out against particularly anti-Muslim bigotry as we saw in this case.

So often, we see American-Muslim women, who wear headscarves or Islamic attire, targeted in this way. But you see in this case, it wasn't just Muslims who were targeted. This person was apparently ranting about different groups as well.

PAUL: He attacked people who tried intervene to help.

HOOPER: It's really representative of the phenomenon we're seeing where all minority groups are being targeted, and particularly American Muslims at this time when the president and his administration is really focusing on Islam and Muslims.

PAUL: Ibrahim Hooper with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, thank you for sharing your perspective with us this morning. We appreciate it. BLACKWELL: Well, short of a physical violence, maybe you've seen the videos on commuter train, in airport, even at a grocery store, more and more of these racist rants seem to be happening in public.

PAUL: Not only in public, but then they're being recorded on smartphones and uploaded online. So, you might be wondering what's driving this and could in some way spark a positive change.

Here's Polo Sandoval.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A series of racist rants in public -


SANDOVAL: - and on camera.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They need to go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) back to Mexico.

SANDOVAL: A woman in a Virginia Sprint store hurled a racial slur at a fellow customer.


SANDOVAL: In Arkansas -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said excuse me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go back to where you're from.

SANDOVAL: Go back to Mexico is what this Walmart shopper told another.


SANDOVAL: She fired the "N" word at a woman looking to interject.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop being ignorant.


SANDOVAL: Then there's what Orlando resident, Hector Torres, captured on his phone at the Reno airport last week.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut up. Shut up.

HECTOR TORRES, ORLANDO RESIDENT: Wow. Unbelievable. Mike, that is sad.

I just go had to document it.

SANDOVAL: Torres telling CNN he was speaking Spanish to his Puerto Rican mother on the phone when things got heated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Explain what I did to you one more time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talking that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) stupid Spanish around here when everybody else is (EXPLETIVE DELETED) English speaking American.

SANDOVAL: Racist rants are not new, says Andra Gillespie, director of the Institute for the Study of Race Indifference at Emory University.

[08:50:05] ANDRA GILLESPIE, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF RACE INDIFFERENCE, EMORY UNIVERSITY: These videos remind us that race has been a constant and persistent problem in the United States.

SANDOVAL: There's been a spike in the number of racist rants posted on social media, experts say.

TODD GROSSMAN, CEO, TALKWALKER: As technology becomes even more and more mainstream and more and more people are having smartphone devices and video capability, it's just going to be exploding more and more.

SANDOVAL: Recording these kinds of confrontations also may empower people to expose the racism, says Gillespie.

There could also be a Trump factor behind it all.

GILLESPIE: People perhaps feel more emboldened to express politically incorrect points of view as a result of President Trump's success in being able to use political incorrectness as a tool to be able to be elected president.

But I think it's important to know that these people held these points of view long before Donald Trump emerged as a political figure.

CABRERA: The videos may be ugly -


TORRES: Unbelievable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You live in America.

SANDOVAL: But Gillespie calls them a launching point, a larger conversation about race.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, Atlanta.



[08:55:21] PAUL: So, listen to this. In this week's Start Small, Think Big, when a computer science major had a bad hair day, she tackled the problem with an algorithm and created a personalized hair care business in the process. Take a look.


CANDACE MITCHELL, FOUNDER, MYAVANA: You hair is actually as unique as your fingerprint.

I'm Candace Mitchell and this is Myavana. Myavana scientifically recommends the perfect product for your hair.

You're just simply combing your hair and putting the hair strand in this package. And this is what is actually sent back to our labs.

We're going to review this customer's hair care plan. We break down the texture, type and condition of your hair strand. We're actually looking at the ability for your hair to retain moisture.

Also, how easily can your hair go from curly to straight. That is what actually indicates what products are best for your hair.

As a computer science major at Georgia Tech, I actually just had a really horrible hair day. I thought there should be some type of software that tells you the best product for your hair. That's when I started the research process to develop an algorithm.

Our initial target market had been women of color, but lately we had women of all ethnicities join our service because hair is like the universal problem.

We opened our first storefront in Atlanta. We accomplished our first profitable year last year.

(inaudible 1:41) and beauty is oxymoron, but the foundation of beauty products is science. And so, it's really about empowering women with technology.


PAUL: That is a smart one.

BLACKWELL: That's phenomenal.

PAUL: I love it.

BLACKWELL: That's amazing. I have no need for it. But I think it's a phenomenal - I do have a special brush.

PAUL: I know you do.

BLACKWELL: So, let's focus now on the big weekend ahead. Millions of Americans expected to hit the road and the skies this Memorial Day weekend. And in what might be a headache for some flyers, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is now considering expanding that electronics ban.

PAUL: Every parent in America is going no. Any electronic device larger than a cellphone would not only be banned from some inbound US flights, but from flights leaving the US as well.

So, CNN aviation correspondent Rene Marsh takes a look at what that may mean for your travel plans.


RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Travelers are on the move in expected record volumes and the terror risk is as high as it was on September 11. That's according to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: What I have learned in the last 120 days is this relentless attempt on the part of terrorists to blow up airplanes in-flight, ideally big airplanes with a lot of people.

We are watching a number of very, very sophisticated, advanced threats right now.

MARSH: Travelers flying to the United States from ten airports in eight Muslim majority countries are already under a laptop ban, meaning electronics larger than a cell phone are not allowed in the cabin of the plane over fears they may be used to detonate or conceal explosives. The ban is expected to expand to more countries soon.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: So, this heightened language without any policy changes really leaves the American public at a disadvantage. That kind of language makes the American public do one of two things - freak out or tune out. And neither is a good place to be.

MARSH: Travelers at ten US airports may experience new TSA screening measures on larger electronics. The agency is testing screening those items separately before allowing them on board.

All this on the heels of a terror attack on concert goers in Manchester, England, and just four months after a gunman retrieved a 9-millimeter handgun from his checked luggage at the baggage claim and opened fire in Fort Lauderdale.

Now, Secretary Kelly is warning Congress homegrown, lone wolf attacks will continue.

KELLY: As horrible as Manchester was, my expectation is we're going to see a lot more of that kind of attack.

MARSH: It's why some are alarmed at President Trump's proposed 2018 budget cuts to TSA's VIPR program. The program dispatches 31 teams of law enforcement and explosives experts to soft targets based on the threat level. The budget cuts would only leave eight teams in place.

KAYYEM: There is no consistency between the language of Secretary Kelly about the terror threat and what his budget looks like.


BLACKWELL: All right. We'll see you back here at 10 for an hour of "NEWSROOM".

PAUL: Yes. "SMERCONISH" starts for you now.