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Diplomatic Row Leaves Qatar Stuck in Isolation; South Korean Military Cracks Down on Gay Soldiers; Kevin Spacey Hosts the 71st Annual Tony Awards. 12-1a ET
Aired June 12, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:07] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Cabinet reshuffle -- Theresa May shakes up her government as she tries to hold on to power.
Playing the blame game -- Donald Trump calls James Comey "cowardly" after the former FBI director called the President a "liar".
And Persian Gulf showdown -- why Iran is getting involved in a diplomatic dispute that is isolating Qatar.
Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us.
I'm Natalie Allen from CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
Our top story, the British prime minister is trying to cling to power after the fiasco of last week's snap election. Theresa May made a few changes to her cabinet as her critics circle.
On Monday she's expected to seek support from members of her party, furious they lost their majority in parliament. Her conservative party cannot win votes in parliament on its own after the election backfired on her.
So now, Mrs. May is negotiating a deal with a small Northern Irish party to form a working majority. She is standing on shaky political ground but she says she's pressing on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: There is a job to be done and I think what the public want is to ensure that the government is getting on with that job.
I've appointed cabinet ministers today. I'll be meeting with my cabinet tomorrow. On Tuesday I will be going to France for meetings with President Macron.
These are important in getting on with our preparations for the Brexit negotiations but also dealing with challenges that people see in their everyday lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN: The prime minister also says she plans to serve a full term but critics are still calling on her to throw in the towel. Many say it's just a matter of time.
In a BBC interview, former U.K. Chancellor George Osborne called Mrs. May, quote, "a dead woman walking". And Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn predicts another election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY CORBYN, LABOUR PARTY LEADER: I think it's quite possible -- quite possible there will be an election later this year or early next year. And that might be a good thing because we cannot go on with a period of great instability.
We have a program. We have support and ready to fight another election campaign as soon as may be because we want to be able to serve the people of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: For more now, CNN's Oren Liebermann is live at 10 Downing Street in London for us. And all I can say is, phew. I mean where does this thing go from here -- Oren?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that really is the main question. What will be the next few steps? The Labour leader is not the only one predicting elections either by the end of the year or early next year. But it seems that Prime Minister Theresa May at least has the support of her party in the immediate future. The question -- how immediate is that future?
She'll be meeting with her cabinet today -- later on this morning. Then she'll meet with other members of her party to try to shore up that support. She has support from some of the big names within her own party. And that's an indication of how disastrous this election was for the Tories.
If they were on more sure footing, if it were a little more stable perhaps they would try to force Theresa May out and take that spot from her but they don't want, which is to say the other big names within her own party don't want any more instability coming from the conservatives so they will support her for now.
And it comes at a critical time. Brexit negotiations just a week away and that's where the U.K. wants to seem its strongest, its most stable. At this moment, it seems the exact opposite.
Theresa May pointed out that she meets the French president on Tuesday. That will be a very interesting meeting. How has this reshuffle and how has this election result changed her approach to Brexit. She'd wanted a hard Brexit but the expectation now is she'll have to soften that stance on some positions perhaps trying to stay within the single market in some form.
And yet she has given no indication of how it has affected her stance on Brexit. The first time though where she'll need to address that in some way will be on Tuesday. There are a lot of questions right now, Natalie, and they need answering sooner rather than later.
ALLEN: Absolutely. Every day counts -- or every hour counts, doesn't it, on all of this? And there's Jeremy Corbyn saying he expects another election this year or next. And I'm sure the voters there might be a little bit weary of going back to the polls yet again.
But as far as Theresa May, you know, she looked completely shell- shocked because she probably was in that first 24 hours after results came in. Is there a sense that the thing she is doing, especially with the Northern Ireland party, that she is in it and giving it the fight of her life?
LIEBERMANN: She has to. That Northern Ireland Party -- the Democratic Unionists present interesting pressures and some very difficult pressures on Theresa May and on the Conservatives from a couple of different perspectives.
[00:05:02] First that party has only 10 seats compared to the Tory's 318. So that's three percent of the seats. And yet in the negotiations as to how this will work between the two parties, they essentially have 50 percent of the power and they can make whatever demands they'd like to make on Theresa May to make this agreement work to keep Theresa May in power.
So the official talks are set to start on Tuesday between the two parties. We understand there have been some negotiations already. But they essentially have all the leverage they want in trying to make this work because Theresa May needs them to stay in power.
One of the other difficulties this power-sharing negotiations between DUP and the Republicans in Northern Ireland start, the U.K. was traditionally the moderator there. It's very difficult to see them as an impartial moderator at this point, just more pressure on Theresa May going forward -- Natalie.
ALLEN: Oren Liebermann for us, watching it there. Thank you -- Oren.
Let's head to Los Angeles now and Dominic Thomas. He's the chair of the Department of French Studies at UCLA. And I'm sure you were listening to that -- Dominic.
And you know, Theresa May fighting for her leadership life, former U.K. chancellor calling her a dead woman walking. Where do you fall on that?
DOMINIC THOMAS, UCLA DEPARTMENT OF FRENCH AND FRANCOPHONE STUDIES: Well, I mean if you just look to the last six elections, the only time the Conservative Party has come out with a majority was in 2015, which was the majority David Cameron delivered, essentially making a deal with UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party, promising a referendum on Brexit. And so we know how that turned out.
And Theresa May inherited that majority and made a gross miscalculation by going to the polls here not only to try and extend her lead and give herself a mandate but essentially moving away from trying to have any kind of compromise with anyone else in the House of Commons over the Brexit negotiations. It's backfired.
And given the fact that prior to that, David Cameron in 2010 had to go into coalition with the Lib Dems and now they're looking at the DUP. I think a lot of British people are wondering what exactly the Conservative Party stands for today.
ALLEN: Exactly. There are a lot of questions about the DUP and bringing them on as well. Do you think she will be able to pull this together?
THOMAS: I think it's extremely unlikely. However, as the previous report said where does the Conservative Party go if it's not with Theresa May. And the risk there is to appoint a leader with a very thin majority in parliament with this -- not even calling it coalition, but this alliance with the DUP would put them in a very fragile position.
Yet Conservatives also know that if they were to call another snap election in the weeks to come the outcome would be equally as this particular one. And it's sort of rudderless (ph) right now. It would be interesting to see how the meeting goes with the back benchers (ph) on Monday. The meeting was initially scheduled for Tuesday that's being moved up which I think points to the urgency of the Conservative Party wanting some kind of resolution here.
ALLEN: So much at stake right now. And you know, the British public deserves to know who's going to lead them as well.
Dominic -- stay with us. We want to switch gears here and talk to you about something else.
While the British government is reeling, French President Emmanuel Macron's Party is set for a landslide victory in parliament. The first round in voting was Sunday and the centrists are projected to win well over 400 seats in the lower house. There are 577 seats available.
Such a margin of victory would give Mr. Macron a strong majority to further his political and economic agenda. The French prime minister is praising the recent gains.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDOUARD PHILIPPE, FRENCH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): My dear fellow citizens, France is back. For the past month, the president of the republic knew how to embody confidence, will and boldness in France as well as on the international stage. As for the government its composition shows a radically new grouping and it is determined to serve France and to respond to the French people's expectations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Meantime, Marine Le Pen blamed low voter turnout for her far- right party's performance. Right now they're expected to come in third place around 13 percent of the vote. The second round of voting will take place next Sunday.
So back to Dominic Thomas now, you know, there were questions when Macron won, like who is this man? Do we really know and how will he govern? And now it looks like they are rallying behind this new leader.
THOMAS: Right. Well, what's interesting and in some ways a big distinction between the French and the British system, between a constitutional republic and a constitutional monarchy, where the two- party system in Britain essentially perpetuates the ways in which these two parties -- the Conservatives and Labours have ended up.
With Emmanuel Macron, back in 2002 the elections were changed to five- year terms so that it would match the legislative elections and all parties of presidents elected since then have carried forward that momentum.
[00:10:08] The big question around Emmanuel Macron is that he had a movement going into this election and he won. And there's two traditional parties that all the way back to the beginnings of the Fifth Republic in 1958 have always made it through second round except exceptionally in 2002 when Marine Le Pen's father made it.
The big question is whether he was going to be able to carry that momentum forward and create a political party. And it looks like he's been able to do that building on the traditions in society but also running deputies in all these races. He has the youngest average age of deputies, the greatest number and percentage of women, the greatest diversity.
And things are looking very good and their voting system is a strange one. It's a sort of an aggregate of voter turnout and a percentage that you get and the low voter turnout has paradoxically helped him as well.
He looks poised to carry arguably what would be one of the largest victories in a legislative election in the last 25 years. So it's a completely different story than what's happening across the channel.
ALLEN: Absolutely. That's remarkable. And she is going to be meeting with him this week. So standing next to Macron, could that help her back at home?
THOMAS: Well, you know, it hasn't helped her standing next to Donald Trump because when she looks across the Atlantic she sees what's happening in the United States and when she goes to Europe she sees another issue which is that Emmanuel Macron is doing incredibly well on his pro-European Union platform.
Angela Merkel has been doing extraordinarily as she heads to the elections in September. And I think it's going to be a very difficult conversation. And I don't think any of this is really going to, you know, rub off and help her in any way because she's been leading this Brexit sort of position and very divisive agenda over the past -- over the past year or so. So it's an interesting moment, really, for her to be going to France. ALLEN: Pivotal days ahead for sure. Everyday we will be watching it.
Dominic Thomas -- thank you so much for your expertise and for joining us. We appreciate it.
THOMAS: Thanks -- Natalie.
ALLEN: Well, on the other, of course, big topic in the U.K. is terrorism. Another arrest now has been made in the London Bridge terror attack. A 19-year-old man is being held on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts. Scotland Yard says police carried out the raid in east London Sunday night. Six other men remain in custody after the June 3rd rampage that left eight people dead and dozens wounded.
British police are asking for help in tracking the movements of the Manchester bomber. They've released new surveillance images of Salman Abedi and they're appealing for information on this car he used weeks before the May 27th attack at Manchester Arena which killed 22 people, so many of them young people. Police say there were bomb making materials in that car.
And meantime they've released the last two people held for questioning in the case. Police think Abedi worked alone to build the bomb.
The British prime minister's office says there has been no change to the invitation from Queen Elizabeth to U.S. President Donald Trump. The "Guardian" reported he was planning to delay a state visit to the U.K. The White House also denies the report of the delay. It claims Mr. Trump was uneasy. The "Guardian" claims Mr. Trump was uneasy over his perceived unpopularity in Britain.
Opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn had this to say on Twitter, "Cancellation of President Trump's state visit is welcome especially after his attack on London's mayor and withdrawal from Paris climate deal."
We'll wait to see if that trip does indeed happen.
The war of words heats up -- what President Trump is saying now about his former FBI director after that testimony that everyone was watching.
And also coming up -- another voice in the Russia investigation. A senate committee considers the attorney general's offer of talking with them this week.
And later, the diplomatic showdown that has left Qatar isolated. We will tell you how Iran is assisting.
[00:14:22] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ALLEN: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.
U.S. President Donald Trump isn't done blasting the testimony of former FBI director James Comey. On Twitter he said "I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible -- totally illegal, very cowardly."
Comey testified he leaked memos of his conversations with the President hoping it would trigger the appointment of a special prosecutor into Russia investigation. Meantime, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has offered to appear before the intelligence committee Tuesday.
CNN's Athena Jones reports final details haven't been worked out yet.
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi there.
It's going to be up to the Senate Intelligence Committee to decide whether to allow Attorney General Sessions to testify on Tuesday and whether to have that session be open to the public or closed to the public.
According to reporting by my colleague, Manu Raju, this request by Sessions to testify caught the committee by surprise. That's why we haven't gotten immediate definitive answers about their plan.
We also know from Manu's reporting that there are some on the committee who are concerned that Sessions may be trying to avoid testifying publicly. Among those concerned is the vice chairman of the committee, the top Democrat, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.
Another Democrat on the committee who is concerned about this is Oregon's Ron Wyden. Wyden has sent a letter to the chairman and vice- chairman of the committee asking that any session with Sessions be open to the public.
[00:19:56] And of course, we know that there are a lot questions the congressional investigators have for the Attorney General when they do get a chance to question him. Among them we would expect them to touch on Sessions' involvement in the firing of Comey -- of James Comey as FBI director. We know that Comey has said he believed he was fired because of his handling of the Russia investigation. And of course, Sessions was supposed to have recused himself from the Russia investigation.
So that is just one of many questions we expect congressional investigators to have for the Attorney General. But the main question right now is when he will testify and whether we'll be able to watch it.
Back to you.
ALLEN: Democrats and Republicans are stepping up their demands for President Trump to turn over any tapes of his conversations he said he had with Comey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: He should voluntarily turn them over not only to the Senate Intelligence Committee but to the special counsel. So I don't think a subpoena should be necessary and I don't understand why the President just doesn't clear this matter up once and for all.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: There were no witnesses. If there are tapes, please -- and the President's precedent's (ph) equivocal on this -- bring those tapes forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Now, former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara says Comey's description of meetings with the President are like deja vu, reminding him of calls he received from President Trump before he was fired.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY NEW YORK: So he called me in December, ostensibly just to shoot to breeze, and asked me how I was doing, and wanted to make sure I was ok. It was similar to what Jim Comey testified to with respect to a call he got when he was getting on the helicopter.
I didn't say anything at the time to him. It was a little bit uncomfortable. He was not the President. He was only the President- elect. He called me again two days before the inauguration, again, seemingly to check in and shoot the breeze. And then he called me a third time when he became -- after he became president and I refused to return the call.
And in reporting the phone call to the chief of staff and the Attorney General I said it appeared to be that he was trying to cultivate some kind of relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: But some Republicans are venting their frustrations with the President's public commentary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Here's what's frustrating for Republicans like me. You may be the first president in history to go down because you can't stop inappropriately talking about an investigation that if you just were quiet would clear you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist, Josh Rogin joins us now from Washington. Josh -- thanks for being with us.
Let's start with the Attorney General -- he's going to testify -- Jeff Sessions about his meetings with the Russians. But the dilemma is will it be an open or closed meeting? What's the situation? JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Jeff Sessions sent a letter
to senators stating that he no longer wanted to testify at the scheduled Appropriations Committee hearing to talk about the Justice Department budget but would rather testify before the Intelligence Committee under a closed session. And the intelligence committee is trying to figure out how to deal with that now.
On the one hand, they want to have him in closed session tell them about his meetings with the Russians. It helps their investigation. On the other hand, there's a big demand on Capitol Hill and the press and around America for the Attorney General to also testify in public which he doesn't seem to want to do anymore.
So they have to negotiate, they have figure out how to satisfy both desires at the same time. And at the same time they don't want to be seen as letting Jeff Sessions off the hook.
The attorney general has a responsibility to talk to the American people and senators about important issues. So we'll have to see over the next two days whether or not they can convince the Attorney General to speak both in public and in private.
ALLEN: So it's his decision? Does the President have any sway in this or is it going to be Jeff Sessions' decision?
ROGIN: Well, Jeff Sessions is in a unique position because he's not in good favor with the President of the United States right now. Remember he offered to resign only a few weeks ago although that offer was rejected. He has recused himself from the Russia investigation.
James Comey mentioned at last week's testimony that they had some information that was classified that supported his recusal and nobody knows what that is.
So Jeff Sessions is looking out for Jeff Sessions. Of course, that puts him in a terribly difficult position because the White House wants him to testify and back up the President, if he can, as much as he can. And Jeff Sessions also wants to do that if he's not going to get himself in further jeopardy. So he has to choose in essence, does he publicly defend the President or does he look out for his own best interests? And I think that's the dilemma he's facing.
ALLEN: Right. He wants to come out better from this, not worse.
ALLEN: Yes. And it's almost like the Comey-Trump thing -- it depends on who you believed --
ALLEN: -- he said-he said situation.
So where is that situation? First, let's talk about the tapes. It was the President himself who bragged that there may be tapes of their meeting and then when asked on Friday he just seems to dodge answering it. Why the hedge?
[00:25:02] ROGIN: Nobody knows. It's not only the President but all of the senior White House staff, all of his surrogates have refused to answer or take seriously the question of whether or not there is a taping system inside the White House, and secondly, whether or not that potential taping system recorded this particular conversation -- the dinner between President Trump and then FBI director James Comey.
Of course it was President Trump who brought this up in the first place and now seems to be telling people, seems to be indicating that the tape doesn't exist but, you know, no one's going to let this go until they tell us one way or the other and nobody understands why they don't just answer it because they're going to have to do it sooner or later.
ALLEN: Maybe there aren't and he doesn't want to admit that he said that. But he's been ordered to hand them over. If they're there, does he have to do that?
ROGIN: There's been no subpoena. The senators are trying to give him a chance to do the right thing of his own volition. He doesn't seem to be taking them up on that opportunity.
I think what you're going to see is if he doesn't deny that there are tapes and he doesn't provide the tapes, then the senators are going to start to take more coercive measures like subpoenas to figure it out one way or the other. They're not going to let this go at this point.
ALLEN: All right. Another big week on Capitol Hill. Thank you so much -- Josh Rogin, for it. I appreciate you joining us.
ROGIN: Thank you.
ALLEN: One of the key moments in Comey's testimony was his description of President Trump saying he hopes Comey could let go of the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Mr. Trump's lawyer denies the President ever said that and Mr. Trump's son says there was no direct order.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: When I hear the Flynn comment, you and I both know my father a long time, when he tells you to do something -- guess what, there's no ambiguity in it. There's no, hey, I'm hoping. You and I are friends, hey, I hope this happens but you have to do your job. That's what he told Comey.
And for this guy as a politician to then go back and write a memo, he felt so threatened but he didn't do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Donald Trump Jr. also questioned Comey's credibility saying Comey got caught up in his own nonsense.
President Trump could soon face some new legal troubles. The attorneys general for the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland say they will announce a major lawsuit against the President on Monday. According to the "Washington Post" they claimed he's accepted millions of dollars in payments and benefits from foreign governments after taking office through his hotels and other businesses. If so, that would violate anti-corruption clauses in the U.S. constitution. The President said in January he would turn over day-to-day business management to his sons to avoid possible conflicts of interest.
Coming up here as people in Qatar worry about running out of food, the diplomatically-isolated country is getting help from a Persian Gulf ally.
[00:27:54] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[00:31:25] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. We're live in Atlanta. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen.
Here are our top stories.
Britain's prime minister is expected to seek support from members of her party furious. They've lost their majority in parliament. Theresa May have made a few changes to her cabinet and she's still negotiating a deal with the democratic unionist party to support her conservative government.
Puerto Rico voted Sunday to become the 51st U.S. seat. 97 percent of voters chose state hood in the non-binding referendum. But only Congress can make that happen. The island is billions of dollars in debt and struggles with high poverty rates.
Iran promises to supply food to Qatar after other Gulf nations cut diplomatic ties. Five planes packed with fresh produce arrived in Doha, Sunday. Tehran is also pledging daily fruit deliveries. The blockade has prompted many Qataris to stock up on food.
This diplomatic crisis started about a week ago when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain accused Qatar of sponsoring terrorism. Doha denied that allegation and over the weekend asked for open dialogue to resolve this conflict.
Our Jomana Karadsheh takes a closer look.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The worst diplomatic crisis in decades hit one of the Arab world's most stable regions after years of simmering tensions. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in a coordinated move severed ties with Qatar. Several other countries including Egypt joined the anti-Qatar campaign.
The reason they said was Qatar destabilizing impact on the region to give support of terrorist organizations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever has been thrown as an acquisition is all based on misinformation.
KARADSHEH: Qatar rejected the accusations as baseless and unjustified. Qatar says it is a victim of a coordinated campaign of misinformation and the crisis being triggered by a hack of its state news agency last month.
(on-camera): Quotes attributed to this country's leader appeared on the state news agency's Web site on May 24th, praising Iran and Hezbollah, criticizing its neighbors and President Trump.
U.S. investigators confirmed the hack and an FBI team was sent to Doha to investigate.
(voice-over): Some also believed that President Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia last month may have been the real catalyst for this crisis, emboldening countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia to use his call for combating terrorist funding as a pretext to settle regional scores.
President Trump in a series of tweets on Tuesday not shying away from taking critic for the isolation of one of America's key allies in the region. Qatar is home to an audit airbase. An important staging area for the fight against ISIS, and where more than 11,000 U.S. troops are based.
Throughout the past week, diplomatic efforts led by Kuwait were underway to try and resolve the crisis. And this weekend Qatar's foreign minister meeting his Russian counterpart in Moscow. This as the U.S. continue to send mixed messages.
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We call on the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar. There are humanitarian consequences to this blockade.
KARADSHEH: Just a short time after the statement from America's top diplomat, the president yet again singling out Qatar.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The nation of Qatar unfortunately has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level. So we had a decision to make. Do we take the easy road or do we finally take a hard but necessary action. We have to stop the funding of terrorism.
KARADSHEH: Backed into a corner with mounting pressure from its neighbors and forcing a blockade and shunned by allies like the U.S., Qatar may have very few options out of this crisis forcing it to agree to long fought concessions by the Saudi and Emirate alliance.
Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Doha.
[00:35:00] ALLEN: June is gay pride month. And cities around the world are already celebrating. Dozens of marches are planned across the United States including this equality march for unity and pride, which took place in Washington, Sunday.
Activists say they want to air grievances to the Trump administration regarding recent decisions involving the LBGT community and broken promises from his campaign.
Human rights activists are calling on the South Korean military to end its crackdown on gay soldiers. Just last week, a South Korean army captain was sentenced to a six months suspended prison term for having sex with another serviceman. Now, another gay soldier faces similar charges. He spoke exclusively with our Paula Hancocks in Seoul.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Protesters call it a homophobic witchhunt, targeting gay soldiers within South Korea's military. The military says that is not true and they're following the law.
Human rights group say at least 32 soldiers have been charge since March when a video was posted on social media showing two male soldiers having sex sparking a military investigation.
Homosexuality is not illegal in South Korea. Homosexual activity is illegal within the military punishable by up to two years in prison. All men have to serve around two years within the military as part of the conscript system.
This soldier we will call Sergeant A has been charge for having sexual relations off base with a soldier from a different unit. He says he was interrogated by military investigators. Some of the questions too sexually explicit to repeat on air.
"The atmosphere was very oppressive," he says. "Very humiliating, and I was scared. They told me I have to give up my phone so they could copy the data. When asked what would happen if I didn't give it to them, they said my unit would find out I'm gay."
Human rights group "Amnesty International" says the South Korean government has been slow to respect and protect the equal rights of LGBTI people in society at large, calling this military investigation a bigoted hunt.
"In a divided country," Sergeant A tells me, "I thought it was my responsibility to serve in the military. My sexual orientation has nothing to do with that."
The military and defense ministry declined our requests for an interview referring us to a statement from April, which states, "To keep the military community sound and given the special nature of military discipline, sexual relations with same sex soldiers is being punished as disgraceful conduct under military law."
Lim Tae-hoon, head of the military Human Rights Center for Korea, accuses the military of using gay dating apps to track homosexual soldiers down. He says the military punishing homosexual activity mid-evil. "Why is the military not punishing illegal action between heterosexuals," he asked, "like rape, assault, abuse? Why are they punishing consensual activities between homosexuals?"
One soldier has already been convicted of same-sex activity, given a six-month suspended prison sentence just last week for violating the military penal code. Sergeant A for one among others is asking whether or not it would be better for the South Korean military to focus on an actual threat like North Korea rather than a perceived threat from within its own ranks.
Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.
ALLEN: No one was hurt after China Eastern Airlines jet suffered major engine failure shortly after takeoff in Sydney, Australia. Emergency crews found this gaping hole in the front part of the engine's casing. The airbus A330 was bound for Shanghai, Sunday, when it was forced to turn around. A passenger told CNN's Affiliate 7 network there was a really loud noise and then it kind of smelled like burning. The plane landed safely back in the Australian capital.
It is broadway's biggest. The 71st annual Tony Awards bring glitz and glamour to Radio City Music Hall. We'll find out who went home with a Tony.
[00:41:40] ALLEN: What would Broadway's biggest night be without a little song and dance, and host Kevin Spacey was among those who delivered.
CNN's Chloe Melas takes a look at the Tony Award's biggest winners.
CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): The 71st annual Tony Awards took New York City by storm, Sunday night, live from Radio City Music Hall. And Kevin Spacey was the host this year for the first time ever.
Now he kicked off the show with some jokes, a little bit of dancing, some singing. But he told the audience that he felt like he was the last choice to host the show. That's why he enlisted some help from his Hollywood pals including Stephen Colbert, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal who is known to be the long time host for the Oscars and things and he actually told him just put on a dress and Kevin Spacey did it. And things seemed to go pretty smoothly from there.
Now there were some big awards of the night. Dear Evan Hansen is a breakout musical this year. It won several awards.
A lot of people, though, are buzzing about Cynthia Nixon, who took the stage for her role in "The Little Foxes" when she won tonight. And she got political. And people are buzzing about that. And, you know, it's one of the most talked about speeches of the evening.
Now Kevin Kline won an award for best leading actor in a play for "Present Laughter." And Laurie Metcalf, after being nominated four times finally won a Tony Award for best leading actress in a play for "Doll's House Part 2."
Now one of my favorite moments of the night came when James Earl Jones was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, and he took the stage and he thanked his wife and said that she looked dazzling.
The night did not disappoint and definitely it seems like Kevin Spacey might be back to host again next year.
Back to you.
ALLEN: Because he is just great at everything.
Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. "World Sport" is next with the details on the brand new Stanley Cup champions. And I'll be back with another hour of news from around the world at the top of the hour. I hope you will join me again. You're watching CNN.