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President Trump would like to talk to North Korea with precondition; President Donald Trump praised China's President Xi Jinping; Florida lawmakers had to work overtime this weekend; People gathered to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama; Six teenagers have entered the race for Kansas governor; Aired 7:00-8:00p ET

Aired March 4, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:08] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: It is 7:00 eastern, 4:00 in the afternoon out west. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. So glad you can join us.

We begin this hour with the President letting loose at the Washington white tie affair joking about White House chaos. Jared Kushner's troubles getting a security clearance and even his marriage to Melania. The mood was funny. It was lighthearted. But there are also some things the President said that may have serious undertones, especially what he said about the ongoing nuclear threat from North Korea.

Here is the President' exact remark.

I won't rule out direct talks with Kim Jong Un, I just won't. As far as the risk of dealing with a madman is concerned, well, that's his problem. Not mine.

The President went on, by the way, a couple days ago they said we would like to talk and I said so we would, but you have to de-nuke. You have to de-nuke. So let's see what happens. Maybe positive things are happening. I hope that's true. We will be meeting and see if anything positive happens.

So I want to bring CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez.

Boris, what is the White House saying about this call?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Ana. We have asked the White House to clarify the President's comments specifically that portions when - that portion when he says we will be meeting. If there are any scheduled diplomatic sessions to be hold between North Korea and the United States directly, the White House is yet to give us an answer.

It really is surprising that the President would announce something like that at the gridiron dinner. This is typically an event that is lighthearted where journalists make fun of politicians and then politicians get their turn. It is something that certainly is unorthodox but as we have seen many times before, this is an unorthodox presidency. North Korea was certainly listening though. The foreign ministry

putting out the following statement. They write quote "the U.S. that was terrified at the rapid development of our nuclear force and as continued to knock on the door of dialogue, now fans indifference and advances this or that precondition. Not being content with it, it insists that it will have dialogue only from making the DPRK abandon nuclear weapons and persist in maximum pressure until complete denuclearization is realized. That is really more than ridiculous.

So the North Koreans mocking the idea of having talks directly with the United States on the precondition that they denuclearized. Again, we are waiting for the White House to comment what President meant by his comments about, we will be meeting - Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Boris Sanchez at the White House for us. Thanks for that.

So China is another big topic for President Trump this weekend for a number of reasons. Let's take about how President Trump is reacting to a bold move by China's President. To end his office's term limits is something President Trump praised at a weekend fundraiser. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't forget China is great and Xi is a great gentleman. He is now President for life. No, he is great. And, look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we will give that a shot someday.


CABRERA: So keep in mind, that same Republican crowd would not have been allowed to criticize Democrats. Even former President Obama if they lived in China right now.

And China is where we find CNN's Will Ripley live in Beijing, Tiananmen Square.

Will, tell us about today's big event there.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are actually just made it through security. And now we are inside Tiananmen Square.

But I want to show you, this is a portrait of Mao Zedong, China's dictator, who oversaw the cultural revolution during which reportedly millions of people died. And China installed Presidential term limits to try to avoid a repeat of a cruel dictatorship. And now in this building right here, the great hall of the people, just in coming hours, they are going to be abolishing presidential term limits, effectively allowing President Xi Jinping, China's authoritarian ruler to become President for life.

I want to take you over here because you can see the buses just arrived. There is about 3,000 delegates that are expected to very easily approve this surprise move by Xi Jinping which will allow him to remain president indefinitely here. Something that President Trump has praised. Even as pro-democracy activist in China have tried to criticize and sound the alarm moment. They have their voices silenced on social media. And in fact, even when we have been reporting here, CNN's signal, every time we talk about this, it is blacked out, Ana. That's how it works in authoritarian countries like China. And President Trump apparently now voicing his support as well for President Xi Jinping and all of his delegates to allow him to rule over this country indefinitely.

CABRERA: And Will, the grass, really, the atmosphere of censorship. The control there in China. Explain what happened to you just last hour when we spoke and we saw this soldier in uniform approach you on camera.

RIPLEY: Yes, that's right. So we were actually outside of the security perimeter over there in front of the national museum of China. And in the middle of our live shot, I had Chinese officers approach us and try to stop us from filming. I showed him my press credential right here. This is our basically our ticket that allows us to even get inside Tiananmen Square because normally filming and reporting from in here is forbidden.

And so as this happened to me a number of time in China even during live reports, security will accosts us and we have explain to them we are just trying doing our job, trying to reporting which is obviously is something that you are not allowed to do in places like this.

President Trump represents America. He is the voice of democracy to the world, an example of democracy to the world. That he is expressing more support for this system, a repressive heavy-handed government than democracy that would allow the peaceful transfer of power. Something that is now going to be going away here in China. Many fear it is ushering in a new era of strong man leader. A cult of person that could potentially take the world down a pretty dangerous path especially as China's power continues to grow.

[19:06:00] CABRERA: Will Ripley, thank you for the brave and important work you are doing on the ground in that region.

Let's get straight to our panel now. Joining us, CNN political commentator, and "Washington Post" columnist Catherine Rampell and Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun-Times" Lynn Sweet.

So Lynn, it is shocking to hear a President, an American President, praise an autocrat. But President Trump has done this before. He shown an affinity for strong men. So are you surprised?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Well, I'm not surprised that Trump tried to make a joke out of something that should not be joked about or at least probably not in the way that he did because when it comes to international affairs, you don't have an audience of people who are there to be entertained and it is serious matters. So it does give rise and potential of being misunderstood.

CABRERA: As Lynn points out, Catherine, it sounded like this comment was made in jest. Do you think too much is being made of it? It was a private fundraiser.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: No. Look, it was a private fundraiser. But he knew that there was the possibility that these comments could get out.

Look, I think a lot more has been made of Trump joking about his wanting to become President for life himself, right? I mean, that's got more attention. And I think that that is an inappropriate comment. But in the grand scheme of things, I'm not even sure a second term is within the realm of possibility at this point. So I'm not so worried about him seizing power for life.

I am, however, much more concerned about the signal is being sent to the communist party of China which has been consolidating power for a while which has a terrible human rights record. United States should be showing leadership. Should be saying this is not a move in the right direction.

President Xi, you know, as charming as you are and he certainly has charmed the pants off of our President, this is not the right move for China and the United States will not condone it, you know. We obviously can't control what they do but we should certainly be praising it.

CABRERA: Let's move on and talk policy, Lynn.

The tariff on steel and aluminum announced by the President, we are supposed to get the specifics this week. And implementation we are told this week. The majority of Republicans we know disagree with this move. Why?

SWEET: Well, why? Because this could spark a trade war. It could spark more -- this is such a wedge that Trump has driven between himself and his fellow Republicans because economic conservatives don't believe that this is a good move. That this is a move that will benefit overall the American economy or American businesses and there's a reason that we have all these rules and tariffs is that trade is complex. I know President Trump says it's simple. It is not. Because if it was simple, we wouldn't have any of these tariffs to begin with. And that's why you see this breech here between the Trump Republicans and the more mainstream economic conservative Republicans.

CABRERA: So we wait to see what the fallout will be from these tariffs if he moves forward with them. But we do know, according to "Politico," Republicans are worried about the political backlash. This could hurt them in the midterms. Until now they were betting on running on the successful economy.

So Catherine, what is the President thinking behind doing this?

RAMPELL: I think he wasn't thinking. I think this policy is a reflection of the chaos that we have seen within the White House over the last few weeks. I mean, months if we are being honest. But especially over the last few weeks, they have been distracted by lots of other issues. And they haven't done their due diligence to think about how our allies in Europe, how our allies in Canada. And other countries might react to this. The retaliatory consequences that we might see.

And I think Republicans are right to worry about the political blowback that they might face because even as this is a protectionist measure that will shield some jobs in the steel industry, it will hurt lots of jobs or potentially hurt lots of jobs in manufacturing industries that rely on steels and input (ph). And of course in any industry that potentially faces these retaliatory tariffs amongst our allies or even other trading partners.

So, you know, you could see in Europe, for example, they are potentially targeting blue jeans, Kentucky Bourbon, Wisconsin Dairy, lots of products that come from politically sensitive states.

[19:10:17] CABRERA: And of course the tariff announcement came at end of such a tumultuous week. Some say it was the most chaotic week in the Trump administration.

Lynn, I want to put up some graphics and just show the long list of things that happened this week, ten things in all. And these were just major revelations. When you look at this list, though, one thing not on the list is something to do with the Russia investigation. What do you make of that?

SWEET: Well, I would say that the Jared Kushner situation dealing with his security clearance is in a sense an off-shoot of the Russia investigation. Because he and his, you know, meetings he's had, famous relationships with foreign figures, all kind of could possibly wind into what special counsel Bob Mueller is investigating. But the, yes, Russia investigation is never far from President Trump's mind or his tweets.

So I wouldn't put much into it that just a few day he went by that you don't have some major event of significance relating specifically to that. Because after all, Hope Hicks' departure, you could argue is related to Russia because it came, the public announcement came just after she testified behind closed doors for hours between a House committee investigating Russia where she was said to have said that she tells white lies on behalf of the President.

CABRERA: Right. We don't know if that has anything to do with her resignation. But we do know the President often has blamed the Russia investigation for stalling his agenda. Given that it didn't have a lot to do with some of the chaos this week, does that tell you anything, Catherine?

RAMPELL: Well, I don't remember if this was on your list just now. But Rick Gates did announce I think it was this week, a few days ago that he was going to cooperate with the Mueller investigation.

CABRERA: It is hard to remember when that came.

RAMPELL: It feels like it was at least a month ago. And yet I think it was several days ago. It is amazing how quickly the news cycle moves and how many new stories there are that are of major consequence?

So look, I think the fact we have seen Trump sort of spinning out of control, making relatively uninformed decisions of major political import like on the tariffs. I think all of that reflect the fact that he is upset about what is happening with the Mueller investigation. He feels besieged. And you see this exodus from the White House. All of that reflect both the investigation into Russia and Trump's, you know, sort of feeling like he is under attack because he is under investigation or at least those are in his orbit are under investigation. So I think all of these things are in fact much more related than they appear.

CABRERA: All right, Catherine Rampell, Lynn Sweet. Thank you, ladies. Always good to see you.

SWEET: Thank you.

CABRERA: Still ahead this hour, making change. In a rare weekend session, the Florida Senate debates gun control. We will tell what you they decided. Plus, will these changes reverberate, easy for me to say, in Washington?

Florida congressman Ted Deutch joins us next, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[19:17:22] CABRERA: Florida lawmakers had to work overtime this weekend. They are under pressure from both sides of the gun debate following the Parkland school massacre. About 100 pro-gun activists applied. Some of that pressure today at rally outside the capital in Tallahassee.

Meantime, Florida lawmakers are set to vote on some gun restrictions and a plan to arm teachers. They better hurry because that legislative session ends Friday.

CNN's Athena Jones joins us now from Tallahassee.

Athena, what is in this bill currently under consideration?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Well, the bill the Senate plans to vote on tomorrow include several measures regarding gun control and school safety. It would raise the age to purchase a firearm to 21 years old from 18 years old. It would require a three-day waiting period to firearms with some exceptions. It would ban the sale or possession of bump fire stocks. That accessory that allows semiautomatic weapons to fire like automatic weapons. It would give law enforcement more power to seize weapons and ammunition from people deemed mentally unfit or otherwise a threat. And it would provide additional funding for armed school resource officers and for mental health services in school districts across the country.

But we saw during this eight-hour Saturday session, this rare Saturday session, senators spent eight hours debating all of these measures. And we saw a lot of Democrats being unsatisfied with the gun control measures believing that they don't go far enough. They wanted to see an assault weapons ban included for instance. And you have Republicans who feel that the gun control measures went too far. So there is still a lot of disagreement. And it is a question in what is ultimately going to pass -- Ana.

CABRERA: And tell us about the controversial so-called martial program that is on the table.

JONES: That's definitely the most controversial provision in this legislation. That is a program that would allow teachers and other school personnel to be armed as long as they go through training. In this case, 144 hours of training including 12 hours of diversity training. And that's a provision that members of the black caucus wanted to include because they are concerned about racial profiling and minority student being perhaps injured by teachers mistreating them. So that's part of that.

But this program would be voluntary. The sheriff and the school district would have to agree to implement it and teachers would not be required to participate. But it's gotten a lot of push back from students, from teachers, from parents, from Parkland and around the state and also from governor Rick Scott who said he is opposed to arming teachers. He says teachers should teach. What is not clear is whether governor Scott would veto any legislation that includes arming teachers that reach his desk. That's the big question mark here.

But as you mention, they are running out of time. The Senate is planning to vote tomorrow once the Senate votes, it will to the House. The hope is it doesn't bounce back. They have been trying to work out the differences so that it doesn't bounce back because of their racing the clock. And so we will have to see what is ultimately in the bill.

Some -- an aide to the House speaker indicated to me on Friday that believes that the program to arm teachers will stay in the bill because it has so much support from Republicans. And the chamber is controlled by Republicans. So it is likely that that measure will stay in. What we don't know, though, is what governor Scott will do if it stays in in the bill that reaches his desk. So a lot to watch out for this week - Ana.

[19:20:42] CABRERA: All right. We will keep watching. Thank you, Athena Jones in Tallahassee tonight.

Now from Florida gun debate to the question of gun legislation on a federal level, we have some confusing signals from President Trump this past week. Listen to him and this White House meeting where he sounds bipartisan infusing optimism among Democrats, battling some Republicans in the room.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And so, just doing something on this background check, issue, and using that as a base. And then I would like it add some of these other things we have talked about. I think it would make a major difference. TRUMP: So if you had that for this bill, that would be great. If you

could add what you have also, and I think you can, into the bill. Can you do that? Joe, can you do that? Can you add some of the things - you are going to agree with --?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you will help.

TRUMP: Well, no, I'll help. But can you add what Amy and Diane have? And I know you can add what Joe --.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I have another bill that is very narrow and it is about partners and number of states have just connected it.

TRUMP: I will say this, we are going to get it passed. If you can add domestic violence paragraphs, pages into this bill, I'm all for it. I think it is terrific if can you do it. It can be done. That can be done, too.


CABRERA: Sound familiar? Maybe you remember this meeting on immigration legislation back under January.


TRUMP: If we do this properly, DACA, you are not so far from comprehensive immigration reform. And if you want to take it that further step, I will take the heat. I don't care. I don't care. I will take all the heat you want to give me and I will take the heat off both Democrats and Republicans.


CABRERA: Well, you know how that ended. Will it end differently this time around?

Let's bring in Democratic congressman from Florida, Ted Deutch.

Congressman, good to see you. You were at the meeting about gun control with the President on Wednesday. Do you think this is going to end differently that what we saw with the immigration situation?

REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: Well, certainly, I hope that it will. Look, I wasn't at the DACA meeting but I watched it and being in the room for the meeting on gun violence prevention, certainly felt like that.

But here is the difference. We are at this moment now where the ground is shifting on this issue. The support for an assault weapons ban, the support for banning high capacity magazines, the overwhelming support for universal background checks, and all of that happening with this incredible leadership of the students' survivors make this different.

The President can do this. It is not a question of waiting for something to come to his desk. He can lead on this if he wants to. That's what he talked about at this meeting. That's what has to happen if this is going to get done. He needs to be able, just as he told my colleagues, when he looked at him and said, you are afraid of the NRA. He can't be afraid of the NRA. He has to lead on the issue if we are going to do something that can helps save lives.

CABRERA: And we don't know if and when there will be any kind of vote or any kind of legislation. But I want you to listen to what Democratic senator Joe Manchin said this morning on "STATE OF THE UNION." You will of course recall he and Republican senator Pat Toomey introduced a bill after Sandy Hook to close the gun background check loop holes. Let's listen.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: Do have you any deal with the Manchin-Toomey bill were to come to his desk, would he sign it?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I believe he would.

TAPPER: You believe he would.

MANCHIN: In my heart of hearts, I believe that.

TAPPER: Would adding Dianne Feinstein's ban on semiautomatic weapons, would that help your bill?

MANCHIN: No, it would help out help, though.

TAPPER: It would kill it?

MANCHIN: Yes. And I told Dianne that. I'm not taking anybody's guns away from them. We can't even get background checks that makes guns sense. There is not a law-abiding gun owner in America who believes that if you go to a gun show or if you go on internet, you need to know through commercial transaction who the person is and what their background. That's all. We protected all of the rights of law- abiding gun owners.


CABRERA: Congressman, do you agree with Manchin, the President would sign a bill that got to his desk with universal background checks and that it should not include anything on restricting guns?

DEUTCH: Well, listen, I told the President at the meeting of the White House that we should do what we can, that would bring meaningful change right now, universal background checks, would do that. Universal background checks with the other provisions that the President talked about gun violence restraining orders raising age to 21, banning bump stocks, dealing with domestic violence to keep guns out of hands of people who could then do harm to their domestic partner.

All of these things, should. Do I think he would sign it if it got to the President's desk based on what he said? Yes. But he has it keep out of this bill anything that might prevent us from going forward.

The assault weapons ban is something I think the American people want us to do. But we have to show that we can get something done right now. This is a way to do it. And as I told the President, arming teachers which is something he talked about, is not something that has broad support. Should not be in this legislation. And if he is prepared to back off on that, and we can do universal background checks, that would be showing my constituents back home in Florida, that Congress is actually listening and is able to respond to a mass shooting, something that we have failed utterly failed to do time and time again.

[19:26:00] CABRERA: So just to drill down on the specifics and confirm what you are saying, would you vote for a bill on background checks alone without raising ages for certain weapons and without banning certain semiautomatic weapons?

DEUTCH: Sure. If we had universal background checks, that closed the gun show loophole that requires every person who buys a gun, whether at a store, whether on-line or gun show to buy, to have a background check, of course. That would -- there is a reason that that concept is supported by over 90 percent of the American people. So of course I would vote for it. And it is a way to show that we are serious about taking action.

But the fact is, the President has to exist on it. The President has to insist that speaker and the Senate majority leader make sure that this happens. Only if we vote on it will it get to his desk. But he has to show the leadership if that is going to happen at all.

CABRERA: Will Congress take action? That the big question right now. But we are seeing a lot of businesses take action. We have got Dick's sporting goods, Walmart, Kroger, REI, a number of other companies that have all restricted certain guns, limited what they are going to sell, who they are going to sell guns and other ammunition, other gun product to. Given the hesitation to act on Capitol Hill, is this the best avenue for real change?

DEUTCH: Well, what's happening out in the real world is that these companies understand why this time is different. These companies understand the power of the student leaders. They understand the movement that has started that has said enough, enough of cow towing (ph) to the gun corporations. We need to do something to keep our kids and community safe.

So I actually think it is a very impactful step forward that we have seen from all of these companies. Now we just heard off the weekend that the largest investment firm in the country is starting to take a look at holdings of gun corporations. These are the kinds of steps that outside of Washington will have an impact. Inside of Washington, people are going to -- my colleagues are going to have to decide. They can either do the right thing and show that they are committed to take action to keep kids safe or these elections which are right around the corner are going to show them that they should have.

CABRERA: Congressman Ted Deutch, thank you. Good to see you. DEUTCH: Thank you. You too. Thanks.

CABRERA: A current congressman remembers the moment he thought he was going to die after police cracked his skull with a billy club. John Lewis talks exclusively to CNN on the anniversary of his civil rights march in Selma, Alabama.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go anywhere.


[19:33:06] CABRERA: An update now in the West Virginia school strike. The state department of education has just cancelled classes again for tomorrow. That will be eight days so far students have been kept from class. The teachers want a five percent raise. This weekend, West Virginia lawmakers debated that issue and came up short. The teachers unions have vowed their members must receive a five percent pay hike before returning to work. The state is currently offering four percent.

In Selma, Alabama today people gathered to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of bloody Sunday March 9th, 20 -- excuse me, March 5th -- excuse me, March 9th, 1965. That is when civil rights activists seeking voting rights, including 25-year-old John Lewis, at the time, marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and were met with violence by Alabama state troopers.

CNN's Dana Bash spoke with congressman John Lewis in this exclusive interview.


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: This is the place that gave us the voting rights. Made it possible for hundreds and thousands and millions of people to be able to participate in a democratic process. People in Selma, all across Alabama, and Mississippi, and other states of the south, struggle for and died for the right to vote. So we have to come back to remind people of the changes that we've made and changes we still must make.


LEWIS: It's taken for granted in so many parts of our country. Not only African-American or white American, Native American, Hispanics and others.

BASH: You marched cross this bridge in a peaceful protest. And you were met with the billy club on your skull. Do you have memory of that moment? That you got beaten almost to death?

[19:35:09] LEWIS: I remember so well the moment that I was beaten and left at the foot of the bridge. I thought I was going to die. I thought I saw death. I thought I was the last march. Fifty-three years later, I don't know how I made it back across this bridge. But apparently a group of individuals literally took me across the bridge back to the church where we left from.

But I do remember being back at the church and someone asked me to say something to the audience. And I stood up and said something like I don't understand it how President Johnson can send troops to Vietnam. And cannot send troops to Selma, Alabama to protect people who only desire to register to vote. Two weeks later, I was prepared to march again.

BASH: Two weeks later?

LEWIS: Two weeks later. The doctors and nurses took care of us. And I walked again across this bridge all the way from Selma to Montgomery, about 50 miles.


CABRERA: The civil rights icon also weighing in on the youth of America. Up next, the powerful message he is sending to the students of Parkland, Florida.

Plus, he is only 18 years old, but that hasn't stopped this young man from running for governor of Kansas. Why Dominic Scavuzzo threw his hat in the ring, next.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[19:40:51] CABRERA: In an age where young people aren't afraid to speak up for change, six teenagers, six of them, have entered the race for Kansas governor. And while that may sound like a joke, it's not. There are currently no age requirements to run for office in Kansas.

CNN reached out to all of those candidates. One of them 18-year-old Dominic Scavuzzo is joining us now.

Dominic, thanks for being here. Why did you decide to do this? Why throw your hat in the ring?

DOMINIC SCAVUZZO (R), KANSAS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, for me, I have been interested in politics my entire life. I went to the inauguration in January with a group from school. And I met a bunch of representatives, senators and I became really entranced with the politics in general. And then afterwards, I attended a political leadership camp at Kansas State University last summer and me and the guys there, it is guys from all over Kansas, my age. And outside of our little group there, we realized that no one really seemed to be interested in politic that's our age. So I started doing some research. And I found that we all came across the loophole in Kansas. And when I came across that, I thought about it for a little bit and finally decided to jump on it in October.

CABRERA: So what has been the response to your candidacy? Are voters taking you seriously?

SCAVUZZO: The adults, it is a little harder for them to latch on to my message and what I really want to achieve with this candidacy. However, people in my grade at school, they have started to pay more attention. People -- I do high school debates in forums all around the state and they are very willing to listen. It has been a great opportunity for I think high school seniors in general to listen to someone that's their age talk about politics that matter to them.

CABRERA: What is your message? What do you want to achieve with this candidacy?

SCAVUZZO: To me this candidacy cannot only be a party platform. If you are my age, I believe to stand now. You need to take on the things that a lot of career politicians are little on the edge about, which are in Kansas, education and transparency.

We are one of the most secretive states in the nation. There are articles written about it all over the news. And I think if we can open our walls, the wall of Topeka and really let people know what is going on, a lot can come. A lot of change can come to our state. We can get rid of reckless spending and things that in our budget that are really not necessary that will be deemed by Kansans unnecessary.

So I think by just opening up our walls and getting people more interested and involved in politics and feeling a lot more comfortable getting involved, it will do a lot good for our state.

CABRERA: I know you have said you are Republican. You have a Republican governor there currently. What is the number one thing would you change right now?

SCAVUZZO: Like I said, I believe transparency is the biggest issue in our state. It is completely -- we are all completely in the dark. I did a (INAUDIBLE) high school in Lawrence, Kansas. And I asked the crowd, who in here knows what is going on this legislative session in Topeka and no one raised their hand. We are all very in the dark about it. It is a lot of anonymous voting. I think we just need to work together to find a solution to open up our doors.

CABRERA: So you have a strong conviction there. Do you think you are really prepared to run an entire state?

SCAVUZZO: There have been people in history who I feel have been less prepared. And I think if someone is willing to help the community and do the work they should be able to have a say and what happens.

CABRERA: Last month in the wake of that horrific mass shooting at the high school in Parkland, Florida, we saw students, like yourself, step up, demanding change in Washington. And today's civil rights icon, congressman John Lewis, talked to our Dana Bash about the response of those young people. I want you to listen to what he said.


BASH: There's a new organic movement of young people begging Washington, begging their local leaders for change. What do you see in the new movement? LEWIS: Well, I see so much hope. So much of our future. In this

youth movement. The movement of young people. The movement of women. And I truly believe that the young people and women will get us there. We are not quite there yet. But the young people and the women of America will be the leaders that will help build a new America, a better America.


[19:45:08] CABRERA: Dominic, is that how you view your generation?

SCAVUZZO: Yes. I see a lot of hope in our generation. We are very willing to do what needs to happen to make our society a better place. So I feel like my generation in general is just -- you know, we are going to be the next leaders of the nation. It is just bound to happen. So I think if we can take a step now and really voice our opinions on what matters now, it will really just spring us forward into the future.

SCAVUZZO: You are certainly a leader already.

Dominic Scavuzzo, thank you for the time. Good luck.

SCAVUZZO: Thank you very much.

CABRERA: Coming up, weekly Presidential brief from Putin's threats to the U.S., to the historic power grab in China, a look at top national security issues that could hit Trump's desk this week.


[19:50:20] CABRERA: It was a stunning visual, Russian President Vladimir Putin using a mockup animation video of nuclear warheads apparently raining down on Florida as a way to tout Russia's new fire power. President Trump's reaction to that? Silence. Although he was very vocal about other things in the media aftermath notably Alec Baldwin's impersonation of him over "SNL" which he found to be quote "terrible and an agony to watch." But try as he might to deflect, Russia is one national security concern the President can't ignore.

So with that in mind, we want to bring you a new segment here on CNN, one that plays off the reports that the President rarely if ever reads his daily intelligence briefing, opting for an oral briefing every couple of days instead and knowing the President's fondness for watching cable news, well, we would like to share some key national news and analysis in hopes that the President maybe watching.

Joining us now, CNN national security analyst and former national security council adviser for the Obama administration, Samantha Vinograd.

So Sam, I know you spent a couple of years prepping for the president's daily briefing in the Obama administration. So we are going to do a weekly presidential brief for our viewers tonight. Let's start off with Russia and Vladimir Putin.


Often, the intelligence community prepares threat assessments when under sustained attack, and because Russia is attacking us in so many theaters, a Russia threat matrix could hit the following points. In the conventional space, Putin continues his military buildup. Military spending reached post-soviet high in 2016. And as we heard in his invisible missile speech last week, he likes his propaganda plays where he touts Russia's military capabilities. This is while he has ground troops in Syria and Crimea. And so we expect him to continue to engage in the conventional military state.

In the cyberspace theater to quote CIA director Pompeo, we have seen no significant decrease in Russia's activities targeting the U.S. election. And last week, there are even reports that Russia hacked Germany's government through the fancy their organization.

Finally in the diplomatic space, Russia's trying to peel off our friends. It's no accident that Russia sign the arms deals, for example, with Turkey and Saudi, two allies of the United States, because Putin is hoping that by signing these arms deals and these contracts, countries will orient more towards Moscow and further away from D.C.

CABRERA: OK. Let's talk about North Korea now. Just today, that Trump's preconditions for talks are preposterous. What's the President need to know first thing Monday morning?

VINOGRAD: I think the President needs to know that Kim Jong Un was probably weren't the only one laughing at the President's remarks on North Korea yesterday. And that is because Kim Jong Un thinks the joke is on the United States. Kim thinks that the Olympics were a victory for North Korea. His athletes played in the games alongside every other country. Kim hasn't had to give anything up. And tomorrow, a delegation from South Korea is arriving in Pyongyang with no preconditions. And guess who is not invited? The United States. So in Kim's mind, he is in the driver's seat and the United States is watching from the sidelines.

CABRERA: Staying in the region, China's Xi Jinping, the President, the President's, our President of the U.S., praised the China - the Chinese president for his recent move to consolidate power, to end term limits. And the President making comments just this week in saying maybe we'll try that someday. How powerful has Xi become?

VINOGRAD: Xi's about to have a really good month. Tomorrow, the Chinese parliament or the parliament equivalent is kicking off a series of meetings where they are expected to vote on extending President Xi's term limit. He just started his second term. And we can predict they are going to prove this extension. And he could be looking at least another ten years in office. At the same time, the parliament is expected to approve a new anti-corruption body.

President Xi has arrested about a thousand party officials in China over the past several years under the guides of ant anti-corruption. There are a lot of suspicion, however, that he uses the notion of anti-corruption to lock up political rivals. When the parliament votes on this new body, Xi probably will have the authority to target people outside of the communist party. I think another 62 million people, so we could see him going to kind of anti-corruption overdrive and start targeting ordinary Chinese that he does not agree with or that he wants to silence by saying that they are corrupt and put them in jail.

CABRERA: I feel so much smarter now. Sam Vinograd, thank you for that. Good to see you.

All right. For more now analysis, go to In the meantime, we are back in a moment.


[19:59:24] CABRERA: Top of the hour. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for spending part of your weekend with us.

We begin this hour with the President letting loose at a Washington black tie affair joking about White House chaos, Jared Kushner's trouble getting a security clearance, and even his marriage to Melania. The mood funny and lighthearted. But there are also some things the President said that may have serious undertones, especially what he said about the ongoing nuclear threat with North Korea and this remark about the Chinese's President.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't forget China is great and Xi is a great gentleman. He is now President for life. No, he is great. And, look, he was able to do that. I think it's great.