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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Launches Fresh Attacks On Mueller Russia Probe; Facebook Suspends Data Firm With Trump Ties; Putin retains Grip On Power; Captive Americans. Aired 3-4pm ET

Aired March 18, 2018 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:00:29] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again everyone. Thanks so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We start with the issue clearly weighing on the President's mind today, the Russia probe. Trump is escalating his attacks on Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Twitter, while lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are sending a clear message to the President, do not fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that the President is laying the groundwork to fire Mueller?

SEN. JEF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I just hope it doesn't go there, because it can't. We can't in Congress accept that.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency, because we're rule of law nation.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTEL COMMITTEE: This would undoubtedly result in a constitutional crisis, and I think Democrats and Republicans need to speak out about this right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: The President also taking aim at fire at FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and his claim that he kept memos of his conversations with the president. McCabe's lawyer firing back with a tweet, "We will not be responding to each childish defamatory disgusting and false tweet by the President. The whole truth will come out in due course. But the tweets confirm that he has corrupted the entire process that led to Mr. McCabe's termination and has rendered it illegitimate." That coming from McCabe's attorney.

CNN White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez with us right now. So, Boris, we heard today from a White House official defending the President's frustrations in what manner? BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. The Director of Legislative Affairs, Marc Short, was on one of the Sunday morning talk shows saying that the President's frustrations were merited in part because of the Russia investigation has cost millions and millions of dollars, and yet has not proved the alleged collusion that so many have claimed that took place between the Trump campaign and Russia back in the 2016 election.

The President himself was very aggressive this morning on Twitter in the strongest terms yet really calling into question the legitimacy of the Special Counsel's investigation. Here's a tweet that he sent out suggesting that it was biased against him. He writes, "Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big crooked Hillary supporters and zero Republicans? Another Democrat recently added, does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is no collusion."

A few things to point out about the President's tweet there. It's inaccurate to say that there are no Republicans on Robert Mueller's team. Robert Mueller himself is a registered Republican. There are prosecutors on his team that prosecuted Democrats and Republicans. There's no real partisan streak there.

Beyond that, Robert Mueller has a vote of confidence from a very important figure, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, has repeatedly said that Robert Mueller is carrying out this investigation in an appropriate manner. Despite that, these attacks from the President have drawn the ire of a number of lawmakers who believe that the president and his attorney, John Dowd, yesterday, through his statement, which he suggested that he was praying for the end of the Russia investigation may be moving closer to firing Robert Mueller to wrap up this investigation.

Again, here's the Director of Legislative Affairs, Marc Short, responding to questions about what the President intends to do. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARC SHORT, DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Everyone in the White House has cooperated on this. And what I said is, is that we have cooperated in every single way, every single paper they've asked for, every single interview. And I think the reality, Margaret, is that, yes, there's a growing frustration that after more than a year and millions and millions of dollars spent on this, there remains no evidence of collusion with Russia.

I think the president's expressing his frustration, which I think is well warranted and merited.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS: Yes. And one final note, Fred, we just got some breaking news, representative for House Speaker Paul Ryan saying that the Speaker stands behind Robert Mueller, that he believes that Robert Mueller should be able to do his job. When asked, however, by CNN'S Ashley Kilough if the Speaker is considering any form of legislation to perhaps protect Robert Mueller, to install some safe guards so that he couldn't be fired, the representative refused to respond to that question. Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much. Let's discuss that and that newest development from the representative for the House Speaker, Paul Ryan. CNN'S political analyst Margaret Telev and Julian Zelizer with us.

Margaret, you first to respond of that, that Representative for the House Speaker, Paul Ryan, would come out by way of Boris' reporting there and say that he stands behind Rob Mueller's investigation, that he clearly shouldn't be intimidated is the message.

[15:05:07] MARGARET TELEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. This is an important marker for the House Speaker to lay down for Republicans in leadership to lay down. President Trump turns to Twitter to vent his frustrations for a number of reasons and sometimes it seems to be just to let off steam and he feels better and kind of goes back to a reset. But sometimes it is to test or to float an idea. And I think for a lot of the Republicans who are concerned about this, they see this as a moment to make very clear if he is testing the waters that he would face tremendous pushback from Republicans as well as Democrats on Congress.

WHITFIELD: And then clearly the President is demonstrating his frustration, isn't he, by tweeting, by venting, by being critical of McCabe, and then today, directly expressing his frustration at Robert Mueller, Margaret.

TELEV: Yes, he certainly is, and of course the question is why. And when you look at the series of event that's unfolded over the last week or so, you see this coinciding with reports that Mueller's probe is reaching towards or into the Trump organization. That maybe an important marker. It's also March, the President had gotten assurances or as close to assurances as you can get from his own legal team and lawyers inside the White House that they believe that Mr. Mueller was going to be wrapping it up possibly as soon as the end of last year. And so the time in question has gotten to him.

It appears to be the reporting that suggests some of that shift towards the Trump organization that is sort of the most recent kind of change in scope that when you overlap it against his frustration it begins to paint a possible picture of what is making him so frustrated.

WHITFIELD: And so, Julian, when you look at the tweets coming from the President, you know, at rapid speed since, you know, the Friday night firing, it doesn't, it does fit seemingly a pattern, does it not, that he is airing his frustration, at the same time maybe potentially, you know, trying to taint the pool of opinion about what is right, what is wrong in his view about the overall Mueller investigation, about law enforcement, the FBI as a whole.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's exactly right. Part of what he does with each tweet is to vent and to express anger, frustration, whatever you want to call it, as the investigation gets closer to him, but the second part I would suggest is a political strategy to discredit the investigation, whether he can or cannot fire Robert Mueller, that's one issue. The other issue is if he can convince enough members of Congress and the public that the whole thing is fake, and that there's nothing there.

And these tweets come after we have a number of guilty pleas, a number of indictments, all sorts of evidence that things did happen, yet he wants to make an argument that absolutely nothing credible has been found. So this is a political strategy of delegitimizing the investigation.

WHITFIELD: Yes. With the reputation of no collusion as if it that's the only thing, but like you said, all of those indictments and even guilty pleas of other matters still indicators that there are things of concern to the Mueller team.

So Margaret, Trump's rant on Mueller, along with his personal attorney, John Dowd, you know, coming out with two statements and then also trying to distance his statement from, you know, his personal opinion, you know, in contrast to it being a reflection of the presidency. That, too, is really striking some concern among members of his own party, not just the representative who's, you know, speaking on behalf of Paul Ryan, but take a listen to other expressed concerns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TREY GOWDY, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: To suggest that Mueller should shut down and that all he is looking at is collusion, if you have an innocent client, Mr. Dowd, act like it. Russia attacked our country. Let Special Counsel Mueller figure that out. And if you believe, as we found, there's no evidence of collusion you should want Special Counsel Mueller to take all the time and have all the independence he needs to do his job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So, Margaret, there had been a lot of silence within the Republican Party. Is this an indicator of some sort of sea change?

TELEV: It is again because this notion of whether Mr. Mueller stays in place or not has been a red line, largely an unspoken red line, why have this, you know, why sort of challenge or confront the president over this if you're a Republican in the House or the Senate. But look, there's a couple things that play.

Number one is the real concern about interference with the independence of this investigation. Another is political. There's midterm coming up, you may have heard. And if that special election race in Pennsylvania is any kind of harbinger, is this that the President does have the potential to motivate democratic turnout and depressed Republican turnout, so depending on the particulars of a race and the candidate, the quality of the candidates.

[15:10:05] There are some concern that this could drag down Republicans, but I think that to the side, this is really largely an issues driven concern that this is something that can't be sort of pushed to the side the -- Mr. Mueller's ability to continue, and the Special Counsel's investigation and the Federal investigation has always been about a lot of things including what the Russians actually did, and who knew about it, not just what the President himself or in the inner circle knew about. That's right.

WHITFIELD: So, Julian, let me reiterate that a spokesperson on behalf of Paul Ryan, House Speaker, has come out with a statement, reflecting the point of view of Paul Ryan and now I have the verbate here. And that state says, "As the Speaker has always said, Mr. Mueller and his team should be able to do their job." What do you see in this statement and the need for this statement today?

ZELIZER: Well, it's clear some Republicans are at least speaking today. You know, I'm a little more cynical, and I see this in the wake of the Pennsylvania election, Republicans are worried about this costing them a majority. At least the Speaker is making a statement, sending a signal to the President. The question is, is there anything to back it up?

This comes after the House just closed down its own investigation. We don't really have congressional investigation that we had in Iran- contra, in Watergate, and so there are limits it seems to what the Republicans will do to protect the integrity of this process. So I don't know what they would do if push came to shove if the President announces in the next couple of days or sends signals that he wants Mueller gone. I don't know how Speaker Ryan would then respond. I'm not sure what he would do.

WHITFIELD: All right, Julian Zelizer, Margaret Telev, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Meantime, we'll also following breaking news out of Russia, polls are now closed in an election that will likely see Vladimir Putin hold on to power for another six years.

This amid growing concerns over Russian meddling in elections around the world. We'll take you live to Moscow next.

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[15:16:37] WHITFIELD: All right, we're following breaking news out of Russia. In Moscow, thousands are celebrating after polls are closed in a presidential race closely watched around the world. Exit polls now showing that Vladimir Putin is expected to further cement power for another six-year term.

I want to bring in former CNN Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty. So Jill, really no surprise that Putin, you know, so far looks like he has, you know, clinched another term, but does this victory potentially give Putin even more leverage as he flexes Russia's muscle with the U.S. and really the rest of the world?

JILL DOUGHERTY, FORMER CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: You know, I think you'd have to say, yes. Obviously to get like 73% of the vote or more that is really, they wanted about 70%, they got even more than that. We have to look at the turnout, which is another question, but that is a victory for him. I mean what's they wanted to do. They were beating the bushes to make sure they got every possible voter to the polls, to cast a vote, hopefully for Vladimir Putin.

And so they can depict it as the unity of the country, the support for Vladimir Putin, and moving forward. And I think, you know, if you examine why people support him, it would be because they would argue that he picked up Russia from its knees, its back on the world stage. Its exerting its influence around the world, that plays very well here at home. You know, one thing, this vote was held and was moved the timing of it to the very anniversary of the Annexation of Crimea, which is of course criticized in the West but very popular here. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: So Jill, what, there were seven other candidates, you know, in the running, but it was Putin who apparently has really been campaigning to get voters to give him and especially, you know, big victory. I mean, what does campaigning look like if you're Vladimir Putin?

DOUGHERTY: You know, oddly enough, it's non-campaigning, un- campaigning. What happened was everybody else campaigned, everybody else kind of ran around. There were debates that devolved into complete insanity, which turned into kind of screaming matches, but Vladimir Putin, as he always does, did not participate. He didn't take part in the debates. He did not really campaign in that sense. He really didn't have a platform except for, you know, very general ideas of improving the lives of Russians, et cetera.

What he did was he dominated the air waves as the President of Russia.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

DOUGHERTY: You know, every day there is wall to wall coverage of what the president does and says. So he was able to, you know, conquer by doing exactly what he does as president, but not really campaigning.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Suspected that was the answer but I wanted to hear you say it because you're there. All right, Jill Dougherty, thank you so much from Moscow. Appreciate it.

All right, now to a CNN exclusive, a look inside the USS Hartford, a nuclear-powered submarine challenging Russia in the arctic. CNN Jim Sciutto got extraordinary access with the Navy to see how it deals with the potential threats from Russia under the ice.

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[15:20:07] JIM SCUITTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 100 miles north of the northernmost tip of Alaska we set down on a runway carved into the Arctic ice. Our objective, U.S. Navy submarine exercises called ICEX. CNN was granted exclusive access.

(on camera): The ice here is about three feet thick. And may not look like it, but it's moving all the time. This is a giant kaleidoscope of giant pieces of ice.

(voice-over): This is the harshest sea environment in the world and a new front in the expanding global competition between the U.S. and Russia. These 5.5 million square miles are under an intense battle for dominance as the ice shrinks and opens new oil exploration, new shipping lanes and crucially, new paths to wage war.

(on camera): Do you have a sense of greater competition up here for capability in this space?

REAR ADMIRAL JAMES PITTS, COMMANDER, UNDERSEA WARFIGHTING DEVELOPMENT CENTER: We are well aware that we are in a great power competition environment, and the Arctic is one piece of that.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): We went under the ice on the USS Hartford, one of many U.S. submarines taking part in a competition raging, sometimes miles below the surface.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like wear your weapons 3-2-1. Weapons 3-2-1 icer, next, tube one.

SCIUTTO: The Hartford, the Los Angeles class nuclear attack submarine readies to fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tube one primary, no back up, show, tube one.

SCIUTTO: In an instant, a two ton 20-foot-long torpedo speeds toward an enemy submarine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It also bit to get in the dark.

SCIUTTO: Target acquired and destroyed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stationary dive, stationary dive.

SCIUTTO: These are just exercises. The Hartford training for its primary mission, hunting and destroying enemy ships and submarines.

(on camera): Why is it more important now to demonstrate that capability?

MATTHEW FANNING, USS HARTFORD COMMANDING OFFICER: You know, this is our exclusive economic zone and that our submarine force is capable of operating here just as we operate along our east coast and throughout the world. It shows that we are capable of doing it and willing to come up here.

Out for test there, out for stock, out for test factory.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): Operating under the Arctic presents unique challenges, with no access to GPS navigation, limited communications and dangers from below and above.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ice keels depth times zero seven, five-five feet.

SCIUTTO: Ice keels as long as 150 feet extend down from the ice sheet. America's biggest challenge, however, comes from Russia. The Russian military has assembled an arc of steel along its Arctic coast, comprising dozens of military bases, ports and airfields, and it is building and deploying faster, quieter and more capable subs of its own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make it up 180 feet.

SCIUTTO: Have you had specific encounters if not in the Arctic than elsewhere with Russian submarines or Chinese?

OLLIE LEWIS, SUBMARINE SQUADRON 12: Again, we'd never try and speak to those specific operations for the clear intelligence value that that would be to the adversary. Fundamentally, we are watching and we are engaged, and I think our adversaries recognize that as well.

SCIUTTO: This year, these exercises are taking on new urgency. A British submarine joined for the first time in a decade. And U.S. submarine forces are refocusing on a mission dating back to the cold war, deploying and demonstrating deadly fire power on the top of the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check this and (INAUDIBLE) stand fast.

SCIUTTO: But everything is harder here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five degree up angle, 0.23 upper velocity and increasing.

SCIUTTO: Surfacing through the ice requires enormous power and skill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Impact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One-1,000, two-1,000, three-1,000.

SCIUTTO: We were on board as the submarine ascended with the full force of its 6000 tons.

(on camera): We just broke through two feet of Arctic ice. The North Pole is this way. Russia is this way and Alaska this way, and a mission like this is all about sending a message. The U.S. Navy can operate or wage war, if necessary, in the harshest environment in the world.

(voice-over): A harrowing message these nuclear submarines are sending to Moscow and the world.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Wow, that's an extraordinary look at that mission. All right, that was CNN's Jim Sciutto reporting from the Arctic.

All right, coming up, Facebook spends a firm tied to the Trump campaign, after allegations that it improperly obtained the personal information of millions of users.

What we need to know about this firm and what the data was being used for, next.

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[15:29:32] WHITFIELD: All right, it's probably one of your favorite guilty pleasures on Facebook, those personality quizzes will now a data firm associated with the Trump campaign has been suspended by Facebook after reportedly using information from those quizzes without permission to target voters.

And today, lawmakers want answers and are calling for Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg to come forward and explain how user information from millions of people landed in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm with ties to Trump's 2016 campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[15:30:07] SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Well, certainly, who knew what when. This is a big deal, when you have that amount of data and the privacy violations there are significant.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: We ought to be very, very careful about the government collecting that data from private entities. The privacy of the American consumer. The American individual should be protected.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We need to find out what we can about the misappropriation of the privacy, the private information of tens of millions of Americans, that misappropriate information used by this digital arm of the Trump campaign to manipulate American voters and of course, the links between Cambridge Analytica and Julian Assange.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And Facebook has just announced a review in light of the Cambridge Analytica controversy, in a statement the social media giant says, "We are conducting a comprehensive internal and external review and are working to determine the accuracy of the claims that the Facebook data in question still exists. That is where our focus lies as we remain committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people's information."

All right, joining me right now, Carole Cadwalladr, she co-wrote several articles about Cambridge Analytica and she's joining us now live.

So Carole, first, exactly in a nutshell, what went on here?

CAROLE CADWALLADR, JOURNALIST, THE GUARDIAN/OBSERVER: What went on here is that Facebook found out in December 2015 when "The Guardian" published the first article on this that the privacy of millions of their users had been compromised and that that information ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica. And since then, they have denied and denied and denied, and refused to acknowledge anything about it.

I first wrote about this a year ago and other people have too. And we still didn't get any acknowledgment from Facebook until we put questions to them on Monday, and with very detailed set of questions as a result of this whistleblower coming forward.

So this is somebody for Christopher Wylie who and I first met a year ago and taking in a year to get him out on the record, but he has this amazing paper trail of receipts and invoices and contracts that shows absolutely that that data -- that personal information of more than 50 million Americans was harvested and ended up in Cambridge Analytica's hands.

And so Facebook finally on Friday night they acknowledged this had happened and kicked Cambridge Analytica off the platform, but really this is a face-saving exercise at this point. And what is, you know, I really consider this a moral failure on Facebook's part, that they just haven't taken it seriously and they're only starting to investigate now, which is four years on since it actually happened.

WHITFIELD: So you learned about it a year ago, even though you talk about Facebook and others knowing about it since 2015. What's the kind of information, what's your understanding, the kind of information that was harvested or extracted to, you know, benefit the Trump campaign?

CADWALLADR: It's this incredibly rich and trove of information that people don't realize they're giving away on Facebook --

WHITFIELD: Like what?

CADWALLADR: The likes that you just give, and you like this post and you like that post. It might not seem like it's very much, but in across this huge, huge, huge numbers of people, it can actually be revealing about personality test. And also (INAUDIBLE) everything else, it's photos, it's your network of friends, it's even, Chris has said he saw a table which contained private messages and so, you know, it's a kind of -- it's a vast surveillance tool that has ended up in the hands of this company.

And it's just been used in ways that people weren't aware of and can't, you know, that can't see and can't fully understand, and it's just really important that we can get to the bottom of this and we sort of need to know how that information is use (INAUDIBLE).

WHITFIELD: So you helped co-write, you know, this article in the "New York Times" and in this article it says that this kind of data did help the Trump campaign, and you wrote and I'm quoting now, just pulling a section from the article, "The researchers paid users small sums to take a personality quiz and download an app which would scrape some private information from their profiles and those of their friends, activity that Facebook permitted at the time."

Facebook is now come out with a statement saying we're looking into it. Do you have confidence or based on your reporting, should users have confidence that Facebook is going to get to the bottom of it, even though you just mentioned this was started maybe four years ago?

[15:35:06] CADWALLADR: No, I've got absolutely zero confidence. Facebook's response to our letter asking these valid questions, which we at the newspaper "The Guardian Observer" we've have been asking this now for a very long time. We put them these questions on Monday, having finally being able to produce this documentary evidence and this whistleblower.

Facebook's response on Friday was to send us a legal letter, and to suggest that this was false and defamatory accusations and to try and shut the story down. They tried to stop us publishing this. And then what happened was in the middle of the night, U.K. time, that they then put this out that we're suspending Cambridge Analytica from the platform.

So what we're really seeing is Facebook refusing to acknowledge these known facts until it's forced into a position where it has to. So I have zero confidence in them. And that's why I think it's so important that legislators, as is happening now in the United States and it's happening (INAUDIBLE) actually get the senior executives in front of them and ask them for proper information. Because actually what we saw in Britain --

WHITFIELD: Yes.

CADWALLADR: -- was that British MPs traveled to Washington last month and they called Facebook's senior policy, the head of policy for Europe, and he gave -- he was asked directly, does Cambridge Analytica have Facebook data, and he said no, and he gave this, you look back and you say actually that was a clever legalistic argument that was there to just weasel out to after disclosing information to --

WHITFIELD: All right, (INAUDIBLE).

CADWALLADR: -- on accusations which I do find kind of outrageous.

WHITFIELD: Well, have to leave it there. Carole Cadwalladr, it is a fascinating read. It is complicated but it is fascinating and very revealing nonetheless. Thank you so much.

CADWALLADR: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:42:27] WHITFIELD: Happening right now, negotiations are under way in Sweden to release three American citizens being detained in North Korea. The talks come just 10 days after the announcement that a meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un is in the works.

Two detainees have been there since last year on suspicion of, "hostile acts," while the other has been serving a 10-year sentence on espionage charges.

I want to bring in Global Affairs correspondent Elise Labott.

So, Elise, what do we know about the state of these negotiations, Sweden's role here? ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, as you know, Sweden is the so-called protecting power of U.S interests in North Korea because the U.S and North Korea do not have, you know, diplomatic relations. So Swedes take care of any, you know, really it's Americans that are being held in North Korea any time they pass messages on between the U.S and North Korea.

They've also been trying for many months to negotiate the release of these three detainees ever since the death of Otto Warmbier, he was, of course, released last year by North Korea, and then passed away shortly after.

I recently spoke with the just retired U.S envoy Joe Yun, who has spoken with the North Koreans, you know, since this whole offer by the North Koreans to meet with President Trump and President Trump accept it. And take a listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LABOTT: You've talked to the North Koreans?

JOSEPH YUN, FORMER STATE ADVISOR ON NORTH KOREA: I've talked to North Koreans and just sent -- I sent a single message to them, which was that, this was an amazing opportunity for both sides and they need to respond. And I also, you know, when I was in Pyongyang I saw the three American prisoners there in June last year. I think I was the last outsider to see them.

And, you know, I would really like to see them released, so I pressed the point to them. This would be an incredibly good time for them to release those prisoners, so that they can be reunited with their family. And that that in it self, I told them, it would be a very positive message.

LABOTT: Do you think they'll do it?

YUN: I hope so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LABOTT: Now I asked Yun why we have not heard from the North Koreans since President Trump accepted that offer. He said that the North Koreans are little bit surprised that President Trump accepted so fast. So they're kind of scrambling to figure out their strategy and he hopes to hear something, see something, some kind of sign from them in the coming days. And he said this releasing of the Americans before the talks between the two leaders would be a good show of faith, Fred, that the U.S is serious.

[15:45:17] WHITFIELD: And really quick, Elise, was this groundwork laid by Rex Tillerson before he was fired?

LABOTT: I think it was more laid down by Yun. You know, Yun has been talking to the North Koreans for many months. He was the one that went to North Korea and got Otto Warmbier out. So he's been talking to them for several months. And the Swedes have been working alongside with them.

WHITFIELD: All right, Elise Labott, thank you so much.

We'll be right back.

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[15:50:11] WHITFIELD: CNN's American Dynasty "The Kennedy's" airs tonight. The original series reveals how personal relationships with then America's first family help shape national and global events. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VAN JONES, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The Kennedy's understand before any other American family the role of glamour. And, until now, glamour is something that's really the province of Hollywood. The Kennedy's pull it over into the province of politics, really, for the first time in a modern way. And as a result, everybody is in love with this family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Kennedy family really represented America on the rise. An immigrant country, where anybody could get ahead if they were smart enough, if they were ambitious enough, people would look at the Kennedy and they would see the American dream.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Barbara Perry is joining me right now. She is the presidential studies director at UVA's Miller Center.

And sorry about your beloved cavaliers, but let's talk about this series, Barbara.

BARBARA PERRY, MILLER CENTER, UINERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: So, in this week's episode, we see JFK. You know, first considered a run for the White House, but his father insists that Jack, you know, needs to get married first. So, tell us how John and Jackie met and became this, you know, iconic American couple.

PERRY: Well, what some people might not know about them is that they had actually run into each other on a train when Jackie was a teenager. She remembered the encounter a much older John Kennedy did not. He was 12 years older than she. So his first memory of meeting her was at a dinner party, held by journalist Charles Bartlett and his wife in Georgetown.

And the Kennedy lore was that he looked across the asparagus and said, would you like to have a date? It was a little bit more complicated than that, but they did meet at a dinner party in Georgetown.

WHITFIELD: Wow. And then, you know, fast forward, very quickly, you know, we've been looking at these promos of the wedding day. and people cannot, you know, get over those iconic images of their wedding day. But then come to find out in the back story, as relaxed and poised as Jackie looked, there was a lot going on back there. There were a lot of forces.

PERRY: There was a lot going on to be, to be sure. Something that's actually not included in the episode is that she had hoped to be escorted down the aisle of St. Mary's church in Rhode Island by her beloved father, who had divorced her mother when Jackie was a young teenager. And unfortunately, he was a bit of an alcoholic and so he was not up to escorting her down the aisle. But her very nice stepfather, Hugh D. Auchincloss, did the honors.

And as you say, she looks as though everything is fine and she is the beaming, radiant bride, and John Kennedy is the radiant groom, if I may. So, it look like everything was just fine, but behind the scenes, there were problems and everything was being orchestrated by Joe Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy, the new Mrs. Kennedy really didn't have a say in how she wanted to have her own wedding.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And to hear that wasn't even the wedding dress, you know, of her choice. But gosh, she was still, you know, stunning and beaming. I think most people will, you know, take note of that.

So, today we think of the Kennedy's as, you know, these political powerhouses, but JFK was really something of an underdog when he first threw his hat into the ring for the White House. So, what were some of the challenges that he faced in his campaign?

PERRY: Well, he had a host of challenges. First of he was not in the most robust of health with his back problems. And what was unreported Addison's disease diagnosis he had back in the late '40s. He also had a bit of a womanizing reputation, so there was that. But the worst problem for him, at the time, was his Catholicism.

And so he ultimately decided to push back against those protestant leaders, like Norman Vincent Peele and Billy Graham, who were against him. And he gave a very stirring speech in 1960, in September down in Texas to a group of protestant ministers and he made the case using a point to Jefferson, the founder of the University of Virginia, Jefferson's separation of church and state, to say among other things in Jack Kennedy's case. Nobody asked me about my religion was when I went off to serve in the south Pacific in World War II. And nobody asked my brother Joe Jr. what his religion was when he flew off and lost his life for his country.

WHITFILD: All right. Barbara Perry, thank you so much. It's so far, in the first installment, been a fascinating series. And tonight, I'm sure will be as well. "The Kennedy's," 9:00 Eastern only on CNN.

Still, so much more straight ahead in the newsroom, but first, here's this week's "Staying Well."

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SANDRA KAREM, JORDAN'S MOM: Jordan was 11 years old when her father died from lung cancer.

[15:55:03] ORDAN KAREM, MUSIC THERAPY PARTICIPANT: I was really, really close with my dad. Coming home after school and not having him here is a very, very hard time in my life.

S. KAREM: Sometimes her feelings would come out in anger or frustration. And I would ask her what's wrong and she couldn't tell me, because she just couldn't put it into words. I knew music might be a way in to help her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Music therapy is the use of music to attain therapeutic and rehabilitative goals. We find that people are able to share things through music that they may not be able to share in talk therapy. So we may use things like lyric analysis, song writing, playing instruments, singing.

J. KAREM: I decided to write a song with all the memories that I had of him. I got to put my own emotions into it.

I remember the feeling in home when you wrapped me in your arms

S. KAREM: She got more confidence in herself. She definitely was able to trust other people and feel okay sharing her feelings. And today, she's a theater major. I would have never dreamed that for her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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