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Russia Expels Diplomats and Tests New Ballistic Missile; Trump White House; Officer Who Shot Alton Sterling is Fired; Widow of Pulse Nightclub Gunman Found Not Guilty; South Korean Musicians to Perform in North Korea; Palestinians Clash with Israeli Forces; How Steve Bannon Used Cambridge Analytica to Further His Vision; China's Space Lab to Fall to Earth Soon. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired March 31, 2018 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): More and more expulsions, Russia swiftly responds to the West, kicking out dozens of diplomats from 23 countries. That is ahead here.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Protesters angry in Sacramento, California, following the release of Stephon Clark's autopsy report.
ALLEN (voice-over): We'll tell you what is in that. It is shocking. And later a Chinese space lab Earth bound but nobody is piloting it and chunks will land somewhere.
HOWELL (voice-over): Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewer here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen. We begin right now.
HOWELL: Russia has a message for dozens of diplomats: it is time to leave.
ALLEN: They are being expelled as relations between Russia and the U.K., the U.S. and its allies continue to crumble. The U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg is being closed. Workers have been seen packing up and leaving the believed. And Russia's actions may extend to the courtroom.
HOWELL: Its ambassador in Washington told reporters his country may sue the United States for closing Moscow's diplomatic properties in the U.S.
On Friday, ambassadors from more than 20 countries were called to the Russian foreign ministry. They were told some of their diplomats need to go home. All of this in retaliation for the expulsion of Russian diplomats in those countries.
ALLEN: The fight started with a nerve gas attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter, seen here. Britain says Russia was responsible. Moscow denies that. Sergei Skripal remains in critical but stable condition and his daughter is showing signs of improvement.
HOWELL: Matthew Chance is following the story live for us in Moscow.
Matthew, great to have you with us.
What more do we know about the latest expulsions?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We know that the Russians have summoned ambassadors from 23 countries that themselves expelled Russian diplomats in the days before and handed them a letter of protest and telling them that their diplomats would also be expelled.
There was also a number of other countries which the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement it was reserving the right to protest to and to expel diplomats from as well.
And so it all amounts to this huge international standoff, diplomatic standoff, between Russia and much of the international community, particularly Western countries, Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, places like that and, of course, Britain, which themselves expelled 149 Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, allegedly by a Russian nerve agent earlier this month in Salisbury, as you say, an attack which the Russians say they had nothing to do with.
But the net result of that is that Russia is very isolated diplomatically, it seems; these are the biggest expulsions of Russian officials since the end of the Cold War. And the big question now I think is whether this will have an impact on Russia's behavior.
Certainly the hope is amongst many Western countries that this will show Russia that there is unanimity in the West that this will not be tolerated and that Russia's behavior will be adjusted. But it could also just antagonize the Russians.
And indeed the Russians have gone further than simply expelling British diplomats in response to the Russian diplomats that were expelled from the United Kingdom. They have also issued a new dictate to the British embassy here in Moscow, saying that they want parity.
And what they are saying is that they want the number of British staff members and diplomatic workers in the U.K. mission in Russia to be reduced by more than 50 personnel to become the same number as the number of Russians that work in the United Kingdom.
We're not exactly sure how many U.K. British diplomats that would involve at all. But obviously it is yet a further sanction on the part of the Russians towards the United Kingdom and could set off another round of tit-for-tat expulsions on both sides. HOWELL: I think the point, though, what impact does this have on Russia, do we see this as the end of this or could there be more to come?
Matthew Chance, live for us in Moscow, thank you for the reporting today.
Now as all of this is playing out, the U.S. president, Donald Trump is --
HOWELL: -- spending the weekend at his resort in the U.S. state of Florida.
ALLEN: He has a long list of things to deal with, from a cabinet member's spending habits to the fallout from his comments on Syria. CNN's Jim Acosta wraps it up for us.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump was laying low in Mar-a-lago, playing golf, while, back in Washington, senior administration officials are scratching their heads over this comment Mr. Trump made in Ohio about Syria.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're knocking the hell out of ISIS, we'll be coming out of Syria like very soon. Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon. Very soon we're coming out.
ACOSTA (voice-over): As one senior administration official put it, "We are still trying to figure out what he meant about Syria."
The president made the remark as fighting continues in Syria; on the same day as Mr. Trump's speech two coalition soldiers, one American and one British, on a counter ISIS operation in Syria, were killed when their vehicle hid an IED.
The president's comments on Syria are also contrary to what he's insisted in the past, that he doesn't telegraph his moves.
TRUMP: I have a substantial chance of winning. If I win, I don't want to broadcast to the enemy exactly what my plan is. Let me tell you, this is what Obama does. We're going to leave Iraq on a certain date.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president has also been a tough critic of his predecessors in the Middle East, knocking George W. Bush for invading Iraq...
TRUMP: Everything that's happening, started with stupidly going into the war in Iraq. Now, Iraq, we have -- and people talk about me with the button. I'm the one that doesn't want to do this, OK.
ACOSTA (voice-over): -- and slamming Barack Obama for leaving Iraq too soon, leaving a vacuum that led to the creation of ISIS.
TRUMP: He is the founder of ISIS. He is the founder of ISIS. OK? He is the founder. He founded ISIS.
ACOSTA (voice-over): A sudden U.S. withdrawal from Syria may not only embolden ISIS, it could strengthen the hand of Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has long supported Syrian dictator Bashar al- Assad.
Putin is doing some saber rattling this week, boasting about a new nuclear weapons system that is capable of evading any kind of missile defense and striking targets in the U.S., like Florida, where the president is on vacation.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): This new system has virtually no limitations on distance. As you can see from the video, it is capable of attacking targets via both the North and South Pole.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Russia's ambassador to the U.S. meanwhile is defending Moscow's decision to expel U.S. diplomats in response to the Trump administration's announced diplomatic expulsions earlier in the week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If anybody slap your cheek, your face, what will be a reaction from your side?
You will think -- not you will think. You will try to do and you will retaliate, it goes without saying.
ACOSTA (voice-over): All that as the White House is grappling with more drama in the president's cabinet, this time it's EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, who is facing accusations of taking a security detail with him on personal trips to Disneyland and college football's Rose Bowl game.
Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse complained in a letter, "significant agency resources are being devoted to Administrator Pruitt's around-the-clock security even when he's traveling on non- official business."
That follows the firing of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who is accused of wasting taxpayer money as well.
DAVID SHULKIN, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: Surely before the president tweeted out, the chief of staff gave me a call just to let me know and gave me a heads-up.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC HOST: So you were -- Kelly told you and then you found out by tweet?
ACOSTA (voice-over): Shulkin was hardly given the same sendoff as former communications director Hope Hicks, that came complete with flattering photos of Hicks in her office snapped by "The New York Times" -- Jim Acosta, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.
ALLEN: Let's talk about these developments with James Davis, he is dean of the School of Economics and Political Science at the university of St. Galen. He joins us from Munich, Germany.
Thank you, James. It's nice to see you. Let's talk about these developments. Donald Trump suddenly making announcement that it is time for the U.S. military to exit Syria. The question is, did he mean that?
Was it just talking smack out in the country as he faces supporters?
And the question is, what might our allies in the region working in the region be thinking about that announcement?
JAMES DAVIS, UNIVERSITY OF ST. GALEN: Right. We don't know what he was thinking. I tend to think this was campaign rhetoric. He is in this kind of campaign mode when he goes out to the countryside and to tries to rally the base with all kinds of blustery statements. And I tend to think that he got out in front of himself on this.
The announcement certainly is a surprise to the military which has been planning for a longer-term deployment so that we don't make the mistakes of the past and that is to leave before the situation has been stabilized in a way that prohibits the reemergence of ISIS there.
It's going to be a surprise --
DAVIS: -- also to our allies, as you indicated, in particular the Kurds, who have been carrying a lot of water for us in this conflict. It might be a surprise to Putin, who, of course, would use the absence of American support for Kurds and other allied groups to increase his influence, expand his influence and that of his patron, Assad, in the regime -- in the area.
So it is a confusing statement but, once again, the sort of statement that we've gotten used to in this administration.
ALLEN: We may get used to it but it is certainly unsettling. It can be dangerous. It certainly takes a lot of intellectual bandwidth for people to break it down, analyze it for him to come back and go -- that's not really -- not going down that road. So who knows.
But the president has said before that he doesn't make announcements about what he is doing militarily. He has maintained that. And then he made this speech. Let's listen to what Mr. Trump has said before.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We no longer tell our enemies our plans.
America's enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out.
I don't want to telegraph what I'm doing or what I'm thinking. I'm not like other administrations, where they say we're going to do this in four weeks and that -- doesn't work that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Yes, yes, yes. So that is just an illustration of what we're dealing with here, correct?
DAVIS: No, that's right. And, I mean, the president's critique of the Obama administration was well-known and frankly accepted by many people, also members of the Democratic Party, who thought that Obama was far too quick to signal what he was doing both in Afghanistan and in Iraq and that this emboldened those who wanted to take charge of the situation directed in a way that was contrary to the United States' interests.
So in that respect I think Trump's position was perfectly legitimate. But the remarks today or yesterday suggest that he has failed to take his own advice. And once again leads to this kind of sense that no one is really in charge or the man who is in charge changes his mind quite frequently.
And that is no basis on which to develop a long-term strategy for winning this battle in the region and creating stability in an area that is still important to America and its allies.
ALLEN: Let's look at the other issue that we definitely know is happening and is that the fallout of the alleged poisoning of former spies in the U.K. Russia now expelling 60 Americans Democrats (sic), shutting down the consulate in St. Petersburg and expelling diplomats from 20 countries.
What are the ramifications here?
This isn't lighthearted tit-for-tat. This is very serious business.
DAVIS: Well, I think this means we are in for a long period of very tense and difficult relations with Russia. I think that it was essential that the United States stand with its ally, Britain, and expel Russian diplomats and spies from the United States.
But I do think we need to become a little bit more clever in the ways which we deal with Putin. There are other means that we might want to adopt because, at some level, this kind of behavior hurts both sides and also those that we really don't want to hurt, tourists who want to travel, students who want to get visas.
All these people will find it very difficult now to continue to travel and conduct their business. So it is not clear to me that we really hurt Putin. But there are ways that we could.
We should be targeting Putin and his cronies. We should be targeting those in the West that are on the payroll of the Kremlin. We should be much more clever and perhaps asymmetric in the way that we're dealing with this new aggressive stance of Russia.
ALLEN: All right. Hopefully somebody is listening to what you just said and will take heed. Sounds like they need to, Jim. James Davis, thank you for being with us.
DAVIS: Thank you, Natalie.
HOWELL: And Jim Acosta just mentioned this in his report but Russia is showing off its military capability.
ALLEN: As we mentioned, it has just released new video of an intercontinental missile test. It's called the Sarmat but NATO has nicknamed it Satan 2. Brian Todd takes a look at the diplomatic fallout from this missile test.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is powerful, provocative and now it is on public display.
Vladimir Putin's latest threat to America is this intercontinental ballistic missile, officially called the Sarmat, but nicknamed by western officials the Satan Two for its deadly force. The missile's test firing was rolled out by Russia in high-definition.
Putin says, it has virtually no limitations --
TODD (voice-over): -- on distance, capable of reaching the United States.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through a translator): It is capable of attacking targets via both the North and South Pole. Sarmat is a formidable weapon. No system, not even perspective missile defense systems are an obstacle for it due to its characteristics.
TODD: The Russians say, this missile can carry as many as 16 nuclear warheads, enough to wipe out Texas. This dramatic test firing, which experts say was meant to send a signal to the U.S., comes on the heels of Putin's grandiose presentation of other Russian weapons systems a few weeks ago.
Including a cruise missile, which can fly low to the ground, weave around obstacles and enemy radar and is powered by a nuclear engine on board.
As well as this unmanned underwater drone launched from a submarine, it could carry a nuclear warhead directly to an enemy sitting.
U.S. officials tell CNN, they have doubts that many of these weapons are near operational. But experts say the Russians will get there. And for Putin, there's a bigger game of foot. What's his motivation here? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got two audiences. First is always his
domestic audience to show Russians and to show the rest of the elite that Russia's still a great military power. The other audience is always a conversation with the United States to show us that he's a force to be reckoned with.
TODD: As he flexes his military muscle, Putin is now in an all- out diplomatic brawl with the U.S. and its allies over the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England. The Kremlin denies Britain's the claims that Putin is behind the
attack. But after the Trump administration, along with several European countries kicked out dozens of Russian diplomats, Putin is retaliating, expelling western diplomats from Russia.
And according to Politico, Russia's new ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, has complained in a letter to Republican Senator Orrin Hatch that he can't get meetings with anyone in the Trump White House, with cabinet secretaries, or members of Congress. If that's true, why would Antonov be shut out?
JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: No doubt, if I'm in the administration, the last person I want to see on calendar is the ambassador from Russia to the United States, at least right now.
And if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it in a way that it is incredibly transparent, lots of people in the room and I'm going to be somewhat protected. Number two, I think it very much is in response to the poisoning in the U.K. and the evidence that Russia was behind it.
TODD: But the White House is now claiming that ambassador Antonov's claim is not true, a senior White House official telling CNN that they have always been responsive to Antonov, that he has met several times with senior National Security Council officials throughout the year and that they have encouraged other people in the U.S. government to meet with him.
This official points out that that's access to U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, has not been granted in Moscow -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
ALLEN: Next we turn to the fight against police violence in the United States, two U.S. cities, hundreds of miles apart, dealing with the deaths of two African American men killed by police.
HOWELL: Plus after a deadly day in Gaza on Friday, more protests are planned for today. We'll take you there live. Stay with us.
[05:20:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black lives, they matter here.
HOWELL (voice-over): Protesters making their voices heard on the streets of Sacramento, California. On Friday night, the crowds came together outside city hall, chanting, "Black lives matter."
ALLEN (voice-over): And they held a moment of silence for Stephon Clark. He was the unarmed African American father of two, who was killed by police less than two weeks ago.
HOWELL: A new autopsy shows that police in California shot Stephon Clark eight times, six of the bullets went into his back. An independent pathologist retained by Clark's family performed the postmortem.
ALLEN: The family's lawyers say the results contradict the police version of the shooting. Police describe Clark advancing toward them, holding what they thought was a gun. It turned out he was holding a cellphone.
HOWELL: Other developments to tell you about in another police- involved shooting in the U.S., this back from 2016. On Friday, officials in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, fired one of the officers who shot and killed Alton Sterling.
ALLEN: Officials also released four new videos from that night. CNN's Kaylee Hartung has the latest on the investigation and the new footage. We warn you, it is disturbing.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Graphic and disturbing new video.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I do? What I do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't (inaudible) move. I'll shoot your (inaudible). Put your (inaudible) hands on the car.
HARTUNG: Showing the controversial shooting death of Alton Sterling in July 2016. The Baton Rouge chief of police announcing Officer Blane Salamoni, who shot Sterling six times during a struggle with him, will be fired over his actions.
CHIEF MURPHY PAUL, BATON ROUGE POLICE DEPARTMENT: The violation of command of temper has been sustained. Officer Blane Salamoni has been terminated from the Baton Rouge Police Department effective today.
HARTUNG: This week, Salamoni refused to answer any questions. During a disciplinary hearing, the chief said, while Howie Lake, the other officer involved, answered them all. Lake, who the chief said, made mistakes but controlled his temper during the encounter was given a three-day unpaid suspension.
PAUL: Two different perspectives and one officer did not follow the tactics training, professionalism and organizational standards.
HARTUNG: The police chief making it clear their administrative investigation was separate from the federal criminal charges both officers were already cleared of. The police department released four videos from the night of the shooting, including this surveillance footage from the Triple-S Convenience Store.
That's Sterling at the front of the store, sitting at a table where he's selling CDs. Minutes into the tape, he's seen conducting a transaction with an unidentified man. Here he removes what appears to be a gun from his front pocket followed by money from the same pocket.
Within seconds, Sterling is seen jokingly making a shooting motion towards the man. That night police were initially called to the Triple-S Convenience Store responding to a 9-1-1 call from a witness who saw a man with a gun. Watch closely as things escalate quickly. From Salamoni's perspective, you can see a brief struggle, then his gun is trained on Sterling's head.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to shoot you in your (inaudible) head. You hear me? Don't you (inaudible) move.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Hold up. Hold up. You're hurting my arm.
HARTUNG: Sterling then was pinned to the ground and Tased twice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground! Get on the ground!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pop him again, Howie!
HARTUNG: Before being fatally shot. Previously released cell phone videos recorded by bystanders show at this point in the encounter Salamoni believed Sterling was armed. A gun was recovered from Sterling's body.
But the federal and state investigations determined that the officer's actions were reasonable and couldn't prove that Sterling wasn't reaching for a gun.
ALLEN: Again, that was Kaylee Hartung with that disturbing story there.
In Florida, the widow of the gunman responsible for the Pulse night club massacre is free.
ALLEN: On Friday a jury found Noor Salman not guilty of playing any part in connection with her husband's rampage in that club in 2016.
HOWELL: Omar Mateen killed 49 people, wounded dozens others at the Orlando night club. CNN's Martin Savidge has more from the courthouse. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As you can imagine, this was an exceedingly emotional day for Noor Salman and for her family. Inside of the courtroom just before the verdict was read, you could tell that she was frightened. There is no doubt about that.
And family members themselves were holding on to one another, even as they were seated and waited for the verdict coming from the jury.
When it was read, it was not guilty on all counts. And then the release and the tears began to flow and the family members began to hug. She had been facing the possibility of life in prison.
Instead, she walked free from the federal courthouse, free from being held in federal custody for over a year and, now for the first time, able to get back with her 5-year-old child in quite some time.
So for her life, it is a remarkably happy day. But then you have the family members of the 49 victims. They also were in court when the verdict was read and their reaction was far more stoic. It is clear that some of the family members were not happy with the outcome.
But there was a statement that was released from the Pulse organization and essentially it was saying that they respect the verdict that came down from the jury and they went on to say, "This verdict cannot and will not divide us. The survivors, families and first responders as well as the community of Orlando and everyone around the world must now focus on the work ahead of us.
"We will always carry the pain of what happened at Pulse and we will never forget those who were taken."
For the defense, this was, of course, a huge victory for them. Federal prosecutors had maintained that Noor Salman had been a co- conspirator here.
But the defense said, no, she was more like a victim herself of a monstrous husband who was lying and deceitful and cheated on their marriage and had no respect, would never have treated his wife as a co-conspirator.
Charles Swift is the defense attorney and here is his reaction.
CHARLES SWIFT, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And there was no point in time during the government's case that I felt that we had lost. The government didn't deliver on its promises. And as we saw it, this was a case where, the more we learned, the better Noor Salman looked.
SAVIDGE: As to what comes next, the Salman family says that they believed that Noor Salman herself will have to undergo a lot of therapy to get over what she has been through. This community and, of course, the victims' families will never be able to get over their pain -- Martin Savidge, CNN, Orlando.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: Ahead here, as we push on, a new take on diplomacy efforts with North Korea, South Korea sending artists to perform in the North.
HOWELL: Plus a former Cambridge Analytica employee says that Steve Bannon used the data collection company to wage a cultural war on America. How he allegedly did it. Stay with us.
HOWELL (voice-over): Live coast to coast, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN (voice-over): And I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories.
ALLEN: North Korea used this year's Olympics in South Korea to launch a diplomatic offensive but that isn't stopping U.S. backed sanctions. The U.N. Security Council took more steps Friday to block North Korean attempts to smuggle oil and coal. It accepted a U.S. proposal to blacklist dozens of ships and shipping companies.
HOWELL: The United States and South Korea will also put on a show of force with joint military drills, like this, in place over the weekend.
As those war games kick off, South Korean artists will also put on a different kind of show. These performers left for North Korea just hours ago for a short tour. The group includes a K-pop girl band and a rock group.
Let's bring in CNN's Alexandra Field following the story live in Seoul, South Korea .
Alexandra, a lot at play here. Sanctions against North Korea, war drills with South Korea and the United States and there's music diplomacy also.
How does all this come together ahead of a very important meeting with the South Korean president?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's start with those military exercises that are set to begin on Sunday. Because certainly these are exercises that typically will grab the world's attention because they seem to create controversy, create tension right here on the peninsula.
(INAUDIBLE) every year. This is something that North Korea will regularly protest against and they will use it as a time to raise their objection to U.S. influence and also to assert what they believe is their right to their nuclear missile program.
So, for example, you'll remember a year ago, we saw ballistic missile testing from North Korea at this time. It is clearly typically a very tense moment on the peninsula. This year, obviously the tone of things has changed very rapidly.
We have learned through South Korea that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un himself, has said that he recognizes that these drills will go on.
And yet the fact that these drills are happening has not derailed the diplomatic developments that we have seen taking place since really January, when this breakthrough moment arrived, wherein the North --
FIELD: -- Koreans and South Koreans decided that a North Korean delegate would go to the Olympics in South Korea.
What we know about the drills this year is that while the U.S. is saying the scope and the scale of these exercises, which they maintain are critical for their defensive capacity, out here they will be a shorter set of drills, it seems. It seems that these drills will last just a month; whereas last year, they seemed to stretch over the course of a few months.
Still the United States saying the scope and scale hasn't changed they're getting in everything that they need to get in. But that month mile marker is important here, George, if you consider the fact that President Trump has agreed to speak to Kim Jong-un himself and said that that could happen in May.
So when we look at the timeline here, it does mean that these drills would be over by the time of a potential sitdown with the U.S. president -- George.
HOWELL: All right. And also let's talk about the music here because, again, it started as Olympic diplomacy; now we're seeing a different type of cultural exchange, a South Korean K-pop band crossing the border to the North. Let's take a look if we have video of this just to show our viewers around the world.
If you are not familiar with K-pop, this is it. So it's certainly different from what many North Koreans may be accustomed to -- Alexandra.
FIELD: Yes, look, this is symbolic certainly. These are images that will be seen in many places. You will see South Koreans in North Korea; you will even see them sharing the stage at one point.
But it is also a significant step forward because South Korea has not sent its artists into North Korea for more than 10 years. And just this morning we saw a huge delegation from South Korea, almost 200 people, making this trip to Pyongyang. They have been welcomed there by officials. We heard from some of these South Korean performers, including this K-
pop group, Red Velvet, about their feelings about going to perform in North Korea. Listen to this.
OK. Well, they expressed their excitement on the way to the airport. We don't have that sound for you. But I did have the opportunity to sit down earlier this week with one of the rockers who is going with this delegation as well.
He is part of a legendary Korean rock band here. And he actually performed with his group in North Korea back in 2002. He described that experience when he said, at the time, it was pretty awkward to perform to the crowd there. They didn't know quite what to make of the music the South Koreans were bringing.
But he said that by the end he felt that they had really won hearts and he said that that is their goal all over again.
And certainly this comes at an important time, where you see certainly a thawing of the tensions that were raised to a very high level just six months ago, even a year ago -- George.
HOWELL: All right, Alexandra Field, live for us, thank you for the reporting.
ALLEN: Australian cricketer David Warner say she accepts the fact he may never play for his country again. He gave a statement to the media in Sydney and apologized for his role in a cheating scandal.
HOWELL: Warner and two other cricketers are suspended over a ball tampering plot in South Africa. Here is part of his emotional statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID WARNER, AUSTRALIAN CRICKETER: I want to apologize to my family, especially my wife and daughters. Your love means more than anything to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: David Warner there.
And also Australia's cricket coach has announced he is also retiring.
ALLEN: Funerals and more protests are expected Saturday in Gaza. Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has declared it a day of mourning.
HOWELL: This after at least 17 people were killed, almost 1,500 wounded in clashes like what you see here, with Israeli troops on Friday. According to Palestinian officials, it was the first day of what is planned as weeks of protests called the March of Return.
Israel says tens of thousands of Palestinians advanced toward the border fence. Witnesses say Israeli troops responded by firing live rounds, rubber bullets and tear gas.
ALLEN: Let's get more on the situation from our Ian Lee. He joins us now live from Gaza.
And, Ian, these were to be peaceful protests and now this. It did spiral out of control.
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Natalie. At the end of the day, it became the single bloodiest, deadliest day that Gaza has seen since the 2014 war.
You're right, it started out Hamas calling for peaceful demonstrations. Yesterday we were at one of these camps, where the demonstrations were taking place, the crowds, thousands of people pushing toward the border fence.
We saw people with slingshots but that was the extent of what we saw. But we're hearing from the Israeli military; they said that projectiles were fired across the border at their troops. They say that live fire and also Molotov cocktails were thrown and they said that they fired live rounds at people who they knew were --
LEE: -- being instigators in all of this. Also they say that this border, which is just behind me a few hundred meters away, they say that is a war zone and not a place for civilians.
But despite all that, we did see a lot of people get hit yesterday. At one of these locations, we saw so many people injured that they didn't have enough ambulances. So they were putting two to three people per ambulance; also, people just had to wait because they had to wait for those ambulances to come back.
It just shows the intensity of what took place yesterday. Today it's a bit more subdued. We are at one of these camps in the southern part of Gaza; yesterday we were in the northern part. And we're just seeing maybe a couple hundred people out there.
This weeks-long protesting, we're expecting to see it kind of ebb and flow with Fridays, where you will get these flare-ups, all the way leading to May 15th. That is when they say that they will try to cross over that border.
But for Israel, they say that border is their red line, they have said that they will use deadly force to stop people from crossing over. They don't want anyone to infiltrate. So you really do have this clash, this potential for further violence, as the weeks progress -- Natalie.
ALLEN: Certainly hope that didn't happen. Ian Lee, reporting for us there from Gaza, thank you.
HOWELL: So this next story ahead, hey, don't worry too much about it. It is not that big of a deal. If you look up in the sky and see something a little weird, something the size of a school bus, hopelessly adrift, it's getting ready to return to Earth. And it won't be a gentle journey but don't worry. We'll explain.
HOWELL: We now know that the Trump campaign hired the London-based data collection company Cambridge Analytica and that the firm had gained access to private information from more than 50 million Facebook users.
ALLEN: Long before that, conservative strategist Steve Bannon was using the data-driven technology to push voters toward his brand of populism. CNN's Drew Griffin investigates.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cambridge Analytica was born out of Steve Bannon's alt-right vision for America. He had already produced propaganda-inspired films, that run the ultra- conservative "Breitbart News." But in 2014, he was looking for yet another tool in his arsenal and he found it by creating Cambridge Analytica.
CHRISTOPHER WYLIE, FORMER EMPLOYEE, CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA: This was Steve Bannon's baby.
GRIFFIN: Former Cambridge Analytica employee, Christopher Wylie, says from his first meeting with Bannon, it was clear the goal -- not to push a single campaign or candidate, but to fundamentally change America.
WYLIE: He sees this as warfare. So he is going to use as aggressive techniques that as he can get away with.
GRIFFIN (on camera): I mean, do you realize what you're saying? You're talking about warfare on the American citizens.
WYLIE: This is Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer using a foreign military contractor to use some of the same techniques that the military used to fight ISIS on the American electorate. That's what they wanted and that's what they got.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Cambridge Analytica is a subsidiary of the British SCL group. For 25 years, the military contractor has worked with 60 countries, including British and American governments, helping battle crime, drugs, terrorists by changing the opinions of foreign populations.
JOSH GREEN, AUTHOR, "DEVIL'S BARGAIN: STEVE BANNON, DONALD TRUMP and THE NATIONALIST UPRISING": SCL's sales pitch essentially was, look, we go into foreign countries and we use our tools, our psycho-graphic profiling, to manipulate public opinion. I mean, ultimately that's what Bannon wanted to do in the United States. He wanted to manipulate public opinion.
GRIFFIN: So Bannon created SCL's American arm, Cambridge Analytica, with $15 million from conservative donor, Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah. Wylie says using psycho-graphic data gathered from a Facebook app, Cambridge Analytica targeted specific groups of people to try to influence them and push them to the right.
WYLIE: It wouldn't always look like a campaign ad, or it wouldn't always say, you know, I'm candidate so and so and I approve this message. You're not necessarily aware that actually what you're seeing is content that had been created and targeted at you to make you perceive an issue differently. GRIFFIN: The company worked on the 2014 midterms. But amidst all the
data analytics, the questionable use of psycho-analysis, the micro- targeting that the technology allowed, Bannon's real goal was always much bigger than that according to Wylie.
WYLIE: He wanted to change people's perceptions of what was happening in America to make them more open to an alt-right vision.
GRIFFIN: Part of that included developing and testing messages that would resonate with voters, imagery of walls, deep state, increasing paranoia about government spying and this.
WYLIE: We had tested drain the swam.
GRIFFIN (on camera): In 2014?
WYLIE: In 2014.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Bannon had worked for two years to refine his messaging when in 2016 the perfect candidate came along to blast those messages to American voters.
TRUMP: It's crazy. Drain the swamp.
WYLIE: A lot of the narratives of the Trump campaign were what we were testing in 2014.
GRIFFIN: Cambridge Analytica is now downplaying its work for the Donald Trump campaign, insisting it did not use controversial Facebook data on it and saying elections are won and lost by candidates, not data science.
As for Steve Bannon, he wouldn't respond to CNN but recently told a business forum his techniques were used in the past by Democrats and said no one complained until a conservative did what progressives have been doing for years -- Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.
ALLEN: Well, if you look up this weekend, you might see some dazzling fireballs but you don't have to panic, they tell us, the sky isn't falling but something else is. That is coming up here.
HOWELL: This next story is about an out-of-control Chinese space station, hurtling toward Earth's atmosphere, to hit any day now. But don't worry. The European Space Agency is tracking the altitude of the unmanned Tiangong-1, which lost touch with Earth in 2016.
ALLEN: The space lab launched back in 2011. Experts say most of it will burn up during re-entry but some pieces may hit the ground.
And so, you know, that's unsettling.
HOWELL: Scientists say the chances of being hit by debris, one in a trillion.
ALLEN: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL: I'm George Howell. The news continues here after the break.