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North and South Korean Officials Prepare for Summit; Saudi Airstrikes Blamed for Dozens of Civilian Deaths in Yemen; Armenian Prime Minister Resigns; Royal Couple Welcomes Baby Boy; Barack Obama Makes First Lady Smile. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired April 24, 2018 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Ahead this hour, a sidewalk of pure carnage. Police say a driver deliberately mowed down pedestrians on a busy street in Toronto.
SESAY (voice-over): Plus the search ends for the suspect in a deadly restaurant shooting in Tennessee. But authorities still want to know how a man who already had his guns taken away once was able to get them back.
VAUSE (voice-over): On Saturday, George H.W. Bush laid his wife of 73 years to rest. The next day, the former U.S. president was admitted to hospital battling for his own life.
SESAY (voice-over): Hello and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE (voice-over): I'm John Vause. We're now into the second hour of NEWSROOM L.A.
VAUSE: At least 10 people have been killed, 15 others wounded in what Toronto police believe was a deliberate attack on a busy city street. Pedestrians appeared to be targeted by the driver of a rental van.
SESAY: The (INAUDIBLE) suspect Alek Minassian was arrested after a brief standoff with police. Investigators say he once posted praise for the gunman in a 2014 shooting in California but they are not ready to call this a terror attack.
Witnesses describe the horror.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was in the middle of the intersection and the van went right into him, plowed right into him. And then, apparently, he drove down further and he went onto the sidewalk by the next building and he hit more people there. He just kept going.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And so many people shouting, stop the car, but he didn't. He said just kept moving. And he hitted (sic) some people. And sort of people lie down there and they didn't move at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody, all these people on the streets getting hit one by one. Post office box getting crumpled up on people and one person got dragged on. And their blood is all over. This is really bad out there, man. I'm so shaky. I'm still dying from this. I can't believe this is happening, this is unbelievable. This is so unbelievable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: It really is nothing short of a nightmare.
Steve Moore is a CNN law enforcement contributor and retired FBI supervisory special agent.
Steve, thank you for being with us. I want you to take a listen to what Toronto's police chief said in the aftermath of this van attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK SAUNDERS, TORONTO POLICE CHIEF: At this particular point in time, there's nothing that does affect the national security footprint. We are looking very strongly to very strongly to what the exact motive or motivation was for this particular incident to take place. And at the end of the day, we will have a fulsome answer. And we'll have a fulsome account as to what the conclusion of this is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Steve, what does that statement tell you about where the investigation stands right now?
STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: It tells me that they have some kind of information. You can't say that there is not a national security threat unless you know something here.
And even then his statement was kind of equivocal and I don't know if that's because he was -- he was not clear in how he said it or whether he was intentionally equivocal because what he said was that there is not a national security threat.
That doesn't mean that this wasn't an attack against your national interests. So that remains to be seen. But again, they do know something about him that they're not ready to talk to us about.
SESAY: The fact that there is a Facebook account, where this seemingly belongs to the suspect and on that Facebook account, he posted this message, praising a shooting in California in 2014.
What does that say to you?
The motives of that individual were to do with unsuccessful dating.
Could that give us some insight into this individual's head or could it be that he's just a copycat for fame?
How do read the citing of another mass killer?
MOORE: Well, it's kind of difficult to crawl inside their head and you wouldn't want to be there once you got there. But one of the things is he wasn't necessarily referencing this person's motivation for his attack. He was simply messaging about the guy's carnage, about his body count.
And I think what we're seeing is a sea change in the violence in the world right now and you know, we've seen it in America for a long time, where people are coming in with guns and shooting groups of people. And they do that in America because they have these crazy people still unfortunately have access to weapons.
Other parts of the world don't have guns but it's not stopping the violence. And so we can -- we can do all we can to keep firearms out of the out of the hands of crazy people but it's not going to stop the violence because, as we've seen a Ryder truck can kill 10 people --
MOORE: -- in a minute or two.
SESAY: The authorities are saying this doesn't affect our national security footprint but, of course, on the minds of everyone is the fact that we have seen terror attacks using vehicles.
In fact, it has been an order, if you will, an instruction from ISIS, use whatever you can, grab a vehicle, grab a knife or whatever. So to see that used in this way, possibly without Islamic terror connections...
MOORE: Exactly and I think what's happening is there's this strange coming together of ideas here, where you've got the ISIS tactics on how to kill people and they're being used by people who really could care less about ISIS and their motives.
They are saying I want to kill people and, oh, this gives me an idea. And it's really this cross pollinization (sic) that is really horrific and almost unimaginable.
SESAY: I want you to look at the video again of him being -- the standoff that eventually ended with him being taken into custody because it is so bizarre. Let's play that video.
So there he is, you see the cop there and the camera and he keeps doing that thing, where he's -- what -- I'm trying to figure out what (INAUDIBLE) from the vantage point of the cop, it's clear he doesn't have a gun, right?
Or is it?
How do you as a -- you've been in the field. You're faced with someone who's saying I have a gun. Shoot me.
MOORE: Yes, and he's probably what 25 feet away. The policeman, it's a clear day; he probably saw something in his hand and that's one of the things that you see between experienced veterans and the rookie policeman.
Sometimes the rookies will say I see something coming towards me. That could be a gun. Therefore I'm going to shoot. This policeman was calm. You're seeing bodies all over the ground. This guy makes a gesture as if he's going to shoot you and he doesn't shoot him.
This to me, is excellent, excellent training and possibly a little bit more, possibly just this was -- is a very good cop because the man is obviously trying to get shot. He doesn't have a gun. He wants to end his own life.
SESAY: -- get shot, wouldn't you run at the cop?
That's why I asked you early on, does he really want to die?
I feel like there are failsafe ways of making sure you get shot by the police.
MOORE: Yes, there are. You just get a knife from your house run at the cop and I guarantee you he'll do that for you.
But the problem is -- and I've interviewed these people after, immediately after mass attacks and one thing I heard from one guy is he said, I fully intended -- and he had a gun -- I fully intended to kill myself at the end.
I said, Why didn't you do it?
He goes, just couldn't bring myself to do it. And so that at best was a halfhearted attempt.
MOORE: And then once it didn't work --
SESAY: -- when he wasn't shot --
MOORE: -- he went down --
SESAY: -- OK.
MOORE: -- he wasn't all in.
SESAY: Yes, but he was all in to claim the lives of all those people -- (CROSSTALK)
MOORE: -- easy for a coward to kill someone else, isn't it?
SESAY: Steve, we're going to talk about what happened in the U.S., in Tennessee, where there was that shooting over the weekend. Let's bring our viewers up to speed with what happened there because there was that shooting in a Waffle House and the suspect there is Travis Reinking. He was arrested after some 34 hours, after police say he shot and killed four people near Nashville.
This is an individual who is known to police, had apparently been known to be mentally unstable. CNN's Dianne Gallagher brought us up to speed with all the details.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, the suspected Waffle House shooter in police custody. Travis Reinking was apprehended in a wooded area behind an apartment complex where he was last seen.
LT. CARLOS LARA, NASHVILLE POLICE: He had a maroon shirt, dark jeans and a backpack. Once he was in custody, the detectives went, cut off the backpack off of him because he was in cuffs. When they looked into the backpack, they had -- they saw a silver Kimber semiautomatic weapon with .45-caliber ammunition, a flashlight and a holster.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): Reinking, who was added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's top 10 most wanted list, had been on the run since Sunday, accused of killing four people at this Nashville Waffle House.
This shooting spree stopped by this man, who is being called a hero for wrestling the gun away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES SHAW JR., WAFFLE HOUSE HERO: I was just really waiting for a moment, like just a moment that he was going to give me. And he gave me that moment. He gave me that moment when he put the barrel, he aimed -- the barrel of the gun was aimed down.
And then I just had to kind of go for it and I went for it and I ran through the door.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GALLAGHER (voice-over): In July 2017, Reinking breached a White House security barrier, demanding to speak to President Trump and was arrested for trespassing. Following that incident the Taslo (ph) County Sheriff's office seized four firearms and ammunition from Reinking's apartment, including the AR-15 recovered from the Waffle House crime scene.
Officers later released the firearms and ammo to Reinking's father, who authorities now say returned them to his son. His father had taken his guns away before after multiple incidents in Tremont, Illinois --
GALLAGHER (voice-over): -- including one where Reinking was reportedly threatening his father's employee with a gun.
On that same day, according to this police report, Reinking, quote, "barged into the pool, wearing a pink woman's housecoat, showed his genitals to lifeguards, who told him to get out of the pool."
And in 2016, according to this police report, he had a delusional episode, where he accused Taylor Swift of stalking him. Quote, "Travis stated he did not want to hurt Taylor Swift or anyone else. He only wanted the harassment to stop" -- Diane Gallagher CNN, Antioch, Tennessee.
SESAY: Steve Moore is still with us.
Steve, people are looking at this shooting and the immediate question is, given what we know of this individual and the reports of his mental instability, how did he get his hands on the weapons?
I mean -- and a number of them.
Do you think that -- I guess the question is when did he have them?
When did he first get them?
MOORE: Well, see that's a problem. He got them before apparently a lot of this mental instability surfaced. And what you find, when you do -- when you look at somebody is all you -- before you give a right to do anything is you're seeing this snapshot. Life is a video.
And you get somebody who can have late adolescent onset of schizophrenia or something like that. I'm not making an allocation; I'm just saying this wouldn't be inconsistent with that.
So they've already got the guns and now they're going down a path of destabilization of their mental situation. In this case for the system worked in that Secret Service, the FBI and the Illinois officials combined to take away his right to have those weapons.
It is so hard. How many times have you seen a crazy person's right to have weapons taken away from them?
Somehow the system failed when the guns were given back to his father. Now I can see the conversation even, why you would want, why you feel you would like to give it back to the father, saying they're not his; they're mine, I bought them, whatever.
But the minute he in any way, shape or form intentionally or unintentionally gave access to those firearms to his son, that is a felony. SESAY: OK, so I want to pick up on that. You whether it was intentional or unintentional. So we do not know; this is a speculation, it is unconfirmed. But let's say this Travis actually broke into a cabinet that contained this weaponry, where his father had stashed it.
Is the father still criminally liable?
MOORE: It would depend completely on how secure the weapons were. For instance in the State of California, because I train people with training agencies, not individual people but agencies that protect things, I train with AR-15s.
In order for me to have an AR-15, I have to have a certain safe -- a certain level of safe. It has to be alarmed or 24-hour guarded. There are certain safeguards. If somebody is able to get through all those and get my AR-15, which they won't, then there is -- then I am probably going to be OK.
If I stuff that in my sock drawer and somebody gets it, I'm in a deep world of hurt at that point.
SESAY: The choice of target, that Waffle House, random to you?
Some people are asking whether there was some racial animus at play. Because three of the victims were black. When you look at where he went and did this, what's that out to you?
MOORE: First of all, it is very possible that it was racially motivated. I don't know. It could've been that everybody in that restaurant that night was black. But let's just say it's very possible, based on his instability.
But if you are at 1:00 in the morning unstable and you decide that you are going to go kill some people, even if it takes you an hour and a half, especially if it takes you an hour and a half, to plan, to load your magazines, to figure out how you're going to get to the place, where are you going to go at 3:00 in the morning to kill people?
I mean I know that's an absurd question --
SESAY: No, but you go to --
MOORE: -- it is going to be a 24-hour establishment. Thank God there wasn't a Walmart Superstore around. You go to the place that's open.
SESAY: When he was taken into custody, he said -- very quickly, give me a lawyer and basically clammed up and refused to answer questions.
Given his lack of cooperation as far as we know, how easy, how difficult will it be to piece this all together?
[01:15:00] MOORE: It's certainly going to complicate it if he's not going to talk to you about it and it shows that there's going to be some complication in this whole thing because he's going from periods of delusion to periods of lucidity.
And you just wonder where is he at any certain time.
When you go in naked to shoot people, shoot strangers, you are certainly not lucid. But then when you ask for -- when a policeman points his gun at you and you just get down on the pavement and say -- or get down on the ground and say I'm not to fight you and then, by the way, I need a lawyer, all of a sudden he's acting like he's legal trade.
SESAY: Yes, certainly very aware of his surroundings and the trouble he's in.
MOORE: Oh, the fact that he's aware of the trouble he's in works against any insanity plea.
SESAY: Yes, very good point. Steve Moore, always a pleasure.
SESAY: Thank you. Always appreciate it.
VAUSE: Day one was ceremonies, sightseeing and smiles. Now comes the hard stuff. And topping the French president's to-do list, committing Donald Trump to the Iran nuclear deal is worth keeping.
SESAY: Plus, a health scare for George H.W. Bush. We'll get you an update on the former U.S. president's condition after a quick break.
VAUSE: Former president George H.W. Bush is now in intensive care. The 93-year old is being treated for sepsis, which can be life- threatening.
VAUSE: He was admitted to the ICU just a day after the funeral for his wife, Barbara. A spokesman says President Bush was admitted to the Houston Methodist Hospital Sunday morning after contracting an infection that spread to his blood. He is responding to treatment and appears to be recovering.
Joining us now here in Los Angeles, political analyst Michael Genovese and CNN's European affairs commentator, Dominic Thomas.
(INAUDIBLE) the politics, especially with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, who has just arrived for this state visit. But let's just start with George H.W. Bush because now is a pretty good time to talk about one of the most notable speeches he ever gave as president. It was spring of 1989. He was in a divided Germany. He was in West Germany, Berlin, rather, I should say; Central and Eastern Europe were still dominated by the Soviet Union.
And George H.W. Bush knew that there was change in there, that change was coming. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But the passion for freedom cannot be denied forever. The world has waited long enough. The time is right. Let Europe --
BUSH: -- be whole and free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Actually, Dominic, this concept, let Europe be whole and be free, bring it all together, Poland (INAUDIBLE) Soviet satellite states, bring them all together, that was a world view which was unique to President George H. W. Bush, very, very different to the world view we have now with the current Republican president, Donald Trump.
DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Right, it was a remarkable time of transatlantic cooperation. Apart from the fact that by the end of her prime ministership, Margaret Thatcher was less enthused with the idea of a strong, united Germany, and it was the time at which the Berlin Wall was about to fall, the Soviet Union collapsed as well then the former Yugoslavia.
So it was the time of fracturing in certain parts of the world but a time of greater unification for Europe, who were trying to come together. And Europe finds itself today not only at a crossroads, struggling with Brexit, struggling with the rise of far right or radical political parties, that, in many ways, have been helped by the protectionist, nationalist discourse of President Trump, which I think makes this straight visit by Emmanuel Macron so interesting in terms as to whether or not he can enlist Donald Trump in further supporting the project of Europe.
And he's been doing this by underlining since his arrival the question of history and the historical nature of them being allies, allies, allies.
VAUSE: Michael, the U.S. president has a lot of authority, has a lot of power, has a lot of moral authority, could influence a lot of events. But can the U.S. president, whether it's Donald Trump or George H.W. Bush, can they influence events in Europe?
We saw President George H.W. Bush at a time of the Berlin Wall coming down, unification and quite the opposite now.
How much is -- how much influence do these presidents have at particular points in history? MICHAEL GENOVESE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Simply by virtue of the fact that you're sitting in a chair in the Oval Office grants you a tremendous amount of power, influence and no matter who is sitting, there you have to deal with them. You can't simply say, well, I'm going to just push it off to the side and we will deal with it later.
That president is going to be there. And like him or not, agree with him or not, you have to find a way to massage the relationship in a way that the European interests are at least presented in a way that the president might be able to say yes to.
This is a particularly vexing time for Europe because President Trump is here and most of Europe is here. But remember I always describe Europe as one big blue state. And so you can see a natural conflict.
Macron is trying to bridge that gap, one outsider to the other, in a personal way. But politically, there's a big divide.
VAUSE: It's interesting because the French president, he has this reputation of being able to deal with Donald Trump better than most other European leaders. Over the weekend he appeared on FOX News to say nice things about the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: We have this very special relationship because both of us are probably the maverick of the systems on both sides. I think President Trump's election was unexpected in your country and probably my election wasn't expected in my country.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Do you ever wonder whether he will serve his full term?
MACRON: I never wonder that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK, Dominic, is Macron the supreme politician here, able to hide possibly his true opinion of Donald Trump?
Or is there a genuine friendship between these two men, keeping in mind Macron's probably the same age as Donald Trump's sons, for instance?
THOMAS: There are so many differences between them. The fact that Emmanuel Macron just made it through to the second round of the presidential race and ended up against somebody that President Trump had spoken about favorably, the far right leader, Marine Le Pen.
So but to focus so much on the differences is to ignore the fact that there are these similarities. One of them is not so much that they're the same kind of people but they're new on the political scene.
Macron's experience was very limited, he's very young. Angela Merkel is entering the 12th year of the chancellorship of Germany. Of course, many other leaders disappeared but there are traditions in place. There's a way in which things are being run and they're new to that.
But they agree on many things, on tax reform, for example; on immigration policy they've been relatively tough. I think that Donald Trump speaks about these issues in ways that are divisive and Emmanuel Macron has tried to avoid doing that.
VAUSE: OK, well, Macron will be using his abilities with Donald Trump to convince him not to scrap the Iran nuclear deal. That comes up for renewal next month. Macron said over the weekend there is no plan B to this Iran nuclear deal.
The White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was specifically asked about that during Monday's briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So my question to you is, does the White House believe that there is actually a realistic plan B out there?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We certainly think that there should be a better deal, one that actually is positive, that works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Michael --
VAUSE: -- it could be a steep climb for the French president. A, if he does manage to convince Donald Trump that the Iran nuclear deal is worth keeping, there's no guarantee that Donald Trump will stick with that.
GENOVESE: It's incumbent upon the president, if he wants to back out, to offer an alternative, to try to persuade Macron and Europe that there's a better way. He has not done that.
And so Macron goes into that meeting with basically all the eggs in one basket. Either he can help save the deal or everything just collapses. And if it collapses in Iran, then what happens in North Korea?
Where -- why would North Korea make a deal if they say, well, you make a nuclear deal and you back out of it a few years later, you can't be trusted?
Now North Korea can't be trusted anyway but this would make it even worse for the North Korea-U.S. negotiating positions.
VAUSE: It's interesting; we have this report from "The Washington Post," which says, "According to officials involved in the U.S.- European talks, significant progress has been made on addressing concerns about the deal's sunset clauses, its verification rules and the absence of restrictions on Iran ballistic missile testing and development as well as new measures to counter Iran's malign activities in Syria and beyond in the Middle East.
"Four documents have been drafted that they believe are responsive to Trump's criticism."
But, Dominic, there's every chance in the world that, despite all that work, despite what the president has been demanding, he could reject the advice from his own State Department, which is keep this deal and move forward.
And where does that then leave the Europeans?
THOMAS: Well, of course, (INAUDIBLE) deal. We know that Donald Trump is associated with this book, "The Art of the Deal." And one of the main arguments in there is the whole question of leverage, as Michael just pointed out. It's very difficult to talk about the Iran deal now outside of the context of denuclearization in North Korea.
So why would you pursue talks and try to reach an agreement there while, at the same time, attempting to dismantle a deal that's in place?
What's interesting and to a certain extent Emmanuel Macron has handed him an opportunity. There is, first of all, historically, the French were not the most gung ho about this deal.
So there's some sort of reluctance and resistance there. The talk about sunset clauses but also the talk about ballistic missiles, these should be in there, there is a possibility that the deal can be saved by arguing that it needs to be kept in place but revisited in a way that makes President Trump looks like he's stuck his ground, pushed people to the negotiating table and has come away with a better deal.
That's not just "The Art of the Deal." It is about compromise and diplomacy. But Europe very much needs this and Emmanuel Macron has also been careful to argue that this visit isn't just about the deal, the trade talks and so on. It's also about strengthening and building an Atlantic alliance.
VAUSE: Michael, CNN is reporting that the U.S. president is using his own personal cell phone on a more frequent basis so his chief of staff John Kelly cannot listen in and doesn't know who he's talking to.
What does it say about the current state of this White House, that the president wants to avoid his chief of staff, knowing exactly where he's getting his advice from?
GENOVESE: Well, it's been conflict from the beginning because Kelly wants to discipline Trump and Trump can't be disciplined, won't be disciplined. And he's the president. So he can do pretty much whatever he wants.
And so you knew he was to escape that cell as soon as he could and he did that. And that makes for Kelly's job, difficult to begin, to be almost impossible because you don't know what the right hand is saying to the left hand, because Trump talks from both sides.
GENOVESE: And so Kelly is in an impossible position. Trump has been liberated and what does that mean for policy?
VAUSE: And what does that mean for European leaders?
How concerned are they about who has the president's ear?
THOMAS: This is. This is the problem. And I think that to expect Emmanuel Macron, this new 40-year-old president, to be able to shape the way in which Trump is going to order policy, is absolutely unrealistic.
And so there's a level of naivete that might go along with that there, too.
But for Europe, this is of tremendous concern.
VAUSE: -- general can't control or deal with the U.S. president, how is this 42-year-old young president of France is quite the tall order.
VAUSE: OK. Dominic and Michael --
THOMAS: To be followed.
VAUSE: -- thank you both.
GENOVESE: Thank you.
VAUSE: I'm sure we'll be seeing you this week. A lot more. Thanks, guys.
SESAY: The countdown is on. Next on NEWSROOM L.A., we'll look at the final preps of historic talks between North and South Korea.
[01:31:44] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Welcome back everybody. I'm John Vause.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour.
At least 10 people are dead and fifteen others wounded after a man plowed a rental van into pedestrians on a busy street in Toronto. The police they're not ready to call in a terror attack just yet. The 25- year-old suspect is in custody. Police say earlier today he made a Facebook post praising the government from a 2014 California shooting spree. VAUSE: After almost 35 hours on the run, the suspect in a deadly
shooting at a Waffle House restaurant in Tennessee is now in custody. Travis Reinking was arrested near his apartment Monday and is accused of killing four people on Sunday. He was known to police and appears to be mentally unstable.
SESAY: Former U.S. President George H.W. is in intensive care at a hospital in Houston, Texas. He's admitted for an infection the day after burying his wife Barbara who died last week. Bush is the country's 41st president serving from 1989 to 1993. He is one of just two American presidents to also be the father of a U.S. president.
VAUSE: We're now just days away from an historic summit between the leaders of North and South Korea, the first face-to-face talks in more than a decade. Officials from the two countries met on Monday to hammer out details about protocol, security and press coverage.
Ivan Watson joins us now live from Seoul in South Korea. So Ivan -- rehearsals under way. The propaganda speakers have fallen silent on both sides of the DMZ, at least for now.
And there is this report from China's Xinhua state news agency that Kim Jong-un will cross into South Korea on foot to be greeted by President Moon Jae-in. So it looks like the stage is all set.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is and they are not leaving anything to chance right now. There are rehearsals that are going to be under way today, tomorrow and Thursday, all in the run-up to Friday's summit which will, of course be the first time that South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet face-to-face with the North Korean.
And as the South Korean government has pointed this will be the first time though there have been inter-Korean summits before -- the last one was 11 years ago. This will be the first time, they say, that a North Korean leader will go south of the demarcation line between the two countries.
And we've heard a little bit more about kind of how this will be choreographed down to details like South Korean press will be allowed north of the demarcation line in that Panmunjom border compound where presumably they will be allowed to broadcast live the arrival of Kim Jong-un and then his procession, I guess, across the demarcation line into the South Korean side of that compound where the meeting will be taking place.
We've heard that there's going to be a welcoming ceremony at the summit and a ceremonial dinner as well. We're still waiting to find out whether or not the wives of the leaders will also be attending -- John.
VAUSE: Ivan -- thank you very much. Ivan Watson there, keeping a close eye on all the rehearsals and all the advance preparations ahead of that summit. Thank you -- Ivan.
Mike Chinoy is a senior fellow at the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California. He's also the author of "Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis" and he joins us now, live.
Mike -- it is good to see you.
The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, she was pressed on Monday on the issue of denuclearization by North Korea. This is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[01:35:03] SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're going to continue the maximum pressure campaign. We have to see real and concrete steps taken towards denuclearization. But I'm not going to get ahead of any negotiations the President's going to have.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What does full denuclearization look like to this President?
SANDERS: I would think it looks to this President like it would to every other person across the world. That means North Korea doesn't have and isn't testing nuclear missiles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And Mike -- it all seems at odds with the U.S. president who seems to believe that denuclearization is a done deal. He tweeted out this past Sunday.
There seems to be a long way to go before the North Koreans actually give up their nuclear missiles and their nuclear program.
MIKE CHINOY, SENIOR FELLOW, USC-U.S./CHINA INSTITUTE: I think there's a very long way to go and I'm not at all clear that North Korea is ever going to give up its nuclear capabilities. It is interesting that the North has taken the sort of symbolic steps that they've indicated that they said they'll close their nuclear testing site and it will refrain from future long-range missile tests.
But there's a fundamental question here which is the definition of denuclearization. The North Koreans talk about the denuclearization of the entire Korean peninsula. And for North Korea what that means is an end to the American security umbrella, particularly the nuclear umbrella that the U.S. provides to its allies, South Korea and Japan. It does not mean simply that North Korea gives up its nukes.
President Trump to the extent that he understands this, seems to think that when the North Koreans talk about denuclearization that that is in fact what they are talking about.
So there's a fundamental gap here and there's also a lot of question marks about the sequencing if there is any agreement about who does what when, who gives what to whom in return for what. So I think there a lot of ways that the North Korea-U.S. summit could run into trouble. VAUSE: You know, Sarah Sanders said that President Trump was basing his claims about denuclearization essentially being a done deal from a statement by the South Korean president who said last week that "North Korea was expressing its commitment to complete denuclearization to the international community."
When it comes to diplomacy there is a world of difference between expressing a commitment to something and actually agreeing to it.
CHINOY: Not only is there a world of difference between expressing a commitment and doing something. There's also a question over the fact that it's been the South Koreans who've been conveying what they say are North Korea's intentions to the rest of the world and to the Trump administration.
In South Korea, you have a president and an administration who have really jumped at the olive branch that Kim Jong-un has offered. And I think it's not at all clear to me that what they are saying, North Korea's agreeing to is in fact what North Korea is itself prepared to agree to.
We might get some clarity on this after the North-South summit later this week. My impression is that the South will be hoping that North Korea will say something more about denuclearization than it has said so far. But there's a lot of expressions of intent but the devil's always in the details.
All the previous negotiations involving the North's nuclear program have been painful, slow, difficult, lots of ups and downs. And I don't think that the idea that this can be solved in one fell swoop like this is a very realistic one.
VAUSE: Also the U.S. president and others have claimed -- there was this weekend announcement on North Korean television -- and actually this is another reason for optimism. This is exactly what was said on North Korean state TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles from April 21st 2018. To guarantee suspension of nuclear tests in a transparent manner, the republic's northern nuclear test site will be abolished.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, as far as the nuclear missile tests are concerned, the North Koreans have stopped testing they argue because there's no need to test any more. And even if they wanted to conduct another nuclear test, there's plenty of evidence to suggest the entire site would collapse.
CHINOY: Well, it's not clear what the status of the nuclear site is. But I would interpret the North Korean statements is indicating is that North Korea has achieved enough success in its nuclear program that it feels confident in its nuclear capabilities. This, to me is not the language of a country that's coming in and saying we're ready to give up our nukes. This is a country that is confident that it's coming in to a meeting with the American president expecting to be treated as an equal nuclear power and under those terms is willing to discuss arms control. So there's a world of difference between the steps that the North Koreans announced in genuine denuclearization.
[01:39:50] That being said, I think there's something else that is important here which is that the language that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has used talking about a new kind of strategic line in North Korea suggests that he wants to -- or is interested in exploring ways to make a more fundamental shift in North Korea to focus more energy and resources on the economy, to reach out to the international community.
And that is very significant. But if North Korea wants to do that while retaining its nuclear arsenal, it becomes a very tricky situation.
VAUSE: And just -- let's finish up on the line (INAUDIBLE) that Kim Jong-un has been using. It seems he's making a virtue out of what essentially is a necessity or, you know, they don't really need to do any more nuclear tests. It doesn't mean they don't have the capacity to do it.
At the same time, you know, making this announcement ahead of the summit, he avoids the risk of looking weak like he's being pressured into making any concessions. It looks like he really is committed to this diplomacy.
CHINOY: Kim Jong-un I think has played this very, very skillfully and these conciliatory-sounding gestures do put Donald Trump on the defensive even if there's less there than meets the eye in terms of the substance because the North has not indicated a willingness to actually give up its nuclear arsenal simply to not make -- not do any further testing.
The North looks like it's interested in peace and taking steps to defuse tensions and the pressure therefore is on the American president to reciprocate. And so I think the North Koreans are playing this very, very skillfully and they've got everybody else responding to their gestures.
That's typical of what has emerged with Kim Jong-un which contrary to all the speculation about his character and his previous behavior. He's a very smart cookie and a very shrewd operator.
VAUSE: Kim Jong-il was always, you know, famous for playing a weak hand very well and it looks as if the son has that ability as well, I guess.
Mike -- as always, thanks so much.
SESAY: Quick break here. Next on NEWSROOM L.A., deadly airstrikes in Yemen killing a Houthi
political leader and wiping out a wedding party. The latest on the other war in the Middle East ahead.
VAUSE: A political leader in Yemen was among those killed in an airstrike on Thursday. And a warning here, this next video is graphic.
SESAY: Saleh al-Sammad was acting president of Houthi-controlled areas and leader of the Houthi Supreme Political Council.
Elsewhere in northern Yemen on Wednesday, a wedding party was hit killing more than 30 people. Houthi media outlets blame Saudi-led coalition attacks for dozens of civilian deaths in the past week.
The U.N. Secretary General has called the war in Yemen the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Well, joining us now via Skype is Barbara Walter, a professor of political science at the University of California at San Diego. And Barbara -- good to see you as always.
The "Washington Post" puts the wedding strike as the third strike on civilians in recent days, which does suggest a pattern on the part of the Saudi-led coalition. What does it say to you?
[01:44:59] BARBARA WALTER, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-SAN DIEGO: Well, no country ever admits to consciously targeted civilians and the Saudis haven't done that. But of course, they are engaging in a conscious strike of innocent civilians.
And the way to think about this is it's really a strategy of intimidation. It's designed to essentially target civilians into submission.
The irony is of course, that it's not having that effect. It's having the opposite effect. And the real tragedy is not only has this been going on for many years but the strikes couldn't happen in the absence of significant U.S. aid to the Saudis.
SESAY: To be clear though and to put the Saudi counter argument. They say the Houthis are civilians as human shields. Is there any truth to that?
WALTER: The Houthis are not entirely innocent themselves. They have also been using civilians and targeting civilians but the rate at which they're doing that pales in comparison to what the Saudis are doing.
The Saudis really are engaging in what will almost certainly be found to be human rights violations. They're doing it at a level that we haven't seen in decades.
SESAY: Now you made the point that it's supposed to act as a means of intimidation but it's having the opposite effect. Speak to what you mean and what we're seeing in terms of support for the Houthi rebels.
WALTER: So the Houthis have been in power in the capital city since 2015. So one way to think about this is that the government in exile which has been in exile since 2015 and has been supported by the Saudis essentially lost the war. They are no longer in the country.
The Saudis would very much like to see them come back into power but that government was not popular when it was in power and it continues not to be popular now. The Houthis actually have a fair amount of support amongst Yemeni citizens especially amongst the Houthi citizens who are essentially a subset of Shia.
They were mobilized during the Arab Spring and were one of the many popular uprisings that we saw throughout the Middle East and North Africa. So from a standpoint of popularity, if you want to call it that, the Houthis have more popular support within Yemen than the government in exile that the Saudis are desperately trying to bring back into power.
SESAY: And the killing of the acting president of the Houthi- controlled areas that happened in recent days, what does that mean for this conflict? How does that complicate things if it can be complicated any more?
WALTER: Yes. It is very complicated. It's a setback for the Houthis but it's not something that they can't overcome. My guess is that they will have somebody replace him -- had probably replaced him and they will continue to fight.
So really for me, the big question is how long are the Saudis willing to continue to put resources into a war that I don't think is winnable for them. And of course, the longer they continue to pour resources in to Yemen, the fewer resources they're pouring into their own country and their own citizens and the more vulnerable they become to potential instability at home.
And of course, in the scheme of things that they prefer to avoid, instability back home is the worst possible outcome for them.
SESAY: Yes. And Barbara -- bearing in mind, you know, you made the point about effectively this is not a war, as far as we can tell, that could be won by either side militarily. They're both dug in. It's kind of effectively become a stalemate. Do you see anything that could change that?
WALTER: You know, I actually think -- if you think about this as a strategic game between two sides, I actually think the side with the better prospects are the Houthis. If they look down the game tree, they're not going anywhere. They're going to stay in Yemen. They're going to continue to fight -- that's their home.
It's the Saudis who I think are going to be in more trouble as the war continues. And that's because ultimately they are not entirely invulnerable to their problems back home. And that the longer they continue to ignore their own citizens, the more incentive they're going to have to withdraw from Yemen. SESAY: Barbara Walter -- always appreciate the insight. Thank you so much.
WALTER: It's my pleasure.
VAUSE: Armenia's prime minister has resigned accused of a power grab which sparked ten days of nation-wide protests. His decision to step down was unexpected but led it seems to celebration in the capital as well as other cities.
Details now from Paula Newton.
[01:50:01] PAULA NETWON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The celebrations were matched by a palpable sense of relief on the street of Yerevan, Armenia's capital, as the political crisis came to a swift and surprising end.
In a blunt speech, the country's prime minister abruptly resigned saying, "The street movement is against my tenure. I am fulfilling your demand."
With that Serzh Sargsyan ended days of street protests, turmoil and his own 10-year legacy as Armenian leader.
Tens of thousands have protested what they saw as a power grab, term limits meant Sargsyan could no longer be president, instead in 2015 as his term was ending he transferred real power to the office of the prime minister, parliament controlled by his party then elected him prime minister earlier this month sparking days of contentious protests that escalated as opposition party members were detained.
The symbolic leader of the protests Nikol Pashinyan was promptly released and thanks those who he said made a difference on the streets. But he also appealed for calm and now some contemplation as Armenia begins to try and work out a political compromise that has so far been elusive.
Paula Newton, CNN.
VAUSE: Well, "I've Been to Bali Too" was the hit song by the Australian band Redgum back in 1984. I remember it well. And now a 12-year-old boy could make that boast after swiping his mom's credit card and buying an airline ticket to the resort where he was told no you just can't go and he did.
VAUSE: Well, in the controversial (ph) case of a monkey's selfie, a U.S. federal appeals court has favored humans over animals. The court upheld the ruling that animals did not have the right to sue for copyrights. That sucks.
SESAY: This is Naruto and this is the selfie that sparked the case. A photographer was on assignment when Naruto grabbed his camera and snapped a selfie. The photographer has agreed with the animal rights group PETA to donate rather 25 percent of any future revenue from the selfie to charities that protect Naruto's habitat in Indonesia.
VAUSE: He should have copyright. Anyway -- ok.
There is a 12-year-old boy in Australia who's probably being grounded for life after selling his mom's credit card, flying to Bali and checking in to a resort hotel.
SESAY: I wonder how much that cost.
VAUSE: He bought a cheap ticket though -- apparently.
SESAY: He feels that he's smart with money, while he was living it up, enjoying a beer on the beach -- I'm hoping he wasn't. Back in Sydney his parents are frantically trying to find him and here's how it all unfolded.
GRAPHIC: A 12-year-old Australian boy is home after traveling to Bali on his own.
GRAPHIC: The boy stole his mother's credit card and after an argument with her and booked a flight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if a child can have an argument with their parents, and leave the country --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just doesn't like the word "no". And that's what I got -- took him to Indonesia.
GRAPHIC: She told Nine Network's "A Current Affair" that she had previously contacted authorities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We screamed, we begged for help for weeks on end. And when the first attempt to Indonesia took place, we were told if he's possible, the boy's going to be flagged.
GRAPHIC: The boy flew on his own anyway and checked into a hotel near the beach when he arrived. Indonesian authorities located him nine days after he was reported missing.
[01:55:03] "The AFP will work with partner agencies to review the circumstances of this matter and current operating procedures to ensure this type incident does not occur again."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: I have way more questions after watching that.
VAUSE: The kid's in so much trouble.
SESAY: Britain's Prince William -- they're going to be hoping their kids never do something like this. Britain's Prince William and his wife Katherine, the Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their third child on Monday. The baby boy who doesn't have a name just yet is fifth in line to the throne.
The royal couple's latest bundle of joy is younger brother to four- year-old Prince George and two-year-old Princess Charlotte.
VAUSE: The newest member of the royal family weight eight pounds, seven ounces at birth. And according to the palace both mother and baby are doing well. She left after a couple of hours.
VAUSE: That was a very short stay, almost like America where they whip you out and get you out of the hospital as soon as they can.
SESAY: You know this because --
VAUSE: Mom and Dad -- they whipped her out.
SESAY: Ok. Let's move on -- shall we. Twitter is all a-tweeter over a snapshot of the smiling Melania Trump.
VAUSE: She was smiling but her gracious grin seems to be getting some attention for its supposed rarity as well as its setting.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was one of those insignificant but irresistible moments. President Obama seated next to the current first lady at Barbara Bush's funeral. Obama made Melania Trump smile.
And Twitter erupted. "It's a shame that the happiest anyone has ever seen Melania is at a funeral". Even Cher unloaded, "First real smile in Melania's face in a year and a half."
Trump supporters begged to differ. "Melania smiles all the time. Do you live in a cave?"
Nevertheless #MakeMelaniaSmileAgain" popped up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has this really genuine smile on her face. What I saw on Twitter is that something like when you go Barack, you -- and I just --
MOOS: You never go back.
But you know, a picture isn't always worth thousands of words on Twitter. Video shows the smile was over in mere seconds, seemingly just a normal reaction to some pleasantry.
Someone tweeted this pop quiz. "Of these two photos of Melania Trump, which one was taken at a funeral?" It turns out the unhappy looking one, the one when Melania was with her husband was taken during a prayer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our refuge and strength.
MOOS: Not exactly a smiley time. Reminds us of back when this photo of then Secretary of State Condi Rice landed on front pages showing how diplomatically isolated and under pressure she was --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's see how it went, ooh.
MOOS: -- except when you see the video of that moment. Condi was actually just brushing a piece of hair off her forehead.
Back then we said --
The moral of the story, if you're secretary of state, don't scratch, don't preen and don't you dare run your fingers through your hair.
Now, you can add don't smile to that list.
Jeanne Moos, CNN -- New York.
VAUSE: It was nice to see her smile.
VAUSE: It's been a while.
SESAY: If you're watching this early -- I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. We're back with more news after this.
[01:58:19] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)