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Trump Signals Progress with European Negotiators on Iran Nuclear Deal; Activists Criticize Trump for Calling Kim "Honorable"; Misconduct Allegations Dog Trump's VA Nominee; Even Republicans Growing Frustrating with Pruitt; Rohingya Crisis; Hundreds of Latin American Migrants Seek U.S. Asylum. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired April 25, 2018 - 00:00   ET

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


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JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour:

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron's state dinner with rack of lamb on the menu and a huge heaping of Iranian diplomacy on the side.

VAUSE (voice-over): From Little Rocket Man to "honorable," the U.S. president has high praise for North Korea's brutal dictator.

SESAY (voice-over): Plus the Rohingya refugee crisis, Myanmar's finally set to allow the U.N. Security Council inside Rakhine State.

But what will the team actually be able to see?

VAUSE: Hello, I'm John Vause.

SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay.

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VAUSE: It was a relatively small elite group in Washington invited to attend the first state dinner of Donald Trump's presidency. President Trump and first lady Melania Trump greeted the French president Emmanuel Macron and his wife at the White House.

SESAY: About 150 guests were invited to the dinner. The menu featured American dishes with French influences and the toast underscored the special relationship between the two countries.

VAUSE: Mr. Macron's major goal on this visit, persuading Donald Trump to remain in the Iran nuclear deal. President Trump signaled possible progress with European negotiators. The U.S. and Europe have agreed on supplemental issues like Iran's missile program nuclear inspections and Iran's activities, malign activities they're called, in the region.

Mr. Trump had threatened to withdraw and restore sanctions on Iran by May 12th unless major changes were made to that deal.

Meantime, Iran's president issued a warning to Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments, the Iranian government will firmly react. If anyone betrays the deal, they should know they would face severe consequences.

TRUMP: If Iran threatens us in any way, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: For more now on the good, the bad and the ugly of the Iran nuclear deal, former U.S. intelligence officer Michael Pregent is with us from Washington. Michael is the former director of the Veterans against the Iran Deal.

Also with us, Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council. He joins from us Portland, Maine.

Thank you both for being with us. Just over an hour of alone time with Donald Trump in the Oval Office, It seems the French president may have convinced him that the Iran nuclear deal may not be the most horrible, no good, awful, horrendous deal ever made in the history of the world. Listen to President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: There is a chance. And nobody knows what I'm going to do on the 12th, although Mr. President, you have a pretty good idea. But we'll see. But we'll see also if I do what some people expect, whether or not it will be possible to do a new deal with solid foundations, because this is a deal with decayed foundations. It's a bad deal. It's a bad structure. It's falling down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Michael, the U.S. president could still change his mind, he could scrap the whole thing.

But does it look to you as if there's some grand deal in the works here?

MICHAEL PREGENT, FORMER U.S. INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Well, the proposition by Macron to actually lay something over the Iran deal doesn't have any teeth. It's not binding. It would basically be an agreement between the United States, France and our European partners. And we expect Russia, China and Iran to oppose it.

So it really does nothing. We don't know what the president's going to do. But indications are, if those top three measures aren't fixed, dealing with ballistic missiles, Iran's influence and ending the sunset clause, the president's likely to walk away from the Iran deal. However, we just don't know what this president is going to do.

VAUSE: And to that point about who is actually making the adjustments to this agreement, there seemed to be one significant sticking point. The negotiations so far have been between the Americans and the Europeans. The Iranians have not been included in any of this. Listen to what the foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: It is a package. You cannot pick and choose between the package and say, I want this, that and the other element improved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: It's the issue of the principle, you reach an agreement, you keep that agreement. You implement that agreement; you don't ask for more. You need to respect. I mean, it is the most important principle that holds agreements together and that is the need to respect your signature and the signature of the United States.

Doesn't matter which president signed it, it is the signature of the government of the United States, acting on behalf of the nation.

So Trita, seems to be a fair point, especially as the United States heads --

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VAUSE: -- into negotiations with the North Koreans over their nuclear program. The United States needs to keep its word.

What the foreign minister is pointing to is actually what a lot of European and Chinese and Russian diplomats also are saying privately, which is why would they agree to renegotiate a deal that they all happy with, when the United States under Trump seems to have no respect for the signature of the United States?

So even if Trump actually was looking for a new deal, which I'm not convinced he is, even if that was the case, I'm sure he would have approached it in such a way that wouldn't have been as reckless and as alienating the other partners in the P5+1 because, at the end of the day, you need to have them on board to get a deal. And you need to have them on board in order to bring the Iranians on board.

VAUSE: So Michael, to the point of the United States being good to its word, honoring previous agreements, this deal, these negotiations are not happening in a vacuum. It has implications way beyond Iran.

PREGENT: Correct. The interesting thing here is this wasn't a treatise. The signatures, the Iranians never signed the Iran deal. There's no signature on the Iranian side. North Korea wanted an Iran- like deal, something laden with incentives, with weak enforcements.

This is actually giving the United States leverage with North Korea. The JCPOA was not a treaty. If it was a treaty, it would have had 60 votes. It wasn't It was an agreement between the Obama administration and the Iranian government and the Iranian government did not even sign the Iran deal.

So the implications here are it actually gives the United States leverage with North Korea if we walk away from a bad deal and actually hold North Korea accountable and make whatever deal we make with North Korea a treaty.

That way, to Trita's point and to other signatories of the Iran deal, we actually keep our word. A treaty is binding; an agreement isn't, especially one that wasn't signed by the other side.

VAUSE: Trita, I want you to pick up on that.

TRITA PARSI, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, THE NATIONAL IRANIAN AMERICAN COUNCIL: Well, this agreement was embodied in a U.N. Security Council resolution, so it's actually part of international law. The United States voted in favor of that resolution. So did every other member of the Security Council.

It was vote of 15-0. So that's how this is binding. It is part of international law and, as a result, all of the parties are supposed to live up to it. Donald Trump has not lived up to it so far and he's done quite a lot to damage it already.

So technicalities as to whether it's a treaty or agreement, et cetera, is actually nullified by the fact that this was embodied in the U.N. Security Council resolution.

VAUSE: Something Michael just said, because we also heard a similar sentiment coming from the U.S. president about this deal, Michael, you said this was a weak deal, the president said it was falling apart.

In "The Atlantic" on Tuesday, two former senior Obama administration officials laid out the case why this deal is actually not falling apart. But in their view, they say, it's working.

They write, "It's the view of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations (INAUDIBLE) charged with monitoring Iran's compliance. It's the view of all other JCPOA signatories, not just Russia and China, which tend to side with Iran, but also Germany, the U.K. and even the traditionally hardline France. Indeed, it's been the assessment of the Trump administration itself, which has repeatedly admitted that the Islamic Republic is in technical compliance with the JCPOA.

"All of these actors have verified Iranian compliance, not once but several times."

VAUSE: So Michael, again, how can the Trump administration justify scrapping an agreement, or changing an agreement with Iran, when Iran has kept its side of the bargain?

PREGENT: Not to get into the details, but annex 2 (INAUDIBLE) we can't verify whether or not Iran is actually developing triggers for these devices, and when we see suspicious activity and ask the IAEA to inspect, they refuse to, because they say they don't want to be a political tool of the United States.

When it comes to the JCPOA, if you just leave the nuclear part alone and focus on annex 2, which reactivated the RNGC's (ph) operational and logistical terror networks, most people that actually support the JCPOA to include Macron want annex 2 addressed. They want to hurt the regime's ability to export terrorism.

They want U.N. Security Council resolution strengthened to go after Iran's ballistic missile tests. Again, the biggest part of the Iran deal was not necessarily for Iran to become a nuclear power at some point, it was to get sanctions relieved so it could reactivate its terror, logistics and operational networks, which we've seen destabilized Syria, Yemen, Beirut and also Iraq.

VAUSE: Just a last word to Trita, because what Michael is saying, a lot of those amendments and modifications, essentially is what the United States and the Europeans are in agreement about. That's what they want as well.

PARSI: Not really. First of all, when it comes --

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PARSI: -- to the agreement itself, it is the IAEA that is the judge of this. They are the ones who are refereeing this issue. And they've issued 10 reports, saying that Iran is in compliance.

When it comes to asking the IAEA to inspect other things, what is required is that the country making that ask provides evidence. So far, nothing has been provided to the IAEA, so the IAEA have nothing to act on.

Now they cannot just roam around without any guidance or evidence. And as a result, the IAEA has stated clearly, whatever access they have required of the Iranians, the Iranians have given them. When it comes to other issues, IRGC, et cetera, the Europeans would also like to see some changes. But not at the expense of killing this deal.

If we want to see those other issues addressed, we need to first make sure that this deal survives and that it is respected and adhered to. Only then will we have the credibility to go on with additional diplomacy to address these other issues.

(CROSSTALK)

PREGENT: -- is if we address --

VAUSE: Quickly, Michael --

PREGENT: -- falls apart. The deal falls apart if we address annex 2.

VAUSE: OK, we're out of time but obviously this language, a lot of people are talking about right now. This debate is happening in many parts of the world. PREGENT: -- more contentious next time.

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PREGENT: We need to argue more.

PARSI: We've lost it.

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VAUSE: I'll let you guy go and enjoy each other's company. Thanks, guys, Appreciate it.

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PARSI: Talk to you soon, Michael.

SESAY: President Trump has softened his tone on the North Korean leader as they prepare for an historic meeting. A few minutes ago, the president was trading insults with Kim Jong-un, calling him Little Rocket Man and a madman.

But listen now to how the president describes the North Korean leader.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Kim Jong-un has been very open. Everyone I think very honorable from everything we're seeing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: President Trump did not explain why he called Mr. Kim honorable but that is not sitting well with activists who point to the human rights violations of Kim Jong-un. Our own Will Ripley is following this from Seoul, South Korea.

Will, President Trump's assessment of Kim Jong-un, as you heard there, raising eyebrows among North Korea experts as well as lawmakers here in the United States. I'm wondering whether these remarks are creating the same ripples where you are.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really depends on the viewpoint inside this country. You have the hawkish political elements, those who supported the former South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, who feel South Korea and the United States should continue to take a hardline on North Korea, and those elements in this country are certainly not happy about this push to engage that is being made by the current, more progressive administration, led by President Moon Jae-in.

But there are other people in this country who feel that talking is better than not talking and that peace is certainly better than the alternative, a war that could break out. Therefore, you have conflicting viewpoints here on the peninsula just as you have around the world. SESAY: Let's give our viewers some context. Let's remind our viewers

of the North Korean leader's actions. We have a couple graphics that highlight, you know, I'll pick out the lowlights, if you will.

He ordered the killing of his half-brother, had his uncle executed. A top education official was executed by firing squad. There is more. He purged hundreds of senior officials; 70 percent of the population doesn't get enough food.

When you bear in mind who this character is and hear the statements by the U.S. president, the question becomes, is President Trump underestimating Kim Jong-un?

RIPLEY: Well, we know that Trump has an affinity for strongman leaders that have been accused of brutal acts in their countries. Kim Jong-un in North Korea is the example being used because of the current political situation.

But think about Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, who has ordered the extrajudicial killings of four low-income drug dealers, it's been called state-sanctioned murder.

Look at Xi Jinping in China, accused of his own human rights abuses, a very authoritarian government, President Trump lavishes praise on him, along with Vladimir Putin of Russia. President Trump has never said a single bad word.

So just because President Trump in this statement is calling Kim Jong- un honorable, we shouldn't necessarily read too much into it, other than he has said that about a lot of world leaders with questionable track records when it comes to human rights.

SESAY: Looking ahead to the summit between North and South Korea, at the end of the week, from where you are there, I mean from South Koreans' perspective, what is it that they are looking to get out of this specifically?

What's the definition of success?

RIPLEY: The definition of success, according to the progressive government here in South Korea, is to make progress as far as peace on the peninsula, their peace agenda. They're taking every little detail into consideration. They've remodeled the Peace House at Panmunjom --

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RIPLEY: -- with a circular table instead of a traditional square table so that the two sides can sit together.

They've changed the entrance so that Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in will walk into the building together. Of course the other major objective here is to lay the groundwork for potential talks with the United States.

We've actually just confirmed within the last few hours that Moon Jae- in will be briefing President Trump after the summit on Friday's complete. They'll be speaking on the phone and they're working to possibly arrange even an in-person meeting between Trump and Moon, so that he can fill him in on what happened and prepare him for the larger, more historic summit potentially between Trump and Kim Jong- un.

Clearly there's a lot of concern that President Trump will be going into this meeting underprepared and Kim Jong-un may be walking in overprepared. We know that the North Koreans, looking at past negotiations, are very shrewd. They've been accused of being very clever.

Of course a lot of analysts are saying the key here is that any promises that North Korea makes need to be verifiable. When you look at the agreed framework back in 1994, North Korea did allow international inspections. They dismantled some of their nuclear facilities. But we also now know that they were enriching uranium secretly.

And keep in mind the U.S. was also laid on its heavy fuel shipments that were promised in those two lightwater reactors that were supposed to be built were never delivered. Those were all factors as to why that deal fell apart.

SESAY: There's lots to consider. Will Ripley in Seoul, South Korea, we appreciate it, thank you.

VAUSE: Still to come, President Trump's nominee to head the Veterans Administration is facing new allegations, including drinking on the job, creating a toxic work environment. And we'll explain why some in the White House apparently called Dr. Ronny Jackson the candy man.

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VAUSE: Welcome back, you're watching CNN.

The Trump administration continues to find out the hard way the value of vetting nominees for cabinet positions. When the president tapped White House doctor Ronny Jackson to head Veterans Affairs, there were some concerns over his lack of experience. But now there are more serious allegations. At least 20 people have come forward accusing Jackson of being drunk on the job, handing out prescription drugs like candy and creating a toxic work environment.

SESAY: Mr. Trump says it's up to Jackson if he wants to go through a contentious confirmation process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Great doctor, great everything and he has to listen to the abuse that he has to. I wouldn't. If I were him, actually, in many ways, I'd love to be him. But the fact is, I wouldn't do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: A ringing endorsement.

Wendy Greuel is a former L.A. city council woman and Joe Messina is a radio host and conservative commentator, and we're glad you're both with us.

A few hours after that glaring flashing neon invitation by President Trump to Admiral Jackson, essentially to drop out, the administration decided to rally behind the doctor. Reuters is reporting the White House provided copies of Jackson's performance reviews with handwritten notes of effusive praise from former president Barack Obama as well as Trump and said the FBI had given him a clean background investigation --

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VAUSE: -- also provided reports from a military medical inspector general that she had lied on that toxic work environment as the White House medical unit in 2012.

The background story is, there was a confrontation between Jackson and then director of the White House medical unit. Staff there said it was like being caught between two parents who were in the midst of a divorce.

But there are still these allegations that Dr. Jackson was drinking on the job. He handed out prescription medication so easily they called him the candy man. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JON TESTER (D): The word is that on overseas trips in particular, that the admiral he would go down the aisleway of the airplane and say, all right, who wants to go to sleep?

He'd hand out the prescription --

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: You're talking about like an Ambien type -- ?

TESTER: Yes, that's exactly right. And put them to sleep and then give them the drugs to wake them back up again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: So, Joe, shouldn't the White House, shouldn't the president have been aware of all of these allegations before nominating the good admiral?

JOE MESSINA, TALK RADIO HOST: You're saying he should have information and have all this information at his fingertips, I don't think Mr. Obama had that much information either. There were problems on both sides. Remember, this doctor was there at the time President Obama was in office. Were these things going on then?

Did he know about it?

Why did he keep him there?

So I think people did a lousy job at vetting. I agree with you and it makes for lousy TV. But it do agree with you there.

VAUSE: But Obama didn't nominate him to be V.A. secretary.

MESSINA: But there are allegations -- well --

(CROSSTALK)

MESSINA: -- you want a guy giving out drugs in the White House?

VAUSE: That's a good point -- Wendy.

WENDY GREUEL, FORMER LOS ANGELES COUNCILWOMAN: Look, they have not done a very good job. They have a history of not vetting people. I think this is a prime example, where he just went with his gut. I like the guy. I think he looks good and in fact what you see here is someone even the President of the United States said today, he has a performance problem, being able to experience problem, being able to run the Veterans Administration, that in and of itself should discredit somebody.

VAUSE: Joe, I'm glad you mentioned Obama, because in the eight years of the Obama administration, from what we can find, it seems only two cabinet nominees were forced to withdraw amid scandal. None were actually rejected. One forced out was the former Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, whose bid for the Secretary of Health and Human Services was sunk by issues of unpaid taxes on a limo service and unreported consulting income.

At the time Daschle was forced out, President Obama told CNN this.

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BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think this was a mistake, I think I screwed up and I take responsibility for it and we're going to make sure we fix it so it doesn't happen again.

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VAUSE: So, Joe, will we hear a similar apology from President Trump?

And isn't this why there is a process?

MESSINA: Look, are you going to hear an apology from Trump?

I don't think so. We all know the answer to that question.

As far as the process goes, should we --

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MESSINA: -- anyone who makes a mistake, no matter what position they're in, should be able to openly admit to, OK, may that was a bad choice.

VAUSE: And Wendy, this was the old days, this is how things used to be done.

GREUEL: The old days, when you actually said, I made a mistake and here's what I would do differently --

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GREUEL: -- and you vetted nominees and you had a time in which you had a transition in which you could do that. None of those protocols or experience have been demonstrated in this White House. And I think I'm not sure we will ever hear from this president that maybe I did the wrong thing and I should have done it differently.

VAUSE: If there had been proper vetting, maybe Scott Pruitt, if he had been vetted before he was appointed to the EPA, then maybe the administration could have avoided what has been one scandal after another after another. Finally we're hearing from someone Republicans that they seem to be growing impatient.

Here's Louisiana senator John Kennedy.

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SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: More and more allegations keep coming and, you know, you have to be respectful of taxpayer money. The secretary wasn't elected; he was appointed. His power is derivative. It's through the President of the United States.

And some of his behavior has hurt the President of the United States. It's hurt the president's credibility, it's hurt the credibility of all of us. And it would be way cooler if he would behave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: "Way cooler if he would behave," Joe. And that's about as stern as it gets right now because I have not heard one Republican who has come out and said with the Democrats, Pruitt should go because of these scandals. Even now, he still enjoys the support of the president.

It's not very drain the swampyish, is it?

MESSINA: No. But we keep talking about scandals and we wouldn't talk about them in the prior administration. I realize that we're here now and we're talking about what's happening today. But I find it kind of hypocritical that we accept certain, depending on the party that we're in, we accept certain behavior when we're in power but then when the other group is in power, we don't want to accept that behavior.

Talk about vetting, it's not just the White House that vets these people. It's our security people that vet them as well. If there were that many problems with Pruitt early on, then who should have brought him forward?

Just the White House?

VAUSE: Every administration has scandals, but there does seem to be an extraordinary number of scandals in a very short period of time --

MESSINA: -- OK, but we could do this for the next hour and I could say you, no, you're --

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MESSINA: -- calling what is happening a scandal. Yet every time there was a scandal in the last administration, oh, that's not a scandal, that's just an issue.

GREUEL: Look, I think the numbers just prove the point that we're making, which is, they did not have these kinds of individuals who were put out there, to be nominated for a position, a cabinet position, and then have to push back or not be able to be appointed.

I think the important -- what the Republicans should do in the Senate is say, we will not even have a hearing until you have demonstrated to us that you have vetted these individuals. We're not going to be embarrassed again.

VAUSE: According to CNN reporting on Pruitt, some aides to the president question whether Pruitt simply has the ethics necessary for government service, according to one White House source. I guess on Thursday, Republicans will have their moment, when Pruitt faces some ethics questions before Congress.

MESSINA: I have a problem with we're constantly throwing the allegations out there.

How about we get in front of the Senate, let's find out what he did do, what he didn't do, what he knows, what he doesn't know. It's amazing how quickly today, in today's media, we move on allegations. We convict on an allegation nowadays.

VAUSE: But these allegations have not been refuted or denied.

MESSINA: He hasn't had a chance to speak --

VAUSE: He spoke to FOX News and denied it. Then he got caught out in an untruth --

GREUEL: Expenditures have been made, these kinds of things that have been reported factually are correct.

VAUSE: Continuing with the theme of hiring only the best people. The U.S. president shot down a reporter on Tuesday who asked if he would pardon his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who is under criminal investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Thank you very much. Stupid question. Go ahead, any other -- anybody else, please.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: OK, Joe, last month "The New York Times" reporter that Trump's (INAUDIBLE) John Dowd, had raised the possibility of pardons with both the former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Last year, "The Washington Post" reported the Trump was asking about his authority to pardon (INAUDIBLE) aides, family members, either for himself. On top of that we have the recently granted full pardon for Scooter Libby, who was a former senior aide to Dick Cheney during the Bush administration.

Libby was pardoned for obstruction of justice and perjury.

So why is it a stupid question, if Trump is considering a pardon for Cohen?

MESSINA: Well, I don't think he should tell anybody.

Why would you ask -- it's just like when he's walking in, when Sarah Sanders is walking out of the room and certain reporters are screaming, is Trump a racist?

Are you going to answer that question?

Isn't that kind of a stupid question to be given?

Why would you holler that out as the press secretary is walking out?

VAUSE: So what about the answer to the question?

MESSINA: We're professors, right?

Well, the answer to the question, I would have said, look, let's see what happens, I think he's frustrated, irritated. You're pounding away at him 24/7 on things that, if someone like me on the Right even approached with President Obama, you would be calling me a racist and all kinds of other things.

(CROSSTALK)

GREUEL: I would disagree, I think, number one, it is a conversation and a question that should be asked. He did Sheriff Arpaio before he was even sentenced to what he was convicted for. I think it was an accurate conversation to have and one that should be going forward.

So I don't think it was a stupid question and I can only imagine that the president of France was Sitting there, just feeling very uncomfortable, which most do, when they're sitting next to him --

(CROSSTALK) VAUSE: It was an interesting day.

Joe and Wendy, thank you very much.

GREUEL: Thank you.

VAUSE: A week after it went on sale, the former FBI director James Comey's book, "A Higher Loyalty," has become a blockbuster, selling more than 600,000 copies and tomorrow Comey is taking questions from the public, right here on CNN.

(INAUDIBLE) truth, lies and leadership, Wednesday,7:00 pm in Mexico City. That's 8:00 am Thursday for anyone who's watching us from Hong Kong. You'll see that only here on CNN.

SESAY: Still to come, what are the conditions in the Rohingya refugee camps? That's what members of the U.N. Security Council want to know. Representatives are headed there to see for themselves.

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VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour.

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SESAY: Well, in a few days, representatives of the United Nations Security Council will see the Rohingya refugee crisis for themselves. A delegation of 15 U.N. representatives are to visit the refugee camps for two days early next week.

Since August, nearly 700,000 Rohingya have been driven out by violence in Myanmar's Rakhine State and are now in neighboring Bangladesh.

Joining me by phone is Richard Weir of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch. He joins us now.

Richard, good to have you with us. Given what we know of the actions of the Myanmar authorities, why are they now willing to follow the U.N. Security Council visit to Rakhine State?

RICHARD WEIR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: As we know, this request to the government for this visit has been months in the making. While it's a welcome step, that they have been allowed to visit, what we know about these visits are that they are staged.

You are talking about a situation where the government will be taking these representatives around and showing them the things that they want them to see, not the things that they need to see.

And, of course, you know, in the interim, that Human Rights Watch and others have documented, not only have they burned hundreds of villages since the August 25th violence but they wiped them off the face of the Earth using heavy machinery.

So the evidence of the existence of the Rohingya population in northern Rakhine State has been wiped away, in addition to the evidence of the Myanmar government's crimes.

SESAY: So what do you expect them to be allowed to see and who do you expect them to be allowed to speak with in this stage managed, as you say, visit?

WEIR: Well, what we expect is for them to go to a token few villages, to be paraded around by government officials and to see the reception center (INAUDIBLE) they will bring returnees eventually. But these are all these are all very contrived situations.

And while it will be important for the U.N. Security Council members to see with their own eyes these areas that have been wiped off the face of the Earth, it will also be important for them to recognize what they're seeing is a very managed presentation of the situation.

And this managed presentation is something that isn't even -- that isn't, you know, a genuine access for members of the international community and that -- and to recall that the U.N. mandated body that is charged with the investigation still hasn't been given access to these areas.

SESAY: I know that they are also scheduled to meet with the de facto leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi. At this state of the --

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SESAY: -- crisis, given her silence in the face of the mass atrocities in Rakhine State, what should their message be to her?

WEIR: Well, I think the message to her, to the entire government is, what happened, these are atrocities of the highest order, that they cannot stand, that there must be accountability. And the U.N. Security Council members can use this opportunity and press upon the (INAUDIBLE) accountability, if necessary, that they're willing to do everything in their power, including an ICC referral, in order to hold the members of the government of the military to account for these atrocities.

SESAY: We shall see. We'll be watching it closely. And we shall see what the outcome is and what statements they put out. Richard Weir joining us there from Myanmar. Appreciate it. Thank you.

VAUSE: Hundreds of migrants fleeing violence and poverty in Central America are arriving at the U.S. border and plan to seek asylum. That may have set the stage for a possible standoff after President Trump instructed federal authorities to stop them from crossing the southern border. Leyla Santiago has our report. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A wave of the Central American migrants with the caravan has just arrived in Tijuana. Just got off one of two buses here. You can actually see that many of them are taking the few belongings that they have brought with them from Guatemala, El Salvador as well as Honduras, many of them from Honduras.

They're expected to be here for a few days, meeting with legal experts, who will help them with their asylum case. We've been following one family. This is Gabriella and her two children. They came from Honduras. I'm going to ask her how she's feeling.

(Speaking Spanish).

GABRIELLA, CENTRAL AMERICAN MIGRANT: (Speaking Spanish).

SANTIAGO: She says she's very tired. You really hear it in her voice.

(Speaking Spanish).

I'm asking her what it's been like since they left Guadalajara.

GABRIELLA: (Speaking Spanish).

SANTIAGO: She says it's been very difficult for herself as well as her two kids. She is also pregnant. And she says it's been very difficult but somebody provided for them some buses to continue their journey north.

They've also been staying in churches along the way. And she talks about the train, what's called La Bestia, the beast. Many of these migrants actually had to travel on top of a train, on top of scrap metal and trash, to arrive here.

(Speaking Spanish).

I'm asking her if she thinks they'll be able to get into the United States.

GABRIELLA: (Speaking Spanish).

SANTIAGO: She says she's hopeful that they will.

(Speaking Spanish).

I'm asking her about what President Trump said, they don't plan to let anybody in if it it's illegal.

GABRIELLA: (Speaking Spanish).

SANTIAGO: She's talking about how the organizing group has organized another march of people going to meet them at the border. They're right now in Los Angeles. And she's hoping that will be enough support to help them get to the United States, to claim asylum, to seek asylum, something they are doing legally, going to a port of entry to ask for help, seek asylum.

What will happen there is the big question -- Leyla Santiago, CNN, Tijuana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: Well, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are taking a break from their wedding preparations to attend Anzac Day commemorations in London. April 25th marks the anniversary of military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces in World War One. It's now a remembrance of all troops from those countries who have served or were killed in armed conflict.

VAUSE: There was also a bus accident near Gallipoli with a number of Australians. The bus caught fire. Sacred ground for Australians.

Still to come here, the president of the U.S. and France boasted all day long about their very special relationship, so special that Macron and Trump and their hand-holding, well, it all felt a little odd by the end of the day.

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SESAY: Well, French might be the language of love but during the U.S. state visit of French president Emmanuel Macron, the hands did all the talking.

VAUSE: Yes, but what were they saying?

President Trump and his French counterpart were so handsy with each other, it seemed to be not only competitive but just a little uncomfortable. Here's Jeanne Moos.

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JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These two just can't quit each other when it comes to public displays of affection.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you.

TRUMP: I like him a lot.

MOOS (voice-over): Get a room.

Actually, they did, the Oval Office.

TRUMP: Thank you. And you are a special friend. Thank you. Thank you. MACRON: Thank you.

MOOS: President Trump and President Macron didn't just shake hands, they had to add a pat or a hand on the back, taking turns. Even a hand on the chest. They stared into each other's eyes and uttered sweet nothings.

MACRON: No, thank you.

MOOS: Using first names, my dear Donald --

MACRON: (Speaking French).

TRUMP: Emmanuel and myself --

MOOS: Dialogue out of a bromance novel.

TRUMP: I hope you feel the same way.

MACRON: Definitely.

MOOS: The French president even tweeted their class pants.

MOOS (on camera): Brace yourself. I've bet you've never seen this before, one world leader grooming the other.

TRUMP: Well, we do have a very special relationship. In fact, I'll get that little piece of dandruff off -- there -- little piece. We have to make him perfect.

MOOS: One French newspaper called the gesture disturbing. We noticed Macron later examining the spot President Trump flicked.

The first lady was less accessible. Her hat made attempts to air kiss even a wider miss than usual. Tweeted one critic, that hat is called the Trump repellent hat.

As they posed for pictures, the president and Melania seemed to play footsie with their fingers, which "The Daily Show" put to music.

But the presidents couldn't keep their hands apart.

MACRON: Thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you.

MOOS: All the hugging left them so slap happy --

TRUMP: It's an honor to call you my friend.

MOOS: That President Trump missed a slap. The French disconnection, rare for these two -- Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

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VAUSE: You know, when you cut it together like that, it's just kind of really notable.

SESAY: Actually made me weep. (INAUDIBLE).

VAUSE: I like the hat.

SESAY: I do like the hat.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. "WORLD SPORT" is next. You're watching CNN.