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More Conflicting Stories about Trump Porn Star Payoff; Gun Owners Embrace Trump at NRA Convention; Lava Spewing from Cracks in Hawaiian Streets; Korean Diplomacy; Trump Reverses Immigration Protection; Lebanon Prepares for Parliamentary Elections; Noem Wants to Be First Female South Dakotan Governor; Harry and Meghan's Royal Wedding. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired May 5, 2018 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:00]

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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Contradictions in the Stormy Daniels hush money saga. President Trump apparently knew about the six-figure payment deal months before he denied he knew nothing about it.

Plus, fear and chaos on Hawaii's big island, after hundreds of people are told to evacuate and get away from the lava.

Stay tuned. The U.S. president says a date and location has been set for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

These stories are all ahead here live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

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ALLEN: Our top story, new details about hush money paid by U.S. president Donald Trump's lawyer to silence porn star Stormy Daniels. "The New York Times" reports the president actually knew about the payment several months before telling reporters aboard Air Force One he knew nothing about it.

And "The Wall Street Journal" is now reporting in the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, took out lines of credit on two properties totaling some $774,000. Cohen now under criminal investigation because of his business dealings and that could include hush money payments to Daniels, possibly others.

Cohen said he made the payment to Daniels out of his home equity line. Cohen is not the only Trump attorney under scrutiny. Many legal analysts say Rudy Giuliani's blizzard of statements over the past few days may have done the president more harm than good. For more on that, CNN's Brian Todd is in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NYC: Don't you think a lot of these people would pay that?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sources familiar with President Trump's legal team tell CNN the team is angry with Rudy Giuliani. One source complaining that Giuliani's media blitz this week was a, quote, "S show," another saying the president's lightning rod new legal adviser is pouring fuel on the Stormy Daniels case.

Legal analysts say Giuliani's seemingly off-the-cuff remarks could have gotten the president in even more legal trouble. Like when Giuliani highlighted how important it might have been to the Trump campaign to keep Daniels quiet about the alleged affair before the 2016 election.

GIULIANI: Imagine if that came out on October 15th, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.

TODD (voice-over): A headache for Trump and his lawyers, experts say, because they've always contended the Daniels payment was a personal expense and wasn't made to influence the election.

MATTHEW SANDERSON, CAMPAIGN FINANCE ATTORNEY: That statement by Rudy Giuliani does suggest that it was related to an election. If it's related to an election, then it may be an in-kind contribution and it may also need to be reported.

TODD (voice-over): And in Federal Election Commission documents, Trump never reported the Daniels payment. But a former Trump lawyer says Giuliani's comment doesn't imply Trump and Michael Cohen broke FEC rules.

JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Just because it has an outcome that could have a political impact doesn't mean that there's an FEC violation because there has to be some coordination there with the campaign. And there's been no facts that have shown that to date.

TODD (voice-over): But experts say Giuliani made other potentially damaging comments, talking about Trump paying back Cohen.

GIULIANI: He was definitely reimbursed. There's no doubt about it.

TODD (voice-over): Giuliani said Trump didn't start secretly paying Cohen back until months after the election. In the interim, Trump never reported what he owed Cohen.

SANDERSON: The president is supposed to disclose on his personal financial disclosure form any debts that he owes to other people.

TODD (voice-over): Even the president acknowledged Giuliani might have made some mistakes in his interviews.

TRUMP: Rudy had just started and he wasn't totally familiar with everything.

TODD: Giuliani hasn't specifically addressed the criticism that he made Trump's legal situation worse with his comments to the media.

Giuliani did issue a statement reiterating that the payment to Stormy Daniels was not a campaign expenditure. And earlier, he told CNN that his comments to the media were coordinated with the president and said there's no daylight between him and Trump -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Long before he worked for the Trump presidential campaign, Paul Manafort had business dealings that have now resulted in federal charges, including bank fraud. But a federal judge on Friday seemed unimpressed by the case against Manafort.

He accused special counsel Robert Mueller's team of going after Manafort only to get to President Trump. For more, here's CNN's Jessica Schneider.

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JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A federal judge in Virginia seemed to reprimand the special counsel's team in their case against President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

[05:05:00]

SCHNEIDER: So federal judge T.S. Ellis, he even lost his temper at times on Friday morning while he expressed his doubt that the special counsel is acting within its scope or even properly following its mandate.

Now remember, Paul Manafort is facing 18 counts, including bank fraud, in federal court in Virginia. That is on top of the counts that he faces in Washington. So the criticism from his lawyers is that these charges, they don't relate to the campaign and therefore they just go too far for the special counsel.

So Judge Ellis, who is a Reagan appointee, he echoed some of those concerns and he said this in court.

He said, "You don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud," the judge told Michael Dreeben on the special counsel's team. Instead, the judge said that the special counsel was only interested in Manafort because of what he could provide that would lead to the president's, quote, "prosecution or impeachment."

The judge continued to say, "That is what you are really interested in."

The judge also continued to say, "We don't want anyone in this country with unfettered power. It is unlikely you're going to persuade me the special prosecutor has the power to do anything he or she wants. The American people feel pretty strongly that no one has unfettered power."

So, of course, it was Friday morning; it was a hearing on Paul Manafort's motion to dismiss the Virginia case because he does contend that the special counsel went too far in charging him with crimes that don't directly related to the campaign. The judge will rule on that at a later date.

And in the meantime, the judge will be getting access to an unredacted August 2017 memo from deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. And it spells out the special counsel's authority.

So the memo will remain sealed and only the judge will be able to see it but that will no doubt cast some more light for the judge of how broadly the special counsel's powers are, as to what they can investigate.

And remember that this is the memo that explicitly said the special counsel could examine Paul Manafort's lobbying work in Ukraine and notably whether Manafort himself colluded with Russian government officials during the 2016 campaign -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Ellis Henican is a political analyst and columnist with Metro Papers. He joins us from Paris to talk about these developments.

Hi, Ellis. Thanks for being with us.

ELLIS HENICAN, METRO PAPERS: Hey, Natalie. Good to see you.

ALLEN: Despite the president's denials, it appears he did know about the payment to Ms. Daniels months before this moment on an airplane in April. Let's revisit it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CATHERINE LUCEY, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?

TRUMP: No. No. What else?

LUCEY: Then why did Michael -- why did Michael make it if there was no truth to her allegations?

TRUMP: Well, you have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. And you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.

LUCEY: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

TRUMP: I don't know. No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: So the president there caught in a blatant untruth.

How could this hurt him?

ELLIS HENICAN, METRO PAPERS: Well, if you say one thing in April and something different in May, if it goes from no to yes, one of them has to be wrong. There's so many ways it can hurt him.

Talking about campaign finance issues, any sort of contribution, frankly, of any sort, even a so-called in-kind contribution, whether legal or not, certainly needs to be reported. None of this stuff was reported. Investigators are all over Cohen's financial dealings. I would say it's -- there are about seven land mines planted here.

ALLEN: There's also more news. "The Wall Street Journal" broke the news just hours ago, Cohen had much more cash on hand during the campaign beyond that $130,000. He maneuvered to get access to as much as $774,000 in cash.

We don't know what that was for but could be interesting, since he's being investigated for his business dealings, including access to cash that would involve hiding negative information about Donald Trump, right?

HENICAN: You are absolutely right.

And the question is, what was Cohen so desperate for money about right at that time?

Maybe there's some other payments that we don't yet know about. But we know that he took out a HELOC, a home equity line of credit on a piece of property he owned, that his wife's parents signed over an apartment in one of the Trump buildings in New York to him, enabling him to get yet more cash.

Clearly there was some urgent need for money at that time and we don't know why. But, boy, we'd sure like to know.

ALLEN: We might know that soon. Meantime, his new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, goes on FOX, kind of lets the cat out of the bag, saying, yes, the president reimbursed his lawyer for the payment but it's legit. No campaign finance laws broken.

So Friday we heard the president say, look, it was Giuliani's first day on the job. He got his facts wrong. And then as the president often does, he admonishes the media for getting its facts wrong.

Bottom line, this gets murkier and murkier.

Why can't the president's legal team stay focused --

[05:10:00]

ALLEN: -- on a controlled message that is so serious to his presidency?

HENICAN: It's perplexing. I've got to tell you, I don't have an answer to that. Rudy is a loose cannon. Those of us who covered him over the years in New York have learned that he comes on strong always at all times.

But there doesn't seem to have been any coordination, although it's kind of funny. Trump seems to be backing up most of what Giuliani said while some of the other attorneys and folks at the White House have tried to backpedal.

The president, I think Rudy is right, there is no daylight between the two of them on the central facts here with Cohen. I think you're right about that.

ALLEN: As someone put it, seems like they're twisting themselves into a pretzel there at the White House with all of this.

HENICAN: I like that, a New York pretzel.

ALLEN: You can even picture it, can't you?

HENICAN: Put some mustard on it.

(LAUGHTER)

ALLEN: Friday wasn't great for the Mueller investigation because of what was said by a judge in the Paul Manafort bank fraud case. Manafort was on Mr. Trump's campaign team.

Judge T.S. Ellis said this to a prosecutor in court, "We don't want anyone in this country with unfettered power. It's unlikely you're going to persuade me the special prosecutor has power to do anything he or she wants."

He told the prosecutor there. The American people, he said, feel pretty strongly no one has unfettered power.

What does that signal?

This was a very angry judge. Apparently lost his temper over it in court.

HENICAN: It does sound so. And this -- let's be clear. This is a piece of good news for the Trump team, who have not received so many pieces of good courtroom news lately. It may not be the final word on this.

Don't forget, there is an entire different legal proceeding against Manafort that's going on in Washington, D.C., while Judge Ellis sits in Virginia. And they are focusing on different parts. The Ukraine stuff is mostly in Washington and other things are in Virginia.

So yes, the government was admonished. Mueller was told, hang on a second. Your authority isn't universal here. But let's don't assume that this in some way genuinely threatens the core of the investigation against Manafort. It does seem to be a whole lot there. But, yes, smiles on the Trump team in Virginia, for sure.

ALLEN: All right. It's stories are just zinging all over the place right now. We thank you, Ellis Henican, as always. Appreciate your thoughts.

HENICAN: Good to see you, thanks.

ALLEN: President Trump spent Friday with a friendly crowd at the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association.

He tweeted, "Thanks to all our friends and patriots at the NRA."

Mr. Trump also promised to protect their Second Amendment right to bear arms. In his speech, he told a crowd their gun rights will never be under siege as long as he is in the White House. To underscore his defense of gun rights, he talked about the effects of England's tough gun laws.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A once very prestigious hospital right in the middle is like a war zone for horrible stabbing wounds. Yes, that's right. They don't have guns. They have knives.

And instead, there's blood all over the floors of this hospital. They say it's as bad as a military war zone hospital. Knives, knives, knives. London hasn't been used to that. They're getting used to it. It's pretty tough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Mr. Trump also sarcastically asked whether cars and trucks should be banned because they're also used by terrorists.

Tourists flocking to Hawaii to see the state's famous active volcanoes right now won't be visiting Kilauea. It's a little too active. We'll have more about that coming up here.

Also, the U.S. president says he will soon know the time and place for the summit with North Korea while we await the release of three detained Americans. We'll have more on that later this hour. Stay with us.

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[05:15:00]

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ALLEN (voice-over): That is the sound of a volcanic eruption in action. You can certainly see plumes of hot lava and rock being thrown up in the air like a fountain. CNN captured this video in a neighborhood in Hawaii that is under mandatory evacuation.

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ALLEN: And for people living on the East Coast of Hawaii's big island, it's been a day of anxiety. Six volcanic fissures opened up in a neighborhood shooting lava and steam into the air.

The power has been cut and residents say they can smell sulfur dioxide, a toxic gas. The government has declared a state of emergency and ordered nearly 2,000 people to leave. On top of all this, hundreds of earthquakes shook the island this

week, including a strong 6.9 tremor, the strongest to hit Hawaii in decades. Visitors to the area are also being brought to safety. More than 2,500 are being taken from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Yes, it is a visitors' destination. But it is now closed.

As our Stephanie Elam reports from Hawaii, that park is home to a volcanic crater at the center of all of this.

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STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Volcanic eruptions spewing molten rock, ash and toxic gases onto Hawaii's big island, the eruption stemming from a series of cracks in Pu'u O'o's rift zone miles from the Kilauea volcano.

Video from earlier this week shows walls of smoke billowing as the vent on Pu'u O'o collapses, leaving behind a red, rocky surface similar to that of Mars, with gaping holes giving us a glimpse of the orange liquid magna smoldering below.

And this time-lapse shot last week shows gushing rivers of lava flowing as night turns to day. Residents are fleeing from their homes as forests burn and roads break open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can feel the heat coming from the ground. Yes, there's heat coming up out of this.

ELAM (voice-over): Officials warn that the sulfur dioxide levels are extremely dangerous. More than 700 structures and 1,700 people are within the mandatory evacuation area.

RANSON YONEDA, COMMUNITY SHELTER SUPERINTENDENT: Now we have about 100 people up here at the facility, at the shelters. We just got another wave of them that got evacuated because the volcano and of the erupting more up on the street.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lava is coming out in Leilani. So this is real.

ELAM (voice-over): At the center of the activity lies the community of Leilani Estates. A resident there captured this lava fountain, shooting over 100 feet into the air.

We came down the road, all we heard was a boom.

What is that?

And then all of a sudden, you smell the sulfur dioxide. We knew something was happening. Within minutes, we see smoke and now we see all this lava coming across the street and it's pumping right now. So this fissure is opening up and this is our next eruption.

ELAM (voice-over): The eruptions are part of a massive geological event set off by the collapse of the Pu'u O'o crater floor. That collapse led to hundreds of earthquakes this week, which continue to -- [05:20:00]

ELAM (voice-over): -- jolt the big island.

DAVID IGE, GOVERNOR OF HAWAII: The tough part about this eruption is that it's unpredictable. We don't know which way the lava is going to flow. And we are planning actively for every contingency that we can think of.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: That's Stephanie Elam there, on Hawaii for us. The governor of Hawaii is urging all people and planes to stay away from the area.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IGE: We have issued an FAA order, closing the airspace around the eruption site so they won't be able to come to look at the eruption.

We would encourage visitors to stay away from the Puna area. The rest of the island is open for visitors. And clearly on the west side and Hilo Banyan Drive is still continuing to operate with no impact.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: We're joined on the phone by Michael Hale, one of the many people forced to relocate.

Michael, thanks so much for talking with us. We know this is a difficult time for you.

Where are you now and how are you and your family holding up?

MICHAEL HALE, HAWAIIAN RESIDENT: We've relocated. We're in Volcano Village now, which is many miles from where our house is and a bit safer. I experienced -- they were not there for most of the quakes and so I'm watching quakes on USGS and just continually nervous. I've got a little bit of PSTD going on, I think.

ALLEN: Just from the trauma of what you've been experiencing?

HALE: Yes.

ALLEN: So you're in what's called Volcano Village. That doesn't sound safe, does it, but --

(LAUGHTER)

ALLEN: -- it doesn't, I certainly hope it is. While you're talking, we're looking at the lava that's just bubbling up from the ground.

Did you see this?

Did you experience it?

Did you smell it? HALE: Yes, we smelled it, heard it. I saw the smoke. We didn't actually -- I didn't see the glow. It was basically on the street -- when we were there, it was on the street and a half away from our backyard. I have a house that we live in and then a rental house on the same block.

And it was closer actually, when I ran over to the other house to tell the guest that, hey, you have to get out. They're in their shorts and such. I was like, you've got to go now. They didn't even know what was going on.

But they got out. I texted with them afterwards about an hour later and made sure that they were gone. But, yes, you could hear it. It was like rumbling rocks and explosions and a big cloud when it first was happening.

ALLEN: How long have you lived in Hawaii and have you ever experienced anything like this?

HALE: I've been here 20 years and in that house 20 years. Almost 20 years, 19 or something. And, no, nothing experienced like this. You've heard stories about where else it goes. But you never think it's going to be right there because it's always been so steadily ever at the other place and flowing so nicely except for the four years ago, when it decided to change direction. That was kind of a surface top flow.

So we were able to watch where it was going kind of constantly. It was a different kind of watch. This one is kind of like coming up from under wherever it wants to come.

Yes, that's kind of a creepy feeling, isn't it, the way it's working there. And they don't know which way the lava may go next.

So are you prepared to be evacuated for some time?

HALE: Yes, sort of. I mean, luckily, I have a lot in Pahoa that doesn't have anything on it. You know, worst-case scenario, we'll set up some tents there. I know some of my living partners in my house, they help me manage the place, they are staying on that lot now in Pahoa town. They have some vans that they're sleeping in.

And I know that right around the corner from there, there's the Pahoa center, where they have some beds and cots for people, too. So that's kind of like, depending on how long this goes, you know, I kind of had my eggs in one basket, taking a risk.

ALLEN: Right.

HALE: And two houses in the same lava zone, I guess. And it almost paid off.

ALLEN: Oh, my goodness. Well, hope that when you get back, your houses are OK. Two houses almost paid off. We hear your pain there for sure, Michael. And we'll be thinking of you and maybe we'll talk with you again to find out that you're OK when and -- [05:25:00]

ALLEN: -- if you do get to go back home. Thank you for spending time with us, Michael Hale. Good luck to you.

HALE: Aloha.

ALLEN: Aloha.

(WEATHER REPORT)

ALLEN: U.S. President Trump says a date has been set for his meeting with the North Korean leader. They'll let us know soon about that. We'll go to Seoul, South Korea, for that. Plus more developments between North and South Korea.

And after almost a decade, Lebanon is finally set to vote for a new parliament. We have a report from Beirut about how complex this vote will be.

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[05:30:00]

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ALLEN: Welcome back. To our viewers in the U.S. and around the world, this is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

(HEADLINES)

ALLEN: We're learning more about U.S. President Trump's upcoming meetings with the leaders of North and South Korea. The White House says South Korean president Moon Jae-in will visit Washington on May 22nd.

During an event in Dallas with the National Rifle Association, Mr. Trump said the time and location are set for his meeting with Kim Jong-un and will be announced soon. He also said he would dial back some of the tough language he's used against the North Korean leader in the past.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I won't use the rhetoric. Now I'm trying to calm it down a little bit. So I'm not going to use the rhetoric. But let's -- he goes, use it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Meantime, the fate of these three American detainees held by North Korea remains unclear. A source with knowledge of the negotiations told CNN their release was imminent and President Trump said we would learn more soon. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A lot of things have already happened with respect to the hostages and I think you're going to see very good things. As I said yesterday, stay tuned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Mr. Trump's comments come as North Korea has officially adjusted its clock 30 minutes forward to be in the same time zone as South Korea. Our Alexandra Field joins us from Seoul with more about that and perhaps what's next in this meeting between the U.S. and North Korea.

Hello.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Natalie. You heard the president say that the time has been fixed. The location has been set. None of that has been revealed. It's not clear why that hasn't been revealed or when.

But certainly there's reason to speculate this could be held at the DMZ. All sides talking about the possible benefits of having a summit there, similar to the one held between North Korea and South Korea at the DMZ.

But many are speculating it could be in Singapore, a more neutral location. Some of the president's advisers feel it would appear less conciliatory than for the president to travel all the way to the DMZ.

Another big question is whether or not those three American detainees will, in fact, be released. Things took a somewhat bizarre turn earlier this week when the president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani announced --

[05:35:00]

FIELD: -- that the prisoners would be released on Thursday.

Thursday came. Thursday went. The men weren't released. Now the National Security Council says it has no update on the possible release. But sources close to the administration say that the administration remains confident that the detainees will, in fact, be released before that summit happens.

It's widely regarded that would be a show of good faith, an act of good will on behalf of North Korea in advance of that summit that could take place, perhaps at the end of the month. That was the initial timeline given but we're still waiting to find out the exact date.

ALLEN: Truly amazing how fast and furious these positive developments are occurring.

Now we hear there could even be flights between the two Koreas? FIELD: It would certainly be a big step forward. It's something that a U.N. aviation committee is going to investigate this week. They'll be traveling here to the peninsula to look at a proposal that was made by North Korea back in February, when we started to see tensions falling on the peninsula.

That's when North Korea sent their Olympic team to the Olympics which were held in South Korea. It was a major breakthrough in terms of the diplomatic situation here on the peninsula. North Korea has proposed a route that would travel between Pyongyang and Incheon, South Korea.

Aviation officials say they're still considering it and this U.N. committee will be looking at various navigation and safety issues. Certainly it would be a major step forward.

It would come on the heels of another significant step that North Korea has taken, which is to adjust their time zone, setting their clocks half an hour forward, to be in sync with Seoul. State media in North Korea saying that's one step closer to becoming one Korea, one North Korea and one South Korea together. So they are lauding this as a significant measure of progress there -- Natalie.

ALLEN: It certainly is. Alexandra Field for us. Thanks so much, Alexandra.

Some 90,000 Hondurans in the U.S. now face deportation. This after the Trump administration decided to end the protected status of immigrants who came to the U.S. after a 1998 hurricane in Honduras.

They will have 18 months to make other arrangements to stay in the U.S. or leave the country. One California union leader said conditions in their home country are worse than when they left two decades ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADA BRICENO, UNITE HERE UNION LEADER: The 57,000 Hondurans that Trump wants to kick out of the U.S. are potentially going back to a country that today is significantly more dangerous for women, for indigenous, for LGBTQ and for other minorities than it was at the time that they first left and got temporary protective status.

We should need to say no more than the member -- that they are members of our community and they are under attack.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Meantime, most of the Central American asylum seekers at the U.S. border have now crossed into the U.S. In all, 228 people who are asking for asylum are being processed. The group involved from Central America in a caravan hoping they would be let into the U.S.

The legal process of being granted asylum could take months, even years. This as President Trump sent roughly 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. Lebanon's parliamentary election could echo beyond its borders. The Sunday vote appears to be a showdown between Iranian and Saudi proxies but independent candidates are trying to buck the system. CNN's Ben Wedeman has more for us from Beirut.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Showered with rice, prime minister Saad Hariri takes to the stage on the last day of campaigning. This is his stronghold, Sunni West Beirut, where he is received more like a rock star than a politician.

Since becoming prime minister for a second time in 2016, he has managed to bring relative stability to an often deeply divided country.

SAAD HARIRI, FORMER LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER: What I did two years ago is reunited the country around the political consensus.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): His consensus involved forming a government that included ministers from Iranian-backed Hezbollah. It was a marriage of convenience that didn't please everyone, particularly his Saudi backers.

But Lebanon has been spared a significant spillover of the violence from neighboring Syria. And for a country with vivid memories of its own 15-year civil war, that is no small achievement.

WEDEMAN: This is Lebanon's first election in nine years.

The question is, will all the new voters go for the old politicians or try something new?

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Nohad Machnouk is Lebanon's interior minister and a close political ally of Hariri. He recognizes --

[05:40:00]

WEDEMAN (voice-over): -- the times, they are a-changing.

NOHAD MACHNOUK, LEBANESE INTERIOR MINISTER: When you have 800,000 new voters, it means that you have to change all your attitude. You cannot do the same like before, because they will not accept.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): A new election law has opened the door to more independent candidates, many eager to shake off Lebanon's legacy of sectarian politics.

Gilbert Doumit lacks the resources to run a flashy campaign. He just has plenty of energy and a group of dedicated supporters.

"Don't we want new people?" he asked a possible voter.

Impatient, like the drivers in Beirut's congested streets, he wants to rip power from the old elite. GILBERT DOUMIT, LEBANESE PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE: Because we want to take our country back. We lost it for the last 50 years within the hands of people who don't want to improve it.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Lebanese voters are faced with a mind-boggling array of choices. Politics here is a confusing kaleidoscope of religions, clans, parties and personalities, ranging from the likes of Hezbollah, whose dedicated supporters carried on their rally in a downpour of rain and hail...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

WEDEMAN (voice-over): -- to the likes of Rania Masri, a civil society candidate running in the mountains of Beirut. She is one of 86 women running for parliament this year, seven times more than in 2009.

RANIA MASRI, LEBANESE PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE: More women are educated, more women are employed, more women are being financially independent, more women are single. There is a shift demographically.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Just one shift in a country where change may come one leaflet at a time -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: A stunning admission from a U.S. congresswoman seeking the governor's office in the state of South Dakota.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KRISTI NOEM (R-S.D.), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I had a few people tell me that maybe I didn't have the right body parts to be a governor.

ALLEN (voice-over): Next, more on the challenges facing Kristi Noem and other women seeking political office in the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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[05:45:00]

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ALLEN: A record number of U.S. women are running for office in this year's midterm elections. Our Kyung Lah met with one U.S. representative who hopes to make history by becoming South Dakota's first female governor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 5:30 am: a single digit dawn in South Dakota. Congresswoman Kristi Noem's daily ritual, her path to make history, running to be the first woman governor of South Dakota.

LAH: The one thing that Washington is known for is the smoky bar, the late-night drinks.

(CROSSTALK)

NOEM: Well, for me, I'm married. It's not a good testimony for me to be sitting in a bar late at night, when my family is all the way across the country. I started thinking out of the box.

How can I get to have interaction with other members?

For me, it was the gym. We exercise together but we also talk about legislation.

LAH (voice-over): Breaking the norm, hardly new for the conservative congresswoman, born, raised and still rancher on the 6,000-acre family plot.

NOEM: We've had cattle and horses and raised our family here so we'll always be here.

LAH (voice-over): Noem made the leap to state lawmaker, then in 2010 defeated a popular incumbent to go to Congress. Despite her success, this is what she heard as she announced her historic run for governor.

NOEM: I had a few people tell me that maybe I didn't have the right body parts to be a governor. So you know --

LAH: Really?

NOEM: Yes, but it's just a small minority of folks that we just have to change their perspective. I said, that's unfortunate but we're going to win.

You all have come alongside me over and over and over again.

How are you doing?

LAH (voice-over): Noem is as uncommon here as she is in Washington. Republican women make up about 10 percent of Congress. The unprecedented surge of women running for office this year has been almost completely among Democrats.

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R), FLORIDA: It is sad. It is depressing and the numbers are getting worse.

LAH (voice-over): Republican congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has represented South Florida for nearly three decades. She says gender diversity is an afterthought for House leadership. She's retiring this year, leaving with this ominous message for her party.

ROS-LEHTINEN: Just stop with the name calling. It turns women off.

LAH: Do you look at the White House?

(CROSSTALK)

ROS-LEHTINEN: Absolutely. The rhetoric coming out of the White House is a recruiting tool for liberal women to come out and counter that. And as long as we are a party that is seen as homogeneous, not heterogeneous, a party that doesn't invite minorities and women, we're not going to be a welcoming party for the future.

The growth for GOP women in elective office is at the local level and at the state capitals.

LAH: Why this year are a record number of women saying they can run in government?

NOEM: I think it's all about not missing an opportunity. Timing is everything in politics.

LAH (voice-over): Congresswoman Noem's time may be now. She's regarded as the front-runner, pledging to govern with the innovation of a national lawmaker and the transparency of a local farmer.

NOEM: This is about a million miles away from D.C. This is as far -- I live two totally different lives. That is very true.

LAH: You prefer a tractor to an airplane?

NOEM: I do. You have control over your own destiny.

LAH (voice-over): A path she hopes to forge at home -- Kyung Lah, CNN, Castlewood, South Dakota.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: The first time I've seen a female interview another female in a tractor. Pretty cool.

In just two weeks, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot. We'll tell you what role the bride's parents will play in the ceremony -- just ahead here.

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ALLEN: Saturday is a busy day for NASA. In just a few hours, the InSight Mars lander will launch from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base in NASA's first-ever mission to look deep into the heart of the Red Planet. Two suitcase-sized spacecraft will also be launching on the same rocket. They will orbit Mars to test new communications and navigation capabilities. Just hours later, SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft is set to return to Earth

from the International Space Station. It will be carrying home more than 4,000 pounds or 1,800 kilograms of cargo as well as technological and biological studies that were performed on the ISS.

Britain's royal wedding is just two weeks away, May 19th. But let's look back to where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got to know each other, at a quiet retreat in Botswana. Here's Linda Kinkade.

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LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over) (voice-over): Their royal love story was cemented in Botswana, their first trip away together. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visited this South African country shortly after meeting in July 2016.

It's now been revealed that they also went there on holiday again in August last year for Meghan's 36th birthday, just months before Harry proposed. Although Kensington Palace have never confirmed their destination, according to Reuters they stayed at Mapula Lodge which means "mother of rain."

The $800 a night isolated retreat is located in the Okavango Delta, one of the largest inland deltas in the world. The couple slept in a traditional thatched cabin overlooking the lagoon, took a sunset cruise, went fishing and spent time enjoying the African wilderness. Word is they were even served a --

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KINKADE (voice-over): -- three-course meal under an ancient baobab tree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They will come to Botswana because it is still a nice destination to go to, where you're not bothered about paparazzi and such because you're far from anything and everything.

KINKADE (voice-over): That's one of the reasons the country is popular with celebrities who want to get away. Botswana is one of the least populated countries in the world with roughly three people per square kilometer.

With its lush landscape and incredible wildlife, it's no wonder it's been key to Harry and Meghan's blossoming romance.

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KINKADE (voice-over): The diamond on Meghan's engagement ring even came from Botswana, one of the world's largest diamond producers. Botswana holds a special meaning for Prince Harry. He first visited at age 13 when his father took him after his mother, Princess Diana, died. He's also a patron of the charity Rhino Conservation Botswana -- Linda Kinkade, CNN.

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ALLEN: We're getting more details about the royal marriage ceremony. The bride's parents will have key roles.

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ALLEN (voice-over): Meghan Markle's mother will ride with her to Windsor Castle for the ceremony. That's her mother to her right there. Then her father will walk her down the chapel aisle. Markle will not have a maid of honor.

As for the groom, Prince Harry wants his late mother's side of the family involved in the ceremony. Diana's older sister is expected to give a reading. Afterwards, the couple will not go on an immediate honeymoon. They'll return to work with some public engagements.

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ALLEN: And that is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. For U.S. viewers "NEW DAY" is next. For everyone else, stay with us for "AMANPOUR."