Return to Transcripts main page
Natural Disaster in Hawaii; EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt; President Donald Trump to Announce that Jerusalem is the New Capital of Israel; The Summit Between President Trump And North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Un, Set For About A Month From Now In Singapore; President Trump called for the U.S. commerce department to get ZTE back into business fast; At least three new cracks have opened on the big island in Hawaii in the past several hours. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired May 13, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:10] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Thank you, Jake.
All right, we have got so much more ahead in the NEWSROOM, and it's all starts right now.
All right, hello, again, everyone, and thank you so much for joining me on this mother's day, Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We begin in Israel, where we are watching the fallout of President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Advisors Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are in Israel right now as tens of thousands prepare to protest just across the border.
We are watching this huge escalation of Israeli military presence in Gaza ahead of the official opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem tomorrow, a move contested by Palestinians and U.S.-Arab allies. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now calling on other countries to follow the U.S. lead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Move your embassies to Jerusalem because it's the right thing to do. And move your embassies to Jerusalem, listen to this, move your embassies to Jerusalem because it advances peace and that's because you can't base peace on a foundation of lies. You base peace on the foundations of truth, and the truth is, not only has Jerusalem be the capital of the Jewish people for a millennia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Joining me right now, Elise Labott, CNN global affairs correspondent.
So Elise, the reaction there in Jerusalem?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, it's a highly unpopular move that's made President Trump here very popular. Today it was Jerusalem day, celebrating the unification of Jerusalem after decades. And I saw as many Israeli flags. I saw Trump sign, make America great again. So certainly, a very popular move, President Trump seen as someone not just, that is, you know, looking out for Jerusalem in such, but also protecting the Israeli people, that move to pull out of the Iran deal as he announced earlier last week, also very popular.
So clearly, you know, this is something the Israeli people have been looking for some time. Many candidates for president in the United States said they would do it, but President Trump is the first President to go ahead and do it. It's a highly popular and highly emotional move for the Israeli people because they consider Israel their capital, obviously the Palestinians feel that it should be their capital too. What the Trump administration has said that, you know, they are just acknowledging that Israel will be an Israeli capital, Jerusalem will be an Israeli capital. That doesn't mean that, you know, part of the city couldn't be a Palestinian capital in future negotiations and the U.S. is kind of set to unveil its peace plan in the not too distant future, Fred.
WHITFIELD: So Ivanka Trump and he husband, Jared, you know, both advisors there for White House arriving Israel. And Kushner, of course, was tasked by the President with siding peace in the region. Is there any indication that he had much influence over this? And if this is indeed the pathway to peace?
LABOTT: Well, I mean, Jared Kushner was hugely influential in President Trump making this announcement. I think some of his other advisors though it might be premature, it might damage relationships with U.S. allies in the region, but look, this was President Trump's decision, something he said he was going to do. You know, he is someone that wants to make good on the promises that he made to his supporters during the m campaign. But he has also developed both along with Jared Kushner a very close relation with President Trump.
Look. I think Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, the other international negotiation gained a lot, you know, kudos in the beginning for going out and consulting with the Arab leaders. I think this decision might have set them back a little bit in terms of support for their peace deal. But they also saw that this announcement didn't cause the furor in the region that they thought it might. And they do think at the end of the day, one senior administration official told me that Jerusalem is not going to make or break our peace plan. It is not going to wreck and fail or succeed in Jerusalem.
So I think they think the decision was made. And now they will forward. They say there will lots of other good things for the Palestinians, even if they don't like this decision, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Elise Labott, thank you so much in Jerusalem.
So all this happening as the volatile region is escalating closer to a boiling point. Now let's check in with CNN's Ian Lee live for us from Gaza.
So, what are you seeing there, Ian? IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, as popular as this decision
by the United States is among the Israelis, it's about as unpopular among the Palestinians and it has been -- United States move has been widely condemned by much of the international community. You also have the Palestinians say cutting off relations with the United States in the sense that they won't negotiate with the United States. And that is going to make it difficult for them to push forward this peace process.
But we have also had protests in the West Bank, but more specifically here in Gaza for the past seven weeks, every Friday we seen thousands, tens of thousands of Palestinians going to the border protesting, not only the decision by the United States to move the embassy. But this is called the march of returns. These are Palestinians who say they want to return to lands that they lost to Israel in the 1948 war. Many of these people are refugees or descendants of refugees and they say they want to break over that border fence.
Tonight, we have been hearing loud speakers on trucks encouraging people to go out to the border to try to crossover that fence. But we have also have the Israelis dropping these leaflets from the sky which basically don't be a part of what they call as Hamas terrorists' action about trying to infiltrate into Israel.
For the Israeli side, though, they say they have a three-pronged approach. The first is to tell people to stay away from the fence. If they move closer then use nonlethal means like teargas. And then if they do try to break over, they say they will use some limited live fire, live bullets. And they say their worst case scenario, though, is Palestinians are in mass trying to crossover that border and breaching that border fence.
Now, when it comes to the Palestinians, tomorrow we are expecting the largest number of people to go out to that protest. It could be well over 100,000 people. And when you do have these large numbers, it is a recipe for a deadly day, Fred.
[16:07:01] WHITFIELD: All right, Ian Lee. Thank you so much in Gaza.
All right. Back in Washington, President Trump is entering his final four weeks of preparations for his historic sit down with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The President keeping his rhetoric toned down, actually thanking Kim twice this week. First for being quote "excellent" to the three U.S. prisoners released from North Korea four days ago. And then second in this weekend's tweet saying North Korea has announced that they will dismantle nuclear test site this month ahead of the big summit meeting on June 12th. Thank you. A very smart and gracious gesture.
I'm joined now by CNN's White House correspondent Boris Sanchez.
So smart and gracious, not word you usually hear President Trump associate with their Korean leader.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. We have come a long way since little rocket man and "Fire and Fury"
what the world has never seen. Noticeably, the President likening the rhetoric as we get closer to this summit between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, set for about a month from now in Singapore.
The President spent much of his afternoon swinging away at his golf course in Virginia. He returned to the White House a short while ago. And this morning, national security advisor John Bolton made the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows talking about the President's preparations for this summit. Saying that the President has been huddling closely with advisors and with some foreign leaders. Notably, Chinese President, Xi Jinping, trying to get a read on Kim Jong-un before this historic summit.
(INAUDIBLE) flame the historical significance of this by essentially saying that no American President has tried to do this before, and that though it is an ambitious plan, his team remains optimistic.
Here's more about what Bolton said about the President's readying for this meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: His preparations have actually been very extensive already. He is talking to a lot of different people, foreign leaders. He had an extensive conversation with Xi Jinping with China earlier this week. He is consulting with all of his advisors.
I think his preparations are very intense. People have said, well, you can't prepare in such a short time for such momentous meeting. I had exactly the opposite reaction when I first heard about it. There's real utility in bringing these two leaders together. Let them see each other and decide, in our case, whether we judge that Kim Jong-un has made the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: And something that Bolton made clear on the "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER" was the definition of denuclearization. He says the United States wants a complete, total, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization from North Korea. That would mean independent international monitors having access to facilities in that country and further the total dismantling of Kim Jong-un's nuclear capacity. He also noted that the United States has been through this before, recalling previous nuclear deals that the North Koreans have voided, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Boris Sanchez at the White House, thank you.
We are learning more from the President about his plans to help get a controversial Chinese phone maker, back in business, tweeting today, I'm quoting now, "China and the United States are working well together on trade, but past negotiations have been so one sided in favor of China for so many years, that it is hard for them to make a deal that benefits both countries, but be cool, it will all work out."
This tweet follows a message posted earlier today by the President in which he called for the U.S. commerce department to get ZTE quote "back into business fast."
Shortly after the President's tweet, Sunday morning, Democratic representative Adam Schiff tweeted in reply, saying our intelligence agencies have warned that ZTE technology and phones pose a major cyber security threat. You should care more about our national security than Chinese jobs.
The U.S. commerce department blocked American firms from working with Chinese tech company ZTE until 2025 saying it violated U.S. sanctions against North Korea and lied to U.S. officials.
CNN Money and politics correspondent Cristina Alesci joining me now with more of this. It is very complicated, Cristina.
[16:11:16] CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: It is. Well, but basically, what happened this morning is the President struck a much softer tone when it comes to China as oppose to the very tough stamps we have heard from this administration broadly (ph) on China and on this company, ZTE in particular. More contacts on this company is one of the largest phone makers in the world. It has 75,000 employees and last year the administration imposed a hefty fine for because the company was selling its products to both North Korea and Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.
Just last month, the commerce department went even further and imposed more punishment because it said the company had not punished its employees properly for the violations of those sanctions.
Now those latest punishments last month, basically crippled the company and the company's stock actually halted trading on the Hong Kong exchange and then this morning the President says it wants to get ZTE back to business.
Now many critics will say this is a reversal of the U.S. position, but the larger context here is that the President may be wanting to do a deal because he or the U.S. will get something in return, but it's too early to tell because we do not have the answers to all the questions yet, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Cristina Alesci, thank you so much.
All right. So how do all of that these major foreign policy moves fit into the bigger picture? And does this give us a glimpse into the Trump administration's priorities? My panel weighs in next.
[16:17:02] WHITFIELD: All right. President Trump has been busy on the world stage, turning North Korea into a potentially peaceful partner and moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. That facility opens tomorrow.
Here to discuss this and more our CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein and David Drucker.
We will get to North Korea and Jerusalem in a moment. Good to see you both.
But Ron, first, you know, Washington accused Chinese's tech company ZTE of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and President Trump has tweeted about it, really saying let's get China a chance. He is asking the commerce department to step in. Why? What's going on here?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think this is indicative of one aspect of the way that he approaches the world, which is that he believes himself to be a deal maker and that almost anything is on the table as part of the deals that he is trying to construct. So I mean, you know, logically you would say the general truss (ph) of this administration, the kind of insular nationalism of their foreign policy. This would be the last thing that you would expect from Donald Trump. Except I think that other principals supersedes and you see this as part of the pieces that he is trying to move on to the table to try to reach some agreement with China, which you saw by the way in that last line of his tweet today is a source, as David can tell you, of great concern to a lot of Republican members because the people who feel most expose by the heightening hostility with China is the American agriculture industry. And that is the absolute firewall for Republicans in the November 2018 election.
WHITFIELD: There is that, David, you know, the concerns are now trying to interpret his tweet about China and now he is just tweeted about Iran, saying, remember how badly Iran was behaving with the Iran deal in place. They were trying to take over the Middle East by whatever means necessary, now that will not happen.
This as there has been so many analysts who are now blaming the U.S. exit from that Iran deal, for some of the tension that's building up right now ahead of that U.S. embassy opening in Jerusalem. So how do you interpret the President's actions and now his words via tweet, about how he says, you know, Iran was behaving badly and now they will not.
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think we have to understand here, Ron touched on this, Fred. We have to understand the difference between the President's rhetoric in much of his actions in regard to foreign policy. He talks often as a nationalist quasi- isolationist, questioning what good the U.S. receives from being such an active leader around the world. But he has conducted much of his foreign policy when it comes action and policy, much like a traditional hawkish Republican, at least so far.
The Iran deal, for instance, and I'm glad you caught that tweet which was going up just as we came on air here. The pulling out of the Iran deal is something that the more traditional Republicans that Iran against in the 2016 primary will promising to do that -- now President Trump was not initially promising to do.
He has pulled the U.S. out of that deal. And to give you an idea of the tweet and what is significant about it. He is right that the Iran deal actually failed miserably to discourage Iran's poor behavior. It remain a largest state sponsored of terror around the world. It was meddling in the Middle East, undermining U.S. interest, threatening U.S. allies. But the President has yet to present a strategy for how pulling us out of the deal is going to put an end to that even though he mentioned that in the tweet. And that is --.
[16:20:29] WHITFIELD: Well, did you hear Mike Pompeo this morning, you know, who said that -- or tried to intimate that there really is a strategy, that the President is going to get another deal in place with other allies and with it, in addition to addressing, you know, nuclear proliferation, there will also be some kind of incentive to make sure that Iran or dis-incentivize Iran from working with Hezbollah. So he kind of promise that more is coming but in a bigger, better way.
BROWNSTEIN: You know, the first question that all of the allies raised were, yes, the original agreement with Iran was not designed to deal with the full scope of its behavior. It was designed to deal with the single mother threatening aspect of its behavior which was in large toward a nuclear weapon. And in what way did you increase your odds of getting a broader agreement by abandoning this one? I mean, that is the debate. The administration argued well, we can go back now and we get the full agreement, because we are going to be tougher from day one.
WHITFIELD: Who is going to work with?
WHITFIELD: That's the problem, that's the challenge.
DRUCKER: I'm sorry, Ron.
WHITFIELD: Go ahead, David.
DRUCKER: I was going to say, Fred, I think one of the reasons it appears to be such a challenge is the administration notwithstanding the secretary of state's comments. Really hasn't laid any of this out yet. And so, while it is true that the European allies are upset, we know that our allies in the Middle East, Arab allies, as well as Israelis are quite pleased with the move.
The way you built confidence that a move like this might actually have a beneficial outcome is to be a little bit more forthcoming in laying it out. That way you can increase some of your domestic support for the move, and you might actually be able to increase some of your international support.
The President's moves are often interpreted, and I think, it is understandably so as a sort of gut move to go bold without having filled in the blanks. And if they could learn how to do that a little bit more, then there might be some more confidence in some of these moves that at first blush to some appear to be problematic.
WHITFIELD: And then, Ron, finish your point. BROWNSTEIN: There's a real shift in the access of American foreign
policy. There is apparent in all of this. I mean, we saw intonations of this under George W. Bush with the Iraq war, but I think it's further accelerated here which is that the distance between the kind of nationalist vision that Trump offers and the views of our traditional European allies about how to secure a kind of prosperous and stable world is a really big gulp. And that he is aligning much more closely with the (INAUDIBLE) vision in Israel and the conservative Sunni government in the Mid-East. I mean, those are his natural allies. I mean, the only question, you know, France and Germany, is how sharp does the breach become? And that is really kind of the new spin, the new access to trajectory of our foreign policy is pulling us in a very different direction.
As I said, we saw of this during the Iraq war. But I think it is being pushed to a breaking point here. And it does raise the question, if you want to reengage on an issue like Iran, how do you bring along countries that felt that you completely disregarded their concerns in walking away in the first place?
WHITFIELD: Right. All right, Ron Brownstein and David Drucker, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.
DRUCKER: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: And then there's Hawaii, new cracks now have opened in the earth spewing toxic fumes, ash and hot lava. Huge concerns there. I will talk live to one of the man getting close enough to bring us these incredible pictures next.
[16:28:36] WHITFIELD: We are following breaking news in Hawaii where at least three new cracks have opened on the big island in the past several hours. Listen to its power.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
WHITFIELD: That is the sound of the newest fissure suddenly opening and it is several hundred yards long. Hawaiian residents are being urged to prepare to evacuate, as spewing lava fuels fears of violent explosions from the Kilauea volcano.
CNN's Dianne Gallagher joins us now with more on this fissures and what it can mean for residence there. You are at least familiar with Hawaii, but this is something very unique when we talk about lava in Kilauea?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, exactly. And those three new fissures over the weekend have prompted even more evacuations. We are talking about 2,000 or so residents who have been asked to leave their homes in the areas for the past ten days since these eruptions began.
Now number 16 and 17 that erupted on Saturday, they are east from the ones that we have seen this week. Those 15 that we saw this week across the island that ripped through those neighborhoods that really took out nearly 30 homes, nearly 40 structures have been damaged in some way. But number 18 that erupted this morning, that one has lava that's just sort of going up. You saw that video there. It sounded like waves coming out. People who live in the area, who say at least at this point, they are staying put, I'm told, they cannot stay anymore. They say that they were able to experience from miles away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was cool this morning as when I went to walk my dogs at 3:30 in the morning. I saw the sky glowing red, and I thought that must be fissure number 16 or 17. Then when I got home, I started hearing explosions, and apparently that was the newest number 18 that opened up. So from my house, maybe 3 or four 4 from number 18, and it was the loudest sounding fissure that I have heard in this whole event, yet the farther away from my house.
And important for everyone to understand that those all of us residents that had not evacuated, we're ready to leave any time. We have bags packed just in case. So you know if something does change, we're out of here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GALLAGHER: And that is what's important, at least making sure that you're prepared and ready to go at a moment's notice because this is unpredictable. Now as a precautionary method here, the Hawaii County civil defense, they have asked them to go ahead and cease all vacation rental operators. We don't want any (Inaudible) tourists.
The islands has said look, we love you being here, but at this point, if in fact things do get out of control, we want to make sure that the water supplies and rescue supplies that we have there -- the ability to get people out, can focus strictly on the residents right now. Fred, the President did declare the island of Hawaii to be a disaster area.
So once this stops and they don't know when that's going to be. Once it stops, they may be able to try and clean up afterward and recoup some of the damages.
WHITFIELD: Yeah, it's unpredictable in every way. You don't know when another opening is going to you know happen. You don't what and to what degree things will be spewing out. You don't know about the gases, all that. Wow. All right, Dianne, thank you so much. All right, well, here's another look at that amazing video and sound of the explosion from the most recent lava fissure. Listen.
So we're seeing these images because of the person behind the camera, Brandon Clement. He is a weather chaser, who really crisscrosses the country. And now he is chasing this lava flow and spew right there on the big island. He's on the big island right now. So Brandon, this is unlike chasing hurricanes or tornadoes, etcetera. There's an unpredictability factor here that is very dangerous too.
So tell me about how close in terms of feet or yards you're able to get to the image that we're seeing right now, without putting your own self in danger?
BRANDON CLEMENT, STORM CHASER: Well, I am using a video camera with a lens. So I am not as close as it appears. But I am relatively (Inaudible) between a quarter and a half-mile away. I am staying you know a good 100 to 200 yards from (Inaudible) on the biggest explosions. So (Inaudible) definitely the most explosive and unpredictable (Inaudible), some of them you can walk right up to the fissure and lava flows (Inaudible) steady, consistent, the whole way through it's life cycle.
But this one right here is explosive, it will get calm for a little while, and you think it's dying down, and then all of a sudden you'll have a shockwave (Inaudible) a major explosion and have debris that's thrown hundreds of feet in the air.
WHITFIELD: Wow. It's incredible. These are amazing images. I can only imagine what it's like to see it in person. So you also took images, the sequence of events that really showed the time lapse. You know we're now seeing the traveling you know molten rock, this lava, and how it threatens a vehicle there. Describe for me that moment and what were you able to you know see live and in person.
CLEMENT: That was a lot more predictable. Lava was going to flow -- coming from a little hill going down. I saw it coming from a long way away. I went and made sure the homeowner wasn't home before I filmed it. But once I saw what's going to happen, I shot the video of the lava coming through the gates and across the road and then set up the time lapse. I thought it would be pretty cool to illustrate how the lava moves you know in a 20, 30-second clip, kind of gives a little bit of an idea. It was quite dramatic to sit there and watch it (Inaudible).
WHITFIELD: Very dramatic. It swallows the road, swallows the car. Real-time, how long did it take for that you know, that traverse of that lava?
CLEMENT: Well, it depends how far you're talking about, from one side of the road to the other, 7 to 10 minutes. It was kind of quick for the lava flow, but not nearly as quick as you would think (Inaudible), 10, 15 feet of it before the heat go too much, and you know slowly walked back and (Inaudible).
[16:35:14] WHITFIELD: Talk to me about...
CLEMENT: This one right here is not quite like that. It's explosive -- suddenly (Inaudible) fumes are coming out. I mean we are super (Inaudible) like blast.
WHITFIELD: Oh my, gosh, that's amazing. So talk to me about the fumes, the smells, the gases. You know, you described you're you know roughly, a quarter mile, half mile, sometimes 200 yards away you know from the lava. Can you smell it? I mean talk about the intensity of these fumes?
CLEMENT: No, everything is about the wind. If you're upwind from it, you're fine. You're getting fresh air the whole time. If you're downwind from it, absolutely, even if you're far away, especially in low lying areas early in the morning when the humidity is really high with a little wind.
You can be miles away from it and there will be little valleys. And when you're driving through, you can feel the burn in your nose, burn in your throat, burn in your eyes, and burn in your (Inaudible). So I just try to stay upwind from it the whole way. I was literally (Inaudible) the fumes at all.
WHITFIELD: Wow. All the experts talk about the unpredictability you know of this volcano. So what's your plan to stay safe?
CLEMENT: Well, from the actual (Inaudible) the most unpredictable of it. These fissures, they're somewhat limited in the size of the explosion, and the stuff they can produce, where the actual volcano has a lot more power behind it. That's when you play the waiting game, wait and see the lava continue to drop (Inaudible).
So those are looking like they're (Inaudible) eruptions. But I'm going to say (Inaudible) from it. It's really not a whole lot up there in the immediate area other than the park and volcano (Inaudible), but being so close to it is just not very safe.
WHITFIELD: Well, Brandon Clement, be safe. Thank you for the imagery, giving folks a real idea just how dangerous...
WHITFIELD: -- the situation is on the big island. Appreciate it.
All right, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will be on Capitol Hill this week. He is likely to face tough questions about his spending habits. But a new controversy has erupted, centering on who Pruitt has been dining with, that story, next.
[16:40:01] WHITFIELD: Embattled EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt will return to Capitol Hill this week to testify a Senate committee about the budget for his agency. But he'll likely be grilled on the growing number of controversies involving his spending habits on the job. And now Pruitt is under scrutiny for a dinner he had in Italy last year. Here's CNN's Sara Ganim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARA GANIM, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Documents uncovered by the New York
Times reveal EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt dined with a controversial Vatican figure, along with over a dozen other church leaders at a five star restaurant during his trip to Italy last year, even though his public schedule says he was simply having a private dinner with staff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes the very learned and clever can be brilliantly foolish.
GANIM: The guest of honor, according to the documents, was a known climate denier, Vatican Treasurer, Cardinal George Pell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any long-term benefits from the schemes to combat global warming, apart from extra tax revenues from the government.
GANIM: Pell is also the highest ranking member of the Catholic Church to be charged with child sex abuse. Decades of allegations are now going to court in Australia where Pell was an archbishop. Pell has pleaded not guilty. And while the dinner took place before he was formally charged, he was under investigation when he dined with Pruitt.
The EPA won't say why Pell was kept off the public schedule. In a statement to CNN, the agency says on June 9, 2017, Administrator Pruitt had dinner with over a dozen leaders from the Holy See. And on June 29, 2017, Cardinal Pell was charged. But this document specifically says the dinner was with Pell, even noting it would take place a day before the Cardinal's birthday.
This trip is already under scrutiny for its $120,000 price tag, and reporting that it was organized by an activist friend of Pruitt's, his justification.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The trip to Italy was a G7 trip, occurring a week after the Paris decision.
GANIM: The EPA claims Scott Pruitt did not know that Cardinal Pell was coming to the dinner. However, that does seem to be contradicted by these documents. In addition, the EPA hasn't said who paid for the dinner, but did tell us that Scott Pruitt paid for his own meal. Sara Ganim, CNN New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Still much straight ahead in the Newsroom. But first, when this week's CNN hero saw children begging in the streets of Vietnam, he went from tourist to altruist. He left his home in New York and now works year round in Vietnam to give young people the skills to move out of poverty. Meet Neal Bermas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The young people in our program come from a whole country with all kinds of very, very difficult pasts. We have kids with HIV backgrounds, kids from leprosy villages, some have already been trafficked sometimes more than once. You'll do great. We've done a couple of hears. No matter how difficult, and how painful, how tortured their life may have been, with 100 percent assurance, I know that that young person is going to be starting a career with all kinds of possibilities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:45:04] WHITFIELD: To see how Neal's program disrupts the cycle of poverty for hundreds of Vietnamese youth, and to nominate someone you think should be a CNN hero, go to CNNheroes.com.
WHITFIELD: The brother of the Florida school shooting suspect is expressing regret over not being able to prevent the tragedy, and says he's hoping to start to end the bullying and help kids who don't fit in. Eighteen-year-old Zachary Cruz is the younger brother of the teen charged in this mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.
[16:50:13] CNN's Polo Sandoval joining us with how he's starting to make a fresh start.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Well, for Zachary Cruz, speaking publicly this morning ahead of leaving Florida for his new home in Virginia. The judge has allowed the 18-year-old to finish serving his probation out of state so he can begin a new life. We have to remember here, and as you just mentioned that both the investigation and court proceedings have determined that Cruz had no role in the shooting carried by his older brother at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February.
His legal troubles have to do more with trespassing onto the same campus, following the massacre. As he spoke today there in Florida, Fred, the younger Cruz talked about his relationship with his older brother, describing him as a fragile person, somebody that was a victim of bullying, including from his brother. So he's now looking to this as a kind of second chance, as you're about to here, to try to focus more on efforts to stop bullying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because my brother didn't really fit in with a lot of people. And I saw the effects of that firsthand. So you know it's a real issue. So I just want to try to change that. I want to end bullying because it's so dumb.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: Cruz will be living with a mentor, whose brother was also convicted in a mass shooting incident. Cruz will have to adhere to weekly counseling, also checking with their probation officer as he continues to fulfill those requirements. Attorneys for the younger Cruz insist that their client has been treated more harshly because of his brother's crime.
So Fred, this is obviously going to be an opportunity for this young man to try to start a different life, on different path. Since he is 18 years old, he still has the adult portion of his life ahead of him.
WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval, thank you so much. And we'll be right back.
[16:55:01] WHITFIELD: Saturday Night Live started its show with a special message from moms this Mother's Day weekend. It wasn't quite the usual political satire. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You like the show, right, Mom?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do, except for all the political stuff. We get it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my mom, Carrie. Mom, you like the politics on the show, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Alec Baldwin does a great Trump impression. But why does it have to be so mean? Who writes that stuff?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, I don't know. I guess it's mostly Michael Shea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my mom Cindy. Mom, I love you, because you always give me the best advice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, Luke. Here are some more. Enough with the Trump jokes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mom, I don't write those.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And why doesn't SNL ever talk about Crooked Hillary?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mom, I am so new here. Please do not do this to me. Mom, also, I am new and black, so be cool.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't understand why everyone focuses on Trump at all when you should be focused on Jesus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Well, Jesus isn't President, Mom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, that's the problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, cool.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Also, around Mother's Day, graduations. It is that time when students brace themselves for what's next. And noble people such Apple CEO Tim Cook, Oprah, and our very own Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer, (Inaudible) inspire them. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't just accept the world you inherit today. Don't just accept the status quo. No big challenge has ever been solved and no lasting improvement has ever been achieved unless people dare to try something different.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I realize that the nation right now is not exactly getting a crash course in exemplary behavior, but when the indecent becomes common place, it is not the time for good people like you to follow suit. Because when you rise to the moment to embrace the humanity of everyone, you give yourself a chance to grow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the solution is each and every one of you, because you will become the new editorial gate keepers, an ambitious army of truth seekers. Use this moment to encourage you, to embolden you, and to literally push you into the rising of your life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we aren't honest with one another, if we don't trust one another, then we place limits on what we ourselves can do and what we can do together as a country. It's a formula for gridlock and national decline. But graduates, here's the thing, it does not have to be that way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That all of us have a responsibility to be greater than the people who came before us. We have a responsibility to be not as good as them, or live up to their example, but to actually surpass them, even when it seems scary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I hope my words today inspire you a bit and challenge you a bit always to remember that we are all part of something bigger. As children, as parents, as neighbors, as citizens of this nation, in the most divisive of times, that is something that can unite all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. I always love all of those speeches. All right, thanks so much for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The next hour of the Newsroom starts right now.