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An Unannounced Second Face-To-Face Meeting Between The Leaders Of North And South Korea; Rudy Giuliani Slams The Special Counsel's Investigation As Illegitimate; President Trump Is On The Attack Once Again, This Time Taking Aim At One Of His Favorite Targets, The Russia Investigation; Aired 4-5p ET
Aired May 27, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: We are following a major development on North Korea right now. It a U.S. delegation has crossed the demilitarized zone from South Korea, into the north. And there in the country for talks ahead of that possible summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, that's according to several senior U.S. officials. And this follows a surprise meeting between Kim Jong-un and the President of South Korea on Saturday.
The Trump-Kim summit was originally supposed to take place June 12th in Singapore. But on Thursday, President Trump held out blaming it on threatening statements from North Korea.
CNN international correspondent Paula Hancocks joins me now from Seoul, South Korea.
So Paula, give us the latest.
PAUL HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, as you say, that U.S. delegation is on its way to North Korea, which certainly has to be the clearest indication we have had yet, that this summit is likely still on.
Now, there's also going to be a delegation heading for Singapore, this was the advance team, to try and do all the site surveys, all the logistics for this summit. They are on their way to Singapore as well. So it maybe seems as though everything is back on track.
Now, we did hear from the U.S. President over the weekend he is saying that it is still his favored time, June 12th, that he would like it to be then, talking about how he was pleased with the response he had from North Korea.
And we also heard from the South Korean President, Moon Jae-un. He had that surprised meeting on Saturday with Kin Jong-un, the second summit in just one month. This was without the pomp and ceremony, without the formality, nobody knew about it until after it happened.
The one interesting thing we heard from this, Fredricka was an idea of what Kim Jong-un wants from the summit with Donald Trump. He was saying though President Moon that he was concerned about what kind of guarantees he could get for the regime's survival and also from the economic side and what President Moon told him he could sit down with President Trump and he would give him those details himself -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Paula Hancocks, thank you so much.
And so, I want to bring in Amy Parnes. She is a CNN political analyst and senior political correspondent for "the Hill," Matt Lewis is a CNN political commentator and columnist at the "Daily Beast." Good to see you both.
So, you know, the continuation if we could of Paula's last point is that North Korea wants assurances that that regime gets to stay in place.
Matt, how can the U.S. make that kind of offer or assurance, a promise coming from this summit?
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I this that's the problem. You really can't do it. And so first of all, America can't control what may happen internally, in North Korea, you know, theoretically, this deal would ease sanctions, and it would strengthen Kim's standing amongst the people that he governs, but you never know.
And the problem is also the future. What about 10 years from now? What about 20 years from now? What about 25 years from now? Can a commitment that a President Trump makes today be guaranteed indefinitely? And so, if I were Kim, I would be really looking for some solids assurances before I go the way of Moammar Gadhafi.
WHITFIELD: And Amy, you know, one of the issues that seems to be in play as whether North Korea will come out looking strong on this issue of denuclearization. Just listen to what Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Jeff Flake had to say about all of that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I think we're going to have do live with that, I think the North Koreans realize that total denuclearization on their part, is not in their national interest. That's how they see it.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Ultimately, I remain convinced that he does not denuclearize, he will not denuclearize, but he wants to give out this perception that he is an open leader that he is peaceful, that he is reasonable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Do you have any agreement on that, Amy?
AMY PARNES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, and that's what I'm hearing from a lot of people in Washington that there is skepticism particularly also among Republicans. They are going to denuclearize, and I think that's why we are seeing this problem. I mean, because, I think a lot of people are skeptical, that even if they see that they will, that they won't ultimately do it. And so -- and there is no guarantee in that respect that they will. So I think that's why a lot of people like Rubio and Jeff Flake are making these assertions that, you know, they are skeptical and they remain skeptical that this is actually going to happen.
WHITFIELD: And then Matt, skepticism, you know, seems natural, especially since if we are talking about Kim Jong-un, you know, considering offers, you know, coming from this administration, and this administration was able to successfully undo some things put in place by a prior administration, from TPP to the Iran deal, why should Kim Jong-un have the same kind of worries about what happens after this administration?
[16:05:01] LEWIS: Absolutely. President Trump doesn't have the ability to tell a future President what is going to happen.
And so, look, I think skepticism is warranted here. North Korea has not been honest brokers in the past, also this just isn't necessarily in Kim's best interest. Why would he give up nuclear weapons if in fact he has the ability? You would presume that they would give him security and safety. And that lastly, really the only way that we would know for sure whether or not they are doing this, is if we had the ability to verify. We would have to have the Americans who would have the ability to go and inspect all across North Korea. It's hard to knowledge that we would have the ability to do that.
WHITFIELD: And Amy, the words from the national security advisor, John Bolton, as well as vice President Pence when they talked about North Korea -- I mean, when they talk about Libya being that model, North Korea, you know, heard that and got very nervous. I mean, how can that be unsaid now? I mean that is still, you know, a fear, a concern, that is you know implanted in the mind of the leader of North Korea.
PARNES: Well, look. There's distress, I think on both sides. I think the U.S. doesn't understand, you know, what's going to happen if they actually do have this meeting. And I think North Korea kind of feels the same way.
And so -- and there's a reason why, if the U.S. has never come and sat down face-to-face with North Korea, because this is a pretty intense kind of situation. It requires a lot of work. A lot of people are complaining that there isn't enough preparation going into the summit, you know. That this requires months and months and months and they are essentially just, you know, kind of throwing this together, and it's not that easy. And I think that's why you are hearing a lot of foreign policy experts saying wait, but not so fast. We need to essentially make sure that we know exactly what's going on here. And we can't come to the table unless we know, unless we have all these details ironed out. And I guess that's why these meetings are happening right now to make sure that does happen.
WHITFIELD: And then aside from what agreement, if there is one, say there is at least a summit, who are the big winners here, Matt?
LEWIS: Well, look. I think, you know, there's a real danger I think that Donald Trump gets rolled. That's the real danger, I think, if you are skeptical of Donald Trump, you know.
What if Kim sucks up to him? Tells him everything he wants to hear and Donald Trump has this desire to sort of claim victory and to see his place in history and, you know, American troops are withdrawn from South Korea, and then at some point, a couple of years down the road, North Korea invades South Korea. That's one possible scenario of this.
Now there's -- you know, there's a happy ending to this possibility too, but I think in the real world, it's been little bit -- I'm probably more skeptical that I am I'm optimistic at this point.
PARNES: I think that the meeting at this point kind of has to happen. And I think that is why you hear Clapper and other people kind of say that it needs to happen at this point just because you can't just not have it at this point. But I think there needs to be sort of a skepticism, sort of you know like hanging over this whole meeting to ensure that it doesn't hurt the United States ultimately.
WHITFIELD: So even if there are no assurances made, just the effort of meeting, that, you know, underscores the importance of diplomacy, and that is a win enough?
PARNES: I think -- yes, I mean, I think so. I think at this point, they have come so far and I think both leaders kind of want this to happen even though there is skepticism on both ends.
WHITFIELD: All right. Matt, last word?
LEWIS: Well, look. Kim gets a victory out of this. He is going to be sitting across the table from the President of t the United States. That is a PR coup and you could call it a propaganda victory. Donald Trump gets something out of this too. He looks like, you know, he is willing to negotiate and try to do something out. I think the American people like it when you sit down with your adversaries. So even if nothing happens, nothing comes of this substantively, I think both men benefit politically.
WHITFIELD: All right. Amy Parnes and Matt Lewis, thanks so much to both of you. Appreciate it.
WHITFIELD: And we are continuing to follow breaking news, a former President, George H. W. Bush's health. His spokesman, Jim McGrath confirms the former president is back in the hospital saying President Bush was taken to a southern Maine health care today after expecting low blood pressure and fatigue. He will likely remain there a few days for observation. The former president is awake and alert and not in any discomfort. We will bring you more as we get them.
Rudy Giuliani slams the special counsel's investigation as illegitimate but says the President is adamant about wanting to sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller, under what terms might that happen?
And eight million people are under tropical storm warnings this Memorial Day weekend as Alberto inches closer to the U.S. coastline. The heavy rained wind threat moving in just in time for Memorial Day.
[16:14:13] WHITFIELD: President Trump is on the attack once again, this time taking aim at one of his favorite targets, the Russia investigation. The President tweeting this morning, who is going to give back the young and beautiful lives and others who have been devastated and destroyed by the phony Russia collusion witch-hunt. They journeyed down to Washington, D.C. with stars in their eyes and wanting to help our nation. They went back home in tatters.
Joining me right now CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez.
So Boris, any word from the White House on explaining this tweet further?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not yet, Fred. No indication as to who those young and beautiful lives the President was referring to, who those people are. The Russia investigation clearly on the top of mind for the President this week. And he has tweeted about it multiple times.
No certainty there if he is talking about perhaps George Papadopoulos or Rick Gates or Michael Flynn and certain figures within his campaign. Many of whom have pled guilty to very serious crimes.
The President's attorney, Rudy Giuliani was on "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning with Dana Bash, sort of echoing what we saw in the President's tweet suggesting that the basis for the Mueller probe is illegitimate. He describes to what he calls illegitimate leaks by former FBI director James Comey.
Dana Bash actually pressed Giuliani on the question of whether the President would sit down with Robert Mueller one on one for an interview, something that is long been speculated about. We know that recently, the White House's legal counsel and the special counsel have been trying to iron out details and logistics about how this interview would potentially play out.
Here's what Rudy Giuliani said to Dana Bash on "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:15:52] RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: Well, if he wasn't thinking about it and it wasn't an act of possibility, we would be finished right now, and we would have moved on to getting the investigation over in another way. But he is adamant in wanting to do it. We are -- the President. But we are more convinced as we see it, that this is a rigged investigation, now we have this whole new Spygate thing piled on top of it, on top of a ready very legitimate questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Giuliani there referring to that conspiracy theory suggesting that there was a spy in planted in the Trump campaign to try to benefit the Hillary Clinton campaign, something that the White House nor the White House's legal team has provided any evidence for.
Giuliani actually suggested at one point during the interview that it was something that he and the President had to put out there in order to defend the President, not legally, but in terms of public opinion and potentially protect the President from impeachment.
One final note, Fred, the President actually just tweeted out about something you were discussing moments ago, North Korea. Here is what the President said.
Quote "our United States team has arrived in North Korea to make arrangements for the summit between Kim Jong-un and myself. I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial nation one day. Kim Jong-un agrees with me on this. It will happen."
Two quick notes, Fred. This sort of optimistic tone about the summit, coming just a few days after President put out an open letter to Kim Jong-un saying that it would be inappropriate for both sides to meet with so much still unsettled between them. And further, we did hear from the North Koreans at one point last week saying that no measure of economic benefit to North Korea would force them to relinquish their nuclear program, Fred.
So interesting that the President would mention that in his tweet.
[16:17:33] WHITFIELD: Yes. No mention of the nuclear thing in that tweet.
All right, Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.
All right. Let's talk about the legal side of the President's latest war of words along with help from his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, CNN legal analyst Mike Zeldin.
All right. So Michael, the President calling, you know, this investigation a witch-hunt. And then Rudy Giuliani saying it is illegitimate. Is this the issue or the strategy of, if you just say it 101 times, somebody out there is going to believe the same thing, that this is an illegitimate investigation?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Exactly. This is a public relations disinformation campaign to delegitimize the Mueller investigation for fear that if he comes out with the report that is damaging to the President, they will have lay the ground (INAUDIBLE) to the American people, don't believe this. That's what Giuliani is on television for every single day. I don't think he is really part of the legal negotiations with Mueller, but he is, you know, leading this PR campaign.
WHITFIELD: You can't imagine that Rudy Giuliani may also be coordinating with the White House council on how to proceed this way.
ZELDIN: This to me seems more like a struggle between the President and Rudy Giuliani. And that the White House council, Flood, and private counsel, the Raskins are the ones who are doing the heavy lifting on the dealings with Mueller about the terms of an interview that might consist of.
WHITFIELD: And then there is the role of Congress. And this is what Senator Jeff Flake had to say about all that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I can tell you behind the scenes that there is a lot of alarm. There is concern that the President is laying the ground work to move on Bob Mueller or Rosenstein. And if that were to happen, obviously, that would cause a constitutional crisis.
There is a concern behind the scenes. I have been concerned that we haven't spoken out loudly enough and told the President, you simply can't go there. And he is obviously probing the edges as much as he can, to see how far Congress will go. And we have got to push back harder than we have.
WHITFIELD: Do you believe all that might be top of mind for Mueller even Rosenstein, in terms of who is protecting their mission, their jobs or are they focused instead on this ongoing investigations?
ZELDIN: I think the later. I think that these guys being career professionals in the justice department and the FBI are just guard, put their heads down and proceed and let the politics be what the politics is and then they will deal with their reality of the political situation when they are forced to, but speculating is not going to be part of their analysis.
[16:20:06] WHITFIELD: It's impressive. We don't hear anything coming out of the Mueller team.
ZELDIN: Right. I wanted the job of spokesman for the Mueller team. One of the best jobs, that you say nothing. Exactly. And I think it's a credit to Rosenstein and to Mueller, that they are doing their job. They are not leaking to the press. They are not pushing back against the Giulianis and this misinformation. And they are just going to let their indictments or their decisions not to indict, speak for themselves. So good for them.
WHITFIELD: Let's have another listen at Rudy Giuliani and really try an interpret what his objective is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: They are giving us the material. I couldn't do it. They don't have the material. They are giving us the material to do it. Of course, we have to do it in defending the President.
We are defending, to a large extent, remember, Dana, we are defending here, it is for public opinion, because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach, not impeach. Members of Congress, Democrat and Republican are going to be informed a lot by their constituents. So our jury, as it should be, is the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: If the objective here by Rudy Giuliani is to erode the credibility of the Mueller team, is that the credibility that is being eroded?
ZELDIN: That's what he is endeavoring to do. I think he should be ashamed of himself as a former law enforcement officer to attack the FBI and the DOJ in this way. But clearly that's what they are trying to do.
And it's interesting, he says, well, they are giving us the ammunition. And so what else are we supposed to do? But the ammunition are made up stories. Spygate is made up, whether President Obama was, you know, sort of wiretapping the Trump campaign, all of these things are made up.
The truth of the matter is, there was a counter intelligence investigation started in August of 2016, and Mueller has carried that forward pursuant to the justice department mandate by Rosenstein and that's what they are doing. This is a legitimate investigation. This is not as Rudy Giuliani has tried to portray it.
WHITFIELD: And the spy talk was debunked. It was, you know, put to rest or at least we thought it was put to rest earlier in the week when lawmakers said there is nothing there. However, it has been established that if there is anything untoward or seemingly untoward then it is in the purview of federal investigators to look to see if there is anything unusual happening or potentially illegal happening with an adversarial nation.
ZELDIN: Sure. There are a couple of things that this spy in the campaign issue arises to. One is, was it true that there was a spy implanted in the Trump campaign? I think everyone agrees now except for maybe Rudy Giuliani that that wasn't the case.
The question is, also, whether or not there was any impropriety in the FBI. And the FBI inspector general will look into that and give us a report on it. But to say that we are getting material that requires us to inform the American people about the de-legitimization of the Mueller team isn't true, it's just made up.
WHITFIELD: Does another investigation imperil, distract in any way impede the Mueller investigation? ZELDIN: Sure, of course. If you can create, you know, sort of smoke
on the fringes, then perhaps people won't see what's going on. And that is the way it is. There's the old adage that if you can't argue the facts or the law, you attack the prosecutor. And that's what's going on here. They don't have facts. They don't seem yet to have law. And so they are attacking Mueller. And we will see how it plays out. If Mueller, you know, follows the course of the evidence and it gives an honest report, as when expects he will, then the American people will have something to make a decision with respective, but not the PR campaign and Rudy Giuliani.
WHITFIELD: And in all of this, I guess, whether it's speculation or, you know, trouncing of conspiracy theories, does that necessarily put a rush on the Mueller probe, when people say, you know, why is it still going on, it must not be there? Does that in any way influence the brevity or lack thereof over the Mueller team?
ZELDIN: I don't think so. I think that that is part of the mantra. We hear no obstruction, no collusion, witch-hunt, going on too long. That sort of like the five part mantra of the PR campaign. I think Mueller is doing his job. He is issuing grand jury subpoenas. He is interviewing witnesses. He is seeing what the facts require of him as a matter of law and then he' will issue his report. And then all of the stuff that they are doing is not going to impact the outcome of his decision.
Now there is one thing that he may be mindful of which is the upcoming midterm elections and whether he wants to issue anything that interferes theoretically with that. And I think he will be mindful of that time line, but otherwise, I don't think he is going to pay one bit of attention to Rudy Giuliani.
WHITFIELD: All right, Michael Zeldin, we will keep it there. Thanks so much. Good to see you.
ZELDIN: Thank you so much. Bye.
WHITFIELD: All right. A state of emergency in effect in three gulf coast states, as Alberto churns closer to the coast. Eight million people are under tropical storm warnings. We will take a look at where the storm just might hit hardest right after this.
[16:29:44] WHITFIELD: All right, that's the sound of the rolling thunder, ride for freedom, nearly 200,000 bikers all riding today in the nation's capital on this Memorial Day weekend. And many of them are veterans themselves remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice. The riders left the Pentagon earlier today with the streets line with supporters and then they made their way to the Lincoln and Vietnam memorials hoping to bring awareness to prisoners of war and those missing in action.
A massive storm is looming of the coast of Florida this Memorial Day weekend.
Right now, subtropical storm Alberto is barreling toward the gulf coast.
It is strengthening and expected to slam into Florida as a tropical storm tomorrow. Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, all declaring states of emergency. Nearly eight million people are under a tropical storm warning, and you can see the winds that are picking up, and the skies are getting a bit darker in parts of Florida right now.
Meteorologist Jennifer Gray is live for us in Pensacola, where this storm might be making landfall, so what's happening now.
JENNIFER GRAY, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Well, Fred, people in Florida have really been getting already. They have already been feeling the effects of this storm, all up and down the state with very heavy rainfall. But it's not expected to make landfall until tomorrow morning, near Pensacola, maybe a little bit to the east or west. A little bit of uncertainty with that cone. But you can see behind me, this is Memorial Day weekend.
Normally, this beach would be packed, but a lot of people decided to stay home. All of the beach chairs at the hotel (Inaudible) for their guests have been put away, and so they are really getting ready here in Pensacola. We are going to see some impacts from that storm all over the state. We have had torrential downpours all across from the Florida Keys up through central Florida, and even north Florida.
And then as this storm gets closer to the panhandle, we'll start to see that heavy rainfall, two to four foot storm surge, beach erosion. We could see some inland flooding from this. Right now the storm has winds of about 50 miles per hour moving to the north at 13. We'll get another advisory here in the next hour, and that's when we'll have the latest. So next hour we'll be able to share that with you.
But there's still like we said, some uncertainty with that cone. The storm is supposed to take a little bit of a turn to the northwest. It could strengthen a little bit more before making landfall. So we're expecting possibly 60, 65-mile-per-hour storm when it makes landfall sometime tomorrow morning, right around daybreak. So we'll be waiting for that, Fredericka, but the impacts are already being felt far and wide here across the gulf coast.
WHITFIELD: Yeah. It could be a little tense along the way. All right, there's Jennifer Gray, thanks so much. Appreciate it. And we're continuing to follow breaking news on former President George H.W. Bush's health. His spokesman, Jim McGrath confirms the former President is back in the hospital, saying President Bush was taken to Southern Maine HealthCare today, after experiencing low blood pressure and fatigue.
He will likely remain there for a few days for observation. The former President is awake and alert and not in any discomfort. And a sign that the President is in good spirits, his Chief of Staff joking in an email to the family, saying "I guess he partied too hard with the American Legion yesterday. Darn it." We wish him well.
All right, right now preparations are under way at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day remembrance ceremonies tomorrow. Flowers and flags are being placed on graves, as Americans honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We're back in a moment.
[16:35:01] WHITFIELD: The FBI and Texas Rangers are investigating the shooting death of an undocumented immigrant by U.S. customer and border protection officers in Texas. This eyewitness video shows border agents leading men away from the scene. The woman taking the video yells at the agents in Spanish, asking them why they shot an unarmed woman in the head. CNN's Martin Savidge has more on the agents changing accounts of what happened.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Fredericka. This is real bravo and we're standing directly in front of the abandoned lot where the shooting took place on Wednesday. Mexico is literally a half mile down the road here. We should point out we have learned some new things, the identity of the young victim, a 20-year-old female from Guatemala.
We've also been told that the border patrol agent that did the shooting is a 15-year veteran of the force. Beyond that, though, the questions continue to grow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Searching for answers, even as investigators, including the FBI showed up to process the scene of Wednesday's fatal shooting. Customs and border protection officials began walking back critical details of the reported attack on one of their border agents. The revised statement released Friday now says the border patrol agent was allegedly assaulted.
[16:40:04] In the original press release, the word allegedly never appears. Instead, it states initial reports described an agent under attack by multiple subjects using blunt objects. The revised statement simply states now the group of suspected undocumented immigrants rushed him. Wednesday, CBB said the agent fired his weapon, fatally wounding one of the assailants.
The revised statement now says the agent discharged one round, striking one member of the group, no longer characterizing the shooting victim as an assailant. Martha Martinez was a witness to what happened. What she says she heard and saw was nothing like either account officials have given. So when was the first indication there was a problem here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I heard the gunshot.
SAVIDGE: Martinez says when she rushed out of her home she didn't see a border patrol agent being attacked by a group.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I came out and then got my phone, and just started recording. I didn't know there was somebody dead.
SAVIDGE: Martha live streamed the aftermath, which has since been viewed thousands of time. Martha Martinez had a front row seat to this tragedy because it happened literally right next door. She found the body of the young woman lying on the ground right there. There are still traces of blood. And if you come down here and look across her fence into this lot, there are other indications that something happened, a struggle or an altercation.
Just look at the way the grass is all matted down. Juan Gonzales, the real Bravo Fire Chief, was among the first responders to treat the woman who was shot. He says when he got there she looked very young, very petit, and barely alive. When she stopped breathing he says, rescuers carried on with CPR. Did she say anything? Did she move in any way? Did she seem conscious?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. She was not conscious, but she was not breathing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Experts say it's not uncommon as an investigation unfolds for the narrative to change somewhat. However, those we've have spoken to say that when you walk back, a very serious allegation, in other words that members of this group picked up blunt objects, weaponizing them (Inaudible) apparently attacking the border patrol agent. When you take that out of the scenario, the use of deadly force in response is much more troubling, Fredericka?
WHITFIELD: Martin Savidge, thank you so much. Still ahead, final warning, residents living near an erupting volcano is told to get out right now, as lava moves closer to the neighborhoods. Its Kilauea headed for a massive eruption. We'll take you there live.
[16:45:01] WHITFIELD: A dire warning for many on Hawaii's big island. Get out now. Fresh lava is taking over homes and streets, cutting off neighborhoods as officials issue their final evacuation order. And now, nearly four square miles are covered in lava, an area so big it can be seen from space. Miguel Marquez joins us live from Pahoa, Hawaii. So this is the fourth week now. And are people feeling hopeful that this is going to end?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: No. They are feeling like they don't know where this is going. And volcanologists I spoke to say that they think that only small percentage of the lava and this massive system that we're standing on top of has made its way through that system. Keep in mind we are about 25 miles away from the summit of Kilauea itself. Some evidence that it's not slowing down, a 24th fissure has opened up in Leilani estates, cutting off some streets.
That is the big concern, as that lava moves across streets. It's no longer safe for residents to be in there because there is no way out. And they may not be able to cross those lava streams. Let me give you a sense of where we are right now. We're near the geothermal plant that has caused so much concern about half mile away.
The lava has encroached on some of the wells, but it has not hit those wells. If it hits those wells, it could create a toxic gas that would be dangerous to humans. Leilani estates and Leilani (Inaudible) gardens are just under a mile from where we are. We have some video in the last 24 hours to give you a sense of just how big these lava flows still are and how they are fountaining in these areas.
That was fissure 21 that we are able to see, shooting about 100 feet into the air. And in this area, what we're seeing near fissure 22, is lava pooling essentially in this area. And then way off in the distance, you can see that smoke off the coast of the ocean. That is where the lava is going into the cold pacific water, creating laze or sulfuric acid, and basically tiny pieces of glass, all of that very, very deadly to humans.
And also keep in mind we don't know what's going to happen with Kilauea itself. It's 25 miles from here. A lot of the lava has left the cone of Kilauea, and the mountain itself has sunk five feet since all of this began. Scientists are now trying to figure out whether or not a much larger eruption is coming. It has been erupting for some days now.
[16:50:01] But will a much larger eruption come, shooting ash and steam, and toxic fumes some you know miles into the atmosphere, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Wow, incredibly frightening. All right, Miguel Marquez, thank you so much. Still so much more straight ahead in the Newsroom. But first, when disaster strikes, CNN Hero Stan Hayes and his pit master buddies bring comfort in the form of barbecue to those in need. This week, Stan is expanding his service to honor those who serve our country all year long.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're here with the Gary Sinise foundation at the Invisible Spirit Festival. Hey, you guys. You want a (Inaudible) sandwich. We're cooking for 6,500 to 7,000 people. Being here where these men and women have given so much while protecting and serving our country is pretty special. An awesome event, the barbeque is stellar. Barbeque (Inaudible) bringing people together, and for us this is the biggest thank you we can give those men and women that have served.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: To find out more about what's happening with operation about barbecue relief, or nominate someone you think should be a CNN her hero, go to CNNheroes.com right now, and we'll be right back.
[16:55:01] WHITFIELD: The assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy shocked the world, and now 50 years after Bobby's death, his son is casting doubt on the investigation. In a Washington Post report, Robert Kennedy Jr. explains why he believes that the man convicted of the crime, Sirhan Sirhan, did not act alone and that a second gunman maybe to blame. CNN National Correspondent Brynn Gingras is following the latest. So Brynn, what led Kennedy to this conclusion?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. This has been just a series of investigations on his part, and that's why he wanted to actually interview Sirhan Sirhan. So really it sounds like, Fred, one of RFK's 11 children seems to be buying into those conspiracy theories of how his father died. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. met with Sirhan Sirhan just before Christmas last year.
That's according to a Washington Post article, which came out over this weekend. It was a decision that the 64-year-old year old said he made after again, years of research on his father's assassination in 1968. Kennedy doesn't get into much of the details of that confrontation, but the Post said that it lasted for three hours. And then Kennedy walks away again believing this conspiracy theory that's been out there really for decades that a second gunman must have been present when those fatal shots were fired in the kitchen of Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel.
Now this news of Kennedy's quest for answers and his meeting with Sirhan Sirhan just comes about a week before the 50th anniversary of that fateful day, June 5th 1968, of course, it was height of the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated and two months prior, that's when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. And then 42-year-old Bobby Kennedy had just launched his Presidential bid.
Upon leaving a rally, I'm sure if you remember. He was with campaign supporters, Kennedy was shot moments later, four times and he died a day later. Sirhan Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian immigrant had a gun in his hand, but he told law enforcement years later that he blacked out. Take a listen.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, I was there. But I don't remember the exact moment. I don't remember pulling my gun.
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GINGRAS: So then of course, forensics raised at least one conspiracy theory that there was a second gunman, because the fatal shot to Kennedy came from behind while Sirhan was in front of him. Now here's what Kennedy told the Post about meeting with his father's convicted killer, who is now serving a life sentence.
"I was disturbed that the wrong person might have been convicted of killing my father. My father was the chief law enforcement officer in this country. I think it would have disturbed him if somebody was put in jail for a crime they didn't commit. And this sentiment is one that RFK Jr. echoed in this 2016 book as well, where he mentions his father's good friend Paul (Inaudible) who was also shot that day, that he too believed there was another gunman, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Brynn Gingras, thank you so much for bringing that to us. CNN takes a deeper dive into the year 1968, a special two-night CNN original series event, starts tonight on CNN at 9:00 Eastern, only on CNN. And as the back and forth about a summit between the U.S. and North Korea wages on, perhaps the President should recognize some of the North Korean leaders negotiating tricks. That's this week's State of the Cartoonian.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's back to school for Kim Jong-Un, amidst all this back and forth about the summit that may or may not be. We do know that the North Korean leader is trying to figure out President Trump, the class Donald Trump (Inaudible) and the primary textbook written by the President himself.
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I wrote the Art of the Deal, one of the all-time best selling books about deals and deal making.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But how did the (Inaudible) against the brass billionaire, lesson one, threaten to leave before the negotiations have even begun.
TRUMP: If you can't say you're going to walk, you can't make a good deal, OK. It's called the art of the deal, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The North Koreans have reportedly is studying up on that tell all White House book, fire and fury.
TRUMP: Fire and fury, like the world has never seen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But why stop at memorizing Trump's deal making tips. The North Koreans are hungry for any advantage, maybe even studying the President's choice of fuel.
TRUMP: The Big Mac's are great. The Quarter Pounder with cheese.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As Kim Jong-Un prepares to sit down at the negotiating table, he also might want to practice his golf swing in case talks move to the lengths.