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North Korea Wants U.S. Troops off Korean Peninsula; Journalists Invited to Watch Nuclear Site Destruction; U.S. Loses Track of 1,500 Immigrant Children; Flash Floods Rushes Through Maryland; Pollution Turning India's Taj Mahal Yellow-Green; South Korean Beach Gains Popularity with Surfers; New Elections Likely in Italy After Populists Fail to Form Government; Ivan Duque Leads In First Round of Columbia's Presidential Elections; Real Madrid Wins Third Straight Champions League Title; Daniel Ricciardo Wins Formula One Race; French Open Begins in Paris; President Trump Blasts Russia Investigation with Tweets. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 28, 2018 - 01:00   ET

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


[01:00:00] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Warning bells ring out as flash floods tear down buildings near Baltimore, Maryland. State of emergency has been declared.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This area is heavily militarized to protect against the threat of possible North Korean insurgence, but it's also home to some of the best waves in South Korea.

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VANIER: And, CNN's Ivan Watson will introduce us to a hidden gem, not far from Korea's demilitarized zone. Surf's up later this hour on CNN Newsroom.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Hello everyone. Thanks for joining us. I'm Cyril Vanier, live from Atlanta. Good to have you with us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

So, the on again, off again summit between the U.S. and North Korea could be back on. A team of U.S. officials and diplomats arrived Sunday in North Korea. They're doing advanced work, ahead of what might be - - might be a history making moment, a face-to-face meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong- un.

The key words there, again, might be. That's because Mr. Trump pulled the plug on the meeting just last week. But, he's now indicating the summit is still on, Tweeting, "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!"

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul, South Korea, with the details.

Paula, who is doing the negotiating?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point, Cyril, we know that Sung Kim, who's the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines is leading this delegation, which is believed to be in Panmunjom in the DMZ at this moment.

And, he is also a former ambassador to South Korea, he was the point person - - or one of the point people in Washington when it came to North Korean negotiations a number of years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

So, he knows how to deal with North Korea, he has been down this path before and - - and - - and the person who's negotiating opposite, Choe Son-hui (ph), is North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister and they actually negotiated against each other back in 2005.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HANCOCKS: When the Six-Party Talks came up with an agreement to denuclearize North Korea. So, they know each other, they've done this before.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

And, certainly it shows that there is a little more substance that's going to be injected into these meetings. Potentially talking about what should be on the agenda, obviously, denuclearization going to be high up there. But, what does Kim Jong-un want? What does the U.S. President want to achieve from this?

So, certainly there are many experts and many North Korean observers who are pleased that there is a higher caliber of person that's going to be involved in this now. Or, at least someone who has a lot more experience of how to negotiate with North Korea and can see what the pit holes might be before they get there.

VANIER: See, you said the key word "substance", because until now it's been about whether the meeting would happen? Where it would happen? When it would happen? And then again, of course, if it would even happen? Now, we're back on the substance.

HANCOCKS: Well, that's right and if it does happen on June 12th, we're only two weeks away. This is the sort of meeting that usually with this kind of high level summit, you would be having months and months in advance. There would be these advanced teams - - there's a team in Singapore, as well, for logistics looking at the site surveys.

But, you'd have these negotiations - - these pre-negotiations months before the two leaders actually sat down. Quite often you've had most of the details hammered out, you've had most of the agreements made, maybe the press statement has not been completely been written yet and the leaders sit down and make sure they can tick everything off.

But, this is a very different kind of meeting and, of course, you're looking at two very different kinds of leaders in Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. So, certainly the substance is being looked at, but there is only two weeks to go until this potential summit could happen.

Of course, we still don't know if it's going to be June 12th, but that's the date that the U.S. President has said that he favors.

VANIER: Paula Hancocks, reporting live from Seoul, South Korea.

Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Now Italy is, again, facing political uncertainty after the two leading populist parties failed to form a government.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

The Italian President is now expected to appoint a non-political prime minister and lead the country to new elections.

Barbie Nadeau explains, from Rome, why the populist plan didn't work out.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Nearly three months after national elections, it looks unlikely that Italy will be able to form a functioning government. This after Sergio Mattarella, the country's President, rejected a list of ministers put forth by Giuseppe Conte, the Prime Minister designate, who was working on behalf of two populist parties.

The question at hand dealt with the economic ministry. The name put forward by Mr. Conte was a very euro-skeptic man who had written books about how Italy would be better off leaving the euro, who had campaigned for Brexit and who had worried other European leaders who had spoken out against him.

Now President Mattarella has a daunting task ahead. He will very likely assign what's called a technocrat here in Italy, this is something this country has done many times before.

[01:05] NADEAU: This is someone who is not affiliated with the political parties to try to form a government of a-political people that will be able to move this country forward to elections that will likely be held later in the year.

Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN, Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: CNN European Affairs Commentator, Dominic Thomas, is with me.

Dominic, first let's get to the root of the problem. What would the economy minister have done? What was the problem there? DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Well, there are many problems, one of them I think was that he was 81 years old and has a long track record of being very critical, not just of the European as an institution, but of the euro as well.

And, with particular policies and the League and the Five Star Movement were talking about, which was sort of huge extra spending in the economy, with its massive debt as it is, was a great area of concern.

And, I think that President Mattarella, from what we hear and what he has said was highly concerned that this particular candidate was not representative of the pulse in the country.

Yes, a majority of people voted for euro-skeptic, anti-immigrant parties, but the concern was that Savona was going to lead Italy towards a kind of Italian exit of the European Union and that's not what people signed up for.

VANIER: Real quick, remind us what's fueling the anti-establishment parties in Italy?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

THOMAS: Right, well it's interesting that you know the two parties, the Five Star Movement, that's never had any kind of political experience, they have two mayors in office in the country and has ran a campaign on opposing political corruption, longstanding appointments and has tried to call for a sort of more open political kind of model.

Whereas the North League claims to be anti-establishment, anti- European Union, but has really built its following, and its support, on its anti-immigration stance and its promise to deport illegal migrants from the African continent that are currently located in Italy. And, they were able to gather a substantial amount of support in that regard.

VANIER: So, the next step now is new elections and it wasn't that long ago that Italians were at the ballot box. Is there any reason to believe that new elections are going to bring more stability?

THOMAS: Well, no, and I think that the outcomes are highly unpredictable, and what you see now is already divisions between the Five Star Movement and the Northern League. The Five Star Movement is calling for the impeachment of Mattarella - - who's what he's done is not really customary.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

But, perfectly within the mandate of the presidency and the actual Northern League calling for elections and I think that the Northern League could do very well out of this. They're screaming bloody murder right now, but essentially what they are able to continue to build upon is precisely this anti-immigration stance and the fact that this has failed, and that they've not received support from the president. But, their choice of finance minister further fuels this idea and this perception that the establishment is against these political parties and the Northern League could come well out of this, and potentially look to (inaudible) a coalition with Forza Italia, which is of course Berlusconi's party and move away from the Five Star Movement.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

THOMAS: And, over the next few months, if indeed Mattarella does appoint a caretaker prime minister, they will have a chance to fuel this argument and to build upon this constituency as we head into elections in the autumn.

VANIER: And, how strong is the euro-skepticism right now in Italy? Because earlier, just a minute ago, you mentioned that there is a part of the country that is thinking of an Italian version of Brexit.

THOMAS: Right. So, I think that there is a big difference between sort of criticizing the European Union, feeling the European Union is an overreaching organization, but it doesn't allow Italy to manage its migrant's crisis as presented by these particular parties, but there's a big difference between that.

So, having said that over two-thirds of the Italians did in fact vote for political parties that are questioning the role of the euro, questioning the role of austerity and of an overreaching Brussels as an institution. There is nevertheless a difference between that and wanting to withdraw from the European Union.

Which Italians understand, for the most part, is an institution that is a great benefit to that country.

VANIER: Dominic Thomas, CNN European Affairs Commentator, pleasure to have you on the show. Yesterday it was Ireland, today it's Italy, the old continent still has some news for us. Thank you, Dominic.

THOMAS: Thank you, Cyril.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: The next president of Columbia will either be a critic of the historic FARC peace deal, or a leftist candidate who was once part of an armed rebel group himself.

Far right candidate, Ivan Duque, took the most votes in Sunday's first round of presidential elections. He insists that he does not want to get rid of the peace deal, which ended one of the longest wars in Latin America.

Listen to what Duque says he plans to do with the agreement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IVAN DUQUE, COLUMBIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to guarantee that those who are truly responsible fulfil their duty to the country, do not commit crimes again, make reparations to the victims, tell the whole truth and serve their sentences. Because if we fail to do so, peace will never last.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[01:10:15] VANIER: In a runoff in three weeks, Duque will face Gustavo Petro, the first leftist candidate to have a real chance of becoming Columbia's President. Petro addressed fears about his economic policies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUSTAVO PETRO, COLUMBIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I talk about overcoming the challenge of poverty, I have repeatedly spoken about this in public, I am not suggesting that we should make the rich poor. I'm talking about how to enrich the poor people of Columbia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Analysts say Petro was able to make it this far in part because the peace deal has shifted the Columbian political landscape, weakening the taboo of voting for the left.

Korea's demilitarized zone is known for a lot of things, surfing isn't really one of them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

Coming up, the intrepid Ivan Watson surfs the Korean DMZ.

Plus, flash floods turn a city street into a rushing river. We'll have the latest on this storm when we come back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Hi there, I'm Patrick Snell with your world sport headlines.

Less than 24 hours after Real Madrid lifted the Champions League trophy for a third straight time, the team embarking on a citywide celebration on Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

Real's 3-1 win over Liverpool means fans are celebrating a Champions League title for the fourth time in the last five seasons, as well. The team visited the cathedral, the town hall, the famed Plaza de Cibeles before finishing the night at their home stadium, the Santiago Bernabeu.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNELL: Onto tennis, where the second major of the year of the year is underway at Roland Garros in Paris, talking about the French Open, of course. While Serena Williams takes the court on Monday, on Sunday her sister, Venus, was ousted in the very first round.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

So too, was Jelena Ostapenko who became the first French Open defending champion to loose in the opening round since 2005. The fifth seeded Latvian losing to 67th ranked Kateryna Kozlova of the Ukraine in straight sets.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNELL: Onto Formula One news and for Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[01:15] It would be the Red Bull man, Daniel Ricciardo, who took pole position into the race is one of F1's most iconic and prestigious. The same street circuit, I have to say this is a master class for the Aussie, despite the fact he had to overcome power loss for much of the race.

He kept his challengers at bay, though, holding off last year's winner Sebastian Vettel; Lewis Hamilton, in third for Mercedes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNELL: That's a look at your world sport headlines, I'm Patrick Snell.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Donald Trump has launched another attack on the Russia investigation and his attorney is backing him up 100 percent. Rudy Giuliani says the investigation is not legitimate.

Here's Boris Sanchez from the White House.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Russia investigation clearly top of line for President Trump this weekend. As we saw in a number of Tweets in which he called the Russia investigation a "witch hunt" and referred to Russia's role in the 2016 election as "so-called meddling".

The president in one curious Tweet referring to young and beautiful lives that were destroyed by the Russia investigation. I got a chance to ask some White House officials specifically who he was talking about, they did not send me a response.

Though, the president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was on 'State of the Union' Sunday morning with Dana Bash, and he called the Russia investigation, during that interview, illegitimate. Again, repeating claims that were previously made by the president suggesting that there is a wide conspiracy theory.

A spy that was implanted by the deep state within the Trump campaign to try to benefit Hillary Clinton's campaign. Something that neither the president, nor Giuliani, nor lawmakers on Capitol Hill have provided any conclusive evidence for.

Giuliani argued that the reason that they continue propagating these claims is not necessarily a legal strategy to try to defend the president from the special counsel's investigation, but rather a public opinion strategy.

One meant to sway the public to believe that the investigation is not valid, and further, one that is designed to protect the president from the threat of impeachment.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S PERSONAL LAWYER: They're giving us the material. I - - I - - I couldn't do it, if I didn't have the material. They - - they - - they're giving us the material to do it, of course we have to do it in defending the president. We're defending, to a large extent, remember Dana, we're defending here - - it is for public opinion.

Because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach-not impeach. Remember the Congress, Democrat and Republican, are going to be informed a lot by their constituents. So, our jury is - - as it should be, is the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Dana also pressed Giuliani on the question of whether the president would sit down with Robert Mueller for a one-on-one interview. Something that we've long speculated about. Recently sources have indicated that both sides, the Trump legal team and the special counsel have been discussing logistics and the subject matter of that potential interview.

Giuliani made the case that the investigation would be wrapped up were it not for the president's adamant stance that he wants to sit down and be interviewed by Robert Mueller.

Boris Sanchez, CNN at the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: CNN Political Analyst, Julian Zelizer, joins me now from New York. He's a historian and professor at Princeton University.

Julian, so, Rudy Giuliani, we just heard him. He admits that they are trying - - the president and his team, and his lawyer, are trying to undermine the Russia investigation and shape public opinion.

Now, here's a CNN survey from earlier this month. It shows that public perception has changed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

The number of Republicans who want Donald Trump to testify before the special counsel is down 15 points, just between March and May from 54 to 39 percent.

So, is the president's strategy working?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think since last November/December, the president has really been focused on questioning the legitimacy of the entire investigation. More than firing Robert Mueller, this is really his goal and he's trying to create confusion, he's tried to create doubt.

And, I think what we're seeing is certainly among Republicans, fewer Republicans believe this is a legitimate investigation, and ultimately that's the president's political objective.

So, I think it's a strategy that's working and he's less concerned about the legal ramifications than the issue.

VANIER: Giuliani says the goal is to avoid impeachment by getting public opinion on their side.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: If they do manage to change the public perception of this investigation, does that really lower the risk of impeachment for them?

ZELIZER: It does. I think if you have a Republican Congress, even after November, after the mid-term elections, Republicans are already very unlikely to move forward with any kind of impeachment, barring the most dramatic shocking revelation we could imagine.

And many Democrats might not be that interested in doing it if they control Congress, they might want to move on to other issues, and they might sense that the public really doesn't see this as a high crime and misdemeanor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

So, I - - I - - I think that's what Giuliani is openly talking about and I think that very much captures the president's intention.

[01:20] VANIER: The narrative that Trump, Giuliani and their team are pushing is that the investigation was politically motivated, possibly illegal because of the way it started and improperly conducted. On the substance of it, is there a reason to believe that narrative?

ZELIZER: No, so far there is absolutely no evidence to believe the narrative. Everything we've learned suggests this was a legitimate investigation. They weren't spying on the campaign, they were trying to understand Russian intervention in the 2016 election and ever since it's been conducted above board.

I'm sure there are mistakes. I'm sure there are certain texts or emails sent, that in retrospect shouldn't have been, but every time that president has charged this is somehow a partisan investigation, or somehow a conspiracy to bring him down, even many Republican legislators have had to admit there's absolutely no evidence to support this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELIZER: It's a story he's telling. The story might be working, but it's not based on fact as we know it.

VANIER: Okay. So listen, then, to Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who was speaking to CNN earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF FLAKE, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN, ARIZONA: I can tell you behind the scenes there is a lot of alarm. There is concern that the president is laying the groundwork to move on Bob Mueller or - - or - - or Rosenstein, and if that were to happen, obviously, that would cause a Constitutional crisis.

There is concern behind the scenes. I've been concerned that we haven't spoken up loudly enough and told the president you simply can't go there. And, he's obviously probing the edges as much as he can to see how far Congress will go and we've got to push back harder than we have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Okay. So, Jeff Flake is afraid that Mr. Trump will try to fire Mueller. We've heard those concerns plenty of times before, but I'm wondering - - and you touched on this earlier, wouldn't the president actually be better served by keeping Mueller, provided he can do what he's doing and delegitimize Mueller, the investigation and then their future findings?

ZELIZER: Yes, I think that' right. I'm not so convinced the president actually wants all this to end.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

I think it's become a narrative. I think Mueller has become a foie (ph) that serves his rhetoric about an entire system out to get him, about an establishment that he's fighting against.

So, in some ways he might be fine with Mueller continuing the investigation. He continues to spin the story of a conspiracy and he continues to excite his supporters by saying, "Look, I'm under attack."

And, it's not obvious there would be a Constitutional crisis, by the way, because at this point Republicans have really done very little every time the president has pushed the boundaries of presidential authority.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Esteemed colleague, Julian Zelizer, CNN Political Analyst, always a pleasure. Thank you.

ZELIZER: Thanks for having me.

VANIER: Also, later in the show, we'll be telling you about this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

It's a symbol of eternal love, but some worry that the Taj Mahal could be gone soon, if it isn't shown some love. We'll explain just ahead.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:26:48] VANIER: Okay. Welcome back everyone.

If you're just joining us, these are the headlines. Italy facing political uncertainty after the designated prime minister failed to form a government.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

The Italian President feared the populist nominee for economy minister might alarm investors by threatening to leave the Eurozone. Now President Sergio Mattarella is expected to appoint a technocratic, or non-political, government until new elections can be held.

A Columbian far-right candidate who wants to alter a historic peace deal is leading the first presidential election round. Ivan Duque wants to impose tougher punishment on former FARC advisors in a runoff on June 17th. He will face Gustavo Petro, the first leftist candidate to have a real chance at becoming Columbia's president.

Britain's Prime Minister is facing heat from lawmakers for refusing to push for abortion reform in Northern Ireland. Theresa May's spokeswoman said abortion laws should only be changed by a government in Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, more than 100 U.K. Parliament members will reportedly back a bill allowing abortions in the Province.

And, a U.S. delegation is in North Korea to do the advance work ahead of a possible summit between the leaders of the two nations. President Trump cancelled this summit a few days ago, but all indications are it's now back on. An advance team has also left for Singapore, where the summit is scheduled to be held.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Duyeon Kim joins me now from Washington. She's a visiting Senior Fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum.

Duyeon, South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, says that Kim Jong-un needs security guarantees ahead of this summit. So, what can the Trump administration do or say to convince the North Korean leader that he's going to be safe? That the United States will not try to topple him. DUYEON KIM, VISITING SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW AT THE KOREAN PENINSULA FUTURE FORUM: You know, that's a good question. One that many may not have an exact answer to, because that involves a lot of different complicated factors.

Does that mean a peace treaty, like South Koran President Moon Jae-in is trying to realize? Does that mean some sort of American law or bill that's passed that guarantees non-regression? Or, that the U.S. will never invade the North?

And so, these are types of issues that President Trump will have to iron out, want to clarify with Kim Jong-un. Until now, we've always heard that Pyongyang wanted security guarantees, political guarantees.

And, typically that usually comes in the form of some sort of legally binding irreversible institutionalized mechanism that ensures that forever and that ensures North Korea's survival forever.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KIM: But, that's the kind of declaration or guarantee that can be tricky from a U.S. perspective to ever blatantly declare that will always indefinitely guarantees a country's survival. So, this is very tricky.

VANIER: And, the U.S. has tens of thousands of troops on the Korean Peninsula and in neighboring Japan, and removing those troops is not even under consideration from the American side.

KIM: Right. And, the North for decades, has always demanded he removal, or the withdrawal - - complete withdrawal of U.S. forces, of troops from the Korean Peninsula. Although in the last few years, actually, North Korea's tactical position has evolved and adjusted and changed depending on the geopolitical situation at the time and in the near future.

[01:29:49]

So sometimes the North would say, you know, the U.S. can stay on the Korean Peninsula for the time being. But ultimately -- if history is a guide ultimately they would want the complete removal of U.S. troops. But again, you know, it really comes down to when the North does denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula it means the entire peninsula which means on the southern side, American nuclear weapons, American strategic (INAUDIBLE) eventually a break in the U.S.-South Korea lines.

But again the North has made tactical adjustments in its position over time so this is something that President Trump will have to clarify with Kim Jong-un because this is a new Kim Jong-un era.

VANIER: And Kim Jong-un also needs economic guarantees -- that, too comes to us from the South Korean president who is saying South Korean president who is saying this earlier on Sunday. I suppose in a way that's the easy part for the U.S., isn't it? KIM: Yes, it is but, you know, I suspect that the North is not asking for the same type of economic aid that they've been used to receiving and then used to be offered during these types of negotiations because the North Korean economy has actually developed more than we've ever seen it develop.

And so I would, you know suspect that the North would ask a big items -- big-ticket items like infrastructure, like development, investment. Not the typical rice and grains, and crackers and biscuits in exchange for the North missile programs as we've negotiated in the past.

VANIER: So it wouldn't be for instance lifting the current economic sanctions?

KIM: Well, ultimately, you know, I can imagine that the North is looking to lift sanctions, to weaken the current ones, and to prevent future ones and also to prevent current sanctions from taking full effect.

And so this is part of Kim Jong-un's peace offensive towards the South, part of his tactic in a sense (INAUDIBLE) because you know, he is looking to as he just bared (ph) on January 1st and recently to revitalize -- well, not revitalize but to advance and fully achieve a prosperous nation as he always says.

VANIER: Ok. Duyeon -- thank you very much. Pleasure to talk to you as always -- thanks.

KIM: Thank you.

VANIER: Now, CNN's Will Ripley is one of the few television journalists who has reported extensively from North Korea in recent years. On his 18th trip to the country, he witnessed the apparent destruction of its main nuclear test site. We all wanted to know what it's like to be hosted by one of the most secretive regimes in the world. So we asked Will to show us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From the moment I landed in Wonsan, I knew this story was unlike any other. Eighteen trips to North Korea and this country still keeps me guessing.

For more than 24 hours, we didn't even know if our trip to the Punggye-ri nuclear site would happen. The rhetoric with the U.S. was really heating up. Only when we boarded the bus did we know it was a go.

We rode for more than 12 hours on a North Korean luxury train. It was surreal, a 10-course banquet with all the blinds closed and strict orders not to film outside. We also couldn't film on the drive to the nuclear site.

Arriving at Punggye-ri was surreal. The buildings were log cabins, almost like a summer camp. It was definitely not what I expected. We had to carry our gear and hike for what felt like ages up steep ravines to get to an observation post built specifically for us.

We visited tunnel after tunnel, the same tunnels North Korea has used to conduct six nuclear tests since 2006. All of them full of explosives. Football size bags strung with wires. We even had lunch provided by the North Koreans -- ham and cucumber sandwiches, surrounded by buildings that will be blown up just hours later.

The explosions were huge.

Earth-shaking.

They sent rocks and debris flying. We found some of it scattered later hundreds of feet away. I can only imagine what it felt like during those nuclear tests.

It was totally impossible to verify if what we were seeing -- if all those dramatic explosions actually made the nuclear site unusable as the North Korean claim. For the nuclear officials on site, there was almost a sense of sadness -- watching more than a decade of hard work go up in smoke.

[01:35:08] Will Ripley, CNN -- at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, North Korea.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: The U.S. government says it is not responsible for the nearly 1,500 undocumented minors who have essentially gone missing. These are children who crossed the border into the U.S. and landed in the custody of the office of a refugee resettlement.

Last year, the office admitted that it had lost track of nearly 20 percent of the children in its care. But the federal government insists that the agency's hands are clean because it released the children over to sponsors who then take responsibility for them.

CNN's Tal Kopan explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: If someone comes to the border without an adult -- a child comes to the border by themselves or if for some reason they're separated from their parents through -- or the adults they were with through the course of action, they're turned over to a different government agency who then works to place them with a sponsor. Sometimes that's a family member, sometimes that's an individual who seems responsible and care for this child.

Now, this government agency has testified that it is their position that once they make that hand-off they are not legally responsible for what happens to those children. They are expected to show up for court dates and that type of thing. But they typically have not then followed up and figured out what happened to the children.

So in the last three months of 2017, they followed up on about 7,500 of these children and as you mentioned about 20 percent of them about 1,500 -- they could not account for what has happened to them after their placement.

Now it's unknown what happened to them. It is possible that those children made an independent decision to go into the shadows and live undocumented in the U.S. They could very well have ended up in the hands of traffickers.

But this is now, you know, a potentially even bigger problem as the U.S. pursuing policy options that could result in even more children being separated from their families. And the U.S. government is grappling with these questions -- what happened to these children? And what can they do in the future to prevent it from happening again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: All of this as the Department of Homeland Security is defending a controversial policy of separating families that cross the U.S. border illegally.

And we have amazing video to show you of a rescue in Paris. An immigrant from Mali is being called a real-life Spider-Man after he rescued a child dangling from a balcony. Look at this.

You can see Mamoudou Gassama -- that's his name -- scaling four floors, pulling himself up from balcony to balcony until he makes it to the four-year-old and pulls him to safety from mid-air. I'll just give you a moment to get to that point.

Now, CNN affiliate BFM TV reports that French President Emmanuel Macron has invited him to the Elysees Palace on Monday to thank him personally.

Listen to how Gassama explains his feat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAMOUDOU GASSAMA, RESCUED CHILD DANGLING FROM BUILDING (through translator): We came here to watch the football match at a restaurant. I saw a lot of people yelling, cars were honking. I got out and I saw the child who is about to fall from the balcony.

I like children so I will hate to see him get hurt in front of me. I ran and I thought of ways to save him and thank God I scaled the front of the building to that balcony.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): How did you climb? It seemed easy.

GASSAMA: I got on top of a door and I managed to pull myself up from balcony to balcony and thank God I saved him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Now the Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo wrote on Twitter that she spoke with the 22-year-old and that quote, "He explained to me that he had arrived from Mali a few months ago dreaming of building his life here in France. I told him that his heroic is an example to all citizens and that the city of Paris will obviously be very keen to support him in his efforts to settle in France."

When we come back, a frightening few hours in a Maryland city; residents are now assessing the damage after flash floods.

Plus a boy, a washing machine, and ultimately a dramatic rescue.

We'll have that and more coming up.

[01:39:30] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VANIER: In the U.S. state of Maryland, people were trapped as flash floods swept through the Greater Baltimore area on Sunday. The National Weather Service says some parts saw more than 23 centimeters of rainfall.

Murky water rushed through Ellicott City near Baltimore, topping buildings and upending cars. This situation is especially difficult for the residents here who just finished rebuilding from the last flood nearly two years ago.

Meteorologist Allison Chinchar joins us now -- Allison.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. You know, we take a look at how much rainfall actually did fall around this area. So for a reference point where my hand is -- this is Baltimore.

You can see the heaviest rain was just to the western edge of that wide spread. Amounts for this area ranged anywhere from 50 to 150 millimeters of rain but notice that bright-red and orange color.

Now you're talking 150 to 250 millimeters of rain. And keep in mind a lot of these areas got that in just about one to three hours. So a lot of rain in a short period of time obviously leading to that flooding.

We are getting a temporary reprieve from the rainfall. This is fantastic news. It will allow, not only for the water on the streets to recede and go back down but also for the creeks, the streams and the rivers as well.

However, we also are now starting to see that surge of moisture coming up from the south headed towards Washington, D.C. and Baltimore area. That surge of moisture is coming from subtropical storm Alberto.

Right now the biggest impact with this storm remaining around Florida in particular. Winds about 100 kilometers per hour gusting to 120 kilometers per hour, we expect landfall to be some time around Monday afternoon near the Pensacola-Panama City general area.

As it continues to push off to the north it will weaken quickly which is good news. Those winds begin to come back down. But flooding is still going to remain a concern really for anywhere along this path even as it moves north to say cities like Nashville and eventually up towards Chicago and then ending up somewhere around Canada, near around Toronto.

The other thing, Cyril -- is we still have a lot of these tropical storm warnings in effect for areas of Florida. So if you have any short term plans for the beach, I would probably cancel those at this time.

[01:45:04] VANIER: All right. Our meteorologist Allison Chinchar. Allison -- thank you.

Residents near Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano are left wondering if this is now their new normal. The volcano erupted more than three weeks ago and it hasn't slowed down since.

Another new fissure opened up. That one isn't threatening any structures and an active one doubled in size just over the last 24 hours.

One of the most beautiful buildings in the world isn't looking its best lately. The Taj Mahal's once pristine white marble is discoloring from years of smog, tourists and insects. Activists are calling on India's government to preserve it.

Robyn Curnow reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been described as a teardrop suspended on the cheek of time. Built by a 17th century emperor in memory of his beloved queen, a photograph of the Taj Mahal has become a vital stop on a trip to India.

But time, air pollution and all those footsteps have taken their toll. As the surrounding city of Agra continues to expand, the strain on its antiquated infrastructure, the pollution in its air and the trash clogging local waterways gets worst every year.

SHAMSUDDIN KHAN, PRESIDENT, AGRA GUIDE'S ASSOCIATION: There is the price -- the lord of (INAUDIBLE) are around here; the lord of concession (ph) going the other side. That's why the Taj is dying and because the Taj is dying tourism is getting less day by day. So we are requesting to the government, other people that they should do something to protect the Taj.

CURNOW: And what heavily-polluted water does exist serves as a breeding ground for mosquito-type bugs to produce the slime which has turned parts of the Taj Mahal's once shining white marble to hues that's picklely (ph) yellow and green.

Now faced with evidence of pollution damage on the surface stone and cracks in the marble, patches of colored cement India's Supreme Court has intervened.

The activist who took the case hopes the authorities will take the court's advice and call in international experts.

M.C. MEHTA, LAWYER AND ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST: It is in India and we are proud of it. But it is a necessity that if the Indian scientists and the (INAUDIBLE) then they should be able to contact foreign escorts to open their business and those who can come and they will be readily happy to help

CURNOW: For now, of course, the tourists still come. From eight million each year -- each breath, each footstep is part of the problem. But potentially they could also fund the solution. There's certainly goodwill for any potential renovation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Taj Mahal is one of the biggest icons of India. And I think the city would be better to be cleaner and for the government to do something about this because it's there, you know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, I hope they take care of it. Yes, it's beautiful and it should be preserved.

CURNOW: For now what was built as an architectural symbol of enduring love, white and shining on a (INAUDIBLE) finds itself instead in danger of becoming a beacon for environmental pollution and love lost.

Robyn Curnow, CNN -- Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Also when we come back, we will be recommending a great surf spot. But you have to be ok with the barbed wire and the soldiers. Stay with us.

[01:48:26] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VANIER: Peace, love and waves -- that is the dream for a group of surfers in South Korea whose favorite spot happens to sit right next to a less than friendly neighbor, the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

Ivan Watson took one for the team and agreed to check it out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The morning after a big storm is a day for some people to get up early, wax off their surfboards and head out to the beach.

South Korea is relatively new to surfing but some here are clearly hooked on the sport. And they're kind enough to share the waves with a beginner from out of town.

That's nearly (INAUDIBLE). And the crazy thing is everybody's out here surfing and we're pretty close to North Korea.

We're just a short drive from the demilitarized zone, South Korea's border with North Korea. The coast line here dotted with military bases. Long stretches of the beach fortified with razor wire, guard towers and security cameras.

This area is heavily militarized to protect against the threat of possible North Korean incursions. But it's also home to some of the best waves in South Korea. So if you want to surf, sometimes you literally have to go through the fence.

And this is what surfing looks like near the DMZ -- the military and the surf community somehow co-exist on the same shores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Too close (INAUDIBLE), by the way.

WATSON: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we're just two --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you know, a lot of corners they come over and they see the scene here like wow.

Lee Hyung-joou (ph) runs a surf camp on a beach that until a few years ago was off limits to civilians.

LEE HYUNG-JOO, SURF CAMP OWNER: We're just here about 200 meters -- about 300 meters is an artillery base.

WATSON: North Korean trash regularly washes up on the beach here.

LEE: Sometimes you find like North Korean cigarette packs -- trash, of course. Also some water bottles.

WATSON: Lee hopes the current talks between Pyongyang and Seoul may one day lead to real peace with South Korea's northern neighbor.

LEE: If the Korean -- North Korean relations get better then I don't think they'll have use for these barbed wires anymore, right. And also the military bases on the beach which means more opportunities for tourist business like us.

WATSON: That yearning for peace shared by Kwan Min-Ju and her boyfriend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love peace and waves.

KWAN MIN-JU, SURFER: Yes.

WATSON: Every weekend the couple drives three hours from Seoul to surf here. One day they hope they can keep driving through the DMZ.

KWAN: I think that there is this place for surfing --

[015502] WATSON: In North Korea?

KWAN: Yes, yes. So maybe we can go there and surf one day.

JAKE MCFADYEN, SURFER: And you know I don't think I'll be sneaking through any fences to get into North Korea any time soon to surf there but if it's possible I'd love to check it out.

WATSON: For now people like Canadian Jake McFadyen can only dream of chasing that elusive North Korean wave -- surfers stoked for the day when peace may come to these shores.

Ivan Watson, CNN -- at the 38 Parallel beach in South Korea.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Just before I leave you, a scare story but a happy ending, thankfully.

Look at this. A meticulous operation -- firefighters in China working quickly but carefully. There's a four-year-old boy trapped inside that washing machine. Now thankfully his mom called firefighters in time and it took them about 20 minutes of sawing, tearing the machine down entirely apart. Thankfully they were able to get him out.

And that is our happy ending today.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Cyril Vanier. The news continues next with Rosemary Church and George Howell. You are in great hands.

Stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:00:12] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Preparing for the summit.