Return to Transcripts main page
Unaccompanied Immigrant Children not "Lost"; Subtropical Storm Alberto; Historic Maryland City Hit by New Flood Damage; New "Star Wars" Disappoints Disney at Box Office; U.S. and North Korea Race to Revive Trump-Kim Summit; Delegations from U.S. and North Korea Discuss Agenda for Summit in DMZ; Criticism Over President Trump's Memorial Day Tweet; Donald Trump's Long-Standing Belief in Conspiracy Theories; Former IMF Official Appointed as Italy's Interim Prime Minister; E.U. and Euro at Center of Italy's Upcoming New Elections. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired May 29, 2018 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: shake things up in Italy.
And later, Disney opens its first Skywalker free Star Wars film, but "Solo: A Star Wars Story" comes in at the box office below what many had expected.
VAUSE: Hello, thank you for joining us. I'm John Vause, we're now into the second hour of Newsroom L.A.
We're just two weeks away from the planned summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, but it's anyone's guess if that meeting will actually happen. Delegations from the U.S. and North Korea have been meeting in the Korean demilitarized zone and top North Korean officials are also in Singapore to work out logistics with the U.S.
President Trump spoke by phone with the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, on Monday. They agreed to meet again before Mr. Trump's expected summit with Kim.
VAUSE: Let's head to Seoul, South Korea, now. CNN's Paula Hancocks, and also with us, Jasper Kim, an expert in conflict management. So, thanks to you both.
Paula, let's just start with the preparations for this summit. The pre-summit negotiations we're told moving ahead with an urgency being driven from the leadership of both countries.
So, in a practical sense, has there been an uptick in activity since last week that would be before Thursday, when the president actually cancelled the summit?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John. We hear from the senior Trump administration officials that last week, before the U.S. President actually cancelled this summit, there was no communication between the North Koreans and the United States.
The North Koreans were supposed to meet the U.S. delegation in Singapore for logistics, they didn't turn up and then the U.S. simply couldn't get hold of them. So, clearly since that cancellation letter from the U.S. President there has been a radical shift in attitude.
There is a flurry of diplomacy happening at the moment. There's a U.S. delegation here in South Korea. They've already met once with the North Korean delegation at the DMZ.
No plans for today I'm told by someone familiar with U.S.-North Korean relations, but potential for tomorrow for sure, I'm being told.
So, we could see them meeting and what they'll be talking about is the substance of this summit between Trump and Kim, what will be on the agenda, what kind of things will go onto the communique (ph).
HANCOCKS: How close or how far apart are the ideas of both countries and what both country wants to get out of it? And then, there's also a U.S. delegation in Singapore for logistics. We understand a North Korean delegation has landed in Singapore, as well, according to Japan's NHK.
So, a lot is happening, a lot of moving pieces and radically different to last week.
VAUSE: So, Jasper, what do you read into all of this? This sudden uptick in activities, especially compared to last week?
JASPER KIM, AUTHOR, EXPERT IN CONFLICT MANAGEMENT: Well, I think Trump really wants this to happen and so does Kim Jong-un, and so that's why we see it moving forward at the velocity that it's moving forward. Otherwise, definitely I mean one of the parties could drop out and we wouldn't be hearing about this.
So, I mean the incentives are there for both sides. The objects are there for both sides and I think we see a close alignment of the interests.
Now, as long as these somewhat prickly personality issues don't flair up again, I think that we're on the path towards a Singapore summit, but again, one never knows.
VAUSE: Yes. One of the concerns we've heard about this upcoming summit, Jasper, is that there's not enough time for preparation. It's just two weeks away and you know, but the reality is that the U.S. President cancelled the meeting on Thursday last week. By Friday, he was hinting maybe not, this is what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Everybody plays games, you know that. You know that better than anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Everybody plays games and by Saturday he was Tweeting it was still on. He was talking about it still being on in the Oval Office.
So, if there's not enough time now to prepare for it, then it seems you know there wasn't enough time last week to prepare for the summit before it was cancelled.
So, what's the deal here? What's going on?
KIM: Well, it's a great question, John, I mean the U.S. government, the state department and all of the other agencies, I mean they've been tracking North Korea for a long, long time now. So, of course they have to update and recalibrate from time to time.
But, it think the information that Donald Trump is getting, in his estimation I think, he believes there's enough for him to sort of make the broad brush strokes of a deal. And the deal might not be deep in substance, it might be high in terms of visual optics, but that's exactly in line with the art of the deal that Donald Trump may be seeking at this point.
VAUSE: And, Paula, do we have any indication of where these two sides are right now? You know, there's logistics, like venues and security, and the lunch menu.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: More importantly though, there's goals and outcomes, and precisely what will or will not be on the table, Paula?
HANCOCKS: Well, the latest we've heard publically is Kim Jong-un himself, through state run media, saying that if Washington wants a unilateral nuclear abandonment there's no point having these discussions. And, what we've heard from the U.S. President, Donald Trump, is he said ideally he would like an all-in-one deal.
Meaning the North Koreans would simply give up their nuclear weapons in one go, but he has said that he will not exclude other options.
[01:05:05] Now that is a departure from his original demand that they give up all their nuclear weapons straight away and post them off to the United States.
So, in one respect the U.S. President is already changing his idea of what would be acceptable to Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)
HANCOCKS: So, yes, there is a huge gap between what North Korea thinks and what the U.S. thinks should happen with denuclearization. Pyongyang is still talking about denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, they're not talking about giving up their own nuclear weapons.
So obviously, there's a lot of sticking points. Are they talking about the nuclear umbrella for South Korea? The fact that the U.S. protects South Korea in any event of a war, then those nuclear weapons could be used.
It's difficult to know exactly how far along that process they are, but I don't think anyone expects them to get too far, even before this summit happens. Because quite simply, this has been a stumbling block for many decades.
VAUSE: Yes, in fact, Jasper, normally these sort of details would be worked out in private at a much lower level, you know months ahead of any summit between two leaders, regardless of what the topic is and regardless of who those leaders are.
You know, to say the obvious, it's a very unconventional star (ph), which this president and the U.S. has. Bottom line, if this meeting ends with some kind of success, it would seem process just audibly won't really matter.
KIM: Well, that could be the case. I mean, this president seems to like to turn everything upside down. But, I mean I think the argument that he might make is that - - well, look at the Six-Party Talks.
That went under the conventional norms and standards of how diplomats like to do things by talking points, set venues, everything set to a tee, lots of time to plan things and look at where that ended up. Really, there's not much substantive progress.
So, what is the worst that can happen? Well, the counterargument to that is that well, a lot could happen that could spiral relations down between the two sides, but I don't really think that's the case. I think the answer's somewhere in the middle and I wouldn't be surprised if there's a Singapore summit that the communique - - that the language is very distinct (ph), it's a very short communique and it has oratory language - - broad-based language on which, like a parabola (ph), one could read whatever one wants into it.
VAUSE: And, Paula, we also have word from The Wall Street Journal the Trump administration has decided to hold off on imposing a new round of sanctions on North Korea. They were due to be announced on Tuesday and apparently quite tough sanctions, as well.
So again, what could be seen as a good will gesture, a positive sign coming from Washington?
HANCOCKS: Absolutely. It also could be seen as a reminder of what Washington can do, if North Korea doesn't play ball and if there's not a deal. Be yet the reminder, which we've heard from the Trump administration all along is that at the same time as this, they will keep the sanctions on, they will keep the pressure on until they see real progress with the negotiations with North Korea.
And, just another note, as well, from the North Koreans side, we've just in the past couple of hours seen a couple of North Korean state run media articles slamming U.S. military drills, once again.
So, at the same time as they are talking in Singapore, or about to talk in Singapore, they're talking in the DMZ, potentially talking again on Wednesday. North Korea is slamming the U.S. military for planning ahead to the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian military drills - - big drills which happen at the end of August, saying that you can't have both.
VAUSE: Very quickly, Jasper, sanctions on hold, sanctions which still could be imposed, right?
KIM: Yes. Sanctions can come and go, but keep in mind that North Korea's a super sanction state. So, from Kim Jong-un's seeming perspective I think that he thinks, well, "Sanctions? Well, fine, that's going to impact me."
And, sure, you might think that there might be an upheaval among the masses in North Korea, but the way that people have been primed in North Korea is that any deprivation of goods, food, et cetera, will be blamed on external forces, not internal.
VAUSE: Okay. Jasper, thank you for being with us.
Also, Paula, as well, in Seoul, thank you, appreciate it.
Joining us now, our political analyst Bill Schneider, he's a former Senior Political Analyst for CNN, also, the author of "Standoff: How America Became Ungovernable".
Okay, Bill, so this on again, off again summit - - when you look at what's been happening over the last couple of days, who wants this meeting more? Who, sort of, is hungrier I guess and willing to give more in this meeting, if you judge by the actions of the last couple of days?
Is it the U.S. President? Or, is it the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un?
BILL SCHNEIDER, POLITICAL ANALYST: How about the Prime Minister of South Korea - - the President of South Korea, that was really his idea. I mean, he was the one that orchestrated the whole thing, because he got elected on a promise of reconciliation with North Korea.
But here, I think, if there is a summit, if it takes place at all, that will be a victory for Mr. Trump, because he can then say, "Look what I did. I had a meeting with the leader of North Korea. What other president has done that since North Korea became a state? I'm the only president who was able to do it." [01:10:12] Probably, it won't accomplish much substantively, but it might set the stage for a communications path for some kind of a low- level relationship that could produce something in the future.
VAUSE: What we're talking about here is you know, the photo op, Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un - - we know he loved the DMZ when Moon and Kim Jong-un had that meeting, you know a couple of weeks ago, and he was really keen on having something similar.
The actually details, though, are that you know the North Koreans have been trying to get a meeting with a U.S. President to legitimize this rogue regime for years, if it's not the grandson, if it wasn't the father, it was the grandfather.
Donald Trump has given away the farm on that part, of handing over this meeting between - - legitimizing the regime, but that takes subtle nuance in the detail, what (inaudible) think take that many photos in the U.S. it will matter or it will get through to them, it just doesn't register?
SCHNEIDER: Well, it does to people who understand the situation there. That, basically, this kind of summit does legitimize the North Korean regime and one of their purposes is to make sure that there is no threat to the survival of the regime. They've been worried about that forever.
They've always worried about the U.S. in alliance with Japan, South Korea, can overthrow their regime. So, that is a victory for them. Denuclearization is going to take a long time and that's going to be very difficult to work out. I wouldn't count on that resulting.
VAUSE: I just wanted - - so, the photo's enough for many voters who will say, "Look, he's trying to get peace on the peninsula."
SCHNEIDER: And, he's already a minted a commemorative coin.
VAUSE: Which doesn't have a date on it, by the way, just 2018. So, they can keep using it.
Earlier this month, the website AXIOS, had this report on the president's plan for dealing with Kim Jong-un.
"A source who recently spoke to Trump about his upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un paraphrased the president's private monologue. 'No one knows what I'm going to do. They are over there trying right now to analyze every statement I'm putting out to get a sense of what's going to happen when I walk into the room. But the fact of the matter is nobody knows.'"
VAUSE: I wonder if that actually includes the president, himself, does he actually really know what he plans on doing? SCHNEIDER: I don't think so. He's not a real student of diplomacy. So, I doubt if he knows what he's going to do either. He believes he's the ultimate deal maker, but the one thing he can accomplish here is to say it's all about me.
Everything is all about him and in this summit, he want to make all about him. That's why he cancelled it in the first place, because he wanted to show that he's in charge of making this summit take place.
VAUSE: We'll move on to Memorial Day. Here in the U.S., a day intended to honor those who died for the country. Donald Trump, like presidents before, delivered a speech at Arlington Cemetery. Here's part of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: America never forgets it's our heroes who make us who we are and who determine what we will be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, for the most part, it was a speech you'd expect to hear on a day like this, a speech which presidents before have given in a very similar vein. Only earlier, though, we had a Tweet from the president.
"Happy Memorial Day. Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18 years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!"
VAUSE: You know, there was this flurry of criticism, even from Dictionary.com on Twitter, "Memorial Day is defined as 'a day set aside in most states of the U.S. for observances in memory of dead members of the armed forces of all wars.' Not found: Economic reports".
Explain the two different Donald Trump's here? The one that boasted about his accomplishments on a day reserved for dead soldiers and their families, and the Donald Trump who paid the respects at Arlington Cemetery.
SCHNEIDER: He can play both roles. I mean, he can read off a teleprompter. I remember when he gave his first speech to Congress. It was a very proper speech, he laid out his agenda, there was no extemporizing, it all came off a teleprompter and critics called it his Bar Mitzvah speech.
You know, something written for him. (CROSSTALK)
That was a Bar Mitzvah speech, well, the same thing happened at the cemetery. The real Donald Trump may well be the Trump who Tweets - - the Twitter Trump, because then it's all about him. And, to make Memorial Day all about him, outraged an awful lot of Americans.
VAUSE: Yes. The president also had a bit of a cryptic rant over the weekend about the Russia investigation.
VAUSE: Not unheard of for the president to go off on a tirade, but this was one Tweet.
"Who's going to give back the young and beautiful lives (and others) that 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!"
[01:15] VAUSE: Some find it clear about who he's talking about these young people, maybe 30-year old George Papadopoulos, you know, the campaign aide.
SCHNEIDER: Paul Manafort, I mean . . .
VAUSE: Maybe his communications director, Hope Hicks, who is 29 and recently left the White House. But, this seems to relate to a report that we had from The New York Times about Donald Trump and conspiracy theories.
"Former aides to the president, speaking privately because they did not want to embarrass him, said paranoia predisposed him to believe in nefarious, hidden forces driving events. But they also said political opportunism informed his promotion of conspiracy theories. For instance, two former aides said Mr. Trump had resisted using the term 'deep state' for months, partly because he believed it made him look too much like a crank."
VAUSE: Okay. Which, we now know that he embraced deep state and he uses it all the time, it's on Fox News, it's everywhere. How much of the conspiracy theory - - is it possible to know, does the president actually believe is true and, you know, is part of his DNA?
And, how much of that conspiracy theory does he know is false, but he embraces it anyway because it's of help politically?
SCHNEIDER: Well, he may well be paranoid, that's part of megalomania, but you know the old saying even paranoid people have enemies. He has a lot of enemies, they are out to get him, they despise Donald Trump and they're trying to win the mid-term election so that that'll set him on the path to get removed.
Donald Trump encourages conspiracy theories because he has a constituency that are receptive to conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories have a long history in the United States. We once had an Anti-Masonic Party that was very powerful in the 19th Century.
This is part of American populism, it's part of our culture and what Trump is doing is encouraging it because he knows that his audience is receptive to that.
VAUSE: In the past, though, there were leaders like Senator McCain, who in 2008 was campaigning against Barack Obama. McCain was the Republican nominee, Obama was the Democrat nominee.
McCain was at a town hall and a woman got up and said, "Oh, Obama, he's terrorist, we think he's an Arab." McCain grabbed the microphone and said, "No, ma'am. He's a good family man, I just disagree with him on policy."
Are those days gone? Has Donald Trump sort of shifted this country to the point where leaders now embrace these conspiracy theories to afford their agenda?
SCHNEIDER: Well, we hope and pray that they are not gone and I think what's going to happen is there's going to be an un-Trump, the Democrats are going to find someone who can represent the opposite of Donald Trump.
Remember, Obama when he got elected, he was the un-Bush. Trump is very much the un-Obama. We're always looking for someone who's the opposite of what we have.
VAUSE: And Bush was the un-Clinton and Clinton was the un-Bush.
VAUSE: I mean this country does swing on a pendulum.
SCHNEIDER: That's right.
VAUSE: I just wonder who that person is and what will be the appeal? I mean, do they pick the most bland, dull, centrist - - you know, rational, sane, boring person in the world as a counterweight to Donald Trump?
SCHNEIDER: Maybe. Maybe they're looking for boring, it's been known to happen. After Jerry Brown was governor of California, they elected the most boring candidate they could, George Deukmejian.
I mean boring sometimes works, it's the opposite of what you have and what we're waiting for is for someone to catch fire in the Democratic Party. There's an old saying, "Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line". That didn't happen last time, it was just the opposite. Democrats loved Bernie Sanders, Republicans fell in love with Donald Trump.
But, we'll see what happens. We're waiting for a Democrat to catch fire.
VAUSE: Yes. That will be the moment, there is so many in field who are all lining up. I guess that's going to be the reality show style, voting them all off the island process.
This issue of conspiracy theories, though, and trying to undermine you know, the Russia investigation. We know that Rudy Giuliani, the lead attorney for Donald Trump on that, basically says it's all part of a PR campaign. It's a PR campaign which the former director of the National Security Agency, Michael Hayden, believes is actually working in part. Here's what he said.
We don't have the Michael Hayden stuff? Okay. Basically Hayden said that there are people from around the country and there are people out there who are starting to believe what Donald Trump is saying about there were spies planted in his campaign. Election spies planted there by Barack Obama, politically motivated essentially to end his campaign for the presidency.
What's the long-term impact when a U.S. President essentially adopts the tactics of a right wing shock jock?
SCHNEIDER: That's exactly the tactic he's using. He's governing by dividing. No other president has done that. His four predecessors, both Bush's, Clinton, Obama, promised to be healers, because the country was so divided.
What Trump is doing is taking advantage of that division and he's using conspiracy theories to deepen that division and that's going last - - that kind of hatred, that kind of suspicion, is going to last a long time.
VAUSE: Okay. Bill, thank you. I guess interesting times ahead.
VAUSE: Thanks for being with us, appreciate it.
Okay. One of the largest economies in Europe will be led for the next few months by a man known as "Mr. Scissors". Now, Italy's interim prime minister plans to address the country's political crisis.
Also ahead, heavy rain and the threat of flooding in the Southeastern U.S., as the first named storm off the Atlantic hurricane season takes off.
(END VIDEOTAPE) [01:20] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAUSE: Italy could be heading for new elections after a populist failed to form a coalition government.
The Italian President has appointed Carlo Cottarelli, a former official with the International Monetary Fund, as interim prime minister. For the next few months he'll lead a country more than $2 trillion in debt and counting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLO COTTARELLI, ITALIAN INTERIM PRIME MINISTER: I have agreed to form a government as the president of the public asked me to do. Naturally, I will do my best. I will go to parliament with a program that if it wins the confidence vote, will include the budget law for 2019.
After that, the parliament will be dissolved and new elections will be called for the beginning of 2019. As a founding country of the European Union, our role in the union is essential and our participation in the euro is also essential.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The populist coalition collapsed when the president rejected their euro skeptic nominee for economy minister.
VAUSE: CNN's European Affairs Commentator, Dominic Thomas, joins us now. Good to see you.
The New York Times had a pretty good summary of the predicament facing the Italian President. This is what they wrote.
"In deliberately forcing a new election over the euro, which a majority of Italians say they support, the usually careful and measured Mr. Mattarella expressly put an explosive issue with the potential of transforming Europe front and center. And by using his constitutional powers to block the new government in order to protect Italian savings accounts from increasingly weary markets, he also handed the gifted and gleefully hostile populist parties the talking point of a lifetime before the elections."
VAUSE: This is a real damned if you do, damned if you don't scenario.
DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Right. And I think there are a couple of things that the - - first of all, the initial attempt to appoint Giuseppe Conte as prime minister, revealed the tensions between the Northern League and the Five Star Movement, that were essentially unable to select each other as prime minister.
So, they had to go for the most neutral, most unknown, colorless individual that was going to be able to run them. And then, I think the selection of their finance minister, after the Five Star Movement had said you know, we're not going to withdraw the euro, don't worry, et cetera, was sort of a moment of really - - of deception.
And, Mattarella's choice to pick somebody who's completely different from this anti-E.U. and not just the European Union, but the euro, single currency, austerity and so on, as the article as you just cited seems to be mentioning, has put front and center.
Essentially, a kind of referendum on the European Union as we move forward into these new elections.
VAUSE: And, the leader of the Five Star Movement has made it very clear, you know he does not support this new technocrat PM - - this prime minister, this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUIGI DI MAIO, LEADER, FIVE STAR MOVEMENT: We will have a government not only not voted for by the people, but not even by the parliament. A shameful event in the history of the republic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: There are now calls for protests this coming weekend in Rome. It's clear there is a lot of turmoil ahead for Italian politics and you know this government, even though hoping that it survives until next year - - a budget and elections, not a chance. I mean, after August, what's the timetable here before it goes?
THOMAS: So, I mean, half this government - - this technocratic government has to go before the parliament, they've got to vote on it. If they vote it down, then elections will happen sooner rather than later, possibly as early as August. If not, it'll be early 2019, right?
So, we've got several months ahead of this, for these discussions to go on. It is not surprising to see the leader of the Five Star Movement or the Northern League, you know screaming bloody murder here right now as we go forward.
Of course, this is in some ways a dream in the making. Their coalition talks had gotten to a certain level, but this gives them exactly what they're sort of agenda is fueled by, which is this anti- establishment rhetoric and so on.
So, we'll have to see how that really pans out. What's going to be interesting is whether or not they remain in conversation, or whether out of this, I would argue that the Five Star Movement, I think, is going to struggle. Some of its supporters were disappointed that they attempted to go into coalition with the far right movement.
VAUSE: So, is that why we're seeing opinion polls for the League sort of steadily improving since the election, whereas the Five Star Movement, they've kind of stagnated, they haven't really gone anywhere?
THOMAS: Right. With the Northern League, this is ideal in a way because it helps them build this anti-establishment agenda. They're already winning the game on the anti-immigration discourse. And, the question of sort of catabolizing (ph) Brussels for all the ills and problems that have to do with the Italian economy is an easy strategy.
But, they're going to have to be very careful that this actually does not turn, which is Mattarella's strategy, into exclusively a referendum on whether or not one should leave the European Union. Overwhelming support is for belonging to the European Union.
But, there is huge skepticism about what the European Union does and what it is to be blamed for, and this is where the Northern League has been very good in galvanizing the electorate, especially around questions of migration, austerity and so on.
VAUSE: Very quickly, what are the chances, especially if the Northern Leagues improves on the result they got in March? About 17 percent in March, next time, much higher?
THOMAS: No, there's no doubt about it, that they will improve and then the big question - - so no one will emerge from this with enough to govern singlehandedly. So, we're going to be back to coalition talks, which we know is in the DNA of the Italian system.
THOMAS: But still, this time around it has serious implications for Europe, for stability and so on.
VAUSE: Very quickly, if the Five Star Movement and the League emerge, one again, as the two major parties after the election, they try to form a coalition - - the president can't do this trick twice?
THOMAS: Well, he can, it's part of his . . .
VAUSE: Theoretically he can?
THOMAS: It's going to be increasingly difficult, but I think they're going to have to demonstrate greater political savviness in who they go about selecting. And what Mattarella would argue is that, if there's been an open and fair discussion in this new election about whether or not this is actually about leaving the European Union, or the fiscal single currency.
Then, he's okay with that and he's stated that, I'm not against having this discussion, but that's not what you ran on, and I'm not going to allow to appoint somebody to try and push that through.
VAUSE: Turmoil in Italian politics.
Who's to say such a thing?
THOMAS: We'll be back.
VAUSE: Thank you.
Next here on Newsroom L.A., hundreds of immigrant children are unaccounted for in the United States.
But, U.S. officials say they're not actually missing and they're not their legal responsibility anyway.
[01:31:39] VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.
I'm John Vause. We'll check the headlines this hour.
Negotiators from the U.S. and North Korea are working to refine the on-again, off-again summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Talks have been taking place in the Korean Demilitarized Zone as well as in Singapore where the summit is scheduled for June 12.
Italy (INAUDIBLE) for new elections after the president appointed Carlo Cottarelli as interim Prime Minister. He's a former official with the International Monetary fund and is promising to hold elections early next year. The two leading populist parties failed to form a government after the president rejected a Euro-skeptic nominee for economy minister.
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 officially ends on Tuesday. The plane carrying 239 people disappeared in 2014 flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in one of the world's biggest aviation mysteries. A U.S. company picked up the search early this year but Malaysian authorities say it will not extend the search anymore.
The U.S. government has placed thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children in sponsor homes yet by one official's own admission they had no idea where many of those children are right now. Health and Human Services claims the children are not lost but also argues it's no longer responsible for them anyway.
We have more now from CNN's Rosa Flores.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nearly 1,500 children falling through the cracks of a broken immigration system, raising questions about Attorney General Jeff Sessions new zero-tolerance policy that leads to separating more children from their parents and placing them in the custody of the United States government.
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you. And that child maybe separated from you as required by law.
FLORES: The Department of Health and Human Services publicly admitting last month that it had checked on 7,600 kids placed in sponsor homes and couldn't account for about 1,500.
SENATOR HEIDI HEITKAMP (D), NORTH DAKOTA: We're failing. I don't think there's any doubt about it. You are the worst foster parents in the world. You don't even know where they are.
FLORES: And the agency acknowledging it's not even trying to find where the kids are.
SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD (R), OKLAHOMA: We now have a child somewhere in the country that didn't appear in the court record and is not in their spot that we thought they were. Is there a pursuit trying to ferret where they are or what happens next?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is not a pursuit.
FLORES: Rick Santorum counterpointing the concern for the children expressed by senators on both sides of the aisle and suggested its sponsors failing to follow up with HHS does not mean the children are in danger.
Rick Santorum, former Republican senator: The idea that they're quote, "lost", I think is an overestimate -- is hyperbole to try to create an issue. I don't really think there is one.
FLORES: The findings from a 2016 Senate subcommittee report show the problem is it's partisan. That even during the Obama administration more oversight was needed.
The reports say HHS' policies and procedures are inadequate to protect the children in the agency's care. So much so the report found that the children were placed in the hands of human traffickers.
Like this case from 2014 in which a number of immigrants were forced to work at an egg farm in Ohio for up to 12 hours a day, six to seven days a week and in inhumane conditions and without pay.
[01:35:02] And even though federal officials say that legally, they don't need to find these children, they don't need to track them down and make sure that they're not in dangerous conditions, senators both Republican and Democrat raised the question -- does the United States have the moral responsibility to make sure that these children are not in danger?
Rosa Flores, CNN -- San Antonio Texas.
VAUSE: The deputy secretary of Health and Human Services says the reports of lost children are misleading; that their sponsors simply had not responded to follow-up calls from the department.
The U.S. embassy in Nicaragua will be closed Tuesday in anticipation of more demonstrations. Protesters are demanding President Daniel Ortega step down and it appears he's losing support from the Catholic Church as well as the private sector.
At least 77 people have reportedly been killed in these demonstrations which began last month after changes to social welfare.
Coming up on Wednesday, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has an exclusive report on an elite gang-fighting police squad in El Salvador which includes former members of a controversial unit alleged to have acted as a death squad. Here's a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's an undeclared war here in El Salvador -- elite police against MS-13, a gang menace that beheads, rapes, and terrorizes. And it's America's war, too because President Trump has declared MS-13 "animals" that must be eliminated. And these men are fighting with U.S. money and help.
We're headed now to one of the scenes of the more prominent killings (INAUDIBLE) deep inside gang territory carried out by what locals here say was effectively a police death squad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Tune in Wednesday for the rest of Nick's report showing 5:00 a.m. in London and noon in Hong Kong.
Well, Alberto has been downgraded to a subtropical depression but it's already claimed the lives of two journalists. We'll have details on that in just moment.
[01:40:02] VAUSE: Heavy rain and winds have passed through the southeastern U.S. as Alberto is downgraded to a subtropical depression and is now heading north.
It's left behind a path of damage and destruction. This video shows the moment a bridge collapsed in Cuba. Two people on the bridge actually managed to survive.
But in North Carolina the storm claimed two lives, news anchor Mike McCormick and photo journalist Aaron Smeltzer were killed when a tree fell on their car while covering the storm and have just told someone they interviewed to be safe.
Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now. You know, reporters out in those storms, I know we will do it but boy, you know, it's dangerous.
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is. Yes, even with one that, you know, do not have a tropical characteristic associated with them. They're not hurricanes. They're not large-scale systems. Still we often talk about it.
When it comes to fatalities with such systems it's not about the wind that really dictates the category, it's about the water element, the flooding concerns. Certainly the storm surge and that is what often the deadliest. In fact 90 percent of the lives lost with such features (ph) are related to the water element.
And there is what is left of Alberto at this hour across the southern tier of the state of Alabama. Notice they'll have some good symmetries; they'll have some organization and still plenty of thunderstorms to go around as well. And notice rainfall amounts -- 100, 150, 200 millimeters on already saturated soil and that is exactly what is leading to the flooding concern across this region.
And frankly this is going to slowly meander its way through the state of Alabama and spend seven to ten hours across the state before it eventually ends up across parts of the state of Tennessee and eventually on into the Midwestern United States.
So we do have about 30 million people that are underneath these flood watches at this hour. Any of these cities -- Birmingham, Atlanta, certainly on into Nashville, even around say Raleigh, North Carolina. You're going to have flooding concern. That's a lot of moisture that's being drawn in from the Gulf of Mexico in advance of this feature so heavy rainfall becomes the story on Tuesday, potentially on Wednesday as well.
And we certainly could see some travel disruptions across this region as the storm eventually pushes up towards the northern tier of the United States. And frankly the hurricane season officially starts on the first of June so we're a couple of days ahead of schedule here but you notice a lot of wet weather still in store over the next of couple of days as the system begins moving out this way through this northern tier of the U.S. -- John.
And watching this carefully here, again this is going to be a multi- day event set up here. And we do have tremendous heat north of this region so a lot of this rainfall going to be beneficial for some folks to the north where temperatures have been around 40 degrees Celsius or into the triple digits Fahrenheit across the northern United States for the last couple of days -- John.
VAUSE: Ok. Pedram -- thanks for the forecast. Thank you.
VAUSE: Emergency crews in the U.S. state of Maryland have been called out on at least 300 rescues over the holiday weekend after flash floods carried away cars and toppled buildings in Ellicott City not far from Baltimore. Officials confirm one person is still missing and the cleanup only just beginning. The historic area was still recovering from deadly flooding two years ago.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux has details.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heartbreaking, devastating, catastrophic -- that is what residents, business owners, as well as officials are telling me today.
Just take a look at this. This is what we have been watching here.
This was a parking lot full of cars -- people who were bustling around having a wonderful holiday weekend. Well, you can see like puzzle pieces, the pieces of this parking lot -- the asphalt there, the bulldozer -- they plucked these cars from the mud. They are since taken away.
This is the power of the water here just washing through the debris here, knocking down this fence. These businesses here -- all of them were submerged to the first level, completely under water. You see the power taking off the bark of the tree and then the debris, the blue dumpster as well as the tree and some of the furniture, pieces that were plucked out of the ravine earlier today as they assess the damage and try to allow people to get back to their homes to see what has happened so far.
Also a wedding that was here -- just yesterday the wedding announcement -- Kristen and Craig -- our producer Liz Turrell (ph) meeting them last night. They were able to exchange their vows but did not have time for the reception. The water just rushing so quickly, they grabbed their heels and they went running.
This is a story like so many stories of people here. This happened so fast that they just had to make do. I talked with many people. And this is one woman -- she was at a tea room -- this is how she described her escape.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was pretty scary and, you know, like I said people were crying and stuff because they were scared. And a lot of people didn't know how to swim.
MALVEAUX: And one person is missing, Edison Herman is his name. He is 39 years old. His friends say that he was trying to help a woman save her cat from one of these buildings when he was swept away by the water. So they are working fast and furious to see just what is the situation with him.
In the meantime the governor speaking out earlier today saying that he is committing emergency resources for those who need help with their rentals, their renovations or repairs; and as you can imagine this is absolutely devastating to a community.
[01:45:04] Ninety-six percent of the businesses that had come back since July of 2016; 20 additional businesses on Main Street in the area -- devastating for them because now they are once again destroyed.
Suzanne Malveaux, CNN -- Ellicott City, Maryland.
(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Well, no end in sight for the dangers posed by the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii. It continues to erupt, sending fire and debris into the sky. Lava has reached a geothermal power plant on the Big Island covering a well. The well is currently stable and secure according to Hawaii County Civil Defense.
The fast moving flow of lava has caused more residents to evacuate. About 240 people are not in shelters. 80 structures have been destroyed and volcanic smog remains a threat as long as Kilauea and surrounding fissure are active.
In northeast China, four people are hurt and 20,000 lost power after a tornado touched down in Jinan Province. You can see debris here flying through the air as the tornado moved through. It also ripped up dozens of trees and damaged houses.
In a neighboring province residents are dealing with heavy rain and hail -- some of those hailstones, the size of eggs. Plenty of vehicles were damaged in the storm hit by those giant hail stones.
Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., the new "Star Wars" film launched in theaters this weekend but its debut not as strong as the box office and the studio have expected.
VAUSE: Welcome back -- everybody.
Well, as we predicted here last week, it seems that maybe, just maybe there is a little bit of "Star Wars" fatigue out there. Take a look at the box office haul from "Solo: a Star War Story". It took in more than $100 million dollars in the U.S. during the four-day holiday weekend. That's good -- but maybe not good enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODY HARRELSON, ACTOR: If you come with us, you're in this life for good.
DONALD GLOBER, ACTOR: You might want to buckle up -- Baby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: $100 million -- to mere mortals and ordinary movies, that would have been pretty good but not in the "Star Wars" universe.
Here to discuss -- television and film journalist Sandro Monetti.
SANDRO MONETTI, TELEVISION AND FILM JOURNALIST: "Star Wars" in crisis -- John.
VAUSE: He's just totally --
VAUSE: I think I'll be going home. Yes -- $100 million. MONETTI: Yes.
VAUSE: Most movies would be thrilled, right? But -- so context. Here's how "Vanity" reported the box office.
"Solo", the second stand alone "Star Wars" anthology film has fallen far behind 2016's "Rogue One" which landed a three-day weekend opening of $155 million. The most recent installment in the franchise "Star Wars: the Last Jedi" opened less than six months ago with $220 million domestically.
So what you have here is that with "Solo" there was this expectation that it would bring in about $130 million to $150 million. It didn't happen.
VAUSE: $100 million -- that's why there is disappointment because in the "Star Wars" universe if you don't bring in the megabucks, you're going to lose it.
MONETTI: Well, the movie cost more than $250 million especially with all the re-shifts (ph) because as I said last week, this was a very troubled shoot. And the movie really crashed internationally as well.
"Star Wars" historically, as a franchise, has been a 50-50 franchise. That means it makes as much on a weekend in North America as it does internationally.
MONETTI: But only $65 million internationally, this is -- this is more than a disturbance in the force. This is a disaster.
[01:50:05] VAUSE: This is a disturbance in the bank balance.
VAUSE: Ok. So that then gets to the big question of why? What happened? What went wrong?
Some say -- we talked about it. It's been less than three years, we've had four "Star Wars" movies starting with "The Force Awakens". Before that it had been a decade before we had a "Star Wars" movie. Too many, too soon?
MONETTI: Overkill --
MONETTI: -- that's the main -- that's the main reason. The last "Star Wars" movie was out five months ago. It looks in many ways, this film, like a cynical cash grab by Disney. They've really got to question the whole positioning of the "Star Wars" universe now I think going forward. Because surely they could have waited to bring it out at Christmas and then it would be more of an event -- a year between "Star Wars" movies. Five, six months is not enough time.
VAUSE: There was a lot of competition at the box office over the Memorial Day weekend. But "Star Wars", you know, "Solo" -- it was -- it was the only sort of new offering over the weekend. I mean everything else has been in theaters for a while and therefore -- and yet, it still -- I mean it came in number one but didn't do as well as everyone expected.
So what I'm saying is that, you know, it was the only new offering out there and still didn't do so well.
MONETTI: You say that but there was nothing new about it.
MONETTI: This is the trouble with the "Star Wars" universe. The films are very much the same. And why Marvel is having so much success at the moment, they're using edgy directors and each film is very different from the previous one.
"Thor: Ragnarok", "Black Panther", "Avengers: Infinity War" -- yes they're all in the same universe but they're very different. You're not quite sure what you're going to see. This was very, very predictable.
And that was the problem. And also this is the prequel nobody wanted.
I mean what next? "Chewbacca: the College Years"? "Jabba the Hutt Goes to High School"?
VAUSE: Yes, Jabba the Hutt when he was thin.
MONETTI: Yes, exactly.
VAUSE: The lean days.
MONETTI: Yes, the lean days.
But there's a serious point behind that. It's too much of a good thing --
VAUSE: They're going to kill the goose who laid -- you know, the golden --
VAUSE: But look, the case of -- the only issue was "Rogue One" which is also a stand-alone spin off which did really, really well and people were praised. The theory is that because "Rogue One" was actually tied a lot closer to the original "Star Wars" franchise, you know, it was all about getting the plans to destroy the Death Star, you know, in "A New Hope", the original "Star Wars" movie.
The problem was that "Solo" was just like some random adventure that no one really too, you know, about.
MONETTI: Well, exactly. And in "Rogue One" we didn't know the characters so there was a level of suspense. With "Solo", you know what happens to him for the rest of his life, so every time he's in jeopardy in the movie, there's no real high stakes there because you know he's not going to die.
VAUSE: But the other thing though about "Rogue One" is that we knew the outcome. We knew they go the plans but there was no certainty of how it all happened. There was still the mystery or whatever.
MONETTI: Yes. And it's interesting because Kathleen Kennedy who rules the "Star Wars" universe headed Lucasfilm for the first time it's coming in for criticism. There is lots of moves on Twitter that's like Fire Kathleen Kennedy. I'm not sure that's the problem but there does need to be a serious rethink because yes, Disney's making so much money from the theme parks, the merchandise but it just look cynical. They could have waited.
VAUSE: Yes. Well, it's all about (INAUDIBLE). It was a Disney casualty.
MONETTI: But I get some humor (ph) --
MONETTI: I think -- I think modern moviegoers are savvy enough to understand that. Now, I've seen "Solo", I really liked it. It was pretty good. But pretty good is not enough.
VAUSE: It's all south (ph).
MONETTI: It needs to be amazing.
VAUSE: I remember the kid in me as I was there for the original "Star Wars" when I was, you know, I was at the movie theater and it was a thrill. And it was exciting. I feel like oh my gosh, there's going to be another one in two years' time?
Now, it's six months -- it was this countdown that takes just patience (ph), the build up. And it was messing -- oh my God a "Star Wars" movie. The films was too close (ph).
MONETTI: And I think that's the problem because people were waiting to see the reviews, you know. If it's great, I'll go and see it first weekend. The reviews were tepid, lukewarm, about 71.1 percent.
So people were like, I will wait to see it on streaming in three months, you know, the way people consume entertainment is different. And there wasn't enough desire to go because of the troubled production. The reviews were sort of good but not great. And of course, nobody really wanted to see this story.
Although I would credit Alden Ehrenreich, he was very good as Han Solo.
VAUSE: But this is the thing because they were betting a lot that the audience would love a movie about Han Solo because the character was one of the most beloved rogue characters in the whole "Star Wars" universe.
Here's my question. People love Han Solo played by Harrison Ford and that's where the success of the character is. And maybe Alden Ehrenreich just didn't manage to live up to what Harrison Ford had done with his character and he was trying to fill some pretty big shoes. And let's face it, you know, it would be difficult for anyone to try and, you know, reach the same level of, you know, playing whatever Harrison Ford managed to do with his character.
MONETTI: People love "Indiana Jones" --
[01:55:00] MONETTI: But when "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicle" landed on television 25 years ago, Sean Patrick Flanery was very great in the role but nobody had any particular affection for the series.
MONETTI: It's about the mark of a star and a star associated with a particular role. And so a Han Solo movie without Harrison Ford is kind of dumb (ph) -- it's kind of dumb, you know.
VAUSE: All right. Very quickly --
MONETTI: They should have digitized him and made him young again.
VAUSE: Like they did with Carrie Fisher -- (INAUDIBLE) forever.
MONETTI: They've got the technology.
VAUSE: Why not.
MONETTI: Spent $250 million -- (INAUDIBLE).
VAUSE: Ok. Very quickly -- you also touched on this. So now, does Disney like take a big, hard look at itself --
VAUSE: And say what are we doing?
MONETTI: There's a Marvel (ph) movie coming out I think in 2020. There's another "Star Wars" movie scheduled for December next year. So you know these things are still coming out of the production line. Do they say, you know, Solo is down do we then sort of get back to making these movies' moments special and, you know, maybe space them out a little bit and -- MONETTI: Yes. And they need to learn from what Marvel is doing which
is also part of the Disney family. And we've seen Warner Brothers and D.C. sort of struggle with the take on these superheroes.
And "Star Wars" and "Deadpool" and all these other movies, they're competing for the same audience.
MONETTI: So you've got to look at it -- you can't be arrogant enough to think well, it's "Star Wars" they'll always show up.
We've proven by the results this weekend that isn't going to happen. A huge rethink is needed.
VAUSE: And then the other thing too, if you lose them -- if you lose that loyalty, boy, it's hard to get it back, isn't it?
MONETTI: It really is, you know, especially when you touched on this earlier when you were talking well, you've got make the cash. No one wants to be used as like a funnel for the cash. We want it for Disney. They've got enough money --
MONETTI: So yes, there's a problem. May the force be with Disney -- they'll need it.
VAUSE: Oh gosh. Ok. Thank you. Good to see you.
You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Thanks for being with us. I'm John Vause.
Please join us on Twitter @CNNNEWSROOMLA for highlights and clips of the show.
Stay with us because I will be back with more news right after this.
[02:00:01] VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.
Ahead this hour --
It's on. It's off. It's on again. Maybe off. Who knows? Well, at least for now the historic summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un might just be happening after all.