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Trump: ABC Never Called to Apologize to Me; White House: No One's Defending What Barr Said; First Lady Hasn't Been Seen in Nearly Three Weeks; Top Diplomats From U.S. and North Korea Meet in New York; Russian Journalist Arkady Babchenko Alive and Well; Roseanne Barr Blames Ambien for Twitter Rant; Calm Returns after Intense Flare Up; Hawaiians Warned to Get Out Now; Trump Talks the Talk but Doesn't Walk the Walk. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired May 31, 2018 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:10] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles.
Ahead this hour, how Donald Trump took national outrage over Roseanne Barr's racist Tweet and made it all about him, and at the same time, avoided any talk of racism (inaudible).
One of North Korea's most powerful men is in New York meeting with the secretary of state. A high level face-to-face, which could prove crucial to the fate of this month's summit.
Dead for a day, the Russian reporter and Kremlin critic fooled everyone, even his wife, all part of an elaborate scheme to outwit would-be assassins.
VAUSE: Hello and thank you for joining us. I'm John Vause, glad to have you with us. This is Newsroom L.A.
The White House says Donald Trump is too focused on running the country to be concerned about Roseann Barr and her controversial Tweet.
That did not stop the president, though, from weighing in on Wednesday. Not to condemn the comedian's racist remarks comparing an African American woman, Valerie Jarrett, who was an Obama advisor, to an ape, but to complain about the way he's been treated in the past. Here's the Tweet.
"Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that ABC does not tolerate comments like those made by Roseanne Barr. Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the horrible statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn't get the call?" Here's how the White House explained the Tweet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president's pointing to the hypocrisy in the media saying the most horrible things about this president and nobody addresses it. Where was Bob Iger's apology to the White House staff for Jamele Hill calling the president, and anyone associated with him, a white supremacist? To Christians around the world for Joy Behar calling Christianity a mental illness?
Where was the apology for Kathy Griffin going on a profane rant against the president on 'The View' after a photo showed her holding President Trump's decapitated head? This is a double standard that the president is speaking about. No one is defending her comments, they're inappropriate, but that was the point that he was making.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Okay. Joining us here now, in Los Angeles, Democratic strategist, Robin Swanson, and CNN Political Commentator, Republican strategist, John Thomas.
Robert, what was really new to Sarah Sanders, on Wednesday, was that she came into the White House briefing room, she had this prepared statement - - that statement had nothing to do with Roseanne Barr and the Tweets, and racism, you know, trying to bring the country back together. It was a list of insults leveled at her boss, the president, and it was focusing on a journalist, a host and a comedian, who'd been mean to him.
ROBIN SWANSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Boy, and they really missed an opportunity to show some moral leadership and you know - - cry me a river, there are lots people who could use the President of the United States standing up and maybe he should apologize. Maybe he should apologize to the Kahn (ph) family, to the Gold Star families, to all the people that he's insulted, to the Mexicans, to the Muslims, and he hasn't don't that either.
So, how about he actually takes a stand against something that was overtly racist? This is an opportunity, he missed it.
VAUSE: John, even if you don't take into account the fact that ESPN released this statement at the time, criticizing the remarks made by Jamele Hill. Joy Behar on 'The View', publically apologized for her remarks against Christianity, you know, and directed at Vice President, Mike Pence, and also, the fact that Kathy Griffin lost her job on CNN co-hosting special events.
I mean, these are all either apologies or explanations, or accountability, you know, which I think is what the president was asking for in that Tweet about why ABC never held anybody else accountable, or condemned them.
You know, what we have here is that Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, and the president, seem to be complaining all these non- racist insults - - these sort of non-bigoted insults, with what Roseann Barr Tweeted, which was a vile racist, mean spirited Tweet.
By doing that, it seems their trying to downplay what Roseanne Barr had done?
JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think they're trying to downplay it because --
Yes, but Sarah Sanders made it clear that they're not at all saying what she said was okay or right, but it's just the conversation has completely shifted now, self-inflicted. But, the conversation has shifted to what was the president saying with his Tweet? It became about the president, more so about Roseanne.
The trouble this White House has, is they're always in defense mode. Instead of getting out in front of the story, they become the story, and it happens time and time again.
VAUSE: Because they are putting you know those attacks on the president and you know, some argue the fact that he kind of invites this or whatever, because of his own style of going on the front foot all the time. But, you know, you wouldn't say that the comments made that Sarah Sanders highlighted are on the same level as what Roseanne Barr Tweeted?
THOMAS: Those were weak examples of it. I can quote many other examples of where people have called Trump some terribly heinous things.
VAUSE: But, they were looking up examples from ABC?
[01:05:00] SWANSON: Yes, and he inserted himself in the conversation, so you would hope that he would insert himself in a way that actually uplifts the nation, that actually brings people together, but he didn't do that. He divided more and that's what Sarah Sanders is doing, and they have this whole rubber-glue theory - - bounces off me, sticks to you.
THOMAS: First of all, everything is about Donald Trump, I mean to him, number one. But also, I think Trump shrewdly understands that this is an "us versus them" moment. Any time you can pick a fight and put you know the regular folks against the out of control media and try to hurt their credibility, he's going to do that.
VAUSE: But what was interesting is, you know, I watched Fox News, so you don't have to --
-- and there was a couple of interesting moments on Fox on Wednesday and this was one of them. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: The president missed an opportunity today. Here, it would have been so easy, I mean, when I was with him I said you need more black people around - - I think you have an opportunity here, just a passing phrase. You know, everything he said, but start it with, this is abhorrent, this is awful.
I don't condone this, as much as I like her comedy, this wasn't funny. You know, it - - it - - it would have been easy for him to reach out and to deny the naysayers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And Robin, you know, Geraldo Rivera proving yet again that a broken clock is right twice a day - - wasn't the only one, there was this subtle shift on Fox of you know, not always going to the barricades and the trenches for the president.
This time they kind of stepped back, and even for Fox to say, "Hey, he could have handled this better, the racist remarks are completely and totally unacceptable."
SWANSON: Yes, and I think that's right, and I think what's interesting is he's trying to make something rational that's irrational. So, Donald Trump's need to insert himself and make everything about him - - I'm not a psychotherapist, but if I was, I'd probably diagnose him as a grand narcissist - - of all things, to make it all about him.
And yes, to actually step up and do the right thing is harder and you know, I think Geraldo Rivera was appealing to traits that perhaps the president is incapable of exhibiting like empathy.
Well, this is an odd moment to segue into a new book about President Obama, with some revealing details like this one line that we have here.
This was after the election of Donald Trump and he's quoted as saying, "Maybe this is what people want. I've got the economy set up well for him. No facts. No consequences. They can just have a cartoon." Obama added, "We're about to find out just how resilient our institutions are, at home and around the world."
VAUSE: So, John, is this the presidency a minority of voters wanted in the U.S.?
(CROSSTALK) THOMAS: Yes. I mean, I think Trump is more of a reflection. Chris
Mathews, on a political podcast this week, I think put it really succinctly and he said when people are looking for change, they elect somebody who's different than what happened before. Americans were looking for something different and they definitely got something different.
SWANSON: He's different.
THOMAS: It - - it - - it's no more complicated than that.
VAUSE: Yes, the pendulum always swings to the extremes.
Another part of the book - - this is for Robin, because it's got the Russian interference in the U.S. election. Because this is a fact which often goes overlooked in this whole Russia investigation, and who did what and when.
"Mr. Obama had authorized a statement to be issued by intelligence agency leaders a month before the election warning of Russian interference, but was thwarted from doing more because Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, refused to go along with a bipartisan statement."
"Mr. Rhodes", this is Ben Rhodes who wrote the book, who was the Deputy National Security Advisor, "called Mr. McConnell's refusal 'staggeringly partisan and unpatriotic."
VAUSE: Robin, in hindsight, Rhodes is right.
SWANSON: Yes, and I think what's devastating about all of this is you look back and you see, sort of, as to somebody is acting presidential and how somebody is reflecting, and how to negotiate and how to act with dignity, and we're just not seeing that now.
And so, yes, I think sort of the prophecy in some of that is devastating to look back on now.
VAUSE: And John, this isn't something which a lot of people just seem to gloss over, or unaware of, that you know the Obama administration did want to go out an warn the country about Russian interference, but because of the political climate, they needed that to be bipartisan and McConnell said no.
THOMAS: I think that's a convenient scapegoat. In fact, it is what I understand to be is the exact opposite. The reason Barack Obama didn't make the statement is because he thought that Hillary had this thing in a walk. That if he started appearing to interfere with the election by making these alarmist statements, that Hillary when she won, would be considered like Trump was sandbagged at the last moment.
So, I actually think it was politics. VAUSE: It did go to McConnell, though, and he refused to be part of it.
THOMAS: That is true, yes.
VAUSE: Okay. Let's finish up with the mystery of Melania. The first lady has not been seen in public for 20 days now - - coming up to 21, ever since her surgery for what was it, a benign kidney thingamajig?
[01:10:00] THOMAS: Yes.
VAUSE: Rest assured, though, she sent word via Twitter all is well. "I see the media is working overtime speculating where I am & what I'm doing. Rest assured, I'm here at the White House with my family, feeling great, and working hard on behalf of children and the American people!"
VAUSE: Yes, so it sounds like the first lady, John, but one savvy Twitter user pointed out that the 'media working overtime', that's a favorite phrase used by the president.
And there's talk that maybe this isn't exactly a Tweet from the first lady, maybe it's Donald Trump pretending to be the first lady.
THOMAS: I would suspect that's it.
THOMAS: But also, you know, I don't think Melania is a heavy Tweeter. I don't think that's exactly what she likes to do and this is another example where Trump likes to stick it to the media, because there has been so much speculation about what's wrong (inaudible), is she looking for a divorce?
VAUSE: Is she hanging out with the Obama's?
SWANSON: But honestly, every other day the porn star's in the news, so you know why would she want to make herself public when her husband is having to answer for paying money to a porn star? I think - - I don't blame her.
THOMAS: Although, to Melania's credit, her popularity is shooting through the roof.
SWANSON: Well, of course.
VAUSE: Doing nothing, by staying completely silent.
THOMAS: She's more popular than Laura Bush was. More popular than Michelle Obama, which is really --
SWANSON: When your husband is a philanderer in a situation, you get empathy.
VAUSE: I didn't really care where the first lady was. I mean I hoped she was okay and all that, but I wasn't really interested, but by putting this Tweet out, which is clearly almost certainly not written by her, but where is she?
THOMAS: To the Trump's defense, I've seen a handful of stories over the last couple of days from major outlets like, 'it's been X amount of days and Melania's nowhere to be found'. It's like why are we even commenting on this?
VAUSE: Because she hasn't been seen in public for 20 days, which is weird.
SWANSON: And I will say that there is a role for the first lady. When you look back at what Michelle Obama did and that she created a whole platform around childhood obesity, and that actually became a really relevant thing.
And I think Melania's thing was supposed to be cyberbullying --
VAUSE: Yes, well --
SWANSON: So, she could really get out there, even just on Twitter and talk about cyberbullying, I don't know.
VAUSE: The reason I guess is because, obviously, there have been what appears to be strains in the relationship and all this talk about Stormy Daniels, which has sort of died down a little bit now. But then she went to hospital and that was it.
VAUSE: Where is she?
Okay. Free Melania is trending on Twitter, apparently.
Okay. Well, hopefully she'll be out by the weekend wherever she's being held.
John and Robin, thank you.
THOMAS: Thanks, John.
VAUSE: Well, the former spy chief of North Korea in New York and breaking bread with the U.S. Secretary of State,
Kim Yong Chol is the most senior North Korean official to set foot in the U.S. in almost 18 years. He's laying the groundwork with Mike Pompeo for the summit, less than two weeks away - - next month.
Let's bring in our Paula Hancocks, in Seoul.
Okay, Paula, after the meeting - - the dinner meeting, Mike Pompeo Tweeted this.
"Good working dinner with Kim Yong Chol in New York tonight. Steak, corn and cheese on the menu."
Okay. Apart from the fact they should've probably eaten fish, salad and fruit - - any other deals to emerge from this high level face-to- face?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, they've not been giving many details. What we're hearing from state department officials is that the point of this meeting is to make sure that these two men get to know each other even better, saying half of diplomacy is knowing who you're talking to, knowing what the other side wants.
We have two top aides here, who are both speaking for the leader, Kim Yong Chol really has become known as the right hand man to Kim Jong- un. The very fact the North Korean leader sent him to the U.S. shows how important he is to this whole process.
And what we're hearing from the state department official is that the North Koreans have consistently said that they need nuclear weapons in order to have security. What the U.S. is trying to do is to convince them that actually having these nuclear weapons makes them less secure.
So they want to convince them the other way, and also what they're saying is they want something historic from this. They want something that the North Koreans have not offered before. Now they're not giving us any kind of indication of what that would be.
But also saying the U.S. President potentially willing to stay in Singapore longer than just this one day meeting if they believe that they are close to getting that.
John. VAUSE: It's a long way to come for steak, corn and cheese, and a getting to know you dinner. Especially given the fact that you know, Kim was under sanctions and they had to be waivered so he could actually arrive in the country. He's only allowed to sort of go as far as New York apparently, can't go to Washington.
As you say, he's believed to speak for Kim Jong-un. So, given this high level you know meeting between these two men, it indicates that there is something big on the table, that maybe there was some decision or something that had to be resolved for this summit to go ahead.
[01:15:00] So, again what could we be looking at here? Because there is some talk that maybe this was sort of the crucial make-or-break moment ahead of the summit.
HANCOCKS: Well, that's right. You have at the same time, this U.S. delegation here in South Korea, who's been meeting with the North Koreans a couple of times up at the DMZ. We understand from - - from - - from those familiar with relations between the U.S. and North Korea, they're staying at least another day.
That headed up by Sung Kim, who has in the past negotiated with the North Koreans. He knows what he is doing. So, the fact that you do have, on top of that, this very high level delegation being sent by Kim Jong-un does potentially show that it could be a make-or-break meeting.
Certainly, there was something that was important enough not to talk about over the telephone, not to talk about at the delegation level between North and South Korea. It had to be the two representatives from the U.S. and the North Korean leader.
Now, there have been a myriad of reports as to what this big historic issue could be. Whether it's an agreement to send North Korea's nuclear weapons over to the United States, or if this is being discussed, but clearly there was something that was important to get to the point of the summit.
But, bear in mind, John, usually this is happening behind the scenes, this is usually happening for months in advance before this kind of summit. This is all very rushed, because it has to be very rushed, June 12th is less than two weeks away.
Although of course, we did hear from Sarah Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, that if they're not ready by June 12th, it could maybe be July 12th.
VAUSE: Well, that's what she says. The president says something completely different. Well, I guess we'll wait and see. We say that so much with this administration.
Paula, thank you.
Up next, it sounds like a murder mystery, but it's actually real life.
Ukraine admits it faked the killing of a Russian journalist. We'll tell you how and why the bizarre plot unfolded.
And, with the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season about to begin, the White House has defended its response to last year's devastation in Puerto Rico. And there are questions, will the island be ready this time?
VAUSE: Welcome back everybody.
Reports of his death were greatly exaggerated and deliberately so.
[01:20:00] Russian journalist, Arkady Babchenko, appeared at a news conference alive and well, just a day after he was believed to have died. All part of an elaborate plot to foil an assassination plan.
Fred Pleitgen has details.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A bizarre twist of events in the alleged killing of a prominent Russian journalist, who's critical of the Kremlin and who had fled to Ukraine in 2017 after it was reported that Arkady Babchenko was killed outside his home in Kiev. Hours later, it turns out that he is actually alive.
Now, Mr. Babchenko turned up at a press conference in Kiev together with members of the Ukrainian security services and he said all of it had been staged. Because the security services had gotten wind of a plot that they claim was directed from Russia to kill Mr. Babchenko.
He said that he went along with the plot and even his wife did not know about it. He apologized to her, saying that he knew that she must have gone through hell in the hours that she thought that he was dead.
Now, the Ukrainian security services said that the operation that they had involving the faking of the killing of Mr. Babchenko was a success. They say that they captured a person that they believe was behind the attempted murder and that $40,000 had been paid. Again, they say that they believe all of this was directed by Russia.
Now, of course all of this is leading to increased tensions between Russia and the Ukrainians. The Ukrainians are hailing this as a big success, but the Russians are very angry because in the meantime they had been accused by the Ukrainians of allegedly killing Mr. Babchenko when it still seemed that he was dead.
Now, a member of Russia's parliament came out and gave a statement, part of it reads, "Kiev in the situation with the alleged attempt to kill Babchenko, committed a stupid provocation against Russia and is now disgraced in the eyes of the world." (END VIDEOTAPE)
PLEITGEN: Ukraine's President, Petro Poroshenko, obviously sees that very difficult. He praised his intelligence services for conducting this operation.
Fred Pleitgen, Moscow, Russia.
VAUSE: The White House has defended its disaster response in Puerto Rico following a study which puts a dramatically high death toll there.
According to a report from Harvard University more than 4,600 people died in Hurricane Maria and its aftermath, Puerto Rico's official death toll is 64. The authors of the report say their estimate underscores the inattention of the U.S. government as well as the frail infrastructure on the island.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president take the situation in Puerto Rico extremely seriously and the administration has been monitoring that from the beginning. We've been supportive of Governor Rossello's efforts to ensure full accounting and transparency, and those who have suffered from this tragedy deserve nothing less than that.
The two category 4 hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico were historic and we've responded with the largest FEMA operation in history. And, we're going to continue to work with the people of Puerto Rico and do everything we can to be helpful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: For more now, CNN's National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem, is with us from Cambridge, Massachusetts. She's a professor at Harvard University, former assistant secretary for the Department of Homeland Security and a friend of the show, but it's been a while, so thank you for coming back.
Juliette, I just heard blah, blah, blah, then from Sarah Sanders. So, let's just start with the obvious question here. Why did it take so long to get something close to an accurate death toll? Why was this left to a bunch of researchers at Harvard? And, at a minimum, this seems to be a profound lack of respect to not even officially count the dead.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Exactly. It's called death and dignity, right? That it was bad enough that they died from a disaster that happens, but to take an official accounting of them doesn't seem to have been of much interest to the Trump administration. So, the discrepancy in the numbers basically is this - - just to put
it out there, is there is official number which essentially comes from coroners in Puerto Rico. Well, we know that Puerto Rico was completely eviscerated, there was no electricity, people weren't showing up to work.
What the Harvard study did was they essentially did a sort of community based study, which is they went from house to house to access who had lost whom and what happened to that body. That accounting has happened - - that's the methodology works in disaster management.
It happens generally in third world countries and it gave the number that far exceeds anything - - let's just say it's more than double Hurricane Katrina. So, the extent of the devastation in Puerto Rico, we're just beginning to understand at this stage.
VAUSE: In fact I think it's almost three times because Katrina was about 1,800, we're looking at 4,600. So, the numbers are staggering.
You know, you and I were talking about the U.S. President's trip to Puerto Rico when he finally got there, that was two weeks after the storm. You know, you remember Trump was quick to claim credit for what, at the time, appeared to be a low death toll. Here's a reminder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous - - hundreds and hundreds, and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overpowering.
[01:25:20] Nobody's ever seen anything like this. What is your death count as of this moment? Seventeen?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Sixteen certified.
TRUMP: Sixteen people certified. Sixteen people versus in the thousands. You can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Makes you wonder how proud the president is right now? And if this is now a real catastrophe?
You know, if you take the credit for the low death toll, it obviously seems to follow that you get blamed when that number goes up.
Especially when the Harvard study points out about a third of all deaths were due to delayed or prevented access to medical care. So, maybe a faster emergency response may have prevented or at least in part mitigated?
KAYYEM: That's exactly right. So, these are known as avoidable deaths, right?
KAYYEM: These are ones that are caused by the hurricane, but could have been avoided if these services had been delivered. So, obviously this matters for moral reasons and humanitarian reasons, and for respect for the dead. But, it also matters from a disaster management perspective because there will be more hurricanes and the United States failure to sort of access realistically what happened in Puerto Rico.
How did people die, right? Did they die from starvation? From lack of medicine? From water?
And what could we have done better to prevent those avoidable deaths, will make us better for the next hurricane, whether it happens on Puerto Rico or Guam, or in Florida.
And so, it's not only that you know the U.S. didn't seem to care for proper accounting of these numbers, it's also putting us in a worse position and making us more vulnerable for the next hurricane. I don't have to remind everyone it's Thursday now, hurricane season begins on Friday.
VAUSE: Yes, we'll get to that in a moment, but the other thing about this report is that we know how difficult the past few months have been for Puerto Ricans there.
The study found that after the storm - - this is the average household, the average, you know they went 41 days without cell phone service, 68 days without water, 84 days without electricity. What sort of outrage were there have been on the U.S. mainland, if this was not Puerto Rico, but you know Rhode Island or maybe another island like Hawaii? Or, even a major state like Texas?
KAYYEM: I mean, you know you don't go two days without everyone complaining that there's been a total meltdown. I mean this is - - it helps to have Senators, right? I mean in the sense that you get noisy Senators from Texas or California, or whatever state is facing the disaster, and they demand we resources and they demand money, and they demand that the U.S. government helps them and they complain loudly when they don't.
What happened in Puerto Rico is because the voices in Puerto Rico weren't being amplified by people in D.C., that its territorial status really made it you know a sort of neglected afterthought in many ways. Even though these are U.S. citizens and it's just shameful you know across the board.
But, I view it as sort of a political shame because they just didn't have people in D.C. being able to sort of pound the pavement for you, as you might have with Ted Cruz in Texas or Elizabeth Warren here in Massachusetts, or Diane Feinstein in California.
VAUSE: Very quickly, let's talk about the hurricane season, which is starting, as you say, on Friday. Obvious concerns for Puerto Rico, if they're prepared, especially the power system which took that huge hit during Maria. Here's part of a report from The Washington Post.
"Crews are working against the clock to shore up a dilapidated system that took way longer to repair than anyone expected and their work is largely returning the grid to its prior state, which everyone knows couldn't handle a big storm."
VAUSE: If that's the best case scenario they're looking at then this seems to be a pretty ominous sign that things aren't good.
KAYYEM: Yes, that's not a resilient system. I mean the idea that you're going to build it exactly as it was, knowing that there will be more and more hurricanes, and given climate change, that they're going to be more intense, they're going to be longer and they are going to be more frequent.
It's just basically throwing good money away, but it shows the sort of lack of planning, the sort of piece meal response that we saw from the federal government. You know, and look, Puerto Rico had a lot of inefficiencies, a lot of challenges to its critical infrastructure, before the hurricane.
[01:29:48] The idea that you would build this back to where it was before it's like, you know, it's like you know, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.
I mean this is -- it's absolutely ridiculous from a resiliency perspective knowing what Puerto Rico is going to face.
VAUSE: Yes. And of course, our prayers are with them and we hope for the best but obviously, you know, we'll see what happens.
VAUSE: Juliette -- thank you. As always, thanks so much.
Well, still ahead this hour, Roseanne Barr's ex-husband Tom Arnold will be with us to try to answer that one really big question. Why did she do it?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.
North Korea's former spy chief Kim Yong Chol met over dinner with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday night in New York. They're laying the groundwork for next month's potential summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.
The State Department says North Korea must do things they have not done before if this summit is to go ahead.
A Russian journalist thought to have been murdered in Ukraine is actually very much alive. Arkady Babchenko, an outspoken critic of the Kremlin appeared on television a day after reports of his death. Ukraine's security service says his death was faked to foil a Russian assassination plot.
Roseanne Barr is blaming the sleep drug Ambien for the tweet that led ABC to cancel her TV show. The comedian says she's not a racist, just an idiot who made a bad joke. Donald Trump did not condemn her racist remark. Instead he complained about the horrible things people say about him on ABC.
And this is far from the first time Roseanne Barr's offensive behavior has sparked national outrage -- from her screeching version of the national anthem to dressing up as Hitler. Despite it all she recently told "People Magazine" she wouldn't change a thing.
We get more now from Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Off key and shrieking at times, Roseanne Barr was hard to listen to as she sang the national ahem back in 1990 at the old Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego.
And when she was done, Barr cemented this moment in history. First she grabbed her crotch, then she spit as if to mock baseball players. President George Bush slammed her performance on board Air Force One.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My reaction is it was disgraceful. That's the way I feel about it. And I think a lot of the San Diego fans said the same thing.
KAYE: Barr eventually apologized. She spoke about it on CNN more than two decades later.
ROSEANNE BARR, COMEDIAN: I think the lesson here is people make mistakes and then they, you know, after they've apologized 9,000 times they should be forgiven and it should be forgotten.
[01:35:01] KAYE: In 2015 Barr told the "Washington Post", "I started too high. I knew about six notes in that I couldn't hit the big note. So I just tried to get through it."
And the crotch grab? She told "The Post" if the song had gone better she would have taken a longer beat between the anthem and her, quote, "tribute to the players". But she just wanted to get out of there.
Roseanne Barr had never been a stranger to controversy. Back in 2009 Barr, who was born Jewish, did this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At her request she was photographed as Hitler for a Jewish humor magazine. Apparently she's mocking the Holocaust.
KAYE: As part of that shoot Barr baked what she called little Jew cookies. Barr later said she was making fun of Hitler, not his victims.
A year later in 2010, after singer Marie Osmond's son committed suicide, Barr suggested he did so because he was gay and the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints drove him to take his life. She later apologized after learning Osmond's son was not gay but didn't back down from her views on the church.
In recent years she's been known for her tweets promoting wild right- wing conspiracy theories. In one she accused Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg of giving the Nazi salute.
And in another she suggested that President Trump helped to break up a child sex trafficking ring that was run by prominent Democrats. The ring supposedly was based out of a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant and dubbed the pizzagate conspiracy theory. It was all made up.
Just a couple of months ago while promoting her return to television it was trademark Roseanne. When host Jimmy Kimmel questioned her about a tweet she allegedly posted suggesting Hillary Clinton was a murderer, this was her response.
JIMMY KIMMELL, TV HOST: You know I'm going to find that tweet in like 40 seconds --
BARR: I deleted it. So (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you.
KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN -- New York.
VAUSE: Actor, comedian, and writer on the original "Roseanne" series Tom Arnold joins me now. Tom -- thanks for being with us.
TOM ARNOLD, ACTOR: You bet -- buddy.
VAUSE: You know, I should mention that you were also married to Roseanne for four years. I'm just curious have you been in touch with her or been in touch with those who are around her right now? Do you have any idea what she's thinking? How she's dealing with essentially being at the epicenter of, you know, a national controversy?
ARNOLD: Well, I have -- I haven't talked to her. I hear her kids are with her, which is great. And she's getting support from people. I'm sure she -- I hope she feels remorseful. She did an awful, awful thing. And I'm sure that at some point she's going to feel a lot of regret and I hope she's able to figure this out and make amends to a lot of people and learn from this so she can tell other people look -- don't do this.
There's a lot of insanity going on in this country because we have this white trash, racist president just perpetuating this.
VAUSE: You know, Roseanne promised to get off Twitter but she keeps tweeting -- more than 100 posts I think in the last 24 hours.
I'll read you one.
VAUSE: It was 2:00 in the morning and I was on Ambien tweeting -- I was Ambien tweeting, rather. It was Memorial Day too. I went too far. Do not want to defend it. It was egregious, indefensible. I made a mistake. I wish I hadn't but don't defend it please. That was to some of her supporters.
The makers of Ambien tweeted back basically saying racism is not a known side effect from the medication. So here's the question.
VAUSE: Do you buy this Ambien excuse?
VAUSE: Or, is Roseanne a racist?
ARNOLD: No, no. Here's the thing. She has been a racist for several years. If you follow her social media, she's gotten in the groove with all these racists. And they just keep churning out this racist stuff day after day.
This isn't new. I mean I've been pointing it out on Twitter like why is somebody not commenting about this from her network. This is outrageous. There's thousands -- hundreds of thousands of people following her doing the same thing.
I said take her phone away, do something. This is -- nobody else can get away with this. They have a show on after hers. It's called "Black-ish". And if one of the black actors, like Anthony Anderson my friend that's on the show did this he'd be fired just doing it once.
I mean I'm Jewish. If he did it about a Jew, he'd be out, man. So there's -- it's a hypocrisy. And his network did a bad job.
Here's the thing. ABC is in an all or nothing situation. They should have done something in the middle like along the way. I kept suggesting take away her phone. Turn off her Wi-Fi. There's something in the middle and people kept saying oh, she has her First Amendment, you know. Well, here you go. And now everybody's lost their job. You know, the show, there's a lot of feelings -- now they can't even run reruns for a while.
VAUSE: I was going to say, they did get a lot of praise for acting very quickly when ABC --
[01:40:01] ARNOLD: Yes, they did.
VAUSE: But you don't think they did the right thing. You thought they should have what -- taken another path?
ARNOLD: No, no. No, they did the right thing. They did, too.
ARNOLD: And Bob Iger, the guy who did it -- you know, Bob Iger we go back -- I remember him coming over to our house and helping when Roseanne wouldn't go to work and Bob Iger and I standing at the bottom of her bed begging her to get out bed, to go in to work on the "Roseanne" show in 1990 when he was a young executive.
And now, you know, he's -- he has to do this with a show that I'm sure meant a lot to him and his shareholders. But it was the absolute right choice.
And it's such a good choice for America with everything that's going on with our President. For somebody -- you know, the chairman of the board of the Disney Corporation to go ok, I'm going to lose a billion dollars today and I'm making this decision because it's just the right thing to do -- done.
VAUSE: And the U.S. President, he at least in the past very publicly he's you know, saying he's been a big fan of Roseanne and the rebooted sitcom. That's at least in public. He hasn't really defended her after this or during this scandal.
But what has the President about Roseanne to you in private?
ARNOLD: Well, you know what, Roseanne and I met Donald Trump 30 years ago. We did -- we shot an HBO special in his Trump Castle casino right before it went bankrupt. And so we stayed friendly with him. You know, he's come on my sports show. I've been to the Playboy Mansion with Donald Trump. I was the privy (ph) guy. I knew his girlfriends.
And Roseanne is -- she knew what kind of guy he was, you know. She didn't like him before and I don't want to -- but now, you know, there's a picture of Donald Trump and I. We went to this Elton John AIDS thing at the Oscars. And it is a moment where he leans over to me and says, my wife, at the time, oh, my God, you have married up. And then he says for no reason, "Roseanne is disgusting". Just for no reason.
There's actually that moment, there's a picture that they show. And I'm shocked. Not that I'm shocked but like why would he, you know, you don't want to hear bad -- just a weird thing for a guy to say to another guy, to add that. Like that's odd that he would feel that that was important to say.
Plus it's the Elton John AIDS thing and Melania's over there and she's pregnant, and my wife's here. Why would you even -- why do you have to -- first of all, if someone tells you your ex-wife is disgusting, they're also telling you you're disgusting. That's the rule. They don't like you either.
So it's just a weird -- he's just weird that way. He doesn't really like people. And so when Roseanne is like oh, my gosh, this guy; I'm like, oh no, he likes your ratings maybe, but the second you lost your show you lost Donald Trump and you lost a lot of those people that are following you that you think like you, those alt-right people, those white supremacists -- they're gone, which is probably for the best.
VAUSE: What do you think changed over the years? What was the reason for the change in Roseanne from the Roseanne you knew in the early 90s to the Roseanne that sent out that, you know, offensive tweet on Monday?
ARNOLD: Well, you know it's -- you know, it's a hard business. And probably, you know, it's hard for women. It's hard -- it grinds you down. She also has mental illness. I also have mental illness. I've had substance abuse.
And Roseanne dealt with this -- all this when we were together and she dealt with it well. And she had multiple personality disorder. I went to rehab right before we got married and as a family we dealt with her mental illness. She got a handle on it.
I don't know what's happened since. But you can see -- and I tell you we live in a country where our president causes so much anxiety by lying and scaring people and just making -- every day he's on TV saying oh my God, America is, you know, under attack and I'm under attack and these people -- and he causes anxiety in people. And if you have any mental health issues and you see this president on TV you're like oh, my God, I believe the worst case scenario. And Roseanne is one of these people that is triggered.
And so she's believing the worst -- oh, my gosh, Donald Trump is going to save us, everybody else is bad. And so you know, it's really bad. So I believe she got into that.
That doesn't excuse what she said. but it gives a lot of people this justification to do horrible things like call black people monkeys and then go what we really meant -- no, no. It's awful. It's awful. And you keep doing it and it's bad.
VAUSE: And very quickly, is this the end of Roseanne? Is there another act? Is there, you know, a third coming, if you like?
ARNOLD: I hope that she's happy. I mean, you know, sometimes -- you know, she should just be happy. She's done, you know -- I hope that everybody's happy. I hope the people -- you know, there's -- by the way, when she's putting that stuff out there, she's hurting a lot of people.
I hope Chelsea Clinton's happy. I hope Valerie Jarrett's happy. I hope all these, you know -- because there's a lot of gun nuts out. There's a lot of crazy people and we're sitting here going I hope Roseanne is happy.
[01:45:03] And there's literally a million people being offended and young black kids that don't like to be called monkeys. And we're worried about this millionaire Roseanne. I hope she's happy.
You know what? She's with her kids right now and they haven't all been together for a long time. So maybe it's the best thing for Roseanne.
VAUSE: Good point to leave it. Tom -- thanks so much. Appreciate it.
ARNOLD: Thank you -- buddy.
VAUSE: Well, next here on Newsroom L.A., an urgent warning from Hawaiian officials to residents in the path of the new lava flow there. Get out while you still can.
VAUSE: After days of the most intense fighting in years, it's relatively calm right now in Gaza and southern Israel. More than a dozen militant groups in Gaza including Hamas and Islamic jihad have agreed to a unilateral ceasefire.
Israel is not part of the agreement. Instead the "Jerusalem Post" reports an understanding has been reached between Israel and Hamas.
Here's CNN's Ian Lee reporting in from Gaza.
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On Tuesday rockets filled the sky. Israeli air strikes lit it up; One of them actually taking place just a few hundred meters behind me. The Israeli military saying Gaza militants launched over a hundred rockets and missiles. Israel responded with at least 60 air strikes.
Many of these rockets and missiles, though, were intercepted by Israel's iron dome anti-missile system. But some of them did hit residential areas including a kindergarten. Three Israeli soldiers were injured, two of them lightly, one of them moderately.
The situation right now is quiet except for drones buzzing overhead. There is a ceasefire in place according to Gaza militants. Hamas -- a member of Hamas' political bureau Khaleel Hayat said that after considerable mediation efforts that they were able to bring about this ceasefire; a lot of signs pointing to Egypt playing a crucial role in bringing that about. The Israeli military hasn't commented on the ceasefire, but we did hear from military spokesman Jonathan Conricus who said that quiet will responded to with quiet.
Ian Lee, CNN -- Gaza.
VAUSE: The political crisis in Italy could actually get a political solution. Instead of technocrats leading the country there's now talk of a caretaker government which might include ministers from the main anti-establishment parties until new elections are held.
[01:49:59] Meantime, the leader of the populist Five Star Movement says his party has no intention of leaving the Eurozone. Investors have been spooked by the mere possibility of that happening causing a major selloff in the financial markets earlier in the week.
Residents on the eastern edge of Hawaii's Big Island are quickly running out of time to escape Kilauea's expanding lava flow. Fast- moving lava is now headed east and threatens to overrun the only remaining road out. If that happens, anyone still in that area could become trapped.
Late details now from Scott McLean.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: people here on this part of the Big Island of Hawaii are finally starting to heed the warnings to get out.
Case in point, this checkpoint has been open now for almost four weeks and even now we've seen convoys of trucks carrying furniture, appliances, personal belongings out of this area and for good reason.
There are fissures beyond this area that continue to pump massive amounts of lava onto the surface; one of them in fact at times will shoot 200 feet into the air. Now, for many days a lot of that lava was headed south toward the ocean and out of the way. That was good news.
Now, though, a lot of it is headed toward the northeast, and that is a big problem. It has already cut off one roadway in that area, and it is going at a very fast rate of speed for lava standards, at times 600 yards per hour toward another highway, the second and final escape route for people who live on this part of the island.
And so officials are telling them that first responders will no longer go door to door pleading with people who refuse to evacuate and asking them to get out. They say it's simply too dangerous.
And so if you are in this area and you get stranded, the message is you're on your own.
VAUSE: Our thanks to Scott McLean there.
Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., the U.S. President taking a swing at trying to sell the benefits of a healthy lifestyle? Really? Is anybody buying that one?
VAUSE: More legal trouble for the embattled Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein. On Wednesday a grand jury in New York City indicted him on charges of rape and criminal sex act. Weinstein has maintained his innocence and his lawyer says he plans to plead not guilty.
Weinstein was arraigned last week on the same charges. He's free on a $10 million bond. More than 80 women, including actresses Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie have made allegations ranging from sexual harassment to rape against the Oscar-winning producer.
Not one but two reality stars at the White House on Wednesday. Kim Kardashian met with President Trump, his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, as well as other officials. The President tweeted "Great meeting with Kim Kardashian today. Talked about prison reform and sentencing." Kardashian replied, "I'd like to thank President Trump for his time this afternoon." It is now hoped the President will grant clemency to Miss Alice Marie Johnson who is serving a life sentence for a first-time nonviolent drug offense."
Well, the theme was physical fitness. The subject was irony. President Trump who's known for his love of fast food and he also has some bizarre theories about exercise, telling Americans about the importance of staying healthy.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The only thing on the President that got a real workout -- his hands. The event was organized by the President's Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition -- three things not instantly associated with the President.
[01:55:05] Though he did start a race and swing a golf club, he mingled with sports stars like pitcher Mariano Rivera.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Does winning get boring to you, Mariano? Never, right?
MARIANO RIVERA, FORMER BASEBALL PITCHER: No.
MOOS: But the President may think his diet has gotten boring. Five months ago Dr. Ronnie Jackson proclaimed --
DR. RONNIE JACKSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: I think a reasonable goal over the next year or so is to lose 10 to 15 pounds.
MOOS: And now we're hearing the President is occasionally trading in a steak --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Super golden.
MOOS: For a Dover sole and leaving off the top bun when he eats a burger. The chefs in the White House kitchen have been told to reduce calories and fat. Keep in mind that this is a guy who has expressed the view that exercise is bad for you. Some call it the energizer bunny theory.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still going.
MOOS: Trump's apparent belief cited in "Trump Revealed", the human body was like a battery with a finite amount of energy which exercise only depleted. He once suggested to Dr. Oz that rallies are a workout.
TRUMP: I'm up there using a lot of motion. And I guess that's a form of exercise.
MOOS: From the kitty lift to the fist pump to the half toss, we've seen no indication President Trump is hitting the White House gym. As he once told Reuters, I get exercise. I mean, I walk. I this, I that. Not to mention --
JACKSON: He has incredible genes.
MOOS: -- keep him running like the energizer bunny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep going, and going, and going --
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN -- New York.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and going and going and going.
VAUSE: He does seem to have a lot of energy.
You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
Please join us on Twitter @CNNNEWSROOMLA for highlights and clips from the show.
The news continues on CNN right after is.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: It looks like a dinner among long-time friends. Could this be a foretaste of a face to face meeting between the leaders of North Korea and the United States.
A homecoming nobody wants. Illegally in America -- immigrants are returned daily to their homeland and the violent life they fled in El Salvador. Part two of our exclusive report is ahead.
[02:00:01] And a Russian journalist reportedly killed days before reappears to announce he's very much alive. We will have the details of the scheme he and police pulled off.