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CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. Slaps Allies with Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum; Trump Pardoning of D'Souza Leaves People Puzzled; Kim Jong-un Writes a Letter to President Trump; Trump Weighs Clemency For Apprentice Contestants; The Brutalized Women of El Salvador's Gangs; Spanish Prime Minister Likely To Fall In No Confidence Vote; Samantha Bee's Crude Joke; Aired Aired 3-4a ET

Aired June 1, 2018 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: We have to believe that at some point common sense will prevail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE HOWELL, HOST, CNN: But right now, Trump, tariffs, and trade. Canada and other countries push back against new U.S. policies.

Plus this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: I've had some difficult conversations with him as well. They've given it right back to me too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Setting up the summit. The U.S. secretary of state explains how talks with North Korea are going.

Plus a comedian's controversial comments about Ivanka Trump the White House calls them vile and vulgar.

We are live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. And we want to welcome our viewers around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN Newsroom starts right now.

Around the world, good day to you. The financial markets are opening in Europe, and we're getting our first glimpse into what appears to be a brewing trade war with the United States. You see here the FTSE, the Paris CAC.

These markets at this point sort of a mixed bag from what we're seeing right now. Again, just open a few moment, just a moment ago in fact. All eyes certainly trained on how they react through the day. This after the Trump administration slapped new U.S. tariffs on aluminum and steel.

Mexico, Canada, and the European Union. Some of the biggest U.S. trading partners were directly targeted. Unless something changes soon, Americans can expect to pay more on a wide variety of popular goods like automobiles and beer.

Canada's prime minister says he had no choice but to retaliate by taxing billions of dollars in U.S. goods coming into his country. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUDEAU: The American administration has made a decision today that we deplore, and obviously is going to lead to retaliatory measures as it must. But we regret that. We would switch to other move together in partnership, understanding that no two countries have economies as interwoven and mutually beneficial as Canada and the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Let's get the latest now from our Anna Stewart live in London. And Anna, obviously we're all watching the markets. If we can pull that back up just to get a sense of what's happening right now.

Again, the European markets just opened. What is the reaction that you're hearing across Europe from this move by the United States and this early glimpse of what we're seeing right now?

ANNA STEWART, PRODUCER, CNN: Yes. I mean, if you look at the European market opened today, it looks fairly more positive. Definitively all trading are up even the DAX now which is finally open on our data, up .6 percent.

Now this is because actually this news of tariffs landed right bang in the middle of Europe's trading day yesterday. So the European investors have already had time to react. And it pushed all the indices into the red yesterday, particularly the German DAX. And that comes as no surprise that that was the worst hit because obviously that is Europe's biggest steelmaker.

But Germany and the E.U. are very quick to respond. Have a listen to what they said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER ALTMAIER, GERMAN FEDERAL MINISTER FOR ECONOMIC AFFAIRS (through translator): Today's decision of the U.S. government is wrong in itself. It is harmful for Europe, but also for the U.S. itself. Those have succeed who back protectionism and one-sided measures. That is unfortunate.

JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: This is a bad day for the world trade. It's totally unacceptable that a country is imposing unilateral measures when it comes towards trade.

(END VIDEO CLIP) STEWART: Now, the E.U. throughout this whole discussion over tariffs

has maintained that tariffs are illegal. It says they are unjustified, and it will be triggering a dispute with the WTO. It will also be slapping its own tariffs on U.S.-made products.

We believe, you know, from formalist that that will include things like Bourbon, denim, peanut butter, really targeted tariffs that should really hit America where it hurts. But the question is, George, where does it end because this tit for tat could continue.

The U.S. administration is already weighing up slapping tariffs on cars. Again, that would hurt Europe very much, particularly Germany again. And so when does tit for tat just turn into a full-blown trade war?

HOWELL: But Anna, you know, obviously this means that consumers at the end of the day will be forced to pay more.

STEWART: Absolutely. This is an issue, and it's something that Donald Trump and the U.S. will be hearing a lot of as a lot of consumer groups very unhappy because this is going to hurt consumers in the U.S. as well as consumers in Europe.

A trade war really doesn't help anyone. But perhaps this is a way of getting everyone around the table to create more negotiations. But ultimately a lot of business groups on both sides of the Atlantic are very unhappy with how things are going.

[03:05:03] HOWELL: Anna Stewart, thank you much, live for us in London. We'll stay in touch with you.

Let's get some context now on this with Steven Erlanger. Steven, the New York Times chief diplomatic correspondent joining us live via Skype from Tallinn, Estonia. It's good to have you on the show this hour.

Look, certainly the reaction is clear. U.S. allies are not happy. They are taking steps to retaliate. What are your thoughts so far about the backlash you hear?

STEVEN ERLANGER, LONDON BUREAU CHIEF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, the backlash is quite severe, and part of it comes from the sense of insult because the Trump administration is justifying these tariffs in the only way it can under WTO rules as based on urgent national security reasons.

But it is hitting America's NATO allies, and we have a collective defense agreement. It's hitting Canada and Mexico. Canada is probably the most peaceful border between two countries in the entire world. And so our allies, our punitive allies are offended, they're angry. It's costing them money, and these things can be done through the WTO.

In the beginning, Trump said this was aimed at China, but he's done this separate deal with China. And what the Europeans would like to do is join in with the Americans in a case before the WTO to deal with these issues of overproduction of steel and aluminum and so-called dumping of these products cheaply.

Now, Trump had made this promise during his campaign and this seems to matter to him quite a lot. He promised steelworkers that he would, you know, lay huge tariffs on China. But, of course, he's really laying them on his allies as a negotiating tactic.

So it's a very bad mood, I have to say. It's like if you're being poked in the eye by a friend, the first time you might think it's an accident. But by the third or fourth time, you're pretty angry, and you want to hit back.

HOWELL: OK. Well, as you point out this is certainly an affront to U.S. allies. Consumers, as we just spoke about with our correspondent, will have to pay more. But, again, we heard from the U.S. Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, who essentially says hey, this is really not a big deal. Let's listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILBUR ROSS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: The sky has not fallen in the United States since we put the tariffs on. It just hasn't fallen, and it won't because of the proportionality that I'm describing is just too small.

The whole amount of tariffs in steel and aluminum are a fraction of 1 percent of the U.S. GDP, so how much impact can that have on anything? It's just silly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Well, the question is how much impact can it have, Steven? I mean, is there, though, a concern that, you know, this will hit people where it counts?

ERLANGER: Well, of course there is. I mean, any American who drinks out of an aluminum can is going to have pay more. I mean, it will cost more for Americans to produce cars. I mean, steel and aluminum prices are going to go up, and we use steel and aluminum in lots of things.

Now, it may help our small steel industry. I mean, Wilbur Ross is right. It probably isn't that big a part of the GDP. But policies are not just about dollars and cents. They're also about trust. They're about psychology. There could be a day where the United States actually needs its allies and will ask for something, and the answer will be silence.

And I mean, it is really -- you know, these things matter, and they matter for security reasons as well as dollars and cents and as well as campaign promises.

But, yes, it will cost everybody more. It won't be, you know, that big a deal in terms of people's pocketbooks. But it will add up. It will add to inflation. And what it does do is it builds up a real kind of set of annoyances.

And then if you're Germany and you're told there's not just this happening but, you know, Trump wants to get rid of all German cars driving in Manhattan, then it becomes quite serious indeed. And people begin to think, how can we not just retaliate, but put pressure on Washington so Mr. Trump takes our concerns seriously the way he's putting pressure on us.

That's the problem. It tends to ratchet up, and it is a great boon, I must say, for Russia, for China, for countries that want to undermine the alliance of the United States and its European allies.

HOWELL: Steven Erlanger, thank you for the perspective and context. We'll stay in touch with you.

ERLANGER: Thanks, George.

[03:09:58] HOWELL: Now to the U.S. president and the power to pardon. Mr. Trump is talking about possible clemency for two former contestants on his reality TV show, the apprentice.

This after he granted a full pardon to a conservative commentator on Thursday. Critics say it's a clear signal he could do the same for his political allies caught up in the Russia investigation.

Our Jim Acosta has this report for us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to Dallas. We're going to Houston, and we're going to have little fun today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: As President Trump left Washington for Texas it sounded like he was contemplating a new reality TV catch phrase. Not you're fired, but you're pardoned.

The president started his day with a pardon for far right commentator Dinesh D'Souza who is convicted of violating campaign finance laws during the Obama administration. D'Souza tweeted, "Obama and his stooges tried to extinguish my American dream and destroy my faith in America. Thank you, Mr. Trump, for fully restoring both."

This is then went after former federal prosecutor and CNN contributor Preet Bharara, tweeting "karma is a bitch." Well known in conservative circles for his racially loaded cultural commentary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DINESH D'SOUZA, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Somehow the white guy is not welcome at the multi-cultural picnic. If they show up at the multi-cultural picnic, they're Satan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: D'Souza once tweeted this attack on Barack and Michelle Obama. Asked why he pardoned D'Souza, the president told reporters, "I never met him. I called him last night. First time I've spoken to him. I said, I'm pardoning you. Nobody asked me to do it. And I read the newspapers. I see him on television."

The president hinted he may show more leniencies to former stars of his TV show, including commuting the sentence of former Illinois Rod Blagojevic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Governor, I have great respect for you, I have great respect for your tenacity, for the fact that you just don't giveup. But, Rod, you're fired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: He was convicted of corruption charges for attempting to sell Obama's former Senate seat. And domestic style icon Martha Stewart, who was convicted of lying to federal prosecutors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to make a scrumptious meatloaf sandwich, which is Donald's favorite sandwich.

TRUMP: I've never had meatloaf this good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Stewart has demonstrated she's no fan of the president, once giving him the middle finger in this Instagram photo. But she once hosted her own version of the apprentice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTHA STEWART, TV PERSONALITY: It really, really bothered me that you talked about quitting. I don't think I've ever quit a job. I mean, I've gone through going to jail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: The president's made it clear he's willing to issue pardons to controversial figures, starting with former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Democrats believe the president is sending a message to his own former aides in legal jeopardy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE COHEN, (D) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: I think Manafort knows it. I think Michael Cohen knows it. I think others know it. I think Robert Mueller probably knows it, and it has the potential to be an obstruction of justice case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: The White House, which just welcomed reality TV star Kim Kardashian meets with the president to talk pardons, denies that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Each of the president's actions on pardons or on other things should be judged on the merits, looking at the facts and the circumstances surrounding that case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: The president is still refusing to deal with some of the realities of the Russia probe, tweeting, "Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia. The corrupt mainstream media loves to keep pushing that narrative but they know it's not true." But that's not what the president said to NBC last year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And, I fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: All day long White House officials were insisting that the president was not considering celebrity status when it came to his pardon deliberations, but one White House official said late in the day that you can't ignore the celebrity connections to the president.

Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

HOWELL: Jim, thank you. The diplomacy of denuclearization.

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POMPEO: The effort now is to come to a set of understandings which convince the North Koreans of what President Trump has said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Why a former North Korean spy chief once banned from the United States is being welcomed to the White House.

Plus Italy's months of political uncertainty come to a close as that nation's two populist parties form a coalition government. The latest from Rome.

[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: In a few hours, we expect to see what has never been seen before. The former North Korean spy chief will be at the White House. This man. Where he'll be hand delivering a letter to President Trump from the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

Kim Yong-chol had been banned from entering the United States. He is thought to be, among other things, behind attacks on a U.S. ally and the hack of Sony Pictures. But special permission was granted so that he could meet in New York with the U.S. secretary of state and then travel on to Washington to deliver this note from the North Korean leader.

It's just latest example of highs and lows, of stops and starts on the road to what could be diplomatic history. But it's by no means a done deal yet.

Our Jim Sciutto has this report.

JIM SCIUTTO, CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, CNN: One week after it was off, Secretary of State Pompeo said a historic summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un could be back on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POMPEO: We made real progress towards that in the last 72 hours.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: The talks in New York were by themselves a remarkable first in a spring of remarkable firsts. The U.S. secretary of state meeting face to face with a senior North Korean official on U.S. soil, laying the groundwork for a groundbreaking summit between the country's leaders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POMPEO: This is going to be a process that will take days and weeks to work our way through. There will be tough moments. There will be difficult times. I've had some difficult conversations with them as well. They've given it right back to me too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Pompeo emphasized that Pyongyang must make an historic gesture to prove that the North Koreans are serious about denuclearizing. And he left no wiggle room as to what denuclearization means to the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POMPEO: I've been very clear that President Trump and the United States objective is very consistent and well known. The complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: In exchange, the U.S. is promising North Korea a, quote, "brighter future." However, after several meetings now with his North Korean counterparts, Secretary Pompeo granted it is not yet clear if North Korea will give up its weapons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POMPEO: I believe they are contemplating a path forward where they can make a strategic shift, one that their country has not been prepared to make before. This will obviously be their decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: The North Korean delegation will take one more unprecedented step on Friday, traveling to the White House to hand-deliver a message from Kim Jong-un to President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A letter is going to be delivered to me from Kim Jong-un, so I look forward to seeing what's in the letter. But it's very important to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Trump himself acknowledged that a June 12th summit in Singapore might only be a starting point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Hopefully we'll have a meeting on the 12th. It's going along very well. But I want it to be meaningful. It doesn't mean it gets all done at one meeting. Maybe you have to have a second or a third. And maybe we'll have none.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[03:20:00] SCIUTTO: Two thousand eighteen is looking like a year of international summits for North Korea. North Korea's state media announcing that the North Korean and Russian leaders plan to meet sometime this year.

The North Korean and Chinese leaders have already met. Both China and Russia want to be involved in any final status talks regarding North Korea's nuclear program.

Jim Sciutto, CNN, New York.

HOWELL: Jim, thank you. Now live to our Alexandra Field following the story in Seoul, South Korea. Alexandra, what is the sense there watching on as North Korea's former spy chief is welcomed here in the United States, paving the way for this possible summit?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, certainly they're watching it closely. And one spokesperson for the Blue House here in South Korea described a sense of relief at knowing that Kim Yong-chol will be permitted to go to the White House to deliver this letter from Kim Jong-un.

A surprising development certainly to see that letter being delivered directly to President Trump, himself. This is a development among others that may have been discuss when there was a conversation earlier today between the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his counterpart here in South Korea. The two talked about the events of the last 24 to 48 hours. This meeting with Kim Yong-chol in New York.

Certainly, South Koreans see this as a step forward indicative of some progress toward achieving that summit. This is something that they helped to facilitate from the beginning. They've certainly been supportive of it.

They want to see dialogue between the United States and North Korea. They have been optimistic about it even when the summit was canceled by President Trump just about a week ago.

But at this point South Korea really doesn't have a hand in helping to determine whether or not this summit goes forward. As we have seen from the comments from Secretary of State Pompeo, this really has to do with whether the U.S. feels that certain conditions have been agreed to in advance of that summit and ultimately it comes down to the will of these two leaders. It could come close to the 11th hour here, George.

HOWELL: All right. While we saw all of this playing out in New York, competing optics because in steps Russia. Now tell us more about that meeting. Sergey Lavrov in Pyongyang. What came out of that?

FIELD: Right. Basically you've got Pompeo's counterpart, Lavrov, in Pyongyang. The optics of that, as you point are important. First of all, this has to do with the flurry of diplomatic activity that we've seen in recent weeks and months as all countries out here work to sort of shore up alliances and positions ahead of this summit, ahead of potentially diplomatic breakthroughs if we get to that point.

This is also a gesture by Russia similar to gestures made by China to ensure that they maintain their influence in the region, to make sure that the U.S. isn't expanding its influence in the region. But it was certainly interesting to see Sergey Lavrov in Pyongyang and to hear him deliver a message at is at odds with the U.S. positions.

He suggested that there should be a phased lifting of sanctions in order to accomplish denuclearization. Certainly U.S. officials have taken a very different position, a much harder line saying that they must keep up with the campaign of maximum pressure in order to force cooperation for denuclearization.

So certainly hearing some very different thoughts from this side versus what's coming out of Washington. And we know that these are all the details that have to be hashed out between North Korea and the U.S. before they can sit down.

Yes, they both said they want sit there and talk about denuclearization, but, George, as we've said over and over again it just isn't clear if each of these sides will come to define that in the same way. And certainly that's crucial here.

HOWELL: Right. What does that mean for each. Alexandra Field, thank you for the reporting.

With us now is David Andelman. David is the former Southeast Asia bureau chief for the New York Times and a frequent contributor ion CNN, joining us from New York this hour. David, a pleasure to have you here on the show.

Let's first talk about the backgrounds of these two men, of Kim Yong- chol of North Korea, and Mike Pompeo of the United States. You write a bit about this on CNN.com. Two men who he enshrined the spirit of protecting national strength now leading tour guides really on this possible summit between their two leaders.

DAVID ANDELMAN, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: Well, what's particularly interesting is they do have the same military background. They have a legislative background, a political background. They have all of that, but Kim Yong-chol, he has one thing that Pompeo does not have.

He has a continuity with the last three -- in fact the only three dictators of North Korea. So he has seen this whole thing played out for 25, 30, 35 years and he knows what's coming next. He has a sense of where he wants to go. Pompeo has never dealt with any of these people before, and he's certainly never dealt with this Kim Yong-chol.

HOWELL: And we still don't know if this summit will actually happen. The idea is to create some sort of a framework to move forward together. But, David, here's the thing. If past is prologue, this has happened before. The U.S. has been in this situation during the early 1990s with Bill Clinton, who signed an agreement a framework with the leader then, Kim Il-sung.

ANDELMAN: Right. And not only that, but later in his presidency, yes, Clinton's presidency, he sent Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, to meet with Kim Il-sung's son, who is Kim Jong- un's father.

[03:25:03] They had a very big, very important meeting in Pyongyang. They came back, and nothing came of that either. It's been a constant series cycling, if you will, between sanctions, relief of sanction because the North Koreans begin to get desperate. They say, all right, we'll let nuclear inspectors in. We'll destroy or pare down our nuclear plutonium creating ability.

And then we do that and then we just relieve the sanctions and the guess what? Their economy improves to the extent that they say, OK. Inspectors out. We're going back to producing nuclear material and missiles.

So this has happened again and again. It happened at least three or four times in the previous 25 years, and my fear is that we could be suckered into this again without really realizing what we're getting into.

HOWELL: So a great deal of skepticism. Again, if this in fact happens.

ANDELMAN: Right, exactly. And it might very well happen. Look, past is not necessarily prologue. We just have to learn from the past. There's no doubt about that. And my fear is that a lot of the people today have not really studied exactly how that worked.

Remember, we had six years of six-party talks between 2002 and 2008, of talks between the North Koreans, the South Koreans, the Chinese, the Japanese, the United States and the Russians. And nothing. Nothing came about. Those are supposed to be talks designed to pave the way towards a

denuclearized Korean peninsula, which all of those parties certainly wanted at least at that time in one form or another, but it never really came together.

And my fear is that we may be going back in another cycle of talks like this. I would point out today by the way, that foreign minister Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, he was in Pyongyang, met with Kim Jong-il himself, came out of that meeting and said - very important. He said, the west has got to relieve the sanctions on North Korea. Is that what they really want? Is that the real end game? Get rid of the sanctions and we'll figure out how the nuclear thing works in the future.

HOWELL: David Andelman for us in New York, thank you for the perspective today.

ANDELMAN: Thanks for having me.

HOWELL: The former chief White House strategist, Steve Bannon, is also making news about his hopes for the U.S. midterm elections and his plans for populism around the world. And here's what he had to say about the man supervising the Russia investigation. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: I think the question with Rosenstein, particularly when you get to the Southern District of Manhattan involved in this whole Cohen thing, it looks like the Southern District of Manhattan is involved in the Trump organization.

Now they refuse -- he refuses to give some sort of briefing to the gang of eight. They refuse to give these documents to Nunes. I think now that Rosenstein ought to be -- I think he ought to be given a direct order. Very simple.

You turn every document associated with this spy over in Cambridge, and whatever foreign institution was involved, whether it's MI5, MI6, or anybody else. You give whatever the FBI did. You give whatever the CIA did.

You see Clapper and these guys on TV every night and Brennan. They're just bitter old men. You turn over every document, and if he doesn't turn it over, you give him 24 hours. If he doesn't turn it over, I would fire him, and that's not obstruction of justice. That's giving a law enforcement officer a direct order to turn over documents to Capitol Hill, and if he doesn't do it, I would fire him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: The president's former fire brand, Steve Bannon. You can see his interview with Fareed Zakaria Friday at 9 p.m. in New York. That's 9 Saturday morning in Hong Kong, only here on CNN.

And still ahead this hour on Newsroom, Spain's prime minister is facing a no confidence vote. Why that country's leadership is set to crumble. Still ahead.

Plus this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIC ROBERTSON, INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR, CNN: Out here far from the city used to be safe from gangs. But now Jennifer's wake is silent with only fear filling the stifling air.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: El Salvador is one of the deadliest countries in the world, and the gang violence has created a crisis. And bearing the brunt of all of it, women. An exclusive report on the brutality that women face from gangs.

[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Live around the world this hour, you're watching "CNN Newsroom." I'm George Howell with the headlines we are following for you this hour.

Canada, Mexico, and the European Union say they will retaliate against the United States by imposing tariffs on American goods. The threat follows the Trump administration's decision to impose steep penalties on imports of steel and aluminum. The U.S. tariffs took effect just a couple of hours ago.

President Trump says that he is considering clemency for two former contestants on his reality TV show "The apprentice." Martha Stewart and the former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. On Thursday he pardoned conservative pundit Dinesh D'Souza.

In a matter of hours of North Korea's former spy chief is set to hand- deliver a letter from Kim Jong-un to the U.S. President. Kim Yong- chol has been meeting with the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo laying the groundwork for this possible summit between these two leaders.

In El Salvador, someone is murdered every two hours. That nation plagued by crime and rampant gang warfare, but women are especially vulnerable there. In this exclusive report, our Nick Paton Walsh details the gang violence. He is live in our London bureau and Nick, you team really gives a window into the problem that is playing out in the country.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is devastating, George, to see exactly how women end up being on the receiving end of an extraordinary violent, often gang infested culture there. One in every 5,000 women in the country will be murdered each year. That is a staggering, sobering statistic. I should warn you in our report ahead, there are some troubling images.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATON WALSH: What you're about to see at the side of the highway on a very ordinary morning happens to women in El Salvador every 19 hours. This is where Jennifer Landaverde (ph) was shot eight times at dawn on her way to work. Age 22. Clothes surround her ankles. Scuff marks on her knees. Her shoes are put aside, handed to her mother who heard the gunshots and found her daughter's body.

Even police here fear to show their faces. Nobody will talk, but I have to say it was the gang Barrio 18. Out here, far from the city, it is used to be safe from gangs. But now, Jennifer's wake is silent with only fear filling the stifling air. The daily toll mounts. Its graphic scenes follow.

One in every 5,000 women here is murdered each year. The highest rate in the world by some counts and only one in 20 crimes ends in conviction in El Salvador. Gang culture is at its most twisted with women. Gang rape, as an initiation rite or, conversely if their family are police or military, gang drop (inaudible) or sex slaves forced foster parents to the children of gang members and sometimes they are the assassins themselves.

Across town we gain rare access to where the gang's targets-turned hit men end up. This women's prison is crammed, but this is comparatively good for El Salvador.

[03:35:08] A jail is so rarely a place for sympathy, but women are so often dragged into barbaric gang culture and often find themselves on the receiving end of a violent society. Here we met Roxana who belonged broadly to the gang that killed Jennifer. She is 37 and remembers how she murdered a male gang member to end up here.

ROXANA, FORMER GANGMEMBER (TRANSLATOR): Perhaps I was scared, scared because it was the first time in my life, something like that happened. I was scared, but when I realized what I have done, the police had already arrested me.

PATON WALSH: That's the name of her son, Rafael, 24 on her arm. A gang member killed in gang violence. He died four months ago in this days she says.

ROXANA (TRANSLATOR): It was very painful for me, because I didn't want him to follow my very same path. But before I realized, he had become a gang member already, and I wasn't be able to do anything for him.

PATON WALSH: She remembers her initiation into the gang Barrio 18.

ROXANA (TRANSLATOR): I got kicked and hit. That was necessary to be a part of it.

PATON WALSH: How long did that last for, I ask?

ROXANA (TRANSLATOR): 18 seconds. Yes, there are women who go through wars. Sometimes they're rape, beaten up, mistreated.

PATON WALSH: She was young when she joined. There was little choice.

ROXANA (TRANSLATOR): My father died, and my mother was an alcoholic and left us I looked after five brothers, and that is how I ended up on the streets and in the gangs. I thought it was a game, and in the end, it was. While I was inside here, I've lost my son, my mom, all those I loved. Most people I knew when I joined are dead now.

PATON WALSH: While they have victims of their own, they were likely once victims themselves. A cycle of brutality that drags El Salvador deeper into penury and despair.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PATON WALSH: The numbers are quite staggering in El Salvador. There are some estimates suggesting about one in ten of the country are somehow involved or in gangs. And even 80 percent plus of businesses or individuals are extorted by the gangs. At the same time too, as you saw in that report, there are many gang members themselves, female, guilty of brutality, guilty of murder.

And notice too that strange almost infantile obsession that MS-13 and Barrio 18, the two key larger gangs have with the number in their name, using that sometimes in their initiation rites. Often where women as you saw there the period of time, in which they are beaten by a number of people, and might sexually assault them. It's staggering the violence that is across El Salvador, which I have to say is often comparatively muted if you compare to what MS-13 have been acute of doing -- shown to have done in the United States.

All that part, though of a cycle of immigration into the U.S., deportation back to El Salvador, economic dislocation, desperation, and that just feeds what is evermore looking kind like of an insurgency frankly in El Salvador of the gang culture there.

HOWELL: Nick, your report just giving a sense of what these women are facing, what they are dealing with, what they're trying to escape in many cases. Thank you for the report and the window into what's happening there.

In Europe, as one government forms another could crumble. In just a few hours' time Italy's new government is set to be sworn in. This after months of political turmoil. Political novice and law professor, Giuseppe Conte will lead a new formed coalition government as the Prime Minister of that nation.

In the meantime, in Spain right now, the parliament is debating whether or not to kick this man out of power. He is the Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, facing a no confidence vote, but he doesn't appear to be in attendance at the parliamentary session. We'll continue to monitor.

Let's discuss these government turmoil situations with our Nina Dos Santos, who is following this live in London, and Barbie Nadeau, in Rome. Barbie, first to you, with Conte describe as a political unknown, what does that mean for the nation?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he really is just a puppet that is going to have to somehow get these two very opposite-style leaders of the populist parties to work together for the good of the country. I think, if we look at the newspapers this morning, the populists are in government is one and another one, probably more telling is, is (inaudible) good luck. And I think one could argue that the easy part is over and that the more difficult part is going to be to try to make this government productive for the good of the nation, George.

[03:40:00] HOWELL: Barbie, thank you. And now let's bring in Nina, following the story as well. And Nina, just to get a sense of what is happening in Spain right now, what does this mean for leadership?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it means that Mariano Rajoy, after seven years as Spain's Prime Minister, is likely to fall later on today. We're expecting the actual vote of no confidence to take place in about two or three hours from now in Madrid, George. And he has -- already he is facing a situation where the opposition party has tabled this vote of no confidence and said that they have managed to glean enough votes form a slim majority in the parliament.

That means Rajoy will probably be ousted later on today and that will probably be seeing Pedro Sanchez from the main opposition party taking over as interim Prime Minister. Spain could even go to new elections from here. One opportunity Rajoy does have is potentially resigning before that vote of no confidence takes place to oust him, in a few hours from now, but his party has staunchly said, no, he'll be staying put, and he will face that vote of no confidence even if, according to all of the other opposition parties and how they said they're planning on voting, he is likely to lose it and to be out of power. George?

HOWELL: All right. Thank you so much, Nina. Now, one other question if we could to Barbie Nadeau, who is following this story for us in Rome. Barbie, the question here, as we see this new government form, clearly avoiding a new election, but populism, Euroscepticism at the forefront, what does that signal for domestic policy in Italy? What does it mean for Europe at large?

NADEAU: Well, you know, you have to remember that this March 4th election, both of the parties believe which was formally the northern leave built on a separatist movement to get as far away from the poor economic, poor south, southern regions of Italy, and the five-star movement which actually represents that that economically challenged area of Italy, this government represents all of Italy, but they're very much two different types of problems.

And I think what we're going to see, and this is probably what worries Europe more than anything else is that in order to help the richer northern section of the country, you're going to have to do, make investments and things like that in the south. And what these Party leaders don't want to do is be a slave to Brussels in order to do that. They want to be able to make policies that are good for the country as a whole and usually that is in great defiance with European policies they don't want austerity. They don't want to have to follow the rest of the European Union rule. They want to be able to help the country as a whole.

And that is what they won on. A lot of promises that they're going to have a very hard time keeping. And they're both representing two very different base supporters. So let's see what happens when they actually get this government going and start, you know, doing some governing, George.

HOWELL: Contributor Barbie Nadeau for us in Rome and also we want to thank our Nina Dos Santos, who is following this story for us in London. We'll stay in touch with you both.

Still ahead here, a comedian under fire for her especially vicious attack on the President's daughter. But is it enough to get her pulled off television?

[03:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: A Russian reporter who staged his own death is pushing back against critics who say the plot undermines trust in journalists. Arkady Bobchenko said that he was thinking about his own survival, not journalistic ethics, when he agreed with Ukrainian authorities to take part in the scheme. Its aim was to foil an assassination plot against it. At a news conference on Thursday in Kiev, he talked about some of the bizarre things that he went through.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARKADY BOBCHENKO, RUSSIAN JOURNALIST: If the very end, I made that shirt with bullet holes in it, and I laid on the floor. It was real pig's blood on me. They had poured blood over me. I took some of it in my mouth and let it out. They tucked some blood cloths into the bullet holes, and I was dead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Bobchenko is a staunch critic of Russia's government. Ukrainian security forces are holding two suspects in (inaudible) with the plot to kill him.

Here in the United States, the comedian Samantha Bee is feeling the heat from critics, including the White House, after she used an extremely vulgar word to insult Ivanka Trump. Here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMANTHA BEE, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Ivanka Trump, who works at the White House, chose to post the second most oblivious tweet we've seen this week. You know, Ivanka that is a beautiful photo of you and your child. But let me just say one mother to another, do something about your dad's immigration practices, you reckless (BEEP). And you know what, he listens to you, put on something tight and low-cut and tell your father to (BEEP) stop it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: It was part of a scripted monologue criticizing President Trump for allowing policies that separate undocumented immigrant children from their parents. But even though the TV host is known for using foul language in her comedy show, her choice of word on Wednesday shocked fans and critics alike. The White House Press Secretary slammed Bee and the media for disgusting comments there. In a tweet Bee said, she would likely -- she would like to rather,

sincerely apologize to Ivanka Trump. She said that she crossed a line and deeply regrets it. TBS, the network that airs Bee's show, said the comedian took the right action in apologizing. They tweeted, those words should not have been aired. It was our mistake too, and we regret it. Keeping in mind TBS and CNN both owned by Turner, a subsidiary of Time Warner and this of course follows the ABC network canceling the Roseanne Barr show due to her racist remarks.

Let's talk more about this now with Jeremy Barr. Jeremy is the media and politics writer at the Hollywood reporter, joining us via skype with us. Jeremy, look, there's great deal of backlash about all of this. At least two advertisers say they're pulling their ads from Samantha Bee's show. Where do you see this going?

JEREMY BARR, MEDIA AND POLITICS WRITER, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: I think TBS wanted to get ahead of the story. And they put out the apology first from Sam Bee and then from the company, it was only a few hours after the backlash began online, and the White House escalated it by pulling out a statement from Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying that it was inappropriate.

So, I think they were trying to be very proactive and to -- she sort of completely apologized, said it was totally over the line. They apologized. So, I think from a corporate media perspective, they want to get ahead of it, and they want to also, you know, stop advertisers from leaving the show. Two have already left. And I don't think they are really hoping that's going to be it.

HOWELL: Interesting to see though, how this plays how politically. You mentioned Sarah Huckabee Sanders, her comment response to it compared to what we heard from the White House regarding Roseanne Barr.

BARR: Right. I mean I think in that case they didn't have too much to say. That was obviously a conservative media star. President Trump did yesterday and then again today attack Bob Iger, who is the President of the ABC, for not calling him, when he feels like -- he feels like he is been sort of attacked by ABC on many occasions. But the statement today from Sarah Huckabee Sanders, I think it was very notable that she really went out. She doesn't normally respond to comment in the media, because there are people criticizing the president in the first time really on TV every single night.

[03:50:02] So, she obviously chose in this case, she thought it was bad enough to rant this big statement. I think the statement really blew it up into an even bigger story, especially among conservative media.

HOWELL: And she thought that was bad enough. OK, so these crude, vulgar comments from Samantha Bee, they came on the heels of Roseanne Barr's racist comments. Are comedians going too far here?

BARR: I think they're having a very tough time figuring out where the line is. You had Stephen Colbert apologize a few months ago for saying also a vulgar thing on his show. They want to make fun of the first family, they want to make fun of the President. There's a lot of material to work with. But I think that you should have seen the limits of corporate media where they don't want to be attacked on Twitter. They don't want to have their advertisers attacked. So they want to be funny. They want to get big ratings.

Samantha Bee is a pretty big star for the network. Roseanne was huge star for ABC. So they have a lot on the line here, but, once again, they're seeing how far these boycott movements move. On Twitter now, they move within an hour or two. There's tons of pressure, every waiting for a response, waiting for a statement. So I think it's a really tough line right now, and you're seeing -- as said, the Roseanne cancellation happened so quickly, no matter how high rated it was. They're moving much quicker because social media is moving much faster.

HOWELL: You mentioned the statement. Let's talk about TBS's response, saying essentially the comments should not have been aired. What do you think overall of the network's response to this?

BARR: I think it really depends. Some people think that they sort of caved. Now, she is a comedian. She was making a joke. I don't think she necessarily, you know, meant it with such personal animus towards Ivanka Trump. But, I think they want to support their talent, but also they have to protect their advertising. So, I saw it as a little bit aggressive.

I was actually surprised that they sort of -- I think they threw her under the bus a little bit. You know, they said it was vile and inappropriate, and, you know, she is a comedian, so she wants to be able to sort of test the line and be tough and be funny. That is sort of her brand. That is why they have her on the network. So, I wonder how she feels about the network being thrown. I wonder how other comedians will feel if they worry their networks might also say something like that about them.

HOWELL: Jeremy Barr, we appreciate your time and perspective today. Thank you.

BARR: Thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead, there's a great deal of anticipation about this possible meeting between the U.S. President and Kim Jong-un. But social media is all abuzz over this, the other Kim who visited the Oval Office. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Welcome back to "CNN Newsroom." She in her 50s, but celebrity Brigitte Nielsen is not finished having babies. She is expected now to have baby number five. The Danish actress and model, recently announced her pregnancy on Instagram and Twitter. Remarkably because she is 54 years old. Nielsen has been married to 39-year-old TV producer Mattia Dessi, since 2006. It will be their first baby together. The Rocky Four actress is already a mother to four adult sons. And it was reality star meeting reality star-turned President of the

United States at the White House Wednesday when Kim Kardashian visited the Oval Office. Our Jeanne Moos has this report.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

[03:55:06] JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Instead of being in a typical photo op --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, where's Kim?

MOOS: Kim Kardashian was here in an Oval Office photo op that inspired this daily show caption for her. I broke the internet. And for him, I broke the country. It was a summit of reality show stars not to be confuse with that other summit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From Trump to Kim --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kim changed in his words.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Referring to Kim as his excellency --

MOOS: Make that her excellency, though someone did replace Kardashian's head with Kim Jong-un's. The only Kim he could get, mocked "The New York Daily News." The only President who can juggle two Kim's at once called the conservative commentator.

Kardashian arrived at the White House, stayed about an hour, making the case for prison reform, then left. Leaving it to Twitter to go nuts. These Adams Family reboot looks amazing.

But some didn't see Morticia. They saw Melania. A podcaster captions the President saying, you are Melania now. Both have one their share of posing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you even describe that booty?

MOOS: "The New York Post" described her as Kim thong-un, and front paged the Oval Office photo with the headline with Trump meets rump, which inspired a backlash. This cover is sexist and pathetic. Do better, New York Post. But Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump weren't the oddest Oval Office couple. That title goes to Richard Nixon and Elvis.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEO)

HOWELL: Thanks for being with us. I'm George Howell at the CNN center in Atlanta. The news continues with my colleague Max Foster live in London. This is CNN, the world's news leader.