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Catholic Church Under Heavy Criticism; Queen of Soul Leaves Her Mark; Government and Contractor Finger Pointing Continues; Vatican Responds To Latest Clergy Abuse Allegations; ISIS Claims Responsibility For Two Kabul Attacks; Queen Of Soul, Aretha Franklin Dies At 76. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired August 17, 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] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: -- soul. Aretha Franklin's incredible life and amazing career.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers all around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN Newsroom starts right now.

Around the world, good say to you.

Sorrow and shame, those words from the Vatican for what it calls horrible crimes. It's a response to a report on the sexual abuse for more than 1000 boys and girls by hundreds of priests in the United States. It went on for decades and was covered up by the church.

For days the Vatican remains silent. The pressure has been building for response.

CNN's Barbie Nadeau has details from Rome on what the Vatican is saying and what action might be taken.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Vatican finally broke his silence two days after Pennsylvania grand jury issued a damning report on rampant cleric sex abuse in that state. Over a 1,000 children were abused by more than 300 priests in crimes that stand seven decades.

In the Vatican statement they used the word criminal and reprehensible in describing these crimes, calling for accountability to those who held moved priest around and keep the abuse going.

Greg Burke, the Vatican spokesperson made a statement. Let's hear what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG BURKE, VATICAN SPOKESMAN: The Holy Father understands how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirit of the people in the pews. Pope also wants victims to know that he is on their side. He wants to listen to them so that this tragic horror will not be repeated.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NADEAU: Victims of clerical sex abuse are demanding more than just words from this pope. They want action. Pope Francis has in the past accepted resignations from complicit bishops and cardinals, but survivors and victims of clerical sex abuse say they would like to see him demand resignations from those who helped cover up blatant clerical sex abuse.

Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN, Rome.

HOWELL: Barbie, thank you. The man who led the investigation into the alleged priest abuse of priest abuses says he appreciates the Vatican's response and that he hopes the church will now do something about it.

The Pennsylvania grand jury's report details 70 years of abuse have found 301 priests abused more than 1,000 children and that the top officials there in the church that they covered it up. All of it uncovered. Of course, using the church's own internal documents.

CNN religion commentator Father Edward Beck spoke with my colleague John Vause about the Vatican response and what's likely to happen next.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGION COMMENTATOR: I can't recall the Vatican statement that had it criminal and morally reprehensible I believe. So first of all I would say that that's the case.

He says he's going to treat the report with great seriousness, the Holy Father is treating with great seriousness having people wondering is he hearing it, does he know actually what's going on.

Greg Burke, the Vatican spokesperson who you may know used to work for Fox News.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN HOST: Yes, that Greg.

BECK: So this is an American so he knows what's happening in the American scene. He gave the statement and I thought what was interesting, he said the pope is on your side.

VAUSE: Yes.

BECK: That not on the side of the clergy, not on the side of the bishops, he's quoted as saying "the pope is on your side." And that, there's accountability that would be demanded from the accusers and those who enables them to be accused. So that's the bishops.

VAUSE: Right.

BECK: He's talking about the bishops there. So I think he does address the bishops in some way indirectly and just saying that. I think there's yet more to come on that.

VAUSE: OK. So, what -- you know, there's obviously been a lot of reaction to this before and there a lot of demands for reform and change.

Jennifer Fulwiler, the host of a radio show on an old Catholic channel. She told us a little earlier about what her listeners had been demanding.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIFER FULWILER, RADIO HOST: One of the things that people are saying directly to the bishops all over the country is we don't want to hear how that you feel. We don't care. What we want is the specific action items, and my listeners are starting to speak out and say, if we don't get it we will quite literally show up at your doorstep.

We don't want to hear how bad you feel. We want to hear what specifically you are doing in terms of concrete action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And you know, that crisis appear well, actually the Holy Father because he said a lot. And you know, there are things happening, there are reforms and there are changes. But at the very least, is there a perception that is not happening fast enough, that it's all moving too slow and not enough is being done.

BECK: Well, John, I thought the most important part of the statement was a reminder that almost all of the cases documented happen before 2002. So that's a long time ago in our terms.

VAUSE: Yes.

BECK: So what that says is that since 2002 with the Dallas charter when the bishop said there was mandatory reporting to authorities necessary and then anyone accused, credible accusation would be removed from ministry, that these cases have not happened since then.

And so people have said to me, well, so nothing has changed since Boston.

VAUSE: It has, because we've seen George Pell in Melbourne. We've seen a cardinal in Washington resign. Cardinals never resign. Now we have seen--

(CROSSTALK)

BECK: Right. And these cases are before Boston.

VAUSE: Right. Yes.

BECK: And so you really can't say nothing has changed. What we're hearing what's different is the details of reports that we have not heard about in this grand jury document, and I think it's so startling because we thought well maybe it wasn't everywhere.

Maybe it was just Boston and what this is saying is no, it wasn't just Boston. I think that's what's so overwhelming.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Ultimately, that report may be a crucial test for Pope Francis who in the past has faltered in addressing sexual abuse in the church.

Fans around the world are showering Aretha Franklin with respect in every way that they can. Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is now a shrine. Flowers, photos there, notes, even a little red crown for the queen of soul.

The Apollo Theater in New York City's Harlem has long considered itself Aretha Franklin's home. She first performed there as a teenager in the early 1960s. The mood beneath the Apollo landmark marquee is festive and joyful as crowds there sing along to Franklin's hits.

(CROWD SINGING)

HOWELL: The former first lady of the United States Michelle Obama posted a picture of Franklin at the White House. She said watching Franklin perform, quote, "made time stand still."

And actress and singer Barbara Streisand wrote that not only was Franklin a uniquely brilliant singer, but her commitment to civil right made an incredible and indelible impact on the world.

Aretha Franklin's voice was without a doubt a national treasure, and because of it she lived a storied life. Time after time she appeared at center stage on some of the most pivotal moment in American history.

CNN's Randi Kaye explains how it all began.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aretha Franklin.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Long before she became the queen of soul, she was born Aretha Louise Franklin in Memphis, Tennessee. Her mother was a gospel singer and pianist. He father pastor. He raised Aretha in Detroit after her parents split up.

Aretha Franklin demanded respect from an early age. She taught herself to play piano before age 10. Her first performances were at her father's church.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARETHA FRANKLIN, SINGER-SONGWRITER: My dad encouraged me to sing. I really didn't want to sing in front of a lot of people, and he just kept pushing me out there anyway. Come on, Ri, I want you to sing now, come on. OK, all right, dad, and then would put on a box like this box right here, small box behind the pulpit, and I would stand on that box and sing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: By age 12, she was touring with her father whose sermons reportedly earned him a reputation as the man with a golden voice, a trait he seems to have passed on to his daughter.

In 1064, Aretha made one of her first appearances on "The Steve Allen Show," still a newcomer she performed a song "Won't Be Long."

It was her song "Respect" though, in odes writing original she recorded back in 197 that catapulted the 25-year- old into stardom.

It surged to number one and earned Aretha her first two Grammy Awards for best R&B recording artist and best solo female R&B performance. For women, it became an anthem. But it also changed history when the Civil Rights movement adopted it as their mantra.

[03:10:02] Aretha was barely in her 20s by the time the world recognized her as the queen of soul, but she was just getting started. Her recording career would go to spend more than half a century and go far beyond soul music. Her roots were in gospel.

Aretha also thrilled audiences with jazz, opera, and R&B. Her songs were personal with not so hidden messages about pain and loss. Also sensuality and sexuality.

Her song "Think" written near the end of her first marriage was a rallying cry for women fed up with lousy men. Aretha won 118 Grammy Awards, including best female R&B performance for eight years in row.

At the peak of her career in the 60s and 70s, she had more than two dozen top 40 hits. In 1987, Aretha was the first woman inducted into the rock 'n roll hall of fame. Long before that, in 1968, she sang a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s funeral.

Also, at inauguration concerts for Jimmy Carter in 1977, and Bill Clinton in 1993. She sang at Rosa Parks funeral in 2005. And in 2009, at the inauguration of Barack Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKLIN: I was delighted and thrilled to be there and that was the most important thing. Not so much my performance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: Later in 2015, she brought the president to tears at the Kennedy Center honors. Earlier that year, she performed for Pope Francis in Philadelphia.

Over the years, there were cameos on Murphy Brown, unforgettable performances with the likes of Smokey Robinson, Rod Stewart, and Elton John and duets with James Brown.

In February, 2017, Aretha announced she would stop touring but her music will live on.

(ARETHA FRANKLIN PERFORMING)

[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm George Howell.

In Afghanistan, authorities say at least two gunmen are dead after they attacked an intelligence training center. Now this happened Thursday in Kabul. This one day after a horrific suicide bombing there. ISIS has claimed responsibility for both attacks.

CNN's Phil Black reports many of the victims in Wednesday's blast they were teenagers.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Red eyed and exhausted, two brothers speak with pride about their youngest sister, Rohila (Ph).

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was an innocent girl. Really, an innocent girl. All of the people were laughing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I was little, she was so intelligent. She always got first position at school.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: Rohila (Ph) was studying when she was killed. It took just one violent moment to inflict all of this. In that instant, Rohila (Ph) and dozens of other people were thrown, torn, crushed and burned. They had been preparing for university admission exams when someone entered their classroom and trigger the suicide bomb.

Rohila's (Ph) brothers ran between hospitals desperately looking for their sister. They eventually found her body, and her face was unrecognizable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We found Rohila (Ph) by this watch, and it has still it has blood on itself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: Bombing means many people in this community must now bury sons and daughters. Their faces are consumed by sorrow and rage.

This woman screams furiously blaming the Afghan government for bloodshed that seems never- ending. Even while some of the victims are lowered into the ground, machines and men continue working nearby digging more graves.

In Rohila's (Ph) home, the broken watch now lies on her desk, next to books and the grades which show she graduated at the top of her class.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She wanted to travel all Afghanistan provinces. One day she told me that "I hope there is no war, there are no fighting."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: But Rohila (Ph) never knew peace. Like the war in Afghanistan, she was 17 years old.

Phil Black, CNN, London.

HOWELL: Phil, thank you again.

These teens killed in a suicide attack. CNN's Ivan Watson is following the story live in Hong Kong this hour. Ivan, given what we're seeing this uptick in violence, tell us more about what could be behind what we're seeing and the implications on overall security in that nation.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in the case of this particular attack in the attack on Thursday in Kabul at the training center, the national director of security in Kabul, those have been claimed by ISIS, which, so far, are kind of a smaller insurgent group in Afghanistan.

The bigger conflict is with the Taliban, which, on Friday, carried out its own attack in the city of Ghazni which is about 150 kilometers southwest of Kabul.

And it took days for government forces backed by U.S. air power to push the bulk of the Taliban fighters out of that town. But it appears that the recovery from all the damage is going to take quite some time.

The Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani posted a tweet with a photo of him with security forces saying that he had visited that town. Now we don't know how much he was able to go around through the streets of a city where the Taliban were openly operating in the streets.

[03:19:55] On a bigger scale, as far as the conflict goes, it has claimed, according to the United Nations, more lives in the first six months of this year than in any other year for that same period over the last decade.

The U.N. has published a statistics saying that at least 1,692 civilians have been killed in the first six months of this year. The bulk of them killed by suicide bombs and improvised explosive devices carried out by the different insurgent groups. About 20 percent of the civilians killed have been killed by pro-government forces.

So the bloodshed, the dying continues. And Afghanistan has basically been in a state of near constant conflict now going 30, 40 years. George?

HOWELL: Ivan, you know, the greater question here, though, is anything being done, what can be done to bolster security throughout the nation?

WATSON: Well, there was a ray of hope last June, George. And that's when the Afghan government and the Taliban enjoyed a short ceasefire at the end of Ramadan where we actually saw images of Afghan government forces and Taliban embracing and shaking hands.

But the drumbeat of violence and attacks since then has only escalated.

The U.S. secretary of defense has suggested that the assault on the city of Ghazni may have been an effort to try to derail the possibility of negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We now know that the enemy had six objectives in Ghazni. They failed to seize any one of the six locations in the area. It's been principally an information operation to grab a lot of press attention. They have been successful.

There's been talks about some kind of ceasefire coming from Afghan president, President Ghani. And this is what we've seen before an insurgency when there's going to be a negotiation or ceasefire to try to up the ante. This enemy doesn't by murdering innocent people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: George, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have reported that last month U.S. diplomats met with representatives of the Taliban in Qatar and there has been some hope that perhaps there could be a move towards more negotiation between the different worrying parties.

But the loss of life, particularly over the last week, suggests that is still quite far away from now. George?

HOWELL: Ivan Watson, live for us in Hong Kong, thank you.

Now to Italy, at least 38 people have been killed in a bridge collapse will be honored with a joint funeral at a national day of mourning this weekend.

We're also learning that an unknown number of people are still missing days after this disaster.

Our Ian Lee is live covering the story. Ian, what more can you tell us about those that are still missing?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: George, the question, really, you know, with that is how many people are there underneath that rubble. And there has been some conflicting numbers. But when we speak to the chief of police, he says that they frankly don't know.

Now let me just show you kind of where they are digging right now. You can probably see there is still that huge mound of twisted steel and concrete with the cranes there. And you can probably hear also that jackhammer trying to break apart that concrete, which is then removed and they bring in the dogs to see if they can detect anything.

And then they just continued to go a bit deeper. And we've been watching them make steady progress as they have been removing these chunks of road out of the way. But, you know, we need to point out, really, within the last 24 hours we haven't heard of any reports of them finding any bodies or any survivors, George.

I also want to point out the road as well. Up there, you can see that they have removed all of the vehicles. Late last night, they removed the vehicles from the road. They -- it must be stable enough. That was a main concern, is the remaining structures stable enough to operate on or around.

But they must have had the green light to do so all of those vehicles that were up there are now removed. And you can see that the emergency vehicles have replaced them on the road.

But, still, they operate with hope and with urgency, George, that they hope they may find survivors still yet under the rubble.

HOWELL: Ian, also given the fact that there will be a memorial for those killed, tell us more about what you understand should take place and the mood there given what happened.

LEE: The mood is somber but there is a lot of frustration here, George. A lot of frustration because this accident, locals say, was anticipated. They say they knew this bridge was unsafe.

[03:25:07] And we're also hearing from the government as well. They are placing blame on Autostrade per l'Italia. This is the company that was contracted to work on this bridge.

The Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio also vented his frustration. This is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUIGI DI MAIO, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF ITALY (through translator): We must ensure that everything is done according to standards. I declare that in this story Autostrade per l'Italia cannot assure us of anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEE: So really, it's been a war of words of blame, George. Who is responsible for this? Now the government says Autostrade is responsible and they say that they are going to revoke -- they're threatening to revoke the contracts of that company. The company came out and said if you are going to revoke our contract, we want to be compensated because they have not figured out exactly what brought down this bridge.

The Italian government shot back quickly saying now is not the time to talk about compensation, especially when they are still pulling bodies or there could be bodies underneath that rubble.

But also, there is a lot of frustration with the government that, you know, they -- from locals that they knew this bridge was unsafe too. So there is a lot of blame going around.

The chief of police says their main goal is to figure out what brought down the bridge and then they will look into who is responsible, George.

HOWELL: All right. The finger pointing ensues the search for missing continues at a memorial set for those who lost their lives.

Ian Lee, live for us. Thank you for the reporting.

In the United States, the Pentagon is tracking China's military growth and official say big things are happening.

In a new report, the Pentagon says China is actively developing a fleet of long-range bombers with nuclear capabilities. U.S. military officials believe these aircraft could be ready to go over the next 10 years.

The Pentagon also says China's air force is likely training its pilots for missions targeting the United States.

Live around the world, you are watching Newsroom. And still ahead, the war has lasted seven years. Reconstruction could take even longer. We report on efforts to rebuild Syria ahead.

Plus, she has been fired but Omarosa Manigault Newman is firing back. We'll explain what's happening there as Newsroom continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:29:57] HOWELL: Live around the world, you are watching CNN Newsroom. Thank you for being with us. I'm George Howell with the headlines we are following for you.

This hour the Vatican has broken its silence on sexual abuse allegations in a damning report here in the United States. The Vatican says abuses and the report are criminal, and those who commit or permit it should be held accountable. Over 70 years, more than 300 priests assaulted at least 1000 boys and girls.

In Afghanistan, ISIS is claiming responsibility for Thursday's attack in the nation's capital city of Kabul. Security forces shot and killed two gunman who assaulted an Intelligence agency training site. ISIS says it was also behind Wednesday deadly blast at an education center.

Tributes and condolences are pouring in from around the world for the music legend, Aretha Franklin. Franklin died Thursday after battling cancer. The queen of soul rose to stardom in 1967 with the song respect. Eventually, she have 20 number one songs to her credit along with 18 Grammy awards. Aretha Franklin was 76 years old. In Syria, the civil war there may finally be winding down, and many

are looking toward rebuilding. Russia wants financial help from western nations with the United States and its allies are hesitant to back the Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. For more, CNN's Fred Pleitgen has this report.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The territorial gains of the Russian military has helped the Syrian government forces achieve are really quite impressive. The Russian military has driven us on this trip from the southern border of Syria all the way up here to an area that is 700 kilometers without having to make way for any areas still controlled by opposition forces. At the same time, you do see a lot of the problems that Syria still faces. You look at the city that we are in now. Homs, there is still so much reconstruction that needs to be done. We're in the central part of the city. Of course, people are trying to rebuild. You see some scaffolding, you see people cleaning up. But a lot of money and a lot of resources are needed. Homs' governor said, the City is doing its best with what it has.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (TRANSLATOR): In May 2014, rebels add abandoned the old city of Homs, leaving behind major damages. The very next day, with fighters left, we allowed people to come back to the old city.

PLEITGEN: One lighthouse project Homs' historic market has just reopened after being almost totally destroyed by the fighting that raged here. This is what the market look like four years ago when CNN was on hand a Syrian government forces retook the old town of Homs from rebels. Some reconstruction is going on in Syria like this bridge, in the town Rastan (ph), but hundreds of billions of dollars will probably be needed to get the country back on its feet. And Moscow wants western nations to pitch in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (TRANSLATOR): Of course it is very hard, because the scale of damages is large and people, no doubt, need help. Especially those who are coming back to their homes. They need help to get back to normal life and make the economy work.

PLEITGEN: Western countries are reluctant to provide reconstruction help with both the Assad government and its Russian backers accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Claims they vehemently denied. The Russian army took us to a military food and medical aid station, handing out rations to Syrians still struggling just to get by and uncertain who will provide aid to repair the massive damage this war has caused. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Rastan, Syria.

(END VIDEO)

HOWELL: Here in the United States, CNN has learned President Trump is eager to revoke more security clearances in the coming days, including those of some critics involved in the Russia probe. This comes as he faces growing backlash after stripping former CIA Director, John Brennan of his clearance. 12 former senior intelligence officials are coming to Brennan's defense in a letter signed by six former CIA Directors, five former Deputy Directors, and the former Director of National Intelligence. They called the revocation of Brennan's security clearance baseless, political, and an attempt to stifle free speech. And there are new accusations from former advisor and fellow reality TV star, Omarosa Manigault Newman. Kaitlan Collins has more details on that for us.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump going silent when it came to questions today. As two of his loudest critics launched their attacks.

OMAROSA MANIGAULT NEWMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: It is the art of the deal.

COLLINS: Former White House staffer, Omarosa Manigault Newman, releasing another tape.

[03:35:00] This time with the Presidents daughter-in-law discussing her role with the Trump 2020 campaign. Lara Trump offering her $15,000 a month for undefined role as long as she kept things positive.

LARA TRUMP, SENIOR ADVISER FOR TRUMP 2020: It is sounds a little like, obviously, that there are some things you've got in the back pocket to pull out. Clearly, if you come on board the campaign, like, we can have, we got to --

MANIGAULT: Oh god no.

L. TRUMP: Everything, everybody positive, right?

COLLINS: That conversation happening after a December interview where Omarosa said she had seen things in the White House that made her uncomfortable. Omarosa left out what she said during the call, but said today that she saw it as hush money.

MANIGAULT: I saw this as an attempt to buy my silence, to censor me and to pay me off, $15,000 per month by the campaign.

COLLINS: In a statement, Lara Trump denying Omarosa's account, claiming the job offer was made before she was aware of Omarosa's gross violations of ethics and integrity in the White House. Ask if she was going to release more tapes, Omarosa playing coy.

MANIGAULT: If I need to, I will do what I need to do to protect myself. Donald Trump has met his match.

COLLINS: Omarosa releasing her fourth tape one day after White House try to extinguish her news cycle. Announcing President Trump has revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director, John Brennan. An outspoken critic who said his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin was nothing short of treasonous.

Sarah Sanders offering this explanation for the unusual move. SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: His

erratic conduct and behavior, the history that calls into question his objectivity and credibility leveraged his status as a former high ranking official.

COLLINS: But Trump upended that defense when he blurted out that the reason for revoking Brennan's clearance was a Russian investigation. Telling the Wall Street Journal, I call it the red witch hunt it as a sham. He said these people let it, adding, it is something that had to be done.

Sanders and other official staying quiet today, but Brennan did not. Writing in an op-ed for The New York Times," Mr. Trump's claims of no collusion are in a word hogwash."

Now back to that tell-all books from Omarosa, we have received an exclusive letter from her publisher, Simon (inaudible) in response to a letter response to a letter they say they received from Charles Harter. The attorney for the president's re-election campaign. They said it was a threatening letter that they received from him saying that they could be subject to monetary and punitive damages if they move forward with the publication of this book. However, they are pushing back and pushing back hard saying they will not be intimidated and neither will their client, and quote, by your hollow legal threats. They are going to proceed with this book as scheduled. Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEO)

HOWELL: Kaitlan, thank you. A rare moment of unity in Washington on Thursday when the Republican-controlled Senate unanimously passed a resolution reaffirming support for freedom of the press and asserting that the press are not the quote enemy of the people, as the U.S. President likes to suggest. It is a direct rebuke of President Trump who repeatedly calls the press, again, the enemy of the people and undermines news stories that quite frankly he just does not like. The Senate was not alone. Hundreds of newspapers across the United States ran editorials on Thursday defending the free American press.

It was the Boston Globe that kicked up this initiative here in the United States. And to get their perspective, let's bring in Alex Kingsbury. Alex is the deputy editor of the idea's section at the Boston Globe, joining us this hour in Boston. Thank you so much for your time, Alex.

Let's start by hearing the President and his past remarks of exactly about how he feels about the American free press.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They are the fake disgusting news. They are the worst. There are very dishonest people back there. Absolute dishonest, absolute scum. It is frankly disgusting the way the press was able to write whatever they want to write. They are the enemy of the people. I would never tell them, but I do hate them. Some of them are such lying, just disgusting people. It is true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: What is disgusting and quite frankly corrosive are the comments about the American free press. Mr. Trump has been active since the publishing of these editorials and one of those, and we will show them here. One of those tweets suggesting he does want a free press, and the other suggesting that the Boston Globe is in collusion, it says, with other papers on free press. When you saw these tweets, Alex, your thoughts?

ALEX KINGSBURY, DEPUTY EDITOR, IDEA'S SECTION, BOSTON GLOBE: Well, listen, I would disagree with Mr. Trump's definition of collusion. Collusion is something that is done in secret between multiple parties, and you know, maybe at the Trump hotel. This was a project that was done right out in the open.

[03:40:00] This was an open initiative by the Globe to reach out to news publications and other media outlets around the country and weigh in on the really alarming rhetoric that Trump has adopted recently.

Now, listen, you know, being anti-press has been Trump's brand for a long time, and being a critic of the press is something the press is fully equip to deal with. But saying the press is the enemy of the people, it is another matter, it is entirely -- it is an alarming distraction or an alarming change from the past Presidents of the United States. It is something that, frankly, people on the Globe editorial board were alarmed with and around the country as well. We have seen other editorial board's way and be very alarmed at what is going on.

HOWELL: An attack on one is an attack on all. Meaning, that Mr. Trump while he likes to single out the national media, the effects go well beyond that down to local Newsrooms, as you pointed out. Many of these cases, you see young men and women who are just trying to get starting in their careers. Telling stories in their communities, their voices are also reflected in this in this editorials from Newsrooms small and large.

KINGSBURY: That is exactly. And we did not asked all this organizations to publish our editorial or agreed upon editorial. We asked him to tell what this rhetoric meant to them in their own words. That is what really leads to a granular picture of what journalism looks like in the United States in 2018. You had an editor from Iowa describing what it was like for an editor to be confronted with a man who walked into a Newsroom with a gun and wanted to settle some score about something that had been written.

A conservative paper damning Mississippi that wrote their conservative founder knows what it is like to be an enemy of the people, because he stood up to the KKK in the '60s. There's -- these are very passionate people about what they do and they think it is patriotic, they are deeply committed to it, and they are deeply alarmed when they are labeled a traitor and an enemy of the people in their own country by their own President. HOWELL: Also, around the world, let's talk about the impact of these

corrosive attacks on journalist trying to get the story out in places where they do not want the story out, places where their lives are in danger. Did the President's words give the green light for governments that despise the free press?

KINGSBURY: I mean, it is something that is absolutely concerning. Listen, people look to the president of the United States as a leader of the free world. And what does it say to leaders in Ankara or Beijing or Moscow or in all of these places that it is OK to treat the press as a domestic threat? That is alarming to people in our business to matter where they are. And we should note that the United States is one of the best places to be a journalist, because we are protected by the rule of law and we are protected by a society that values what we do, and to a road that, for Mr. Trump to a road that faith in what we do is a civic good is to endanger what we do, but it is also to endanger journalists around the world.

HOWELL: Alex Kingsbury, thank you so much for your time, joining from the Boston Globe.

KINGSBURY: Sure. Happy to be here.

HOWELL: Still ahead, she waited nearly 70 years to hug her son, but now this South Korean mother is getting ready for her dream to come true. You will hear her story as Newsroom pushes ahead.

[03:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Welcome back. Residence in India's southern state of Kerala are suffering from the worst flooding in that region in nearly a century. Officials tell us at least 109 people have lost their lives in than 100,000 have been evacuated to relief camps. There was heavy seasonal rain and officials were forced to open dangerously full dams. Forecasters predict rain until Saturday.

For nearly 100 South Koreans, the emotions going into this weekend are going to be running incredibly high. That is because starting on Monday, they will be able to see long lost family members in North Korea. They have spent decades, and in some cases, entire lifetimes apart. CNN's Paula Hancocks is following the story live in Seoul, South Korea.

Paula, again, one can only imagine the anticipation and the emotion that goes into that first face-to-face between family members who have been physically separated for decades.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is right, George. It is really an incredibly emotional time. These are families that were torn apart during the Korean War back in the 1950s. And for the vast majority of them, they have not heard anything about their family members stuck in the North of Korea since that time. So, many did not even know that they were still alive. A lot have gone through this lottery system. 57,000 people have applied to be part of this reunion, and it is whittled down to just 93 who are able to see their loved ones on Monday. It will be a three day affair, an incredibly emotional affair.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

HANCOCKS: Lee KumSun is 92 years old. Oblivious, to the crowds in the Seoul's shopping center, she has an outfit to buy for a very special occasion. On Monday, Lee will meet her son for the first time in 68 years.

Lee and her husband were among many North Koreans who fled when the Korean War took hold in 1950. She recalls walking for days, carrying her 1-year-old daughter, and her husband carrying her son. She left the road to breast-feed her baby and slipped and sprain her ankle. When she returned, she could not find her husband.

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

HANCOCKS: As a fighting caught up with them, she had to take a train and then a ship and waited in South Korea for her husband and son to catch up. They never did.

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

HANCOCKS: Lee is one of 93 South Koreans who will be reunited with family members they have not seen in decades. For 57,000 who had applied, these reunions happen only when the relations between the two Korea's are good. The last one was three years ago. It is an emotional and highly controlled three days in North Korea.

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

HANCOCKS: (Inaudible) is still waiting. He is one of thousands who can only wonder if their chance will ever come. He is 85 and his two brothers, one older and one younger did not managed to escape the north during the war. He is heard nothing about them since.

[03:50:00] (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

(END VIDEO)

HANCOCKS: John says even with his disappointment, he does still have hope that at one point he may be part of a future reunion. He hikes three hours every morning. He says, he wants to keep himself fit at the age of 86 just in case his turn comes next. This is what it is like for thousands of people that are waiting for a potential future reunion, even those that are the lucky ones that do go to this reunion, it is also a bittersweet experience. It is three days, but it is highly choreographed. There are certain hours of each day that they are allowed to sit down with each other and talk. And then of course that devastating moment when they have to come back to South Korea, knowing they are very unlikely to see their loved once again.

HOWELL: The stories that you shared really hit home. Just to let people understand the emotion that goes into this. Thank you for the report, Paula.

Still ahead here on Newsroom, we look back at the life of Aretha Franklin, her legacy. The music legend influence generations of followers and reminded us of our respect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody wants respect. Who does not want respect? From the smallest child maybe three years old to a 90 and 100. Everybody wants respect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White, black, brown, she had a sense of universality. She found music common ground and yet she thought that dignity was nonnegotiable. I remember that. And of course, her cooking. Aretha could cook. Cook, would eat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Tributes are pouring in from around the world for Aretha Franklin, from her fellow musicians to many people, who knew and loved her. This music legend died, Thursday from pancreatic cancer. Paul McCartney posted a picture of a young Aretha Franklin with the caption, let's all take a moment to give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many, many years.

And Elton John wrote quote the loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music, music from the heart, the soul, and the church. "Aretha Franklin not only sang about respect, she demanded it. CNN's Jeanne Moos has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aretha does not just get respect, she gets a lot. Imagine a President adjusting your footstool, sort of the same way she started around age 9.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They would have me stand on a little chair and sing.

MOOS: Singing gospel and then singing soul.

How did she make us feel? We have lost the greater singer of our time tweeted Billy Joel. Stars like Barbra Streisand and Oprah posted photos taken with her. The queen of soul died on the same date as the king of rock 41 years apart.

Aretha was not lonesome. She died of pancreatic cancer at home with family. Temporarily, political bickering came to a halt.

[03:55:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am very sad to report this morning.

MOOS: Fans imagined Aretha walking through the gates of heaven like royalty. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you a diva?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. What I be a diva? I am really very down to earth. I really am.

MOOS: Dictionary.com honored Aretha with this entry, even if the way she sang it made it harder to spell it.

Respect one Aretha the first of her 18 Grammy's when they called to say she would be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she thought --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this a joke?

MOOS: Her second husband divorce, but still closed said she had a wonderful sense of humor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I ask about sex? It is in a lot of your songs, I mean, --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sex?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lust.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No.

MOOS: Mixed up Aretha. Not possible. She sang at Martin Luther King's funeral. She let freedom ring at the Obama inauguration and at the Kennedy Center, performance drove Carol King into ecstasy. President Obama did not just sing along, he wiped away a tear. It happened again at another occasion when she sang America, and the Attorney General also cried. The queen of soul able to touch our souls. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEO)

HOWELL: What an amazing spirit.

Both the former President and first lady sent out tweets of condolence and appreciation. The Obama's also put out a joint statement remarking on Franklin's incredible impact on American culture. It read in part, America has no royalty, but we do have the chance to earn something more enduring. For more than six decades, since, every time she sang, we were all graced with the glimpse of the divine. Aretha pass on to a better place. Bu the gift of her music remains to inspire us all. Thank you for being with us in Newsroom. I'm George Howell. The news continue with my colleague Hannah Vaughan Jones live in London.

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