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North Korea's Kim Jong-un "Open" to Third Summit; Trump Told Top Border Official He'd Pardon Him if He Went to Jail for Denying Entry to Asylum Seekers; Pompeo Backs Up Trump Decision to Cut Central American Aid; WikiLeaks Founder in Custody, Faces Extradition to U.S.; Protests Continue in Sudan after President Ousted; "Game of Thrones" Brace for Series Conclusion. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired April 13, 2019 - 03:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Might there be a third summit?

Kim Jong-un says he's open to another meeting with President Trump but under some conditions.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They say we have open arms. They always say we have open arms. Let's see if they have open arms.

VANIER (voice-over): Going after Democrats: Donald Trump threatens to release undocumented immigrants to U.S. cities that oppose his tough immigration policies.

And the generals running Sudan's transition council promised that they will let civilians run the country as protesters keep up oppression (ph).

We are live from the CNN Center in Atlanta. I'm Cyril Vanier. Great to have you with us.


VANIER: So it appears North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may be dangling a diplomatic carrot. Kim says that he's open to a third summit with the United States. But he also says that the U.S. must change its attitude. he'll give the U.S. until the end of the year to decide if they want another summit. He told the Supreme Peoples Assembly in Pyongyang that what is obvious is that if the United States sticks to its current political way of calculation, the prospects for problem solving will be dark and very dangerous.

Our Paula Hancocks is standing by with more for us from so.

It is not clear to me how the U.S. should interpret Kim's statements.

Is this a threat or is it a roundabout call for dialogue?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It could have been worse. It could've been a lot worse considering that just a few weeks ago North Korea and the deputy foreign minister talked about Kim Jong-un wanting to call these talks off completely, how he wasn't even sure it was worth it after the Hanoi summit.

So you're seeing that there is wiggle room. The North Koreans and Kim Jong-un himself is saying that he's leaving the door open until the end of the year. Of course as you say, there are a lot of conditions he's putting on that, saying that the U.S. has to change its way of calculating and he will be patient until the end of the year.

But the U.S. has to change its attitude. It's very clear that North Korea was disappointed after the Hanoi summit. We haven't heard from the North Korean leader himself. But state-run media spoke about how the U.S. was blamed for it.

We heard from the foreign minister in Hanoi that the same night Trump left, blaming the U.S., that they had not called for all sanctions to be lifted, saying that the U.S. version of events was incorrect.

So what we're seeing now is a clear indication from the North Korean leader that he is ready to talk but he wants to see a different tack from the U.S. He says that he is happy to go back to sending receiving letters from President Trump. He feels like you've gone back a few months there. But also saying that he doesn't want to see another replica of the Hanoi summit. He would not be willing and happy having that kind of a summit again.

VANIER: What was U.S. demanding of North Korea at that summit?

HANCOCKS: Well, we understand is there was an attempt by the United States to make it abundantly clear to North Korea what they saw as denuclaration. It seems remarkable when you get to the second summit between the two leaders that they are still trying to decide what exactly that means. We know they both see it in a very different way.

We heard from President Trump just a couple days ago, meeting with the South Korean president In Washington he's looking for the big deal. He's looking for complete denuclearization and he wants to start lifting sanctions.

But he has said potentially a step by step process may be possible if the conditions are right. This is the exact opposite of what North Korea wants. They want a quid pro quo. They want a step by step process and to be honest, to some extent, so do the South Koreans. They want this momentum to continue so that they can at the very least be talking.

We understand from reports that there was a piece of paper in Korean and English that President Trump gave to Kim Jong-un which was to put together they wanted all the nuclear weapons and the fuel from North Korea to be shipped to the United States. So this is something that's very blunt and not something welcome in North Korea -- Cyril.

VANIER: All right Paula, Paula Hancocks in South Korea, thank you.

The U.S. president is coming under fire for his extreme immigration policy. Critics accusing him of using human beings as political pawns. Administration officials --


VANIER: -- telling CNN that last week during a visit to the U.S. border Mr. Trump offering to pardon a top border official if he was jailed for having his agents illegally block asylum seekers from entering the country.

It is not clear if the U.S. president was joking when he made that comment. And now, President Trump is saying he is strongly considering the possibility of releasing detained immigrants into so- called sanctuary cities, in part, to retaliate against Democrats for not supporting his immigration plan.

And that comes after the White House has said that speculation about such a plan was a quote, "non-story."

There's a lot to unpack here. White House correspondent Abby Phillip reports.


TRUMP: Let's see if they're so happy they say we have open arms. They're always saying they have --

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump reviving a controversial proposal to bus undocumented immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities controlled by Democrats.

TRUMP: We are looking at the possibilities, strongly looking at it, to be honest with you, a lot of sanctuary cities. We will give them to the sanctuary cities maybe to take care of it.

PHILLIP (voice-over): Trump contradicting his own aides, who just hours earlier, had insisted in a statement that the idea was briefly and informally raised and quickly rejected.

TRUMP: When you have sanctuary cities, you have crime.

PHILLIP (voice-over): Sources told CNN the president pushed former Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to implement the plan twice in recent months. Nielsen, who was fired this week, resisted. And lawyers at the department determined that the idea was likely illegal.

But Trump's objective is simple: political retribution aimed at sanctuary cities led by Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi's home district, San Francisco. Her reaction:

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: It's just another notion that is unworthy of the presidency of the United States and disrespectful of the challenges that we faceas a country, as a people, to address who we are, a nation of immigrants.

PHILLIP (voice-over): The sanctuary cities idea is just the latest in a series of hardline approaches that the administration considered as they dealt with the new flood of undocumented immigrants crossing into United States.

Just last month, Trump threatened to close the entire border with Mexico. And Florida was reinstating its policy of separating undocumented families at the border. Amid the blowback, vice president Mike Pence emphasizing that Trump has now ruled that proposal out.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president made it very clear this week we're not rethinking bringing back family separations.

PHILLIP: White House officials are now saying that when President Trump said that they're moving forward with the sanctuary cities proposal, he was not referring to the one that has already been rejected by the Department of Homeland Security lawyers.

They're saying they're having lawyers look at new ways they might implement this without violating the law.

How that might happen no one really knows right now. But the White House says they're working on it -- Abby Philip, CNN the White House.


VANIER: Reaction is coming in from the leaders of some of those U.S. sanctuary cities.

The mayor of Berkeley, California, says, "I am shocked but not surprised that once again this president is playing a cynical game with people's lives in order to score political points. To use immigrants as pawns on a political chessboard is outrageous and unethical."

San Jose's mayor says in his city and "Silicon Valley, we happily welcome any families willing to endure such extraordinary hardship and to take such tremendous risk to endeavor to be part of our great country."

And this from the district attorney of San Francisco.

"The fact that such a proposal is being peddled by the leader of the free world is an all-time low for American discourse."

The Trump administration announced earlier this month plans to cut aid to several Central American countries, which the White House says aren't doing enough to mitigate the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border.

U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo is defending the Trump administration's decision. Even though State Department statistics show that homicide rates went down and the number of migrants fleeing north dropped after a U.S. aid program was implemented. But Mr. Trump decided to remove American dollars from these countries. Pompeo explained why.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Hundreds of millions of dollars spent in Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador and you see the results. You can the results yesterday, you saw them last week, you seeing people fleeing those nations, throwing more money at this problems, which is what I think your question is suggesting, that there's no reason to believe that we get any outcome that is different from the one that we're suffering from today.

So what the Trump administration is trying to do is say we're prepared to help, we're prepared to engage and to support but you, you have to take serious efforts, whether it's Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Mexico for that matter, too. We need those nations to ensure that their people aren't making --


POMPEO: -- this dangerous transit across Mexico and coming into our country illegally. That's what we're asking these countries to do; when they begin to do that, America's support will again return.


VANIER: Earlier I spoke with political analyst Michael Genovese about Mr. Trump's announcement on sanctuary cities and how Trump voters might react come election time.


MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: This is in large part to mask his failed policy. He had two years of Republican control of the White House and Congress. They couldn't pass any legislation on immigration reform. This year marks a 12-year high in illegal immigration.

So what you want to do is you want to distract and react. So to distract, you throw out this policy that is cynical, that is really quite cruel. You're weaponizing immigrants. You're weaponizing children.

And so I think this policy will not go into effect. As long as he plays himself up in that heroic way, his base, which is almost like people following the Pied Piper, will follow him. And at what point they move away from him it is hard to say. They certainly have not shown one inch of retreat from Donald Trump. This works for the president.

VANIER: According to our reporting -- I'm seeing the same thing in "The New York Times" reporting -- the president is very frustrated that he is not getting results on immigration.

So what can he do, legally do, that he has not already done or tried? GENOVESE: It's a question of which policies you want to promote.

Do you want to keep focusing on building a wall?

Or do you want to -- do you want to try to go to the --


VANIER: -- if you want to come back to your voters and say I have limited the number of undocumented immigrants who come into the country through the southern border because that's his selling point.

If you want to come back to your voters and say I've done that, what could he do?

GENOVESE: You can build the biggest wall in the world and it probably won't have much of an affect.

I think what he really needs to do -- and he had the chance in his first two years -- is get some legislation to reform the process. He has very little chance of getting that now so I think trying to work with Democrats on this in a free election year is not going to work and so I think the president will have to govern on this issue with blue smoke and mirrors because his hands will be tied legislatively.

And in terms of his administrative response, he has pretty much done everything he can do.


VANIER: That was Michael Genovese speaking to me earlier.

Trump's controversial ban on transgender military recruits in now in effect. Under this new rule, most openly transgender people will be barred from enlisting unless they serve under their birth sex. Critics call the policy bigoted, misguided, damaging.

But the Defense Department says it will continue to treat everyone with respect. Officials also say the policy does not affect transgender troops who are already serving.

Two leaders down in two days. Sudan's military chief steps down but protesters are still demanding democracy.

And a new study into monkey brains is giving researchers some fascinating data but critics say the research is at best naive and at worst unethical. Find out why when we come back.




(MUSIC PLAYING) VANIER: It is not only WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who is in

trouble with the law. One of his associates is facing charges as well. Olav Denney (ph) said when police arrested him in Ecuador, they read him his rights in Spanish although he is Swedish.

Officials say that his arrest is part of an investigation of meddling into Ecuador's internal affairs. Denney (ph) is a longtime collaborator of Assange, who was arrested Thursday in Ecuador's embassy in London. He is wanted on one count of conspiracy to hack into the U.S. and steal military secrets.

Assange's first extradition hearing is set for May 2nd. British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn says the U.K. should oppose extradition to the U.S.; however more than 70 MPs have another idea. They want Assange sent to Sweden, where authorities are considering reopening an investigation to a rape allegation.

Meanwhile, the U.N. human rights office is demanding Assange get a fair trial. A U.N. official says that Assange faces the risk of serious human rights violations if he is sent to the United States.

The arrest has also triggered a debate over press freedoms and freedom of speech. One of Julian Assange's lawyers spoke with CNN's Jim Sciutto about it.


JENNIFER ROBINSON, ASSANGE ATTORNEY: These are the allegations. None of them have been proven but it does --


ROBINSON: -- it does boil down to the allegations, as they read on the indictment, boil down to providing assistance to a source to protect their identity. Now --


SCIUTTO: But did you provide more help than that, that is my question?

ROBINSON: Well, that is a factual matter that is left to be determined and of course we will have our arguments about that in time. But looking at this, this absolutely encapsulates what journalists do all the time in terms of their communication with their sources and touches upon the news gathering process.


VANIER: Over to Sudan now, where some people are celebrating after two leaders left their posts in two days.


VANIER (voice-over): These cheers come after the defense minister announced that he was stepping down as head of Sudan's military transition council. Lieutenant General Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf took the role after long-term president Omar al-Bashir was ousted.

The defense minister announced his successor, another military leader. But protesters are demanding a civilian government be put in charge. The military council is also facing questions about the future of Omar al-Bashir, the president whom they deposed. They generals say they will prosecute him but not extradite him. CNN's Farai Sevenzo reports.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sudan's long-running standoff between its people and their government reached a momentous milestone on Thursday, April 11th, for nearly four months they had gathered to protest, demanding letters fall (ph).

Junior (ph) soldiers joined the protest, chanting with the people and after three decades in iron-gripped control, 75 year old Omar al- Bashir was forced out of power. The news that albash had gone (INAUDIBLE) approval throughout the streets. The protesters had expected albash's departure when many others had not.

But they had not expected nor wanted albash's own military deputies to take over. Leftenant General Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf was, until his appearance here, albash's vice president and minister of defense. \

Now he wants to lead a two-year military transitional council, which delcared a three-month state of emergency and announced a nighttime curfew for a month. Albash, the new military council said, was under arrest and in a safe place.

If General Ibn Auf had hoped to appease the crowds, his words had the opposite effect. Anger and disappointment replaced hope and joy across Sudan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We want a new regime, not the same old regime that they are. They are trying to con us.

SEVENZO (voice-over): The revolution was far-flung. It gained lives in every town. On the day albash was removed, 13 people were killed, eight in Darfur alone, according to Sudan's doctors (INAUDIBLE).

The people were urged back onto the streets and the Sudanese Professional Association as they rejected the new command. And as the sun set and the first night of curfew approached, they carried their bedding to the military headquarters in defiance. The proposed hour of curfew came and went.

And the very first day of Sudan without albash all woke to music. Sudan's revolution had toppled a 75-year old is overwhelmingly useful. It is Sudan's future --


SEVENZO (voice-over): -- but felt betrayed by its rulers.

Before Friday prayers, the new rulers tried again to reassure the Sudanese of their good intentions. 24 hours after Omar al-Bashir left, the long three-decade old shadow of his rule could be felt here, too.

Can these men, who took orders from a dictator, wanted by the International Criminal Court, hand him over?

And then, a new twist: only 24 hours later, Ibn Auf himself stepped down.

Did the people's pressure do this?

And now the question is, who will blink first? The people determined to protest for a transition to civilian rule or the military council determined to remove them?

As Omar al-Bashir may now appreciate, it will be folly to bet against Sudan's determined people -- Farai Sevenzo, CNN.


VANIER: The president and former vice president of South Sudan had a dramatic meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican. They were at a spiritual retreat on Thursday aimed at ending the violence that has plagued their country. The pope appealed to the leaders to respect the peace deal that they signed to end the country's civil war.


POPE FRANCIS, PONTIFF, ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): And to the three of you who have signed the peace agreement, I ask you as a brother, stay in peace.

VANIER (voice-over): And then this: the pope knelt down and kissed the feet of the two former rivals, a gesture of peace and reconciliation. The conflict that they were involved in killed hundreds of thousands of people. But now they're trying to form a stable government together.


VANIER: For the first time ever it's three up and three down for SpaceX.


VANIER (voice-over): The private company successfully landed all three rocket boosters back on Earth upright after a launch on Thursday. You can see two side boosters touching down in Florida then the center four landed on a platform in the ocean.

The company's Falcon Heavy spacecraft sent a communication satellite into orbit for a Saudi Arabian firm. SpaceX hopes its reusable rockets will drastically cut down the cost of space flights. An experiment being compared to the sci-fi classic "Planet of the

Apes" has split the scientific community. It involves a Chinese researcher who implanted human genes into the brains of monkeys to study how human intelligence evolved.

His team found that the modified monkeys did better on memory tests involving colors and block pictures. Their brains took longer to develop, as those of human children do. And no difference in brain size was found. Western scientists called the study reckless and very risky.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout spoke with Kevin Mitchell, a professor of genetics and neuroscience at Trinity College, Dublin.


KEVIN MITCHELL, TRINITY COLLEGE: I think it is both naive and, biologically speaking, and I think unethical. The reason it is naive is that the gene that they're interested in is a gene called microcephalin and it's called that because when you mutate it in humans, -- sorry, when it is mutated -- it causes a condition called microcephaly, where people have a smaller brain.

And over evolution, you can see there are some changes to that gene in humans but people think might be part of what contributes to humans having a big brain. Now the idea of the experiment is that, if you put the human version into a monkey, maybe it will have a big brain.

But I call that naive because really we know there are thousands of genes that have changed over the course of human evolution and it doesn't happen with one gene changing all of a sudden.

So the idea that just putting in that one gene could have this kind of a change is really a bit simplistic.


VANIER: And one of the scientists involved in that study says it followed ethical guidelines and research into human brain evolution will continue.

The long-awaited final season of "Game of Thrones" is almost upon us. After almost two years in hiatus, the record-breaking series featuring the Seven Kingdoms, flame-spouting dragons, White Walkers, blood sex, returns to HBO this Sunday.

Now if you are a fan, it is a bittersweet farewell, as Zain Asher knows all too well.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are coming.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the kingdom of Westeros --


ASHER (voice-over): -- winter is finally here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I promise to fight for the living.

ASHER (voice-over): HBO's fantasy drama "Game of Thrones" launched its long awaited final season Sunday and fans and actors are like are bracing for an end of an era in television history.

It is devastating and it is awful but in many regards it is the most exciting things I've ever been a part of.

It is hard to remember life before "Game of Thrones" but from my perspective it has been nothing but fun.

In the eight years since its debut "Game of Thrones" has shattered records, during millions of viewers worldwide winning dozens of any awards. And aspiring countless ads, prodded and accessories looking to cash in on the massive global hit.

It is exciting and thrilling and dangerous and you never know what is going to happen.

HBO invests heavily on the visuals and creative storytelling that draws viewers far and wide. Variety magazine says that this shows budget has many millions for its final season.

We are not American, we are not European, we are world than anyone can belong to.

It is become a cultural phenomenon that has been parodied and late night comedy.

I just need to know people hate me?

In reference to the U.S. president and the former appointment.

Which is closest to life in politics?

Probably "Game of Thrones".

From politicians to the press, "Game of Thrones" fanfare knows no bounds.

I'm Anderson Cooper and winter is coming.

Zain Asher CNN New York.

Brigadier lifesavers because we have a lot and entertainment news today, the first trailer is out for eagerly awaited star wars episode nine.

The rise of sky Walker the finality to the space saga and a galaxy far, far away, this one will end Skywalker's storyline and feature Mark Hamill and outtakes from previous films from the late actress Carrie Fisher. You will fear the force when you hit the others. We are thinking out tonight thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM I'm Cyril Vanier we will have the headlines for you in just a moment, stay with us.