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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; North Korea's Kim Jong-un "Open" to Third Summit; WikiLeaks Founder in Custody, Faces Extradition to U.S.; U.S. policy Barring Transgender Recruits Goes into Effect; President Trump's Immigration Policies under Fire; Protests Continue in Sudan after President Ousted; First Trailer Materializes for "Star Wars Episode IX"; "Game of Thrones" Brace for Series Conclusion. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired April 13, 2019 - 05:00   ET





DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They want more people in their sanctuary cities, well, we'll give them more people. We can give them a lot. We can give them an unlimited supply.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): U.S. President Donald Trump unleashing on Democrats, saying he's strongly considering releasing migrants into so-called sanctuary cities, despite warnings doing so might be against the law.

Also this hour, a message from North Korea. Kim jong-un calls on the U.S. to change its approach for another summit. We'll tell you about the language he used in making that announcement.

Also people across Sudan take a closer step toward democracy after the man who led the country's military coup steps down. This would be a major, major change for the people of Sudan. We'll have the latest on that.

Welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


ALLEN: Thanks for joining us.

The U.S. president coming under fire for his extreme immigration policies. Critics warn he's trying to go around the rule of law to accomplish his political goals and using human beings as pawns.

Administration officials tell CNN during a visit last week to the U.S. border, Mr. Trump offered to pardon a top border official if he was jailed for illegally blocking asylum seekers from entering the country. It's not clear if the president was joking about that.

On Friday, the president said he is seriously considering sending crowds of detained migrants to U.S. sanctuary cities, in part, to retaliate against Democrats for not supporting his immigration plan.

So as you can see, there is much to unpack here. Let's begin with White House correspondent Abby Phillip.


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 face as 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.


ALLEN: Reaction coming in from the leaders of sanctuary cities. 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 mayor of Atlanta tweeted, "This fearmongering is feeding the rise of hate crimes in our country and is nothing more than a xenophobic --


ALLEN: -- "game of partisan politics. We are better than this."

The mayor of Seattle, Washington, tweeted, "Time and again, we have seen this administration weaken the moral standing of America and undermine true public safety. Seattle will continue to fight for the dignity of every person and not allow any administration to destroy the promise of America."

The Trump administration announced earlier this month plans to cut aid to several Central American countries which the White House says are not 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 homicide rates went down and the number of migrants fleeing to the north dropped after U.S. aid programs were implemented.

But Mr. Trump decided to remove American dollars from these countries and 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 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.


ALLEN: Meantime, the U.S. government is approaching a milestone in its effort to reunite families separated by force at the border. A new report released Friday shows more than 200,000 children have been reunited with their parents so far. But the crisis isn't over yet.

There are still about 40 children in government custody who will not be reunited because the parents were deemed unfit or dangerous or because they waived reunification. Watchdog groups say there could still be thousands more separated families not on any list. The U.S. government says it is ready to hire contractors to help identify them.

Much to sort through here. Joining us is James Boys, a professor of international political studies at Richmond, the American University in London.

We appreciate you coming on, thank you. Let's start here. President Trump determined, obviously, from these story we have just been reporting to stem the tide of migrants any way he can, even if it's against the law, this idea of sanctuary cities.

What is your reaction on hardcore immigration tactics by the administration?

JAMES BOYS, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY, LONDON: Good morning, Natalie. There's no doubt about it, what we are seeing here with the latest round of announcements is very much Donald Trump trying to follow through on those policies, which he believes got him elected.

What I think we are seeing is increasing frustration by this president and also it reveals, I think his overall lack of political experience. He's not surrounded by people who are aiding him very well, quite frankly, and guiding him through how to appreciate not only the law but the bureaucracy in the United States.

He has a great problem recruiting people to work for his administration and keeping their jobs. The people suffering most of all, of course, are the people on the border who are now very much at the whim of this White House. Nobody knows what is going to come out next.

The president says one thing, then his backroom staff say don't worry about it, you are taking him literally or seriously, not literally. This is a problem trying to understand what Donald Trump's policies have been about all along.

ALLEN: It's back and forth, back and forth, then sometimes, oh, I was joking. It's all the more complicated for so many people who have so much at stake with this story. Such a serious story.

You mentioned the people working for him and behind this, one person, in particular, is Stephen Miller, the president's 33-year-old senior policy adviser. He's apparently the one pushing the president to a more hardline approach. That includes a shakeup at the Department of Homeland Security.

Right now, the four people at the top are all acting officers.

Would you expect more surprises --


ALLEN: -- perhaps, on immigration ideas as the agency is retooled by the White House and seeing Stephen Miller here and knowing that the president has his ear?

BOYS: I think anybody who doesn't expect the unexpected moving forward from Donald Trump hasn't been paying attention the past two and a half years, quite frankly. Let's not forget, it's not just the Department of Homeland Security staffed by temporary individuals. The White House, itself, has a temporary chief of staff.

The Department of Defense, the same. So we have a very bizarrely staffed administration at this point. Stephen Miller, I think, is someone who has managed to take astute advantage of his very particular role in this administration.

He is an adviser to the president. He serves purely at the pleasure of the president. He does not need to be approved by the Senate. He is in many ways a buffer. He sits between the president and those heads of departments, as you rightly point out, Kirstjen Nielsen was the last department head to get the brunt of this.

He can play a sort of devil on the shoulder of the president, telling him what he wants to hear, goading him, acting in a very similar way to Steve Bannon, his former mentor, used to do but also learning from Bannon, trying to walk a very fine line and not hog the limelight. He's letting Trump be Trump and arguably bringing out the worst of his in instincts.

ALLEN: Beyond the intricacies of this White House, do you think what we see with this immigration debate in the U.S. is reflective on a larger scale of the migration issues that have also affected much debate in Europe?

BOYS: There's no doubt about it. The question about how to address migration flows across the world have become a great debate for leaders to wrangle with. we have seen here in Europe, leaders like Angela Merkel be heavily criticized for allowing too many people into the country. Indeed, I think many people were surprised at how close the last elections were in Germany.

Barack Obama, when he was president, got a lot of criticism for not allowing enough people in. It seems Donald Trump is learning a lesson here with regard to the domestic constituencies within the United States, who, of course, will be responsible for electing him or not electing him for a second term of office come next year.

I think Donald Trump is, perhaps, rightly, from a political point of view, remembering that only Americans vote in the presidential election. But there are broader, wider questions about responsibility and morality in politics which Donald Trump is perhaps paying less attention to.

ALLEN: We appreciate your perspectives. James, thank you. We appreciate it.

BOYS: Thank you.

ALLEN: It appears North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may be dangling a diplomatic carrot. He says he is open to a third summit with the United States, something that President Trump referenced this week.

But Kim stresses the U.S. must change its attitude, otherwise, he'll yank that carrot away. Speaking before the Supreme People's Assembly in Pyongyang, Kim said he will give the U.S. until the end of the year to decide if it wants another summit but says he doesn't want a repeat of the failed summit six weeks ago in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Let's talk about this new development with Paula Hancocks, joining us now from Seoul.

It will be interesting to see the reaction from President Trump over this new edict from North Korea, Paula. The question is, what direction, exactly, is North Korea seeking from the U.S.?

How do you decipher this?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, it's no secret that North Korea was pretty much blindsided by the fact the Hanoi summit ended without an agreement, as was South Korea and the rest of the world.

North Korea is saying that through -- Kim Jong-un, through state-run media, is saying he is willing to meet with President Trump but he wants to make sure it is not the same as that summit. He is saying he wants the U.S. to change their current way of calculation.

So he's effectively saying, yes, I will speak to President Trump again but I have conditions in order for that to happen. It's clear that the two countries have a different idea of what denuclearization is. It's clear they have a different idea of how they would like the future path to be.

We heard just this week President Trump saying he wants the big deal, he wants complete denuclearization. North Korea wants a step by step process, a quid pro quo, sanctions lifted for what they --


HANCOCKS: -- believe to be concessions. It goes to the fundamental difference between the two sides as to what they want to do. One interesting point was about the timeline. We heard from the North Koreans, which is unusual, because they are

usually in it for the long game, giving a deadline. Kim Jong-un giving a deadline of the end of the year for Mr. Trump to decide whether or not he wants to meet and change the attitudes of the United States when negotiating.

On the other side, you have Washington, who is usually pushing things forward and more quickly, President Trump saying he has all the time in the world. He doesn't want a fast deal. He thinks it won't be a good deal. Potentially, he could look at step by step process.

It shows North Korea is leaving the door open. A few weeks ago the deputy foreign minister saying, Kim Jong-un didn't know if he wanted continue talks after Hanoi. It does show that Kim Jong-un wants to talk. He talked of sending and receiving letters with the U.S. president as well, which makes us feel as though we have gone back a few months.

But there are, as I said, definite conditions -- Natalie.

ALLEN: We'll see how South Korea might help mediate this as well. Thank you, Paula, for us in Seoul.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may be sent to the U.S. to face charges. Police are rounding up some of his collaborators. We'll tell you why.

Also, millions of Americans are under a tornado watch as a dangerous storm system brews across the south. We'll have your weather update as well. Stay with us.




ALLEN: Welcome back.

One day after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested, one of his frequent collaborators is also in custody. Ecuadoran officials arrested this man, Ola Bini; the Swedish man is being held in an investigation into meddling into Ecuador's affairs by Assange and others.

Thursday, Assange was arrested in Ecuador's embassy in London where he's been holed up almost seven years. You can see the condition he was in as he was brought out. he faces a U.S. charge of conspiring to steal military secrets.

Let's get the latest on some of the new developments from Salma Abdelaziz in London.

Hello to you, Salma.

What do we know about the latest arrest that occurred in Ecuador? [05:20:00]

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: Ola Bini is a Swedish software developer. He was living in Ecuador. He's believed to have visited Assange here several times in the Ecuadoran embassy in London. Ecuadorian officials accuse him of meddling in the country's internal political affairs in an attempt to destabilize the government.

Now this is, of course, an interesting new development but also part of the larger question of why now?

Why, after seven years of being holed up, did Ecuadorian staff finally allow London police to enter the building and arrest Assange?

The question lies in the relationship between Ecuador and Julian Assange. Under the previous administration, he had enjoyed protection, had been granted asylum and was even given citizenship to Ecuador.

But in 2017, things began to sour. He called Assange an unwanted guest, described him as an inherited problem and imposed new rules on the WikiLeaks founder. He was ordered to clean up his room, take better care of his cat and have no visitors and most importantly he lost his access to Internet.

Assange did not do well with these new rules. He was reportedly lashing out on staff, according to Ecuadorian officials. He would act aggressively, behave in a hostile manner. One Ecuadoran official even accusing him of smearing feces on the walls.

So when you see the pictures of the disheveled man with the long, gray beard, stringy hair, one wonders just how bad things became in that embassy.

ALLEN: Right. He never left. We can see how he deteriorated; certainly, his attitude, his mental state and his appearance. Salma, thank you.


ALLEN: The U.S. president is desperate to stop the huge numbers of migrants at the U.S. border. Next, why legal experts think the tactics are against the law and abuse of power.

Also new challenges for transgender Americans who want to serve their country.





ALLEN: Welcome back. To viewers here in the U.S. and around the world, appreciate you tuning in. This is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen with the top stories.


ALLEN: But, the U.S. president is in more --


ALLEN: -- hot water for seeming to push schemes to keep migrants from entering the southern U.S. border. Friday, Mr. Trump said his administration should send detained migrants to sanctuary cities to prove a point to Democrats, who don't support his border wall.

Department of Homeland Security lawyers said the plan is likely illegal. But Mr. Trump seems to be leaning into the controversy.


TRUMP: We'll bring them to sanctuary city areas and let that particular area take care of it, whether it's a state or whatever it might be. They say we have open arms. They're always saying they have open arms. Let's see if they have open arms.


ALLEN: Joining me now is Rose Cuison Villazor. She is an immigration law professor at Rutgers University. She joins me from the Los Angeles bureau.

Thank you for being with us. We appreciate your time.

ROSE CUISON VILLAZOR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: Thank you for having me, Natalie.

ALLEN: There's a lot going on. Let's talk about the president's plan to send migrants to sanctuary cities. First, I want to ask you, what do you think about that plan, just in general, then we'll talk about the legality.

First of all, your response?

VILLAZOR: There are two key points to talk about here, two key questions. First, here the president is abusing his executive powers by using the enforcement apparatus of the federal government to essentially violate the law.

The second point is, there's a question as to whether he's constitutionally allowed to do so. Essentially, he is engaging in a political motivated strategy to punish his political opponents.

ALLEN: Right. So that's what everyone is saying, he's looking for some way to get even for not getting his wall. Apparently, even though the White House said Thursday this plan was dead, the sanctuary city plan, this wasn't going to happen, now we learn that President Trump is trying to figure out a way to still do it, to go around the law or find a legal avenue.

Might he?

VILLAZOR: His lawyers within the Department of Homeland Security has told him there are problems, legal problems with enforcement of this type of a policy. The Department of Homeland Security can only engage in certain actions that are part of its mission, its mission to enforce immigration law.

As you stated, the president is going around that. He's tweeting a policy that is ill conceived and is politically motivated.

ALLEN: Also, we have learned, CNN learned the president told the acting head of Homeland Security he would grant him a pardon if he were sent to jail for having border agents block asylum seekers.

That would completely be against U.S. law, would it not?

VILLAZOR: Absolutely. That is also yet another example of the abuse of the executive power. Here, in particular, it's an abuse of the pardon power. He is giving a pre-pardon to a government official and allowing him to break the law.

So not only does that violate the pardon power but one can say that is also a form of conspiracy; if two people conspire to violate the law, that is a conspiracy.

ALLEN: Another thing that's going on is also what's happening in Mexico, the policy to have asylum seekers remain in Mexico is still in effect.

Do you see that continuing?

Would that help at all alleviate the crush of cases at the border or are you opposed to this?

VILLAZOR: Let me first explain what happened in that case. First, the government had this protocol that forces asylum seekers to stay in Mexico until their case can be heard. That particular protocol was challenged and just a few days ago a federal judge struck it down and issued a nationwide injunction.

So the protocol, that policy will not be enforced. Just today, the 9th Circuit and the three-judge panel stayed the injunction because the federal government has appealed the injunction set in place by the district court. So we will hear next week the oral arguments before the 9th Circuit as to the legality of this protocol.

ALLEN: Bottom line, the president is unable to get immigration policy through Congress. He can't get his wall built. So it seems he's looking for avenues to curtail migrants any way he can, it seems.

Where do you think this is going to go?

And will he succeed at any of this?

VILLAZOR: The issue here is whether the president is above the law. Thankfully, the courts are there to ensure the Constitution and the -- [05:35:00]

VILLAZOR: -- due process rights of migrants are followed. The president's own lawyers told him the policies he tried to implement and different policies he tries to implement violate constitutional and statutory principles.

He is not above the law. That's ultimately what courts have to examine.

ALLEN: We'll continue to discuss it, of course. We appreciate your expertise, Rose. Thank you so much.

VILLAZOR: Thank you so much.

ALLEN: A controversial U.S. policy banning transgender military recruits is now in effect. Critics call it bigoted. But the Department of Defense says it will continue to treat everyone with respect. CNN's Alex Marquardt looks at how the policy will impact the armed services.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The new policies started Friday, essentially banning transgender individuals from joining the U.S. military. It comes almost two years after the president made the bombshell announcement on Twitter. The Pentagon believes around 1,000 transgender troops are currently serving. Several studies say it's many more.

THOMAS CROSSON, U.S. DEFENSE PUBLIC AFFAIRS DEPUTY DIRECTOR: This policy focuses on the medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and aspects of this condition that may limit a service member's ability to deploy. So in order to maintain a ready and lethal force, the military must set high standards and consistent standards across the services.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): According to the Pentagon, transgender troops serving now can continue. But with some exceptions, those who have been diagnosed with identifying with a different gender than what they were born with or have undergone medical treatment to change their gender cannot join.

The highly controversial ban has been met with fierce criticism. The ACLU has called it transphobia masquerading as policy. Former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus calling it "discriminatory and intolerant."

And Hillary Clinton slamming it as abhorrent, saying "Every American should be able to serve their country and I can't believe we are still debating that in 2019."

The highest levels of military leadership were blindsided by the president's 2017 Twitter decree, which said in part, "The United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military." The top U.S. general has consistently said he is happy to have

transgender troops who are ready to fight.

GEN. JOSEPH DUNFORD, CHAIRMAN, U.S. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I believe any individual who meets the physical and mental standards and is worldwide deployable and is currently serving should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve.

MARQUARDT: Critics of this new policy say it's not just blocking transgender individuals from enlisting in the military but, for those serving, it's like the now repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, also taking away the rights of transgender troops to serve openly.

As for how the United States feels about this ban, a recent Quinnipiac poll said that 70 percent of American voters support transgender people serving in the military -- Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: The Mueller report is expected to be released in the next few days. Right now, few people know what's in it. One who does is deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. He spoke about it Friday -- sort of. CNN's Laura Jarrett is following the story.


LAURA JARRETT, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The Justice Department is being tightlipped about the special counsel's forthcoming report on the Russia investigation. But the man who's overseen the probe since the very beginning offering a few clues about what we may see as early as next week.

In a speech at a private luncheon in Washington, the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein told the group that Robert Mueller's report will clear up questions about the Russian campaign to interfere in the 2016 election.

We know from the attorney general Bill Barr's four-page summary of Mueller's principal conclusions, the report details the Russian disinformation campaign as well as hacking efforts. But we wait to see how many other details were provided about the multiple offers described by Robert Mueller, from Russian affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.

As for why Rosenstein talked about this at this luncheon, an official told me that he made the comment intending to emphasize that the core of the Mueller investigation that Russian interference in the election was thoroughly investigated and charged -- Laura Jarrett, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: Two leaders down in two days. Sudan's military chief steps down but protesters are still demanding democracy. We'll have a report after this.





ALLEN: People cheering in the streets, erupting after the head of Sudan's military transitional announced he was stepping down. The lieutenant general took on the role the day before when the long-term dictator Omar al-Bashir was ousted.

The ruling military council plans to stay in control for at least two years to oversee a transition of power. Protesters, of course, want a civilian government right now. They don't want to wait two years.

CNN's Farai Sevenzo is following developments. He is live in Nairobi, Kenya.

Good to see you again. We have one leader ousted, another stepping down.

Where does that leave the situation and who is running things in Sudan?

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the moment, all I can say, Natalie, it has been an incredible two days in Sudan's history. To answer your question, Mr. Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman has been appointed the leader of the new military council, which is asking for a two-year transition period.

It's also imposed three months of a state of emergency and famously, a month of curfews, which has been literally ignored across the country. But let's take a look back now on how things unfolded for the former leader on Thursday, April 11th.


SEVENZO: 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 al-Bashir had gone (INAUDIBLE) approval throughout the streets. The protesters had expected al-Bashir's departure when many others had not.


SEVENZO: But they had not expected nor wanted al-Bashir's own military deputies to take over. Leftenant General Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf was, until his appearance here, al-Bashir's vice president and minister of defense. \ Now he wants to lead a two-year military transitional council, which declared a three-month state of emergency and announced a nighttime curfew for a month. Al-Bashir, 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 al-Bashir 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 al-Bashir all woke to music. Sudan's revolution had toppled a 75-year old is overwhelmingly useful. It is Sudan's future 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.


SEVENZO: There you go, Natalie. It is an incredible situation we are witnessing. Bear in mind, just before he stepped down, he said there would be a three-month curfew. We are on day three now. Night one it was ignored. Night two, it was ignored. This Saturday is night three.

Whether these people will stay at the military headquarters or not has put them in a situation where they have to talk to the Sudanese Professional Association, who were telling us this morning that, since Mr. Bashir left power, 16 people have died in these protests and counterprotests.

There's the whole issue of how divided this army now belonging to Mr. Abdelrahman is. We can see throughout soldiers serenading the protesters with saxophones. We can see them hugging and protecting the protesters from other elements of the security forces.

So given that situation, everyone is talking. The United Nations, the African Union have the greatest need for dialogue in case this whole thing slips southward. That's the real fear right now in Sudan.

ALLEN: Absolutely. The people have come so far in making this change and you just want to make sure they still continue the momentum and it does remain peaceful. Farai Sevenzo, appreciate your reporting on this story. Thank you.

Next here, a worldwide phenomenon. You know what we are talking about. "Game of Thrones" and the beginning of the end is nearly here. How fans and actors alike are coping with the impeding (INAUDIBLE). That's next.







ALLEN (voice-over): How cool is that?

We are jumping to light speed here. The eagerly awaited "Star Wars Episode XI." The first trailer is out for "The Rise of Skywalker," the finale to the space saga that started in a galaxy far, far away, in 1977. The movie will end the Luke Skywalker story line and feature the voice of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and outtakes from the previous film of the late actress Carrie Fisher as Leia.

We will feel the force in theaters in December.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one's ever really gone.


ALLEN: Speaking of finales, the final season of "Game of Thrones" returns to HBO on Sunday for fans. A bittersweet farewell to the Seven Kingdoms, flame spouting dragons and White Walkers. Perhaps we will find out who will sit on the iron throne. For more here is Zain Asher.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are coming.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the kingdom of Westeros 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 alike are bracing for an end of an era in television history.

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

ISAAC HEMPSTEAD, ACTOR: It is actually quite hard to remember life before "Game of Thrones" but, from my perspective, it has been nothing but fun.

ASHER (voice-over): In the eight years since its debut, "Game of Thrones" has shattered records, drawing millions of viewers worldwide every week, winning dozens of Emmy awards and --


ASHER (voice-over): -- inspiring countless ads, products and accessories from companies looking to cash in on the massive global hit.

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

ASHER (voice-over): HBO invests heavily in the stunning visuals, epic battle scenes and creative storytelling that draws viewers far and wide. "Variety" magazine reported the show's budget averaged $50 million an episode for its final season.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not American, we are not European, we are a world than anyone can belong to.

ASHER (voice-over): The show has also become a cultural phenomenon that is parodied in late-night comedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just need to know people hate me?

ASHER (voice-over): And referenced by the U.S. president and his former opponent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which is closer to reality of life in politics, which TV show?


ASHER (voice-over): From politicians...

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I'm obsessed with "Game of Thrones."

ASHER (voice-over): -- to the press, "Game of Thrones" fanfare knows no bounds.

COOPER: I'm Anderson Cooper. Winter is coming.

ASHER (voice-over): Zain Asher, CNN, New York.


ALLEN: That is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. "NEW DAY" is ahead. Thank you for watching.