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Gun Battle in Sri Lanka; Trump Defends Response to White Nationalist Violence; Biden Addresses Criticisms of His Past Behavior; Measles Quarantine Issued at Two California Universities; Spy Maria Butina Sentenced to 18 Months; Kim Jong-un Vents on Trump and Hanoi Summit; Movie Theater Changes "Hellboy" on Sign. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired April 27, 2019 - 03:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A deadly shootout and explosions in Sri Lanka as police raid a home of suspected terrorist and uncover what could be a bombmaking factory.

U.S. president Donald Trump is on the defensive again over his comments about the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017 because of what Joe Biden said about him.

And later, a jailhouse interview: Russian national Maria Butina talked to CNN about her future behind bars in the U.S.

The stories are ahead this hour. Welcome to our viewers around the world, coming to you live from CNN Center, I'm Natalie Allen. And this is CNN NEWSROOM.


ALLEN: Across Sri Lanka, authorities are carrying out raids to make sure those behind the Easter Sunday massacre are brought to justice. On the island's east coast, police came under fire as they approached a home and then three bombs detonated.

At least 15 people were found dead inside, six were children. They say two suspects are now on the run. We're joined by Nikhil Kumar.

I want to ask you first, what more can you tell us about these raids that took place?

And what officials found there.

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Natalie, today there have been warnings about potential attacks following those devastating Easter Sunday bombings.

And last night there is this raid on the coast of the country, where as you said, 15 people were killed, among them six suspected terrorists and one of them identified as Mohamed Marr (ph). he has been identified as a prominent member of the NTJ, the local Islamist group believed to have engineered those Easter Sunday attacks.

And the brother-in-law, the spiritual leader, Zahran Hashim, killed himself when he blew himself up at the Shangri-La hotel on Sunday. So we are getting more of a picture of what the authorities are after.

When they got to this place and they raided these locations, they discovered a huge cache of explosives, 150 explosive sticks and 100,000 ball bearings, a drones. A massive haul that explains -- that points to how large an operation it was.

We heard over the past few days since the Easter Sunday bombings about the scale of what happened and about the concerns about just how well funded these terrorists were.

And the raid yesterday further underlines that point, all these materials, flags as well, all this material points to a very well funded, sophisticated terror network that was out to cause potentially more havoc.

For people here, now encountering as the raids take place, as the security forces trying to stem any further attacks and go after the two suspected terrorists who escaped yesterday and those are on the loose, people here are encountering curfews. They're countering the sorts of fears that they thought they had left behind, back when this country was locked in a violent and vicious civil war.

This is very much a fluid situation as we come up to the one-week anniversary of the devastating attacks.

ALLEN: I'm sure all of this has people still on edge. You mentioned the two that got away during the raid. But the bigger picture, do authorities still believe that there are more terrorists out there in hiding and there still is a threat that is severe?

KUMAR: There is still a continuing threat. Authorities have been emphasizing this point again and again in the recent week since those bombings. They were criticized a lot for the intelligence failures in the run-up to the Easter Sunday bombings.

There were several warnings, including one just an hour before the first explosion on Easter Sunday. And since then, they've been trying to get ahead of the curve after failing to act before those bombings.

And they emphasize again and again, that more people are believed to be out there, that more attacks would be in the works. U.S. authorities have made the warning earlier in the week, Israeli authorities say there was a high, concrete threat of further attacks in this country.

So it's very much still a threatening situation over here in Sri Lanka.

ALLEN: All right, we appreciate it, Nikhil Kumar there, live from Colombo, thank you.

Three of the six places the bombers targeted -- [03:05:00]

ALLEN: -- last Sunday were churches filled with worshippers celebrating Easter.

Our Will Ripley went inside and showed us how the attack unfolded.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing outside Saint Anthony Shrine, one of the three churches that was bombed here in Sri Lanka. You can see the clock there. It stopped at 8:45 when the bomb went off.

Father Jude Fernando is going to take us inside the church.

It looks pretty bad outside but I would imagine it's worse in there.


We just go in?


So he was only in the church for a few minutes?

FERNANDO: Two minutes, two minutes. This is the same place that he has exploded himself. And this is the area normally children they will play because there were children. Let's go around. Normally people want to stay in this area.

RIPLEY: So he chose the location nearest to the children?

FERNANDO: Because he, and I think people move in because this area is full of people.

RIPLEY: Most people who died were right in that area.

FERNANDO: In this area.

RIPLEY: I see the clothing and the shoes there.

FERNANDO: Yes, yes, yes, you can see where they took kids' bottles and the shoes and everything.

RIPLEY: Do you know how many people died in here?

FERNANDO: Of course, from here, they took 33 bodies out for the recognitions.

RIPLEY: Some of the bodies were in pieces?

FERNANDO: Yes, yes.

This is the statue, which is St. Anthony's statue, which we take for blessings and everything. It was unharmed. RIPLEY: That sad fact that the bomb didn't destroy these as well, what does that say to you?

FERNANDO: I mean, it's a real miracle, a miracle and the power of St. Anthony.

RIPLEY: Now are going to the roof?


RIPLEY: Pieces of the roof were thrown just all over the place.

FERNANDO: The whole roof is gone. Careful.


FERNANDO: People are here. The people were here

RIPLEY: The smell, I mean, you still smell the bodies.

FERNANDO: And you can see, the altar is still intact here.

You see the image there.

RIPLEY: You just renovated this a year ago?


FERNANDO: Yes, a year ago. (INAUDIBLE) it's newly renovated.

RIPLEY: It makes you really wonder, when you walk around here, what kind of a person could ever do something like this.

FERNANDO: That is the biggest question that everyone in Sri Lanka has.


ALLEN: Will Ripley for us there in that report.

U.S. president Donald Trump has a new talking point to try to fire up his base ahead of the 2020 election. He now claims he was the victim of an attempted coup, an apparent reference to the Mueller report. For more on the story, here's our Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Without providing any evidence, President Trump fired up a crowd of gay rights enthusiasts at the National Rifle Association's annual convention by alleging special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe was an attempted coup aimed at toppling his administration.

TRUMP: They tried for a coup, didn't work out so well. And I didn't need a gun for that one, did I? A disgrace, spying, surveillance, trying for an overthrow and we caught them. We caught them. ACOSTA (voice-over): It's an unfounded claim he also shared on one of his favorite TV shows.

TRUMP: Bigger than Watergate because it means so much, this was a coup. This wasn't stealing information from an office in the Watergate apartments. This was an attempted coup.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president also tried to knock down one of the most remarkable findings in the Mueller report, that he ordered former White House counsel Don McGahn to fire the special counsel.

TRUMP: I never told Don McGahn to fire Mueller. If I wanted to fire Mueller, I would've done it myself. And I'm a student of history. I see what you get when you fire people. And it's not good.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Mr. Trump is now savaging Mueller, a man he called "honorable" a few weeks ago.

TRUMP: We had 18 people that were Trump haters. That includes Mr. Mueller. He was a Trump hater.




ACOSTA (voice-over): The president is also relitigating his response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville after former vice president Joe Biden slammed Mr. Trump for saying there were very fine people on both sides.


TRUMP: And if you look at what I said, you will see that that question was answered perfectly. People were there protesting the taking down of the monument of Robert E. Lee. Everybody knows that.


ACOSTA (voice-over): But that's not true. There were also neo-Nazis and other white nationalists chanting anti-Semitic slogans. CNN pressed Mr. Trump on this in the aftermath of Charlottesville.


ACOSTA: So the neo-Nazis started this. They showed up in Charlottesville. They showed up in Charlottesville to protest the removal of that statue.

TRUMP: But you also had people that --


TRUMP: -- were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group - excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same

pictures as you did.

You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Still, the president seems to relish a matchup with Biden. The president would rather have the 2020 race turn on the economy, as he tweeted out the latest government data showing the nation's GDP grew 3.2 percent in the first quarter, far above expectations.

He's also defending his handling of Otto Warmbier, the American college student, who died after imprisoned by North Korea. Despite Warmbier's death, the president is describing himself as "the greatest hostage negotiator that I know of in the history of the United States."

Mr. Trump weighed in on reports that North Korea asked for $2 million for Warmbier's release.


TRUMP: We don't pay money for hostages. The Otto case was a very unusual case. But I just want to let you know, no money was paid for Otto.


ACOSTA: As for the Mueller report, sources close to the president say he's not putting himself in any legal jeopardy in attacking the Russia investigation. One advisor went as far as to say that the Mueller probe has become a unifying force for the GOP, one that the president will continue to tap into heading into the campaign -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


ALLEN: The president and first lady are spending part of their weekend hosting Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and his wife. It's the third time that Abe's been to the White House in two years.

A senior U.S. official says that the two leaders will discuss North Korea, trade and investment and other issues during the two day visit. They also celebrated Melania Trump's 49th birthday.

Joining me now to talk about this is Paul Sracic, a political science professor at Youngtown State University and currently on Fulbright Award in Tokyo.

Paul, thank you for being with us.

PAUL SRACIC, YOUNGSTOWN STATE UNIVERSITY: Thanks for having me. ALLEN: Let's begin with Mr. Trump meeting with the Japanese prime

minister and they're talking trade and the other issue, of course, security regarding North Korea and this comes after the North Koreans accuse the U.S. of acting in bad faith during the last summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, clearly a worrying turn of events for Mr. Abe, isn't it?

SRACIC: Yes and no. You might say first of all, I think the Japanese were worried at the rapprochement going on with the United States and North Korea, concerned about whether their security concerns were being fully recognized, particularly the short-range missiles.

I think they may have wanted things to slow down a little bit. But certainly, they wanted the situation in North Korea to be solved. They want denuclearization because the proximity of Japan to North Korea makes them extremely vulnerable to Kim Jong-un's weapons, his nuclear weapons. So they are nervous about that.

So I think they'd like to see steps forward but to make sure we are going forward in total denuclearization.

ALLEN: We know Mr. Trump will be going to Japan twice in the next few weeks. Also to continued their discussions, we will follow that.

I want to turn now to something else that happened on the campaign trail, Paul. And that is the president's comments on Charlottesville and what happened there with the rally.

If he was going to respond to former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign, why do you think he chose to double down on his previous comments?

Some might say rewriting history vis-a-vis Charlottesville.

SRACIC: I think President Trump -- and certainly you hear these views coming from the Right in the United States -- is President Trump's words in Charlottesville or after Charlottesville, I should say, were misunderstood.

It is something called the Charlottesville hoax when he said there were many fine people there, that he specifically excluded white supremacists and neo-Nazis. So I think he wanted to take that on directly.

But also, I think he realizes, that Biden's campaign for the presidency is going to be about Trump from day one. That is Joe Biden's justification for getting a nomination. He is the one that could beat Donald Trump.

I think Trump looks and says that Biden is his most serious competitor among those in the field, that one that will give him the most problems with working class voters in Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania and Ohio. So I think he wants to directly respond to that very quickly.

ALLEN: With his comments on Charlottesville, Joe Biden is getting under the president's skin, isn't he?

SRACIC: I think he's provoking a reaction but it's not hard to get under Donald Trump's skin as we know.


SRACIC: So I think whatever he's hit, this is how Donald Trump acts. He fights back. Right away. He hits back on Twitter or comments to the press. This is not surprising.

We used to think that the best way to deal with these criticisms for a politician is to ignore them. And hopefully they will be talking about something else. But President Trump never does that. The minute he gets hit, he hits back.

So I think you're going to expect see this over the next year and a half as we ramp up to the election in November 2020.

ALLEN: Meantime, candidate Biden has issues of his own. He addressed two on the program, "The View," on Friday. Getting too touchy-feely with women. He talked about that and the other, the Anita Hill hearings from the '90s for the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.

Biden back then didn't call others to testify who could have reportedly corroborated her story about Thomas and sexual inappropriateness. He called chair recently, in his league (ph) . She said too little too late. But here he is talking about this issue today on "The View," let's listen.


BIDEN: I am sorry she was treated the way she was treated. I wish we could have figured out a better way to get this thing done. I did everything in my power to do what I thought was within the rules to be able to stop things. But there were a lot of mistakes made across the board. And, for those, I apologize.


ALLEN: So is this a topic that will continue to possibly hurt Biden on the campaign trail?

SRACIC: I think so and maybe In the primaries. The problem Biden has is he's been involved in American politics for such a long time.


SRACIC: And we've seen this big movement, whether on same sex marriage or on the #MeToo movement. The politics in the world has changed. While Biden has been in the public.

He's going to be caught flat-footed on many issues and this in particular, I think, is going to bother women, particularly with the whole controversy over Brett Kavanaugh and that nomination and allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault and things like that.

So this is something that Biden is going to have to figure out how to answer. And frankly, I don't think he did a great job on "The View," because his continual answer is he was sorry for the way she was treated by the committee. So he's not taking that full responsibility for this. He's leaving an opening for people for criticism because of that.

ALLEN: We will wait and see what the others in the field do when we get to the debate season, if they come after Biden on this. We really appreciate your insights, thank you so much, Paul Sracic.

SRACIC: Thank you.

ALLEN: A powerful storm leaves parts of Mozambique in ruins but the damage could continue as the remnants of cyclone Kenneth still pack a punch. The second big storm in the past few weeks.

Plus measles in the United States was eliminated almost 20 years ago. But now, the preventable disease is back and it is spreading.






ALLEN: In California, health care workers are racing to contain a measles outbreak. More than 600 students are under quarantine at two universities in Los Angeles. The U.S. faces the highest number of measles cases since it was virtually eliminated in 2000. Now President Trump, who has been skeptical of vaccines, has changed his view.


TRUMP: They have to get the shots for vaccination. It's so important. This is really going around now. They have to get their shot.


ALLEN: As the outbreak grows, anyone at the two California universities who has come into contact has to prove they've been vaccinated --


ALLEN: -- or they are ordered to stay home. CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta breaks down the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So this isn't something people expected to have, a quarantine around measles, given that this was virtually eliminated in the year 2000, this particular infectious disease.

But that's what's happening in California. The campus, UCLA, as you mentioned. The way this unfolds is that you have somebody who had measles; they're in a public place on the university campus. And anyone who was also potentially exposed are then asked, are you certain that you were vaccinated?

Are you certain that you're immunized?

If you're not, you can't provide some assurance of this, then you go into quarantine for up to 21 days. Twenty-one days is a bit of an arbitrary number but if you keep in mind that from the time someone is exposed to the time someone develops symptoms, many days, even weeks can pass. That's how they choose this 21 day number.

Now one thing I'll tell you is that this idea of people potentially getting booster shots, something to boost their immune system now, may be a recommendation that is coming. The reason you might get an additional shot even after you've been exposed is they can actually help you shorten the duration of the illness if you develop it or prevent the illness altogether.

And it'll also then provide some assurance to the fact that you've been vaccinated. That's what's happening in Los Angeles and in, New York, as you may know, there is another emergency declaration that's been filed, basically telling people in Rockland County that, if you have measles, if you've been exposed to measles and are unvaccinated, you cannot be in a public place. You will be fined $2,000 dollars if you're in a public place.

So it's a little bit shorter, a little bit less than the order that was overturned by the courts last month. But it's still an emergency declaration happening in New York.

Just quickly, take a look at the map; 22 states affected, nearly half the country now has evidence of measles in their state. The big point for a lot of public health officials is to prevent those numbers from getting worse, to prevent measles from becoming endemic, spreading more freely around the United States because, if that happens, then we're all going to have to ask ourselves, are we truly protected?

And if we're not sure, then they require getting another shot.


ALLEN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta there.

It is day one of Joe Biden's official campaign and he's already raised millions of dollars. But he also faces fresh scrutiny from his competitors. We will tell you about that in a moment.

Plus, her face became synonymous with Russian efforts to undermine U.S. democracy. When we come back what Russia has to say about Maria Butina's sentence and what she wants to do when she leaves prison.





ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. Here are top stories.


ALLEN: Just a day after officially joining the Democratic race for the White House, former Vice President Joe Biden faced some tough questions about his age and his past decisions. But as Jessica Dean reports, he also got a big boost from some generous supporters.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The early numbers are in for Joe Biden, the former vice president's campaign saying it raised $6.3 million dollars in the first 24 hours since it launched, the highest number yet for a 2020 Democrat.

JOY BEHAR, ABC HOST: Please welcome former Vice President Joe Biden.

DEAN (voice-over): Biden appeared on "The View" in his first sit-down interview and again went directly at President Trump.

BIDEN: It's about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, Honey, it's going to be OK and mean it. Think of how many people don't think they can do that. And this president has done nothing to help that group of people.

BEHAR: Nothing.

DEAN (voice-over): The former vice president said he plans to connect with working class voters, hoping to get the support of those who supported Trump in 2016, a clear rivalry developing between Biden and the president, who, at 72, is just four years younger than Biden's 76.

TRUMP: I am a young, vibrant man. I look at Joe, I don't know about him. I don't know.

BIDEN: If he looks young and vibrant compared to me, I should probably go home.

DEAN (voice-over): Biden's entry into the race has changed its dynamics already. He's drawing attacks from some competitors, including Elizabeth Warren, who criticized Biden for his closeness to the financial industry.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I got in that fight because they just didn't have any. And Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies.


DEAN (voice-over): And Senator Bernie Sanders sent an email to supporters, taking aim at Biden's Philadelphia fund-raiser held at the home of a Comcast executive.

Sanders saying, quote, "not with a fund-raiser in the home of a corporate lobbyist."

During his interview on "The View," Biden was pressed on his handling of Anita Hill's testimony during the 1991 confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas.

BIDEN: I'm sorry she was treated the way she was treated.

BEHAR: I think what she wants you to say is I'm sorry for the way I treated you, not for the way you were treated. I think that would be closer.

BIDEN: Well, but I'm sorry the way she got treated...

DEAN (voice-over): Biden then going further.

BIDEN: There are a lot of mistakes made across the board, and for those I apologize, that we may have been able to do and conduct it better.

But I believed Dr. Hill from the beginning, from the beginning. And I said it.

DEAN (voice-over): Biden was also asked to explain his reaction to the women who have come forward and accused him of unwanted touching.

BEHAR: Nancy Pelosi wants you to say I'm sorry that I invaded your space.

BIDEN: Sorry I invaded your space. And I'm sorry this happened but I'm not sorry in the sense that I think I did anything that was intentionally designed to do anything wrong or be inappropriate.

DEAN (voice-over): He also spoke of his son, Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015.

BIDEN: It sounds stupid. When I get up in the morning, I think about -- you know, I hope he is proud to me. I hope he's proud.

DEAN: Up next for the former vice president, he is headed to Pittsburgh on Monday there. He is expected to talk about expanding and growing the middle class. And, interestingly, Pennsylvania, a very critical state in 2016, you can bet it will be quite critical again in 2020, a lot attention will be paid to that state -- Jessica Dean, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: A woman who became a key face in the Russia investigation was sentenced on Friday. Our Sara Murray has that story from Washington.


SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A federal judge on Friday sentenced Maria Butina, a Russian national, to 18 months behind bars. She has already been in jail for nine months so she has nine more months to go.

The judge sided with prosecutors in viewing the seriousness of Butina's crime. She pleaded guilty months ago to conspiracy to acting as an agent of a foreign official here in the United States.

The judge, in delivering this sentence, said Butina's crime was serious, it was sophisticated and dangerous. She made it clear that this was more than just a paperwork violation, more than just not letting the attorney general know that Butina was operating here in the U.S.

And it was clear that this broader conflict between the U.S. and Russia, these tensions that Russia's interference in the election played in the judge's decision. Butina spoke on her own behalf in court and apologized for her activities. She said she didn't realize that she violated the law. But that is no excuse.

We also heard from the Russian ministry of foreign affairs. They said her prosecution was politically motivated and so was her sentence and said it is completely fabricated and farfetched in nature, the charges that she's facing.

I actually spoke to her on a couple of occasions when she was in jail in the Alexandria detention center. And I'm now allowed to speak about that publicly. When I talked to her, she was very much looking forward to getting out from behind bars. She said she wanted to return to her hometown of Siberia. She did not want to become a media star. She didn't want her own television show like Anna Chapman got when she returned to Russia in 2010 in a spy swap.

But it's clear that Butina will have to wait a while longer before she returns to her family in Russia -- Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: Russia is not happy at all with the sentencing of Maria Butina. The Kremlin called it an ugly stain on the U.S. justice system. We get more on that from our Fred Pleitgen. He's in Moscow.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not surprised that there's some pretty strong and angry reactions coming out of Russia after the sentencing of Maria Butina. One of the organizations here in Russia has really been championing Maria Butina's cause has been the Russian foreign ministry.

They even have her picture up on the official Twitter feed of the Russian foreign ministry. Now in a statement late Friday evening, the spokesperson for the foreign ministry, Maria Zakharova, said the following.

"We view the decision of a Washington, D.C., court to sentence Maria Butina to 18 months in prison as politically motivated from the moment of her arrest. We've been pointing out that the accusations of her intentions to influence the domestic political processes in America are of a completely farfetched and fabricated nature."

One of the things the Russian foreign ministry, other members of the Russian government have been saying for quite a while is that they believe that the whole case and the trial against Maria Butina were very much politically motivated.

They say it was no secret that she was taken --


PLEITGEN: -- into custody and no coincidence, either, that she was taken into custody right on the day that Vladimir Putin and President Trump met in Helsinki for their first major summit.

Another major Russian politician who commented on this is the head of the foreign relations committee of the Russian Senate, Konstantin Kosachev. And he said the trial and the charges against Butina were a witch hunt and led many other Russian politicians he was saying that he believes Maria Butina was convicted because she was a Russian in America -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.


ALLEN: The young boy who was a victim of a horrible act, he was thrown off a third floor balcony at the famous Mall of America, he's doing much better. He's now alert and conscious.

In a statement, the 5-year old's family says he still needs surgeries and rehabilitation but he could come home as early as June. Police say the boy fell nearly 40 feet, more than 12 meters, and suffered serious injuries after a man just threw him over the railing. That man faces attempted murder charges.

Dishing it up on Trump, what went on at the summit between the leaders of North Korea and Russia?

And why did involve President Trump?

That's up next.





ALLEN: We're learning more about what went on at the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian president Vladimir Putin, in particular what Mr. Kim thinks about Donald Trump and what that may mean to U.S.-North Korea relations. Brian Todd has that from Washington.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: North Korea's ruthless young dictator is angry and venting. During his summit with Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok, Kim Jong-un gave the Russian president a brutal, stark view of where he thinks he stands with Donald Trump.

According to his news agency, Kim told Putin the situation on the Korean Peninsula is, quote, "now at a standstill and has reached a critical point where it may return to its original state."

More damning, Kim accused President Trump and his team of acting in bad faith at the recent second summit talks. So far, no response from the White House or the State Department.

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER NORTH KOREA-U.S. NEGOTIATOR: Kim Jong-un is frustrated, the last summit in Hanoi was a failure for him.

TODD (voice-over): A failure, experts say, because Trump walked out after Kim asked for most of the sanctions against North Korea to be dropped.

Bill Richardson, who often negotiated with North Korea, is worried about how Kim might take out his frustrations.

RICHARDSON: My worry is that Kim, because he had such a bad summit in Hanoi, might make some provoking steps that might start a bad tripwire, military effect, diplomatic effect in the peninsula.

TODD (voice-over): What makes Kim's frustrations all the more interesting is that he chose to share them with another of America's foes, Vladimir Putin. Putin now says Kim Jong-un asked him to play the role of mediator and tell America where Kim stands. Ad Putin says, he's happy to oblige.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): We will also discuss this matter in today's meeting with U.S. leadership in the same open and candid manner. There are no secrets here. Russia always voices an open position. There are no conspiracies.

TODD (voice-over): President Trump, who's been more trusting of both strongmen than veteran diplomats would advise, is positive about Putin's overture.

TRUMP: I appreciated President Putin's statement yesterday. He wants to see it done also.

TODD (voice-over): Putin does share the Americans' view that North Korea should not have nuclear weapons. And experts say, despite being an adversary of the U.S., Putin could help with Kim.

MATTHEW ROJANSKY, WILSON CENTER: To the extent that Putin is North Korea's last best hope when it's otherwise isolated, if the United States and Russia are communicating, if the United States and Russia have some degree of agreement about where the negotiations could go, that means a lot more joint leverage on Pyongyang than we would otherwise have.

TODD (voice-over): But with Vladimir Putin, experts caution, there is always an ulterior motive, one which often works against America's interests. They say Putin could be trying to drive a wedge between Trump and Kim. And Putin could derail the nuclear talks by persuading Kim he doesn't need the U.S.

ROJANSKY: If the Russians say to the North Koreans, you don't actually have to give up what the United States is asking you to give up, we will help you weather the storm of international sanctions. After all, we are under sanctions, too. We're doing just fine. We can continue help you out.

Then Kim may not have an incentive to meet with Donald Trump, let alone to make any concessions.

TODD: Analysts say there are other ways that Vladimir Putin could be a destructive actor in this entire equation with Kim Jong-un. They say the Russian president can and probably already has offered more Russian cooperation with North Korea in cyber warfare against the United States.

They say that weapons and military cooperation is always on the table and, as always, the Russian president could help Kim invade sanctions and get what he needs on the black market -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: Hellboy rises again, except at one Tennessee theater, which changed the movie's title on its sign because of the language. We'll have that new title for you -- next.





ALLEN: The Avengers may be getting all the movie headlines this weekend but "End Game" isn't the only comic book film out there. Moviegoers can also check out "Hellboy," except if they're in Tennessee, where at least one theater has renamed it "Heckboy." Kathleen Serie explains.


KATHLEEN SERIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At first glance, the local theater sign behind me seems pretty standard. But a closer look at one of the titles shows why it's creating such a buzz here in the midstate and across the country. SERIE (voice-over): The movie, "Hellboy," has been in theaters since



SERIE (voice-over): But at the Roxy 8 theater on Highway 46 in Dickson, the billboard is displaying the name as "Heckboy." It's a decision made by owner Belinda Daniel, who didn't want to speak on camera. But many in the community, like Scarlett James, are supporting her decision.

SCARLETT JAMES, DICKSON RESIDENT: My opinion is that she's the owner of the theater and has the right to put what she wants to on her sign.

SERIE (voice-over): Daniel tells FOX 17 News she has never displayed any words on the sign that may be seen as profanity, especially since The Roxy is next to Oakmont Elementary School.

James' son, Lucas, used to go here.

JAMES: And the buses and the parents' cars sit right in front of the sign for an extended period of time and then just general passerbyers (sic) pass by and see it. And I think she was just trying to look out and protect what young children see.

WYNN TOWNS, DICKSON RESIDENT: This small town out here in Dickson is, there is fine people out here. And I think it's kind of cool to know that they're taking a stand on how they what they believe in.

SERIE (voice-over): News outlets across the country have picked up on Daniel's unique sign. And even though she is surprised, she says she's glad to share a small part of the Dickson community and a bit of a laugh with the rest of the world.

JAMES: It is comedic in a way.

SERIE (voice-over): On a more serious note about children seeing words like hell...

JAMES: It's just something that I think should be an individual parent's decision, not be something that's blasted out there for everyone to choose to tell your child for it, whether I do or don't agree with saying that word, it should be a parent's choice.

SERIE (voice-over): James says the sign is drawing attention to conversations about what children are exposed to.

The owner tells me this sign is the only place where the movie's title was changed. it appears as "Hellboy" both on their website and on the billboards out in front of the theater.


ALLEN: All right, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. We continue next with more news for you. George Howell will be along. See you soon. [04:00:00]