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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; Kim Jong- un's Polished Summit with Vladimir Putin; Durant Scores 50 Points as Warriors Eliminate Clippers. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired April 27, 2019 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A search operation in Sri Lanka turns deadly and now two suspected terrorists are on the run. CNN is live outside the hideout assumed to be a bomb-making factory.
Plus, this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am a young, vibrant man. I look at Joe, I don't know about him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL (voice-over): It's only been two days since his 2020 announcement. Now former vice president Joe Biden is already getting talking points of the U.S. president there. Mr. Trump responding.
Also ahead this hour, while one budding romance fades, another blooms. Kim Jong-un has a new friend in Russia's president Vladimir Putin.
We're live at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
HOWELL: 5:00 am on the U.S. East Coast.
More bloodshed in Sri Lanka less than a week after the Easter Sunday massacre that took place there. 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 later found dead inside. Six of the 15 were children and one innocent bystander outside.
Police say two suspects are now on the run. Authorities were led to the home by evidence at a warehouse full of explosives and bombmaking equipment and ISIS flags and uniforms also found there. CNN's Sam Kiley is following the story and live just outside of that site. Sam, you got a chance to get a closer look there, didn't you?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, George, we were here very early this morning when there was still a body on the road. There was a body on the roof. And the house, I'm afraid, was a charnel house of burned bodies, some adults but mostly women and children.
Now they were inside this building where the police say there were three blasts that detonated, killing a male adult here. We won't go any further in, because there's still some cleaning up and removal of bodies.
But the scene was hideous. Now the police suspect, they haven't yet been able to prove it with DNA sampling, but they suspect that the civilians that died here were family members of a terrorist cell.
Now that terrorist cell, George, has a direct connection between here and what happened in Colombo and in Batticaloa just up the coast. That connection was the body here on the ground, Muhammad Nasri is the brother-in-law of the spiritual leader of the group that seems to have put this ISIS plot together, Zahran Hashim.
He himself was a suicide bomber, killed when he was murdering a large number of people alongside another suicide bomber in the Shangri-La hotel last Sunday. So we now have a clear link to another level of plotting here.
And it's precisely that the Sri Lankan authorities have been on such alert for. They introduced a national state of emergency. There are nightly curfews. There's actually a daylight curfew in this and two of the villages.
And the reason for that precisely is because these plots are not over. Not all of the groups behind these plots have been rounded up. And just in the last hour, there's been another arrest involving the seizure of what is known as blue water gel blowing equipment also known as gel ignite.
That individual was caught with that gel ignite detonators and timers of exactly the sort captured in the police raid last night. So, clearly, there are still more terrorists out there and more capability to destroy more lives here in Sri Lanka, George.
HOWELL: And to that point, Sam, you know, given that we have a better sense of the scope and scale of this particular group of terrorists that were operating, how goes the search for more suspects?
KILEY: Well, it's ongoing. And it's been successful so far. As I say, there's been a recent capture. There were lots of people being arrested all over the country, hither and thither. Some entirely innocent, others may be of more sinister involvement.
But there certainly seems to be an awful lot of capability in this country, in the forms of the explosives required to carry out more plots. [05:05:00]
KILEY: Imagine if that enormous haul of 150 gel ignite sticks, 100,000 ball bearings, 20 circuit boards and dozens of vats of various acids used in the production of homemade explosives, imagine if there's another one of those, with another cell like this attached to it, George.
HOWELL: One would hope not to imagine that, Sam. Yet that's a concern that investigators will be looking for. Sam Kiley in Sri Lanka, thank you for reporting.
As security forces carry out their duties, the job of rebuilding continues. At St. Anthony's Shrine on Saturday morning, dozens of people came together to help clean it up. It was one of the churches targeted by the Easter Sunday bombers. Will Ripley was there.
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.
FATHER JUDE FERNANDO, ST. ANTHONY'S CHURCH: Yes.
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.
HOWELL: Will Ripley on the story for us. Thank you, Will.
Back here in the United States, president Donald Trump is hosting Japan's prime minister at the White House over the weekend. It's Shinzo Abe's third visit to the White House in two years. He's already stayed twice at the president's resort in the state of Florida. It's a clear sign of the importance that Japan attaches to its
relationship to the United States. But Mr. Trump is also focused on re-election. The former vice president, Joe Biden now running for the Democratic nomination, slammed Donald Trump's initial response to the deadly slash between white nationalists and protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
Mr. Trump has a new talking point, when trying to fire up his base ahead of the 2020 election. He now claims he's the victim of an attempted coup with an apparent reference to the Robert Mueller report. Jim Acosta explains.
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 --
ACOSTA (voice-over): -- 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Very fine people on both sides?
(END VIDEO CLIP) 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
HOWELL: James Boys is a professor of international political studies at Richmond, the American University in London, joining us at this hour.
It's great to have you with us.
JAMES BOYS, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Good morning, George, thank you.
HOWELL: James, Joe Biden has made it very clear, his focus is on the U.S. president; his opening video announcing his candidacy using Charlottesville as the centerpiece. Mr. Trump has responded.
The question here, how big is the Biden factor when it comes to Donald Trump moving into 2020?
BOYS: Well, it's been a long time coming. If you believe Joe Biden, he decided he was going to run in the off-month of the Charlottesville attack. And indeed, he premised his entire opening video around that. He showed some clips from that report there from Jim Acosta.
So there's no doubt I think that Joe Biden is going to take the president on directly in terms of issues of race and attempting to bring the United States back together again. I think it's challenging, I think, for him to try and position himself. Many question why he would wait so long, if, indeed, Charlottesville was indeed the primary motivating factor when we've now seen some other 19 Democrats beat him to the race.
On the other hand, he's just generated $6.3 million in 24 hours. That's the largest 24-hour first fundraising effort by any Democratic candidate at this point. So he's up and running.
Donald Trump, as you pointed out, he's already taking the fight straight to Joe Biden. He's made issues to do with his age and I think relishes the opportunity of going up against the former vice president. So we'll see how this plays out.
HOWELL: But we also saw Biden here on a show in the U.S. called "The View," trying to tackle some challenges of his own. The questions about his judgment when it comes to personal space around women, also his past in overseeing the hearings that public that Anita Hill before lawmakers in that confirmation proceeding that put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.
Many criticize Biden for how he managed the questions around Hill's allegations of sexual harassment by Thomas. Biden attempted to apologize, James. The question here, did it work?
I want you to listen to this short clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I'm sorry --
BIDEN: -- 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 are a lot of mistakes made across the board. And for those I apologize.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: But, James, one of the hosts on "The View" pointed out it's not about apologizing about the proceeding. But, rather, it's about apologizing to Anita Hill.
The question, did that apology, that you heard, did it work?
BOYS: Well, this is one of the great dynamics of Joe Biden's candidacy and people are candid. One of the reasons I thought he might not actually run this time. You have to wonder why it is that Joe Biden can't simply say, look at the camera and apologize for what was done to Anita Hill all of those years ago instead of offering the sort of nuanced approaches, I'm sorry if your feelings were hurt. I'm sorry for the process, et cetera, et cetera.
We're hearing from Anita Hill herself about a phone call that took place between the former vice president and herself. And, again, many people ask why that was done so late in the day just before he announced his candidacy.
This was really something that could and should have been done many months ago, if indeed, Joe Biden was planning to run in the aftermath of the Charlottesville attack, something he should have got sorted out and laid out ahead of time and dealt with, so these questions weren't coming up time and time again.
And very much denting, I think, the very beginning of his candidacy. It is a problem for him, I think, moving forward. It does make taking some of the fight to Donald Trump far more difficult and will raise questions, I think, about whether he is the ideal candidate to challenge Donald Trump, especially on these issues, notwithstanding some of the strengths that I think Joe Biden would have, particularly, in areas such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, et cetera, et cetera, where, of course, Donald Trump did so well to win the presidency.
HOWELL: James, quickly here, as Mr. Trump goes into 2020, the shadow of the Mueller report, the questions from that, this "Washington Post" ABC News poll shows about half of Americans feel it's fair and even- handed; just 21 percent say it's not. Nearly six in 10, 58 percent say the findings in the report do not change their opinion of the Trump administration.
Also here's the thing, James, only 31 percent believe the Mueller investigation cleared Donald Trump of all wrongdoing; 53 percent more accurately say it did not.
What do you make of these numbers?
BOYS: Well, they're fascinating, aren't they?
I think for the president, we're looking at this and saying, surely, he's going to struggle to be re-elected. His numbers are not where you want an incumbent to be at this point. You tie the numbers up with the speech, you played the clip from the NRA conference.
Donald Trump does not seem to be trying to put the Mueller report behind him, to try to unify the country as we saw Reagan do after Iran-contra and Clinton do after he was cleared in the late 1990s.
So I think Donald Trump continues to merely apply to his base and we'll see whether indeed come 2020 he's able to move to more center ground to bring in the independents, which will be so vital if he intends a second term in office.
HOWELL: James Boys, thank you so much for your time.
BOYS: Thank you.
HOWELL: Police say a California man accused of ramming his car into a crowd of people was specifically targeting Muslims. Police say also the suspect attacked the group because of their race but the driver's attorney said the act was not intentional and claims it was a case of mental disorder.
At least eight people were injured in the alleged attack. The suspect has been charged with eight counts of attempted murder. If convicted, he faces life in prison.
Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, the remnants of Kenneth. Thousands of homes in Mozambique have been flattened.
Plus, two colleges issue a quarantine as a highly contagious disease spreads across campuses and the country. The latest on the measles outbreak. Stay with us.
HOWELL: Details of the destruction in Mozambique are just coming into CNN. The Disaster Management Institute says cyclone Kenneth destroyed more than 3,000 homes, left 18,000 people displaced; 95 percent of the homes on the island are no more. The weekend storm is forecast for bringing more torrential rain and
flooding. It's the second major storm to strike Mozambique in the past six weeks.
HOWELL: Officials in California are racing to contain a potential measles outbreak. More than 600 students and faculty are under quarantine at two California universities.
HOWELL: Anyone who's come into contact with a confirmed case and can't prove they've been vaccinated have been ordered to stay home. The U.S. is facing its worst measles outbreak since it was virtually eliminated in the year 2000.
Government health officials have found 695 cases in 22 states this year alone. The highly contagious disease also flaring up around the world, as you see on the map. Based on World Health Organization figures, Ukraine had more than 72,000 cases in the past 12 months.
The Easter Sunday massacre in Sri Lanka has been over for days now. But the fear there is not over. How it's affecting people's livelihoods.
Plus, Joe Biden officially campaigning. It just got started. And now, he's already raised millions of dollars in his bid for the White House. He's also a fresh face for scrutiny from his competitors.
HOWELL: Welcome back to viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you at this hour.
HOWELL: At least 16 people are dead in Sri Lanka. This after terrorists blew up their house as security forces approached. It was part of a nationwide set of raids after the Easter Sunday massacre there that claimed 253 lives.
Authorities also found bombmaking elements and ISIS uniforms and flags inside. The terrorists behind the Sri Lanka attacks had at least two motives. Like most terrorists, they want to do as much harm as possible and make those who survive to live in fear. Our Ivan Watson reports that's just what happened in the capital of Colombo.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Any normal day of the week, this shopping street would be full of pedestrians. But shopkeepers who are here, they say that most of the shops, more than half, appear to be closed. And there are a couple reasons.
There are fears that the terrorist bombers could strike again. And there are fears that Muslims in this community could be targeted in revenge attacks.
And today, empty?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, empty.
WATSON: Because of fear?
People are afraid?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.
How does it feel?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am a little unnerved as I got here. We're leaving the city now, getting on the train.
WATSON: Don't be fooled by the music playing over the loudspeakers because I'd say that half of the stores in the shopping mall are also closed right now and here's part of why. The U.S. embassy in Colombo put out this warning saying, quote, "Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Sri Lanka. They could target without warning, tourist locations, transport hubs, markets, shopping malls."
The list goes on.
The Sri Lankan security forces are on high alert. We see them deployed all throughout the capital, Colombo, at checkpoints, checking IDs, stopping cars and searching them. And that's because there is real fear that there could be a second wave of terrorist attacks and they're deployed here in front of a mosque, a Sufi Muslim mosque.
Now the ideology of hate and extremism that is proposed and spread by ISIS, they hate Sufi Muslims. They consider them heretics and they are also a potential target. The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has announced that it is suspending all church services until April 29th amid these security threats.
And the Sri Lankan minister of Muslim affairs has urged Muslims to stay home, not to go to mosque and not to attend Friday prayers for fear of further terror attacks -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Colombo.
HOWELL: Ivan, thank you.
Just a day after officially joining the Democratic race for the White House, the former vice president Joe Biden faced some tough questions about his age and his past decisions. But as Jeff Zeleny reports, he also got a big boost from some generous supporters.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Joe Biden flexing his fund-raising muscle, with his campaign announcing this afternoon he raised $6.3 million during his opening day in the race, the former vice president outpacing the first-day totals of all Democratic rivals, trying again today to keep his fight focused squarely on President Trump's conduct in office.
JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The rest of the world, I mean, they look at us like, my God.
ZELENY: Biden also responding to Trump's latest attack on his age, despite both men being just four years apart.
TRUMP: I'm a young, vibrant man. I look at Joe. I don't know about him. I don't know.
If he looks young and vibrant compared to me, I should probably go home.
ZELENY: But appearing on ABC's "The View," Biden's also confronting questions about his own long record, repeatedly declining to directly apologize to Anita Hill for her treatment during the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas.
BIDEN: I'm sorry she was treated the way she was treated. I did everything in my power to do what I thought was within the rules, to be able to stop things.
ZELENY: Expressing regret but stopping well short of accepting responsibility, considering he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Hill told "The New York Times" she was not satisfied with the recent call from Biden, the first in 28 years.
JOY BEHAR, ABC HOST: 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.
BIDEN: But I'm sorry the way she got treated.
ZELENY: Biden also struggled to apologize to --
ZELENY (voice-over): -- women amid allegations that he made them feel uncomfortable.
BIDEN: So 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.
ZELENY: Yet Biden also showing a deeply emotional side, when asked about his late son, Beau, who always hoped his father would run again for president.
BIDEN: I think about -- I hope he's proud of me. I hope he's proud.
ZELENY: Joe Biden said that age would be a legitimate issue in this campaign. He is 76. President Trump is 72. But asked if he would only serve one term in office, he said, no, he would not make that commitment. He said he believes voters would decide that, with age comes wisdom and experience -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Washington.
HOWELL: The latest government figures show the United States economy is moving along at a nice clip. That should be good news for the White House as it looks ahead 2020. But there are some signs, some Trump voters have turned against Mr. Trump. Our Miguel Marquez has this report from Erie, Pennsylvania.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty- eight-year-old business owner Chris Trott, twice an Obama voter, flipped to Trump in 2016.
CHRIS TROTT, OWNER, ERIE FLEET SOLUTIONS: He's not a guy I would want to go and have a beer with or golfing with --
MARQUEZ (on camera): But you'll vote for him?
TROTT: I'll vote for him.
TROTT: Because what he's doing seems to be working.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Saddled with college loan debt, Trott took a huge gamble years ago, starting his own vehicle modification business. It's growing. He might soon hire his first full-time employee. The strong economy gets his vote, as does the president. Maybe.
TROTT: I'm going to have to hold out and say it's probably going to be Trump, but I'm still open to seeing different things.
MARQUEZ: A common refrain.
Democrats here hold a sizable registration advantage over Republicans, but many voters cross over. Until 2016, no Republican had won Erie County since 1984, when Ronald Reagan did on his way to winning re- election.
Trump campaigned in Erie and returned here after his election. He carried the county by fewer than 2,000 votes. Clinton won the city, Trump with suburbs and rural areas. Last year's midterms saw Democrats flip, 35 suburban and rural precincts back to their candidates.
One of those places, the borough of Girard in the Erie suburbs. Business owner Karla Gooden, a Democrat who voted for Trump, has soured on his presidency.
KARLA GOODEN, OWNER, SALON 11: I don't even admit that I voted for him.
MARQUEZ (on camera): Why?
GOODEN: Because he's so -- like, his personality is nasty. Like, I don't feel like he's a good role model.
MARQUEZ: So you won't for him in 2020?
GOODEN: No. I don't think I will.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Down the street at the Girard Diner, owner Dick Crosby credits the president for the strong economy. He sees Trump as unbeatable in 2020.
DICK CROSBY, OWNER, GIRARD DINER: You can go to almost every business around here and you'll see a sign in the window for "help wanted." They can't find people to work. So that tells you that something's going good.
MARQUEZ: His sister, Mary Lawry (ph), a die-hard Democrat voted for Clinton in 2016, but says she'd have a hard time pulling the lever for a candidate that's too progressive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know what the country's ready for. I don't know if they're ready for a woman president or a gay president or any of that stuff, either.
MARQUEZ: The economy here, paramount.
All 1,700 members of Erie's largest union, United Electrical, went on strike earlier in the year. Trump won many rank- and-file union votes in 2016. Both parties vowed to fight for those same voters in 2020.
JIM WERTZ, CHAIRMAN, ERIE COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Going into 2020, we're looking very strong. I think 2018 built a lot of momentum.
MARQUEZ (on camera): Do you think you can count on union votes in 2020?
VEREL SALMON, CHAIRMAN, ERIE COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY: Well, we've got to work for them. And I can count on them thinking and believing in this region.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): The Rust Belt, a major route on the road to the White House -- Miguel Marquez, CNN, Erie, Pennsylvania.
HOWELL: From bromance to angry words, what Kim Jong-un is now saying about Donald Trump and he's saying it to that man.
HOWELL: One year ago, it was a handshake heard around the world as leaders of North Korea and South Korea met. It set off a flurry of diplomatic expectation and paved the way for two summits between the North Korean leader and the president of the United States.
But those promising expectations have turned sour and as our Brian Todd tells us from Washington, some of those feelings of goodwill have become anger.
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 --
TODD (voice-over): -- 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.
HOWELL: Brian, thank you.
Now to the story of the Russian woman who pleaded guilty to conspiracy for acting as a Russian agent during the 2016 U.S. election. She learned her fate on Friday. Our Sara Murray has the story.
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.
HOWELL: Still ahead, a historic night for one of basketball's biggest stars. Kevin Durant propels his team into the second round of the playoffs with a record performance.
HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.
Getting accepted into one good college is reason enough to celebrate anywhere. But one high school student in the United States is now sorting through 115 -- that's right -- 115 acceptance letters. Believe it or not, Antoinette Love said she received so many offers,
her mailbox overflowed. No matter where she chooses, one thing is certain: she won't have to pay a cent. Love has been offered a staggering $3.7 million in scholarship money. She says she hopes to inspire others to pursue their dreams as well. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTOINETTE LOVE, SCHOLARSHIP WINNER: I want to show others that it's possible to be accepted into college and go to college.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty simple?
LOVE: Yes. But not everybody goes because they feel like they can't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Love plans to become a teacher, saying she wants to help children be their very best. We know that her parents, of course, very proud of her accomplishments.
The defending champs of the NBA are moving on to the second round of the playoffs. That thanks to the record performance from their star player. Warriors forward Kevin Durant put on a scoring clinic, dropping 50 points to eliminate the L.A. Clippers in game six. He scored 38 just in the first half, which was tied with the second most in postseason history.
Here's what he said about his performance after the game. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN DURANT, HOUSTON WARRIORS: I scored 50 points but I missed some good shots tonight. I feel like I made a few more. But I mean, I felt great. I felt great. You know, it was a fun game, for sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Felt great, he said. The Warriors will face the Houston Rockets on Sunday in --
HOWELL: -- the second round of the playoffs. And it could be a shot at redemption for Houston, which lost to the Doves in the Western Conference finals last year. Here's Warriors coach Steve Kerr on the upcoming matchup.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE KERR, WARRIORS COACH: It don't make you think too much about what they are going to do. They'll let you know. They're going to come after you and pick and roll. We've played them three times in the playoffs, the last four years. So we know their team well.
They're tough. We know they're already in the bay waiting for us. So yes. It will be a quick turnaround. But this is how it goes. It's the NBA. It's just like the regular season; you get a day off and you play another game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: All right. And now to the London marathon. On Sunday, more than 41,000 people will run and, when they're thirsty, at mile 23 or kilometer 37, they'll have an environmentally conscious way to do it, to rehydrate. Take a look here.
These are capsules made of seaweed. They can be filled with water, sports drink or any other beverage. They're produced by a British startup that's hoping to reduce plastic waste. The pods are edible, tasteless and can be cheap to produce, much cheaper than plastic.
That's this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell in the CNN Center in Atlanta. For our viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is ahead. For international viewers, "Troubled Waters," a CNN Freedom Project documentary, is ahead of us. Thanks for being with us.