Return to Transcripts main page


Japan's Emperor Abdicate His Throne; ISIS Leader Sending Message to the World; New Rules Imposed on Asylum Seekers; Japan's Emperor Akihito To Abdicate Throne; Easter Bombers Had Links To ISIS; ISIS Leader Appears To Address Followers In New Video; Boeing Under Fire; The U.S. Promise To North Korea; Breaking Boundaries By A Burkini-Wearing Model. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired April 30, 2019 - 03:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Out of sight for five years. Now the head of ISIS has reemerged with new propaganda but the same old hatred.

Boeing CEO's latest damage control attempt is looking to re-earn trust from hints the pilots could be to blame for the most recent fatal crash.

And we are live outside the Imperial Palace in the Japanese capital where the emperor is about to abdicate his thrown.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN newsroom.

Well, it looks like ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is still alive. A new video from the terror group appeals to show him speaking to his followers. If it is genuine, this is al-Baghdadi's first known video since 2014. He says ISIS is responsible for attacks in several countries. He also praises the recent bombings in Australia.

CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank spoke earlier about why the video is being released now.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: This is a really risky move from al-Baghdadi putting out this video message. We've hardly ever heard from him, only a few audio tapes and only that one on camera appearance several years ago when the ISIS caliphate was formed.

And so, he's taking a very significant risk here. There's always a worry from that point out of view when they put out these tapes so they might tip off western intelligence kind of terrorism services in the region to his location.

He's putting this out now to show he's alive and the context here is there been a lot of setbacks to ISIS. They've lost all their territory in Syria and Iraq. There's also been some infighting within ISIS theological disputes and that's even more reason perhaps for him to put his face out there. Again, one footnote here, he doesn't seem to be injured in this video

tape. There had been strong intelligence which had come in which was cited by the U.N. and other indicating that at some point he had been injured, but no evidence from this tape of any injury, at least no obvious evidence of any injuries.


CHURCH: Now the Sri Lankan president is also confirming to CNN in an exclusive interview that the Easter Sunday bombers had very clear links to ISIS.

Our Sam Kiley just sat down with the president; he joins us now. Good to see you, Sam. So, what else did the president tell you?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he was very defensive of his own role in what frankly has been a complete debacle in terms of allowing that Easter massacre to take place. Given the high level of certainty really coming in, in terms of intelligence that was predicting with some detail from both Sri Lankan intelligence and Indian intelligence that a plot of that nature was is in the offing.

And I put it to him as the defense minister and as the man responsible for the police force for the previous four months that perhaps he should consider his position and resign. This is how he responded, Rosemary.


MAITHRIPALA SIRISENA, PRESIDENT OF SRI LANKA (through translator): I was not informed of the information pertaining to this attack prior to the occurrence of the incident. The executive services had informed the defense minister who informed the inspector general police.

Foreign intelligence provided information to the Sri Lankan intelligence services on the 4th of April. Between the 4th and 12th of April letters were exchanged between offices but no one reported this to me.

on 16th of April, I left the country on a personal holiday. I departed the country 12 days after the information was received. I was not informed of this information. So, it is not me but the I.G. or police and the defense secretary who should be resigning. Therefore, I have taken necessary action to reveal them as they were negligent in their duties.

KILEY: You seem therefore to be suggesting that the intelligence agencies were deliberate in keeping you uninformed of this?

SIRISENA (through translator): I do not think this was intentionally done. I feel they were being irresponsible and negligent in their duties. When the incident occurred I asked him why didn't you inform me of the matter? And their response was that even though they received the information they didn't think an incident of this nature would occur. I think they were careless and negligent in their duties. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KILEY: Didn't think that something like this could happen. What an extraordinary thing to say of your own department from a president in the aftermath of the murder of some 250 or more individuals.

[03:05:01] Forty-two of them according to the Sri Lankan foreign ministry confirmed to be foreign nationals. Now since that incident there have been, Rosemary, rounding of a terrorist cell in the east of the country that in the end destroyed itself almost all members of the same family.

And they are understood or believed to have been plotting another round of mass attack after the police discovered an enormous cache of explosives.

So, this is very far from the Sri Lankan perspective. And only yesterday the president appointed somebody to be an overall command of the operation to try to head off yet more of these attacks.

So, I think the only way to sum up the interview I have with the president and his response to this wider crisis is lackadaisical, to say the least, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes. He was very determined not to take any responsibility for all these failings, particularly the intelligence failing which world still trying to get our minds around. So, what did he have to say about that? And how authorities intend to catch any of the remaining suspects and prevent more attacks because that's the big problem now, isn't it?

KILEY: Well, the authorities have move to try to prevent more attacks. They have a series of curfews overnight nationwide. Those have now been lifted.

But one of the interesting things, for example, Rosemary, that occurred is the day before yesterday CNN got leaked intelligence that was going out to minister's bodyguard, saying that there was specific intelligence that there was going to be an attack on tourist sites and the VIP should avoid those tourist sites.

Among them was the town of Batticaloa where we happened to be based in a tourist hotel. Now we left that hotel because we had very specific intelligence that that hotel in that town was likely to be attacked. But you couldn't see any evidence of any kind of a security response to that active intelligence of what the Sri Lankan intelligence authority said was an active plot.

Just to give you an idea of how completely dysfunctional so far this response really has been. At least on that level, on the other level it has to be said that the Sri Lanka authorities have broken up at least one very significant plot in this to the country, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Al very unnerving. Sam Kiley bringing us that live update. Do take care. Many thanks. Well, a former U.S. army soldier now sits in jail accused of trying to

cause mass casualties with improvised explosive devices. The FBI arrested Mark Steven Domingo on Friday. They say he was trying to buy pressure cooker bombs filled with nails.

Jessica Schneider has the details of his arrest.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This 26-year-old former army soldier who served in Afghanistan for four months back in 2012, has allegedly been plotting this attack since early March. Authorities say Mark Steven Domingo begin posting his support for violent jihad online and even met repeatedly with an FBI informant. All before ultimately taking out a spot in Long Beach, California where he planned to detonate a homemade bomb on Sunday.

But authorities this whole time they were tracking him. And agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Domingo on Friday after the FBI informant who had been talking with Domingo handed over the bomb materials.

So, Domingo served in the military from 2011 to 2013 and deployed to Afghanistan for those four months in 2012. But in the videos, he proclaimed he'd become a Muslim and wanted to harm Americans, Jewish people and police officers, among others.

He posted online that, quote, "America needs another Vegas event," referring to the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October 2017 that killed more than 50 people. And then after that mosque attack in New Zealand last month, Domingo wrote online that, "there must be retribution."

Domingo is now charged with providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. But questions do remain how he seemed to radicalize so quickly and online?

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: Well, in less than an hour from now a new era in Japan will begin. That's when Emperor Akihito of Japan will abdicate the throne, making way from his son Prince Naruhito to take over.

Now earlier, he's done traditional dress for an abdication ritual. Emperor Akihito says he is stepping because of his health. He's battled prostate cancer and had heart surgery. During his 30-year reign, Akihito sort to heal the wounds of World War II and engage with his citizens like no previous monarch has.

[03:09:59] Let's turn to our Will Ripley joining us live from Tokyo. Good to see you again, Will. So how are people across Japan reacting to the abdication of their emperor and the role hand over to his son the prince, and now they are counting down the minutes right now?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are counting down the minutes and the hours up to what's going to be expected just a short 10-minute abdication ceremony but this is a major event for Japan. And I want to get the camera right in here past this crowd. Because

what is happening right now, Rosemary, this is a procession of vehicles. These are dignitaries who include lawmakers, also there will be members of the imperial family.

Right now, entering the Imperial Palace here in Tokyo for the ceremony which is obviously a tremendous exclusive event, a tremendously important for Japan. Because it marks the end of the Heisei or era of the serene peace.

And then tomorrow actually, at the stroke of midnight the Reiwa or era of beautiful harmony will begin. And it's just, it's really quiet something to watch all of this unfolding before our eyes.

And in fact, before those cars, Heide (ph) if you can show the massive line of people over there. Even though it's rainy weather out here at times just pouring down rain, you have thousands of people who are coming here to the Imperial Palace despite the weather to witness this historic event.

And that says a lot about Emperor Akihito and his legacy. When he was born, you know, the imperial family in Japan was essentially untouchable. They were -- not -- they were above royalty, they were demigods. They were worshiped in Japan and they had absolute power. And they pretty much owned everything in this country.

But all of that changed after Japan's unconditional surrender at the end of World War II. And the monarchy essentially went from being absolute sovereigns to a symbol of the state. And Emperor Akihito was the first emperor who spent his entire reign under that pacifist Constitution, that new dispensation.

And he embraced the role, Rosemary, and did it so well. He really has transformed the image of the imperial family. And he earned the love of the Japanese people.

One of his most poignant moments was in 2011, during the tsunami and nuclear meltdown when he met with survivors and he kneeled down at eye level and looked at people in the eye, something that had never happened in any previous emperors.

And it was just, you know, you can see the reaction now of all the crowds who are out here despite the weather wanting to say goodbye to Emperor Akihito, who after today, he retires. He basically disappears from public life.

He'll have some time to relax after an exhausting schedule of hundreds of meetings flying all over the world, meeting the dignitaries. He passes those duties on to his son, the crown prince who soon becomes the new Emperor Naruhito. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes. An impressive legacy that he leaves behind, as you mentioned he will be replacing -- he'd be replaced by his son Naruhito. Fifty-nine-year-old Oxford educated crown prince. How much, if any, modernizing can we expect to see during his reign? Even today in Japan of course, it has to be said women still aren't allowed to sit on the throne. They're not allowed to do a whole lot of things.

RIPLEY: That's right. I mean, think about the fact that the empress who, herself, is Harvard educated and a former diplomat. She won't be able to attend the ceremony when her husband becomes the emperor because it's men only with the exception of female lawmakers.

So, they have passed an exception to the law allowing women who have been elected by the Japanese public to be present. But yet, the women in the imperial family, you know, impressive women who marry into this family often find their role greatly diminished from what they might have in a, you know, quote, unquote, "modern normal life."

And the question is, is that going to start changing? Is he going to make the monarchy more accessible? Or is it going to remain kind of in many -- you know, many ways just kind of walled off from the world, living this life in the Imperial Palace.

Which, you know, I can tell you, Rosemary, from visiting the palace, it's extraordinary different from this huge metropolis that surrounds it. I mean, you look at all of the skyscrapers that are around this compound. And yet, when you go inside the palace it's quiet. It's almost like stepping back in time. And a lot of the traditions are almost are also outdated, similarly outdated.

So, will this new era mean change in terms of the role of women in terms of the accessibility of the monarchy? Well those are questions that we simply don't have the answer to because when Crown Prince Naruhito has been asked what he is going to be like as emperor. All he usually says in public is I've been studying my father very closely, learning from him.

The question is though, will he imitate him? Or will he try something new. That's what we have to wait and see.

CHURCH: It sounds like it's going to be much of the same but we will have to just see, won't we? And of course, all of this buildup is to a 10-minute abdication ceremony as you point out.

And our Will Ripley will be covering all of that. Many thanks to you, Will. Talk to you soon.

[03:14:56] Well, it was a defining moment of the Trump presidency. Now the white nationalist movement in Charlottesville is becoming an issue on the campaign trail.

And later, why Boeing CEO walked out of a news conference about the company's plans to get its 737 MAX jetliners back in the sky.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The asylum program is a scam. Some of the richest people you've ever seen, people that look like they should be fighting for the UFC.


CHURCH: Well, to that end, President Trump is ordering sweeping new restrictions on asylum seekers at the Mexican border.

In a memo to the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security, the president outlined the changes. They include application fees, work permit restrictions, barring migrants who entered or tried to enter illegally from working until their claims are approved. And a requirement that cases must be resolved within 180 days.

The current backlog is 800,000 cases. The president's memo says the changes should be implemented within 90 days.

Well, meanwhile, in the aftermath of Saturday's attack on a synagogue in California. President Trump is facing renewed scrutiny over his past comments on white nationalism.

As Kaitlan Collins reports a leading Democratic opponent is making it a campaign issue.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Tonight, a president usually known for his confidence appears to be unnerved by his latest rival. Former Vice President Joe Biden. Aides insist President Trump isn't worried about running again Biden, but he's clearly on his mind.


TRUMP: I don't know what the hell happened to Biden. I never saw that before. I don't know. It just doesn't look like the same Biden. I said is I really look like Joe Biden? He doesn't like the same to me.


COLLINS: Trump referenced the former vice president on Twitter at least four times today alone. And while some advisers are urging the president not to single out any Democratic presidential hopefuls just yet, those closest to the president are following his lead on Biden.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR: Why is he using Charlottesville to launch a candidacy, as somebody who's in the Senate for decades who was vice president eight years?


[03:19:54] COLLINS: The White House has been on defense after Biden made Trump's comments about a 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville that left the counter protestor dead a central focus of his campaign announcement.


CONWAY: When President Trump condemned racism, bigotry, evil, violence and then took it many steps further and called out neo-Nazis and white supremacists and KKK. That is darn near perfection. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: After a shooting at a synagogue outside of San Diego left one person dead and several others injured this weekend President Trump offered a whole trotted denouncement of hate at his latest rally.


TRUMP: We forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate which must be defeated.


COLLINS: The latest shooting six months after a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh killed 11, has past but the rise of white nationalism at the forefront of the 2020 race. The FBI says hate crimes are on the rise for the third year in a row.

But six weeks ago, after a gunman killed 49 Muslims at two mosques in New Zealand Trump downplayed the threat.


TRUMP: I don't really -- I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problem.


COLLINS: His allies say his critics are misrepresenting his remarks about what happened in Charlottesville.


NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: If you go back and look at what Trump said, Trump said clearly that he was opposed to the white supremacists, he was opposed to Klansmen, he was opposed to Nazis. I mean, he says it clearly.


COLLINS: But after the protest two years ago, the president blamed both sides.


TRUMP: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.


COLLINS: Then, two full days later, after facing widespread criticism from Republican lawmakers and CEOs, the president named names.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Those who cause violence and its names are criminals and dogs. Including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacist and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as America.


COLLINS: The next day, after fuming from coverage that said he hadn't gone far enough, Trump defended his first statement.


TRUMP: I think there's blame on both sides. If you look at both sides, I think there's blame on both sides.


COLLINS: Now the president did not answer a question earlier here at the White House today about whether or not he still doesn't think white nationalism is becoming a problem.

But one thing aides do not want the president to talk about are these Democratic hopefuls. But they say that as the president sees more and more of these Democratic contenders on TV sucking up the political oxygen that he's not going to be able to resist getting involved.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: Laura Barron-Lopez is a national political reporter for Politico and joins me now from Washington. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, in the wake of the synagogue attack in California that followed a number of other attacks pressure is mounting on President Trump to denounce hate crimes and white supremacy ideology.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says he is pushing back, but he isn't, is he? And he's still won't recognized that those hate crimes are on the rise. Why is that?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Look, we've heard the president repeatedly time and time again when acts of crimes have happened across the country not take a forceful stance and condemning them, again when he was talking about Charlottesville recently he doubled down on his claim that there were, quote, you know, "very fine people on both sides."

The president in doing this is trying to stoke the fear among his base. He considers it a political advantage by pushing these issues so we expect that he's going to continue to do this in the lead up to the 2020 election because he thinks that it will actually benefit him.

CHURCH: Right. But this inability on the path of President Trump to speak out against hate crimes and to realize that they are on the rise, could this prove to be this Achille's heel in the presidential race given his rival Joe Biden is shining a very bright light on Mr. Trump's response to events, particularly in Charlottesville.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. Well, it's not something that helps him. It also amps up the Democratic base in response to him and we did see that Joe Biden is the person who brought up Charlottesville when he launched his first video ad to announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination.

And President Trump responded to that. He's been tweeting about Joe Biden multiple times today because he seems to be quite threatened by his candidacy and Joe Biden is already starting to paint a very strong contrast with Trump, and he's focusing on Trump more than the other Democratic candidates.

[03:24:57] CHURCH: Yes. And I want to talk to you about that, because he -- President Trump was ignoring the advice from his own aides to avoid highlighting Joe Biden in particular because there is this recognition that he is the one Democratic presidential candidate that could perhaps push Trump out of office.

By doing that, why do you think that Mr. Trump would then go against what his advisers have told him take the bait from Biden, elevate Biden to, in essence, become the likely nominee then on the Democratic side because simply Trump has put him there?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. So, Biden is already well-known and that's why he's leading in the polls. He is the former vice president serving with Obama. And so, the more that Trump attacks him the more that that elevates Biden.

Trump doesn't really listen to his advisers that much. He never really has. We know that the president is known to make his decisions based on who is maybe the last person in the room with him. But that only go so far. When he's alone he tends to take to Twitter and react to whatever he's watching on Fox News or on other outlets.

And so that is why it seems that the president isn't taking the advice of his advisers. He can be a bit of a loose cannon when it comes to what he perceives as threats to his presidency.

CHURCH: We'll see whether this ends up helping Joe Biden, of course. I do want to turn to another issue before you go. Attorney General Bill Barr refusing to appear before the House Judiciary Committee unless they agree to dump plans to have him answer questions from lawyers regarding the Mueller report.


CHURCH: Chairman Jerry Nadler has refused to change the format, he says he'll go ahead with the hearing with or without Barr. Who will likely outmaneuver whom in this battle do you think?

BARRON-LOPEZ: I think Democrats are taking a really hard line, they want to show that they are going to stop it no -- you know, they are going to go as far as they possibly can in order to get all the information that they think that they need. They feel bolstered by the fact that the public does want the

information out there, but again, Democrats are also threading this fine line not going too far and not saying that they are going to start impeachment proceedings because they know that there can be a political risk to pushing impeachment proceedings.

But so far, we haven't seen any of the Democratic chairman stepped down. They plan to be pushing the administration as hard as they possibly can in order to get the information that they want as it relates to the Mueller report.

CHURCH: We'll see what happens with all this later in the week of course. Laura Barron-Lopez, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Thank you.

CHURCH: And we will take a short break here. Still to come, a video from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi could mean a deadly new strategy for ISIS. We'll look at how the terror group is evolving.

Plus, Boeing takes responsibility for its role in two recent deadly plane crashes except when the CEO tries to blame someone else. We'll have that for you when we come back.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everyone, I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour. Japan's Emperor Akihito will abdicate his thrown less than an hour from now. The 85-year-old monarch cites health problems as his reason to stepping down. His son Prince Naruhito will be inaugurated emperor on Wednesday. Japan boast the oldest continues hereditary monarchy in the world.

Sri Lanka's president tells CNN it's very clear the Easter Sunday bombers have links to ISIS. He said Sri Lankan intelligence services believe the terror group train the attackers and the connections between ISIS and extremists in Sri Lanka date back 15 years.

A new ISIS video appears to show the terror group leader, Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi alive and well. If genuine, it's his first known video appearance since 2014. Off camera, the speaker praises recent bombings in Sri Lanka. He also claims responsibility for dozens of attack in several countries.

Well, ISIS has changed radically since al-Baghdadi's last video 2014, its terrorist army in Iraq and Syria has collapsed and its self- declared caliphate is in ruins. Well, now the terror group is looking to be an inspiration for attacks like the one in Sri Lanka. CNN's Nic Robertson has more.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was the old ISIS, a terror group with territory. Now shelled out of Mosul, shot out of Raqqa, and finally after many months blasted out of Baghouz. They are now stripped of their so-called caliphate. Change is coming and this is what their future will likely look like. A network of social media, a deep web connections. A virtual caliphate held together by trust, bolstered by far flown franchises.

It's what al-Qaeda when it was beaten out of Afghanistan. Survive through trust, friends forge on the frontlines, disperse around the world in defeat, kept their ideology together through secret communications attacking when and where they could.

ISIS is changing circumstance is already breeding a change in tactics. They have begun telling would be Jihadist to stay home and attack. Nevertheless, the virtual caliphate ISIS will be weaker without territory they lose training camps. And the space to plot and plan atrocities with impunity. Some members may seek to join other terror groups. Not as easy as it sounds, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria has been rounding up some ISIS members already.

Loss of territory alone won't snuff them out completely. ISIS's precursor, al-Qaeda in Iraq still carries out a wide ranging terror campaign from remote farms and urban lockups. Candidate Trump threatened to bomb the expletive out of ISIS. But it's easier said than done, their extinction when it does come will be over time and through attrition, but until then their social networking virtual caliphate will remain a threat. Nic Robertson, CNN London


CHURCH: Boeing CEOs says the pilot where at least partly to blame with the crash of an Ethiopian airline 737 Max last month. Investigators say problems with the jets anti-stall software were a factor in that crash. And in another last October of Indonesia. And Boeing has accepted its role in the crash. The CEO says the company is close to a software fix.


DENNIS MUILENBURG, BOEING CEO: Are commitment to safety is unwavering. And we do regret the impact that this is had two passengers. We know we do have work to do, to earn and re earn that trust and we will. We know that in both accidents there was a chain of events that occurred. One of the links in that chain was the activation of the MCAS system, because of erroneous angle of attack data. That was a common link in both accidents. We know that we can break that link in the chain.


CHURCH: Canadians who lost family manners in the Ethiopian airlines crash have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Boeing. And the company that made sensors for the 737 Max.

[03:35:-4] Now, they claim Boeing rushed the plane into production sidestepping safety guidelines towards use cause. One man lost his wife, three young children and a mother-in-law.


PAUL NJOROGE, FAMILY KILLED IN ETHIOPIAN CRASH: I stayed up, all night crying and thinking of the horror that they must have injured. As pilots struggle the plane flying for six minutes. The terror that my wife must have experience would lead to (inaudible). Our two children besides that they are crying for their daddy. My mom in law, feeling hopeless (inaudible). Those six minutes will be forever be embedded in my mind. I was not there to help them. I couldn't even save them. It is up to Boeing in the other in charge to save them. We paid for that safe flight, but instead my family and others in that plane has suffered (inaudible) laws that cannot be remembered. We are here to ensure that planes remain flyable and safe for human beings. That more lives are lost and gain because of the negligence of plane (inaudible) and the aviation regulators. That no one (inaudible) inside the tragic and painful mind.


CHURCH: Heartbreaking details there on the 737 Max was grounded worldwide after the Ethiopian crash. Boeing CEO says he intends to make it one of the safest planes to fly.

Well, the man called the peoples emperor is calling it quits. Akihito's reign ends in just a few minutes. And we will look at what a change in emperor means for Japan.

Plus, new details on what the U.S. promised North Korea to release the American college student, Otto Warmbier.


[03:40:00] CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well, it has been two centuries since the Japanese emperor abdicated the throne. But in about 20 minutes or so that is going to change. Emperor Akihito is stepping down to make way for his son, Prince Naruhito to become monarch. Earlier Akihito dawn traditional robes to attend an abdication ritual. The 85-year-old cites his health as the reason for retiring.

So, let's get some perspective on this big event. We are joined by Japanese culture expert, Ella Tennant, a teaching fellow at Keele University in England. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So, how significant is this abdication of the emperor and of course, the handover of power to his son the prince and what legacy does Akihito leave behind?

TENNANT: Well, it's a landmark event, I mean there is very little provision in the imperial household agency to, you know, forward the abdication of a reigning emperor. They did abdicated as he said, previously, that was in 1817. And so, this is just a second time that this actually happened. So, there is, while the emperor has no political role, there is an enormous amount of symbolic and cultural significance for modern Japan as well as linking that to mythological past.

So, you know, obviously, the fact that the government has been creative and actually providing something in the law within the constitution to allow this abdication. One would hope that further innovation will develop with this new emperor to bring some fresh air and actually allow women to succeed to the (inaudible) throne, because up to now, it's been the men only succession route even though Akihito has left a legacy of bringing something new, as he said in the introduction, as a kind of people's emperor.

CHURCH: Yes. That is what people are hoping to see isn't it? Because Japan is a very traditional country. We know Akihito himself has left an impressive legacy, but there's expectations now in his son prince in the hope that as he takes over the position here, but he will try to change some of these situations for women, not only did they have not access to the throne, there's a whole lot of other things they don't have access to in Japan. But how much power does he have to do anything of substance when it comes to women?

TENNANT: Well, I mean, as I said it isn't really a political role, but in terms of Akihito himself, the emperor that is now stepping down. People, some experts have commented on the fact that he has probably done more for Japanese politics in terms of developing and improving kind of the international relations with neighbors than the actual politicians themselves all put together.

So, even though there is no political role the emperor himself and the new emperor will hopefully have some influence is all of these areas just affecting cultural change being there as a symbol. You know, Akihito is seen to be as sort of pacifist Monacan because of the post war period even though there are times of turmoil. The south defense forces were criticized for lack of engagement in the gulf war and then things have change, legislation change more involved step up there. Economic challenges in society, aging population, they are these things that Naruhito's going to be stepping in, in terms of culture. Involvement of women in the workplace, the role of women, this kind of legislation. One would hope that yes, he is able to bring some kind of fresh innovation to the whole system really.

CHURCH: Right. And Naruhito himself said that he has studied his father very closely, giving the idea there that he probably will be similar to his father in so many ways. Is there a sense though that women across Japan want to see some changes? Is there a push at the grassroots there for a move in that direction?

TENNANT: Well, you know, there had been precedent and a lot of people don't really realize that, you know, in Japanese sort of history there have been a number of women leaders and the -- historically in ancient Japan. There was this sort of whole that there were actually nine empresses, there were 11 reigns, because two of them reign twice actually.

[03:45:05] But not many people do actually realizes that even though now is a male only succession route that historically, before certain reformation's and influences from other sort of cultures in the region. Japan was has a system where women had that access to power and leadership.

So, this is obviously changed over the years and it's become firmly trench within the constitution, article 21 in the Japanese constitution, set up in the major reform period and also in the post war period, specifies that it's a male only succession roots. So, this really does have to change given that the majority of members of the imperial household are actually women. And that is a reflection of society at large.

CHURCH: All right, we shall see. Of course, -- right, and just a few words -- just a few minutes before the abdication of the emperor and then of course, we shall see and will be watching very closely to see if any changes are made under the new emperor's leadership. Ella Tennant, thank you so much for joining us, we appreciate it.

TENNANT: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, former U.S. envoy to North Korea confirms he signed an agreement to pay North Korea $2 million for the release of the Americans students Ottawa Warmbier in 2017. Joseph Yun says, he never asked Donald Trump, but it was his understanding that the president approved it. Yun spoke with CNN's Jim Sciuto.


JOSEPH YUN, FORMER U.S. ENVOY FOR NORTH KOREA POLICY: I can confirm that when I went there almost two years ago, I did sign a letter of assurance that the United States government would pay in medical expenses of some $2 million.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Were you under instructions there to do anything -- under instructions from the Secretary of State or from the president or for both to do whatever was necessary to get his release?

YUN: Well, as soon as the North Korean side told me that his bill for $2 million would have to be paid. Of course, I contacted my boss and then the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson to ask him and he got back to me very quickly thereafter to say yes, go ahead and sign.


CHURCH: And we get more on this stunning revelation from CNN's Michelle Kosinski.


MICHELLE KOSINSKI, SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not entirely clear right now that the president did know about this. And he's weighed in on it and insisting that no money was paid to North Korea, but he hasn't gotten into the mechanics of how this came about. It is telling though to hear a top official a negotiator like Joseph Yun say that it was his understanding that the president signed off on it personally. Because that is simply how you would expect something like this to work. For such a high level agreement to be struck between these two governments. On a subject as sensitive as a young American held hostage in North Korea for more than a year. Here is what our nationally security adviser, John Bolton said about this over the weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did North Korea demand money for the release of Otto Warmbier?

AMB. JOHN BOLTON, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: It appears that they did. This occurred before I came into the administration. But that is my understanding, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the U.S. official who is there to get him out of the country, Joseph Yun, did he sign a document pledging the money in order to get him out?

BOLTON: That is what I'm told, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I guess the bottom-line question is, did the U.S. pay any money to North Korea however it was disguise after Warmbier was released?

BOLTON: Absolutely not. And I think that is the key point, the president's been very successful in getting 20 plus hostages released from imprisonment around the world and hasn't paid anything for any of them.

KOSINSKI: Well, you can see he did an exactly shed a whole light on this either. So, we are left with a couple of questions here. First of all, did the president indeed personally now about this agreement and sign off on it? Was it signed off on with the intention that no money would ever be paid? Remember Joseph Yun believes that the U.S. should pay it to North Korea even though this is North Korea were dealing with here. Because he feels that if the U.S. government agrees to do something, that it should be as good as its worth.

Bringing us to a couple of other issues. That if the U.S. is going to insist, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been doing very recently that it does not pay money for hostages, because it only encourages it. Is then signing an agreement to do so, whether you intend to pay the ransom or not just contributing to the same problem. Is it encouraging more hostage taking? And if you are going to sign an agreement and then not live up to it. What does that do to the U.S. as negotiating position with North Korea and with others?

[03:50:05] But the idea of ransom for hostages is of course, always an extremely difficult situation. Remember during the Obama administration, they were criticize because families of certain hostages said that they were warned and threatened, that if they tried to pay ransoms for their loved ones. That they could be prosecuted for it. The Obama administration eventually shifted its tone at least towards family members on that issue. And they appointed somebody to deal directly with families. Michelle Kosinski, CNN, the State Department.


CHURCH: The official death toll from cyclone Kenneth has risen to 38 people. And the rain from the storm is still coming down in Mozambique. And there is a new cyclone brewing in the Bay of Bengal. Meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri, joins us now from the International Weather Center with all the details on this, you've been covering it Pedram, what are you seeing?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Rosemary, at least better news when it comes to the amount of rainfall that is forecast to fall here in northern Mozambique. In the past couple days, models were indicating a fire higher number. Of course, we know the damage has been done in areas like (inaudible) where the landfall was made across this region. We have winds as much as 200 kilometers per hour, 220 kilometers per hour as the max sustain wind at landfall.

And then you notice what is left of it in the past 24 hours, the convection, the thunderstorm activity, all of them beginnings to diminish. Of course, as much as 300 to 400 millimeters of rainfall has come down which is about three to four months' worth of rainfall in the wet season.

Every single day it's still a possibility exist here for thunderstorms, but the amount of rainfall expected within this thunderstorms and now diminishing to as much as a 50 to 75 millimeters, certainly not the several hundred 100 millimeters that was initially estimated. So, at least some better news in that sense across that region of Mozambique.

Now, were not so good news exist right now as across the Bay of Bengal, we are watching a tropical cyclone, this is the latest storm here, cyclone Fani has formed in the past 48 hours or so and this storm sitting in a category two equivalent system at this point. But we are expected it in the next couple of days, to not only work its way to a category three system, but potentially a category four system very similar to what we saw with Kenneth as far as the strength of this storm, by the time we get Wednesday and Thursday.

But notice, kind of a parallel as the Eastern coastline on India here, and as we approach late week, that is the area of concern and we are watching it carefully around (inaudible), around (inaudible) and eventually around Kolkata, these are the cities that we are watching for not only tremendous rainfall, but potentially a system that would be at least category to a stronger on approach there towards the very densely populated coastal area across this region.

So, that is a story we are going to be following and also to leave you with this, Rosemary, extensive heat in place across India, the hottest day of 2019 just occurred at the high of 43 degrees and we are going on eight consecutive days of temperatures exceeding 40 degrees across India. So, I think it's been a rough goal, the past few days.

CHURCH: Most definitely. Thank you for keeping an eye on all of that. Pedram, we appreciate it. Well, the call has a lot to say and wants more time to say it. Coming up, a unique problem of trying to get the U.S. president off the phone. Back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: A Muslim super model is making history with her appearance in

the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Halima Aden is the first model to wear a hijab and bikini in the magazine.

[03:55:00] Three years ago she was the first contestant in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant to wear a hijab in bikini. And that time, she told CNN that many Muslim women don't feel they fit society standard of beauty. She said her message is its OK, to be different and that being different is beautiful too. Most definitely is.

Well, everyone's got a friend like this, someone who can talk and talk and talk on the phone. They miss the cues to wrap it up until finally you get to bring the hammer down on the conversation. Well, that is especially a tricky move when the other person on the line hold the highest office in the land. Jeanne Moos explains.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know when you're dying to get someone off the phone. Well, imagine that someone is the president?

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX ANCHOR: I know you have to run.

MOOS: It's that coy, you don't have time to keep talking to me?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know where this people come from, Maria.

BARTIROMO: Mr. President, I know you have to go.

TRUMP: It wasn't my neighborhood.

BARTIROMO: But final -- yes.

TRUMP: These guys have no common sense --

BARTIROMO: Final question Mr. President --

TRUMP: Honestly unless they hate the country.

MOOS: You can make an anchor look like a fish gasping for air time.

BARTIROMO: Mr. President, before you go.

TRUMP: All of this progressive -- can see people


BARTIROMO: Mr. President before you go, real quick. William Barr testifying next week --

TRUMP: Say, hey, may be --


MOOS: And this was Maria Bartiromo on Trump friendly Fox Business. She finally just ask.

BARTIROMO: Mr. President, don't you have to run.

MOOS: The exact same thing happen a year ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mister President.

TRUMP: Let's see what happens --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we are running out of time, but --

MOOS: The clock was running but so was the president's mouth until finally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can talk to you all day, but it looks like you have a million things to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He got the president off the phone like an annoying relative. Well, listen, I'm going to let you go.

MOOS: Sort of like the (inaudible) overstayed on SNL.

It leaves the TV host with only one escape.

BARTIROMO: Mr. President, thank you so much.

TRUMP: Just in case, Hillary Clinton loses.

MOOS: Why does that seem familiar? Who is it that is always saying thank you to try to get others to shut up and leave?

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you taking the money right now?

TRUMP: Thank you very much everybody.

MOOS: To recap, they way to say get out is --

TRUMP: Thank you all very much.

MOOS: And the way to get off the phone is --

BARTIROMO: I know you have to run.

MOOS: Talk about a busy signal, Mr. President you are too busy.

BARTIROMO: Mr. President, don't you have to run.

MOOS: Not to hang up.

BARTIROMO: I know you have to go.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --

BARTIROMO: I know you have a bus day. MOOS: -- New York.


CHURCH: We have to go, thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church, remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. The news continues next with Max Foster in London. You are watching CNN. Have yourselves a great day.