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Death Toll on Russian Jet Fire Reaches 41; Rep. Lou Correa (D- CA) Interviewed Regarding Whether Robert Mueller Should Testify To Congress Or Not; Senator Bernie Sanders Out On The Campaign Trail. Aired: 6-7p ET

Aired May 5, 2019 - 18:00   ET


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Seventy eight people were on this plane, at least two children are among the dead and this video taken from the ground level captures some of the passengers and crew evacuating on an emergency slide near the front of the jet while you can see the flames are just devouring the tail section.

Russia is now launching a criminal probe into what happened. CNN's Richard Quest covers aviation issues for us and joins us now. Richard, what does the video -- lots of different images and different angles taken here -- what does this tell you about what may have happened?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Right, so the important thing to note is that the plane is on fire when it lands and we know that this flight, SU 1492, which was from Moscow to Murmansk. It takes off, and very soon after it reports there's a fire on board, and it needs to return to Moscow -- the airport. It hasn't gone very far, not with miles. It turns round. It attempts to make one landing, doesn't, we believe. These facts are not yet fully confirmed.

But then it does make a landing, what you can see is a very hard landing, the plane is on fire. And the only thing we know of course, we do not know the reason. Some things just to point out, if I may.

CABRERA: Please.

QUEST: Here, of course you can see the engine. So there's the wing, so the fire is being fueled. That is not just I mean -- that is actually a ruptured fuel line somewhere in there that is causing this very thick black smoke.

CABRERA: And that thick black smoke, does that tell us anything?

QUEST: Yes, it tells you that it is a fed fire. This is not just something -- this is not the plane burning per se. This fire is being fed by fuel lines in some shape or form.

The engines at the front, there don't seem to be anything coming from the engines. So we're not seeing any form of fire or at least from this initial view. This was at the rear of the aircraft.

CABRERA: And that strikes me because obviously, we know 41 people are dead, and they wouldn't be able to get out the back. QUEST: Right. Absolutely.

CABRERA: So evacuating would be difficult.

QUEST: But you know, we have had cases where planes have landed -- crash landed -- I think of Air France in Pearson in Toronto, which looked dreadful. I mean, absolutely horrific. But everybody got off. This is not one of those cases. This is not one of those cases.

You have to understand, a fire on an aircraft is amongst the most serious incidents you can have. If you look at the lot -- the two famous cases that people always talk about ValuJet of the Everglades, and Swissair of the North Coast of Canada -- North East Coast of the U.S. and Canada -- in both of those cases, fire took hold and ultimately destroyed the planes while they were in the air. There was a total loss of life.

In this case, thank God, the crew gets the plane back to the airport and onto the runway, because if that fire had been allowed to fuel them further, the plane would have fallen out the sky.

As it is, I'm guessing it was a very, very complicated, demanding, challenging landing without certain control structures, features available from the tail of the aircraft, the rudder for example, or the elevators, and possibly compromising of the wing from the fuel -- from the fire.

CABRERA: There are a lot of questions, obviously, 37 people survive. Thank goodness, 41 people dead now. Walk us through what the investigation wants to --

QUEST: Well, on that point of 37 survived, the important thing here, what the experts will say is because the plane got on the ground, and the front of the fuselage is not touched by fire as you can see clearly, this is a survivable accident.

So the question now becomes, you know, how many survived? Could more have survived? What more would have been done to help those survive? How quickly were the fire authorities on the scene to be able to help?

Survivable versus non survivable. Fall out the sky at 40,000 feet nonsurvivable.

CABRERA: Are there mechanisms on the plane itself meant to put out fires?

QUEST: Right. Yes, it depends where it is though. So if it's in the engines, and it's in the hold of the aircraft, absolutely, very sophisticated fire suppression mechanisms. But if it's in the cabin, or somehow in the APU at the back or somewhere near there, no, you wouldn't have the same ability.

So the pilot haven't been warned about a fire, will have made it his or her -- we don't know the gender of the pilot -- their duty, obligation, responsibility to get that plane on the ground as fast as possible. They did it under difficult circumstances, no question about it that you're not looking at totality of loss of life is important.

CABRERA: This airline, Aeroflot, what do you know about it?

QUEST: Oh, we know a lot about Aeroflot. Aeroflot -- part of Sky Team, one of the three big alliances. It is the main Russian international airline.

[18:05:02] QUEST: Now in the communist days, if you imagine Delta, American and United -- all one airline called America Flies or whatever. That's what it used to be like in the old Soviet Union.

When the Soviet Union fell, all these airlines were carved up and Aeroflot became the main international carrier. It has domestic routes as well. So it is the main airline.

The aircraft involved. Fine aircraft. The Sukhoi Superjet 100, the SSJ 100. It's not a brilliant plane. It's not a terrible plane. It's a small regional jet. It's well known.

Aeroflot itself used to have a terrible safety record. Today, Western fleet, just like everybody else.

CABRERA: What about the safety of just the aviation industry in Russia in general?

QUEST: Well, there's always questions about that, absolutely. And the Russian authorities have gone through a lot of efforts to close down regional carriers.

The big Aeroflots of this world are playing in the international sphere, and therefore, they have to follow IATA, the main international standards. S7, the other major Russian international carrier follows international standards. So there's no issue. There's no direct issue of safety about Aeroflot or about the aircraft that we can see at the moment at this early stage.

I think we're going to need a lot more details about just what was happening. Fires on planes are extremely rare, and when they do happen, they have to be treated with the utmost severity.

CABRERA: Because it is so rare and because fires just destroy ...


CABRERA: ... whatever it is burning, I mean, how do they even begin to figure out then what caused it?

QUEST: Oh, well that's the investigators to know. The Russians are very good, by the way at investigating. I mean, you know, they now have to get grips with this thing. You're looking at where the fast started.

CABRERA: That's a big clue.

QUEST: Where the fire started. The anecdotal evidence of what happened. I will tell you one thing I do find fascinating. CABRERA: Tell me.

QUEST: If you look at the video, from a shot from inside the plane, if you look at that video shot inside the plane, it's very short. You start to see that this -- here we go. It's almost on the ground, the plane.


QUEST: Now, for crying out loud, which person ...

CABRERA: Pulls out their cellphone and starts recording.

QUEST: ... on a landing plane that's on fire ...

CABRERA: Same question I had.

QUEST: ... thinks to, "I better film this out of the window." The plane is just about to crash land. An actual fact, it doesn't crash land. It doesn't crash land, and actually what it does do is manage to -- he gets it on the runway, the plane stops. And immediately, the fire brigade is there.

Russia has had a tricky, difficult, less than salubrious safety record in the past. The same cannot be said today, and certainly not of Aeroflot.

CABRERA: Well, God bless those people who are on board. Thank you, Richard Quest for your analysis, for your information that you provide. We're staying on top of this story, obviously, as it continues to break right here on CNN.

Will he testify or not? As Congress waits for confirmation if Robert Mueller will appear, President Trump can't seem to decide whether he would support that. A member of the House Judiciary Committee joins us live.

Plus breaking news near the Israel-Gaza border, weekend violence leaving more than two dozen people dead there. And later it may not be Manhattan, but the prison Michael Cohen is set to report to tomorrow has been called one of the cushiest in America. What life behind bars will look like for Trump's former fixer? You're alive and the CNN NEWSROOM.


[18:12:20] CABRERA: President Trump today declaring that Special Counsel Robert Mueller should not testify. It was part of another set of tweets today complaining about the Mueller investigation. Here it is. "There was no crime, except on the other side and no obstruction. Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems."

Of course the Mueller report did not find that there was no obstruction. That determination was made by Attorney General William Barr. In fact, Mueller wrote, they could not exonerate Trump on obstruction. House Judiciary Committee leaders are now trying to secure a time and date for Mueller to appear.

It also comes with less than 15 hours to go now until the new deadline put out by the committee for Barr to turn over the un-redacted Mueller report. California Congressman Lou Correa is joining us now. He is a Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

Congressman, good to have you with us. Earlier, David Cicilline, another Democrat on your committee hinted that Mueller's people agreed to May 15th for Mueller's testimony. Cicilline backed off of that. Sheila Jackson Lee, another Democrat on the committee says there is no agreement. Clear this up for us. Will Robert Mueller be showing up to testify before your committee on May 15th or any other day this month?

REP. LOU CORREA (D-CA): Well, Congress, our job is oversight. We want to get to the bottom. We want the truth. The American people need to know the truth that why we need the full Mueller report and we want Mr. Mueller to show up and tell us, "What is it exactly that you meant by your report?"

CABRERA: And it sounds like you don't know yet whether he is planning to come before you.

CORREA: We're hoping he does. We're hearing May the 15th. But as you know, the President one day tweets one thing, the President tweets another, but we, Congress, we need to do our job. We need the people of America to know the truth, and only Mr. Mueller can tell us what he meant, what is exactly is on that report. And of course, we need to see the full report.

It's my understanding that there are 14 other ongoing investigations and we also need to protect those investigations as well.

CABRERA: I don't want to spend too much time on this. But I just want to confirm, has Mueller's office told you or agreed for Mueller to come before your committee to testify, regardless of the date itself has been figured out?

CORREA: I'm not aware of a specific agreement. However, I am aware that those discussions are ongoing.

CABRERA: Okay. I want to get your response to the President's tweet today saying Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems.

CORREA: Why is he afraid? Why is he afraid of the truth? Mr. Mueller wrote a 400-page report and everybody has a different spin on that report.

I want to hear from Mr. Mueller, "What did you mean? Is this a roadmap and where should we be going?" Mr. Mueller needs to tell the American people what's going on.

CABRERA: Not to mention the President himself has said that Mueller's report vindicates him.

CORREA: I don't think that's the case, Mr. Barr wrote a four-page report and Mr. Mueller said, "You're off. That's not the case."

[18:15:12] CABRERA: Chairman Jerry Nadler issued an ultimatum, 9:00 a.m. tomorrow for the un-redacted Mueller report, or else he'll pursue contempt of Congress charges. Do you support holding the Attorney General in contempt?

CORREA: I support the Attorney General following the law. Congress has the authority to compel him to show up. Congress has the authority to ask him to show us the full Mueller report. If not, we go to the courts.

I don't think he is going to be arrested. I don't think Mr. Barr is going to be put in jail. But we can go to the courts and say, "I want to see that full report and all the underlying evidence." We just want the truth.

CABRERA: But realistically, where does that lead you to hold him in contempt? He is the head of the Department of Justice, can he just brush it off?

CORREA: Well, of course, you can't go to the attorney -- the U.S. Attorney to ask them to arrest Mr. Barr, because the U.S. Attorney works for Mr. Barr. But I think our best avenue is go to the courts, civil process and ask that full Mueller report. We want to continue to investigate this matter.

I think the courts when they see that Congress is being reasonable, they'll agree with us and we will get that full report.

CABRERA: Some have been critical of Democrats like Steve Cohen, who brought a plastic chicken and a bucket of fried chicken into the hearing on Thursday, essentially calling Barr a chicken because he was a no-show. Do these stunts take away from the seriousness of the issue?

CORREA: There's a lot of Members of Congress that are very frustrated. We want to do our job. And I think Mr. Cohen was frustrated. I didn't bring in chicken. I didn't eat chicken. What I'm trying to do is get to the bottom of this.

The American people need to know the truth. The American people need to know how much did the Russians interfere in 2016? And more importantly, how do we stop the Russians from affecting our elections in 2020? That's what we need to find out.

CABRERA: President Trump has been very clear, his strategy is to stonewall all requests from refusing to turn over documents, to suing to stop banks from disclosing material and he is even refusing to allow former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify. How do you combat that brick wall?

CORREA: Well, this is going to be like pulling teeth. The President is going to fight us at every inch every way, every corner and we've got to keep doing our job with Congress. As Congress, we need to make sure we get the information that we've asked for. And that's when we turn to the courts, to please work with us to get to the bottom of the truth.

To get to the bottom, the American people need to know what happened in 2016 and Mr. Mueller, we need to hear from him because he is at the center of this stage. Mr. Mueller wrote that 400-page report and everybody is interpreting what he said. Let's hear from Mr. Mueller.

Why is the President so concerned about the truth? Let the American people show, let the American people see what exactly Mr. Mueller wrote and let's hear from Mr. Mueller what is it exactly, sir, that you meant with your report? Let's have transparency.

CABRERA: But Mr. Mueller does not work for the President. So does the President have any control over whether Mueller testifies?

CORREA: Well, we're going to find out, but as Congress, with our powers of oversight, we're going to use everything we have in our disposal, all of our tools, including the courts to make sure that Mr. Mueller shows up and testifies. We want to make sure that we also have this full report to look at.

We should not be limited in our job to do oversight. We should not be limited in our job to tell the American people what happened.

CABRERA: There's a new interview out this weekend in "The "New York Times" with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she thinks that the party can only win at the ballot box. That impeachment would just be a protracted battle that would turn a lot of voters off. What do you think?

CORREA: I agree with Nancy. I think we have to do our job of oversight, research investigation, and let the facts speak for themselves. It's too early to talk about impeachment.

Right now, the time is to do a full investigation. We want to get the facts in front of Congress and then more importantly, we want to make sure that the American people find out and are aware of what happened in 2016, and more importantly, what can happen in 2020. I'm very concerned about additional Russian interference in American elections.

CABRERA: You are also a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, what do you think of the President's choice of Mark Morgan to be the new head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement or I.C.E.?

CORREA: Well, I'll tell you, I'm more concerned with the resignation of Secretary Nielsen. Before she resigned, she was trying to talk to the President about her concerns about Russian interference in 2020, and she was terminated.

To me that speaks volumes about what's going on at Homeland Security. We can't have a President firing people because he doesn't like what his staff is telling him. That is just unacceptable.

[18:20:14] CABRERA: No opinion on Mark Morgan?

CORREA: Not yet, ma'am. But my job is to continue to investigate, to continue to make sure that the American electoral system is secure and safe from Russian interference.

CABRERA: Got you. Congressman Lou Correa, thank you for being with us.

CORREA: Thank you.

CABRERA: Breaking News: A deadly weekend in the Middle East claiming the lives of more than 20 people. The latest from the Israel-Gaza border just ahead live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And let me go out on a limb and tell you that wind turbines do not cause cancer.

(Cheering and Applause)

SANDERS: I know that the stable -- I know that the stable genius in the White House has done intensive research on the subject, but I beg to disagree with him.


CABRERA: A lighter moment involving Senator Bernie Sanders out on the campaign trail today. Sanders may be taking aim at the President there. He also has 20 other Democratic presidential candidates to contend with including the man at the top of the polls, former Vice President, Joe Biden who was campaigning in the key state of South Carolina.

[18:25:12] CABRERA: Joining us now, CNN senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson; CNN chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter and "New York Times" politics editor Patrick Healy.

Nia-Malika, you first. You are with Kamala Harris at another key state, Michigan. How are Harris and others contending with the fact that Biden has sucked up a lot of the oxygen in this race?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: He really has. You see that big bump that he got post announcing his entry into this big, big field of Democratic candidates.

Tonight, Kamala Harris is in Michigan, a key state that obviously Donald Trump all won that was part of his -- in some ways sweep of the Midwest, tearing down that blue wall the Democrats had relied on for all of those presidential cycles.

We'll hear from Kamala Harrison tonight in front of a crowd of about 5,000 members of the NAACP here in Detroit. Of course, it is an overwhelmingly black city and she wants to make an argument tonight to these voters about electability.

Now what does she mean electability? This idea, at least if you listen to sort of pundits talk about it, is that it takes a certain type of person to reach the voters in the Midwest, and the voters in the Midwest are certain types of people, too, right? Primarily white voters and maybe it takes a white candidate to reach those voters. She is going to try to expand these voters' minds about what electability looks like.

You often talk to African-American voters. They in some ways, doubt whether or not the country is ready to elect a woman President, a black woman President. Of that, obviously, we saw what happened in 2016. So there is some skepticism. She will discuss that tonight and we'll see where it goes.

We saw of course, a similar discussion about electability in 2008, with President Obama. It took him winning white voters in Iowa to finally convince African-American voters that it could be done. So this will be an argument that Kamala Harris makes tonight to African- American voters. She starts in about 30 minutes or so. We'll hear from her make this sort of argument about electability, we'll see how it goes.

But this is going to be an ongoing conversation that she is going to need to have with African-American voters who according to polls, really like Biden, they like his chances because they think he is the one that it takes to beat Trump, at least so far.

CABRERA: I want to talk more about Biden, Patrick, because he gets 39 percent in CNN's poll; 38 percent in the Quinnipiac poll as the field grows, apparently, so does Biden's lead. Why? Is it something he is doing right? Or are the other candidates doing something wrong?

PATRICK HEALY, POLITICS EDITOR, "NEW YORK TIMES": It's nothing he is doing right yet. It's that he got into the race. I mean, they're really three things behind Biden right now. One is name recognition. He is much better known than most of the other 20-plus candidates who are running that still matters a great deal in a huge Democratic field.

The second is the legacy with President Obama. There is a lot of goodwill towards Joe Biden that he was basically a loyal, solid, scandal-free Vice President for President Obama. That particularly helps him as Nia-Malika was saying with black voters.

You know, there are a lot of -- there are some strikes about Joe Biden there in terms of the crime bill from the 1990s, his treatment of Anita Hill, but I think primarily, you're seeing just again, a lot of a lot of support, given that he was a good Vice President to Obama.

And the third thing is this general -- and you've seen this in some of the polling and some of the private polling that other candidates are doing -- a general kind of affection for Joe Biden among Democratic primary voters, the death of Beau Biden, which sort of the nation kind of went through with Joe Biden, you know, in 2015, and just sort of generally --

CABRERA: So there's an emotional connection that we feel --

HEALY: An emotional connection and the feeling, a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve a bit. Again, not incredible enthusiasm, intensity, and this is a long race. So who knows, but at least right now, he starts off with those strengths.

CABRERA: People feel warmly, the man of course, they're all competing to replace is President Trump. He is not on the campaign trail today. He is in Washington still finding ways to appeal to his base. And Brian, you're calling this the Info Wars Presidency, give us some idea about what the President has been up to.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Because of what we've seen on Twitter this weekend, all weekend long, re-tweeting far-right internet personalities, in some cases, figures who have been banned by Facebook in the past few days.

You know, Facebook came and announced it is banning six individuals and one website InfoWars, because it says these are dangerous individuals that are abusing their Facebook accounts and breaking the rules.

The President is campaigning against the Facebook ban supporting these individuals and re-tweeting figures who are known through InfoWars.

InfoWars, is that Alex Jones website, full of conspiracy theories and lies. It's something so far beyond what you'd even see on Fox News, and yet the president is embracing that audience rather than rejecting it.

I think because once again, he is tapping into that sense of grievance or resentment politics that he always taps into


He's also, today, of course, talking a lot about the Mueller report, as you mentioned earlier. Talking about how Mueller should not be able to testify, again, tapping into that sense that he is the victim of a hoax, of a campaign against him. Recently now saying the election was stolen, two years -- not the election, two years of his campaign, his presidency were stolen from him.

That's a really strong language. Any candidate on the Democratic trail would be harshly criticized for talking the way the current president is talking.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: He is so angry, and yet, he could be celebrating.


CABRERA: The President got some incredible economic numbers this week. Here's what both the President and his former rival, Hillary Clinton, are saying about the impact the economy will have on the 2020 race.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have the best numbers. We -- I think we have the best economy we've ever had. And we have more people, Catherine, working right now than ever in the history of our country, so I don't know why somebody beats that.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is the economy. It's always the economy. But that's not the only reason that we should elect a president or, in this case, retire one.


CABRERA: Nia, who's right?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, we'll see. I mean, the voters -- obviously, we see these polls -- they approve of Donald Trump's handling of the economy. His approval rating overall, though, with voters is still, you know, sort of hovering around the 40s. His approval rating should be higher. Why isn't it higher?

I think those are the questions that Hillary Clinton is getting at. What are voters thinking, for instance, about foreign policy? What are they thinking about character? An issue that, obviously, you heard Joe Biden bring up. What do they think about his handling of race relations and immigration?

All of those issues are going to be on, I think, voters' minds, when they look at this Democratic primary and then when they go to the polls in November of 2020. So this is a debate, I think, that the Democrats want to have, obviously, about those other issues.

But they also want to look at the economy in a much more broader way. What about health care, right? That obviously feeds into the way people actually experience the economy and experience their paychecks. What about the cost of college, for instance? What about income inequality?

So I think those are the issues and the ways that you'll see Democrats try to frame this economy, try to frame Donald Trump, and really try to beat him at the polls, first trying to get out of this Democratic primary talking about those issues and then in November 2020.

It's a nuanced debate, but I think Democrats think that's where voters live in terms of the economy. It's just not for the job numbers and GDP numbers. It's actually a more complex kitchen table conversation.

STELTER: And right now, he's threatening more tariffs causing Dow Futures to drop, suggesting the markets will open at a very low point tomorrow. It just shows that, even though the economy's strong, there's ongoing uncertainty. People don't know what's going to happen next because the President is so unpredictable.

CABRERA: Patrick, is the President giving -- doing a disservice to himself by not just tweeting repeatedly about the economy?

STELTER: Constantly.


CABRERA: Instead of, like, you know --

STELTER: Info war.

HEALY: And that's --

CABRERA: -- criticizing the Kentucky Derby and talking about diamond and silk.


HEALY: Yes. I mean, it's really hard to watch Hillary Clinton and not remember sort of "it's the economy, stupid," and the sort of the laser focus on the economy that Bill Clinton had in 1992. Yes, he is doing himself a disservice. Any Republican strategist and a lot of Democratic strategists would say exactly the same thing.

He hurt himself badly, and he hurt the Republican Party badly in 2018 in the suburbs, in places like Orange County, in Texas, suburbs outside of Atlanta where Republicans lost in Trump districts.

The Republicans lost House races in districts that Donald Trump won in 2016 in part because he didn't talk about the economy. He was talking about the caravan coming up through Mexico and Central America in the last several weeks of the race in 2018.

Look, if he tweets only about the economy, which no one thinks he has that level of -- that ability to focus, will it -- will it be enough? I don't know. But at least it's strange that an incumbent president who has an economic argument that he can make, you know, still decides to go the info wars route.

STELTER: He is better at pressing the fear button than the feel-good button.

HEALY: It's his instinct, too. It's his instinct.

STELTER: Yes, that's right. And it's worked in the past.

CABRERA: All right. Gentlemen, thank you.

HEALY: Thanks.

CABRERA: Nia-Malika, thank you, as well. Appreciate it, everybody.

Tonight on CNN, a family's life destroyed by a drunk driver. See what happens when they come face-to-face with the woman who was behind the wheel. "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT WITH VAN JONES" tonight at 9:00 p.m.

And then, W. Kamau Bell heads to Tacoma, Washington with the Redneck Revolt on an all-new episode of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" at 10:00 p.m. That's tonight right here on CNN.


CABRERA: Breaking news. At least 22 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed in clashes that have been escalating throughout the weekend. Gaza militants firing a barrage of rockets into Israel. More than 600 rockets, according to the latest figures from Israeli officials. Its military is responding with air strikes on what it says were more than 250 militant targets in Gaza. And this is some of the bloodiest fightings since 2014, raising fears of an all-out war.

And new concerns about North Korea this evening. CNN has these exclusive satellite images of the regime's newest missile launch. You can see the smoke trail there following the rocket, which experts say indicates a short-range ballistic missile.

State media reports this was a test of long-range, multiple rocket launchers firing tactical, guided weapons into the East Sea. They say North Korea's Kim Jong-un ordered the drill and personally supervised the testing. This on the heels of Kim's first ever meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and following the collapse of the Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi.

Joining us now is CNN Asia-Pacific editor Andrew Stevens. Andrew, do you think Kim Jong-un feels emboldened by his recent meeting with Vladimir Putin, showing that there's another option, perhaps, on the table, aside from working with the U.S.?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: Well, it could be either. It could -- he didn't get a lot from Putin as far as sanctions relief. And to be honest, Russia is not really in a position, Ana, to give North Korea a sanctions relief. And this is what North Korea wants, bottom line. They want those crippling sanctions, which is eating into the economy, to be lifted.

And this is a clear message that Kim Jong-un is sending the U.S., that I have these weapons, I am now testing them again. I'm not crossing the red line. I am not talking about long-range -- or I'm not testing long-range, intercontinental ballistic missiles that can hit the U.S.

[18:40:07] He -- they said they wouldn't do that last year, but he's pushing up to that red line with these -- with these short-term, short-range missiles. And that's an issue. So he is putting the ball fairly back into the U.S.' court.

He's already said that it's up to the U.S. and they have a deadline until the end of this year to come back with a deal or with a plan to negotiate to see those sanctions lifted in return for some sort of denuclearization. But at the moment, Ana, it's just a stalemate.

CABRERA: All right. Andrew Stevens, thank you for that update.

Now, the President's former fixer reports to prison tomorrow, but the place he's going? Described as one of America's cushiest prisons. Up next, what life behind bars will look like for Michael Cohen.

But, first, this week's "Before the Bell." Here's CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans. Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Trade talks between the U.S. and China might be approaching an end game. Last week, trade representative Robert Lighthizer and the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin traveled to Beijing. The White House described those talks as productive. This week, the dialogue moves to Washington when China's top trade negotiator goes there.

Investors also remain focused on first-quarter earnings. Disney, News Corp, Etsy, and are among the companies reporting. Lyft also delivers its first earnings report as a publicly traded company. Shares are down more than 20 percent from their IPO price of $72.

That disappointing performance has reined in expectations for Uber's debut. The ride-hailing giant aims to sell its shares for $44 to $50 apiece. All in, that represents a valuation of $91 billion. Uber originally targeted a valuation of $100 billion, according to "The Wall Street Journal." Look for the company to price Thursday night and begin trading on Friday.

In New York, I'm Christine Romans.


[18:46:04] CABRERA: President Trump's former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, is scheduled to start his prison sentence tomorrow. He is due to report to the Otisville Federal Correctional Institution. That's in upstate New York. And CNN's Brynn Gingras has a look at why Cohen is there and what he may be facing in prison.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The time has come for Michael Cohen to trade in his designer suits for prison garb. The former fixer to President Trump turned foe reports to the prison in Otisville, New York, Monday, day one of his three-year sentence for several white-collar crimes, including tax fraud and campaign finance violations.

"Forbes" magazine rated the federal correctional facility one of America's 10 cushiest prisons in 2009. It houses 858 inmates, including doomed Fyre Festival promoter Billy McFarland, and former "Jersey Shore" cast member Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino.

Otisville is located 70 miles from New York City, tucked at the foot of the Catskill Mountains, and is made up of two campuses -- a medium and a minimum-security center. The Bureau of Prisons, which designates where inmates stay, won't comment on where Cohen will be housed until he checks in.

But according to the BOP Web site, Cohen's day will likely begin at 6:00 a.m. with a wake-up call and lights on. Lights out at 11:30. His days will be made up of meals, work calls, unit sanitation and leisure activity time, which, depending on the campus, could include basketball, bocce ball, or horseshoes, perhaps a stark difference from the past year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Cohen. Mr. Cohen!

GINGRAS (voice-over): Where Cohen kept busy meeting with his lawyers, appearing in court, or testifying to Congress publicly. MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY OF DONALD TRUMP: Today, I am here to

tell the truth about Mr. Trump.

GINGRAS (voice-over): And behind closed doors in his efforts to clear his name and distance himself from the President.

Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.


CABRERA: "Avengers: Endgame" is still dominating the box office. The latest record the film just smashed when we come back. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[18:51:32] CABRERA: Welcome back. They are the Oscars of government service. Each year, the Sammies are awarded to highlight phenomenal federal employees who are doing extraordinary work.

And this year's 26 finalists represent some of the very best in public service, from a neurologist revolutionizing the understanding of the effects of concussions to a behavioral scientist improving the health and safety of mineworkers. President and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service Max Stier joins us now.

Max, it's been a tough year for the government and for government workers. 2019 kicked off with the longest government shutdown. Why was this so special for you?

MAX STIER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, PARTNERSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE: Well, the fact of the matter is that our government is the only tool we have to deal with our biggest problems that have the imprimatur of the public and taxpayer resources behind it. And I've never seen an organization get better if all you do is kick it. You mentioned the government shutdown. It was incredibly debilitating.

And now is the time where we can actually build it back up by recognizing the extraordinary achievements of some amazing feds, some that you've mentioned already but, as you suggested, a bunch more. We are recognizing 26 in the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal program, but there are literally thousands -- hundreds of thousands more than those.

CABRERA: Give us a few more examples of the people that you're recognizing.

STIER: So one of my favorites -- and, again, is -- it's to taste because they're an extraordinary different array of them, but is Arthur Allen from the Coast Guard, who has really spent his career designing models to understand where to look for people who get lost in sea.

So you think about it, we have extraordinary pictures of rescues of people and literally lots of people who are being found who have boats. They've either gone overboard or their boats have sunk. The model to know where to look is -- have been designed by this gentleman.

You mentioned another one of my favorites, Ann McKee at the V.A. who is responsible for really developing our understanding about the damage that concussions do. Or another team at the V.A. that's responsible for bringing down the time that it takes to get benefits to veterans, from two months to literally six minutes.

I mean, it's just a great array of very important work that touches Americans in so many important ways, and this is the opportunity to say thank you.

CABRERA: And you just announced the finalists. So what's next?

STIER: Well, you know, we will continue to celebrate them. Interestingly enough, there are very few opportunities actually to recognize federal employees. Only about half of federal employees even think that their good work is recognized.

This week is public service recognition week, so we are doing our best to celebrate them. We will have an event on the Hill on Thursday where we bring a bunch of people to, again, tell their stories. And we're going out not just out to the folks here in Washington. The people we're honoring actually represent federal employees from, you know, over about 20 different states.

It's not well understood, but, actually, the vast bulk of the federal workforce is outside of D.C., 85 percent of it is. So we are also out there trying to encourage other people in all the states and localities to recognize their federal employees and also their state and local employees.

The one silver lining that I could see from the shutdown -- the government shutdown was that people were seeing what their federal employees were doing on a day-to-day basis in a new way.


STIER: And we need to keep that spirit alive.

CABRERA: Yes. I mean, they -- we can't take them for granted.

STIER: Absolutely.

CABRERA: Max Stier, thank you so much for being here with us, helping to spread the awareness of what they're doing, how wonderful these people are.

And beginning this Friday, you can vote for which finalist you think should get the Service to America Medals People's Choice Award at


CABRERA: Police in Houston are desperately searching for a 5-year-old girl after she went missing Friday night. An Amber Alert is effect now for Maleah Davis. Her stepfather says he was on the way to the Houston airport with Maleah and her brother when they were carjacked. He says the attackers were three males.

Darion Vence says he was knocked unconscious and woke up later in the back of the suspect's pickup truck with both children and then lost consciousness again. Vence says he eventually came to on the side of the road, but he only had Maleah's 2-year-old brother with him.

Maleah, we've learned, also underwent brain surgery recently. Just last month, in fact.

A K-9 police officer in Mooresville, North Carolina was killed last night. Police officials say Jordan Harris Sheldon was shot during a routine traffic stop and later died from his injuries. He was 32 years old. He had served with the Mooresville Police Department for six years. Police say the suspect was later found dead from a self- inflicted gunshot wound.

"Avengers: Endgame" has officially sunk "Titanic." The newest entry into the Marvel Universe juggernaut is now the second highest grossing movie in history. Excitement over Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man's return led to another strong weekend at the box office.

[18:59:56] And so right now, "Endgame" sits right around $2.2 billion in worldwide ticket sales. They're just a week or two away from smashing the all-time record held by the movie, "Avatar."