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10+ Million North Koreans Face Severe Food Shortages; Remembering Legacy of Architect I.M. Pei. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired May 17, 2019 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:00] NICK WATT, REPORTER, CNN: Hello everyone and thanks for joining us. I'm Nick Watt and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
Ahead this hour, is the United States headed for war with Iran? So far, Donald Trump can only say he hopes not.
Plus, the U.S. president boasts his immigration plan will be the envy of the modern world but critics argue his proposal is dead on arrival.
And he was the man behind some of the world's most recognizable 20th- century architecture. We remember the extraordinary life of I.M. Pei.
New details on those alleged Iranian threats in the Middle East that apparently led the Trump administration to send warships to the region. A U.S. official says multiple images show Iranian commercial freighters in the Persian Gulf with large areas of their decks removed. The U.S. assesses those ships are carrying hidden missiles.
Last week, we told you about images allegedly showing smaller Iranian boats that is also carrying missiles. CNN has not reviewed the images and the U.S. government has not provided any actual evidence that the ships are actually carrying ammunitions. Excuse me.
At the White House, President Trump seems to be taking a conciliatory tone asking the Iranians to give him a call but there are signs that not everyone in his administration is on the same page. CNN's Pamela Brown reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, are we going to war with Iran?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAMELA BROWN, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump today taking a new approach to deal with the Iranian regime. Meeting with the Swiss president today in hopes of creating a diplomatic backchannel with Iran to defuse escalating tensions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We like to see some behavioral change come from them. We're going to continue the maximum pressure and that as the president has said if they take action, they're not going to like what he does in response. They're not going to be happy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: A top European security official says U.S. allies are closely watching the Trump administration's next move. Adding National Security Adviser John Bolton's hawkish reputation on Iran including regime change is a concern.
Sources tell CNN the president has grown irritated with the perception that Bolton and others are leading him into a war with Iran, expressing it on Twitter today saying, "I make a decisive and final decision", a message echoed by his press secretary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: The president is the ultimate decision maker and he's going to take all of the information and intelligence that's given to him and he'll make the decision that he thinks is best to keep Americans safe. It's that simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: People familiar also say Trump is privately complaining that if Bolton had it his way, the U.S. would be at war on multiple fronts while publicly saying --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: John is very good. John has strong views on things but that's OK. I actually temper John which is pretty amazing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: The president has also publicly expressed frustration with his administration's lack of direct dialogue with the Iranian regime. According to people familiar with the matter, last week, the White House even gave the Swiss a special phone number to give to Iran for direct negotiations with the U.S.
But publicly, Iran says it isn't interested. The Ayatollah said Iran doesn't want war and that negotiating with the U.S. is poisonous. Trump retorting on Twitter, "I'm sure that Iran will want to talk soon."
An ally of President Trump on Capitol Hill, Senator Lindsey Graham has expressed frustration that the administration is keeping him and other senators in the dark on the situation in Iran and how the administration will respond.
That in part prompted a Gang of Eight briefing by officials on the situation in Iran. And then, we have learned that next week officials will be briefing all senators on the matter.
Pamela Brown, CNN, the White House.
WATT: And for more on all of this national security and foreign policy analyst, Ari Aramesh joins me now from New York. Ari, it's difficult to know what exactly is going on here.
Who is telling the truth? Who is not? Is this intelligence?
Are these photos of these ships real? Are these ships really carrying missiles?
Does Donald Trump really want to talk? Does the Ayatollah really not want to talk? What do you think is actually going on behind the scenes that we're not seeing?
ARI ARAMESH, NATIONAL SECURITY & FOREIGN POLICY ANALYST: It's very [00:05:00] difficult to guess what's going on behind the scenes but based on the evidence, it seems that both sides, not for different reasons, but both sides are untrustworthy.
On the one hand, you have chaos within the Trump administration. It's not clear whether key foreign policy decisions are being made at the bottom or at the national security council or by the president himself. The Department of Defense has been out working with sort of a nominal head for a while since Jim Mattis resigned.
So you're having dysfunctional foreign policy machine. Yet it makes it interesting because it allows the president, especially someone like President Trump to make surprise moves and so on and so forth, as we saw with the Koreans.
On the other hand, very quickly, the Iranian regime is not one that can be trusted. I mean they have their hands in every major and minor instability of the regions since 1979.
On the other hand, it doesn't necessarily mean that now during these times of crisis when the threat of war looms large, they are going to continue carrying out those sort of activities that might very much jeopardize peace and stability in the parts of the Persian Gulf.
WATT: And Ari, I mean back to the Trump White House. I mean do you think that John Bolton is long for Trump world or is he going to get whacked?
ARAMESH: You know, you never know. We clipped President Trump pranks, many close senior staff and then, a day or two later, sometimes a week later, they were gone. John Bolton, if he's a smart man and he's a very smart lawyer, he should go along with the president.
If he wants the agenda implemented, it's better to get a part of his agenda by not alienating their president, then none of his agenda by alienating the president. On the other hand, as I really would like to believe that President Trump is anti-war in terms of sticking to his promise, his campaign promise of not starting yet another meaningful -- meaningless war in the Middle East. So we should see. But, you know, it's something, something, even to those of us who may not be very much on the same page with President Trump and his foreign policy, there's an element of hope. It's Trump.
Trump made two years ago, no one would have thought he would make a trip to Ho Chi Min City and meet with the leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un in Vietnam and no one can predict what will happen. Is this another massive goes to Israel sort of moment or mix signals to China kind of moment or Trump is going to buckle down and buckle in, going on a hard line road.
WATT: Now, here's one possibility. We all know that leaders have gone to war in the past for domestic consumption. Let's take a listen to what Trump had to say back in 2011 about Obama. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Our president will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate. He's weak and he's ineffective. So the only way he figured that he's going to get reelected and as soon as you're sitting there is to start a war with Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: Any danger you think that President Trump might start a war with Iran in order to get reelected?
ARAMESH: You know, as much as President Trump loves to indulge sort of conspiracy theories and some of which are ridiculous conspiracy theories, I'd like to say I don't know. I hope we don't have sort of a wag the dog situation here.
But if President Trump is really going to stick to a truth as promised he won't start a war, and also I think a large sort of part of independents, not his base but some independents which are just fed up with the status quo voted for him because of his very sort of open criticism of these wars, especially as a Republican.
Now, again, no one knows what the future holds, especially with President Donald Trump but if that's known to be the case, we just have to wait and watch.
WATT: I mean as right now, Ari both sides are saying that they do not want war. But we have also seen wars start by mistake in the past. And today, we have been talking about whether these alleged Iranian threats came after perhaps U.S. threats.
I mean there is a danger that things escalate to a point that whispers escalate to a point that something could happen by accident. I mean is that a genuine legitimate fear that we should be harboring right now?
ARAMESH: And that is my biggest concern. What you raised, it's a fine, fine point. I'm not necessarily worried about a preplanned war or a preplanned action or an invasion or a massive bombardment. I'm worried about an Iranian vessel in the Persian Gulf coming in contact with an American vessel, fires exchange. Rules of engagement are engaged. And then what's next? Retaliation, counterretaliation?
[00:10:00] And you see, we've got a powder keg situation here on hand. Again, I'm not really worried about a conspiracy or sort of preplanned mass invasion for war.
What I'm worried about is a little trigger. And a trigger we're talking about is it could be in the form of a vessel coming into contact. Well, not a vessel.
Just to give you a small example, do you think President Trump would have the same restraint, would show the same restraint as President Obama showed when American sailors were captured by the IRGC in the waters of the Persian Gulf, what, about four years ago? So you can see a small, small, little spark could set this powder keg of pack, oil taker.
WATT: Ari, great having you on the show. Thanks for your time.
WATT: Meanwhile, Switzerland's president isn't saying much about his meeting with Donald Trump at the White House but sources tell CNN that Mr. Trump is hoping that the Swiss will facilitate back-channel negotiations with Iran. CNN Cyril Vanier explains the how and the why.
CYRIL VANIER, ANCHOR, CNN: Switzerland is known as the protecting power of the United States and Iran. It's a mechanism that's been around in international diplomacy since the 19th Century. Think of it as an intermediary and the U.S. and Iran have badly needed one since this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. Embassy in Teheran has been invaded and occupied by Iranian students. The Americans inside have been taken prisoner. While the Iranians burned an American flag in front of the Embassy, they said the takeover had the express blessing of the Ayatollah.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: That was 1979. Iranian students storming the U.S. Embassy in Teheran, keeping the American staff and citizens their hostage for 444 days, a major international crisis. The U.S. and Iran broke off diplomatic relations.
So after that, Switzerland oversaw American interests in the country and it was used on and off to pass along messages. That had started to change during the Obama years as the two countries negotiated a nuclear deal directly.
There were meetings between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterparts, Javad Zarif, almost on a regular basis. There was even a direct phone call between Presidents Obama and Rouhani.
But President Trump pulled out of that deal a year ago bringing us back to square one and to this week's mini-crisis in which the Trump administration is doing a dance we have seen it do before, increasing military pressure. In this instance, by sending a carrier strike group as well as extra patriot missiles to the Middle East and at the same time calling for dialogue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What I'd like to see with Iran, I'd like to see them call me. I look forward to a day when we can actually help Iran. They should call and if they do, we're open to talk to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: They should call. But that is hard to do when there are no diplomatic relations. So re-enter Switzerland. CNN source says that the White House contacted the Swiss a week ago asking them to pass along a phone number on which Iran could reach President Trump directly.
Iran very publicly rebuffed that offer. And days later, what are we seeing? We're seeing the Swiss president at the White House for an unexpected last-minute visit and CNN sources confirm that this was all about setting up that communication channel with Iran.
Now, Mr. Maurer himself refused to comment with good reasoning. He reminded reporters, Switzerland's role as an intermediary in all of this only works if everyone is discreet about it. Back to you.
WATT: And next on CNN NEWSROOM, President Trump outlines his plan to overall U.S. immigration system but even members of his own party don't give it much chance of ever becoming law.
Plus, billions of North Koreans reportedly facing a historic food shortage. And the usually tightlipped government is actually talking about it in public. The big question, why? That's ahead.
WATT: Newly unsealed court records show just how valuable President Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was to the Mueller investigation into Russian election meddling and alleged obstruction of justice. Among the revelations, a voicemail Flynn provided. This was Trump's personal attorney calling Flynn's attorney just days before Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI back in December of 2017.
The president's lawyer wanted to know if Flynn was going to tell investigators anything damaging about the president. And Mueller's team determined that that voicemail could have obstructed the investigation. A judge has ordered the Justice Department to release a full transcript of that voicemail and other Flynn documents by the end of the month. President Trump made his big reveal Thursday. The long-awaited
rollout of his vision for immigration. A broad plank of his re- election strategy. The response from Capitol Hill, mostly silence.
Even Republicans have shown little enthusiasm. The president's proposal would dramatically change the philosophy behind U.S. immigration. Instead of being based on family ties and humanitarian concerns, Mr. Trump thinks immigrants who have good job skills and can speak English should move to the front of the line.
But no mention of the millions already in the U.S. like the so-called Dreamers who came to the U.S. as children. CNN's Jim Acosta has our report.
JIM ACOSTA, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Planked to his base for the 2020 campaign, President Trump revealed his plan to change the nation's immigration system issuing a warning from the Rose Garden that Democrats should stop resisting his proposals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And if for some reason, possibly political, we can't get the Democrats to approve this merit-based high-security plan, then we will get it approved immediately after the election when we take back the House, keep the Senate and, of course, hold the presidency.
REPORTER: President, what about DACA? What about the dreamers, Mr. President?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Without addressing the fate of the millions of undocumented in the U.S. including the so-called dreamers, the president said his administration would start turning away more asylum seekers at the border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Legitimate asylum seekers are being displaced by those lodging frivolous claims, these are frivolous claims, to gain admission into our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: The president also proposed a new legal immigration system that would fast track immigrants who speak English.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: To promote integration, assimilation, and national unity, future immigrants will be required to learn English and to pass a civics exam prior to admission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: But the proposed legislation is getting a lukewarm reception on Capitol Hill where many Republicans are telling CNN, there's little appetite for another immigration fight. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the president's plan would make the current spike of migrants at the [00:20:00] border even worse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We've always said that as it gets to be more of a humanitarian crisis, the more that Republican -- the administration -- I won't paint all the Republicans with this -- the more the administration acts in the shameful way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: The president is also revealing a bit more about his finances even as he hides his tax returns from the public. In a new financial disclosure form, the president says he made more than $400 million last year including another 40 million at his D.C. Hotel which has pulled in twice that since he has been in office.
The president did not take any questions at his immigration speech or as he left the White House for New York. He's yet to weigh in on the Alabama abortion law that could be heading to a challenge at the Supreme Court where his handpicked Conservative justices will be watched very carefully.
It's also unclear where the president stands on Iran but some of his advisers are saying privately they don't trust National Security Adviser John Bolton. As one of those advisers told me, we need to be very careful with his judgment.
Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.
WATT: Daniel Lippman is a reporter for "Politico" and co-author of "Politico's" playbook. He joins us from Washington.
Daniel, this new immigration plan seems to me it's a little bit like that conversation that allegedly happened January of last year in the White House where the president said he didn't want immigrants from bleep-hole countries. He wanted more from Norway. Is that just -- that plan now down on paper and is this actually going to become the law?
DANIEL LIPPMAN, REPORTER, POLITICO: So there actually isn't that much paper here because Trump just gave a speech and Jared Kushner, Trump's senior adviser, and son-in-law, has been working on this but has not shared many details with Capitol Hill.
But I think it's fair to say that this is a kind of glossed version of Trump's original horrible rhetoric because he doesn't really want to have the current system where he brings in lots of family members. He wants to have a more skills-based system where only if you have masters or top bachelor degrees or PhDs can you actually get into the country. And that would go against hundreds of years of American values where we don't want to split up families, we don't want to have immigrants here without a support system. And in terms of whether that's going to actually make into the law, very doubtful because House Democrats control their portion of the chamber.
WATT: Yes. I mean the president actually said today in the Rose Garden, we'll do it after 2020 when we'll control everything. Anyway, moving on to another Trump matter.
We heard in the past few hours from the Department of Justice that members of the House Intelligence Committee will be allowed to see a less redacted version of the Mueller report. Is that going to change anything?
LIPPMAN: Well, the Justice Department has long seemed to indicate that they could give some members of Congress that or at least let them see the less-redacted version. But the issue still stands is that Congress and particularly Democrats want a fully unredacted report, the original report.
And the evidence underlying it so that they can make a decision about how to move forward and also kind of account for the millions of dollars that were spent on the Mueller investigation, the -- all of those people that were charged. And they also want to hear from Robert Mueller about this and that has not been scheduled yet.
And so those are the bigger sticking points and whether Barr is a fair actor in all of this, instead of that narrow question that DOJ addressed today.
WATT: I mean we have Walter Dellinger on who was a former solicitor general. He was on CNN earlier saying that the Democrats are getting all tied in knots about this redaction stuff but actually in the already public Mueller report, there's enough there to prove that the president has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.
Anyway, moving on. The next thing we found out about Trump today was his financial disclosure from 2018. He earned more than $400 million, $40 million from that Trump Hotel in Washington D.C. What does this disclosure tell us? And without Trump's tax returns, which he still doesn't release, what do we still not know?
LIPPMAN: So we don't know about all of his foreign debts and whether he had them during the 2016 campaign. A lot of American banks refused and still refuse to lend him money so it's down to Deutsche Bank and maybe Russian entities that were kind of supplying him with money. Although we just don't know.
They certainly have bought numerous condos in Trump buildings, all those rich Russian oligarch types. But today, we learned that he is continuing to make a good deal of an amount of money [00:25:00] from his properties but it's definitely been hit by Americans that don't want to go anymore.
They had to take the name off of some of those entities but this is a president still raking it in and he's actually making a lot of money on his Washington Hotel which is the focal point for people trying to influence the administration. We still haven't seen his tax returns and it doesn't look like we're going to see them any time soon?
No, we should not hold our breath for that even though he said I'll release it when I'm off audit. It would seem to think he has been under audit for many years. He's never going to get not under audit.
This is something that Democrats are trying to pry his tax returns from the U.S. That's going to be a huge court battle as well.
WATT: And I want to move now to the other side of the aisle. There are now 23 people running for the Democratic nomination for president. I mean that seems absurd. What is your take on this?
LIPPMAN: Well, every single Democrat who has any chance in their head of winning a single state. Like Bill De Blasio with New York State even though New Yorkers hate him. He has not been a good mayor for many people.
And so they are all angling for T.V. contracts and cabinet secretary positions and for one person, maybe a V.P. slot if it was a Joe Biden- Kamala Harris ticket or Joe Biden-Beto or Mayor Pete ticket. But otherwise, this is going to make it much harder for Democrats to come together and defeat Donald Trump in 2020 if they have all this squalling amongst themselves.
WATT: Daniel Lippman in Washington, thanks for joining us.
LIPPMAN: Thank you.
WATT: Next on CNN NEWSROOM, scorched crops in the fields and millions going apparently hungry in North Korea. Analysts say the country's leader might be trying to use this to get a leg up in negotiations with Donald Trump.
WATT: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Nick Watt with the headlines this hour. An American official tells CNN the U.S. believes Iran is using commercial freighters to surreptitiously move missiles or other weapons around the Persian Gulf. The assessment apparently based on multiple images of Iranian ships with large areas of their decks removed.
The U.S. hasn't provided any concrete evidence that the ships are actually carrying munitions.
Boeing has apparently finished developing a software fix for its grounded 747 Max fleet. The manufacturer says it tested the update on 207 flights for more than 360 hours.
The jets have been grounded since March after two deadly crashes killed 346 people.
Huawei says it hasn't ruled out legal action after the Trump administration basically banned the Chinese tech giant from U.S. contracts. Huawei says Trump's move will backfire and hurt thousands of American businesses and consumers. This tit-for-tat comes as the U.S. and China are locked in a broad and
escalating trade war.
More than 10 million North Koreans are reportedly facing severe food shortages with the country in the worst draught in nearly four decades. There is concern that North Korea's leader may be using the crisis to get the U.S. president's attention. Here's Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On state TV, North Korea's dictator, Kim Jong-un, often celebrates the bounty of his country's harvest. He's seen visiting fields producing potatoes by the truckload and fisheries brimming with fresh catch. All part of a propaganda campaign designed to sell North Korea as vibrant and equal to America.
But now Kim's regime is being forced to make a jarring admission. North Korea is suffering its worst draught in 37 years. Only about 2 inches of rain have fallen on the country this year, the regime says. United Nations officials on the ground recently observed dried-out fields and farmers struggling to plant rice crops.
BILL BROWN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Likely, there is some major problem coming. Otherwise, they wouldn't have announced it.
TODD: The admission of the drought comes on the heels of U.N. reports saying about 10 million North Koreans, almost half the country's population, are facing severe food shortages and urgently need help even as Kim builds skyscrapers, amusement parks and ski resorts and parades his army through the streets of Pyongyang.
It's not the first time this has happened. During the 1990s, under the rule of Kim's father and grandfather, a crippling famine, brought on partially by draught, killed hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of North Koreans.
BROWN: During the famine it gets another level down, where they're actually having to eat plants, tree bark, grass, that kind of thing, and not surviving, a lot of them.
TODD: Economic and human rights experts tell CNN they don't expect this food crisis to approach those levels, but they're concerned over how Kim Jong-un is managing this crisis.
ROBERT KING, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY TO NORTH KOREA FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: They're willing to import parts for missiles. They're willing to put funds into the military, but they don't put funds into taking care of their population. They put more into imports of cognac and high-end cars than they do into food imports.
TODD: And the timing of North Korea's announcement of the draught is raising questions. It comes just a few days after Kim's regime tested short-range missiles which could threaten U.S. forces in South Korea and their allies, and it comes as President Trump's diplomatic outreach to Kim over the dictator's nuclear weapons has stalled. (on camera): Is Kim playing up these problems as a means of leverage
against Donald Trump?
KING: I don't think there's any question. When there's an opportunity, Kim will use what's available.
I think Kim Jong-un has shown that he is quite willing to take advantage of any opportunity to get what he wants. And I think using the famine and playing the famine up, giving it attention, calling the United Nations' attention to the issue, is one of the ways of doing that.
TODD: A key question now: how should President Trump respond? The president said recently he would support the South Koreans sending food aid to North Korea. But it's a delicate balance. Analysts say the president has to show humanitarian concern while not buckling to Kim's play for leverage.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
WATT: One of the world's most revered architects has passed. Ahead we remember the work of I.M. Pei, the man behind the modernist twist added to one of the most loved landmarks in Paris.
[00:36:40] WATT: One of the world's most revered modernist architects has died. I.M. Pei passed aware Thursday at the age of 102. Yes, 102.
Professionally, Pei is remembered for his elegant and innovative designs. Personally, he is remembered for his good humor and modesty.
Pei spent most of his storied career in the U.S., but perhaps his most famous project was in Europe. In the 1980s, he designed the glass and metal pyramid outside the Louvre in Paris.
Aric Chen is an architecture curator who has written about the work of I.M. Pei. He joins me live via Skype from Shanghai.
Aric, this man was prolific, gifted and on top of all that, apparently, a very nice guy. Can you talk us through the mark that he has left on our planet?
ARIC CHEN, ARCHITECTURE CURATOR: Yes. Well, I mean, Pei was certainly one of the last great architects of his era, one of the last great modernist architects, who was known -- best known for his powerful use of geometry in creating these exquisitely refined bases and forms.
But at the same time, through his work, he really brought a sense of the civic, this notion that architecture, or good architecture, served a higher purpose. And at the same time, he changed the way the profession operated. He introduced innovations and materials and construction techniques. And he proved adept, also, in translating the Modernist vocabulary in other cultural contexts with a real cultural sensitivity, especially in China where he was born, but throughout the Middle East with his museum of Islamic art in Doha.
WATT: I was going to say, I mean, he didn't just work in the U.S. I mean, all over the world. That must be quite difficult for an architect to have the cultural sensitivity to work all over the world.
CHEN: Yes. You know, Pei would always refer to himself as an American architect, but it was clear that he never forgot that he was also Chinese. And I think it's that dual sense of identity that really allowed him to sort of empathize, let's say, and really understand that there were different ways of looking at things and experiencing architecture and creating architecture, even within the Modernist vein.
WATT: And I mean, we've discussed this a little bit, but you know, to me it's a crowning achievement to go to France in the 1980s, put a glass pyramid outside the Louvre and win the French over. I mean, he must have also had some kind of charisma. I mean, this might sound ridiculous, but he's got a face that looks just like a good person.
CHEN: Yes. No, absolutely. I mean, he had amazing powers of persuasion. He was very charming in a subtle way. As you say, I mean, you look at any photo of him or any interview that he did, and he has a sort of beaming smile that's totally disarming.
WATT: And --
CHEN: And -- Sorry.
WATT: No, carry on, Aric. Sorry.
CHEN: But you're absolutely right. I mean, you can imagine in Paris in the 1980s, you know, here you have this 800-year-old complex, this museum that for many represented the soul of France; and then to have this foreign architect, a Chinese-American architect, come and propose that they insert this giant modern glass and steel pyramid right -- right smack dab in the center, you know, that was really scandalous for a lot of people.
But I think it really attests to Pei's conviction in his idea and also the strength of his idea that that project is now, I think we can says, universally loved today.
WATT: And talk us through some of the other buildings. I mean, you know, there was a wing of a museum here in the states. There was a bank tower in Hong Kong, that museum in the Middle East. Tell us some of the buildings that he will be remembered for.
CHEN: Sure. Well, I mean, I think there's a whole catalog of iconic Pei buildings, ranging from, of course, the Louvre pyramid and the Bank of China tower in Hong Kong, to the east building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., which was really a milestone project for him. But also lesser-known -- these lesser-known gems like the earlier
Everson Museum in Syracuse or National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
WATT: Aric --
CHEN: To say nothing of his Fragrant Hill Hotel in Beijing, which was absolutely seminal for post-reform China.
WATT: And who -- who kind of takes on the mantle? I mean, who -- who might leave a similar mark? Who's out there now with a similar kind of skill and vision?
CHEN: Wow. Well, you know, Pei was very much an architect of his time, and I think we're fortunate enough to have a lot of architects of our time now. There's multiple generations that we can look at, whether we're talking about Frank Gehry to Rem Koolhaas to younger practitioners like -- like let's say Bianca Ingels.
But in the context of Pei, I'm happy to say that, you know, his two sons, Didi and Sandi Pei, are very much carrying on -- carrying on his legacy. They're -- they're both architects with a very active firm today.
WATT: Aric Chen, thank you very much for joining us from Shanghai. We really appreciate it.
CHEN: Great. Thank you.
WATT: Now one of Australia's longest serving and perhaps most admired prime ministers has died. Bob Hawke, Hawkie to his mates and admirers, passed away on Thursday, just days before Australia's federal elections on Saturday.
Hawke served as prime minister from 1983 to 1991. He's remembered for reforming the nation's economy, championing the trade union movement and women's rights, as well as his colorful personality and sense of humor.
Bob Hawke was 89 years old.
Britain's Prince Harry has accepted a, quote, "substantial amount of damages" plus an apology after the paparazzi went to extreme measures to snap pictures of the country pad he shared with his wife, Meghan.
Splash News apparently flew a helicopter low over the house, snapping intrusive pictures. This according to Buckingham Palace.
The couple were then, apparently, forced for their own safety and security, to move out of the property in the bucolic Cotswolds region of England.
Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Nick Watt. WORLD SPORT starts after the break.
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[01:00:02] WATT: Hello and thanks for joining us. I'm Nick Watt, and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Ahead this hour, is the United States headed for war with Iran?