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Trump Says He Hopes To Avoid War With Iran; Small Businesses Feel The Tariff Crunch; Trump Unveils His Immigration Plan; Court Memos Reveal Flynn's Value To Mueller Probe; Trump unveils Merit-Based Immigration Proposal. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 17, 2019 - 02:00   ET



GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. claims to have new evidence of Iran's aggression as President Donald Trump says, he hopes to avoid war with Iran. Plus this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a problem between U.S. and China, but everybody is (inaudible), but nobody can do anything.


HOWELL: Small business owners say they feel stuck in the middle of a trade war between the United States and China. Also ahead this hour, the U.S. President unveils a merit based immigration plan that the Republican lawmaker showing very little interest in that proposal. Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers all around the world I'm George Howell, CNN Newsroom starts right now.

Around the world good day to you. We start with the new details on the tension between United States and Iran. The U.S. officials saying multiple images show Iranian commercial fighters -- freighters rather in the Persian Gulf with large areas of their decks removed. The U.S. assesses those ships are carrying hidden missiles and other weapons.

Last week we told you about images allegedly showing small Iranian boats carrying missiles. CNN has not reviewed those images, and the U.S. government has not provided any evidence the ships are carrying ammunition.

At the White House, President Trump seems to be taking conciliatory tone asking Iranians to call, but there are signs of not everyone is in his administration is on the same page. Our Pamela Brown has this report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, are we going to war with Iran?


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 tension.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We'd like to see some behavioral change come from him. We are going to continue the maximum pressure and that -- as the president has said if they take action they are not going to like what he does in response. They are not going to be happy.

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 war with Iran. Expressing on Twitter today saying, I make a decisive and final decision, a message echoed by his press secretary.

SANDERS: The president is the ultimate decision-maker and he's going to take all of the information and intelligence that is given to him and he will make a decision that he thinks is best to keep Americans safe. It's that simple.

BROWN: People familiar also say Trump is privately complaining that Bolton had it is way the U.S. would be at war on multiple fronts while publicly saying --

TRUMP: John is very good. John is a -- he has some strong views on things, but that is OK. I actually temper John which is pretty amazing, isn't it?

BROWN: The president has also publicly expressed frustration with this 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's 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 would want to talk soon.

An allied 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 and that in part prompted a gang of eight briefing by officials on the situation in Iran and that we have learned that next week officials will be briefing all senators on the matter. Pamela Brown, CNN, the White House.


HOWELL: Let's bring in Scott Lucas. Scott is a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham in England, joining us this hour with us to get some perspective on this.

And Scott, let's start with CNN's newest reporting here that the U.S. is claiming to have multiple images of Iranian commercial vessels that it believes are carrying missiles. Scott, does this play into that debate in Washington? And the debate quite frankly around the world especially among European ministers as to whether this is Iran preparing to attack or if it's just acting defensively?

[02:05:00] SCOTT LUCAS, PROFESSOR INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND: Yes, its part of the debate, George, but the key debate is within the administration. What happened in the last 48 to 72 hours is that those who really want to push further against Iran, possibly with military as well as economic measures had been talking to you all and say, oh they've got these missiles. You know they could fire on our air, naval and air forces in the area.

Now, you haven't seen the missiles, no one has in fact. And we know that for two weeks, John Bolton, the national security adviser will lead (inaudible) of a regime change in Iran. He's been pushing supposed intelligence reports and those opinions are not shared by European and U.K. partners.

More importantly though, George, those opinions are not shared by others within the administration. You think the U.S. is going too far in trying to provoke the Iranians and that is why as you just been reporting. You've got the pushback within the administration against Bolton's group. In the last 48 hours, saying, leaking to the media that Donald Trump does not want war with Iran and more importantly that he is slapped down Bolton.

HOWELL: Well, what does it say Scott, simply that Mr. Trump seems opened to Iran giving him a call? This conciliary tone that he is taking.

LUCAS: Oh, look, George that is just a bit of Trump P.R. in the sense of as in every case. If I could just get a photo opportunity as he has done with Kim Jong-un over North Korea it's all going to be OK. The Iranians have the phone numbers in Washington. Before the 2015 nuclear deal there were back channeled talks in Oman, and which set up those public discussions that finally took out the nuclear issue off the table until last year.

The Iranians are not going to give Trump a photo opportunity or more importantly Iran's supreme leader has said look, we will negotiate with the Americans on the nuclear (inaudible), but we will not negotiate under pressure on any other issue over regional matters. So for right now Trump's blowing smoke and the more important question is -- what's happening behind the scenes.

HOWELL: So, election year is just around the corner, Scott. Keeping in mind this is a president who made it part of his campaign promised to his base, to keep the United States out of foreign wars. So, how pressure is on President Trump given the pressure that we are seeing now in the Middle East?

LUCAS: I don't think, George there is really that much pressure on Trump in the sense of Iran alone. I think if there is -- any tilt is against putting American forces in to danger. So, I think that weighs against any talking in military confrontation. But I think more widely.

The Trump administration has failed to make an advance on North Korea despite the high profile summits. It's failed to remove the government in Venezuela and I think those who are hawks within the administration are trying to put the election message to say, if you look weak on Iran, the voters are going to come against you, not because they know that much a lot, about what is happening over Tehran, but the idea, It is not necessary America first in getting its way around.

HOWELL: All right, Scott, and look, the great question here is whether there is a plan for war or is it the possibility -- the mere possibility that something could happen by accident. Which do you think is more concerning, given the current situation we are seeing play out.

LUCAS: This is not 2003 and stuffing into war with Iraq, you (inaudible), because of the disaster that followed there, but you nailed it, George, the worry is that if you try to provoke and pushed the Iranians into a reaction, through tightening the sanctions or through putting your military forces just off their coast. Let's say one of those speedboats does fire on an American ships or let's say the Iranians do fire or Iranian back militia's fire on American troops in Iraq, then Washington feels compelled to respond. Then you've got that type of escalation and we don't know where it ends up.

HOWELL: And aren't there mixed messages as well in Iran? Those who are pushing, you know, for a restrain and others who are ready for a fight.

LUCAS: I think, George, I can put that together. I think that you are always going to have the revolutionary guards in Iran, the elite military unit. There are thump their chest and say you can't defeat us. We can defend the country. By I think, by and large the Iranian message is going to be we are not going to seek military confrontation.

The supreme leader said that two days ago, President Rouhani said it yesterday. Because Iran knows if it takes the Americans on in a military confrontations it loses. And more importantly, the Iranians believe that the political message is, we are the good guys, we are the ones who are not trying to provoke trouble, like the Americans. So, they are going to play on that pool, they are going to play this politically. And try to make the Americans make any military move or any military threat so they can look like the innocent victim.

HOWELL: Scott Lucas with perspectives today. Thank you, Scott.

LUCAS: Thank you George.

HOWELL: Now for the U.S. trade war with China. Poised to hit consumers where it hurts, in their wallets. The retail giant Walmart says it will raise prices on some products, because of the tariffs. [22:10:09] America's largest retailer, it reportedly imports about 26

percent of its merchandise from China. Let's bring in Steven Jiang. Steven is following the story live in Beijing and Steven, we are already seen the results with Walmart here in the United States. China's reach also strategically squeezing many of these red states that supports President Trump.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN PRODUCER: That is right, George. You know, it's interesting, because so far the Chinese counter terrorists are still relatively minor considering Mr. Trump has imposed a lot more tariffs and Chinese imports. But a lot of experts here in the state media have suggested Chinese authorities have a few other options an important one being cancelling major purchases from the U.S. especially agriculture and energy products as wells as things like Boeing jets.

Now, all these things, of course, will affect Mr. Trump's supporters disproportionately, because a lot of his supports comes from a states with large numbers of farmers and blue collar workers. But I think so far, Mr. Trump seems to have made a political calculation that it is more advantageous for him to be tough on China's than agreeing to or signing off on any deal that could be perceived as weak. Especially in the contacts of the 2020 reelection.

It's also interesting we've been talking to people on the ground like colleague Matt Rivers, who is in Shanghai talking to American exporters and traders. Many voted for Mr. Trump back in 2016, they said for now, they are still waiting to bear the cost short term in order to gain long term advantages over their Chinese competitors. And so, there is still putting faith in the strategies and tactics of Mr. Trump at least for now, George.

HOWELL: Steven with the United States also escalating the pressure on Chinese telecoms giant, Huawei, it seems the possibility of any -- as sort of an agreement on the horizon in the short term seems much less likely?

JIANG: That is right. You definitely see both sides of how harden their position and rhetoric's and it's also very interesting to see how the Chinese economy has been increasingly affected in different ways of course. The manufacturing base in South China, of course, is the hardest hit, because they really depend on exports for their livelihood.

Now, we've been hearing government officials say they will provide these businesses with assistance, but still, there are some walling signs for example the government has been increasingly saying this economy is relying more on domestic consumption, instead of exports, but some of the economic data released just a few days ago, really contradicts such claims. Showing the growth of the retail sales was sharply down in April compared to March. The slowest pace in 16 years.

So, that's, you know, these numbers are really not promising. That is why even the most optimistic officials acknowledging this economy is facing a lot of challenges ahead because of this trade war, George. HOWELL: Steven Jiang, following this story live for us in Beijing.

Steven, thank you.

As I mentioned, the impact of the Trump tariffs on Chinese products is already rippling out the small businesses and companies across the U.S. are feeling the hit on their bottom lines. Our Claire Sebastian reports on the anxiety and some of the benefits of the trade war.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Underneath the glossy exteriors of this packaging industry trade are tariffs are real and growing concern effect. It's hard to find a business that hasn't seen any impact and the message is clear, these small and medium size businesses are having to pass on the increased costs to customers and while the U.S. president has suggested moving production out of China, it's just not that easy?

These are some of the products that you manufactured in China.

MICHAEL WARFORD, DIRECTOR OF SALES, ABA PACKAGING: These are products that are manufactured in China for us by one of our suppliers. They do a great job for us quality wise. We've been able to garner more business, because of their support or quality, their service and their (inaudible) of the product line. If we can find similar sources and we do on occasion in the U.S. or in Europe or wherever, we are going to try buy from those as well.

SEBASTIAN: That is just an American companies that are affected by this. This is a French based company that makes bags and boxes, all of their products like this is manufactured in China. And the result of the tariffs, they are seeing a hit to their profits. So, I asked them how they feel about being collateral damage in the U.S.-China trade war.

CATHERINE LEFRESNE, SALES MANAGER, EUROTEXTILE: I guess we have no choice because this is a problem between the U.S. and China, but everybody is in the middle, but nobody comes and help us.

SEBASTIAN: There is a flipside to this. We did actually find one company who is doing better, because of the trade war.

JOSEPH BRODNER, PRESIDENT OLCOTT PLASTICS: Are products are all made in the United States and today we've had 750,000 pieces that is emergency order that they are now -- because they are extra 25 percent makes it very difficult for them to be able to supply that to a dollar store and add 25 percent to it.

[02:15:05]SEBASTIAN: Still, most of the businesses that we spoke to here, anxiety levels about tariffs has risen dramatically over the past week or so. And they still don't know how much worse this could get. Claire Sebastian, CNN, New York.


HOWELL: Claire, thanks. Still ahead here on Newsroom, President Trump outlying his plan to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, but even members of his own party don't give it much chance in becoming law.

Plus, millions of North Koreans are now facing a historic food shortage and usually tightlipped government is actually talking about it publicly. The big question is why? That story is ahead, stay with us.


HOWELL: Following breaking news out of Taiwan, lawmakers just approved the measure to legalize same sex marriage. The landmark law makes the self-ruled island the first place in Asia to pass such a measure. It comes two years after Taiwan's top court ruled that same sex couples had the right to marry. It will go into effect next Friday.

Newly unsealed court records just showed just how valuable former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, was to the Mueller investigation here in the United States. Among the revelations, a voice mail that Flynn provided. President Trump's personal attorney called Flynn's attorney just days before us Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in December of 2017.

Mr. Trump's lawyer wanted to know if Flynn was going to tell investigators anything damaging about the president. Mueller's team determine the voice mail could have obstructed the investigation.

Now to immigration and the proposal President Trump just rolled out. Mr. Trump wants to scrap the current guidelines that focused on family ties and humanitarian needs and instead give priority to those who speak English and have strong job skills. The proposal makes no mention of so-called, DREAMERS, who came to United States illegally as children. CNN's Jim Acosta explains.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Playing to his base for the 2020 campaign, President Trump revealed his plan to change the nation's immigration systems, issuing a warning from the Rose Garden that Democrats should stop resisting his proposals.

TRUMP: And if for some reason, possibly political, we cannot 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.

[22:20:10] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what about DACA? What about the DREAMERS, Mr. President?

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.

TRUMP: Legitimate asylum seekers are being displaced by those lodging frivolous claims. These are frivolous claims to gain admission into our country.

ACOSTA: The president also propose a new legal immigration system that would fast-tracked immigrants who speak English.

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.

ACOSTA: But the proposed legislation is getting a lukewarm reception on Capitol Hill, where many Republicans are telling CNN, there is a little appetite for another immigration fight. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, the president's plan would make the current spike of migrants at the border even worse.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: We have already said, it gets to be more of a humanitarian crisis, the more the Republican -- the administration, I won't (inaudible) all the Republican with this, only the administration acts in the shameful way.

ACOSTA: The president is also revealing a bit more about his finances, even as he hides his tax returns from the public. The new financial disclosure forms, 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 is 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 watch very carefully.

It's also unclear whether the president stands on Iran. But some of his advisor are saying privately they do not 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.


HOWELL: With us now is Natasha Lindstaedt. Natasha, a professor of government at the University of Essex in England. Good to have you with us.


HOWELL: So, Natasha, a merit based strategy, the fast-tracking of people who speak English. This would be a major change in the philosophy, the very DNA of what it means for people around the world who want to seek citizenship in the United States. What do you make of it?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, what's interesting about his plan, which does appear to be influenced by immigration policy in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, it is not very well thought out. It just seems to be focused on this idea that we are going to gradient people that have skills that can bring in jobs and that are well educated, that speak English. They're trying to dampen the amount of what they refer to as chain migration, where there are families -- extended families coming in.

And Trump has said in his speech that the number of green cards that go out every year, 12 percent go out to some skill based people, were about two thirds go out to sort of families and is a form of a family approach. But that's really goes against the U.S. identity of bringing in anyone who brings in any type of skill set, whether you are super well educated, whether you speak English or not you can just come to this country and make something of yourself.

So Democrats are critical of that, because it goes against these core values that the U.S. has held for a long time, but they're also critical of the fact that, as it already mentioned in the report that it does not do anything to talk about the DREAMERS, it doesn't talk about the 11 million people that are here in the U.S. illegally. And it doesn't really deal with the issues with family separation.

And Republicans are going to have some issues with that as well, because it does nothing to deal with the number of immigrants coming in, but is trying to affect the composition of immigration. So, on both sides there's a lot of criticism of this not very well thought out plan.

HOWELL: Well, keeping in mind the glaring hypocrisy here. Both the president mother and father in law, now citizens of the U.S. came in as a result of what he disparages, Mr. Trump disparages as chain migration. Not through a merit based system.

LINDSTAEDT: Yes, that is another interesting aspect of the plan that he seems to be attacking the types of immigration policies that enable his own -- his wife's family to come in. And he's trying to prevent that type of immigration from coming in. He is also really trying to target immigration from the south, by saying that people need to speak English, by need to have a certain levels of education and certain skill levels.

[02:25:04] Now, of course, many immigrants from Latin America's do have these skill levels, do speak English, and do bring in special -- or able to take on special types of jobs. But a lot of people coming in to Central American countries are coming in because they are escaping really, really high levels of insecurity, violence and poverty. It seems that really be targeting these people. About 52 percent of immigration to the U.S. comes from the south and he thinks that he wants to attract immigrant possibly from English speaking countries by doing this.

And you know, you already illustrated some of the hypocrisy of this. That's is not really the way the U.S. systems had work. It's been about really bringing anyone who wants to come in, work hard, and try to make a place for themselves in the U.S.

HOWELL: I want to also get your thoughts on two key people in this proposal. The president's son-in-law Jared Kushner and then advisor Stephen Miller, both -- Stephen Miller for sure known as hard-liners when it comes to immigration? LINDSTAEDT: So, this doesn't appear to have the fingerprint of

Stephen Miller on it. It's a (inaudible) plan were Jared Kushner took a strong lead on this and instead of being a plan that -- maybe appeal more to the hard-liners of the Republican Party, the plan is very -- was supposed to attract a broad base of Republicans that they would be able to get behind it.

It was more of a broad approach rather than an approach that was quite aggressive in terms of family separation, or highlighting a very intense approach towards preventing immigration or deter immigration from coming in. But the issue was that this plan wasn't really spoken about much to every single Republican.

I think they were trying to talk to some key Republicans about the plan. It hasn't really garnered unity from the entire Republican Party, and they haven't really talked to the Democrats at all about it. And so, I think, they are trying to take a pivot a little bit away from this hardline approach that Stephen Miller was proposing, and more towards this broad based approach, but without getting, you know, the entire Republican Party behind, and some key Democrats, it's never really going to go very far, because even if it gets through the senate, it's not really going to go anywhere on the House.

HOWELL: Natasha Lindstaedt, thank you so much.

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.

HOWELL: Just ahead, President Trump welcomes a special guest to the White House. A world leader who could help ease tensions between United States and Iran.

Also one of Australia's longest serving Prime Minister passes away. We remember the life and legacy of Bob Hawke.


[02:30:06] HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell with the headlines we've been following for you this hour. In Taiwan, lawmakers have just approved the measure to legalize same-sex marriage. The self- ruled Island is now the first place in Asia to passed such a law. It comes two years after Taiwan's top court ruled that same-sex couples had the right to marry. It will go into effect next Friday.

An American official tells CNN that the U.S. believes that Iran is using commercial freighters to move hidden missiles of other weapons around the Persian Gulf. The assessments comes from multiple images of Iranian ships with large areas of their decks removed. The U.S. hasn't provided any evidence the ships are carrying munitions.

Huawei says it has not ruled out legal action. This after the Trump administration effectively banned U.S. companies from buying equipment from the Chinese tech giant. Huawei says this will hurt thousands of American businesses and consumers.

Boeing says that it has finished developing software, a software fix for its grounded 737 Max fleet. The airplane manufacturer said it tested the update on more than 200 flights for more than 360 hours. The jets had been rounded since March and the two deadly crashes that killed 346 people.

Now, more on the growing tension between the United States and Iran. U.S. President may be looking to lower the temperature in the Persian Gulf. Thursday, Mr. Trump met with the President of Switzerland to try to set up a back channel set of negotiations with Iran. CNN's Cyril Vanier has more.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Switzerland is known as the protecting power of the United States in 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.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. Embassy in Tehran has been invaded an occupied by Iranian students. The American's 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 Khomeini.


VANIER: That was 1979 Iranian students storming the U.S. embassy into Tehran keeping the American staff and citizens there hostage of 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 counterpart, 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 many crisis in which the Trump administration is doing a dance we've seen it due before increasing military pressure in this instance by sending a carrier strike group as well as extra patriot missile to the Middle East. And at the same time calling for dialogue.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I'd like to see with Iran, I'd like to see them call me. I look for today where we can actually help Iran. They should call and if they do we're open to talk to them.


VANIER: They should call. But that is hard to do when there are no diplomatic relations. So reenter Switzerland. CNN source says that the White House contacted -- this was 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 seeing? We're seeing the Swiss president at the White House for an unexpected last-minute visit.

And CNN sources confirm that this was about setting that communication channel with Iran. Now Mr. Mueller himself refused to comment with good reason. He reminded reporters, Switzerland's role as an intermediary in all this only works if everyone is discreet about it. Back to you.

HOWELL: Cyril, thank you. Rugby Australia has fired Wallabies star Israel Folau over an anti-gay social media post. The 30-year-old player was found guilty last week of breaching the league's code of conduct. He posted a list including drunks, liars, atheist and homosexuals saying "Hell awaits you." Folau has 72 hours to appeal the decision.

Australians are gearing up to vote in parliamentary elections on Saturday. The current Prime Minister Scott Morrison was the center right liberal party says he will keep the country's economy strong/public debt and reduce taxes.

[02:35:11] His main opponent is opposition labor party candidate Bill Shorten. He's campaigning to increase taxes on the wealthy and to take strong action on climate change. But polls show that voters aren't excited about either of the two main candidates and many people are dissatisfied with the State of Australian's democracy as a whole.

In the meantime, one of the Australia's most admired politician has just passed way. Bob Hawke known affectionately as Hawkie died on Thursday. He was 89 years old. He served as Prime Minister from 1983 to 1991 and last -- and left a lasting imprint. CNN's Simon Cullen has this report.


SIMON CULLEN, CNN FIELD PRODUCER: Bob Hawke was what Australians called a larrikin.

BOB HAWKE, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: I'll tell you what, any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum.

CULLEN: He loves sport especially when Australia won, he love to drink, he love to joke eventually at his own expense.


CULLEN: The charismatic former trade union official went on to win four elections as leader of the centre-left of the Labour Party. Cementing his position as one of Australia's longest serving Prime Minister. With his every man appeal, Hawke was at much at ease mingling with voters on the street as he was with presidents in the White House. In Washington he advocated for stronger ties between Australia and the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister of Australia. CULLEN: Diplomatically speaking the truth of power.

HAWKE: Trade issues must not be allowed to tester, or to erode our wider friendship or alliance.

CULLEN: In the aftermath of the Tenement Square Massacre, he tearfully condemned the Chinese regime offering safe harbor to Chinese dissidents fleeing the violence.

HAWKE: Thousands have been killed and injured, victims of a leadership that seems determined to hang on to the reins of power at any cost.

CULLEN: But it was on the domestic front that his most significant reforms will be remembered. After a turbulence start, he guarantee the future of universal healthcare for all Australians. Opened the economy to the rest of the world and advocated for a lasting reconciliation between White Australia and the aboriginal population.

HAWKE: The important thing is what's in our minds and in our hearts.

CULLEN: He also spoke passionately in favor of feminism.

HAWKE: It is a commitment to give women a full say and a fair go.

CULLEN: After 8-1/2 years he lost the leadership to his deputy Paul Keating. But Hawkie as he affectionately known retained a special place in Australian's heart. And as an 82-year-old cemented his place on Australian folklore by damning a beer to ruckus applause of the (INAUDIBLE) news of his passing was confirmed on Thursday by his second wife Blanche d'Alpuget who said in the statement, today, we lost the Bob Hawke, a great Australian, many would say the greatest Australian of the post war era. We will miss him.

His death just says out from Australia's national election provided a rare moment of unity for the country's political leaders.

SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: He had a bright intellect, he had enormous passion and he had carriage.

BILL SHORTEN, AUSTRALIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: Bob Hawke loved Australia. And Australia loved Bob Hawke.

CULLEN: An affection that injured to the end. Simon Cullen, CNN.

HOWELL: Hawkie as he was known. Died at the age of 89 years old. Still ahead. A major crisis in North Korea scorched crops in the fields and millions of people going hungry and now analysts say the country's leaders -- leader there might be trying to use this to get a leg up on negotiations with the U.S. President. Plus, the President of the Philippines consolidates power with big wins in the midterms. Ahead we speak one of his fiercest critics about what it means for freedom press.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [02:42:01] HOWELL: One of the most claimed architects of our time has

passed away. I.M. Pei died on Thursday. He was 102 years old. He's remembered for his elegant, his innovative designs including the glass and metal pyramid, the pyramid outside the Louvre Museum in Paris. Earlier we spoke with architect -- architecture curator Aric Chan about Pei's work.


ARIC CHEN, ARCHITECTURE CURATOR: He 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 and creating this exclusively refined spaces 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 put really adept also in translating the modernist vocabulary in other cultural context with the real culture sensitivity especially in China where he was born. And throughout Asia and even to the Middle East which his Museum of Islamic Art in Doha.


HOWELL: I.M. Pei is also remembered for his good humor, his charm and modesty. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte's allies and his own children won big in midterm elections this week. Monday's vote was largely seen as a referendum on the controversial leader's first three years in office and it appears Mr. Duterte is more popular and more powerful than ever. We spoke with Maria Ressa.

A prominent Philippine journalist and Duterte critic who has been arrested twice and has been out on bail eight times. Our Kristie Lu Stout asked her what this new political reality means for journalists in that country.


MARIA RESSA, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, RAPPLER: If President Duterte decides to focus on governance and answers questions journalists ask then hopefully it gets easier. If they decide that this is like -- this is now time because they've consolidated their power that this is the time to go after every single perceived enemy then it becomes more difficult. But I don't think -- I'm hopeful, you know, Kristie, I'm always hopeful, right?

Because in the end, we're not the enemies of President Duterte. Journalists are there to actually help the government to a better job.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And you always say, you got to stand your ground, you have to hold the line.

RESSA: Hold the line. STOUT: But Maria, you've been arrested twice, you've had to post bail, what, eight times? Duterte is getting more and more powerful. How much longer can you stand your ground?

RESSA: As long as the constitution is there, right? And are -- the Philippine constitution is patterned after the U.S. constitution, it has a bill of rights. Freedom of the press, freedom of expression, human rights. These are enshrined in the Philippine constitution.

[02:45:00] STOUT: You know, Duterte's policies have drawn international condemnation, very controversial actions and words and comments from the Philippine President and yet he is still so popular inside the Philippines. Why is that?

RESSA: He's one of us. That's always what you hear especially -- you know, our mass base, that's the majority of our voters. When he speaks -- even his supporters will say. This is like going out and have a beer with him and he's just like that. The younger folks will say, he's like your grandfather even the sexist comments, right. It's like you're going out with your grandfather.

Look, after he voted, he actually attacked the media again, and he attacked, in particular, one woman, a journalist Ellen Tordesillas. She runs Vera files which is also one of Facebook's fact-checking partners in the Philippines along with Rappler. He called her a prostitute. He cursed her.

She immediately came back and said, he is dangerous for the Philippines and he has -- you know, this president is crazy essentially. This is rancor that doesn't have to be there and it's demeaning to the office of the president.

So ironically, the thing that makes him approachable, the thing that has his local base is the very thing that prevents him from acting presidential. In the Philippines, we talked about patriotic trolling online, state-sponsored hate that is meant to pound you into silence and to inflame others to actually go and attack you.

STOUT: In the Philippines, is it patriotic to hate the press?

RESSA: It's me becoming that way and it's not just in the Philippines right? The -- MSM is from the United States, mainstream media, demonizing mainstream media. These narratives did not come from the Philippines because our history is very different. And for many, many years until 2016, the media was the one institution that gave some sense of justice. We weren't splintered the way the United States was. But in six months that changed drastically.

STOUT: And this word, this #Presstitute, not prostitute, but presstitute.


STOUT: That's actually being used in the Philippines?

RESSA: It's used in the Philippines. And we were trying to track where it came from, right? It's used in the United States. It's used in India, South Africa, the Philippines. And it was introduced in the Philippines by one of the pro-Duterte bloggers who challenged journalists, pounded it constantly, and she went on to become the head of social media for the government. So --

STOUT: It becomes hard to work against online hatred when it is institutionalized in part of the government. You know, overnight we saw what happened in Paris, right the Christchurch calls. So you have the leadership of Jacinda Ardern with Emmanuel Macron, getting world leaders and tech leaders to come together and say we're going to fight this. But how can you fight that when you're fighting against another government?

RESSA: And this is part of the reason I focused on Facebook. In the Philippines, Facebook is our Internet. 97 percent of Filipinos are on Facebook. And if it's done three takedowns in the Philippines, it is investigating and it is the fact that there is now a repercussion makes the networks more cautious, right. So that's the short term solution. The medium and long term you know, it will really depend.

STOUT: How physically safe are you? When will you go back to the Philippines? I mean, do you worry about not just being sent to jail but your personal safety as well?

RESSA: You know, there's a lot of things that are uncertain right now, but I will always go back. I mean, that is not just my promise to the courts, it is also -- I refused to get intimidated, right. Look, it's proven there is a link between online hate and real-world violence. We've seen this in many parts of the world.

There was one instance last February when it jumped from the online world to the real world when there are -- we had a security just at a point when our security was taking a break. These guys came in and demanded people come to Rappler. And you know, the threats were insane. Behead them, shoot them, line them up and let it be a firing squad.

Facebook took it down within 24 hours, but the only defense that we have is to make sure like when I was working with CNN. You know, you're prepared. You put security in place, you briefed your folks, you make sure you have workflows and drills, and that's what we've done.

I mean, look when I got arrested, our young reporters automatically went live and this is -- that hasn't changed. The journalist's most crucial weapon is to shine the light.


HOWELL: More than 10 million North Koreans are reportedly facing severe food shortages with the country in its worst drought in nearly four decades. And now there's concern that North Korea's leader may be using the crisis to get the U.S. President's attention. Our Brian Todd reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) [02:50:09] BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On state T.V., 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 drought in 37 years. Only about two 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 ADVISER 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 ten million North Koreans, almost half the country's population are facing severe food shortages and urgently need help, even as Kim build 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 droughts 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 --

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, their 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 import.

TODD: And the timing of North Korea's announcement of the drought 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.

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 of 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.


HOWELL: Brian, thank you. It was a royal nightmare. Prying eyes forced the Duke and Duchess of Sussex out of their private home. How the paparazzi made amends?


HOWELL: Britain's Prince Harry has accepted a "substantial amount of damages plus an apology." This after the paparazzi went to extreme heights to snap intrusive pictures of the country home that he shared with his wife Meghan. CNN's Max Foster has the details.


[02:55:07] MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prince Harry took the Splash News and Picture Agency to court following an incident on January the 9th earlier this year. And in a statement to court, Prince Harry said this. The agency hired a helicopter. The helicopter flew over their home in Oxfordshire at a low altitude allowing Splash to take photographs of and into the living area, the dining area of the home, and directly into the bedroom.

Those photographs were published by The Times newspaper says Prince Harry, and on other online publications as well. They immediately instructed lawyers which resulted in this case and ultimately the agency has apologized to Prince Harry and substantial sums in damages had been awarded to Prince Harry.

Now, his argument was this. He said the publication of these photographs very seriously undermined the safety and security of the Duke and the home to the extent that they were no longer able to live at the property so they had to move out as a result of this invasion of privacy.

This news came to us via a press statement from the palace. So the other thing we can draw from this is that Prince Harry is putting the message out. If you cross that line, he's going to take you to court. Max Foster, CNN London.


HOWELL: Waterfront homeowners in Central Texas could only watch as their beloved Lakes suddenly slipped away. A portion of the Dunlap Dam gave way without warning. On Tuesday, water quickly poured out until only under the muddy bottom was left. The cause is still under investigation there. But age is likely a factor to it.

The dam was finished in 1928, 91 years ago. Another dam on that same River failed three years ago and still hasn't been repaired.

And now check out some amazing pictures to show you from Australia. We could call this your moment of calm away from all the hard news stories we've had for you, just a moment here. So this amazing drone footage shows a school of Cownose Rays swimming in Clearwater off Bondi Beach in Sydney. See how they form such amazing patterns as they swim right along the coast there. Awesome.

Thank you so much for being with us. Another hour of news right after the break. Stay with us.