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Trump Threatens Iran; India Decides; New U.S. Plan for Israeli- Palestinian Peace; One GOP Member Going After President Trump; Venezuela in Crisis; Migrants Won't Be Sent to Florida or Sanctuary Cities; Philanthropist to Pay Off Student Loan Debt of Graduating Class of Morehouse College; Netherlands Crowned Eurovision Champion Amid Controversy. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired May 20, 2019 - 00:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): More bluster from the U.S. president towards Iran, just as tensions seem to be easing.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): In India, exit polls suggest another win is possible for the prime minister after the country's six weeks-long election.

VANIER (voice-over): Plus, an extremely generous gift that will impact the lives of an entire generating class. We will have that story in the show.

ALLEN (voice-over): And the shocker, we will talk with one of the graduates.

Thank you for joining us, this is CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Natalie Allen.

VANIER (voice-over): And I'm Cyril Vanier. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


ALLEN: Our top story: U.S. president Donald Trump once again ratcheting up tensions with Iran, just as things appeared to be quieting down.

VANIER: in an aggressive tweet, he warned that, if Iran wants a fight, it would mark the official end of that country. Mr. Trump also told Tehran not to threaten America but did not provide context.

ALLEN: Meantime, Saudi Arabia is also warning Iran against reckless behavior but it says it wants to avoid conflict in the region.


ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Saudi Arabia does not want a war in the region and is not seeking it and will do its best to evade it. At the same time, if the other party chooses war, then we will respond with all strength and determination and will defend itself and its interests.


ALLEN: This week Saudi Arabia accused Iran of ordering drone strikes on two oil pumping stations. In response to alleged Iranian threats, countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council have started enhanced security patrols around the Persian Gulf.

VANIER: All this comes a day after Iran's foreign minister says his nation does not want war.

Samantha Vinograd, CNN national security analyst and former senior national security adviser to the Obama White House joins us.

Sam, you worked in the White House, so you've read this Donald Trump tweet and thought what?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I thought what a difference a year does not make. Last July, Trump tweeted a threat at Iran. In fairness to the president, the Iranians had tweeted there would be the mother of all wars against the United States.

Trump took the bait last July and tweeted at the Iranians that there would be historic consequences if they continue to threaten the United States.

We all know where we are almost a year later. Threats are at a unprecedented level, that's why we've withdrawn diplomats from Iraq. We've had Lloyd's of London, FAA, American officials, British officials, Exxon, the Bahrainis warning of these increased threats.

And what does Trump do again?

He tweets, threatening Iran. And he knows he is escalating the situation and ostensibly just doesn't care.

VANIER: Does this force the Iranians to respond?

VINOGRAD: I certainly think we will see a war of words here and that's why, when presidents make official policy statement, when I was at the White House, anything the president says normally went through an intelligence scrub, especially during tense situations like this.

The idea is you want to communicate a message but you don't want there to be unintended consequences. So even while the Iranians are likely to respond with words of their own or tweets of their own, there may be a more dangerous response and that whatever President Trump is saying can be used to inspire or direct attacks against the United States.

The regime can say, look at President Trump, he is threatening us. Come and launch operations against the United States, join our proxies on the ground and all across the region. This gives the Iranian regime firepower at home and, for that reason, President Trump -- and I've said this multiple times -- needs to think before he tweets.

VANIER: How seriously do you take this?

I understand it's the U.S. president, I understand he tweets foreign policy, I understand all those things, so it should on its face be taken seriously. But I'm certain some viewers will look at this tweet and say, this is Trump being Trump, this is what he does.

VINOGRAD: It is what he does. He has an itchy Twitter finger while he is --


VINOGRAD: -- watching television. And he's going a completely different way. It is very clear that President Trump is riding solo on all these things and not even working with his own team.

VANIER: But what we've already seen before, that he can do two things simultaneously. He can threaten and he can open the door to diplomacy.


VINOGRAD: I disagree with that, though --


VINOGRAD: -- I disagree because it may look like that on its face. He threatened North Korea and then got a letter from Kim and engaged in diplomacy.

But as we're finding out, more than a year after that critical diplomacy with North Korea, it was a fool's errand. So he's not really engaging in diplomacy --


VANIER: -- but that was going to be my question. We don't know how that conversation between Trump and Kim is going to end ultimately. And right now, agreed, the negotiations have stalled and that conversation is not in a good place.

Still, though, if you think back to how all of that story line developed, it involved the U.S. president and the North Korean leader sending these threatening messages at each other, promising to destroy each other and ultimately they sat there and talked.

So you could argue that perhaps Trump is angling for the same thing with Iran.

VINOGRAD: Yes, although I think we're mixing apples and oranges a little bit here. North Korea certainly represented a threat. North Korea represented a threat to forces that we have stationed on the Korean Peninsula, our allies, Japan and South Korea, et cetera.

The situation with Iran is quite different. Iran has proxies all over the region that have the ability to come in to direct confrontation with U.S. assets on the ground throughout the region.

So when President Trump threatens the Iranians, he's not threatening a regime like Kim Jong-un, who controls everything. There's one decision-maker there who decides what's going to happen. He is saying things, this war of words can be manipulated by the regime, sure.

But then what about all the proxies in Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere?

I think we have to be careful not to compare the two situations directly for that reason.

VANIER: All right, Samantha Vinograd, thank you very much, useful insight as always. Thanks for coming on.

ALLEN: All right, moving elsewhere. After decades of conflict, sometimes outright war, the U.S. president's son-in-law is rolling out a new U.S. plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace. The White House announced the first part of the proposal Sunday. Jared Kushner and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt are spearheading the effort.

VANIER: The focus is on economy and infrastructure and aims to make places like Gaza and the West Bank, quote, "as investable as possible." Finance ministers and business leaders are set to discuss the plan in Bahrain next month.

It's been called the Peace and Prosperity Workshop. It's not clear where the Israelis stand on all this but we do have a pretty clear idea of how the Palestinians feel.

ALLEN: CNN's Nic Robertson has more from Abu Dhabi.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The initial reaction coming from the Palestinian Authority president's spokesman seems to be negative, he calls this current plan, this economic workshop idea, a futile idea.

He says an economic plan without a political horizon will lead nowhere. The minimum that the Palestinian president spokesman is saying, the minimum that they need to have that the Palestinians will want to have before they get engaged in conversations it's the knowledge that there is a Palestinian state, that there can be a Palestinian state and that its capital will be East Jerusalem.

And the political component of this plan, we are told by the White House, is something that could come later in the year. It's very aspirational, heavy on the idea of how the economy can lift the lives of Palestinians.

But what we are hearing from the Palestinian Authority is really a thumbs down. They're saying look, that it was a workshop like this arranged in D.C. last year in the United States in March, we did not go. They have lost their faith in the United States as an international arbiter between themselves and the Israelis. They point to the fact that when President Trump in late 2017

announced Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, that really negated the U.S. position here to negotiate or to be a viable negotiating force.

But we have heard in recent weeks from Palestinian Authority leaders and their ambassador to the U.N. saying that this deal will be dead on arrival. Just a couple of days ago in London, the foreign minister said that this plan would essentially give no sovereignty, no justice, no independence, no freedom to the Palestinians. So the message at the moment is a thumbs down -- Nic Robertson, CNN, Abu Dhabi.


ALLEN: In India, 900 million eligible people have just wrapped up voting in the world's largest democratic election. They cast ballots for the --


ALLEN: -- 545-seat lower house of parliament, called the Lok Sabha.

Many see the election as a referendum on prime minister Narendra Modi, the official results are expected on Thursday.

Nikhil Kumar joins us from New Delhi with more.

Yes, it's been a close one for the prime minister who won in a landslide in 2014.

What made it so close this time?

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Natalie, it has been close going into the election. We have had preliminary polling, which concluded on Sunday. Local Indian media put out exit polling that they have commissioned, which point to Narendra Modi returning to power.

We have to see if that happens on the 23rd. It's a big health warning with these polls, there's been wrong in the past at previous elections, both at the national and state level. But that's what they point to.

But it's true that Narendra Modi, in 2014, when he ran for national office, he ran a campaign which entirely dominated the agenda and he did not have any challengers. There were barely any questions put to him, questioning his record or concerns about his record. It was all dominated by his promises to reform the economy.

This time it's been more about his record, whether he has delivered or not and whether or not he will be able to secure the votes of the people who ushered in a change in government in 2014.

Until 2014, most of independent India's history had been dominated by the Congress Party. Mr. Modi comes from the Party Agenda party or the right flank of Indian politics. He displaced them. And the big question was will he be able to repeat that.

Exit polls seem to suggest that he may be able to do that but, again, big health warning, we won't know for a fact until the 23rd to see if voters are still willing to endorse Mr. Modi, despite questions about his record and the promises he made on the economy.

ALLEN: Absolutely. Thank you so much, Nikhil Kumar. We'll take a few days for the votes to be tallied.

VANIER: Turning now to Egypt, where an explosion that apparently targeted a tour bus has wounded at least 14 people.

ALLEN: It happened Sunday near the Pyramids of Giza. State media report a device exploded close to the bus, which was carrying 25 South African visitors. Egypt's ministry of tourism called it a minor explosion; no word yet on who is responsible.

Anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank reportedly raised alerts on a number of transactions by companies controlled by President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

VANIER: "The New York Times" reports that bank employees recommended the transactions be reported to a financial crimes watchdog but bank executives refused and the reports were never filed.


DAVE ENRICH, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": What we do know is that the number of Trump related entities, including the Trump Foundation and Kushner companies, which is Jared Kushner's real estate company, both were doing business, doing transactions outside of the United States that sparked concerns among many money laundering experts.

We know that the Kushner transactions involved the Kushner companies sending money to people, to Russian individuals. And that -- the way the systems work is that the bank has a computer system that automatically screens thousands and thousands of transactions and those transactions go to human beings for further review and investigation.

And in all of these cases, after being screened by the computer system, the humans, who were investigating this, who were experts looking for problematic transactions, all raised serious concerns about the money that was moving between the Trump entities and Kushner companies and folks outside of the United States.


ALLEN: All right here's a statement from the Kushner companies, quote, "'The New York Times' tries to create scandalous stories which are totally false when they run out of things to write about."

VANIER: In other news, President Trump was quick to blast a Republican congressman for breaking ranks on the Mueller report.

ALLEN: Michigan congressman Justin Amash said the president engaged in impeachable conduct, that from a Republican. Boris Sanchez has reaction from the White House.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Congressman Justin Amash had previously criticized President Trump but the response from the president had never been as harsh as it was until Sunday morning. Take a look at what he tweeted about the congressman's 3rd District.

He writes that Congressman Amash is doing this for publicity, that he never actually read the Mueller report and that in his words he is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents' hands. Amash clearly striking a chord with President Trump.

Other Republicans sort of echoed those remarks, including Republican National Committee chairwoman Rhonda McDaniel.

She put out a statement saying that it's sad that the congressman is --


SANCHEZ: -- in her words "parroting Democratic talking points."

Other Republicans like Senator Mitt Romney of Utah a lot more respectful of his point of view. Still, though, he does not agree with Justin Amash on whether the president committed impeachable offenses.

Listen to what he told Jake Tapper on "STATE OF THE UNION" Sunday morning.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I respect him. I think it's a courageous statement. But I believe that to make a case for obstruction of justice you just don't have the elements that are evidenced in this document.

And I also believe that an impeachment call is not only something that relates to the law but also considers practicality and politics and the American people just aren't there. And I think those that are considering impeachment have to look also at the jury, which would be the Senate. The Senate is certainly not there yet, either.


SANCHEZ: Now Democrats are split on the issue of impeachment. You have some like Senator Elizabeth Warren who's running for president who believes that impeachment should be pursued.

And then you have others like the most powerful Democrat in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who does not believe it would be prudent politically to try to impeach President Trump, especially because the election is just about two years away. She, though, does say that President Trump commits impeachable offenses every day that he is in office -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, at the White House. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: And armed militia roam the streets of Venezuela.

Their goal?

Keep the president in office by any means necessary. Next, we will hear from the group's leader.

VANIER: And the White House backtracks on sending migrants to sanctuary cities, as the acting Homeland Security Secretary clarifies U.S. policy. Stay with us.






VANIER: In the slums of Venezuela, a lawless militia group is working to keep the country's embattled president in office.

ALLEN: The colectivos, as they're known, have essentially become the private army of Nicolas Maduro. As CNN's Patrick Oppmann reports, violence and intimidation are their trademark.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They wear hoods and carry guns, mysterious figures who seem to be able to attack anti- government protesters in Venezuela with impunity. Witnesses to the shooting say they are the work of colectivos, shadowy paramilitary forces, that support the government of embattled president Nicolas Maduro at any cost.

In the areas they control, the colectivos operate openly. To learn more about their role in Venezuela's political violence, we go to one of Caracas' sprawling slums and to a radio station controlled by the colectivos that they use to air pro-government propaganda.

Colectivo leader Naude Mendez agrees to an interview but only if we do it live on air.

Mendez says he has been shot five times in confrontations and will take up arms if the U.S. tries to intervene militarily in Venezuela.

"The revolution is going forward," he tells me, "and if these people try to step onto Venezuelan soil, what there will be here is a lot of blood for them. I'm not afraid of the gringos."

But according to Venezuela's opposition, the colectivos' main target these days is not foreign adversities but their political rivals inside Venezuela. Opposition member Julio Cesar Reyes (ph) says, on three occasions, colectivos have come to his house to intimidate him.

"They come without uniforms," he told me, "carrying weapons of war. Their faces are covered and they break down your door. They aimed a gun at me in front of my kids."

Maduro has called on the colectivos to defend his socialist revolution and says they are patriots. U.S. officials call them domestic terrorists.

The group started doing social work in Venezuela's poorest slums decades ago. Then Hugo Chavez took power and envisioned a new role for the colectivos.

Hugo Chavez saw that the colectivos could be transformed into a private army, loyal to him. He gave them food, weapons and free rein. In many of Caracas' most dangerous neighborhoods, they are the only law.

The colectivos are Maduro's most loyal enforcers, says Naude Mendez. But when asked if things are better after 20 years of socialist revolution, even he concedes that support for the revolution is fading.

"The war has been tough," he says. "They attacked the poor people through their stomachs. They made our food disappear and people got mad and everyone says it's Maduro's fault. But it's not Maduro's fault. It's United States' fault."

With the conflict brewing, the colectivos say that thousands of foot soldiers are ready to fight till the end -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Caracas.


VANIER: Turning to the U.S., a reversal from the Trump administration on immigration. The acting chief of Homeland Security now says the administration will not send migrants to the state or Florida or to any sanctuary cities.

ALLEN: His comments come after officials in Florida blasted a possible plan to send migrants to the state. All this as U.S. border control faces a record influx of migrants along the nation's border with Mexico. We get more about it from CNN's Rosa Flores.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pictures of migrants waiting to get processed on the U.S. side of the southern border are difficult to watch. Families sprawled under makeshift tents, children sleeping on the ground, covered in Mylar blankets.

The strain is not just on migrants; it's also on the officers who have apprehended a record breaking number of migrants, more than 500,000 since October.

DEPUTY CHIEF RAUL ORTIZ, PATROL AGENT: I'm a father, I'm a grandfather. Somebody needs to do something about this.

FLORES (voice-over): Thursday, officials in Florida's Palm Beach and Broward Counties said they were notified that --


FLORES (voice-over): -- about 1,000 undocumented migrants a month could be sent to the Sunshine State for processing and release.

RIC BRADSHAW, PALM BEACH COUNTY SHERIFF: It's not a good plan, we think it is a danger to this community and it's going to put a real strain on what the resources are.

MARK BOGEN, BROWARD COUNTY DISTRICT 2 MAYOR: I personally would suggest that we bring these people over to his hotel and ask the president to open his heart and home to these people as well.

FLORES (voice-over): Sunday, the acting DHS Secretary said that the agency had been looking at all options. President Trump's told Florida governor Ron DeSantis that migrants would not be flown to Florida but Border Patrol agents on the ground say Washington has to do something.

ORTIZ: Until folks in Congress, folks at the White House, folks on Capitol Hill actually put forth an honest effort to address the situation here on the border, it's not just a humanitarian crisis, it's a border security crisis.

FLORES (voice-over): Without more resources from our nation's capital, DHS has resorted to other measures, like releasing thousands of undocumented migrants into border communities, flying or driving thousands of others to Laredo or San Diego and reassigning agents from ports of entry to migrant processing centers.

One newly added temporary facility in South Texas alone holds 8,000 migrants on any given day.

ORTIZ: We are doing everything we can in our power to ensure that they are safe. We want to let them know that they are safe now.

FLORES (voice-over): While agents continue to do their jobs along the border, many are asking if politicians are doing theirs in Washington -- Rosa Flores, CNN, Atlanta.


VANIER: Many college graduates get gifts this time of year.


VANIER (voice-over): But a billionaire investor gave a group of graduates in the state of Georgia a gift of a lifetime. We'll have the details on that when we come back.




[00:30:30] CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I'm Cyril Vanier. Let's look at your headlines.

U.S. President Donald Trump is once again ratcheting up tensions with Iran. In a tweet, he warned that if Iran wants a fight, it would be the end of that country. This comes a day after Iran's foreign minister repeated official statements that his nation doesn't want war.

ALLEN: The White House says investment is at the core of its Israeli- Palestinian peace plan. Presidential son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner is directing that effort. It will reportedly bring together finance ministers and business leaders at a workshop in Bahrain in June. A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority president calls the plan futile.

VANIER: The 2019 graduating class at Morehouse College in the U.S. state of Georgia owes tens of millions of dollars in student loan debt.

ALLEN: Like a lot of students in this country. But lucky for them, they won't have to pay one penny of it. Billionaire entrepreneur Robert F. Smith says his family will create a grant to pay off the student loans of the entire class of nearly 400. He made the announcement during their graduation ceremony Sunday, and explained his reasons for his generosity.


ROBERT F. SMITH, BILLIONAIRE ENTREPRENEUR: Where you live shouldn't determine whether or not you get educated. Where you go to school shouldn't determine whether you get textbooks. The opportunity to access -- the opportunity for access should be determined only by the fierceness of your intellect and the courage in your creativity.


ALLEN: Elijah Nesly Dormeus is one of the lucky graduates. He was there at his graduation when Mr. Smith made the announcement, and he is here with us now.

Well, congratulations on graduating!


ALLEN: And maybe even a bigger thing, congratulations on having your student loan debts paid off.


ALLEN: That's awesome. When he said that, was there disbelief in the crowd? DORMEUS: I -- I would assume there was. I think because there was,

like, a moment of silence in the crowd, a short period of silence for the graduates, because we're like, I don't think he really said that. Let's try again. But then when we thought about, we're like, "Oh yes, yes sir."

VANIER: He said it.

DORMEUS: "He said it."

VANIER: You weren't expecting it at all?

DORMEUS: No, at all. Like, no one had knowledge of it. I hadn't had knowledge of it. He -- because the way he, like, did his speech, which was well-memorized, he talked about himself. You know, talking about his life, talked about, you know, the things, in a way, that he did. Right? And then tied it back into how we can apply the steps and stuff that he did into our future entrepreneurship.

You know, even just, like, talking about how, if you want to create your own business, it's not as easy as you think. You have to go through a struggle. You have to put the work in, and the time to get there. So, boom! You talk about that. You talk about all that diligent, like, time to put into it. So then when it came into, hey, 40,000 is all gone. We're like, wait, how did that happen? Because the thing is he --

VANIER: No, 40 million!

DORMEUS: Forty million.

VANIER: Forty million.

DORMEUS: Sorry! I was thinking about, you know, one of my tuition bills.

VANIER: How much -- how much did you owe? Because we don't know that. How much did you owe?

DORMEUS: So after calculating, it's a little bit over 94,000 --


DORMEUS: -- being that my first semester, I started off with full loans at $47,000. So doing that by the next year with a slight grant, that's still, like, 90,000 there. So adding it up, it keeps on going, and then that's -- that's 90,000 flat without adding the interest on the loan. That's not including what's on my mom's. So it's just, like, it keeps building and building and building. So right now it might be close to a million, but who knows?

ALLEN: That's such great news for you. Now, talk about your family.


ALLEN: Because you're one of nine, reared by your mother. I think she was there.

DORMEUS: Yes, she was.

ALLEN: Talk to us about your family.

DORMEUS: So my dear, lovely Andrea Dormeus, my mother. Oh, don't get me, Mom, just saying your name out loud. So my mom, she's -- she's from Trinidad and Tobago. Right? She grew up there, her life, and she came up here. She has, like, a few, like, real estate license, a nursing license and so on and so forth.

She raised us.

ALLEN: Nine.

DORMEUS: Nine. Yes, raised us nine. Nurtured us, cared for us. My father passed away when I was seven, so basically leaving her, not by initial choice, to raise us all.

My mother was, still is, one of the strongest women I know. The reason -- well, how I get these, like, "I am's" of encouragement is through her. Growing up, I've seen her work for food pantries. I've seen her just been -- just giving milk to, like, the homeless, just like giving, giving, giving. And not once complain.

[00:35:05] So seeing that as I've grown up in, like, a local community, I'm like, "OK, how is she providing for us?" But not second guessing it in a way that would not allow me to be successful.

So she would come home, and after a long day's work, after people probably rely on her, saying she's doing this, that and the third, and she would just go in and be like, "Hey, son, you can do it. Don't give up. You can do it."

ALLEN: You're doing it.

DORMEUS: Exactly. And so funny. So when I got the news about Morehouse College, and I'm going to get in, I'm like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Can I really do it? You know, I've gotten all these people telling me I can't do it."

She's like, "Be you. Being your authentic self is the only thing that makes you strong. Because it's an idea of who you are."

ALLEN: And your siblings are now also in college, but you're the first to graduate?

DORMEUS: Yes, first to graduate out of the nine. Six -- so five are in college out of the nine, right? Because the rest of them are older. Well, six at home, five in college, one about to be a senior in high school next year.

VANIER: Talk to us about how the lifting of the debt, the paying of your debt impacts your life. What was the plan before versus what's the plan now? DORMEUS: So I the plan before, I got an opportunity to work for AT&T

in sales in Dallas, Texas. So excited for it. Thanks -- you know, thanks be to God for it. So my plan before was basically, you know, work in sales, be like, top salesman. Still a goal, still to do it. And then pay off all my loans in one year. Be frugal without spending a lot of money. But still paying off the loans. So not really living a life, but giving back in a sense.

So after I heard the news, of course, in shock, sitting still, like, wait, this is a joke. I think he's lying. Got down and said, OK, God thank you. And shed -- literally, shed a tear. But a tear of joy.

And I stood up and I said, "You know what? That's it. And that's the whole idea of Morehouse. So like, for me, it -- my new plan is to pay it forward. Because now I can help my mom. She's diligently worked year after year, year after year, fought for jobs year after year. Even when she didn't get it, she came back and she said, "Son, you have to continue pushing."

So now, it's just like, I can actually do that. I can actually assist somebody with the money I'm making from AT&T. I can actually do something that not many people get a chance to do. Providing for my little brother, actually giving back. So I'm like, now that's the plan. How can I make a difference for my family? How can I make a difference for Jeremiah Dormeus? How can I make a difference for Josiah? What is that seed that I can plant in them that they can pay forward to somebody else?

ALLEN: Right, because when someone does something for you, you pay it forward, right?

DORMEUS: Exactly.

ALLEN: What goes around comes around.

DORMEUS: Comes around. And that's --

VANIER: I just want to put a word of perspective in there. You met our supervise earlier.


VANIER: She is 20 years into her career, hasn't finished paying off her student loans.

DORMEUS: Yes, she told me.

VANIER: Just about the impact it can have on somebody's life.

ALLEN: What a blessing.

DORMEUS: It's dynamic. It is truly a blessing, because not many people get a chance to experience that. So I'm grateful to God. I'm grateful to God for Morehouse, I'm grateful for the servant leadership. I'm grateful for my mother and friends and family that promoted -- promoted, pushed, encouraged, just kept on. Even the haters. You know, you've got to love your haters. I love me

the haters. Because at the end of the day, if my guidance counselor didn't say, "Hey you couldn't do it," or not that you couldn't do it, but, "Hey, this is not -- this is too big of a dream for you right now," I would not be here. If Julius did not give me that business card and say, "Hey," in IHOP after I'm singing, "Here's my business card. If you want to attend Morehouse College, let me know." And Tory Robertson (ph), and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and a field of people just, like, continue to help me, I would not be sitting here.

ALLEN: That's wonderful.

DORMEUS: And I'm thankful to God for it.

ALLEN: It takes a village. And you're going places.


ALLEN: Elijah Nesly Dormeus, thank you for coming and sharing your story.

DORMEUS: No, thank you.

ALLEN: All the best to you. We'll say, we knew him once.

DORMEUS: Yes. I'm going to say. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you.

ALLEN: Thanks a lot.

I mean, you love that guy, he's so sweet.

All right. Moving on here, we wish him well. Controversy marks Eurovision 2019. Madonna and politics steal the spotlight during the contest finale. That's coming up.


[00:41:08] VANIER: So now we know who sits on the so iron throne. We're about to reveal everything that happened in the last episode of "Game of Thrones" season ending. No, we're not.

ALLEN: No, we're not. We're not telling. "Game of Thrones'" eight- year run on HBO ended Sunday. The new queen or king was revealed after another episode of twists and turns. The show, a worldwide sensation for nearly a decade. But what happened in the finale might be analyzed for nearly that long.

Twitter is on fire with praise, criticism and disappointment. So, what comes next? A prequel is said to be in the works, so don't worry about it.

Well, Eurovision song contest did not go off without a hitch, as a new champion was crowned Sunday.

VANIER: There was controversy even before anyone took the stage. But as CNN's Hadas Gold reports, there were some political statements that no one saw coming.


HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The annual Eurovision song contest at its typical level of kitsch and glitz Saturday night as it crowned its new champion from the Netherlands.

But beyond the sky-high on-stage stunts from the countries' contestants, were the brief moments when political controversy took center stage. Watched by nearly 200 million people around the world, Eurovision has strict rules about keeping politics out of the competition.

But Madonna, the special guest star, who resisted calls to boycott the event over Israeli policy toward Palestinians, made a wordless on- stage statement about peace, something organizers said had been unrehearsed and unapproved. Toward the end of her set, dancers with the Israeli and Palestinian flags on their backs walked arm in arm up the stage.

MADONNA, POP SINGER: The thing that brings all of these people here tonight is music. So let's never underestimate the power of music to bring people together.

GOLD: The Icelandic band Hatari drew condemnation from the European Broadcasting Union for displaying Palestinian banners as their vote tallies were announced.

The EBU, which organizes and runs the event, criticized the Icelandic delegation, and said that the incident would have ramifications which could range from a reprimand to barring them from participating next year.

But for the fans, Eurovision was still all about the competition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cliffhanger top two moment, they have a new voting system with how they're revealing the public votes specifically. And that was really -- it made it really exciting.



ALLEN: All right. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

VANIER: That makes me Cyril Vanier. WORLD SPORT is up next. Then we'll be back with another hour of news. That's in 15 minutes. Stay with us.

ALLEN: See you soon.


[00:45:44] (WORLD SPORT)