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A Message of Peace and War; One GOP Member Going After President Trump; Jacob Zuma Awaits Trial; Italy's Parliament Election Just a Week Away; Food Crisis Crippled Yemen; World Headlines; Billionaire's Surprise; West Point Ceremony; Embassy Search; Egypt Explosion; India Decides; "Game of Thrones" Ends It's Eight-Year Run. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired May 20, 2019 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Fresh insults for Iran and a new peace plan that raises instant skepticism. A look at the ever-shifting strategy the U.S. has for the Middle East.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, after almost a decade "Game of Thrones" is over. Stay tuned. We're going to break down the finale.
HOWELL: And get, this a life-changing graduation gift. A billionaire stuns the entire crowd here in Atlanta at Morehouse College promising to pay off all their student loans. It's amazing.
Welcome to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell.
CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, CNN Newsroom starts right now.
HOWELL: We begin with two very different messages from the White House aimed at the Middle East. One message speaks of peace. The other speaks of war.
CHURCH: For the Palestinians, talk of economic opportunity if there's peace with Israel. But for Iran there's this threat from U.S. President Donald Trump via Twitter. "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again."
Well, CNN is on the ground covering these stories from across the region. Our Hadas Gold is live in Jerusalem and senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is in Iran's capital Tehran. Good to see you both.
So, Fred, let's start with you. What is being made of this threat coming from the U.S. president, a man who just days ago said well, I hope there won't be war with Iran? Now we're seeing this threat via Twitter. What's going on here?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And the interesting part about it Rosemary, is that it comes as President Trump, as you said, at the end of last week continued to reiterate that he actually wants talks with the Iranians, that he wants to open some sort of back channel with the Iranians, possibly through the Swiss, to try to get talks with the Iranians going.
And also, quite frankly, as towards the end of last week, this whole standoff, this new standoff between the United States and Iran seemed to be ebbing off with both sides saying that they definitely don't want any sort of war to start.
Now all of this interestingly, this new tweet from the president has already led to some reaction from Tehran. A senior Iran Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Trump himself once called the United States a crippled body and surely, he must know that a crippled body can't do anything to Iran.
So, some pretty bold words there coming from the camp of the supreme leader. So, all of this that is unfolding now. Now also we saw some pretty strong rhetoric coming from the head of the IRGC, from the Revolutionary Guard Corps. This is something he said on Sunday before President Trump's tweet.
He once again reiterated that the Iranians don't want war but are prepared if a war happens. And he said that the difference between Iran as he put it and the United States, or as he put it Iran's enemies, is that Iran's enemies as he said are afraid of war.
He said America's courage ends where their fears for their lives start and that's why he believes that the Iranians are very well prepared for some sort of conflict.
But again, all of this coming amid an atmosphere where Iran's supreme leader late last week said that there would be no war with the United States. That's something we then consistently heard from other Iranian officials as well.
The president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, said this. And also, the foreign minister as well. One thing, however, Rosemary, that the Iranians keep saying is they keep saying at this point in time they are absolutely against any sort of negotiations with the Trump administration.
They say they believe that the policy of maximum pressure that the U.S. is exerting on Iran is like coercion and that's not an atmosphere that they say they want to be negotiating in, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Many thanks to our Fred Pleitgen reporting there live from Tehran. Let's go to Hadas Gold live in Jerusalem now. The talk of war with Iran, they are certainly on a war footing and then this effort to find peace in the Middle East at the same time a little schizophrenic here and there hasn't been very positive reaction to this. Certainly, the Palestinians don't think much of this. What can you tell us about this effort?
HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, Rosemary, this was announced yesterday from the White House. An economic workshop to be held on June 25th and June 26th in Bahrain where the White House will invite leaders, finance ministers from gulf states as well as private businesspeople as a way to try and find economic ways, innovation, bring in loans, bring in workshops to try and help the Palestinians move forward.
[03:04:56] The idea is to put the economics before the politics. The problem is for a lot of people in this region they believe that the political and the economic solution have to go hand in hand. You cannot separate them. But that is what the White House seems to think that they can do, put the economics and the politics will follow.
But as you noted, so far, we aren't getting the most positive reactions. A spokesperson for the Palestinian authority told us that they did not have any sort of direct reaction yet but did note that any sort of effort to do any of this without the political reality is futile and that they did know that they were invited to a similar conference in Washington last year and that they chose to stay away.
We also so far do not have any sort of comment from the Israelis. But the choice of location as well in Bahrain is very interesting because an Israeli official has not been in Bahrain for decades. It would be a very important moment to have an Israeli official in Bahrain for this conference.
But as we're hearing from the reaction so far, not the most positive reaction to this idea but there are some people who are saying this is at least a way for -- at least a way for at least something on the table, some people think it is in idea to put the horse before the carriage but we have yet to see any sort of official RSVP from either side here, Rosemary.
CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to Hadas Gold joining us there from Jerusalem and Fred Pleitgen in Tehran.
HOWELL: Back here in the United States President Trump was quick to blast a Republican Congressman for breaking ranks on the Mueller report.
CHURCH: In a series of tweets Michigan Congressman Justin Amash writes the president did in fact engage in impeachable conduct.
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 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
HOWELL: Boris, thank you. Let's now talk about this with James Davis. James, the dean of the School of Economics and Political Science at the University of St. Gallen, joining us this hour from Munich, Germany. Good to have you.
JAMES DAVIS, DEAN, UNIVERSITY OF ST. GALLEN: Good morning, George.
HOWELL: Let's start with Representative Amash, this lone Republican to call for impeachment and a long-time critic. This is important. Long-time critic of President Trump. This is not new coming from him. So, what is it about this particular Republican that he feels confident to speak his mind without worrying about President Trump's base turning on him?
DAVIS: Well, I mean, let's face it. This is a guy who was a founding member of the Freedom Caucus. He's in his fifth term. He certainly seems to be firmly established in his district. He comes out of the tea party movement.
And let's not forget that the tea party was basically formed out of a belief that there had been a disregard for constitutional checks and balances in the last administration. And so, I think this guy is really reflecting both the philosophy that
brought him to power and the belief of his constituents. And that gives him the ability to speak his mind. He is, however, not in the mainstream of the current Republican Party.
And it's interesting to see that even the members of the Freedom Caucus, even the people that came out of the tea party movement have become part of the party of Trump and seem to have forgotten the basic philosophy that led to their movement in the first place.
[03:10:01] HOWELL: So, there's always the question is what Amash is saying publicly, are there other Republican colleagues who might be thinking the same thing privately? Is Amash sort of a canary in the mine that there could be others to follow suit?
DAVIS: Well, I think it's clear that others think the same way. We've heard this from other members when they're speaking in a somewhat less guarded fashion.
But of course, as we get closer to the elections Republicans are afraid that if they come out against the president, if they take a hard line against the president on a policy issue or if they decide to actually stand up for the Constitution, and the constitutional provisions for checks and balances, that this Republican president will run somebody in the primaries against them, will fund a primary competitor.
And that's the fear. Right? That they're going to have to then raise more money to defend their seats and potentially lose. So, as we get closer to the election, the discipline within the Republican Party I think is going to be stronger, not weaker.
HOWELL: All right. So, keeping it in perspective, we are just talking about one Republican. It would take Democrats to get the ball rolling on impeachment, and right now it doesn't seem like that's a direction the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, wants to go.
So even as we're seeing Amash join the chorus of some other Democrats demanding impeachment, is it fair to say that that's a longshot if the speaker of the house doesn't want to go there?
DAVIS: Look, let's remember where we've been. We had the testimony of the former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates that basically pointed to obstruction of justice. We had the testimony of the former FBI Director Comey that pointed to obstruction of justice. We've had testimony from the former Trump lawyer Mr. Cohen who's now in jail pointing to obstruction of justice.
We've had the conflicting stories of members of the president's family, in particular Donald Trump, Jr., and we've had the Mueller report. If we have not yet been able to amass enough data or enough arguments to open impeachment proceedings, I think that tells us that it's not the substance of the matter that's driving the calculation of the speaker but rather the politics.
And so, Nancy Pelosi is going to keep her eye on what it takes to keep her Democratic majority as we move into this electoral system -- this electoral cycle and that's the same logic that's governing the Republicans.
So, I think what we have here is a political logic. At the moment it does appear that the speaker has some political capital to be gained by opening proceedings against the president, impeachment proceedings, she'll do that.
But until such time as she has reached that political judgment, I think she's going to continue to push for hearings, continue to push for oversight, but we won't hear that word impeachment.
HOWELL: So, you know, I'll start this last question the same way I started the other. Keeping it in perspective. We are just talking about one Republican. But we did see the U.S. president lash out on Twitter, slamming Amash. Should the president be worried to see, again, one Republican breaking rank?
DAVIS: I wonder about that. I mean, the president probably doesn't lash out unless some sort of a nerve has been hit. And I think probably what might be concerning the president is the fact that this is a Republican Congressman from the State of Michigan.
And Michigan is one of those critical swing states that the president needs to hold, needs to win in order to get over the special number in the electoral college in order to win re-election. And I think those are the kind of states, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania that are once again going to be the battleground.
And since this guy is a Congressman from Michigan, the president may wonder whether this is a bellwether for shifting in the sands of the Michigan electorate.
HOWELL: The U.S. president keenly aware watching Twitter, watching the reactions, and of course keeping an eye on this particular representative who seems to have gotten under his skin.
James Davis, thank you again for your time today.
DAVIS: Thanks, George.
CHURCH: Still to come, some college graduates in the U.S. State of Georgia have received the gift of a lifetime. Next, hear why this man decided to pay off the student loans totaling tens of millions of dollars. We'll show you after the break.
[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HOWELL: Well, this country fresh from elections. South Africa's former president is back in the courts.
CHURCH: Jacob Zuma is facing a week of hearings. They will determine whether he should face criminal trial on the list of charges including fraud and racketeering. Zuma's successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed to crack down on corruption.
And for more CNN's David McKenzie is live in Pietermaritzburg. Good to see you again, David. Many South Africans see this as part of a battle for the future of South Africa. What's at stake here?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot is at stake. Just a short time ago former President Jacob Zuma arrived in the court behind me with an entourage. He is facing these fraud, corruption, racketeering charges that stem from very old allegations against him from the '90s and involvement in a dodgy alleged scam involving an arms deal.
Since then, Rosemary, in South Africa there's been all manner of scandals and allegations of corruption both against Mr. Zuma and other members of the ANC. Why this is important? Well, first it could mean that they throw out the trial against him. That's what his defense will be seeking. But it's also crucially important for political South Africa. Rosemary.
CHURCH: So, Zuma keeps denying all of the accusations. So, what can we expect to come next?
MCKENZIE: Well, they're going to try to say the delays -- and excuse me, I know it's a bit noisy. They're feverishly cleaning the park next to me where supporters of Zuma are going to be in just a few minutes.
[03:19:56] But the delays they say are making this an unfair trial. This has gone on for many years. The irony of that is many say that it's Zuma's legal team that's tried to keep him out of a trial situation. Well, why is it important for South Africa?
In just a few days Cyril Ramaphosa will be named the president again. He has vowed to stamp out corruption. There is a deep division within the ruling party here. Zuma is seen as being in one side of that division of what critics say are those who use their power and status to loot the coffers of the state and state-owned enterprises, something they all deny over the years.
And the other side of that division are people like Cyril Ramaphosa who at least publicly says he wants to root out the graft that has cost this country at least $2 billion a year in its GDP, say analysts.
So, this is representative of the ongoing struggle in South Africa for the ANC to lead this country and the struggle against corruption.
Zuma, as I said, over the years has said he is completely innocent. But not just the case that they're hearing now, but for years and years there have been scandals against this man. They called him the Teflon president while he was in office, and for good reason, because he's managed to escape any kind of damages or punishment for his alleged crimes.
CHURCH: All right. David McKenzie, many thanks to you for giving us that live report. I appreciate it.
HOWELL: The European parliament elections will be held later this week, and the outcome could affect policy and leadership for the next five years.
CHURCH: Yes, the so-called Euroskeptic parties like Italy's far right league, see the election as a defining moment. Erin McLaughlin reports on the deputy prime minister's campaign against European Union rules.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In Milan, a show of support for Matteo Salvini, Italy's deputy prime minister and most popular politician. Salvini turned an obscure right-wing separatist party into a political movement. Now he's set his sights on the E.U.
This is the so-called league of leagues. An uneasy alliance of Europe's far-right. Strange bedfellows with very different political agendas united by nationalism and a disdain for the E.U.
MCLAUGHLIN: They say they're here to take on the system, poised to make record gains at this week's European parliamentary elections. Euroskeptic parties are projected to take a third of the seats even though they're accused of promoting racism, white supremacy, even fascism, allegations they deny. Salvini also rejects the label Euroskeptic.
MCLAUGHLIN: Some say that an alliance, a functioning alliance of the E.U.'s Euroskeptic parties is wishful thinking. How specifically do you intend to change the European Union?
MCLAUGHLIN: A message that resonates with many Italians who fear they're on the losing side of the Eurozone and Europe's migration policies. The fear of being left behind is acute in L'Aquila, Italy. Ten years on from a devastating earthquake the city struggles to rebuild what was lost.
L'Aquila once looked to the extreme left to fix its problems. Now it swings for Salvini. Even though Salvini once pushed for the north to cut financial ties to the south. Leaving places such as L'Aquila to languish. That makes no difference for Francesco De Santis. A self- described true believer.
FRANCESCO DE SANTIS, SECRETARY, LEGA YOUTH MOVEMENT: Salvini was the first politician in Italy that understand the importance of the discovery and defending the identity of Italian people and the European people.
MCLAUGHLIN: Do you question him at all?
DE SANTIS: No. No --
MCLAUGHLIN: Not at all?
DE SANTIS: No.
MCLAUGHLIN: Other Italians are less forgiving. A recent poll by Ipsos MORI shows support for Salvini has dropped from 37 percent to 30. The dip after Salvini made a series of moves further to the right. Including a Facebook post showing him holding a machine gun, advocating for gun rights. And an impromptu speech at a balcony infamously used by Benito Mussolini to watch the execution of his adversaries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCLAUGHLIN: Mr. Salvini, Erin from CNN. Can I ask you a few more questions?
[03:24:59] MCLAUGHLIN: You slipped in the polls recently. Why, why is that?
MCLAUGHLIN: Do you worry you've gone too far to the right?
MCLAUGHLIN: Do you worry about losing touch with the people of Italy?
MCLAUGHLIN: As Salvini looks further and further to the right, the outstanding question to be answered at the ballot box this week, will the rest of Europe follow?
Erin McLaughlin, CNN, Milan, Italy.
HOWELL: Erin, thank you for the reporting. And this programming note. CNN will bring you reporting from inside Yemen.
CHURCH: CNN's Sam Kiley travels 4,000 kilometers through Northern Yemen investigate the chronic food shortages that have left millions on the brink of starvation. It's known as the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He's almost a year old, but he's the weight of a baby at three months. These children are victims of a vicious circle. They're starving because of the siege of the port that supplies them and their rebel Houthi government's diversion of what little aid gets in. In Yemen now nearly everyone is short of food. MEKKIYAH AL-ASLAMI, HEAD OF THE ASIAN HEALTH UNIT (through
translator): Malnutrition isn't only a problem among the displaced and the host community. We have it too. Even us, the employees. Our children back home are malnourished.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Sam Kiley traveling some 250 miles through Northern Yemen to investigate. You won't want to miss that exclusive report. It airs Monday 8 p.m. in Hong Kong, 1 p.m. in London, 8 a.m. in New York, only here on CNN.
[03:30:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and of course all around the world. You are watching "CNN Newsroom." I'm Rosemary Church.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour. U.S. President Donald Trump is warning Iran against picking a fight with the United States. He says in a tweet that if Iran wants a conflict, it would mark the "official end of that country." In the meantime, the leader of Iran's revolutionary guards is repeating his nation's position that Iran does not seek war.
CHURCH: The White House says investment is at the core of its Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. The president's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, is directing the effort. It will 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.
HOWELL: A warning for people in my home state of Texas and other parts of Oklahoma. People took a beating there from tornadoes over the weekend, and they're in the path of another wave of violent storms. In the meantime, millions of people in Northeastern parts of the United States are being warned about possibly dangerous weather through Monday, including heavy rain and even the chance of tornadoes.
The 2019 graduating class at Morehouse College here in Atlanta, Georgia owes tens of millions of dollars in student debt, and lucky for them they will not have to pay a penny of it.
CHURCH: Isn't it great? 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 the generosity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT F. SMITH, ENTREPRENEUR AND PHILANTHROPIST: 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. (END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Joining now to talk more about this is the president of Morehouse College, David Thomas. Good to have you with us, sir.
DAVID THOMAS, PRESIDENT, MOREHOUSE COLLEGE: It's great to be here.
HOWELL: Look, the question I think everyone wants to know, did you know that this was going to happen?
THOMAS: I had no idea.
THOMAS: I had no idea.
HOWELL: What was your reaction when you heard it?
THOMAS: Amazement, gratitude, and excitement for what this means for our students.
HOWELL: It's pretty significant.
THOMAS: Very significant. You know, our students leave with probably on average about $26,000 to $30,000 of debt. Some far exceed that. And, you know, people ask me how would I characterize the gift, and I characterize it as a liberation gift, because it frees these young men up to make choices driven by their passion and their interests.
Many of our students want to go into education. We know there's a need for black male teachers in schools. But Morehouse is the kind of place where they get lots of opportunities to go for jobs that pay much more. And some do so because they need to service the debt. Others want to go directly to graduate school but they delay it because they need to service this debt. So this really liberates them to follow their passions.
CHURCH: And it's an extraordinary gesture on the part of Robert Smith, isn't it, and his family to do this for these nearly 400 students.
THOMAS: That's right.
CHURCH: Have you ever seen anything like this happen? And talk to us a little bit more about the ramifications and how it impacts some of these kids.
THOMAS: Yeah. So I've been in Academia as a professor, a dean of faculty, and a dean of a business school and now president of Morehouse College for 33 years. I've seen lots of graduations. I've raised hundreds of millions of dollars. And I've never seen a gift like this. And for sure, I've never seen an announcement like this.
HOWELL: It surprised a lot of people. THOMAS: It surprised a lot of people. It surprised us.
HOWELL: It surprised Elijah Dormeus, who was a student there. Let's listen to what he had to say about this.
THOMAS: All right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIJAH DORMEUS, MOREHOUSE COLLEGE 2019 GRADUATE: My plan before was basically, you know, work in sales, be like top salesman.
[03:35:02] It's still a goal, still will 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 loan. 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: And, you know, he talked about during that speech, Smith's speech, he talked about how Smith described the hard work that he put into his career --
HOWELL: -- and talked about how it's important to pay it forward and then announced he's paying it forward.
HOWELL: What does it mean for these students to have such an incredible gift?
THOMAS: Again, I think what it means for them is being liberated to follow their dreams. And the reality is most of these students have accumulated this debt over the last four years. Student loans operate in a way that you don't have to pay until you're done with school. So they actually have no experience of what it means to have to pay this debt out of their after-tax salaries once they're out. They have no idea, most of them.
So -- and if you also think about it from the vantage point of wealth accumulation, which is important for the black community, there are many young people who don't contribute to their 401(k)s while they're in their 20s because they're paying down the debt. And if you reach my age and you look back 40 years, that first 10 years of not putting anything into your retirement --
HOWELL: It matters.
THOMAS: It matters.
CHURCH: Yeah. THOMAS: So this is more than just paying off the debt, this is also about wealth accumulation. These young men are part of the black community where we know there's a wealth gap. Even if you have a job, there's still a wealth gap. So this is tremendous.
CHURCH: And for a lot of our viewers overseas, they're amazed at how much Americans pay for education because in some countries, in Germany, you don't pay.
HOWELL: That's right.
CHURCH: In Australia, we didn't pay. I didn't pay for my university education. They do now. But it's about a third of the cost that Americans pay.
CHURCH: It just blows your mind what students in this country need to pay. And they're still paying off their loans by their 40s, aren't they? So when Robert Smith talks about paying it forward and he expects that from these students now that he's given them this incredible gift, what exactly does that mean? What is he expecting them to do?
THOMAS: What that means is he's challenging them to be generous in helping others behind them. He's challenging them to support Morehouse College as alumni by giving. He's challenging them to support their community by giving.
The reality is that the average Morehouse student will wind up being in the top five percent of individuals in this country by income by the time they're 50 years old. That's a great thing.
THOMAS: Now they have to take responsibility for helping others. And I think Robert Smith challenged them to do that starting now.
HOWELL: And Robert Smith, you know, he typically does these things quite quietly.
THOMAS: Very quietly.
HOWELL: So, you know, it's just an incredible gift from him and what a tremendous gift to these students. David Thomas, thank you again for taking time with us.
THOMAS: All right. Thank you.
CHURCH: Thank you so much.
THOMAS: All right. Thank you.
CHURCH: And one of the world's most prestigious military academies is preparing to make history later this week.
HOWELL: Thirty-four African-American women are expected to graduate from West Point. That is the largest class of black women to graduate together in that school's history. This year's class will also include the highest number of female Hispanic graduates.
CHURCH: That's an impressive photo right there.
CHURCH: Coming up, it is over. "Game of Thrones" ends its run with someone new in power. Get ready for spoilers.
[03:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: In the coming hour, Ecuadorian officials are expected to seize the personal belongings of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where Assange took refuge for seven years. Now, the search was requested by the United States. Assange's legal team believes the confiscated items will ultimately be handed over to American authorities.
HOWELL: The founder of Wikileaks is currently serving a prison sentence for skipping bail in the United Kingdom. He faces extradition requests from the United States and from Sweden, which had just submitted a court application to officially detain Assange. That in turn could provoke an extradition from the United Kingdom.
Let's bring in CNN's Phil Black. Phil is following the story in London outside the Ecuadorian Embassy. And Phil, is there any indication of exactly what sort of things Assange could have left behind there?
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, when Julian Assange was bundled out of the embassy back in April, he didn't really have a chance to grab any of his possessions or belongings and take them with him and it seems the British police may have not taken everything either. So whatever remains, that's what -- that's what this team of Ecuadorian forensic experts will be searching through and seizing today.
Now, we know from the documents from Ecuador's attorney general that this is all taking place at the request of the United States. So what they are looking for is information either in hard copy or electronic form. And you're right, Wikileaks, Assange, their lawyers, they fear that this will be handed over to American authorities. They also fear that it could be tampered with in some way.
Essentially, they've been trying to stop this because they believe that this action today, this search and seizure tramples over, they say, a host of Assange's fundamental rights and freedoms including rights to privacy and right to defense and so forth.
More than that, they believe that it represents a further betrayal of the whole asylum process because Assange entered this embassy seven years ago seeking protection from the American government. Now they say the Ecuadorian government is complicit, is collaborating with America as it continues they say to persecute Julian Assange.
[03:44:58] HOWELL: And Phil, just reminding our viewers where Assange is right now and what's to happen next with him.
BLACK: So Julian Assange is now in a London prison. He is serving time for breaching bail conditions. That was the breach that took place when he walked into the embassy and refused to come out for seven years. After his detention, we learned that America is seeking his extradition for stealing important secrets. That extradition process is being examined by a British court as we speak.
And just today it seems that Swedish authorities are now seeking to have Assange returned to Sweden to face a rape charge. That was -- the potential charge there was what led him to enter the embassy in the first place. The Swedish prosecutor has sought permission from a court to rule that he should be detained in absentia. If that happens, then a Swedish prosecutor could ask for a European arrest warrant.
And then you'd have a situation where you have essentially dueling extradition requests, one from the United States and one from Sweden. Assuming that they are both found to be legal and reasonable, then it would come down essentially to the British government and specifically the British home secretary to decide which of those should go ahead, George.
HOWELL: Phil Black, live for us in London following the story. Phil, thank you.
CHURCH: Well, turning now to Egypt where an explosion that apparently targeted a tour bus has wounded at least 14 people.
HOWELL: This happening on Sunday near the pyramids of Giza. State media reporting there that a device exploded close to the bus. That bus was carrying 25 South African visitors. Egypt's ministry of tourism called it a minor explosion. No word yet on who's responsible.
CHURCH: And in India, some 900 million eligible people have just wrapped up voting in the world's largest democratic election. They cast ballots for the 545-seat lower house of Parliament called the Lok Sabha.
HOWELL: And many see this election as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who won in a landslide in 2014. The official results are expected on Thursday.
CHURCH: Game over. One of entertainment's most successful series ever reaches the end of the line. And we will go back to Westeros one last time.
[03:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: It's the day millions of fans dreaded. "Game of Thrones" is over.
HOWELL: Its wildly successful eight-year run on HBO came to an end on Sunday as someone new seized power, the iron throne.
CHURCH: Among those dissecting the last episode, CNN's senior media and entertainment writer Brian Lowry, who is a huge fan of the show, as am I, and he joins us live from Los Angeles. Great to see you.
BRIAN LOWRY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT WRITER: Thank you.
CHURCH: Let's repeat again before we begin, spoiler alert to all those "Game of Thrones" fans who have not yet seen the series final, finale, block your ears, close your eyes, walk out of the room, whatever you need to do. We are about to discuss who won the game of thrones. Are you ready?
So Brian, not many people saw this one coming, right? And not many fans are happy about the ending. What did you think of that ending and who ended up taking over?
LOWRY: Well, I said -- you know, when you think about hot takes, saying it is fine, isn't the hottest of hot takes, but I kind of thought it was fine. I did have a problem with the pacing in the last couple of episodes leading up to it. I thought the first 40 minutes or so of the finale were very strong.
And then after the big death, which I guess we are going to talk about, I felt like it was a little bit anti-climactic after that. So it's not -- by no means a one for the ages finale. Not a great finale. But for me it was not an entirely satisfying finale.
CHURCH: Right. And of course the storyline of episode six was leaked online last week and fans were furious. That's even before it aired, right? So how will they deal with this surprise ending, do you think, and the demise of Dany?
LOWRY: Well, I think some of the fans have not been dealing with any of this very well. Obviously, a lot of people were very upset with sort of the arc of Daenerys's character this season. And there was a speech in this last episode that Peter Dinklage's character delivered, Tyrion, which I really think helped a lot in sort of explaining where she had gone.
It's only too bad they didn't do that three or four episodes ago. If they had laid more groundwork for it, I think they would have spared themselves some headaches and some criticism later on.
CHURCH: Yeah. That was a powerful speech. And basically you won't be born to power going forward, you will earn it, you will be chosen for that position, right? A real plug for democracy.
CHURCH: A lot of fans were so upset last week with episode five when Daenerys went mad and as you said mercilessly burned most of king's landing along with many innocent people. Hundreds of thousands of viewers signed a petition for a do-over of the whole of season eight. They were so angry with the writers and producers. What upset them the most, do you think? And how were they hoping this would end? Were they looking for a Hollywood ending here? I mean, after investing eight years of their lives, they surely realized that was not where this was going.
LOWRY: Well, I think you just said the magic word really, which is they'd invested eight years of their lives. And, you know, you see this with some of these big franchises. I think "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" was another example of this where people get very tied up in it. They spend a lot of time coming up with scenarios on the way they think this is going to go. And when it doesn't go the way they anticipate, they get ticked off.
In this case, I think it also went back into some issues the show has had throughout its run about the way that it deals with female characters. I think it strengthened those characters dramatically the last couple of seasons.
[03:55:01] And the arc with Daenerys and Cersei and Brienne also this season, a lot of people were saying oh boy, there they go again.
CHURCH: Yeah, I think that was it. I think the demise of Daenerys was the thing that really upset people the most. And therapists are offering their services to "Game of Thrones" fans who need help getting over the show coming to an end, but also the way it ended.
How often does that happen with long-running shows like this? And what was it about this show that people got so invested in the characters and the storyline?
LOWRY: Well, I think the show -- first off, I think if you need a therapist when a T.V. show ends, there may be more going on than just the T.V. show ending. But as far as the show, I really think the "Game of Thrones" was a show that brought the scope and scale of a theatrical blockbuster to television.
So it had the big serialized storyline with dozens of characters that you could get sucked into like "The Sopranos" or "The Wire" or any of the great HBO dramas, and then staged it on a level in this mythical world that really no one had ever seen done quite that way for T.V. before.
LOWRY: It set the bar on that level enormously high. And I think a lot of networks and streaming services are going to lose a lot of money trying to come up with something like it.
CHURCH: All right. Brian Lowry, great to talk with you. Appreciate it.
LOWRY: All right. Thank you.
HOWELL: All good things come to an end, right?
CHURCH: Yep, they do.
HOWELL: And we end this show with one of our colleagues who is ending his career in retirement, Doug McKinney (ph). Doug was a copy editor here for "CNN Newsroom." He was with CNN for 13 years. This is his last day, and we are going to miss him.
CHURCH: Yes. Well done, Doug. Thank you for everything you've given us. And thank you for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church.
HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. Doug, thank you. Thank you for being with us for "Newsroom." Have a great day.