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Report: U.K. Welfare Cuts Causing Families to Go Hungry; Cubans Experiencing Food Crisis; Trump May Have Revealed U.S. Intel in TV Comments. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired May 21, 2019 - 00:00   ET




ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone, thank you for joining us. I'm Anna Coren. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Ahead, this, hour mixed messages in the standoff between Trump and Tehran. One Iranian official calls the U.S. president crazy and his administration confused.

A major blow to Huawei and its bid to become the world's top smartphone brand. Google responds to the Trump administration's blacklisting of the Chinese tech giant.

And dangerous weather in the central United States. People told to take cover as tornadoes strike.


COREN: The U.S. president has been tweeting a lot these past days, attacking Democrats, Cuba, promoting rallies but Donald Trump keeps coming back to one of his favorite targets, Iran. This Sunday he threatened to turn a Twitter war into a real war.

"If Iran wants to, fight that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again."

Iran's foreign minister tweeted back, saying his country survived past conquerors. He wrote, "Economic terrorism and genocidal taunts won't end Iran. #NeverThreatenAnIranian," and, "Try respect. It works!"

Trump had more to say on Twitter, denying the U.S. was trying to set up a negotiation with Iran. He also told reporters that Iran was a, quote, "number one provocateur of terror," this despite indicating there was no specific threat.


TRUMP: We have no indication that anything's happened or will happen. But if it does, it will be met obviously with great force. We'll have no choice.


COREN: All this comes after the U.S. sent warships to the Middle East, citing an Iranian threat. Iran responded by saying it would abandon parts of the nuclear deal and claims it has increased uranium enrichment capacity.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Tehran and spoke exclusively with a senior Iranian diplomat.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Iranians have shown themselves to be quite angry at some of the bellicose tweets that Trump has sent out recently.

However, they also seem to show themselves fairly unfazed by a lot of the rhetoric that as in those tweets. I spoke to one of Iran's most senior diplomats and he said that, at this point in time, Iran is not considering changing its ways. And certainly, at this point in time, does not want to go to the negotiating table with the Trump White House.


PLEITGEN: President Trump last night tweeted that if Iran wants to fight it would be the end of Iran.

What's your comment on that?

HOSSEIN AMIRABDOLLAHIAN, IRANIAN PARLIAMENT (through translator): He's got no idea what the culture and the authority of the Iranian people. Trump wants to control us through tweets and threats. The Islamic revolution in Iran have shown that he cannot talk to Iran through threats.

If he thinks by bringing in some aircraft carriers and bombers he can take advantage of Iran and to force Iran to negotiate for an unequal position, he's wrong. But when their ships get close to us, it's a threat to them. We never welcome war but we stand steadfast.

PLEITGEN: What President Trump is saying is that he would like Iran to pick up the phone and call him.

Why not?

AMIRABDOLLAHIAN (through translator): Trump can discuss talking to Iran through a phone when he does not use the language of threat and force. He can talk about phoning us when he goes back to the nuclear agreement.

And he needs to ensure that neither know the next president will renege on the agreement. In his mind, Trump thinks he has a gun to Iran's head with sanctions and he is trying to shut down our economy. This is all in his imagination. Now he wants us to call him? This is a crazy president.


PLEITGEN: So some pretty clear words come from one of Iran's most senior diplomats. The Iranian messaging has been fairly consistent over the past days and weeks, since this new standoff between the U.S. and Iran started.

The Iranians are saying on the one hand they don't want an escalation, they don't want a war with the United States. But on the other hand they are saying that if it does come to that, that they are ready and that it will be painful, not just for the U.S. interests here in this region but for the region as a whole -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Tehran.


COREN: Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He joins us from Washington.

Great to have you with us. Mixed messages coming out of Washington. Especially from --


COREN: -- the president. One minute, he is talking up war, saying if Iran wants to fight that will be the official end of Iran. Then the next he is playing down tensions, saying there are no signs of threatening action from Tehran.

What is Donald Trump's strategy, if he has one?

BEHNAM BEN TALEBLU, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: I think the strategy is the max pressure campaign, which is using all elements of U.S. national power, diplomatic, political, informational, even military, to get Iran back to the negotiating table.

That does not mean the U.S. is looking to start a war. In fact, if you look at U.S. posture and rhetoric, how fiery it, is it is looking to stem a war, to stop a war from even happening.

So in this vein, I think the president is facing an audience problem where, in the U.S. side, he wants to tamp down any fears that there could be a conflict. On the Iranian side, he's trying to make sure that these increased sanctions and military positioning in the region is taken seriously.

The problem is the Iranians are aware of what the president is saying to the domestic auctioned here and that can, over time, undercut the efficacy of U.S. deterrence. COREN: So you believe that Donald Trump does not want war. It would seem that his administration is slightly split. His national security adviser John Bolton has long advocated for a regime change in Iran.

But you think Donald Trump does not want war?

TALEBLU: That's correct. If you look at U.S. policy towards Iran, it is dealing entirely with the regime's foreign and security policy in the near abroad and as well as key functional threat areas like the nuclear program or the cyber program or the missile program. These all have to do with the regime's behavior.

Now in fact it would behoove the administration to marry some of its rhetoric in support of the Iranian people, which has been admirable, with similar actions. But no, this is a strict behavior change approach, in my view.

COREN: Does President Trump view Iran the same way he looked at North Korea?

There is threats, an escalation of tensions, two countries on the brink of war and then the door opens to diplomacy.

TALEBLU: That is a great question. Both countries have been subject to a quote-unquote "maximum pressure campaign." And the North Korean example could be instructive for the administration not to prematurely undercut the efficacy of its sanctions with some kind of diplomacy that may take the wind out of some of the economic penalties that the U.S. is now able to score against Iran.

If anything, Washington should look for indicators of macroeconomic contraction and political duress in Iran if the Iranians do want to come back to the negotiating table. But North Korea and Tehran are two nuclear inclined rogue states that have shared ballistic missile technology, that know how to best Washington at the negotiating table.

And I'm sure that they share talking points and secrets. But the U.S. approach I think is different, despite sharing the initial max pressure campaign cover.

COREN: Let me ask you, will that strategy work?

We have heard from the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif. He has dismissed the taunts. He says Iranians have stood tall for millennia, while aggressors all gone. Try respect, it works.

Should Trump be listening?.

TALEBLU: I think if there's anyone that should be trying respect, it is the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran toward its own people. Yes, the Iranian people have stood tall for several millennia against foreign and domestic oppressors.

One thing this administration I think has done quite admirably is to accentuate the cleavage between the Iranian state and the Iranian society because there is a natural chasm, a natural cleavage there. That being said, there are things that the administration does need to

do to be able to make sure Tehran and Iran's leaders there understand that Washington is serious about getting Iran back to the negotiating table.

COREN: There are reports from Iranian state media that the country has increased fourfold its production of low enriched uranium. Tell us the significance of that.

And where does this lead?

TALEBLU: Iran is looking to signal that it, too, has escalation options. On May 8th, President Rouhani unveiled two 60-day timelines for Iran to gradually increase its nuclear program.

During the first timeline, Iran would be looking to accumulate excess heavy water and excess low enriched uranium above the threshold the JCPOA nuclear deal provides Iran to be able to store at home.

So Iran would essentially not be selling the surplus material and be adding redundancy into itself program and to be able to alter breakout timelines because of its excess low enriched uranium.

This Iranian highly public statement about reconfiguring some of its centrifuges without adding new machines is designed to be able to make good on that threat.

COREN: We know that European countries are desperate to keep the nuclear deal alive. Iran has --


COREN: -- given them until the end of June.

Is it possible?

TALEBLU: In some, ways it is worth noting, that the Iran nuclear deal is already dead because it was never designed to live on without any major component, whether the Europeans, Iranians or Americans not being a party to the deal.

In fact, all are required for the deal to be fully functioning. Now the Iranians are continuing to abide by it, because they think they can outlast the Trump administration's max pressure campaign.

The goal for Europe is to balance Washington and Tehran while living up to the desire to push back on Iran and the region and do something more comprehensive when it comes to the Iranian missile program.

So I think Europeans definitely have a tough challenge. But I think if their goal is to bypass American sanctions, then they will fail.

COREN: Behnam Ben Taleblu, great to get your perspective. Thanks so much for joining us.

TALEBLU: Thank you so much. COREN: Against the backdrop of an escalating trade war, China's telecommunication giant Huawei faces a new challenge from the United States. Google is limiting the software services it provides.

Last, week a White House order banned U.S. companies from doing business with them. The Commerce Department loosened those restrictions somewhat on Monday. Meanwhile, Samuel Burke breaks down how the Google move could affect Huawei's smartphone owners.


SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Consumers all around the world are now caught in the crosshairs of U.S.-China tensions. Huawei phone owners may have their devices rendered useless, as Google starts restricting access to Android in order to comply with new directives from the Trump administration.

So let's walk through how this could affect you if you have a device from Huawei, the second largest smartphone maker in the world.

First of all, Huawei users may not be able to upgrade to the latest Android updates, keeping their devices stuck in the past. Users may also be cut off from apps and services, like Google Maps, Gmail and YouTube. And that will in turn cut them off from services like ride hailing and food delivery apps relying on services like Google Maps, which may not be available anymore.

These new rules from the Trump administration don't just have the potential to hit Huawei in China hard. It's already hurting U.S. businesses, like Qualcomm, whose stock was down more than 5 percent at times during trading Monday.

That is because Huawei buys chips from American companies like Qualcomm and Intel as well software from Google and Microsoft. In all last year, Huawei spent $11 billion on products from dozens of U.S. businesses, making moves from the Trump administration painful for China, the U.S. and everyone caught between them.


COREN: Samuel Burke with that report.

A judge in Washington has ordered Trump's accountants to turn over his financial records to Congress. The judge said Mr. Trump is subject to the same legal standards as anyone else. The president is expected to appeal.

That's not the only dispute the president has with the U.S. House. He told the former White House counsel to ignore them and one of its Republican members says Mr. Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. Jim Acosta has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. McGahn, was it a mistake -- JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a

dramatic attempt to block Democrats from conducting their own Russia investigation, the Trump administration is rejecting the House Judiciary Committee's subpoena for the testimony of former White House counsel Don McGahn on Tuesday.

In a letter to the committee's chairman, Democrat Jerry Nadler, the current White House counsel argues that McGahn is immune from that subpoena, adding, "In order to protect the prerogatives of the Office of the Presidency, the president has directed Mr. McGahn not to appear at the committee's scheduled hearing."

McGahn has already infuriated the president, declining to state publicly that Mr. Trump did not commit obstruction of justice. He's also told federal investigators in the Russia probe that he refused to follow instructions by Mr. Trump to get rid of special counsel Robert Mueller.

It's a charge the president has denied but he hasn't gone as far as to say that McGahn committed perjury.

ACOSTA: Mr. President, is there a situation that you could see where Don McGahn is charged with perjury?

You seem to be contradicting what he is saying.

TRUMP: I don't want to talk about that now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that is better for --

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president has been busy beating back another member of his party, Justin Amash, the first Republican congressman to accuse Mr. Trump of impeachable offenses, who started this tweetstorm over the weekend, first tweeting, "Mueller's report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment."

Then doubling down today, "They say obstruction of justice requires an underlying crime. In fact, obstruction of justice does not require the prosecution of an underlying crime."

The president fired back, tweeting that he was, quote, "never a fan of Justin Amash, a total lightweight. Justin is a loser, who sadly plays right into our opponents' hands."

GOP leaders are backing Mr. Trump.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), MINORITY LEADER: Now you've got to understand Justin Amash. He's been in Congress quite some time. I think he's only ever asked one question in all the committees that he's been in. He votes more with Nancy Pelosi than --


MCCARTHY: -- he ever votes with me. ACOSTA (voice-over): The president is continuing another war of words with Iran, tweeting, "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again."

Mr. Trump turned to FOX to justify the brinkmanship.

TRUMP: I just don't want them to have nuclear weapons. And they can't be threatening us. And you know, with all of everything that's going on -- and I'm not one that believes -- you know, I'm not somebody that wants to go into war, because war hurts economies, war kills people, most importantly, by far, most importantly.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Iran's foreign minister responded to the president that military action against his country would be a mistake, tweeting, "Try respect. It works."


ACOSTA (voice-over): The president is also mad at FOX News for hosting a town hall with Democrat Pete Buttigieg, tweeting, "FOX is moving more and more to the losing wrong side in covering the Dems," though the president appears to be more concerned with former Vice President Joe Biden, who holds a commanding lead over the Democratic field.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Trump inherited an economy from Obama-Biden administration that was given to him, just like he inherited everything else in his life. And just like -- just like everything else he's been given in his life, he's in the process of squandering that as well.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


COREN: Larry Sabato is the founder and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. He joins us from Charlottesville, Virginia.

Larry, great to have you with us. A federal judge has ruled that the president's accounting must turn over his financial records to Congress. Trump has called the decision crazy and obviously announces he will appeal.

But should he be worried?

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: He should be worried because it is not just one year. It is multiple years of his returns. And, of course, every other president has done this since the 1970s voluntarily. This is very late. And depending on how long the appeals last, it could even land during the campaign of 2020 in the fall of that year.

So this could be a serious matter for the president, yes.

COREN: As you say, it could affect the 2020 campaign.

Does the president and his legal team have a case to appeal?

SABATO: They have a case to appeal. They have enough of a case to prolong this. And that is their sole goal. I think they have realized, certainly Trump has realized that at some point, he will have to turn over tax returns but he is quite confident, maybe foolishly so, that he can stretch this past the November 2020 election.

At that point it will not matter, whether he wins or loses. He could release the returns, though of course if people find anything illegal, then law enforcement would have something to say.

COREN: The ruling came just hours after the former White House counsel, Don McGahn, was directed by the Trump administration to not appear before a congressional committee on Tuesday. Democrats obviously hoped he would be a sound witness in their investigations whether Trump had obstructed justice.

This is blatant stonewalling, is it not?

SABATO: Absolutely. And it is astonishing because executive privilege by the Trump White House is being stretched to cover ex- employees. McGahn is a private citizen. And one would think this would be up to him, that he would not be subject to a directive from the White House.

COREN: Larry, the president's legal fights seem to be intensifying. Obviously Donald Trump, his three oldest children and his company are trying to sit block a subpoena seeking bank records from Deutsche Bank and Capitol One. A federal judge is to hear that case on Wednesday. You would have to say that Democrats are trying everything to apply maximum pressure.

SABATO: Yes, they are. And they should; after all, we are more than halfway through Trump's term or first term as president. So this is late but, of course, the Democrats just took over the House of Representatives last November. But I think again, this will be a judgment for the courts. Personally, I hope the judgment is that the records have to be turned over because it is already very late.

COREN: Larry, we've heard from this rogue Republican, Justin Amash. He declared Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. It is obviously a very bold move.

But could other Republicans join him?

Or do you think they fear Trump's retribution?

SABATO: Anything is possible. But if you made any bet today, I would bet that he would have no companions. He's probably going to be on a little island by himself. He is a very unusual individual, iconoclastic, idiosyncratic. He is really a libertarian more than he is a Republican. So you have to admire him for doing what he's done because he has

brought turmoil into his life and maybe the end to his political career in his own district. But he made an independent judgment and that is what the Founders intended.

COREN: Finally, Larry, obviously Donald Trump held a rally in Pennsylvania a few hours ago, just days after Joe Biden was there. It would appear from some polls that Biden has an edge on him --


COREN: -- in that key state.

Is Trump say starting to feel the heat?

SABATO: I think he is concerned and his people are concerned about Pennsylvania and also Michigan and maybe some other states that Trump carried in 2016. We have a long time to go before the election. But the fact that Trump is focusing so heavily on Pennsylvania means, first of all, he thinks the odds are Biden would be the nominee for the Democrats, opposing him. And second, that he has a lot of work to if he will carry Pennsylvania again, which he won by 1 percent of the vote.

COREN: Larry Sabato, always great to speak to you. Many thanks.

SABATO: Thank you, Anna.

COREN: Next on CNN NEWSROOM, millions in the U.S. are under serious threat of tornadoes as a second round of violent storms moves in. And later this hour, how welfare cuts have left thousands of families in the U.K. without enough food to eat.




COREN: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM, live from Hong Kong.

Violent storms that formed Monday resulted in at least two large and extremely dangerous tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service. One was reported in Oklahoma, the other in Texas. Residents are being urged to take cover. Reports warned of damage to homes and businesses, adding that destruction was possible; 2 million people are in harm's way.



COREN: The results are in. Indonesia's Joko Widodo has been reelected president. The incumbent won 55.5 percent of the vote, according to the country's election commission. The votes will be finalized on Wednesday. Nearly 193 million people were eligible to cast a ballot. The

election was billed as one of the most complicated single-day ballots ever undertaken. His hardline opponent, who has not conceded, has vowed to contest the results.

There is more political turmoil in Austria. A government official has been targeted for dismissal ahead of European parliamentary elections later this week. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has recommended the nation's far right interior minister be fired. The right wing is threatening to resign from government, if he does.

This allows the ouster of Austria's vice chancellor on Saturday.

At the center the controversy, a video that appears to show a well connected Russian woman being offered government contracts.

And there has been another milkshake attack in England. This time the victim was Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who is campaigning in Newcastle.

Milkshakes appear to be the new weapon of choice as right-wing politicians stump for U.K. seats in the European parliament. The man arrested for the attack says he was protesting what he calls Farage's racism. For the record, Farage ended up wearing a banana and salted caramel shake.

Next on CNN NEWSROOM, why an increasing number of people in the U.K. are going without food, according to a human rights watch group.




COREN: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Coren. The headlines this hour.

[00:30:07] Iran says it has increased uranium enrichment capacity and notified the International Atomic Energy Agency. The news comes amid a Twitter war with U.S. President Donald Trump. He wrote Sunday, "If Iran wants to fight, it will be the official end of the country."

Google is restricting Huawei's access to its Android operating system and apps. This follows last week's White House order banning U.S. companies from doing business with the Chinese telecommunications giant.

The U.S. Commerce Department eased some of those restrictions on Monday.

Former White House counsel Don McGahn will not testify before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. The Trump administration instructed him to refuse the House subpoena, saying McGahn has immunity.

Committee chair Jerry Nadler says McGahn faces serious consequences if he does not show up.

In a damning new report, Human Rights Watch says changes made to the U.K.'s welfare system have led to massive food shortages for the country's poor. The report accuses the government of violating human rights laws by allowing these families to go hungry. U.K. officials called the findings misleading. Our Bianca Nobilo reports.


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Driving through affluent West London, the poverty isn't immediately obvious.

BILLY MCGRANAGHAN, FOUNDER OF DAD'S HOUSE CHARITY: Beautiful, beautiful houses. But around the corner, there's a house on the street where families are on universal credit, and they don't have anything.

NOBILO: Billy McGranaghan has been delivering food aid in this part of London for years. The situation, he says, is getting worse.

MCGRANAGHAN: When you actually see the poverty, it's children. And they haven't enough. Now, it does get to you.

NOBILO: Campaigners argue it's a breach of the U.K. government's human rights obligations to ensure adequate food.

KARTIK RAJ, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: The United Kingdom is the country with the fifth largest economy in the world. It really beggars belief that, in this country, increasing numbers, year on year, of families are going hungry, without food.

NOBILO: In just the past five years, the country's largest food bank charity has recorded an increase of close to 50 percent. It's now delivering nearly 1.6 million emergency food parcels a year.

RAJ: In addition to being a legal question, it's also a simple moral question, is "Is it appropriate for government to stand by as families go hungry and just wait for charities to step in and fill the gap?"

NOBILO (voice-over): The Human Rights Watch report is damning. It gives several examples of single mothers skipping meals so that their children have something to eat. One mother said, "You feel weak. But you just get used to it."

(voice-over): The charity directly links the rising levels of food poverty to the U.K. government's austerity drive over the past decade, an issue that's proved a flash point in British politics.

JEREMY CORBYN, U.K. OPPOSITION LEADER: Austerity has failed and needs to end now. Will she apologize for her broken promise that she was going to end austerity?

THERESA MAY, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: Debt has fallen. Austerity is ending. Under the Conservatives, the hard work of the British people is paying off.

NOBILO: In a statement, the U.K. government spokesperson has dismissed the latest criticism, describing the report as misleading.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "We're helping parents to move into work to give families the best opportunity to move out of poverty. And it's working. Unemployment is at a record high, and children growing up in working households are five times less likely to be in relative poverty."

NOBILO: For those relying on food aid now, the government's words are of little comfort.

MCGRANAGHAN: A lot of families can't -- can't afford electricity. They can't afford to cook when they do get the food banks.

NOBILO: A situation, he says, that's unlikely to change any time soon.

Bianca Nobilo, CNN, London.


COREN: Well, now to Cuba, where the communist-run island is struggling with food shortages of its own. For, weeks Cubans have complained of empty store shelves, and fights have even broken out in markets when chicken and other hard-to-find items are on sale. Our Patrick Oppmann explains what is causing the food crisis.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Juana (ph) leaves her Old Havana apartment to see what there is at the bodega. That's what Cubans call these small neighborhood markets that carry products subsidized by the government.

The options have always been scarce. But these days, Juana (ph) says there is less and less for people like her. Juana (ph) is retired, with a government pension of about $12 a month, and she washes laundry for her neighbors so she can afford to eat.

"If you work, you don't get anything," she says. "When you go to a market, there's nothing. That people who buy to resell take everything."

Facing the worst food shortages in years, the Cuban government is implementing even stricter rationing on increasingly hard-to-find products like chicken, eggs and soap. The government blames the shortages on increased U.S. sanctions. But the slow collapse of their ally Venezuela, which sends Cuba most of the island's supply of oil, is also taking a toll.

[00:35:21] Cuba imports most of the food its citizens consume, and the government has a monopoly on those imports.

Cuban officials have told the populist to remain calm. Every day, though, there are longer lines at this government-run supermarket, which charges for mostly imported goods at prices far beyond what many Cubans can afford to pay. Hoarding of products is increasing as fears grow that a severe economic crisis is on the horizon.

(on camera): So there are several hundred people here who have been here for hours waiting, because the word has gotten out that there will be chicken at this market.

I got a message on a social media app called Donde Hay Comida (ph), where is their food? The problem is, though, even if you get here, you have to get here early to make sure you're on the right place in line, because by the time you get inside, there may be none left.

(voice-over): For many Cubans, this has become a daily ritual: waiting in line for hours to buy a single item.

"I've been here for an hour. Other people since 5 a.m.," Eratamus (ph) tells me. On Mother's Day, I came at 9 a.m. and left at 4 p.m. It's too many hours."

The shortages came, coincidentally, as the government finally gave humans widespread access to mobile Internet, for the first time allowing frustrated consumers to post their photos on social media of endless lines and even the occasional fight breaking out.

For people on the bottom, like Juana (ph), the answer to the crisis seems to be more government rationing so that everyone gets their share.

"It's very expensive. Fruit is so expensive. Everything is," she says. "It's because of the people who resell things. There should be a law making them lower the prices."

Food shortages that, despite near total government control, are now out of control.

Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


COREN: Next on CNN NEWSROOM, did U.S. president Donald Trump reveal intelligence secrets during a TV interview? We'll look at the possible fallout. That's next.


COREN: Donald Trump is known for his unguarded moments, and it seems the U.S. president may have once again spilled U.S. secrets, leaving some to wonder what his own so intelligence officials and other countries will be willing to share with him. CNN's Brian Todd reports.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As president, Donald Trump has access to America is most sensitive secret intelligence. And while he may not always believe all the intelligence he is given, he's not afraid to talk about getting at. DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know,

sometimes, intelligence is good. And sometimes you look at Comey, and you look at Brennan, and you look at Clapper, and I'm supposed to believe that intelligence? I never believed that intelligence.

[00:40:05] TODD: But analysts say, in an interview on Sunday, the president may have done more than just talk about receiving U.S. intelligence. He may have revealed it.

Asked about a report that he personally authorized, a U.S. cyber- attack on Russian entities around the time of the 2018 midterm elections, Trump appeared to confirm the story.

TRUMP: I'd rather not say that. But you can believe that the whole thing happened, and it happened during my administration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But why don't you talk about that?

TRUMP: Because they don't like me to talk. Intelligence says, "Please don't talk intelligence."

TODD: But that wasn't the only piece of intelligence President Trump might have revealed during that interview. While breaking about his negotiating skills, the president also appeared to give up sensitive details about why he didn't strike a nuclear weapons deal with Kim Jong-un at their February summit in Hanoi.

TRUMP: I said, "Look, you're not ready for a deal." Because he wanted to get rid of one or two sites. But he has five sites. I said, "What about the other three sites? That's no good. We're going to make a deal, let's make a real deal."

TODD: Does Kim Jong-un have five major sites that produce nuclear weapons or the components for them? U.S. intelligence isn't saying.

We asked experts who track North Korea's nuclear weapons program. They say they had never heard the regime has five nuclear sites.

JOSHUA POLLACK, NUCLEAR WEAPONS EXPERT, MIDDLEBURY INSTITUTE: I could not tell you what -- what those five would be. I don't know what President Trump had in mind there exactly.

TODD: Whether Kim actually has five nuclear sites isn't clear. The president could have been referring to something else.

But one former CIA analyst says tipping off a dictator, then a TV audience about anything the U.S. knows could be harmful.

AKI PENTZ, FORMER CIA ANALYST: If you show a country we have all your satellite photos. This is -- you're building these facilities, they'll say, "Thanks for that information. We're going to try a little bit harder, make it a little tougher, to -- for you to figure that out again the next time.

TODD: Trump has talked about sensitive intelligence before at inopportune moments. In May of 2017, the president was criticized for inviting top Russian

officials into the Oval Office. And then allegedly telling him about intelligence the U.S. got from another country about ISIS plots. Trump defended his comments but gave away even more information with his answer.

TRUMP: Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name Israel.

TODD: But just weeks before that incident, in a phone call with the present of the Philippines, Trump divulged that two U.S. nuclear submarines were near the Korean Peninsula, according to a Philippines government transcript of the conversation leaked to the Intercept.

Former spies say the president's tendency to brag about his intelligence could make U.S. officials, as well as overseas partners, reluctant to share important secrets with him.

PENTZ: If the next time you have something you would like to keep secret, you may want to obfuscate it. Another problem is, other intelligence agencies, other countries will not be as interested are willing to provide this information the next time.

TODD: Neither U.S. intelligence agencies, nor the White House are commenting on the president's remarks on intelligence, or the fallout that could bring.

Former spies say the fallout from the president's remarks could go all sorts of different ways, including, if intelligence officials don't trust the president to keep sensitive secrets, and they keep details from him, that could lead to catastrophe when he goes into negotiations with someone like Kim Jong-un.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


COREN: Well, thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I am Anna Coren. WORLD SPORT starts after this break.


[00:44:58] (WORLD SPORT)


[01:00:05] COREN: Hello, and thanks so much for joining us. I'm Anna Coren. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Hong Kong.