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President Trump Meets Japan's Emperor in Pageant-Filled Visit; Europe's Future Hang in the Balance; Pelosi: Trump Crying Out for Impeachment. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired May 26, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:11] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello on this Sunday. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
Tonight, a history-making event during President Trump's pageantry- filled trip to Japan. In just over an hour, he will become the first foreign leader to meet the new emperor of Japan at the Imperial Palace. Part of a charm offensive the country has rolled out for the President to get on his good side amid a trade dispute.
So far, the President has been treated to golf, steak and cheeseburgers, and even a sumo championship overnight where Trump presented an American-made president's cup to the victor. CNN's Pamela Brown is traveling with the President in Japan.
Pamela, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Trump the ascension of a new emperor is about a hundred times bigger than the Super Bowl for Japan. Is giving Trump the honor becoming the first foreign leader to make a state visit with the new emperor a reflection of Abe's esteem for Trump himself or more a reflection of how important Japan views its alliance with the United States in general?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, analysts say, Ana, that Prime Minister Abe would've extended this honor no matter who was the United States president. That whoever was the President in the U.S., that would be the first foreign leader to meet with this newly crowned emperor.
But certainly, Prime Minister Abe has shown that he is shrewd in terms of cultivating his relationship with President Trump. And I'm told by sources that he has really been emphasizing the importance of this visit to President Trump.
In fact, when he visited the White House just a few weeks ago, he was telling President Trump just how important this is, what a big deal it is, and that it's more important for him than the G-20, which is here in Japan next month.
So certainly, Prime Minister Abe has really been playing up how big of a deal it is and extending this honor personally to President Trump. And clearly, this trip so far, Ana, Prime Minister Abe has put aside the President's tweet yesterday on North Korea, downplaying the short- range missile tests.
Outwardly, the two leaders have been very chummy, taking selfies, and it certainly hasn't derailed, of course, this meeting with the newly crowned emperor, Naruhito, shortly at the Imperial Palace. The emperor was crowned after his father abdicated the throne, the first time in two centuries, and so this is a historic moment, Ana.
CABRERA: And, Pamela, what exactly is the White House saying about that tweet the President sent out that we brought to you all live here on CNN last night where he seemed to voice confidence in Kim Jong-un, the dictator of North Korea while slamming Joe Biden?
BROWN: That's right. He appeared to be taking sides with the murderous dictator Kim Jong-un over the former Vice President of the United States and, of course, Democratic presidential candidate.
Now, Sarah Sanders, the Press Secretary, was asked about this earlier today on "Meet the Press." And she really downplayed the idea that President Trump was taking sides, saying only that he just agreed with Kim Jong-un on the assessment about Joe Biden, Ana.
CABRERA: All right, Pamela Brown in Tokyo for us. Thank you.
Joining us now, White House correspondent and associate editor for "Politico," Anita Kumar; and contributor for "Time" magazine, Jay Newton-Small.
Jay, this entire trip has been about courting Trump with things he loves -- golf, cheeseburgers, wrestling. And tonight, he's going to meet an emperor. We plan to bring that live to our viewers, by the way, next hour. Charm offensive aside, what can the President hope to accomplish?
JAY NEWTON-SMALL, CONTRIBUTOR, TIME: Well, it's important that the President, first of all, I think, assuage a lot of Japanese concerns over the trade war with China. That's something they're incredibly nervous about.
As well as, frankly, South Korea. So it's probably even more disturbing for them that he is still voicing nominal support for, you know, Kim Jong-un even while he's being courted and feasted and toasted in Tokyo by the Japanese.
And so this -- for Asia, it's all about face, and this is something that they really want to show the best face forward to the President, and they expect something akin back from Trump. Of course, for Trump, that's never really a predicted -- he's never really predictable.
And whether he puts his best face forward, it's always with a little bit of a caveat. It's always with a little bit of, well, you know, you never know the other side. I want to play them, too. And that's sort of classic Trump and that's what he's been doing in Tokyo.
But he does need a win here. I mean, on the domestic front, his policies are really not going anywhere with Congress given the collapse of sort of negotiations last week with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress on the infrastructure bill. And it's important for him to get something to sort of -- for Republicans and himself to run on in 2020. CABRERA: Anita, these trips may sound glamorous, but they are
punishing, aren't they? And even more so with President Trump. He rarely sleeps. And as a consequence, his aides don't get much rest either. One official, in fact, who didn't disclose his or her name said traveling with the President on Air Force One is like being held captive.
[19:05:01] ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT AND ASSOCIATE EDITOR, POLITICO: Yes. I mean, they do seem glamorous, but remember, especially in Asia, this is the exact opposite of our time. So he is -- he and all his aides not only have jet lag, they don't get accustomed to the time there because they're not there long enough.
They're monitoring everything back home, so you kind of have to be up, you know, at all hours. You know, there's briefings and talks and negotiations going on, so there's a lot going on.
Even though it seems like it's all, you know, festive atmosphere, the aides are working around the clock. Basically, you don't really sleep for a few days while this is going on.
CABRERA: Going back to this controversial tweet that the President sent out as he is being hosted by the Japanese Prime Minister, which, of course, is very concerned about North Korea.
We heard from Senator Amy Klobuchar yesterday after the President's tweet. And she said John McCain was worried about the influence of dictators on this president. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: The arc that we are on did not just start today. It didn't just start with the 2020 debates, no, no. The arc that we are on, this arc of justice, started that day after that dark inauguration, the day when I sat on that stage between Bernie and John McCain.
And John McCain kept reciting to me names of dictators during that speech because he knew more than any of us what we were facing as a nation. He understood it. He knew because he knew this man more than any of us did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Jay, how worrying is it for the people of Japan? Do you think they have the perception that the U.S. President is more interested in a friendship with North Korea?
NEWTON-SMALL: It's very worrisome, Ana. I mean, this is -- Japan is very much within striking distance of North Korea, much more so than anywhere in the continental United States. And this is something -- one of their biggest security concerns. It has been since the partition of Korea.
And for them to see an American -- this is America that has been, essentially, their protector since the end of World War II, we still have huge military bases in Japan -- sort of say, oh, well, you know, we don't -- it's not something to worry about. It's no big deal. And this guy, you know, Kim, he's a good buddy and he's fine.
It's not a big -- nothing to worry about with those little missiles. Those little missiles -- by the way, they won't make it to America but would make it to Japan -- is super worrisome for the Japanese.
CABRERA: Let's take a closer look at why Japan has good reason to be disturbed when North Korea test fires these missiles.
This shows the most recent test launch from North Korea. The missiles landed in the sea but not always so close. Some of North Korea's test missiles have flown over Japanese territory in the past.
Anita, do you expect Prime Minister Abe to demand Trump change his tune on Kim?
KUMAR: Well, they've talked about it before, and, of course, they'll talk about it again. It's very, very important.
For President Trump, though, he's had two summits now with Kim Jong- un. It's very important for him to show Americans that those were productive, that they meant something, that he's not just wasting time.
And he wants to continue to have those talks, so it's very important for him to say that he's accomplished something, precisely just because -- partly because he is running for re-election.
And that's something that he wants to say. If you listen to a Trump rally lately, he'll talk about his accomplishments. And that's one of the things he talks about, is how people always said that this was not a good idea and he's sort of proven them wrong.
So it's going to be very tough for him to change his mind, but that will be one of the talks -- things they talk about. And again, remember, in a few weeks, he'll be back in Japan for a second time this year. He'll also be visiting South Korea, so you can bet that they're going to want to talk about that as well.
CABRERA: I want to ask this question of both or you. We expect the President to have a press conference later this evening our time, obviously the next day there, and I'm wondering, Jay and Anita, what will you be listening for? Jay, you first.
NEWTON-SMALL: Oh, I think I'll be listening for, frankly, news on China, the trade war with China. That's something that, clearly, the Japanese have voiced a lot of concern about. They're sort of caught between these two big superpowers, and it's something that would very much impact their economy.
And some -- Trump has already said that he doesn't expect the trade deal to happen, certainly while he is there. But maybe, by the G-20, there's, you know, hope that these things might make it resurrected.
And that's, I think that -- I think some news on trade or some hint that they've made some progress on this trip. I think it's something that I'd be looking for.
KUMAR: I think the American reporters -- of course, I don't know what they're going to ask but are likely to ask about all sorts of things going on back home.
There are two things, in particular, one we referenced earlier, which is this, you know, blow up with House Democrats, with the House Speaker last week, and how they seem to be at complete odds now and not able to get anything done.
And the second, of course, is all sorts of things going on with the House investigations -- Michael Flynn's voicemail transcripts coming out later this week when he'll be getting really to go on another trip to Europe; subpoenas to some of his top aides, former top aides, coming next week.
[19:10:07] So, I mean, I think that he'll be asked about those questions. It will be interesting to see, you know, how much he pushes back.
CABRERA: All right, ladies, Anita Kumar, Jay Newton-Small, good to have both of you with us. And by the way, that press conference with the President is supposed to happen around 1:00 a.m. Eastern. We'll bring that to you live here on CNN.
Coming up, breaking news out of Europe. The future of Europe hanging in the balance tonight as election results roll in. We'll go live to London and Paris next.
CABRERA: Breaking news in a storyline that will sound very familiar to us here in the U.S. Election results out of Europe show it's a good day for hardliners on both the left and the right. For the center, not so much.
We have team coverage tonight. CNN's Europe editor Nina dos Santos is joining us from the U.K. Melissa Bell is in Paris.
Nina, to you first, how has the controversy over Brexit affected the election results there?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Well, especially in places like South Hampton or the south coast of England -- this is one of the biggest constituencies that's voting in the U.K. as part of these European parliamentary elections -- Brexit has become the backbone of the argument here.
Remember, these elections that the U.K. -- many people in the U.K. believe the U.K. should not be involved in because it should have left the E.U. by March the 29th of this year.
[19:14:57] But, obviously, with the delayed timetable to Brexit and the Conservative Party's inability to deliver Brexit thus far, that has given an entree to people like Nigel Farage who has come back into the political fray.
This is Europe's biggest Euro-skeptic. He sits in one of the seats in this constituency and has done for 20 years. He's come back to the fore with a party called the Brexit Party campaigning for just one thing, delivering Brexit as soon as possible.
And judging by the latest exit poll figures that we've been looking at across the country, ones that we're going to get here for this region imminently, it's looking like they have come in probably in number one position, putting the mainstream parties way down the list -- Conservatives to fifth position; Labor, in some cases, to fourth position, Ana.
CABRERA: Melissa, tell us how the far right has done in France.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well, just as we've seen these substantial gains tonight across Europe -- and I think it's important to remind our viewers, Ana, that the pro-European parties will remain in the majority. They're going to be the biggest bloc within the E.U., but there have been these substantial gains tonight from populist, right-wing, often Euro-skeptic parties.
And that has been, here in France, reflected by the gains made by Marine Le Pen's far-right party according to very latest official but still partial results. She's on 24 percent of the vote, which is a huge blow to Emmanuel Macron.
Remember that the French President came in two years ago presenting himself as sort of a bastion against populism. He was going to represent the pro-European liberal values that Europe had thus far represented, and he hoped that the populist wave would stop in France.
He won, of course, sweeping the French political landscape, transforming it profoundly. But, tonight, in his first electoral test since then and having invested so much time and energy in this particular European campaign, his party has come, very disappointing from his point of view, second to Marine Le Pen's far right.
No doubt, capitalizing, as she'd hope to do, on all that anger we had seen on the streets of France these last few months from the yellow vest protestors, Ana.
CABRERA: O.K. Melissa Bell in France, Nina dos Santos in the U.K. for us tonight. Thank you, ladies.
Coming up, it's the provocative question Democrats are now wrestling with. Does the President actually want them to impeach him?
[19:21:03] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Do you want to be impeached?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think that anybody wants to be impeached.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: It seems like a crazy idea that the President of the United States would want to be impeached. But that is literally the question Democrats are asking themselves right now as they weigh the political risks alongside their duty to defend the principles of American government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: The White House is just crying out for impeachment. That's why he flipped yesterday because he was hoping -- because it was -- somehow or other, you all have a story that isn't real.
I mean, you want to believe that there's all this unease in our caucus. That simply isn't the truth. That was what disappointed him, because he didn't see this rush to impeachment coming out of our caucus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: This week alone, we saw the President appear to side with a North Korean dictator over his own advisors, battle with Congress over subpoenas, walk out of a meeting with Democrats, and question House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's competence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I walked out. I was so calm. I was extremely calm.
Crazy Nancy, I'd tell you what, I've been watching her. And I have -- I have been watching her for a long period of time. She's not the same person. She's lost it.
Pelosi does not understand the bill. She doesn't understand it.
I don't think she's capable right now of understanding it. I think she's got a lot of problems. They sort of feel she's disintegrating before their eyes.
You know, she's a mess. Look, let's face it. When I watch Nancy, oh, moving, the movement and the hands and the craziness, and I watch it -- that's, by the way, a person that's got some problems. I'm an extremely stable genius.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Many Democrats now fear President Trump may be laying an impeachment trap to consume the House, distract from key issues, and alienate voters.
Joining us now, constitutional law expert, Laurence Tribe. He is the author of "To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment."
Professor Tribe, good to see you.
LAURENCE TRIBE, AUTHOR, "TO END A PRESIDENCY: THE POWER OF IMPEACHMENT": Good to see you, Ana.
CABRERA: Last time we spoke, you cautioned against impeachment, but I know you've since changed your mind. Why is that? Because, as you know, the threshold for impeachment and the politics of the matter haven't changed.
TRIBE: Well, what has changed is the facts. We now know things that we only suspected before. We know, despite the lies of the Attorney General who's acting as a kind of fixer for the President, that the Mueller inquiry found at least 10 or 11 instances of obstruction of justice.
Nine hundred and 50 former federal prosecutors, Republicans as well as Democrats, have concluded that anybody else other than the President would have been indicted and convicted and jailed for what this president has done.
We've watched, in recent days, that he stonewalls and tries to stiff Congress. Several federal judges have said that his arguments aren't even substantial.
We know that this is a president who is siding with dictators over the former Vice President. He sides with dictators over the CIA. He threatens to release top-secret information and compromise the national security in order to go after his political enemies, those who dare to investigate him. He is acting like a dictator.
In the book, Joshua Matz and I wrote that it's important to be cautious about the impeachment process, but caution cannot translate into cowardice. And we can't let him psych us out, you know, the whole business of, does he really want to be impeached?
I don't know what the guy wants. It is clear that, under the constitution, he has committed high crimes and misdemeanors that the evidence is almost convincingly complete about. But we need to complete it. We need to hold hearings.
[19:25:01] The American people need to hear these prosecutors explain why we have a criminal in office. You know, a 446-page report that almost nobody reads is not going to change people's minds. But as soon as we have elaborate hearings, it's going to be time to pull the impeachment trigger.
CABRERA: Your point is well taken, but, as you know, the majority of Americans, according to all the recent polling, don't want impeachment right now. You can see there, 59 percent say no, 37 percent say yes.
And Pelosi says her strategy is working, that there were a number of court rulings, as you point out, in Democrats' favor this past week. Is this wait-and-see game working?
TRIBE: Well, I think the fact is that in the Nixon case, the support for impeachment was even less until the hearings really got underway. I'm not saying that he should be impeached tomorrow.
Impeachment is Articles of Impeachment. They shouldn't be voted yet. But an impeachment inquiry is a necessary first step. And if we just let it all drag out while these court decisions are appealed, the President will be able to come right up to the point of the election and say, you know, it's too late, why bother?
The fact is, we've never had an impeached president -- even one who's been acquitted by the Senate, we've never had an impeached president seek re-election. And I think we really need to keep moving in that direction because the constitution is at stake.
It's not just a matter of putting your finger to the wind and seeing which way it's blowing. There are principles at stake here.
The precedent that would be set, if what this president appears to have done is not impeachable, is not enough to remove him, is a precedent that says a president can get away with anything. The President is above the law. The President is a monarch.
That would be the end of constitutional democracy. We cannot afford to do that. And that's why, however --
CABRERA: Impeach --
TRIBE: Go ahead.
CABRERA: No, I didn't mean to step on you there.
CABRERA: I'm just thinking, impeachment or not, we do know House Democrats are still investigating Trump. They've subpoenaed his financial records. They have subpoenaed former and current aides. But the White House continues to block every request.
Do you think we're going to hear from these aides, or are we ever going to see Trump's finances?
TRIBE: Well, I think we'll certainly see the financial documents. That's just a matter of time because his attempt to hide them has been soundly repudiated, and he's got no legal leg to stand on.
It's more difficult to make sure that McGahn and Andy McDonald (ph) and Hope Hicks and Felix Sater testify. There, it's really critical, I think, that we call a spade a spade and recognize that this is an impeachment inquiry.
That suddenly adds muscle to the attempt by Congress to get the testimony because it's much easier to convince a court that you need the financial records because you might have to strengthen the ethics in government act or legislate in various ways.
But the basic thing you've got to convince them of, when it comes to Don McGahn and all these other characters, is that Congress is investigating the possible impeachment of the President.
The moment that becomes absolutely clear, the floodgates will open. There will be no basis for them to resist testimony, and I think, then, it will be just a matter of time until he is impeached.
And predicting that he won't be convicted by the Senate, that's fine. At least the senators will have to stand up. And if they duck and hide and if McConnell gives them away and not even vote on the matter, the American people will see what's going on. And I think that's what's critical right now.
CABRERA: All right, Professor Laurence Tribe. I really appreciate the time you took. Thank you very much.
TRIBE: Thanks. Thanks, Ana.
CABRERA: Coming up, the streak goes on. "Jeopardy!" sensation James Holzhauer closes in on a major record. But do his stats already make him the greatest of all time? We'll ask another "Jeopardy!" legend to weigh in, next.
Plus, spend an hour with a man who needs no introduction, Howard Stern, one-on-one with Anderson Cooper. The "AC360: HOWARD STERN INTERVIEW" tomorrow at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.
[19:29:36] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[19:33:08] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: The TV game show "Jeopardy!" will not take the Memorial Day weekend off. There is a new show on tomorrow which is great news if you are following the guy who is on a major jeopardy winning strip right now. Watch him in action.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: James?
JAMES HOLZHAUER, JEOPARDY CHAMPION: What is EPAC (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.
HOLZHAUER: What is downstream?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Downstream. That's it.
HOLZHAUER: What is the (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got it.
HOLZHAUER: What is the blue bonnet?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blue bonnet, right.
HOLZHAUER: What is the astrodome?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
HOLZHAUER: What is ill communication?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
HOLZHAUER: What is Google flex?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
HOLZHAUER: What is the 49ers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
HOLZHAUER: What is Dallas?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's it.
HOLZHAUER: What is absolutely?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
HOLZHAUER: What is sick-o-mode?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
HOLZHAUER: What is fried wing tomatoes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.
HOLZHAUER: What is a megaton?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's it!
CABRERA: And that is James Holzhauer. On Friday, he became the second "Jeopardy!" player ever to hit the $2 million mark. It was his 27th consecutive win. But look at this. He has got some ground to cover if he hopes to catch up to Ken Jennings who hold the record for the longest winning streak at "Jeopardy!" with 74 games. The line for James Holzhauer there on the left, Ken Jennings on the right.
And with us now, Brad Rutter who is also of game show "Nobility." He is the biggest nutty winner ever on "Jeopardy."
Brad, good to see you again. We talked a couple of weeks ago. You said you like your chances against Holzhauer. Well, you have seen his streak continue. Do you still feel that way?
BRAD RUTTER, JEOPARDY ALL-STAR: Maybe a little less, but I still like my chances.
CABRERA: Take me behind the scenes. What happens at night when you are back in your hotel, you are thinking about, you know, the next day, strategy, and just how to keep it going. RUTTER: Well, there's so much adrenaline going up there and, you
know, you tape five shows a day back to back. And by the end of the day, it's really exhausting. So what Ken did back in 2004 and what James is doing now, honestly, the thing I'm really the most impressed with is the fact that they can go through that punishing physical ordeal two days a week and still bring it. So that's what's really impressive to me.
[19:35:03] CABRERA: Are there any superstitions? Like do you wear the same socks or do you do something so you don't jinx it?
RUTTER: You know, I laughed, but for the first, I guess, ten times I was on, I wore the same shoes. But then I lost those shoes and wore different shoes and I still won. So I'm not that superstition anymore.
CABRERA: There's a "New York Times" op-ed. I want to get your take.
Asher Price writes this. Mr. Holzhauer's approach to the game, unusual and aggressive, with an audacious risk-taking strategy informed by his background as a professional bettor and buttressed by his impeccable buzzer skills is certain to inform the style of the players who come after him. "Jeopardy!" play now will be a race to the $1,000 clues, the high-dollar stacking and higher bets on the Daily Doubles.
Do you agree? Has Holzhauer sort of revolutionized game in some ways in terms of what comes after him?
RUTTER: It's hard to say. Honestly, I think actually weaker players would benefit more from betting more on daily doubles. You would see a lot of people who would end up finishing second in one game, winning two or three if they were to adopt that strategy. I wouldn't recommend if you are an average player starting with $1,000 clues. You really have to have the goods to pull that off and James certainly does.
CABRERA: What's your advice to new contestants hoping to be the man or woman to finally overthrow James Holzhauer?
RUTTER: You know, I saw this with Ken back in the day. And I'm starting to see it with James where you can see the two other contestants walk on stage and they sort to have the thousand yard stare in their eyes thinking, like oh, my God, what's going to happen to me? I mean, they have already lost.
Go up there, it was just, I guess on Thursday, a guy named Nate came really close to beating him and he played a great game and he went in with the right attitude. He played just like James would. He went straight for the thousand dollar clues, bet it all in the first day. He got what he came within a couple thousand dollars of pulling off the upset.
So I always - from the beginning, when I would go in there, the first thing I would think is that somebody has got to win this, why not me. And even though, you know what James has done, that is still true. Somebody has got to win it. Why can't it be you?
CABRERA: I notice you are wearing a purple ribbon on your jacket. Tell me about that.
RUTTER: Yes. I got this at the pancreatic cancer walk a couple weeks ago where Alex made an appearance. As you know, Alex has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. And he is really put a lot of time and effort into raising awareness for his well which the whole community really appreciates. And I'm pulling for him, every former contestant is pulling for him. Everybody who likes "Jeopardy!" and everybody who just likes TV is pulling for him. He is an icon and we are all wishing him to get well soon.
CABRERA: What's your sense of how he is doing when you got to see him in person here from - in person?
RUTTER: Honestly, he looks great. If -- you wouldn't be able to tell anything is wrong, although, you can spot his toupee a little bit if you know where to look. But other than that, yes, he is in great spirits and looks great.
CABRERA: That's great to hear.
Brad Rutter, good to have you with us. Thank you so much, sir.
RUTTER: Thanks, Ana. Anytime.
CABRERA: Coming up, North Korea lobs a Trump-like insult at Joe Biden, and guess who's loving it? Your weekend presidential brief is next.
[19:42:16] CABRERA: Donald Trump's 2020 campaign has an unusual new surrogate, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The man President Trump once called little rocket man blasted head first into the U.S. presidential contest when his news agency tore into Democrat Joe Biden.
The insults were classic Kim saying Biden is a quote "imbecile, bereft of elementary quality as human being and a fool of low IQ."
That mirrors an insult President Trump leveled at Biden in March when he tweeted Biden is quote "another low IQ individual."
So it is no surprise that yesterday, President Trump revealed Kim's attacked on Biden made him smile. Some experts now wonder if the North Korean leader is taking a page out of Vladimir Putin's playbook by trying to interfere in America's elections.
And that brings us to your weekend presidential brief. And with us now, CNN national security analyst, Samantha Vinograd. She helped prepare the presidential daily brief for President Obama.
Sam, it can't be a coincidence that Kim is paying attention to Trump's rhetoric. What's he doing? SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, right now Kim
is acting like a surrogate for President Trump, but I don't think we can rule out that he is going to become a campaign contributor like Vladimir Putin is.
Right now he is engaging in psy-ops 101, psychological operations. He wants something from President Trump. So what he is doing, he is criticizing one of President Trump's political rivals. He knows that President Trump responds to that. And we also know that Kim Jong-un is really focused on getting sanction relief from President Trump. This is a move to try to get President Trump to give that to him.
Kim also probably prefers President Trump as a 2020 candidate. The Trump train riding through 2020 would mean more of the status quo which is Kim making more missiles and friends.
And Ana, what I'm concerned about is that Kim's not just going to be giving verbal contributions to Trump's 2020 campaign. Let's not forget that North Korea along with Russia, Iran and China has one of the most advanced cyber capabilities in the world. That's according to our intelligence community. So North Korea retains the capability to help Donald Trump in more ways than one.
And briefly, Ana, I want to respond to another part of President Trump's tweet on Joe Biden. He said that he wasn't disturbed in a separate tweet about the short-range missile test that North Korea has conducted. Those short-range missile tests directly threaten Americans stationed in South Korea and in Japan where President Trump is today. We have 54,000 American troops in Japan, 42,000 dependents, 8,000 DOD personnel. That means that they are directly in range of Kim Jong-un's rockets. If that doesn't disturb President Trump, I don't know what does.
[19:45:00] CABRERA: When you talk about American troops in harm's ways, now we know that the Pentagon and this White House is planning to send another 1,500 Americans to the Middle East because of their concerns over Iran. I mean, is that inviting a direct confrontation there?
VINOGRAD: Well, Iran actually should be a top topic for President Trump's meetings in Japan. Shinzo Abe and Japan have a very close relationship with Iran dating back for decades. The Iranian foreign minister was just in Japan. Abe is thinking of potentially going this summer.
Abe could be a good intermediary as we pursue, I hope, a diplomatic trip with Iran. These troops that we are sending to Middle East may just be the tip of the sphere. These 1500 are not, as far as we know, authorized to engage in direct combat. They are most likely providing operational support and maintenance for the new militaries assets that were deploying to the region.
But they are there because the threat has been raised so significantly. And if President Trump keeps tweeting and making poor policy choices, we may have to see future troop deployments and that is all happening while the nuclear threat from Iran is raising -- is rising as well. Iran said last week that they have quadrupled their uranium enrichment capacity. Again, that is not at a missile-ready level. But that is much closer to a bomb when they were several weeks ago and when we had the Iran nuclear deal in place, that's a direct result of President Trump's actions.
CABRERA: Let's switch gears because there was another critical election, we had the European parliament elections which ended today. Why are they so important? And why does Steve Bannon's name --?
VINOGRAD: Oh, man, yes. Well, Steve Bannon was declared a persona non grata by President Trump. He is now gone in Europe and he trying to form this international alliance of far-right parties. It's unclear how much help the Europeans want from him. But far-right parties are surging in Europe. And Americans should care about this even though it is Europe.
Our own intelligence community said that (INAUDIBLE) supremacists and ultranationalists were such a threat to U.S. national security. They included this topic in their worldwide threat briefing.
We know in Europe at a national level, at the state level, far-right parties are surging. We have nationalist leaders in countries like Hungary, Italy and Poland. And now at the EU parliamentary level, we have seen the far-right make some gains. It does look like more centrists parties are going to maintain an alliance in the majority, but we have far-right candidates from countries like Hungary again, Italy, Poland and even France.
Marine Le Penn's nationalist party beat Emmanuel Macron. They have made important gains in the European parliament which, again, makes us wonder whether the threat from far right nationalism is going to rise as more seats are gained by the nationalist parties in the parliament.
CABRERA: Thanks for putting that into perspective for us.
VINOGRAD: Thanks, Ana.
CABRERA: Sam Vinograd, thank you.
Coming up, gentle giants in the crossfire. The country that's home to the most elephants in the world lifts a ban on hunting them sparking a heated debate.
[19:51:35] CABRERA: A government of Botswana announced it would lift a ban on hunting elephants. More elephants live in Botswana than anywhere else, about 130,000 of them. The decision to allow the hunting of these animals drew the ire of conservationists. While locals argue it's necessary to protect people and their livelihoods.
CNN's David McKenzie has spent years covering Botswana's iconic elephant population. And in 2016, he traveled exclusively with the great elephant census to see the plight of the animals firsthand.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Getting ready to ply in Botswana's far north. An elephant ecologist (INAUDIBLE) has spent years counting Savannah elephant from the sky.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never before have we ever conducted a standardized survey for African elephants at a continental scale.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Start counting. Nice speed. Nice height. Well done.
MCKENZIE: Hundreds of air crew counted elephants in 18 countries across the continent over two years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elephants, seven. Seven elephants, right?
MCKENZIE: Flying the distance to the moon and then some. Their results, more shocking than anyone imagined.
MIKE CHASE, GREAT ELEPHANT CENSUS: We spent thousands of hours of count, flying over areas where elephants historically occurred but are no longer present in these habitats.
MCKENZIE: Killed for their ivory, in seven short years, up to 2014, elephant numbers dropped by a staggering amount, almost one-third. Across Africa, their numbers are crashing. If nothing changes, the elephant population will halve in less than a decade. In some areas, they will go extinct.
CHASE: Some landscapes we saw more dead elephants than live elephants.
MCKENZIE: It seems like there's a disturbing uptick in the poaching on the borders of Botswana and Namibia. And this one was killed it seems just a few days ago even.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three days.
MCKENZIE: Three days, max. And you can smell it all the way from here. Wow.
He was spectacular. Look how big he was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is awful. In fact, not even three days. There you have a clear evidence with his face hacked away like that, that he met his end with people chopping away at his tusks.
MCKENZIE: You have grown up in this country. You are from Botswana. What is it like to see these magnificent beasts killed like this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think anybody in the world has seen the number of dead elephants that I have seen over the last two years of the great elephant census. And for me, it becomes a lot more personal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll continue to check 22. MCKENZIE: To fight the war, Botswana has mobilized the army with more
than 700 troops guarding its northern border. Patrols spent days in the Bush on foot, armed with a shoot to kill policy for poachers. They are up against a sophisticated enemy.
Looking for any sign of poachers, if they come across them, they're often highly organized groups of about 12 people. Two of them could be shooters of them. And those shooters are frequently foreign Special Forces.
Mike Chase's research proves that if we can't protect elephants, they will learn to protect themselves.
You can hear them snoring. Is it a he or she?
[19:55:22] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He. He is in his prime about 30 to 35 years of age. And these young bulls that have the propensity to move dramatic distances and (INAUDIBLE) conservation Colbert (ph).
MCKENZIE: But their satellite tracking shows that the elephants use incredible levels of intelligence to avoid poaching hot spots in neighboring countries retreating to the relative safety within Botswana.
It's quite incredible being this close to this animal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is. It certainly is.
MCKENZIE: We called this bull promise. For the promise that Mike Chase has made and perhaps we all should to save this magnificent species.
[19:59:26] CABRERA: The passing of a football legend to tell you about tonight.
Bart Starr, quarterback from 1956 to 1971 for the Green Bay Packers. Hall of famer, the MVP of the first two super bowls ever played died today. He was 85. The list of Starr's accomplishments is too long to list here. He had been in failing health since having a stroke in 2014.
Now his family released a statement which reads in part, while he may always be best known for his success as the Packers' quarterback for 16 years, his true legacy will always be the respectful manner in which he treated every person he met. His humble demeanor and his generous spirit.