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At Least One Dead After Tornadoes Rip Across Ohio; Trump Praises North Korean Dictator, Slams Former Vice President Joe Biden; Supreme Court Holds Indiana Court Ban On Abortion Restriction; Angela Merkel Warns Of Dark Forces On The Rise In Europe. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired May 28, 2019 - 10:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: The Storm Prediction Center has just upped the threat of severe weather to four out of five in much of the Midwest. That's the scale, so four out of five on the scale of the danger of these tornadoes.

Overnight, the Western Ohio Town of Celina took a direct hit and at least person, we just learned moments ago, is now dead, three others critically injured.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: So just to the south of there in Dayton, Ohio, two tornadoes hit within 30 minutes of one another. This was just before midnight last night, wiping out or heavily damaging just about everything in their path. At least three dozen people are injured, but so far, pretty remarkably, no reports of death in and around Dayton.

Let's go to our colleague, Ryan Young. He is in Celina, where the extent of the devastation is really still coming into focus. Where are you? I mean, what is around you?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. This has been sort of heartbreaking to see all the damage here. In fact, we're inside someone's apartment who pretty much lost everything. Luckily, they were in the process of moving out. We're in what the living room used to be.

But when you start to talk to people nearby, they talk about stories of just trying to survive. And now, I want to show you from above what this actually looks like. You can see where I'm standing. I'm standing in the middle of this apartment. And you see the damage here, the roof is gone. And then when you look at this entire complex, these people have really been impacted.

We heard people say they felt this in their bodies. They could feel the pressure of the storm as it moved through.

And then you look at how this neighborhood has just been decimated from thousands to house to house. There's a man down the street who's a firefighter, his family was on the inside of the home and they were trying to survive, as he was at work. Their kitchen collapsed. The family across hid in a basement. And as they hid in the basement, the house collapsed on top of the -- a place at how they get in and out, and they were trapped for about 30 minutes.

But listen to this woman talk about the fear of trying to survive this storm.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Heartbreaking. Heartbreaking. And it's not just here. It's out of town on Fairground Road, and I don't know what's the other going out the other side of town. Yes, really sad.

And these people, you know, where do they go?


YOUNG: We know the Red Cross is in place and they're trying to help people with shelter. But when you look at some of the signs of the power of the wind here, and you see the fact that car was knocked over, tossed like a Lego. It's just sort of unbelievable. We have seen scenes of this all throughout.

And then we learn from the mayor, and just about an hour ago, that someone did die in this storm, haven't figured out about the details about that just yet.

But we are lucky to talk to the homeowner who lived here. In fact, he was out of this home last night when it happened. He was glad not to be here, obviously, when you look at this. But his cats were here. And he came back this morning to make sure he got his cats. And he was telling me that he was so thankful they were hiding in the only room that wasn't damaged in this storm.

We're just hearing more and more about these stories of survival, but you understand the pain here as people are dealing with this. Jim and Poppy?

HARLOW: But just to be clear, Ryan, you said one death as a result of these storms. Is that right?



YOUNG: Absolutely. So that's what we learned about a half hour ago, the mayor had a news conference, we were listening in. Now, look, we heard that on the ground, but we did hear that an elderly man pass away. Let's not forget the all call went out around 10:00. People heard the sirens. As you know, some people may have not heard them. It looks like one man did pass away. When we get more information about that death, we will, of course, update and pass on more details to you.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Sometimes you don't find out until you search the wreckage. Ryan Young, great to have you on the ground there. HARLOW: All right. So continuing with the severe weather in the middle section of this country, this morning, parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas are bracing for catastrophic flooding as the rain-swollen Arkansas River rises higher than some towns have ever seen before. At last count, 23 gauges were at major flood stage. and some will set records.

Ed Lavandera is in the Oklahoma town Sand Springs. This is just west of Tulsa, Oklahoma. What can you tell us this morning, Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. Well, you can see the flood waters behind me. And what makes this even more staggering is when consider that we are actually probably close to a mile from the bank of where the Arkansas River is supposed to be. And this is a neighborhood where several dozen homes, if you look above us here, where we're standing in this neighborhood in Sand Springs, it gives you a sense of just how widespread the flooding is here.

This is an area that has taken up several dozen homes. And talking to residents, they tell us most homes in this area have taken on two to six feet of water. And the concern isn't just here in the Tulsa area, Poppy and Jim, but also downstream. The Keystone dam has -- the flood gates there, and the army corps of engineers, releasing about 275,000 cubic feet of water per second.


And the downstream flow of that water is incredibly impressive.

We were in an area a few hours ago much closer to the river, and you could see the current in that river is incredibly strong, incredibly dangerous, and you really only get a sense of it when you're up close it.

And all of this flowing downstream, there's a great deal of concern as you leave the Tulsa area, going to Eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas in the town of Fort Smith, where flood waters are expected to rise, perhaps another five to six feet over the next couple of days. And, Poppy and Jim, what makes this even more dangerous and more worrisome for residents along the Arkansas River and other rivers here in Eastern Oklahoma is that more rainfall is expected to fall later tonight into tomorrow. Guys?

HARLOW: OK. Ed Lavandera, we're glad you're there. Thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: This morning President Trump is heading back to the U.S. from Japan, this after, once again, contradicting his own senior national security advisers, siding with a brutal dictator abroad and taking on former Vice President Joe Biden.

HARLOW: Let's discuss with Lisa Lerer, National Political Reporter for "The New York Times," and Phil Mudd is here, former CIA Counterterrorism Official.

It's not totally surprising, Phil, that the President said what he said about Joe Biden's I.Q. and sided with Kim Jong-un on that, right? He stood shoulder to shoulder with dictators before on questionable things. But my question to you is the implications, what are the actual implications of that for national security, for the outside view of U.S. standing?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERRORISM ANALYST: I think there's a simple implication going to the national security, and that is let's put North Korea in a basket with countries like Iran. Obviously, we've got to negotiate with Iran on a nuclear deal, with countries like Venezuela, where the President has an interest in injecting America.

When the President speaks about things like North Korean missile tests, and his interest, obviously, is in saying the talks that he inspired are going to be successful. Or in talking about the Iranian nuclear program, his interest is in explaining why we're isolating the Iranians. You've got to step back and say, is he more interested in saying that his policy is succeeding than in presenting the fact.

In North Korea, we just had missile tests. And the President seems to say, despite what others say, this is not a big deal. I think, three years ago, he would have said something different. This is all about politics.

SCIUTTO: Do this as a -- play national security analyst here, CIA Analyst, Phil. You have a long history in this. North Korea has taken no steps to curtail its nuclear program, which was the stated goal of the administration's negotiations with him. It has restarted missile tests. It has stopped the repatriation of U.S. soldiers' remains from the Korean War, so two achievements the President claimed short of actual denuclearization. Who's winning the standoff between the U.S. and North Korea right now?

MUDD: Well, this is a slow roll. If I'm watching what the adversary is doing, the hardest thing to do as a CIA Analyst is to understand what an adversary, especially an isolated adversary, thinks. I'm going back to precedent after precedent has been slow-ruled by the North Koreans. And the North Koreans cut a deal and then they go back to a nuclear missile program.

If I'm gaming President Trump from North Korea, I'm looking at this saying, and they're not stupid, he's going into an election cycle where he doesn't think he can afford, that is President Trump, to say that the talks with North Korea aren't going anywhere. So if I'm the North Koreans, I'm saying, what's the incentive to show up at the table? The President is going to say we're doing fine anyway. I think the North Koreans are sitting pretty nicely right now, Jim.

HARLOW: And, Lisa, let me ask you about the politics of this for Joe Biden, right, who sat out the holiday weekend, wasn't on the campaign trail, et cetera. There is now, which is interesting, right, because he's got a lot of name recognition. But I wonder if the President slamming his I.Q. by siding with the North Korean dictator is actually really helpful for Joe Biden.

LISA LERER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we know that since the President saw polling that showed Joe Biden possible beating him in a general election, he has been just completely focused on Joe Biden in Tweet after Tweet after Tweet. And this has been, as you point out, great news for Joe Biden.

His main argument that he has been making to contrast himself with the other 22 people running for president is that he is the one that Donald Trump fears the most. He is the one that would pose the greatest challenge, particularly in those states that Hillary Clinton lost, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania.

In reality, we don't know if 2020 is going to be played on the same ground as 2016. But that's the case Joe Biden is making. And Donald Trump is really, in Tweet after Tweet, helping him make it.

SCIUTTO: So we looked and counted one republican lawmaker, Adam Kinzinger, who criticized the President sharing Kim Jong-un's assessment of Joe Biden, you know, I could be blue in the face asking this question, will others come out, and I imagine the answer is no, they just don't see a political benefit in doing it.

LERER: You know, the answer to this question. I don't -- I think if you hold your breath waiting for other republicans to come out and denounce the President's comments about Joe Biden, you may find yourself quickly passing out, very quickly passing out.


I don't think we're going to be --

HARLOW: We wouldn't want that to happen on national television.

LERER: Yes, we don't want that to happen, particularly probably right now.

SCIUTTO: In the death zone on Everest, right?

LERER: Yes, right, exactly.

And, look, it just underscores what a stronghold the President still has on the base of his party and that republicans think that it's much better to have him Tweeting nasty things about Joe Biden than have him Tweeting nasty things about them, particularly the ones who are up for re-election in 2020.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, okay. How will you be remembered? Lisa Lerer, Phil Mudd, great to have you both on.

HARLOW: Thank you, guys.

SCIUTTO: This breaking news we're covering this hour, the Supreme Court has made an important decision involving abortion rights, something to watch here. We'll have the latest.

Plus, Stormy Daniels' former attorney, he himself, in court today on two separate cases facing accusations, he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Daniels. HARLOW: Also this, to Mount Everest, an American has become the 11th person to die this year trying to summit Mount Everest as overcrowding is causing huge concerns on the world's tallest mountain.



HARLOW: All right, welcome back. So we have some pretty significant news into CNN from the high court, the Supreme Court with a very important ruling. This has to do with abortion rights. Let's go straight go Jessica Schneider. She joins us now, also constitutional law professor, Steve Vladeck.

Jess, before we get to Steve on this, could you just lay out for us the decision -- really, the two decisions the court made on two parts of a critical Indiana abortion law.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, Poppy, the Supreme Court, really, in a hole here, seeming to sidestep this larger abortion debate with its decisions this morning on an Indiana abortion law.

So the court here really made two decisions. First, the court has left in place a block on a key part of the law, meaning it cannot go into effect. Now, this part of the law would have prohibited abortions that were motivated solely by race, sex or disability. So in not taking up that case, the Justices in an unsigned opinion also noted importantly that they were not expressing any views on the merits of the underlying abortion debate. So that's the first issue here.

Secondly, the court has decided that a second part of the law that mandates that fetal tissue be disposed of by burial or cremation, that that law may actually go into effect. These were unsigned opinions. But in these opinions there were some indication that Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor disagreed with the court in part.

Interestingly here, Justice Clarence Thomas also weighed in on this with some pretty strong language here. And he said that the court could not really avoid this abortion issue for much longer. He said this. He said, while the court declines to wade into these issues today, we cannot avoid them forever. Having created the constitutional right to abortion as they did in Roe v. Wade, this court is duty-bound to address its scope.

So, Jim and Poppy, while the court here really sidestepping this broader abortion debate in this decision here, allowing one part of this Indiana law to go into effect and allowing it to be blocked in the broader scope here that prohibited abortions based on race or sex or disability, the court seems to kind of tow the line here, and really shows us that they do not yet have this appetite to really weigh in here and go forward with this debate as to whether or not to uphold Roe v. Wade as a lot of these antiabortion advocates are really pushing for at this stage. Guys? SCIUTTO: So, Steve, interestingly, that's exactly the line I highlighted there, listening to Justice Thomas here. How do we read that then? So they're declining now. When could they next have a chance if you have someone like Justice Thomas pushing to answer this question? He says, duty-bound to address the scope of a right to abortion here. How soon, what state's case do you see as the most likely forum for this?

STEVE VLADECK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Jim, it's really hard to say. Because I think what the court is signaling this morning, and Jess is exactly right, is that they really don't want to jump in head first at least at this point into this national debate. They're only going to take the cases when they feel like they have to.

So, for example, with this Indiana law the court was dealing with today, they only resolved the first question where the lower courts had been divided. They don't jump in on the second question, where the 7th circuit, the federal appeals court for Indiana had been the first court to address the matter.

So, Jim, I think the short answer to your question is not until we see either a split among the lower courts or a decision by a lower court upholding one of these aggressive new restrictions from Alabama, from Missouri, et cetera.

HARLOW: But the second part, Steve, that the court did not take up, which Thomas says we will, quote, soon need to confront, as Jim points out, is fundamental here in the debate. It is what is a woman's sole motivation for getting an abortion and can that motivation be viewed as discriminatory if it's based on a fetus's disability or sex or race? The question becomes is it just not this term, right, this upcoming term, because they would hear it in October, decision would come down in the heat of the election, June 2020?


Is that something that we're maybe a year away from, and that Chief Justice John Roberts is purposefully trying to keep the court out of these flash point decisions in the midst of the election?

VLADECK: Yes. Poppy, I would just take that a little bit further. I don't think it's just about the election. I think what we're really seeing today is the court just doesn't wanted to jump into the debate at until unless they have to. So even if there are four other Justices who agree with Justice Thomas on the merits with regard to this second part of the Indiana law, I think they're going to wait until they feel like they have to step in.

And, Poppy, I don't think that's just a matter of election time in. I think that's a matter of percolation in the lower courts where the justices really don't want their hand forced. And so if what we see in the lower courts going forward is consistent rulings, perhaps striking down aggressive restrictions, like in Alabama and Georgia, upholding restrictions like the one the court reversed in Indiana today, I think the Supreme Court might be just happy enough to sit this one out until and unless they have to dive back in. And I think that's a powerful reflection of the Chief Justices especially as the new median vote. It's not that he disagrees, I think, with Justice Thomas. It's that he's not in a hurry to spend the Supreme Court's institutional capital on these cases.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: We'll watch this space because it looks like, at some point, they're going to address these issues with enormous implications. Jessica and Steve, thanks very you so much.

HARLOW: Thank you, both.

Up next, a really rare and fascinating interview, our Christiane Amanpour goes one-on-one with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who has a dire warning about, quote, dark forces in Europe. Also, what she has to say about her relationship with President Trump.



HARLOW: All right. Welcome back. We have a really a fascinating CNN exclusive for you now. German Chancellor, Angela Merkel goes one-on- one with our very own Christiane Amanpour. This is her first ever in- depth interview with any U.S. television network.

SCIUTTO: She hasn't done this before, and it's an important time to be speaking to the leader of Germany. Listen as Merkel warns against, quote, dark forces on the rise now in Europe.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Analysts and historians today describe you as the face of good Germans, good Germany, and they also say though that under your nearly 15 years in power, in some cases, those dark old demons have risen again, nationalism, populism, anti-Semitism, I mean, very dark forces that we can see are winning in elections to an extent. They talk about your austerity programs, they talk about your compassionate, courageous migration program, allowing a million or more people in. What do you answer to the people who say that, you know, it was a great Germany under your chancellorship but these dark demons have risen again?

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR: Germany can and will not uncouple itself from developments we see all over the world. We see this in Germany as well. But in Germany, obviously, they always have to be seen in a certain context, and the context of our past, which means we have to be that much more vigilant than others.

And I also say, yes, there is work to be done here. We have always had a certain number of anti-Semites amongst us. Unfortunately, there is, to this day, not a single synagogue, not a single day care center for Jewish children, not a single school for Jewish children that does not need to be guarded by German policemen. Unfortunately, over the years, we have not been able to deal with this satisfactorily that we can do without this.

But we have to face up indeed to the specters of the past. We have to tell our young people what history has brought over us and others, and these horrors, why we are for democracy, why we try to bring about solutions, why we always have to put ourselves in the other person's shoes, why we stand up against intolerance, why we show no tolerance towards violations of human rights, why Article I of our basic law, human dignity is inviolable, is so fundamental to us. It has to be taught to every new generation. And you're quite right, the task has become harder but it needs to be done.


SCIUTTO: Christiane joins us now. Of course, Angela grew up in East Germany. She grew up in a police (ph) state. She knows it very personally. I'm curious in the wake of these European elections in which many far right parties did very well. As you sat across from her there, what was her level of concern, fear even about the dangers that that poses?

AMANPOUR: Well, she's very conscious of those dangers. But, in fact, the truth of the matter is that they did much less well than they were predicted to have done. The very extreme far right did not score the kinds of insurgent scores that people predicted.

In her own country, in fact, it was the greens who surged to unprecedented heights, and in our own country, it was issues like environment that were top, not immigration, despite the fact that they have a far right group called the AFD, as you know, which did win seats in the German Parliament for the first time since World War II.


Those are the dark forces that she's talking about in her own country. But they did not do as well as they were expected to do.