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Trump Addresses U.S. Troops Aboard Navy Ship In Japan; Abe Showers Trump With Celebrity Treatment; At Least Two Dead In Mass Stabbing in Japan; Oklahoma Governor: Flooding Still Could Get Worse; 26 Horses Have Died At Santa Anita Park Since December. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 28, 2019 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On a day Americans honor those on war, the U.S. President wishes Japanese sailors on board J.S. Kaga, a Happy Memorial Day, telling them it's a great day.

Tornadoes in Iowa, flooding in Oklahoma, at this hour, millions of Americans under threat from severe weather. And a race to the top of the world. For many, a lifelong dream of climbing the tallest mountain on the globe is ending in tragedy, now costing record lives in numbers.

Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and from all around the world, I'm John Vause and this is CNN NEWSROOM. President Donald Trump now on his way back to the U.S. after a four-day state visit to Japan intended to send a message to the region about the strength of the friendship and the relationship with these two old allies.

Before leaving Japan, Trump toured the Japanese destroyer, the J.S. Kaga and made history as the first U.S. president to set foot on a Japanese warship. The President also visited with American sailors and marines on board the USS Wasp docked near Tokyo. He thank them for their service during his speech to mark memorial day which honors fallen troops.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On this Memorial Day evening, the United States, Americans are concluding a sacred day of remembrance, reflection, and prayer. Citizens all across the country came together to decorate the graves of our fallen heroes and to honor their selfless acts of courage.

The citizens of our country are incredible. They love our country and they love you. They love you. You have no idea how much they love you.


VAUSE: Live now CNN Senior International Correspondent, Ivan Watson who is in Tokyo. So Ivan, it seems that these final remarks by the U.S. President, when he talked about you know, the upgrade to the Kaga from helicopter carrier to aircraft carrier, the U.S. President reference the current connections with North Korea kind of obliquely. Here he is.


TRUMP: With this extraordinary new equipment, the J.S. Kaga will help our nations defend against a range of complex threats in the region and far beyond.'


VAUSE: So you know, the range of complex threats within the region and beyond. That is what we are talking about here. If this was a walk back by the President after he defended the North Koreans and their missile tests, it seems to be pretty weak.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think it sounded like a walk back. I don't think the President took any step back at all. If anything, he endorsed statements by the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and use them to slam his Democratic rival in the U.S., the former Vice President Joe Biden.

Though he did not pick up on North Korean statements slamming his own National Security Adviser, John Bolton. We have not seen him use that against his own staff member who he publicly undercard when he disagreed with John Bolton's assessment that North Korea is short- range ballistic missile launches were a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The main point here is that the trip has been concluded to Japan. It was a four-day visit. High on symbolism and ceremony with very little real substance announced. There was not a trade deal. which the White House wanted to before this visit. That can has been kicked down the road till at least August after Japan can conduct its own upper house elections.

There were some divergences on North Korea but the fundamental alliance between these two countries is shown to be very strong and the personal relationship between these two leaders shown also to be very, very strong. And as the Japanese Prime Minister put it, this was important demonstration not only to at home but also abroad.

VAUSE: And Ivan, in the 24 hours since the President stood alongside the Japanese Prime Minister and said he was not bothered by the short- range missile tests by the North Koreans, the reaction in Japan, I guess seems pretty muted? Given the implications of what this president said, you know, why is that?

WATSON: Well, we haven't seen large-scale protests here. The U.S. is pretty popular in Japan. These two countries, their histories intertwined since World War Two going from being fierce enemies to Japan having its constitution written by the U.S. Now it has self- defense forces, which we saw on display. It has a pacifist Constitution and relies very heavily on the U.S. for

its own defense and military policy. This is not like some European countries where there are major protests when Donald Trump, the U.S. President visits. There are not giant balloons floating over Tokyo satirizing the American President.

[01:05:27] And though there has been some commentary about how Shinzo Abe has worked so hard to cultivate this close relationship and friendship with Trump, he did not hold back from disagreeing with him on stage with assessments of the actions of North Korea for example.

He was able to show that he still has his own belief system that his intelligence feeds him his own information and comes to his own conclusions could disagree with President Trump's assessment and almost in the same breath talk about applauded President Trump's different diplomatic initiatives around the region.

So an impressive I think display of diplomacy on the part of the Japanese Prime Minister and at least the visual reaction that we saw, the optics showed that present Trump quite enjoyed himself while he was in Japan. He got a lot of compliments and accolades and that's the kind of thing that this American president seems to like.

VAUSE: That is an understatement. Ivan, good to see you. Thank you. Ivan Watson live for us this hour in Tokyo. Joining me now from Los Angeles CNN's Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein, also Senior Editor at the Atlantic. So Ron, good to see you.


VAUSE: OK. Here's the U.S. President and the opening remarks he made on board J.S. Kaga. It's a Japanese helicopter carrier. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to start by saying happy Memorial Day. Happy Memorial Day.


VAUSE: You know, it was awkward. It kind of seemed inappropriate for the time wishing Japanese troops Happy Memorial Day, but you know -- and this is a very symbolic moment. This is you know, the first time a U.S. President -- it's believed to step foot on board a Japanese warship in modern history. You know, this is a ship which will soon be upgraded to an aircraft carrier, the first time Japan has had an aircraft carrier since World War Two. And that seemed to be lost in the moment.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, it's the kind of moment that would be under any president heavily scripted, multiple layers of national security bureaucracy determining the right tone, the right message, the right words. You know, with President Trump a reasonable or sense at the time you kind of feel as though he is he is winging it and saying whatever comes into his head. Obviously, it's not always that freeform but there is the sense that I

think correctly that foreign policy, in particular, is very much driven by his wins and kind of where he wakes up each morning.

VAUSE: So with that in mind, one of the big headlines from this four- day visit by the U.S. President was in the lengths he went to defending North Korea and its recent ballistic missile test as a reminder. This is what he said.


TRUMP: My people think it could have been a violation as you know. I view it differently. I view it as a man, perhaps he wants to get attention and perhaps not who knows. It doesn't matter. All I know is that there have been no nuclear tests, there have been no ballistic missiles going out, there have been no long-range missiles going out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know out there all by the small missiles?

TRUMP: No, I'm not. I am personally not.

VAUSE: You know, there is a level of complexity to this that goes beyond the usual concern that U.S. allies have about an inconsistent American president. You have a Japanese Prime Minister pushing to rewrite the country's pacifist constitution which was written by the U.S. at the end of World War Two. And in particular, Abe wants to remove Article Nine which has limitations on the country's military.

So when the American president throws your country under the bus like that, you have a pretty persuasive argument.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Well, look, I mean, I think this was very revealing on several fronts. First, I mean, he imagined a previous president separating himself from his government in the way that President Trump does so often and again today, in essence, saying the government have used it one way I view it another trying to -- trying to create a distinct separation.

Second I think that underscores the extent to which the president has committed to this concept that he alone can untie the Gordian knot with North Korea that has perplexed so many of his predecessors and the leverage that gifts North Korea. Because you see again in his comments today how reluctant he is in any point to suggest that this is going off track.

You know, he has invested so much in this relationship that even when North Korea does something that is so clearly alarming to a close ally like Japan, he is reluctant to call it out. And I think North Korea correctly understands that gives them a lot of leverage in determining how this relationship unfolds.

[01:10:01] VAUSE: You know, that's interesting because you know, there's no dispute of whether or not North Koreans have violated U.N. Security Council resolutions with this missile test. The people over at have noted the United Nations Security Council has adopted nine major sanctions resolutions on North Korea in response to the country's nuclear and missile activities since 2006.

But as you say, he has to continue on with this sort of theater if you like. He is the only one that has this great relationship with Kim Jong-un, he's the only one that can fix this. There has been some muted criticism coming from Republicans. In particular, Senator Joni Ernst was one who spoke out. Here she is.


SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): Japan does have reason to be concerned and I am concerned as well. We need to see North Korea back off of those activities and we need to take a very strong stance on them.


VAUSE: When I say critical, critical in a very, very mild way, but this is notable because Ernst was you know, once being considered by Trump as his choice for VP.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, you know, I think on foreign policy, Republicans have been willing, more willing to speak even a little more willing to act at points as in you know, the conflict in Yemen. But are there consequences, are there teeth? You know, when you hear a Senator, Republican Senator say something like what Joni Ernst -- Joni Ernst said, the obvious question is and therefore I will what? And the watt is usually you know nothing more than tweeting.

So you know it's not clear what that -- what that translates into. But it is -- it is a reminder of you know how far Republicans have gone in accepting zigs and zags from Trump particularly in international affairs, on trade, on relations with allies in which have many cases been inverted where we have conflict with allies and kind of you know buttery comments about dictators as the price of Trump's presence in the Oval Office that allows them to advance so many things they want to in the domestic side.

VAUSE: You know, what we saw over the last four days with Prime Minister Abe, a this is a charm offensive the likes of which goes beyond any sucking up we've seen before. You know, Emmanuel Macron of France seems an amateur compared to Abe and the big takeaways easy no matter how sycophantic you might be, Donald Trump will always throw you under the bus when your interests do not align.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I mean, the President has made it very clear, he does not really see the world as allies and adversaries. He views everything as transactional and really gives no particular deference to countries that have stood with the U.S. for decades.

Abe decided from the outset that he was going to try to avoid conflict with Trump by trying to be you know, his biggest champion internationally. And so far he can point to one success in that at least to this point that they've avoided the kind of head-on collision over trade that has been going on with China but with the E.U. with Canada and Mexico.

Even that though, the you know, the expiration date may be coming on that with the President's indications that he -- that he wants to kind of turn to Japan after their elections in July. The irony of course, is that many of the changes in Japanese policy on trade that Trump might seek in a bilateral agreement were part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Japan signed along with ten other Asian nations and which Trump withdrew the U.S. from as one of his first acts in office.

VAUSE: Yes, everyone but China trade agreement. But on the other end of the table equation, we had this tweet from the president supporting the Israeli prime minister who you know, Benjamin Netanyahu is threatening to build a workable coalition and form a government after you know, having a historic result in the elections a couple weeks ago.

This is what he tweeted. Hoping things will work out with the Israelis coalition formation and Bibi -- President Netanyahu -- and I can continue to make the alliance between America and Israel stronger than ever. A lot more to do.

It seems Netanyahu you know, may have asked Trump for this Tweeter support. It's has -- it has left the opposition to outraged over what is seen as direct interference in Israeli domestic politics. So you know, hypothetically, what happens if Netanyahu cannot form a government and it's left to the blue and white opposition party, then you know, they're in power. They're the ones that are going to be left outraged by Donald Trump.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, the strange thing here is that Netanyahu has been more inappropriately involved in domestic American politics than any foreign leader I believe in the world, short of Vladimir Putin and his you know efforts to influence 2016 through kind of cyber warfare.

I mean, Netanyahu came here and openly campaign against the Iranian you know, nuclear deal. And now Trump, of course, is taking this to the logical work under the extreme next step it in reverse and his involvement in Israeli politics. I mean, in essence, what you are seeing is kind of the continued convergence of the right in America and the right in Israel and that is having an effect on the way Israel is perceived in the U.S.

I mean, there's no question that you know, Democrats, rank-and-file Democrats have not elected officials yet are much cooler toward Israel under Netanyahu than they had been in earlier generations.

[01:15:05] And it's -- I think it's a dangerous kind of development for both nations, on both fronts, to have the ruling party, in essence, aligned with one party on the other side, makes it tougher for that alliance to withstand the inevitable changes of power that comes sooner or later in democracies.

VAUSE: Yes. It's an interesting way of transactional politics, I guess, all based on personalities and, you know, which normally is to a large degree, based on personalities and how leaders get along with each other, but never to this extent, Ron, and it's good to see you. Thank you for being with us.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, John. VAUSE: A 12-year-old school girl and a 39-year-old man had been killed in a knife attack in Japan, 17 others were wounded when the attacker assaulted a crowd near a park in the city of Kawasaki, south of Tokyo. Sixteen other victims were elementary school children. Police say the attacker died from self-inflicted injuries as he was being detained.

Next up, here on CNN NEWSROOM, millions in the U.S. and Midwest on notice, more dangerous weather is on the way. Also, why are the race horses in California, dropping dead?


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody, 20 minutes past 1:00 here, on a Tuesday morning. U.S. Heartland continues to be battered by severe weather. This is video of a tornado about eight kilometers from Charles City, Iowa. One emergency official says 11 buildings were damaged, three of them were homes. No reports, though, of injuries or any deaths.

And in Oklahoma, which is being inundated by severe storms since last month, the Governor is warning floodwaters will continue to rise. Every single county, all 77, remained under a state of emergency. Six people have reportedly died in the flooding. More than 100 have been injured.

Let's go to Pedram Javaheri, our meteorologist, joining us now on the weather, which has been flagging the Midwestern. It just seems that it won't go away.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Yes, the persistence of it is pretty incredible, John. You know, just looking at the past 12 days, at least the tornado report each and every single day, going on 12 days, and just in the past few hours here, upwards of 44 reports of tornadoes across portions of the Midwestern U.S., the pattern still continues.

[01:20:13] And over 300 reports in those 12 days scattered about at least 17 states, so it really shows you the wide reaching impacts across portions of the plains. The South Central states work their way into the Midwestern states. The areas have been getting hit very hard with recent severe weather.

And some of the images coming out of this region, Dayton, Ohio, one of the most recent strikes here for a significant tornado in the past couple hours. You take a look at the damage left behind across that region.

And unfortunately, with a storm as such here, comes in, at shortly after 11:00 p.m., so as folks are potentially asleep or getting ready to go to sleep, really not a scenario you want to see take place in an area that is home to over 800,000 people, the Dayton metro area.

But still watching some tornado warnings in place there, meaning a potential there for tornadoes currently occurring or imminent across this region of Ohio, south of the capital city there, of Columbus, so activity still prevalent even into the early morning hours across the Midwest, John.

VAUSE: OK. Pedram, stay with us, because we'll take a look at the forecast in a moment, but we're going to go to Oklahoma now, that's where CNN's Ed Lavandera is reporting from. Here's a lot more on this dangerous weather throughout the U.S. Midwest.



ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Monday afternoon, residents stood and watched near Charles City, Iowa, as they captured cellphone video of a massive tornado churning its way through open farm fields in the northern part of the state.

And in Oklahoma, deadly tornadoes are the story.

KEVIN STITT, GOVERNOR, OKLAHOMA: It's just unbelievable how violent. And you just can't imagine anyone being able to survive.

LAVANDERA: Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt toured the site where an EF3 tornado hit a motel and mobile home park in the town of El Reno, just west of Oklahoma City.

STITT: When you look at it, people that were on the top floor of that hotel, it was just, kind of, wiped out (INAUDIBLE) there, but a lot of them just kind of were -- just kind of -- they looked like they were blown up.

LAVANDERA: The tornado was on the ground for just four minutes before shredding its way through the buildings and killing two people.

MATT WHITE, MAYOR, EL RENO, OKLAHOMA: It's a very trying time for us -- excuse me, and we're going to get through it.

LAVANDERA: But the worst may be yet to come. Now severe flooding is threatening 10 million Americans in the Central States, from West Texas to Illinois. Oklahoma's governor has signed an Executive Order, declaring a state of emergency in all counties.

STITT: We're not out the woods yet. We're still monitoring the inflows coming into the watershed and (INAUDIBLE) into the Keystone reservoir, so it still could get worse.

LAVANDERA: The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office captured these images, showing the extent of the flooding in this West Tulsa neighborhood and the difficulty facing first responders.

The Arkansas River here is expected to exceed record flooding levels in the coming days. The threat is forcing the Army Corps of engineers to accelerate the release of water to take the pressure off its levies.

Sunday's extreme weather comes after a brutal week of violent weather that already brought deadly tornadoes and floodwaters, killing at least 10 people in the region. WHITE: These guys have been working their tail off now. I mean, we've gone through situation after situation after situation, and they've gone nonstop. During the flooding they had over 40 something boat rescues.

LAVANDERA: So after what's already been a long week of dealing with severe weather in the central part of the United States, it continues again this week, here in this neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. These are the floodwaters. We are nearly a kilometer away from the banks of the Arkansas River.

And you can see just how bad it is here. We are told by residents here that most homes are taking on anywhere between one to three meters of floodwaters inside their homes, and it's possible all of this continue -- could continue to get worse, especially if there's a levee breach, and even more floodwaters come spilling in to neighborhoods anywhere here in Eastern Oklahoma or Western Arkansas.

That is the real concern that residents and emergency officials are dealing -- will be dealing with here, over the next couple of days, Ed Lavandera, CNN, Tulsa, Oklahoma.


VAUSE: OK. That's the situation right now. Let's get back to Pedram. So, if we look at the forecast, how much worse do you think this will get?

JAVAHERI: You know, we are pretty much at the height of the severe weather, at least, the flooding, unfortunately, could be a multi-week, multi-month of that, in fact, the National Weather Service in some of these communities saying this could continue into early summer.

So, it really, kind of, speaks to how much water is on the ground across these regions. The volume of water, by nature, of how it moves downstream will continue to impact these areas for weeks to come. You notice the severe weather for, at least, another two to three days, expecting severe weather.

The immediate forecast for rainfall, at least, is limited to the next three to four days, and beyond that, we see a drier trend. But, of course, the water that's already on the ground has to go somewhere, and you notice just about every single river across this region and its (INAUDIBLE) taking on a significant amount of water.

[01:25:02] Some areas have picked up three times what the month of May typically brings across this region, and notice, over 300 river gauges reporting at least some flooding and quite a few of them reporting at least moderate flooding and some major flooding as well, taking place.

So, you look at these gauges, you see water levels among the highest ever observed for this time of year which is pretty impressive for these areas, John.

VAUSE: Yes, absolutely, Pedram, thank you.

JAVAHERI: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: To California now, a racehorse named Kochees,-was put down Sunday after being injured at Santa Anita Park. It's sad and shocking, but not really a surprise. Twenty-six horses have died at the famed racetrack since December. And as CNN's Nick Watt reports, animal rights activists are demanding changes.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Twenty-six horses dead since Christmas. It is a shocking statistic. And it has forced officials here to take action. They closed this track down for nearly a month in March, to try and figure out why these horses are dying. And they've implemented some new rules. And they say that anybody who breaks those rules is not welcome here.

The welfare of the horse must come first, so jockeys aren't allowed to use their crops so much. They've also cut down on the amount of medication horses can take on race days because that medication could mask an underlying injury that then is exacerbated and becomes what they call, you know, a catastrophic breakdown during a race that ends in the death of a horse.

Now, horses do die at racetracks. That is a sad reality of this sport. And actually, 26 in 5 months is not out of the ordinary, but what happened here is, there were two spikes, two times when a few horses died in a short space of time. And that has put the spotlight on this racetrack here in California.

But officials say that this is a nationwide issue. That they need to try and reduce the number of horses who are dying. In this day in age, where we take animal welfare more seriously as a society, they know that they have to change in order to survive.

Now, the district attorney is, right now, looking into why so many horses are dying. The results of that investigation are not yet out. So Peter, and other animal rights groups, are saying while the investigation is ongoing, suspend all racing, until we know what's happening.

But the officials here are saying, we think the actual track is safe. And we also want to carry on racing so we can see if these new measures that we are implementing to try and keep horses safe, we want to see if they are working.

So racing, for now, continues here, at Santa Anita racetrack, Nick Watt, CNN, Arcadia, California.


VAUSE: Still to come, it's all (INAUDIBLE) with the Democrat presidential hopefuls, right now, ahead of their first big debate. They're not going after each other, at least, not yet. Let's see how long that will last. That's next on CNN NEWSROOM.


[01:31:17] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. I'm John Vause in Atlanta where it's just gone 1:31 on a Tuesday morning.

And we are less than a month from the first big Democrat debate for candidates running for the White House. And over the Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S., those candidates were focusing more on being in full mode.

And as CNN's Rebecca Buck tells us, the focus of their attacks was President Trump.



REBECCA BUCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This Memorial Day, the 2020 field is spread out across the country. In Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Bend, Indiana. President Trump keeping his focus on the race, even during his official visit to Japan. Taking a swipe at Democratic frontrunner, Joe Biden, in a tweet praising North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

The tweet drew a swift response from Democrats, like Senator Elizabeth Warren --

WARREN: Foreign policy by tweet does not work.

BUCK: And Beto O'Rourke, who called on Trump to end these love affairs with dictators and strongmen.

A Biden aide responding to CNN, calling the President's tweet "unhinged" and "erratic".

While Biden's rivals jumped in to defend him.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Kim Jong-un is a murderous dictator And the vice president, Biden served this country honorably.

BUCK: The former vice president was off the trail of this weekend. But that isn't stopping another candidate from partaking in a favorite Biden treat.


BUCK: Senator Bernie Sanders -- cooling off with three ice cream socials in New Hampshire on Monday after turning up the heat on Trump during a Vermont rally this weekend.

SANDERS: We have a president who is a pathological liar.

Buck: In Iowa Senator Amy Klobuchar also taking aim at the President on Saturday recalling a moment with the late Senator John McCain at Trump's inauguration.

SENATOR AMY CLOBUCHAR (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John McCain deciding (ph) to be named a dictator during that speech. You have more than any of us what we were facing as a nation. He understood it.

BUCK: John McCain's daughter Meghan weighing in on today on Twitter asking Klobuchar to leave her father's legacy and memory out of presidential politics.

And we are here in Iowa as Cory Booker wraps up a four-day swing through the Hawkeye State. Later this week candidates will head west to San Francisco for a forum with a group from And of, course we are only one month away from the first Democratic debate.

Rebecca Buck, CNN -- Urbandale, Iowa.


VANIER: Peter Mathews is a professor of political science at cypress college. He joins us now from Los Angeles. Ok, Peter -- just as a reminder. This is what the President said about vice president, Joe Biden -- the comment that just sparked outrage. Here we go.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Kim Jong-un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low IQ individual, he probably is based on his record. I think I agree with him on that.


VAUSE: In Trumpian terms it was pretty mild, I guess but you know, when national leaders travel overseas many make this choice to leave politics at home, domestic politics.

This attack on Biden, you know, it wasn't just a break in tradition. Once again, we have a U.S. president on the world stage showing his support behind an autocrat leader which is very similar to what happened at the Helsinki summit.

PETER MATHEWS, PROFESSOR, CYPRESS COLLEGE: Yes. Actually, the difference of opinion on domestic politics is to be left alone, even personalities such as Biden's. Attacking him should be left alone at the border.

And yet, Trump is not only going against that tradition. But he is actually worshiping these authoritarian leaders like Kim Jong-un and Putin and I believe -- you had to go back to Hannah Arendt, the great philosopher, who said that lies are far more believable than truth in many cases because the liar, the authoritarian leader who likes to lie can -- he knows what the audience wants to hear and he tells it to them. And Trump is exhibiting so much of those kind of characteristics right now.

[01:35:02] VAUSE: What are the implications though? I mean because, you know, it's almost a given that, you know, presidents leave domestic politics at home. But why? I mean what are the implications of continuing these attacks overseas?

MATHEWS: First, of all the attacks such as that anywhere should not be a good part of the discourse of politics. If you can get to the truth of what the issues, are what people believe, and

First, of all the attacks like that anywhere should not be a good part of the discourse of politics/ I mean how can you really get to the truth of what the issues are, and what people believe, and what they like to have realized in policy? You can't when people lie.

And when people attack each other ad hominem it takes away the seriousness of the actuals public issue and issues. That is what Trump is all about right now. It's very, very dangerous what's going on especially when it's overseas like that with a dictator.

VAUSE: Last week, after vowing not to work with Democrats while congressional investigations were under way, score another one to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, because President Trump apparently is backing down. Here he is.


TRUMP: I think that we will work with them, certainly, as things get approved. I would love to sign them. It's only good for our country. I'm only interested in what's good for our country.


VAUSE: It seems to suggest that, you know, petulance as a policy maybe isn't the best approach.

MATHEWS: Yes. Petulance is what children have basically and he is acting very childlike at times -- responding reactively and emotionally and unbelievably irrationally and that's what he did.

He showed that. And now he's changing his mind and said now I'm going to work with them. First, he was not going to work with them as a threat. As long as they investigate I'm not working with them.

And yet, the Congress' duty is to investigate the President when it needs to be done. So he's acting childlike -- that's what this is about. It's a very bad basis of policy -- policy-making.

VAUSE: Just after he made those comments while he was in China, actually a couple of hours later, he came out with a tweet criticizing the Democrats saying "The Dems are getting nothing done in Congress. They only want a do over on Mueller."

You know, it's this whiplash approach that begs the question what is the point. Is there a strategy? While (INAUDIBLE) have worked with them, they're not doing anything, they just want a do-over. Where is this heading?

MATHEWS: I don't think it's a strategy here. Some people read into it and say very sophisticated another way to doing it. It's a game plan. It's a chess game.

I don't buy any of that. But if you look at the overall results of this presidency and how debasing and demeaning and lack of accomplishments that's been, and the lies about the Democrats. They have actually put out policy one after the other since January when he took office specifically and they passed it through the Democratically-led House. And he's basically lying about that too.

So I think -- I don't think there's any strategy -- grand strategy at all. This is a person that I think is beyond his league in some ways in being a president. It's a very difficult job and he's not qualified for that.


VAUSE: -- at least on the Democrats' side, at least when it comes to impeachment. And Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib said there is consensus now building among Democrats towards impeachment. Here's what she said.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): This is not about the 2020 election. It's about doing what's right now for our country. This is going to be a president that we said when we don't hold this president accountable to the rule of law and the to the Untied States constitution.

I think it is moving towards that. It's going to demanded. It already is.


VAUSE: You know when you go up to the king (ph), you get one shot. And it seems for a while that Democrats were overthinking this question of impeachment whether it was right, whether it was wrong, or the politics were you know, will there be blowback. And now it seems maybe they've put that to one side possibly.

MATHEWS: I believe they have and they should. It's about time because this is about the constitution, about a way of political life. And Congressman Tlaib was absolutely right that it's time now to move forward with impeachment inquiry.

And there is a momentum. There are at least 35 Democrats who have spoken out publicly saying we have to start the inquiry now and they give evidence for it and don't think of the Mueller report, there's a huge amount of evidence that the President obstructed justice.

You know, when you try to get a hold of Attorney General Sessions and tell him to unrecuse himself so he could control the investigation. That was a corrupt intent. And the other, thing is getting Don McGahn to fire -- try to get Mueller fired. That is direct obstruction.

And there are so many other instances, evidence of that in the Mueller report. So I think Congresswoman Tlaib was absolutely correct. And many people are going to be starting to look at this carefully and maybe joining her. And (INAUDIBLE) Republican. A Republican Congressman also called for it, Congressman Amash called for it the other day for an impeachment inquiry. It's quite remarkable.

VAUSE: Peter -- good to see you. Thank you.

MATHEWS: You too -- John. Take care.

VAUSE: So, if you want to build a border wall that Mexico won't pay for it what do you do? Perhaps start a go-fund me campaign. A private group raised millions of dollars that way and says construction has begun on their very own border.

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon chairs the group's advisory board. He says this new stretch of wall is going up on private land in New Mexico, connecting too long sections of existing fencing. Just last week a U.S. federal judge blocked President Trump from using Pentagon funds to pay for his campaign promise.

Next up on CNN NEWSROOM, an 11th climber has died just this season on Mount Everest begging the question are there too many people trying to make it to the top?


VAUSE: This year's climbing season on Mount Everest has been especially tragic. At least 11 climbers have died. The latest being American Christopher Kulish. His family says his summit of the world's highest peak made him a member of the Seventh Summit Club -- those who have scaled the highest mountain on each continent. The alarming number of deaths has raised concerns about overcrowding on Everest as CNN's Arwa Damon reports.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are here in Lukla. This is something of the gateway for everyone who is trying to get to Everest. Most people will start their trek from here and then in ten to 14 days, reach base camp.

This group of climbers, they just came down from the summit. They were among the last group to go up there. And they were just describing how difficult the conditions were. The temperatures. The winds.

They had all heard about this backlog that was happening during the crush to try to get to the summit so they decided to wait until the very end. The very last possible window to be able to avoid those crowds because the vast majority of the deaths that occurred this year happened to people as they were descending from the summit.

They had actually made it all the way to the top. But then on their way down, most of them succumbing to altitude sickness. What happens when you are at that altitude, in what is known as the death zone, where we have seen those photographs of the long enormous trail of people is that you don't have another oxygen for your body to function.

Every breath you take only gives you a third of the level of oxygen that you would be getting at sea level. That is one of the biggest challenges when trying to summit Everest. Not just being physically and mentally prepared, but also knowing what your body's limits are.

[01:45:01] There is a lot of debate right now as to what needs to be done to prevent these level of deaths from happening. Once again, there are people that are saying that the Nepalese governments needs to do more. Others that say that the tour companies need to do more. That inexperienced climbers should not be allowed to go up and take on this great of a challenge.

But Everest for those people who are as passionate as these climbers who we just spoke to remain such a goal that most nothing is going to deter them.

Arwa Damon, CNN -- Lukla, Nepal.


VAUSE: Mark Jenkins has climbed Mount Everest. He's also a contributing writer for the "National Geographic" and a veteran of over 50 climbing expeditions around the world. And he joins us this hour from Denver, Colorado.

You know Mark -- it's incredible to see these images of overcrowding and the long lines to reach the top of Mount Everest. And, you know, if you look at these images, it seems kind of a circus there with wealthy people with no climbing experience paying someone to carry them up the summit.

And it is said that some people have lost their lives. But this is, you know, it's first of all a problem which could be easily avoided, right.

MARK JENKINS, "NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC": Well, the reason there's so many people lined up, John, is that now we have technology that give us the best weather reports. It used to be 20 years ago that everybody kind of went to the summit at a different time. The teams that decided when they're going to go up.

But now everybody is getting the exact same weather report so everyone goes when you have the best weather. That is why you end up with the crowding.

And there're also too many permits. I mean there are ways to fix Everest. And I wrote about this in National Geographic. The first one, as you mentioned before, would be to limit the number of permits that are given out. The reason they don't do that is because they make money off of each one of those permits -- $11,000 per permit. People are typically paying $50,000 to $100,000 to climb Everest.

VAUSE: Should there be a way to determine if people are capable of doing this climb? Whether they are fit enough, healthy enough, had the experience they could go on this climb?

JENKINS: Absolutely. And there is essentially no regulations on Everest. The outfitters regulate themselves. And some of them do a great job. Some of the most professional climbers go to Everest.

But some of them do a poor job. And I believe that they should have some kind of requirement. For instance, Everest has an 8,000-meter peak. And if every person who is going to Everest has already climbed a 7,000-meter peak, then there would be probably a national winnowing of those who actually go to Everest. They would have more experience. People who didn't have experience wouldn't go.

VAUSE: You know, the big problem from, you know, from a survivor point of view is just the lack of oxygen that happens at 29,000 feet. A few years, ago there was an earthquake which hit a (INAUDIBLE) in China. It's part of the Tibetan Plateau. It was about 4,000 meters or 13,000 feet above sea level.

I want to cover that story. And so this is the impact of lack of oxygen at that altitude.


VAUSE: The air UP here is really thing. It's difficult to breathe. Every time you take a breath it's like, you know, you've just run a mile or something. It's also part of the effects of altitude sickness is that you end up with a really bad headache.


VAUSE: You know. And it must be so many times worse when you get past 25,000 feet. And after that age, lack of experience for some of these climbers.

JENKINS: It is. And you have to remember that because there are these crowds at the top, many people are waiting for somebody to get on the line or off. And as they are waiting, they're using up their oxygen. And if they run out of oxygen, they immediately start -- they can't think well and they start to freeze.

So with these crowds you're going to have an increase in deaths, I'm afraid to say. And the only way you can change this is that Nepali government starts some kind of regulation on Mount Everest.

VAUSE: And you know, when you think about, you know, the tragedy here is that, you know, climbing Mount Everest, is a lifelong dream for many. But that dream is costing lives.

JENKINS: It is and it doesn't need to. The thing is that these things are all preventable. The problem is, the government itself largely just wants to make money off the climbers. I mean they bring in $4.2 million just on the permits alone. And none of that, or very little of that, goes back to Sagarmatha National Park which is where Everest is in that park.

VAUSE: Yes. That is often the case. It's a big revenue earner for the government. They don't have a lot of choices. They need it. And you know, I guess that's --

(CROSSTALKING) JENKINS: Well, (INAUDIBLE) they have to do a better job of policing themselves.


JENKINS: They have to very instead of focus on how much they can make off of every trip how safe can each should be. And some out there do have to do that.

VAUSE: And invest for the future as well of keeping infrastructure good.

Mark -- great to have you with us. We appreciate it.

JENKINS: Thanks a lot -- John.

VAUSE: A short break now. When we come back how one group of veterans is helping children cope with the loss of a military parent over Memorial Day.


VAUSE: The U.S. marked Memorial Day on Monday, a holiday to honor fallen troops. It can be a painful reminder for those who've lost loved ones but one veterans group is dedicated to helping these gold star families.

CNN Jake Tapper has their story.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where do you want to go to college?


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Seven-year-old Tristan Kelly has some big dreams.

What's the best branch? And he always looks forward to talking about them with his best friend.

You still want to be in the army?

TRISTAN KELLY, SEVEN-YEAR-OLD WITH BIG DREAMS: Yes. I'm still debating if I want to be in the military or not.

TAPPER: After all, former Sergeant Andrew Beltran knows a thing or two about service. He has gone to more than 10 countries with the Marines.

SGT. ANDREW BELTRAN, FORMER MARINE: Take a big breath and then let it go, OK?

TAPPER: And Tristan says he is pretty good at playing too.

BELTRAN: Good job. TAPPER: Tristan and Andrew have come to this sprawling California

Dude Ranch today for one of many visits throughout the year.

BELTRAN: You know, one of the best things is Tristan will call me on Facetime and share a song he just learned on the piano. And that is just something special. I know that he would have shared that with his father.

TAPPER: You see, Tristan's father, Heath Kelly, isn't able to talk with him about the very dreams that he inspired.

KELLY: My dad was in the army so, I just feel like I want to be an army officer like he was.

TAPPER: Heath Kelly died shortly after Tristan was born.

TRACY KELLY, WIFE OF SLAIN SOLDIER: Heath always wanted to be a dad even before we got married. So, this is our first baby and anytime -- any spare time he had was really devoted to being with her. You know, and also with him too because, you know, he was born in July and unfortunately he passed in September.

[01:55:02] TAPPER: Heath Kelly spent years overseas on active duty and then became a major in the National Guard so he could be closer to his wife Tracy and their children. But soon after, a gunman opened fire at a local restaurant killing Kelly and three others while they were eating breakfast. His daughter, Kassidy, was only four years old at the time.

KASSIDY KELLY, DAUGHTER OF SLAIN SOLDIER: He was a really nice person. He always did the right thing, and he was a really fun dad.

TAPPER: Now through the nonprofit program Active Valor, gold star kids like Kassidy and Tristan can be paired with individual veteran mentors like Andrew.

BELTRAN: It almost is the reason why I joined the military in the first place. The sense of brotherhood and taking care of our own. I'm never going to be a step-in for his dad, but I will be a brother of his.

TAPPER: The program also gives peace of mind to parents such as Tracy.

T. Kelly: We want our kids to know that, you know, just because we lost our person, they don't have to go through this journey alone. I think that is kind of the biggest thing no matter what you're feeling, like somebody gets it.

PERRY YEE, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Thank you all so much for coming to our meet-up today.

TAPPER: Former Navy SEAL Perry Yee founded Active Valor in 2016 with a twofold approach to giving back.

YEE: You think about a big brother program for veterans. They get to actually use their skills and knowledge that they learned over the years of military service and now pass it on to kids that would have had access to that type of stuff if their parents were still around. So, it really just works hand in hand.

TAPPER: Need proof?

BELTRAN: Thank you, man.

TAPPER: Tristan's handmade gift to Andrew says it all.

BELTRAN: Thank you for being my mentor. I have lots of fun when I'm with you. I'm grateful you're in my life. This is great, buddy. Thank you, man. I appreciate you.

KELLY: You're welcome.

BELTRAN: This is really good.

TAPPER: Jake Tapper, CNN -- Washington.


VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Stay with us. Rosemary Church takes over right after the break. You're watching CNN.