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U.S. Looking into Whether Kim Jong-Un Executed Top Negotiators; New "Heartbeat" Bill May Push Media Companies Out of Georgia; 8-Way Tie in National Spelling Bee. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 31, 2019 - 14:30   ET



[14:30:00] MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: We're doing the best to check it out. I don't have anything to add to that, not today.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Bob Baer is a former CIA operative and CNN intelligence and security analyst.

So, Bob, executing top officials because of a failed summit. Is this seriously in the realm of possibility?

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE & SECURITY ANALYST: Oh, absolutely, Brooke. It is par for the course for Kim Jong-Un. He killed his uncle. Strapped him to an anti-aircraft gun and blew him apart. He killed his half-brother with a weapon of mass destruction in an international airport. This guy is perfectly capable of doing this.

And what worries me, Brooke, is this the president's -- he likes the guy. What does that say about Trump?

BALDWIN: How do you -- if these reports are true, how should Trump respond to this? And how do you think he will?

BAER: Well, I mean, the way to do is to simply back off from the North Koreans. At this point, they're clearly not reliable partners and very dangerous and they need to go back to the old way of dealing with North Korea and not pretending of going to the summit, these summits, and pretending that something happened.

It is just encouraging him and Kim Jong-Un is, like I said, is not a reliable partner. And that country is very dangerous. And we have to do a re-set on this. No doubt about it.

BALDWIN: If you are an American negotiator with this country, what is going to happen, presumably, there will be another round because of how President Trump views this dictator. When there's another round of talks, and if you are sitting there thinking as an American diplomat these are new people to deal with and depending on how it goes, they might not be there for the next round.

BAER: No. They're afraid to say anything. Not a word. They're not going to turn out to be well at the next negotiations because these people know what is in store for them. I would go back to the Chinese.

And the last thing we should be doing now is annoying them but the only country with any influence over North Korea is China and a little bit Russia.

And at this point, we need an alliance against North Korea. We can't pretend it is not the "Art of the Deal." That is not the way it works.

BALDWIN: Bob Baer, thank you.

Breaking news. In a search for a 4-year-old girl in Texas. We are getting word of a jailhouse confession.

Plus, she was the key figure in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas and, of course, she recently spoke about Joe Biden's roll there as chairman of the committee, but today, hear what Professor Anita Hill told graduates.


[14:37:29] BALDWIN: In Georgia, the list of major film and TV studios considering boycotting production in this state is growing. Netflix, and Disney and CBS and Warner Media say they may relocate their projects if the state's new abortion law takes effect January 1st.

Georgia has become known as the Hollywood of the south because of the number of feature films and TV shows made there. So much so, it has garnered the nickname Yally-wood.

From the Rich Eldredge has been a journalist in Atlanta for 30 years and is the founder of a digital arts and entertainment magazine called "Eldredge ATL."

Rich, good to see you my friend.

Let's begin with how much this is helped Georgia. The motion picture association said Georgia provided 92,000 local jobs and $2.7 billion in direct spending. So with these companies pulling out, how much will that hurt Georgia?

RICH ELDREDGE, JOURNALIST & FOUNDER, ELDREDGE ATL MAGAZINE: It is huge. I mean, so think about it this way. Georgia's top three industries are film and television, convention and agriculture. And so this is the top. We're talking about over $10 billion a year. The last time I checked.

And so I think the folks who are supporting this bill, who are mad at, quote/unquote, "Hollywood liberals," who cares if Robert Downey Jr doesn't make movies here. But what they fail to think about are the friends and neighbors who live here and work here and as gaffers and as camera people and as makeup artists.

BALDWIN: What about the screenwriter that you were in touch with. What did he say to you? ELDREDGE: I got a text back from a screenwriter. I've been covering

him since his first plays were produced in Atlanta. And he is a screenwriter for Hallmark.

And I said, what do you want people to know about this. And I'll read this to you. He said that, "We get it. We understand why our colleagues who are not based in the southeast would be disinclined to pursue projects here but there's a moment when southern progressives are up against the ropes. And if you all walk away right now, you're leaving us to fight alone. We need back-up."

BALDWIN: Why do these production companies and these actors think that their threats will lead to change in this law?

ELDREDGE: It's a big question. Because Brian Kemp, our current governor, he ran on this issue. And so that is why -- that momentum helped get this legislation across the finish line at the gold dome.

I think you're seeing a lot of conversations happening behind the scenes. Disney is one of the most recent studios to say they're now re-evaluating their options in this state.

[14:40:15] And so think about what is going behind the scenes. Brie Larson, who did Captain Marvel for Disney, one of the most -- one

of the biggest box office successes. If people like Brie Larson are saying to Disney, I won't work on the sequel in Georgia, if Taraji P. Henson (ph) and Tiffany Haddish (ph) say to Tyler Perry, we won't go to your studios in Georgia to make the next production, that will have significant impact.

Think about "Stranger Things," "Ozark," all of shows, "The Walking Dead" --


BALDWIN: So much shows --

ELDREDGE: So many.

BALDWIN: -- shot in Georgia.


BALDWIN: I don't think people fully appreciate that. And just as a fellow Georgian, it is just boosted the state, the economy, people's opportunities so much. It's tough. And you understand why some people are doing what they're doing.

But I feel you listening to the screenwriters quote. And it is like -- it is just -- and it's what Kemp ran on. So what do you do?


BALDWIN: So we'll see if the companies who are re-evaluating make good on promises to pull out.

Rich Eldredge, we'll continue the conversation. It is wonderful to see you. Great to see you.

ELDREDGE: Thanks. Sure.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Just into CNN, a devastating confession. The stepfather of the missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis just confessed to where he dumped her body.

Derion Vence was caring for Maleah while her mother was out of town. He initially told police that three men knocked him unconscious and abducted this little girl, but surveillance footage shows she never left the apartment. And he was arrested as a suspect.

And now community activists, Quonel Ex (ph), said Vence said this during an investigation.


QUONEL EX (ph), COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: He said what happened to Maleah was an accident. He said it was an accident. And he confessed to me where he dumped her body. And so Texas will coordinate those efforts to find her remains. Detectives now have -- the information they need. But he told me it was an accident.


BALDWIN: Now a search team plans to fly to Arkansas to try to find Maleah's body.

The Dow checking the markets falling again as we're learning the president's top trade adviser was against the threat to slap new tariffs on Mexico. Much more on that.

Also, after three and a half hours of grueling competition, this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee ended with not one, not two, but eight winners. We'll talk to a former champ and coach, next.









(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Oh, my goodness. Incredible ending to this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee. Not one or two, but eight winners for the first time ever.

And get this. After round 17, the competition had to make the decision to call it quits after 20 rounds because there weren't enough challenging words. And for this group of elite eight, after three and a half hours of grueling competition, sharing the victory even sweeter.


UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: As a speller, you know how hard everyone else has worked and how much they deserve to win because you're here with everyone else. You're all finalists in the national spelling bee.


BALDWIN: Sam Rega is the director of the 2018 documentary "Breaking the Bee," exploring the 20-year trend of the Indian American students dominating the spelling bee. And Scott Isaacs is a former spelling bee champ and current coach.

So welcome to both of you.

OK. So exciting. If you're a linguist or enjoy the spoken word or the root of words, it's fascinating.

And, Sam, you called them the slayers of the dictionary but an eight- way tie. Should they have kept going?

SAM REGA, DIRECTOR: Yes. I ultimately, I would love to see them go for hours and hours and hours and you just crown one winner after, two or three or four in the morning but that is not what we're here to do or see. And I think to see eight kids win and holding that trophy altogether with the hands up like that --

BALDWIN: Phenomenal.

REGA: It was phenomenal. It is a magical moment and something that the Scripps bee you never know what could happen and that is what we saw last night.

BALDWIN: Unexpected.

Scott, you were once in the kids shoes. We'll throw words on the screen and -- these are the words that the kids aced. I'm not even going to begin to try to say these words.


BALDWIN: What do you think that the decision was like with this level of difficulty to call it after 20 rounds?

ISAACS: I think basically what this came down to, was the fact that the knowledge of the spellers was absolutely brilliant. But having said that, the bee can only go on so long before endurance starts to become to be a factor. Even more than book knowledge. And TV time. And I think it basically came down to --


BALDWIN: And lives -- they can't stand up there forever, right.

[14:50:00] ISAACS: They can't. And we saw that. One of the spellers said, do you know what time it is? And it was basically because -- we can't go on much longer. They're knowledge is unimpeachable. It has to be time.

BALDWIN: Do you think -- for the two of you -- but Scott, staying with you, do you think the words should be harder. Sam told me there's spelling bee shade going around today like the words should have been harder and more words with unknown origin roots. What say you?

ISAACS: I believe that the words were as difficult as I have ever seen at Scripps. And I have seen some bees where the words were more difficult.

But having said that, think it comes down to are these words appropriate for learning. They become so specialized and so arcane that you wonder, what are they learning and is it worth it to be able to learn the words that you'll never see, never use, never be exposed to for the rest of your life. So then you start to wonder, is it just a memorization contest?


And then to you, Sam, on a lot of your film about celebrating Indian- American kids who sort of smoke everyone else. Why?

REGA: There are a lot of different factors. And in our film, we start in the 1960s. 1965 there's a change of immigration laws. That was allowing highly-educated migrants into the country and eliminated racist quota and that got things started and in 1985 John is the first Indian-American to win.

The headlines, they were son of migrants wins the Scripps national spelling bee from that moment on that told everyone that this community can do it. And then it just continued to perpetuate with ESPN hosting it every single year. That is the biggest sports stage. Indian-Americans dominate the geography bee. But that is not on ESPN.

So these kids are on TV with Lebron, with Serena Williams. When you're next to them, you say I want to do that and it just continues.

And then you also get into the fact that this is a very tight-knit family community and they know multiple languages. They're with parents and studying and also very academically driven group because that is how their parents came to this country.

That is how the parents succeeded and so they want to impart that and all of that comes together as a perfect storm of the last decades with the 12 consecutive years of winners.

BALDWIN: The hours and hours of preparation. I know both of you know all about that.

But, Scott, especially you.

I wish I had more time. I have to go.


BALDWIN: But again, Sam's film is "Breaking the Bee".

REGA: And bee was broken last night.

BALDWIN: And the bee was broken.

REGA: It was.

BALDWIN: Sam Rega and Scott Isaacs, thank you.

ISAACS: Thank you.

REGA: Thank you very much.

BALDWIN: Ahead, they could be the oddest couple on Capitol Hill. Why Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ted Cruz are teaming up.

Plus, first on CNN, a surprise inspection leads to stunning images in a border facility for migrants.

We'll be right back.


[14:57:50] BALDWIN: An Atlanta police officer started a program called Clippers and Cops to mend the relationship between law enforcement and community to host talks at local barbershops.

Nick Valencia takes a look at how Detective Tyrone Dennis went "BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY."


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In South Atlanta, the Cleveland Avenue Barber Shop really packs them in.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You still young.

VALENCIA: But when Atlanta Police Department investigator-detective, Tyrone Dennis, shows up, it's no longer just about a shave and a haircut.

DENNIS: Do I look like I have a gun on?


DENNIS: I have a gun on.


DENNIS: Could he have put a gun in here?


DENNIS: Do I know him?


DENNIS: No further questions.

VALENCIA: This is "Clippers and Cops," a program started by Det. Dennis one year ago in Atlanta.

DENNIS: I reached out to other people that I know, possibly with former felons, former gang members -- different things like that -- and we basically came up with the concept to let's talk.

We trying to get them a gun.

VALENCIA: This 15-year detective, now with the gang unit, partnered with other local police officers in an effort to mend gaps between citizens and police through open conversation and interaction.

They cover a wide variety of topics from politics to sports to current events. But his main objective is to create trust and empathy between law enforcement and the community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The younger generation of police needs to be involved to the extent that the older generation of police is involved.

DENNIS: That's the goal because the goal is to try to get the officers to let down their window.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then you have to understand that if he has those twists, he's going to have to face what comes at him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't judge me by how I look. Judge me by my character.


VALENCIA: As part of today's lesson, Detective Dennis explains what to do and not do when stopped by police.

DENNIS: Let your hands be visible. Spread your fingers, everybody. Spread them so we can see them. You can't get to no weapon if I can see your hands.

VALENCIA: The program happens on the third Thursday of every month at a different barber shop in the city.

DENNIS: A barber shop is, in a black community, a sanctuary that anything and any type of dialogue goes. So, we're just trying to piggyback off that and have these same open discussions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dealing with people and relationships just isn't about communication. You know what I'm saying -- straight up.

VALENCIA: The conversation is raw and realistic to what some experience when stopped by police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say you started this when?

DENNIS: Last year -- last March.