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Trump Invites Kim Jong-un To Shake Hands At DMZ; Jimmy Carter Suggests Trump Is An Illegitimate President; Trump: Kamala Harris Given Too Much Credit Over Biden Debate Sparring; Marianne Williamson Searches Soar After Democratic Debate; Border Crisis: What's It Going To Take?; Harrowing Photo Of Dead Migrant Father & Daughter Jolts Immigration Debate; Suspect Arrested In Case Of Missing University Of Utah College Student; Remembering 9/11 Hero: Luis Alvarez Who Testified Before Congress In His Final Days Dies; Radioactive Tourism: HBO Series Sends Tourists Flooding To Chernobyl. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 29, 2019 - 17:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello on this Saturday, you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. President Trump offering to meet up with North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un at the DMZ.

Certainly, the first time this kind of proposition has been made via social media. But let's dig into this offer a little bit deeper. He says he would like to shake Kim's hand, and later said he would feel "Very comfortable stepping across the border into North Korea." Now that is something no other President has ever done.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You made this very public invitation to Kim Jong- un. Would it be a bad sign if he doesn't show up?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: No. Of course I thought of that because I know if he didn't, everybody is going to say he was stood up by Chairman Kim. I understood that. It is very hard - he follows my Twitter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He does? He is following upward?

TRUMP: I guess so. We got a call very quickly. A lot of people follow it. You know, they've contacted us. They like to see if they could do so. We are not talking about for extended, just a quick hello. And we get along.


CABRERA: CNN White House Correspondent, Abby Phillip joins us now from Seoul, South Korea. Abby, we are hearing that members of Trump's own diplomatic team were caught off guard by his offer to Kim. What more can you tell us?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ana. We have known that President Trump was obviously coming to South Korea and that there was a possibility that like other Presidents, he would go to the DMZ. But the President's decision to tweet an invitation to Kim Jong-un to meet him in the Demilitarized Zone caught not only us as reporters off guard but also his own staff. Some of whom were tasked with organizing this Presidential visit to the DMZ which will be happening today here in Korea.

But President Trump is banking on this potential visit, this potential meeting as a way to restart talks with Kim Jong-un a man who he has had virtually nothing but positive things to say. They exchanged letters. The President described as cordial and friendly over the last several weeks. And President Trump is urging him to show up at this meeting just simply to shake his hand.

All of this led to the question of what is it with President Trump and leaders like Kim like Vladimir Putin like the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed Bin Salman and others who are considered to be strong men on the world stage. And our own Jim Acosta asked him that very question and here is how he answered.


TRUMP: I get along with everybody, except you people actually. I get along with a lot of people. I have a tremendous relationship with President Xi. Nobody else would have the deal but we have. We're getting tens of billions of dollars from China coming in. Lots of things are happening. And despite that, we are moving along toward something that could be very historic. But I get along with President Putin. I get along with Mohammed from Saudi Arabia.


PHILLIP: Well, all of this is the President's answer to these criticisms. But when it comes to this Kim meeting, it is not clear what exactly President Trump is getting out of his friendship in part because denuclearization talks haven't gone anywhere. It is not clear even this meeting at the DMZ, if it happens, will make that process move forward any faster. Ana.

CABRERA: Okay Abby Phillip, in Seoul, South Korea for us thank you. Joining us now is CNN's Political Analyst and National Security Correspondent for the New York Times David Sanger. David, let's say this does happen that Kim Jong-un is there to greet the President at the DMZ. Now what is the point if there is nothing other than a photo op?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well the photo op for the President may well be the point and may be the point for Kim Jong-un. No American President has ever stepped foot into North Korea. I'm sure that for President Trump having that first will be as important to him as the first meeting with a North Korean leader which took place little more than a year ago in Singapore. You saw some of the tape of that earlier.

So these are all big symbolic steps. Of course, this is a President who loves on the camera moment to show that. And certainly he can make an argument that his relationship with the President of North Korea is better than any American President with any of the three North Korean leaders from the end of the Korean War forward.

[17:05:00] But Abby got right at the central point. This is the third meeting. And while you could get away with photo ops in the first and the second may be. By the end of the second meeting in Hanoi earlier this year, it was clear they simply have not done the prep work to begin to put together something that resembles a solution. Right now, it is going very well for President Kim because he is continuing to manufacture nuclear material, he is continuing to build missiles. He is not testing them. But his program is hardly frozen.

CABRERA: Trump says he is angry about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi but he defends his relationship with the leader of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Nobody so far has pointed directly a finger at the future king of Saudi Arabia. They have been a traffic ally they are creating millions of jobs in this country they are ordering equipment not only military equipment, but $400 billion worth of and actually even more than that over a period of time. With that being said, I'm extremely angry and unhappy about the thing like that taking place.


CABRERA: David, the White House read out does show they did discuss human rights. Is that progress?

SANGER: Depends on what it is that they said. Most White House readouts for most White Houses, not just the Trump administration, make a point of saying human rights came up even if it was only flick baton of course of a conversation. But pick apart for a moment Ana, what he just said.

First of all he said no one has pointed a finger at Prince Mohammed. That's not true the CIA has concluded with meeting him to high confidence that the Prince was involved in or at least knowledgeable of the Khashoggi murder before it happened. We know that they have tape recordings in which he said someone is going to have to put a bullet in his head and he won't come back to Saudi Arabia.

The United Nations just two weeks ago turned out a report that called for an FBI investigation to look at the Prince's personal involvement because his closest aides had been directly involved in the mission to Turkey in which Mr. Khashoggi was murdered. What we've heard the President say six months ago was the U.S. will get to the bottom of this wherever the facts lead them. What we hear him say now is Saudi Arabia is a very important partner orders billions of dollars of American goods that's all true and that's sort of the end of it.

CABRERA: David, I have to ask about this next thing because it is so extraordinary. President Trump and Former President Jimmy Carter now going at it tooth and nail. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JIMMY CARTER, 39TH U.S. PRESIDENT: There's no doubt the Russians did interfere in the election. I think the interference all though, not yet quantified, pulled an investigative result that Trump can actually win the election in 2016. He lost the election. He was put in office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.

TRUMP: He's been trashed within his own party. He's been badly trashed. I felt badly for him. You look over the years. His party has virtually has - he is the forgotten President. I understand why they say that. He was not a good President.


CABRERA: David, what happens when our allies hear two U.S. Presidents talking about each other like that?

SANGER: Well, for our allies is probably, less disturbing because it is internal than what they've heard on many other issues the President going out highly critical of many of our allies in a 24-hour period praising President Putin, praising President Xi meeting perhaps Kim Jong-un in a few hours meeting the Saudi Prince when he is under suspicion in a murder investigation.

But what I found interesting about this was I'm not sure that Jimmy Carter is necessarily right. We know we have a pretty good sense of what the Russians did. We know about the influence operations. We know that it didn't have any effect at the ballot box. We would know that they did not actually affect things at the ballot box.

CABRERA: Right, voter tally.

SANGER: We don't know the important yes the tally themselves. So we don't know how much difference that influence operation made. It is a hard case to prove that President Trump would not have been elected absent the Russian interference. Jimmy Carter has largely been abandoned by his party. He does not end up being called upon by many Democratic Presidents who followed.

CABRERA: All right. David Sanger, good to have your insight. Thank you.

SANGER: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: He may be on the other side of the world, but President Trump made clear he kept tabs on the Democratic Debates.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you think Kamala Harris would be a tough opponent for you given what you saw in that debate?

[17:10:00] TRUMP: You never know who is going to be tough.


CABRERA: Plus, the digital trail. Cell phone and social media leading to an arrest in the killing of the University of Utah student. And radioactive tourism, a hit HBO miniseries sparks that tourism boom to the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster.


CABRERA: Thursday night's Democratic Debate featuring Kamala Harris and Joe Biden and eight other candidates was the highest rated in Democratic Primary history. More than 18 million viewers tuned in for that debate according to Neilson. Someone who caught the highlights President Trump who today weighed in on Former Vice President Joe Biden's contentious exchange with Senator Harris over his record on busing.


TRUMP: She was given too much credit. He didn't do well certainly. Maybe the facts weren't necessarily on his side. I think she was given too much credit for what she did wasn't that outstanding. And I think probably he was hit harder than he should have been hit.


CABRERA: Joining us now is Karen Finney a CNN Political Commentator and Former Senior Advisor to Hillary Clinton's Campaign also S.E. Cupp, CNN Political Commentator and Host of CNN's "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED" at the Top of the Hour.

[17:15:00] S.E., president Trump there coming to Joe Biden's defense after he's been attacking Biden over and over again do you see this as a sign he may be finding it difficult and trying to figure out how to deal with Kamala Harris?

S.E. CUPP, CNN ANCHOR: I don't think he is prepared. Kamala Harris had a great night. She owned that stage. She was in charge. And I'm not sure Trump was ready with the quick nickname or catchy slogan to go after Kamala. But he needs to get ready. I think she is about to have a really good couple of weeks and months.

CABRERA: And Karen, during the debate, Harris at the issue of busing to desegregate schools was personal to her. She herself was part of the second class to integrate her public schools in California just hours later that moment was turned into a T-shirt. Showing Harris as a young girl put on sale for $29.99 each shirts of trigger kind of mixed reaction. What is your reaction? Is this a good opportunity for Harris to win voter's support or was the camp too quick to profit of this moment?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well I might not have done the T-shirts. I mean I think they also if I'm not mistaken, they tweeted the picture very soon after she made the comment.

CABRERA: Right during the debate.

FINNEY: Yes. It is the kind of thing to be honest with you I mean, when I have done preparation with different candidates, it is something that you prep for. You might have a couple of things in your pocket. The idea is if the moment comes and you can get this particular point in and you have got sort of a bunch of things kind of teed up and ready to go. She got very lucky because obviously it was a very strong point. It was an important point.

She was able to land it perfectly. You don't always get all those things coming together at the same time. Look, I think part of the goal here is to remind to vote for Kamala. She has been getting hit a little bit from the left on her record as a prosecutor. So this also reminds people that she as a black woman and is part of the black experience in the country and speaks for a large percentage of the people who will be very important in the Democratic Primary.

CABRERA: Biden, he's obviously, been on the defense here. Listen to how he is now defending his comments from the debate.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I heard and I listened to and I respect Senator Harris. But you know we all know that 30 seconds to 60 seconds on a campaign debate exchange can't do justice to a lifetime commitment to civil rights. I want to be absolutely clear about my record and position on racial justice including busing. I never, never, never ever opposed voluntary busing.


CABRERA: S.E. was he effective? Did he clear things up?

CUPP: No. To have that position to be defending what he said in 2019 it's really untenable. The better thing to have done would be say; look I made the wrong call at the time. Because he is not and because he is so defensive of his record and he is right. This one moment in time does not tell you everything you need to know about Joe Biden's record. He is so defensive.

It just doesn't look like it makes him look stuck, stuck in the past and unable to move forward not just with his own party, but with the country. The country - it's almost left him behind. I don't think he is ever going to fix that or clean it up. I think he is going to have to hope that with time some of this stuff just fades and there are other scandals and other things to look at. I don't think he is really interested in cleaning this up.

CABRERA: I also wonder, Karen, how much do Democratic voters really care about what Joe Biden said or did in 1974?

FINNEY: Yes, look I think there is a couple of things right? We don't yet know what kind of impact both what happened on Thursday night and the speech that he gave to try to clean it up will have. I think we'll see that over the course of the next couple of weeks leading up to our CNN debate which obviously will be critically important to see how this all shakes out.

But I think S.E.'s point is very well taken. He needs to figure out a couple of things like this in his past record where he kind of keeps getting stuck. He is not as in tune with where the Democratic Party is in 2019. As much as he wants to take on Trump, I keep reminding people you have got to win the Democratic Primary to get there and you have to be in tune with the voters. I think the speech he gave was actually a wonderful speech. Unfortunate he didn't give it sooner.

[17:20:00] If he can't figure out a way to take ownership of a past position and then pivot and say I want to talk about the rest of my record which is what he was able to do on Friday. He talked about things like pattern and practice investigation and he talked about issues with cash bill. He talked about a lot of modern issues that we're dealing with in Criminal Justice Reform.

But you are not going to get that to talk about the future if you can't sort of figure out how you're going to make peace with the past. I was just also surprised he wasn't better prepared for that kind of attack to come.

CABRERA: Let me ask about a lesser known candidate Author and Activist Marianne Williamson. She was the most searched candidate during the Thursday night debate. Google says Williamson's search interest surged every time she spoke on stage her answers mostly calling for leading with love. Let's just listen to this sample.


MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'll tell you one thing, it's really nice that we got all these plans, but if you think we are going to beat Donald Trump by just having all of these plans, you got another thing coming. Because he didn't win by saying he had a plan. He won by simply saying make America great again.


CABRERA: S.E., does she make a point about policy versus message?

CUPP: Could you find points in there? I don't know. Marianne Williamson is a gift. I want her to run for President for the rest of her life so that we have some of these moments. But was she talking about policies I'm not sure. I think she was talking about sloganeering and branding.

CABRERA: Right and she make a point that said President Trump won the Presidency with make America great with a slogan.

CUPP: We want to do that again? That's not what I want. I don't want another cult of personality character in the White House. I want someone who is serious and who has some experience. I don't want another branding expert to take over the Oval office.

CABRERA: All right ladies. Karen, go ahead.

FINNEY: I think we have to recognize though that when President Trump was talking about make America great again, it is more than a slogan it also was speaking directly to how people were feeling. We know there have been now seven studies in the aftermath of the election for many of the Trump voters the majority of the Trump voters they were feelings of fear of change some fear of racial change fear of misogyny sort of women's role the changing roles of women in this country.

Remember during 2016, we kept saying well when was this great time when everybody had all this freedom and America is a - we're always a work in progress. I do think the point that she made their though was well taken that he knew how to speak to what voters cared about. I certainly think for the Democrats, both in the primary and general election, we have to be able to learn to speak not just to the what of what people say, but why they feel that way and show that we have got solutions to address those challenges.

CABRERA: Karen Finney, S.E. Cupp. Thank you both. And be sure to tune in to S.E. Show, S.E. CUPP Unfiltered tonight at 6:00 in just a little over half an hour from now. Another quick programming note CNN will bring you two nights of Democratic Presidential debates live from Detroit July 30th and 31st that's on Tuesday and Wednesday. We'll be right back.


CABRERA: I can't stop thinking about this picture. If you are a parent or frankly if you have a heart, chances are you've been thinking about it too. The little girl and her father in that murky water where they came to rest in the Reeds next to Simole Beer Cans long and desperate journey toward a better life cut short in the Rio Grande right at America's edge. I can't stop thinking about this picture.

And whether it will finally be the catalyst for change I think about everything we knew before and how things still didn't change. I think about the children who survived the journey only to wind up in facilities that are so overcrowded with conditions you never wish for anyone especially a child.

I think about the border station in Clint, Texas and the description from a researcher with Human Rights Watch about how the children were covered in filthy clothes some without socks or shoes. Her remarks are just haunting to read. The kids had colds and were sick and said they did not have access to soap to wash their hands. Some kids who were detained for two to three weeks had only one or two opportunities to shower. Many are sleeping on the floor some with mattresses some without. They are left to fend for themselves older kids taking care of the babies. Another observer put it this way.


ELORA MUKHERJEE, JEROME L. GREENE CLINICAL PROFESSOR OF LAW AT COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL AND DIRECTOR OF LAW SCHOOL'S IMMIGRANTS' RIGHTS CLINIC: What I saw last week at Clint, what I smelled, what I heard left me shocked and appalled that this is what our government is doing in our name with our taxpayer dollars. And these are the most degrading and inhumane conditions that I have ever seen for children in federal immigration custody.


CABRERA: Think about that. And think about the other images we have seen along the way of families waiting behind chain linked fences or detained under a bridge in El Paso or of the kids crying at the border. Or even that sound of what it was like when they were taken from their parents and guardians.


CABRERA: And so here we are again. A new story, but the same old question when will things change? When will we stop seeing images like this one? Of Oscar Martinez and his 23 month old daughter Angie Valadia who will never know the life they dreamed of in the United States.

[17:30:00] CABRERA: I want to bring in Alice Driver. She's a freelance journalist and translator who has spent the last two years reporting on asylum seekers at the U.S./Mexico border.

Alice, you say when you learned about Oscar Martinez and Angie Valeria's death, you weren't surprised. Why not?


Unfortunately, I wasn't surprised. Because last month, I went to Matamoros, which is where Oscar and his daughter drowned crossing the river. I was there interviewing asylum seekers with "National Geographic" photographer, John Stanmeyer.

What we saw was groups of people living in tents, camping out in areas that are controlled by drug cartels and they are living there for months. These are asylum seekers. And asylum is a legal international right.

CABRERA: And acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, seemed to blame Oscar for his and his daughter's deaths, saying the father should have waited to go through the asylum process. Listen to this.


KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP & IMMIGRATION SERVICES: The reason we have tragedies like that on the border is because those folks -- that father didn't want to wait to go through the asylum process in the legal fashion, so decided to cross the river, and not only died, but his daughter died tragically as well.


CABRERA: I read this article you wrote this week. I understand that what you are trying to explain is that President Trump and his administration has really made seeking asylum difficult.

You talked to one man who described the experience of trying to request asylum as, quote, "psychological warfare." Explain what asylum seekers are experiencing under Trump's metering policy.

DRIVER: They are experiencing a process which is continually changing. And often they manage the asylum process themselves. So they are arriving in Matamoros and being told that they have to be on an asylum list and take a number.

When I met people living in tents under the bridge and families from Venezuela and Cuba, they had mostly been there for two to three months. And they had pieces of paper with numbers on them.

And they said they waited until the time which U.S. Customs and Border Protection would say, we'll take two pregnant women today. But they said there were weeks when no asylum seekers were allowed to request asylum.

You have a process that is completely managed by either asylum seekers or by pastors. It is a very informal and changing process and they lose hope.

CABRERA: During Thursday night's debate, nearly all of the Democratic presidential candidates on stage said they would support decriminalizing border crossings. Would this help the situation or would this incentivize an already dangerous journey?

DRIVER: A very good point. Seeking asylum is not a criminal matter. That's really what we need to address. We need to invest in processing asylum cases.

The reason there's a buildup on the border is because people who have often valid reasons to request asylum are not allowed to even make the request and go through the process that is their legal right.

So rather than invest in detention, which costs $975 a day to house someone in detention, we should think about decriminalizing the asylum process. These are not criminals. These are people fleeing horrific conditions.

CABRERA: All right. Alice Driver, thank you for being here.

DRIVER: Thank you for having me.

CABRERA: We'll be right back.


[17:37:30] CABRERA: A suspect now facing charges for the kidnapping and murder of University of Utah student, Mackenzie Lueck. Police say they tracked down the 31-year-old Utah man using a trail of digital evidence, including texts between him and Lueck just hours before she disappeared.

CNN's Scott McLean reports.


MIKE BROWN, CHIEF, SALT LAKE CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT: It is with heavy heart that I address you today.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police have made an arrest as chilling details emerge in the case of missing University of Utah student, Mackenzie Lueck. Investigators detailing what they uncovered on a property they've been searching since Wednesday.

BROWN: Charred material was located, which has now been forensically determined to be female human tissue. A DNA profile of that human tissue was obtained during forensic testing by the Utah state lab. That DNA profile was compared and is consistent with the DNA profile obtained through further forensic testing of personal items of Mackenzie Lueck.

MCLEAN: Lueck's uncle saying just a few words.

UNIDENTIFIED UNCLE OF MACKENZIE LUECK: The Lueck family would like to express their gratitude for the effort put forth by the Salt Lake City Police Department. They are also grateful to her community, her friends and others around the nation who have supported this investigation.

MCLEAN: Salt Lake City police say they would not have made an arrest were it not for the digital breadcrumbs left behind by Lueck and the suspect leading investigators to this home.

Police questioned the property's owner, 31-year-old Ayoola Ajayi, Thursday as a person of interest. He was arrested on Friday morning at a nearby apartment complex.

BROWN: After an exhaustive week of investigation, we are filing charges of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnaping, obstruction of justice, and desecration of a body in the homicide of Mackenzie Lueck.

MCLEAN: The clues leading to Ajayi's arrest began at the Salt Lake City airport early last week. A 1:00 a.m. text Lueck sent to her parents confirming to her parents that Lueck had arrived back in Salt Lake City safely.

CCTV showing her with her luggage near a baggage carousel. Then, police say, a Lyft ride, dropping her off at 3:00 a.m. at Hatch Park in north Salt Lake.

BROWN: Investigation of Mackenzie's phone records show that her last communications were with the arrested person.

Phone records show the location of their phones to be at Hatch Park within less than a minute of each other. This was the same time as Mackenzie's phone stopped receiving any further data or location services on June 17th at approximately 3:00 a.m.

[17:40:15] MCLEAN: Thursday, police investigating other clues into Lueck's fate. A mattress and box spring given away a week ago. And a tip from a neighbor who described the suspect burning something in his backyard.

Chief Brown composing himself as he described the call to Mackenzie's parents.

BROWN: This is one of the most difficult phone calls I've ever made. As both Greg and his wife, Diana, were devastated and heartbroken by this news. MCLEAN: Questions remain as to how Lueck and Ajayi initially came

into contact and what led to her horrific death.

(on camera): According to his LinkedIn page, the suspect worked in I.T. for Dell and previously for Goldman Sachs.

His neighbors say he was quiet but pretty ordinary. They say he ran an Airbnb out of his basement that was booked most nights.

One person even called him the epitome of a great neighbor -- Ana?


CABRERA: All right, Scott McLean, thank you.

Coming up, remembering a 9/11 hero who, in his final days, delivered a powerful message to Congress.


LUIS ALVAREZ, 9/11 FIRST RESPONDER: You all said you would never forget. Well, I'm here to make sure that you don't.



[17:45:20] CABRERA: A retired NYPD officer, who made a searing appearance before Congress to plead for continued health benefits for 9/11 first responders, has died. And 53-year-old Luis Alvarez passed away today after a long battle with cancer he traced to the months he spent helping to clean up Ground Zero.

It was just 18 days ago that Alvarez testified before Congress, alongside Jon Stewart, to make sure a fund to compensate victims of 9/11 doesn't run out of money.


ALVAREZ: I have been lucky enough to have had 68 rounds of chemo. Yes, you heard me right, 68 rounds. Many others haven't had the opportunity to have five. Some have had none. Their families would love to have time with them and mine with time with me.

We became police officers, firefighters, paramedics to help others. We went to Ground Zero, the Pentagon and Shanksville to help people first and then help their families bury someone or something. We were there with one mission and we left after completing that mission.

I had been to many places in this world -- excuse me -- and done many things. But I can tell you that I did not want to be anywhere else but Ground Zero when I was there.

We were part of showing the world that we would never back down from terrorism and that we could all work together, no races, no colors, no politics. This fund is not a ticket to paradise. It is there to provide for our

families when we can't. Nothing more.

You all said you would never forget. Well, I'm here to make sure that you don't.




[17:51:45] CABRERA: When "CNN Hero," Jamyle Cannon, was in school, he had anger issues and got into fights. But once he took up boxing in college, everything changed. Now he's using the sport to help students on Chicago's west side.


JAMYLE CANNON, CNN HERO: All right, let's work.

We're using this to teach kids to fight for their own success.

Hands up. Pump, boom, boom, just like that.

I want them to learn how to apply all the positive aspects of boxing, the self-control and the discipline, the focus, and walk around with those principles every day.

This is your homework for today? Check you out.

When we give the support that they need, they learn that they are capable and the sky's the limit.

I can't wait for people to see just how powerful our kids are.


CABRERA: To nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," logon to

Get this. The site of the worst nuclear disaster in history has suddenly become a popular tourist attraction. It's all thanks to the hit HBO show, "Chernobyl."

CNN's Matthew Chance reports.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It used to be a nursery school for the children of Chernobyl. Now it's one of the morbid attractions for the tourist hordes exploring this nuclear exclusion zone.


CHANCE: Their beeping radiation alarms, part of the creepy experience.


CHANCE: This entire area, complete with a Ferris wheel that was never used, was evacuated back in 1986 after the then-Soviet Union acknowledged the catastrophic release of radiation from Chernobyl reactor number four. You can still see it looming on the horizon.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You will need to move quickly and you will need to move carefully.

CHANCE: It's also the dramatic backdrop for the recent HBO drama which paints a terrifying picture of the Soviet regime in denial.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: In term of radiation, I'm told it's the equivalent of a chest x-ray.

CHANCE: Leaving its own citizens in harm's way.

"Chernobyl," the miniseries, has been viewed so widely it's credited with raising global awareness of the dangers of our nuclear age.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I liked about how real it was and intense it was, so, like it kept in suspense. But then you realize it's actually how it happened in real life. And then after the show, I was watching a lot of documentaries and wanted to find out more about this.

CHANCE (on camera): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I found out there's tours there and you can come over.

CHANCE: You're not worried about the radiation? I mean, you still can --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. The way -- the way I understand is the risk of being here one day is like the same as smoking three cigarettes. And I'm a nonsmoker.

UNIDENTIFIED TOUR GUIDE: OK. That's the art school.

CHANCE (voice-over): Tour operators say visitor numbers are expected to double this year as caution towards Chernobyl turns to curiosity.

(on camera): But walking through this nuclear ghost town, you get a strong sense of the catastrophic dangers of nuclear power. I mean, how can you avoid it?

But there's something much broader, too. An idea that Chernobyl is a warning from the past about what can happen when governments try to hide the truth and how even innocent people can be sacrificed to protect those if power. (voice-over): For some Chernobyl visitors, like Ed, from Texas, it's

a message still relevant today.

[17:55:09] ED CHARLESWORTH, TOURIST: I think it symbolizes a very strong need for not prevaricating about information.

CHANCE (on camera): Not lying.

CHARLESWORTH: Not lying about information but being forthright. And a lot could have happened differently had the line not taken place. I mean, it's still -

CHANCE: Chernobyl is the ultimate consequence, isn't it? What happens --


CHANCE: -- when governments fail to acknowledge reality, the truth.

CHARLESWORTH: Right. Exactly. Exactly.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What have they done?

CHANCE (voice-over): But there are concerns that the horrors portrayed so graphically in the HBO series, especially of the so- called liquidators sacrificed to clean up the radioactive mess, are being trivialized --


CHANCE: -- by Chernobyl's tourism boom.

One Instagramer recently posted these racy images of herself apparently near the reactor. She later apologized and said she wasn't really at Chernobyl at all.

But perhaps a few tasteless selfies are a low price to pay for relearning the terrible lessons of the world's worst nuclear disaster.





CABRERA: That is Matthew Chance reporting.

From a hit TV show to the movies you love, get ready for a new original series, "THE MOVIES." The stories behind iconic films premiers Sunday, July 7, here on CNN.

I'm Ana Cabrera. Thanks for being here. I'll be back in an hour from now.

S.E. Cupp continues our coverage of today's news right after a quick break.