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Coronavirus Outbreak; Trump Budget Cuts; War in Syria; Deadly Clashes in India; Cruise Ship Crew Exposed to Virus as They Worked; Iran Cancels Friday Prayers in Affected Cities; Former White House Doctor Admits Dietary Deceit; Actor Explains Why He'll Stop Voicing 'Simpsons' Character. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired February 27, 2020 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, meet Czar Pence, the man who will save America from the coronavirus even though the U.S. president continues to downplay the threat, contradicting his most senior health officials.

Military stand-down as South Korea declares the coronavirus threat severe; joint exercises with the U.S. put on hold.

The worst religious violence in decades between Hindus and Muslims leaves dozens dead and hurt in the Indian capital. Mosques set on fire while a Hindu nationalist flag flies from another, sending an ominous warning to Muslims.


VAUSE: In Czar Mike Pence a nation trusts. Donald Trump has appointed his president to oversee the government's response to the outbreak of the coronavirus. On the daze of mixed messages with the administration playing down the threat, senior government health experts have publicly warned the country to prepare for an eventual outbreak on U.S. soil, the president made very appearance in the White House press room to try to correct the record. But he continued to undercut the warning from his own experts.


TRUMP: We are ready for it. It is what it is. We are ready for it. We are prepared. We have, as I said, the greatest people in the world. We are ready for it. We hope it doesn't spread. There's a chance it won't spread and there is a chance it will. That is the question about what level. So far we've done a great job.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Vice president Pence could be facing some difficult days ahead. Sources have told CNN the president is mostly concerned about the reaction on Wall Street, which has seen stocks down for three days in a row and the impact that could have on his chances for reelection. There are indications the outbreak may soon get a whole lot worse.

The Centers for Disease Control says a patient in Sacramento, California, could be the first U.S. case of community spread; in other words no link to China. CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's unclear how this person got coronavirus. Maybe they did get exposed to someone who was infected. We're not sure how this happened.

But it could represent the first example of community transmission and that is something we've been talking about for some time. This idea you haven't traveled there, haven't come in contact with a known infected person yet you still have the coronavirus.

That is an indication the virus is now here and starting to spread within communities. Again, the CDC is still going to chase this down. It's unclear if that patient represents this first evidence of community spread.

But the president has been saying for some time it's not inevitable that this will happen. Maybe we don't have any community spread at all, which has been at odds with what we're hearing from the CDC, who has been saying is not a question of if community spread will happen, it's a question of when it will happen. That is why so much tension is going to be paid to that one patient and will give you details as we get them.


VAUSE: Joining us now from New York, Rana Foroohar is CNN's global economic analyst as well as a columnist and associate editor for the "Financial Times."

Rana, good to have you with us.


VAUSE: The reality is the number of cases in the U.S. is low. One of the reasons for that is because China acted quickly and decisively and slowed the spread of the outbreak, which is something the president seems to be taking credit for. Here he is.


TRUMP: Because of all we've done the risk to the American people remains very low. We have the greatest experts in the world right the people that are called upon by other countries when things like this happen. We are ready to adapt and we're ready to do whatever we have to as the disease it spreads if it spreads.


VAUSE: "If it spreads."

What the Trump administration has done is cut the budgets, which we know will be on the front of the crisis like this. This has been in the past two years. His administration has eliminated funding and shut the entire global health security unit, which is part of the National Security Council and eliminated what was a complex crisis fund, $30 million.


VAUSE: Which was money that could be spent by the secretary of state. In the past two years, cut the health budgets by a total of $15 billion. What is notable is that, yes, there is a plan in place for this crisis.

But what about the next one and the one after that and after that?

FOROOHAR: Absolutely. They are coming. There's no question about. I find it so incredibly ironic that the president is taking credit for what China has done. Look, there has been criticisms and compliments about how China has handled the crisis. There was a lack of transparency in the beginning about the number of cases.

But one of the ironic upsides about autocracy is you can order people to stay in their homes and apartments. We will not be able to do that here in the U.S. Meanwhile all the health experts are saying we are not ready. There are not the resources in place that there should be under this type of crisis.

And you've got the president really underplaying that health officials are saying, get ready. This is going to be a big deal. It's so worrisome on so many levels.

VAUSE: This administration has been lying since day one about crowd sizes, about using a Sharpie to change the track of a hurricane; Mexico would pay for the wall, the White House has a total lack of credibility.

Could this when all the lies come home to roost?

FOROOHAR: If you start to see schools being shuttered, we're hearing talk about large auditoriums, public gathering centers, getting ready for being intake centers, if the outbreak should get out of control.

These are the things that the president is going to have to deal with. He's also going to have to deal with the market fallout. And I think that frankly that may be one of the reasons that he's underplaying this. As you well know, the markets are reacting very strongly and they are very worried that this could be not only a dip in stocks but it could be a synchronized global recession.

VAUSE: With that in mind, at a news conference on Wednesday night, the U.S. president continued to undercut the message, from his own senior health officials.


QUESTION: Just in the course of the last couple of minutes, you have disputed some of what the officials that are working in your administration, behind you, have said about the risk of the coronavirus, that it will spread.

Do you trust your health officials to give you the information -- ?

TRUMP: They said it could be worse and I said could be better I don't think it's inevitable, I just don't think it's inevitable. I think you are doing a really good job in terms of letting people know and checking people and also that is one of the reasons that I'm here today, getting the word out, so people can know, they're going to know and I don't think it's inevitable. I think there's a chance it could get worse, their chance it could get fairly substantially worse but nothing is inevitable.


VAUSE: Let's be clear, they made the point, it's not if but when, this virus spreads across the United States. It's almost unbelievable, even for this president, that he would undercut the message coming from his own officials in the midst of a public health crisis because he wants to minimize the impact on the stock market. And that is where he sees the key to his reelection. But here we are.

FOROOHAR: You know I would like to say it surprises me. But it doesn't, the facts are known. The virus has spread to 10 times as many people as the SARS virus, which is the closest comparison at this time. It's killed three times as many. Public health official at the WHO say it's going to affect millions and millions more people before we are done with it.

Those are the facts. This president however, is looking forward to a November election and a lot about the election and a lot of his case, for his handling of the economy, is basically his selling point, hinges on where the stock markets are.

And you are seeing what I think is going to be a sustained dip. Because we are just at the beginning of seeing the effects on U.S. multinationals, on supply chains. And the longer term story, here may be that we see this moment as a line in the sand, with U.S. and China decoupling.

A lot of big multinationals are going to look and say, this is one risk too many and they are really going to continue and prolong that process in the decoupling that we've already seen.

VAUSE: I want to finish up with a piece of information, a real gem that comes by "The Washington Post," which says part of the funding for the coronavirus emergency response, the money that they've asked for Congress to revive, part of the money that the White House has proposed, comes from a program which provides subsidies to low income families to heat their homes. [00:10:00]

VAUSE: According to "The Post," reporters said, "A document that the Trump administration sent to Congress, which we have seen, indicates that they are transferring $37 million to emergency funding for the coronavirus response from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which funds heating for poor families."

The $37 million is not a lot but "The Post" reports up to three- quarters of a million families could be impacted. And someone actually thinks that's a good idea.

FOROOHAR: You know I see a talking point here for Bernie Sanders in the upcoming Super Tuesday primaries. I think we are just at the beginning of a lot of fallout and it's going to have a big impact on November and many things going forward.

VAUSE: Yes, it's been an incredible response leading up to this, because those budgets were cut, just as the coronavirus was emerging and now we're hearing of budget cuts in other areas, it's been incredible to say the least and it's just getting started.

OK, Rona, good to see you, thank you so much.

FOROOHAR: Thank you.

VAUSE: The outbreak continues to rattle Wall Street, the Dow and the S&P ended Wednesday down less than 1 percent. It was 3 percent the day before. The Nasdaq posted small gains, in a four-day losing streak, Thursday could see big losses again with the futures down significantly for all three indexes.

After several days of losses and all Asia markets, except Shanghai, are down, so Kaori Enjoji is live in Tokyo.

What are we looking at here?

KAORI ENJOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well, John continued sell-off in the markets with the exception of Shanghai, ironically, here and we're looking at Tokyo down 1,500 points over the last four trading sessions. These are fresh 4.5-month lows, we are looking at trillions of dollars being wiped out of the markets globally.

And investors are trying to insulate themselves from the business fallout, that is expected to come when businesses start to tally up the numbers for the end of February.

Productivity must be down, lots of companies are announcing every day, telling their people to stay at home, to commute and not commute, consumption must be down when big events where people congregate, like concerts, working events, those are being canceled every day as well.

And you are having schools, in areas where you see clusters of outbreak of coronavirus, saying that they are going to be closed, which fans anxiety and fear throughout the communities. You have to remember that this is the world's second largest economy

in China, being paralyzed for a month now. And governments are starting to respond. Take for example New Zealand today, that said they might have to take some emergency measures, given the fact that 25 percent of their exports are headed to China.

You have Korea, the central bank there, saying that lowered their growth forecast for the country slightly and other governments are saying that they are thinking about taking fresh emergency measures as well.

So as the equity markets continue to fall, oil is continuing to fall, as demand is expected to remain fairly bleak over the coming months. Investors seem to be taking a little bit of safety into the U.S. bond market, so yields there on the Treasuries, continue to push to record low.

We are seeing the markets not as jumping as we saw earlier in the week but still, with the exception of Shanghai, red across the board here in Asia.

VAUSE: Kaori, we appreciate the update from Tokyo for us, thank you.

The virus has now spread to every continent except Antarctica. For the first time, we are seeing more new cases being reported outside of Mainland China.

On Wednesday, China tallied 433 new infections, while the World Health Organization said there were 460 everywhere else. There's also a jump in South Korea to almost 1,600 cases, including South Korean service members and one American soldier stationed in South Korea.

Now the U.S. and South Korea are postponing joint exercises until further notice. Live right now with Paula Hancocks in Seoul.

What does this decision to postpone these exercises say about the significance of the threat from the coronavirus?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, it shows that both the U.S. and the South Korean militaries are taking it extremely seriously, this is really one of the last resorts, that they would consider the fact that they want to postpone the drills.

We have been hearing from U.S. officials, that they were trying to figure out how to scale down the drills but still hold them. They did a similar thing in 2019, because of the diplomacy going on with North Korea.

In 2018 they didn't hold the drills themselves; they tried to give diplomacy a chance. So this is the third year we are seeing these significant drills between the U.S. and South Korea in the springtime, being disrupted.


HANCOCKS: But it does show how what the officials are saying and the military experts are saying, you can't possibly have that many personnel together for such a large-scale drill, especially when you consider there's already one case confirmed within U.S. forces, a 23 year old male, who was on base near Daegu, southeastern city in South Korea, which is really ground zero for the fight against coronavirus in this country.

Also when you consider the South Korean military, they have issues of their own. They have 20 personnel who are confirmed with the virus. Across the board in the navy, the army, the air force and also in the marine corps. This is something that the militaries are extremely concerned about, illness, disease, sweeping through.

Because many of them will be living in close quarters; if you live on base, you're living in barracks as well and it's something they're going to make sure they can contain as soon as possible.

So what we are hearing from the officials also from the South Korean defense ministry is that this decision was taken to try and prevent any further spreading within the military.

VAUSE: Paula, South Korea is being seen as taking extreme measures, being the best prepared out of many countries, trying to deal with this outbreak or prevent it from spreading extensively.

There are 1,600 cases, which is a huge number and raises the question, what more can be done if it's like this in South Korea, what about other countries that don't have the same resources?

HANCOCKS: Good question, John. This was a massive spike in South Korea. Just last Tuesday, we had 31 cases here. It appeared to have stabilized. And right now we're almost at 1,600. South Korea has a good health system. They're able to cope with the number of people that have been confirmed with the virus at this point.

And you're right, when it comes to less developed countries or less well-off countries without the medical infrastructure South Korea has, there is going to be a concern. With South Korea has, which is different to other countries, is there was one particular religious group that accounts for well over half of these cases.

So this is something health officials are looking at, trying to contain any further potential spreads within that religious group, Shincheonji. So that is something at this point appears to be particular and unique to South Korea.

VAUSE: Paula, thank you, Paula Hancocks live for, us very appreciate it..

Well, as the coronavirus hits the Middle East, it's holding some religious festivals in Iran and concerns are growing that Tehran is not doing enough to try and stop the spread of the virus.

Also parts of Delhi turn to rubble, the biggest explosion of sectarian violence in decades.




VAUSE: A humanitarian emergency Syria is only getting worse as regime forces try to retake rebel-held territory. The U.N. has condemned ongoing airstrikes in the Idlib region, mostly carried out by Russian forces backing the Assad regime.

A relief organization says at least 21 people including nine children were killed when airstrikes hit 10 schools and a hospital on Tuesday. Nearly 1 million people have been displaced in the past three months. Turkey says it will not take in any more Syrian refugees and has closed the border.

Ankara also plans to push Syrian forces away from observation posts it's established in the region.

New Delhi's worst sectarian violence in decades has left parts of the capital in burned-out rubble. It comes in the wake of a new law that fast-tracks citizenship for religious minorities of every faith except Islam. Protests have been going on for months but they exploded earlier in the week. We going to the latest now from Sam Kiley.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rioters desecrate the minarets of a Delhi mosque with a flag bearing the simian image of Hanuman, the Hindu god of power. It's calculated to insult and inflame.

The mosque itself torched on the third day of communal violence that's killed at least 21 people and injured scores more. This is what remains of Kurti's (ph) rickshaw. I ask him, how will you make a living now?

He said, "When there is nothing left, how will we earn?

"We will steal and then drink poison and die."

He told me that a mob attacked the mosque in this mostly Hindu neighborhood 24 hours earlier. They moved onto smash and burn Muslim homes around it.

KILEY: This has been not only burned but the toilet has been smashed. The shower, rendered useless. This is what communal violence really looks like.

KILEY (voice-over): Violence erupted after a powerful Hindu politician from the ruling BJP party published a video demanding the anti-government protests be stopped. He warned if police do not stop the demonstrations, we'll take to the streets.

Soon rival mobs clashed in riots to spread across the northeast of Delhi. Victims from both communities ended up side by side in the local morgue.

Yasmin (ph) waits for the release of her brother-in-law's body. She said, "People came from behind and were shouting, 'Jai shri ram,' (hail Lord Ram.)

"They took Metup (ph) away. Then we got an anonymous call that he had been set on fire."

Hamid Singh (ph), a Hindu, lost his nephew.

KILEY: Do you think the policies of Mr. Modi have contributed to this?

"That is true. If they didn't make this law, that would not have happened. But the law is right from his perspective. He is our prime minister and people shouldn't riot like this," he said.

The Indian PM has appealed for calm. But scores have died in riots and protests this year across India and the bloodletting looks far from over -- Sam Kiley, CNN, New Delhi.


VAUSE: Another mass shooting in the United States with five people dead after a gunman opened fire at a brewery in the state of Wisconsin. The company's president called it an unthinkable tragedy.

The 51-year-old gunman was an employee who, according to police, shot and killed himself. So far, no motive has been released. Nearly 1,000 people were working in the Molson Coors complex at the time.

Still to come here, a flawed quarantine. A medical expert in Japan suggest the spread of the coronavirus on a cruise ship could have been slowed. And a senior member of the International Olympic Committee talks about how the virus is affecting the plans for the Summer Games.

You're watching CNN.





VAUSE: Welcome back, everyone, I'm John Vause with an update of our top news this hour.


VAUSE: Olympic organizers say there are no plans to cancel the torch relay in March because of the coronavirus. The committee says it is thinking of having smaller relay events with fewer spectators. So concerns as to whether it is safe to hold the Olympics on schedule, a senior member of the Olympic Committee says the outbreak would need to become a pandemic to postpone or cancel the games.


DICK POUND, IOC: I think it is responsible to be thinking about the elephant in the room. There is no question about it. But it is alarmist to say that we should -- the sky is falling and we should bail out of Tokyo.

So I think you need an informed decision. And ultimately, if it starts to look like a postponement or worse, we would need the best possible medical public health advice that we can get, just to determine what if anything should be done at the time when we know more about it.

There's been nothing to suggest that we won't be able to start on July 24th.


VAUSE: A medical expert in Japan says the country anticipated a flawed quarantine of the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, saying crew members were likely infected before any passengers were allowed off. CNN's Blake Essig joins us from Tokyo.

What does this all mean?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know John, at this point, right now the Japanese government is focused on preventing the further spread of the coronavirus across Japan. And they say the next one to three weeks are critical to do that.

It is a situation that was perhaps made more difficult by what happened on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship. I recently spoke to a Japanese health official, who admitted to me that the quarantine, put into effect on board the Diamond Princess, never, in fact, had a chance to be successful. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just got a knock on the door for food.

ESSIG (voice-over): In a cruise ship infected by an invisible enemy, protective isolation was extended only to Diamond Princess passengers. Its crew continued to go door to door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- with beverages and everything included, even including wine and spirits and everything that was delivered to the state room.


BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Head maitre d' Neville Saldana (ph) says, even through the end days of the quarantine, no detail was ever too small in making sure guests were well-cared-for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make sure all our guests had a fulfilling experience. ESSIG: Consideration for the passengers, which the government's own advisers admit wasn't extended to the crew.

DR. NORIO OHMAGARI, HEAD OF JAPAN'S DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION CENTER: We suspected that some of the crew staff may have been already infected, but because they had to handle and operate the facility, they have to deliver the meals, something like that. So that may have caused some sort of cross in contact with workers and also the passengers. That may have caused some secondary or tertiary cases.

ESSIG (on camera): Should the crew members have continued to work? Is it fair to have continued to expose them to potentially contract this virus?

OHMAGARI: Strictly scientifically speaking, you know, what they needed was strict isolation for the crew members, all the members.


ESSIG (voice-over): From the start, Dr. Norio Ohmagari admits it was a flawed quarantine, but the ship needed to run, so the crew continued to work until the last of the passengers disembarked.

Diamond Princess crewmembers say they were just following Japanese government orders. By the time the crew were the ones receiving the meals from the shore, around 50 percent, more than 150, ended up testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

OHMAGARI: I'm very sorry what happened here, because there was a limitation, in terms of acidity (ph), in terms of the structure of the cruise ship.

ESSIG (on camera): Was there ever the option to your team, says, Listen, if you don't want to go door to door, if you don't -- you're not comfortable. you don't have to do it? Was that ever a conversation that was had?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It never came up, because everyone was willing to serve, I guess.

ESSIG (voice-over): A willingness for many, but fear for others, expressed only a few days into the quarantine.

"We are extremely scared," says Binet Sarkar (ph) in this post on February 10, a request he says, is to segregate the crew from the infected.

Finally, after weeks of uncertainty on board the ill-fated ship, for the crew members on board who tested negative, it's down the gangplank and onto dry land toward a line of buses, where the only journey left is the one home.


(END VIDEOTAPE) ESSIG: Japanese health officials and advisers did say that they were sympathetic to the human rights of the crew, but John, they also said that someone had to take care of the passengers and keep the ship running.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes, absolutely, and it was a crew, I guess, from all around the world, eh?

Blake, thank you. Blake Essig in Tokyo with the very latest on that.

Well, Saudi Arabia announced it will suspend visas for religious pilgrims looking to visit Mecca, because officials there say they're taking the highest precautionary standards to prevent the coronavirus from reaching the kingdom. That includes also denying entry to those traveling with tourist visas from countries where the spread of the coronavirus is a danger.

In nearby Iran, the health minister says Friday prayers will be canceled this week in cities fighting with the virus. Iran has the worst outbreak in the Middle East, with 139 confirmed cases. At least 19 people have died.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has more on the growing concerns about whether Iran is doing enough to deal with this crisis.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: With more cases being reported in the Middle East, and these cases being traced back to Iran, people who visited the country testing positive for the disease, there is growing concern about how Iran is handling the outbreak. Are they doing enough to try and contain it? Are they capable of doing enough, considering the impact of U.S. sanctions on the country's health care? And are officials there being transparent about the scale of this outbreak?

The issue here is, really, the figures that just don't add up. The mortality rate from coronavirus in Iran at this point is somewhere around 14 to 15 percent. That is significantly higher than the mortality rate in any other country and the global average.

So there are concerns about why. What is causing this? Is there an issue with the screening? Are they screening all possible cases? Are people showing symptoms going to hospitals? Or is this a case of the secretive Iranian regime, trying to downplay the severity of the situation?

We heard from President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday, trying to reassure people, telling them that the situation is under control, and slamming the United States, saying that it is trying to spread fear and panic amongst the population and that the enemies of Iran, as he puts it, are trying to use this virus as a weapon to destroy Iran's economy.

[00:35:13] But perhaps the most worrying statement from the president is so far authorities there, the government there, has not made a decision to quarantine any Iranian cities. And that is really putting pressure on countries in the region, neighboring countries to step up their preventative measures, to try and prevent an outbreak, or the spread of this disease.

For example, we've heard from the health minister in Turkey. So far, they say they do not have any cases of coronavirus, but saying that, you know, at some point, that it could spread. What they are trying to do what they are doing is trying to delay the spread of the disease.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.


VAUSE: Well, most parents will remember the subterfuge, the deception, doing whatever is needed to get kids and toddlers to eat their veggies. Apparently, it works on 73-year-olds, as well.


VAUSE: Well, it's Lent, the Christian season of fasting and reflection. Pope Francis would like Catholics around the world to give up something. It's not chocolate, not French fries, not soft drinks or soda.

Instead, he would like people to stop insulting each other on social media. Hear, hear. Speaking at St. Peter's Square on Ash Wednesday. He said Lent is a time to give up useless words, gossips, rumors, tittle- tattles and speak to God on a first-name basis. And yes, we're looking at you, Twitter.

Prince Harry says, Just call me Harry. At a tourism conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, he asked to be introduced without the royal title. He's making his final round of public engagements before stepping back from official duties.

He dropped into a recording session with Bon John Vovi [SIC] -- Bon Jovi on Friday. Bon Jovi is recording a song for the Invictus Games. He's jokingly referred to the Duke of Sussex as the Artist formerly Known, yes, as Prince.

But here it comes. Open wide and let the airplane land. You know, you get the idea. Getting kids to eat their veggies was never easy, especially when they're the leader at the free world.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What do you get when you sneak cauliflower into mashed potatoes? A sneak peek at the presidential diet, thanks to former White House doctor Ronny Jackson.

RONNY JACKSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DOCTOR: He has incredible genes. MOOS: Remember the physician who gave President Trump such a glowing report that "SNL" parodied him?

BECK BENNETT, CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": It's my expert medical opinion that the president's got a rocking bod with the perfect amount of cushion for the pushing. And if given the chance, I would.

MOOS: Well, now Doctor Jackson is pushing for a seat in Congress.

JACKSON: And push back on this liberal, socialist, communist uprising.


MOOS: But what caused an uprising on social media was what Dr. Jackson told "The New York Times" about why President Trump failed to lose weight. "The exercise stuff never took off as much as I wanted it to. But we were working on his diet. We were making the ice cream less accessible. We were putting cauliflower into the mashed potatoes."

SETH MEYERS, HOST, NBC'S "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": Of course the hard part was getting the mashed potatoes into his bacon cheeseburger.

MOOS: Kimmel imagined this presidential tweet.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, ABC'S "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": He defended himself, tweeting it was a perfect cauliflower.

MOOS: Someone posted actual video of Trump having dinner of cauliflower mashed potatoes.

"Did he also pretend the spoon was an airplane coming in for a landing?" wondered someone else, adding an illustration.

With the president's love for fast food --

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have 300 hamburgers, many, many French fries.

MOOS: No wonder cauliflower required covert action. Just imagine Doctor Ronny Jackson's White House cookbook: Take cauliflower florets, grind them up, surreptitiously add to mashed potatoes, taking care to use amount undetectable to the untrained palette.

(on camera): What, they don't have White House taste testers to protect the president from hidden cauliflower?

(voice-over): What's next? Brussels sprouts infiltrating the meatloaf? Kale in the Kentucky fried?

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


VAUSE: For more than 30 years, the television show "The Simpsons" has remained pretty much the same. Bart, Lisa, Maggie never get older. Homer never gets smarter.

One character, though, is changing. Voice actor Hank Azaria says he is done playing the role of Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu. Apu was once seen as funny, but some now see that he represents an offensive stereotype. One Indian-American comedian explained it like this in a documentary.


HARI KONDABOLU, COMEDIAN (VOICE-OVER): I've had a great career filled with laughter, critical acclaim. I should be completely happy, but there's still one man who haunts me. Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.

HANK AZARIA, VOICE OF APU: Please pay for your purchases and get out and come again.

KONDABOLU (on camera): You know that a white guy does the voice?


KONDABOLU: A white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you feel about that?

KONDABOLU: I'm making a movie about how much I dislike it.

AZARIA: Right away, they were like, Can you do an Indian voice and how offensive can you make it?

I immediately began to talk this way.

It's not tremendously accurate. It's a little stereotyped.

They're like, That's all right.


VAUSE: Hank Azaria is now opening up about why he will not do the voice of Apu anymore. He said he gradually became aware that Apu was hurtful.

Azaria is Jewish, and he told "The New York Times," "I started thinking, if that character were the only representation of Jewish people in American culture for 20 years, which was the case with Apu, I might not love that."

The executive producer of "The Simpsons" says Apu will remain on the show. They'll find a new actor for his voice.

And that is it for us. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Stay with us, though. WORLD SPORT is up after the break.