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U.S. Monitoring Kim Jong-un's Health; Senate to Vote on Rescue Deal; Oil Prices Crash; African-American Virus Deaths in Chicago. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired April 21, 2020 - 09:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: To a significant development overnight regarding North Korea's leader, who has not been seen in public in about ten days. We're now getting new information about the state of health for Kim Jong-un.

Jim, you broke this story overnight. A late night for you, early morning with the news. What -- what is going on?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, this is what we know. The U.S. is monitoring intelligence that Kim Jong-un's health is in danger following a surgery, this according to an official with direct knowledge to the intelligence.

Also part of this picture, as you mentioned, Poppy, is that Kim was absent from a celebration on April 15th honoring his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea. In the wake of that notable absence at a ceremony he would normally be expected to show his face. There was speculation about -- as to why and now this intelligence about a surgery and possible repercussions following that surgery.

Now, we should always note, with intelligence in North Korea, it is the blackest of black boxes for U.S. and international intelligence agencies. So difficult to know anything with certainty inside that country. But, earlier today, the national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, acknowledged publicly that the U.S. is watching these reports closely.

Have a listen.


ROBERT O'BRIEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, we're monitoring these reports very closely. And, as you know, North Korea's a very closed society. There's not a free press there. They're parsimonious with the information that they provide about many things, including the health of Kim Jong-un.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: Earlier O'Brien told White House reporters similar.

Joining us now, CNN global analyst Joseph Yun. He's the former U.N. special rep -- U.S. special representative for North Korea policy.

Ambassador Yun, so good to have you on this morning. You know North Korea better than virtually anyone.

How does the U.S. seek to corroborate reports like this, looking in from the outside?

JOSEPH YUN, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR NORTH KOREA POLICY: Jim, something is very awry. I think you're completely right.

And by the way, great job on breaking this story.

There is really no way we can completely corroborate. What I can tell you is certainly I know that our intel officials, as well as our policy officials, are watching very closely. What we can say, for example, is that there is, as always, plenty of Chinese troops on the border.


And if there are any movements by them, that's an indication. And you can also tell how serious this situation is by U.S. troop movements too. At moment, as far as I know, we haven't seen any such movement, but these are early days yet. And so we need to watch this and it looks like there is something amiss over there.

HARLOW: Joseph, we didn't know when his father died for, I think, at least two days, right, because of the lack of transparency. If that were to be the case for Kim Jong-un, what is the succession plan there? Because his father had decades to plan, right? Well, Kim Jong- un is very young.

YUN: Kim Jong-un is very young. As a result, there are no succession plans. Certainly when his father died, he fell sick through a stroke, by the way, and he was sick from about 2008 to 2011. By 2011, his son, Kim Jong-Il's son, current leader Kim Jong-un, was, of course, anointed. There are such no anointments as such.

The best guess is that his sister, Kim Yo-jong, who you've seen quite often, especially when they had summits with President Trump, would be the successor. Certainly everyone thinks you have to have the blood of Kim Il-sung, the founder, to be a successor. But there are others who carry Kim Il-sung's blood, including Kim Jong-un's uncle, Kim (INAUDIBLE), as well as others. So we don't know yet.

But what is sure is that they have to have the strong support of the military. And the current leaders in the military are very strong in running the country. And so we need to watch that development as well, who comes out on top on the military side.

HARLOW: Joseph Yun, thank you very, very much.

And, Jim, again, great job breaking this important story.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

We're going to stay on top of it.

A story here at home, the coronavirus crisis ravaging the oil industry, sending prices, a rarity, into negative territory. The impact of this historic drop coming up.



HARLOW: Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says the Senate will vote today on the next round of funding for small businesses.

Listen to what he said.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Last night, well past midnight, Speaker Pelosi, myself, Chief of Staff Meadows and Secretary of State (ph) Mnuchin (ph) were on the phone and we came to an agreement on just about every issue. Staff was up all night writing. There is still a few more i's to dot and t's to cross, but we have a deal.


HARLOW: We have a deal. Those are the four key words.

Our congressional reporter Lauren Fox joins us.

OK, what is in the bill and particularly any protections so that the little guys, you know, little businesses get it this time?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, let's make sure to caveat that until we see legislative text, we want to be careful saying that there is a deal. Certainly Schumer saying here there's a deal in principle. But how long it takes to cross those t's, another question entirely, Poppy.

But what we do know is going to be in this legislation is more money for hospitals, about $75 billion, and, of course, more money for that Small Business Administration program that gave money to the Paycheck Protection Program.

And one of the key concerns here was that those smaller businesses were not going to be able to get the money in the last round. So one of the things Democrats have been fighting for that we are told is expected to be in this proposal is basically a set aside fund so that underserved communities, those underserved businesses, have a better shot at getting the money this time around.

But, of course, we're going to be watching anxiously for when the legislative text is actually released publicly. And, of course, we expect that this could get voted on as soon as this afternoon. Jim.

SCIUTTO: The other issue is about minority interests, but also -- minority-owned businesses, but also businesses that did not have relationships with banks, existing relationships were deprioritized and the ones that kind of had a pal they could call at the big bank, they could get the money. Is there any sense in this second round that that issue was correct as well?

FOX: Well, certainly that was one of the biggest complaints that we heard from small business owners early in this program. And the hope for Democrats at least is that this set aside fund will help to give money to those smaller banks that might have more existing relationships with smaller businesses, in smaller communities, or underserved communities. So that's certainly one of the goals here.

But, you know, there was a lot of pushback that we heard from both small businesses and from the lender side that said if they are going to give out these loans, they want to make sure they're giving them to people who qualify. And that was one of the reasons that banks were actually very concerned about giving some of this money out to customers that they didn't have pre-existing relationships with.

SCIUTTO: All right, well, we know you'll stay on top of it. Lauren Fox, thanks so much.

Well, the economic cost of this just so much across the board. The pandemic has fueled a historic collapse in the oil industry. For the second day in a row, oil futures trading in negative territory.

HARLOW: That's right. Yesterday, U.S. oil futures closed at about $30 below zero. In effect, producers were paying buyers to take oil off their hands.


Matt Egan is with us.

So, Matt, I know like talking about futures contracts and oil can be confusing for people, but we did see something historic yesterday, the May futures contract closed in negative territory for the first time in history.

Why does that matter to every American right now?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS LEAD WRITER: Negative oil prices, Poppy, I mean it's pretty insane. That would be like going to Starbucks and they're paying you to take coffee off their hands because they made too much of it and they have nowhere --


EGAN: It's pretty crazy, but that's where we are right now.

And, as you mentioned, this is something that's never happened since oil futures began trading in 1983. Not even during the 2008 financial crisis.

But here's what's going on. It's all about supply and demand. First, demand has absolutely collapsed. Highways are empty. Factories are dark. (INAUDIBLE) have been grounded. And then supply, there's just too much supply. U.S. production is near a record. Saudi Arabia and Russia had a price war. They were flooding the market with too much oil. They've since agreed to cut back production, but that doesn't take effect until May. And so now there's nowhere to put all this oil. Storage costs have gone up so much that prices actually have gone negative. It's amazing.

SCIUTTO: This particularly threatens U.S. oil producers, does it not? And the president has just tweeted about this.

EGAN: That's right. This is an absolute nightmare for the U.S. oil industry. And just in the last 10 or 15 minutes, President Trump has tweeted on this. He said, we will never let the great U.S. oil and gas industry down. He says that he's instructed the secretary of energy to make funds available to make sure these companies and jobs are secured into the long run.

But, clearly, Jim, this is a big concern to the president because we're talking about a lot of jobs and a lot of bankruptcy.




Matthew Egan, good to have you on. Thanks very much.

EGAN: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thanks, Matt.

The coronavirus outbreak has exposed deep inequalities in our society and shown just how vast they are, as African-Americans and Latinos are dying at a much higher rate from this disease. We're going to talk about that with an expert, next.



HARLOW: So, coronavirus has killed now more than 42,000 Americans, but the disparity in black communities and cities like Chicago is just unbelievable. It highlights the inequality nationwide among Latinos as well. For African-Americans, they account for 30 percent of Chicago's population but make up nearly half of the city's cases and more than half of the city's deaths.

I'm joined by Dr. Suzet McKinney, CEO and executive director of the Illinois Medical District. It's the country's second largest health care and technology district.

You're focused on so much right now. Thanks for being with me.


HARLOW: Let's begin here. When you think about what's happening in the city of Chicago, it's happening in Detroit, it's happening in New Orleans, it's happening here in New York City. We had Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on just last week talking about putting a real focus on these communities in your city where there is a disparity in health care, a disparity in terms of how many are contracting Covid and dying from it.

Can you talk about the efforts, what is actually being done for those residents?

MCKINNEY: Sure. There's a concerted effort at this point, not just here in the city of Chicago, but across our state, to bring increased resources to vulnerable communities, particularly around testing.

Mayor Lightfoot, I'm sure she spoke about her Racial Equity Task Force that is partnering with organizations that service these vulnerable communities to ensure that they have masks, to ensure that testing supplies are available so that those communities can be tested, and our governor, J.B. Pritzker, has done a similar effort partnering with federally qualified health centers to do the same.

HARLOW: The NAACP, as you know, is among the groups calling on lawmakers to address the disparity. I -- you know, I just wonder what can be done at this point. All of those things, increased testing, protective gear is all important, but look how many deaths we've already seen in these communities.


HARLOW: I guess what would you ask be to lawmakers?

MCKINNEY: You know, one of the things that I would say is that this problem is larger than Covid-19. You know, this is really a failure of our system to address inequalities in health care, in housing, in income and economic disparities.

And so the issue is Covid-19 today, but in a year, three years, five years, there will be another issue if we don't start to address this issue now. So my ask would be for us to take more of a systemic approach, to addressing some of these issues that create these extreme disparities among certain communities.

HARLOW: You know, one of the efforts that you're leading is you're bringing basically shuttered hospitals in regions and parts of the state that need it most back online --


HARLOW: Doing construction, retraining medical professionals, and those should be open by the end of this month. "Politico" has really interesting reporting this morning citing dozens

of medical professionals there in Illinois. And they said one of the key issues is a lack of trust among many African-Americans and Latinos in the health care system in general.

Quote, the effect of those missteps has been exacerbated in the minority community that were already -- that we're already distrusted due to long running racial inequalities in the health care system.

How do you -- how do you deal with something like that?

MCKINNEY: Well, you know, it's an -- it's an unfortunate situation. There are longstanding issues around trust of the medical community.


But I think one of the strategies that we've utilized to deal with that issue is calling upon community leaders and faith leaders to really join with us and help us to push messages down to communities and bring us into these communities so that we can begin to build more trusting relationships. One of the things that I think will be very helpful about the alternate care sites that we are bringing on board is that these are shuttered hospitals that are in communities where many of the vulnerable populations that we're talking about live.

So I think there's some level of encouragement that they see that these facilities within their communities are being opened, reopened, if you will, and that there is some sense of hope that the additional resources that are needed to combat Covid-19 are coming directly to their communities.

HARLOW: I hope so. Thank you for the work you're doing. Good luck on those hospitals you're reopening,

Dr. Suzet McKinney, thanks so much.

MCKINNEY: Thank you. Thank you.


SCIUTTO: Some states getting back to business. Is it too early?