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Seoul Reports North Korea Blew Up Kaesong Liaison Office; FBI, DOJ Reviewing Deaths of Two Black Men in California; Trump to Hold Rally in Tulsa Amid Racial Tensions; Goodell Encourages NFL Teams to Sign Kaepernick; U.S. Supreme Court Says Law Protects LGBTQ Workers; Trump's West Point Appearance Raises Health Questions. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 16, 2020 - 04:30   ET




ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen.

And we return to the breaking news out of the Korean Peninsula. South Korea says North Korea has blown up the Inter-Korean Liaison Office in the Kaesong industrial zone in North Korea.

And North Korean state media published an article today stating, quote, our intensive retaliatory campaign has started.

North Korea's military has been threatening to remilitarize the border area that was disarmed in the inter-Korean pact. Pyongyang claimed defector groups in South Korea were sending propaganda leaflets into the country. Joining me now via Skype is from Seoul to talk about the story is Duyeon Kim, senior advisor, Northeast Asia and Nuclear Policy International Crisis Group. Thanks for coming on. We're going to kind of dig into this and see what's going on. I want to get your first -- your reaction to North Korea doing this this.

DUYEON KIM, SENIOR ADVISOR, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP (via Skype): Well thanks for having me back, Natalie. First, you know I think they have tactfully and carefully chosen to blow up the Inter-Korean Liaison Office because was a symbolic facility agreed upon between the two Korean leaders. It's also in North Korean territory and not in South Korean territory. But it was built using South Korean taxpayer money. But that basically means that it's not a direct attack on South Korea. And so in that sense they've tactfully chosen this so that it would not invite a South Korean military response.


ALLEN: Yes, and this comes at a time of rising tension. How did relations between South Korea and North Korea after their historic 2018 summit deteriorate so quickly? KIM: Well there's a lot going on there. But basically to put it into

today's context, North Korea is upset that the South, according to North Korea, has not lived up to its commitments agreed upon between two Korean leaders during their summits. And so they're citing the leaflets -- South Korean leaflets being flown over to the North by balloons, propaganda leaflets and Kim Jong-un regime leaflets talking about democracy in the outside world. They're calling this you know a direct -- basically a direct threat or an offense to the North Korean leader's so-called dignity.

And so, they're basically telling South Korea to stop all hostile acts on land, air, and sea as agreed upon between the two Koreas. But they're upset that South Korea has not lived up to its expectations, that it basically told the North the U.S. would be willing to lift some sanctions in exchange for the Punggye-ri nuclear complex and that has not happened since the Hanoi summit. That's actually the reason why the Hanoi summit collapsed between Trump and Kim. So basically Pyongyang is coercing Seoul to live up to its commitments to try to move Washington to lift sanctions eventually.

ALLEN: All right. We'll see what happens next as a result of this action by the North. Duyeon Kim, thank you so much for joining us and for your expertise on this.

Kim: Thank you.

ALLEN: Next here, President Trump will hold a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this weekend despite concerns over the coronavirus. We'll look at the long history of racial violence in that city next.



ALLEN: Hours ago the FBI and the Justice Department announced they are stepping in to review the cases of two black men found hanging from trees in Southern California these past few weeks. This comes after community members demanded a more thorough investigation into the shocking deaths. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux has our story.


DIANNA HARGRAVE, PALMDALE RESIDENT: They're lynching our black children.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Residents of Palmdale, California say it is the sight of a modern-day lynching.


CROWD: Robert Fuller!

MALVEAUX: Twenty-four-year-old Robert Fuller was found hanging from a tree near city hall early Wednesday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For a black man to be hung in a tree near city hall, that's a message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't understand our pain.

MALVEAUX: Residents were outraged Friday when city officials announced their initial findings.

RON SHAFFER, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF, PALMDALE STATION: It appears that Mr. Fuller has tragically died by suicide. A full autopsy --

DIAMOND ALEXANDER, ROBERT FULLER'S SISTER: My brother was not suicidal. He wasn't.

MALVEAUX: Now, five days after Fuller was found, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which oversees Palmdale, says it's taking another look.

JONATHAN LUCAS, L.A. COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER-CORONER: The initial report appeared to be consistent with a suicide but we felt it prudent to roll that back and continue to look deeper.

KENT WEGENER, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF HOMICIDE BUREAU: Regarding a chair or something similar found at the scene, there was nothing.

MALVEAUX: The sheriff's department announced it would begin reviewing seemingly basic evidence.

WEGENER: Initially, we are going to do forensics on the rope that was involved. We look to contact the witness who located him in the park and those who may have seen him in the past few days prior to his death.

MALVEAUX: But residents say more should have been done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it was another race, if it was a white boy, they'd be on it.

MALVEAUX: Just 10 days ago, as Black Lives Matter rallies continued nationwide, another black man, Malcolm Harsch, was discovered hanged from a tree less than 60 miles from where Fuller was found. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department says it found no indications of foul play and that the 38-year-old hanged himself. Harsch's family, like Fuller's, says no way.

NAJEE ALI, FAMILY SPOKESMAN: We believe that both these two young black men were the victims of a possible hate crime.

MALVEAUX: Now, the families of both men are calling for independent investigations, according to a shared spokesman.

ALI: Both families have stated both men were looking forward to enjoying their life and both hangings make no sense, whatsoever.

MALVEAUX: Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: President Trump is visiting Tulsa, Oklahoma, this weekend for his first big rally since the coronavirus pandemic began. The city has a long history of racial violence and for some his visit is reopening old wounds. CNN's Abby Phillip is in Tulsa.


TIFFANY CRUTCHER, TWIN BROTHER KILLED BY TULSA POLICE IN 2016: We're twins, yes, three minutes apart. He came out first and he calls me his little big sister.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before George Floyd, before a nationwide protest against police brutality swept the country, Tiffany Crutcher's twin brother Terence was killed by a Tulsa police officer in 2016.

CRUTCHER: Terence just needed help that day.

PHILLIP: Crutcher was unarmed and the officer who shot him was charged with manslaughter but later acquitted.

For Tiffany, the anger in Tulsa over policing dates back to 1921 when her great grandmother was one of thousands of black residents who ran for their lives as a mob of angry whites killed hundreds and burned down the black neighborhood of Greenwood known then as Black Wall Street.

CRUTCHER: Same culture that burnt down black Wall Street and killed innocent people and ran my great grandmother from her home is the same culture, the same policing culture that killed Terence.

PHILLIP: Now, President Trump is coming here at a time when black Tulsa residents still feel like their voices aren't being heard.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fact that I'm having a rally on that day, you can really think about that very positively as a celebration.

PHILLIP: Most of the city's black residents are concentrated in North Tulsa, literally divided from the rest of the city by train tracks. A 2018 human rights watch report found that black Tulsa residents are 2.3 times more likely to be arrested than white residents. The report also found traffic stops are more likely to happen in the black poor parts of the city, tend to last longer and are more likely to result in search, questioning and arrest.


But it's not just drivers.

DAMARIO SOLOMON-SIMMONS, ATTORNEY FOR TULSA TEENS: My clients who are 13 and 15 have been walking on this road minding their own business.

PHILLIP: Earlier this month in Tulsa, two black teenagers arrest for jaywalking in a neighborhood with no sidewalks. Their story getting national attention when police video of the incident was released.

Donna Corbitt lives just around the corner and also recorded what she saw. The video showing both teens in handcuffs, one struggling with officers and at one point an officer kicking him inside of the police car and later the teen demanding that they call his mother.

DONNA CORBITT, WITNESS: It really made me very sickened to myself, you know. It's a great burden to see, you know, such brutality on a child like that.

PHILLIP: Tulsa police say the arrest is being investigated. Corbitt and the younger teen's mother returning to the place where her younger son was arrested.

TAWANNA ADKINS, MOTHER OF TULSA TEEN: It broke my heart that they felt comfortable harassing him, abuse him and humiliate him.

PHILLIP: Echoes of countless other viral videos that have laid bare the pain of black America.

CRUTCHER: I lost it. It's all I could think about is that baby thinking he would be the next George Floyd or the next Terence Crutcher.

PHILLIP(on camera): Now recently a Tulsa police Major Travis Yates made a comment to a radio station saying that he believed black residents are actually being shot less based on the crimes being committed. Now those comments are widely denounced and he is now under investigation. But black Tulsa residents have told me that they fear that that mentality is more pervasive. While the police department says they tried to stop crimes before they happen through these kinds of patrols. Residents actually experienced that as harassment.

Abby Phillip, CNN, Tulsa, Oklahoma.


ALLEN: The head of the National Football League is encouraging a team to sign Colin Kaepernick according to ESPN. Kaepernick has been unsigned to a team since 2017 after he began kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality. Commissioner Roger Goodell praised Kaepernick for raising tough issues such as racism and says he's been invited into these conversations with the NFL before.


ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: Well, listen, if he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it's going to take a team to make that decision. But I welcome that, support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that.


ALLEN: Kaepernick has accused NFL team owners of colluding to keep him from being signed. The NFL denies any collusion but in 2019 it reached a settlement with Kaepernick and former teammate Eric Reid who knelt with him.

An awkward sip of water and a cautious walk down the ramp. How a weekend appearance is raising questions about President Trump's health.



ALLEN: Many Americans are celebrating an historic decision from the U.S. Supreme Court about LGBTQ rights. The high court ruled Monday that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian and transgender employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Trump administration argued against Monday's outcome. But the President has since called the ruling very powerful and said he would, quote, live with it.


TRUMP: I've read the decision and some people were surprised but they've ruled and we live with that decision. That's what it's all about. We live with the decision of the Supreme Court. Very powerful. Very powerful decision, actually, but they have so ruled.


ALLEN: Mr. Trump's first appointee to the high court, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion. The ruling was six to three.

New questions are popping up about President Trump's health after an appearance at the West Point Military Academy. Brian Todd reports.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the graduation stand at West Point, the President needs to support his right-hand with his left as he takes a drink of water. Moments later, he walks hesitantly down the ramp, steadying both feet on each step.

Later, President Trump was defensive in a tweet. The ramp that I descended was very long and steep, had no handrail and, most importantly, was very slippery. The last thing I was going to do is fall for the fake news to have fun with. Final ten feet I ran down to level ground. Momentum!

But there's no evidence that the ramp was slippery, and the weather was very clear at West Point on Saturday, so those optics are now drawing concern over the President's health.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Is there balance problems? Is there some weakness there? Is there numbness in the feet, perhaps, a type of neuropathy? Is it just a slippery ramp, as the President said, or slippery shoes? You don't know. And I think you've got to be very cautious in trying to determine anything.

TODD: People who encountered Trump at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club over the weekend later told CNN Trump did not appear to be physically out of sorts there. Those people said he seemed normal and healthy.

But the President has had similar moments before. In 2017, he clutched the hand of then-Prime Minister Theresa May as they walked down an incline in the White House colonnade, then quickly tapped her hand, apparently to make her stop holding his hand.

As for the President steadying his own hand while drinking water --

GUPTA: He had a shoulder problem. I mean, is it a hand numbness or something? You know, again, these are speculations. I've noticed that he's done that before. That wasn't just the first time, so I don't know if this is something he does in public.

TODD: Doctor Gupta is referring to this moment, almost identical to what happened at West Point. December 2017, Trump studies his right- hand with his left as he drinks water during an address.

Trump, who just turned 74, is the oldest first-term president in American history. But more concerning to medical experts is how little we know about his actual health. Last November, Trump made an unannounced secretive visit to Walter Reid Hospital to take exams preparing for a physical.


Recently, the White House released the results of Trump's physical, indicating he falls just barely into the obese category.

But the White House doctor says there are no changes to the President's health, and his press secretary says he's healthy.

ARTHUR CAPLAN, MEDICAL ETHICS DIVISION DIRECTOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Our biggest worry is we have an election between Trump and Biden, and Trump somehow, in the middle of this, becomes somewhat incapacitated but covers it up, doesn't let us know that the person we're going to vote for may become increasingly disabled during a second term.

TODD (on camera): After Trump's first presidential physical, our Sanjay Gupta reported that Trump has a common form of heart disease. Trump's doctor at the time recommended an increase in the dosage of his cholesterol-lowering medication and certain lifestyle changes. And the Mayo Clinic said that, without those changes, Trump would run a risk of having a heart attack in three to five years.

Last year, sources close to Trump told CNN that he had stuck with certain changes to improve his diet but had not stuck with an exercise regimen.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: An update for you now on a story from earlier this hour. We told you about three New York police officers who became sick after drinking milkshakes from the restaurant Shake Shack. Now the NYPD says after a thorough investigation, they have determined that Shake Shack employees did not commit a crime. The major police union initially claimed three officers had been poisoned, possibly with bleach. The investigation found it appears it was a case of an improperly cleaned machine.

Thank you so much for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen in Atlanta. "EARLY START" begins after this break.