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World Leaders Meet in Japan for G7; Obama to Visit Hiroshima Memorial Site; Police Arrest Protesters at Trump Rally; New Report Slams Clinton on Private E-mail Use; Should DNC Chair Step Down; ISIS Using Migration for European Sleeper Cells; Heat in India Melts Roads; Protests at Trump Rally as Trump Fires Top Aide; State Department Report Slams Clinton on E-Mails; Trump Attack N.M. Governor; Ryan Not Yet Endorsing Trump; 450-Plus Writers Sign Anti-Trump Open Letter; Russia Releases Female Ukrainian Military Pilot. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 26, 2016 - 02:00   ET




[02:00:36] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome everyone. Thanks for joining our two-hour block. I'm Rosemary Church. This is CNN NEWSROOM. ERROL BARNETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Errol Barnett. Thanks for joining

our two-hour block. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

Seven of the world's top leaders are in Japan right now, talking international security and the economy, as well as terrorism. Just a few hours ago, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, an others to Hiroshima, where the G7 summit is taking place.

CHURCH: We also expect the leaders to address the disputed South China Sea and the refugee crisis.

Our Athena Jones has more details.

Athena, what is expected to come out of this summit? And how much time will be dedicated to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rosemary. They'll spend a lot of time talking about the global economy. Climate change could come up, as well as the refugee crisis and terrorism, to prevent attacks from groups like ISIS.

When it comes to trade and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, for instance, that will be more relevant to the U.S. and Japan. That's a big part of the discussions between those two countries because it's a deal that deals with the Asia-Pacific region. Also, a deal the president is hoping to get through Congress before the end of his term. Right now, prospects look a little shaky for it. In terms of trade in the Europe side of things, that's the trade and partnership that can be discussed. We'll have to see what big deliverables come out of this meeting. But a lot of topics are on the table because the global economy is

facing a lot of challenges right now. Not just the economy but also security issues.

CHURCH: Indeed. And Mr. Obama will become the first incumbent U.S. president to visit Hiroshima when he makes that trip. No apology is expected for the dropping of the atomic bomb, though. But talk to us about what this visit will mean for both countries and what's expected from this.

JONES: That's right, no apology is expected. The White House has made it very clear this, is not apologizing, it's not about revisiting the decision to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki back in 1945. The president will acknowledge the devastating human toll of World War II, and of wars in general. But he won't spend a lot of time looking backwards. He'll talk about the future. He'll touch on the much- improved relationship between the U.S. and Japan since the war. The White House said, this relationship, this close alliance was inconceivable back in 1945. Now, the U.S.-Japan alliance has become indispensable for security and stability in this part of the world. The president will touch on the changing and evolving relationship between the U.S. and Japan.

And he will use the visit to promote one of his big foreign policy goals, something that's tops on his foreign policy agenda, since taking office. He mentioned the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, in a speech in 2009. He mentioned it when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He says the U.S. is the only country to have used a nuclear weapon in war and the U.S. bears responsibility in leading this effort to get rid of nuclear weapons. And so, he says, this is a goal that may take generations. May not be something that's established in his lifetime. But it's something that he wants to see achieved. Not just in terms of nuclear nonproliferation and getting control of loose nuclear materials, but making it sure it stays out of the hands of ISIS and al Qaeda. But also in the end, a world without nuclear weapons at all. That's one other subject we expect him the touch on in this historic and symbolic visit to Hiroshima -- Rosemary?

CHURCH: You will be following that, Athena Jones, in Hiroshima, Japan. Just after 3:00 in the afternoon. Many thanks.

BARNETT: Now, to the race for the White House. And Cali, apparently, is the place to be. All remaining candidates are campaigning in California, ahead of the June 7th primaries.

[02:05:09] CHURCH: Police arrested protesters near a Donald Trump rally in Anaheim. A large number of police were deployed. But there were just a few minor clashes. Inside the rally, security removed a man, while Trump made a show about ensuring his safety.



(CHEERING) TRUMP: Don't hurt him. I say that for the television cameras.


BARNETT: And Trump is saying that because critics have accused of him inciting violence at many of his events.

The Republican front-runner is warning voters that electing Hillary Clinton will mean a repeat of the Obama years. Take a listen.


TRUMP: Let me tell you something. If she wins, and I hope she doesn't, but if she wins, you better get used to it because you'll have nothing but turmoil and you'll have nothing but four more years of Obama. And you can't take that.


CHURCH: Meantime, a new report is slamming Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state.

BARNETT: A State Department watchdog said that Clinton broke federal recordkeeping rules. And Donald Trump is pouncing on that news.

Here's Sunlen Serfaty.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, Hillary Clinton is back on the defensive. In a scathing, 83-page report, the State Department's inspector general determined that Clinton violated federal rules. It scolded the secretary of state for setting up and using her private e-mail server to conduct State Department business. The report reads in part, quote, "At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all e-mails dealing with department business before leaving government service."

Clinton has pushed back on questions over her e-mails many times in the past, telling CNN's Brianna Keilar last July --

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The truth is everything I did was permitted and I went above and beyond what anybody could have expected in making sure that if the State Department didn't capture something, I made a real effort to get it to them.

SERFATY: But the report says, quote, "Sending e-mails from a personal account to other employees at their department accounts is not an appropriate method of preserve any such e-mails."

Clinton has maintained that she had permission to use personal e-mail.

CLINTON: I opted for convenience to use my personal e-mail account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal e- mails, instead of two.

SERFATY: But not so, says the report. The inspectors-generals found that no one at the Clinton office contacted anyone at State before she decided to use her private server.

The Clinton campaign trying to downplay the significance. Clinton spokesman, Brian Fallon, saying in a statement, quote, "The inspector general documents just how consistent her e-mail practices were with those of other secretaries and senior officials at the State Department who also used personal e-mail."

The report does call out past secretaries of state for their use of e- mails, but notes the rules were updated the year Clinton took office.

TRUMP: Look, the e-mails, that's bad judgment.

SERFATY: The e-mail controversy has been a constant target for Donald Trump.

TRUMP: She had a little bad news today. Some reports came down, weren't so good. But, not so good. The inspector general's report, not good.

SERFATY: And the new findings are likely to hand him even more ammunition to bring to the general election fight ahead.

TRUMP: For her to be able to continue to run is an absolute disgrace, in my opinion, to this country.

SERFATY: Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, Cathedral City, California.


BARNETT: CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist, Angela Rye from Washington. She's former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Angela, great to have you with us.

The State Department inspector general found that secretary Clinton was fail to follow the rules by not informing key staff that she was using a private e-mail server. Already we know she suffers from this public opinion that feels she can't be trusted. What needs to happen now? Does she need to speak out on this more forcefully?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Hillary Clinton's team is well aware of the trustworthiness issue. And they work hard to correct it. The inspector general's report is damning and is unfortunately another distraction that's keeping them from what their real goal is, to get to this primary to get to the general election. She, now, has to focus on repairing her public image, focusing on trustworthiness and get people to understand her perspective, why she thought a private server was necessary to begin with. I said consistently, she is the first secretary of state to be a former first lady and a former Senator. And to that end, she might have thought, you know, I need to protect my e-mails in whatever way. Unfortunately, she's run afoul of the rules and potentially the law. They have a lot of work to demonstrate to the American people what they're going to correct it. I think it is unfortunate, it is distracting, and, yes, she does need to answer for it.

[02:10:36] BARNETT: Other people in the State Department were disciplined for following similar policies.

There's another issue Democrats face. The national committee chairwoman, Ms. Wasserman Schultz is losing support in the party. Bernie Sanders has long said she is biased towards Clinton. She says she's been neutral the entire time. In the interest of party unity, should she step down before the July convention as some are discussing?

RYE: Well, look. I think it's distracting. It's distracting fodder, the kind that Democrats can't afford. The party needs to focus on unifying. We have a lot to do to make sure that happens before July. Replacing her, going on a search to figure out who would be is just another thing they can't afford to do. We were talking about the I.G. report that came out today. There's an FBI investigation that has to finish. Bernie Sanders has to not only be a part of the platform committee at the convention, but he's got to figure out how he's going to get his supporters to buy in full-fledged into a Hillary Clinton potential nomination at this point. And they're not ready to throw in the towel.


BARNETT: Let me ask you this. You're a Democrat. But you don't necessarily support Hillary Clinton. Do you think the chairwoman has shown to be biased in the way she's conducted herself?

RYE: I think that even Bernie Sanders is surprised at how well he's done as a candidate. That said, I would be very surprised if Debbie Wasserman Schultz didn't have the same surprise, right? She is a past campaign co-chair for Hillary Clinton. I'm not saying she's biased at all. But this is a distraction. And this is something the parties will have to deal with after the primary season is over.

BARNETT: Very quickly, Donald Trump continues to have an issue with women. He publicly spoke against the first female Hispanic governor of Mexico, because she refused to attend her rally. He's calling Senator Elizabeth Warren "Pocahontas," because of her claims to heritage. What are your views on the way the Republican front runner is speaking about professional women?

RYE: It's not just how he is speaking about women. Errol, he spokes about everyone in this vitriolic tone. If he's not a bigot, he sounds like one. If he's not a racist, he sure sounds like one. And news flash, Donald Trump, Pocahontas is not Cherokee. That is what Elizabeth Warren marked on her application. This is ridiculous. At this point, he needs to focus, not on being politically correct, just on being diplomatic, on being presidential. Errol, it's very apparent, that he has no idea how to that.

BARNETT: All right. Democratic strategist, Angela Rye, thank you. RYE: Thank you.

BARNETT: Joining us from Washington.

CHURCH: We'll take a quick break. On the other side, the desperate attempt to start a new life despite the often deadly risks. Migrants face risky crossings to try to reach Europe.

BARNETT: And among the many dangers they face, there's a new one from ISIS militants. We have an exclusive report for you after this.




[02:17:42] CHURCH: An attempt to help migrants in trouble took a deadly turn off the Libyan beach. An Italian navy boat approached a boat jammed with migrants to hand out life jackets.

BARNETT: Passengers rushed to one side, as you might imagine. That threw the boat off-balance. People fell into the water as it capsized. The navy says about 562 migrants were rescued but five people died.

CHURCH: That migrant voyage is part of a recent spike, now, that seas are calmer and the weather is warmer.

BARNETT: But the migrants face another risk.

Nick Paton Walsh has this exclusive report on how ISIS militants are using the migration to establish sleeper cells in Europe.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the moment when desperate dreams come to an end. We're with the Libyan immigration police inside a warehouse of migrant hopefuls they just raided on the Tripoli beachfront. As Turkey and Greece close their shores, the Libyan route to Europe has exploded again. Here, among the squalor that a lifetime savings buys, is where fantasies of a future in Europe fall apart.

(on camera): Where are you from?


WALSH (voice-over): This man fled ISIS-loyal Boko Haram, whose bombs killed his father and brother. And he survived the desert trek until here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After today, bomb blast, tomorrow bomb blast. We're not safe. After the death of my father and my brother, I said let me go. And let me travel out. And every time I talk about them, I feel sad. I feel sad. WALSH: We leave quickly, as this is a smugglers' neighborhood.

But there's a new threat. Smugglers and police telling us that ISIS have hidden fighters among other groups of migrants bound for Europe.

(on camera): This trade in human souls is awful enough until you think that perhaps ISIS are using this passage of human life into Europe, trying to infiltrate the continent with sleeper cells.

(voice-over): Police tell us off camera they have caught different other migrants with ISIS links. And a top Libyan official warns us the threat is real.

[02:20:07] UNIDENTIFIED TOP LIBYAN OFFICIAL (through translation): ISIS can be among illegal immigrants on the boats. They travel with their families, without weapons, as normal illegal immigrants. They will wear American dress and have English-language papers so they cause no suspicion.

WALSH: It's a huge and un-patrolable coastline where smugglers rule. We talked to one, disguised for his safety, who says, in the past two months, ferrying ISIS has become part of the trade.

UNIDENTIFIED SMUGGLER (through translation): About two weeks ago, a boat left the ISIS stronghold Sirte, among them were about 40 ISIS. They were heading to Europe but the bad weather turned them back. 10 days later, they tried again. I don't know if they got there. About a month ago, I got a call from a devout guy I knew was ISIS. He wanted a small boat that could carry 40 people and was willing to pay about $40,000. I didn't take the deal.

WALSH (on camera): Do you and other smugglers feel comfortable moving people who may be ISIS towards Europe?

UNIDENTIFIED SMUGGLER (through translation): Smugglers are only interested in smuggling, ISIS, anyone, they don't care. Melon or watermelon. Only money matters.

WALSH (voice-over): The Libyan state is torn apart by infighting. It's Coast Guard struggling to even find boats.

(on camera): Fighting the migrant trade along the whole coastline of the Libyan capitol of Tripoli are just six boats like this, some which are not in particularly good service. You can't imagine how under resourced things are here so close to Europe.


(voice-over): These are the desperate scenes, as they tried to rescue some African migrants, whose dinghy collapsed late last year.


WALSH: Smugglers now prefer these dinghies, vulnerable to the slightest weather change.


WALSH: A trade borne of human misery. Some fleeing ISIS themselves, only to find ISIS now seek to hijack their deadly journey to spread more suffering.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Tripoli.


BARNETT: We can report on significant damage right in the heart of one of Italy's most famous cities. A giant sinkhole swallowed parts of the street. Look at that.

CHURCH: Unbelievable. And officials say a water main burst. The ground above it gave way, taking about 20 cars down with it. Not long after that, another 10 meters of the street fell apart. No one was hurt.

BARNETT: Don't you hate it when your shoes fall off? And don't you hate it when your shoes melt off? It's been so hot in India, roads are melting. Some people couldn't cross the street without getting their shoes there struck in the tar. Ouch. She falls into it. India recorded it's highest-ever temperature last week.

CHURCH: Our Meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us now to talk about the high temperatures.

Just incredible. When you see the road melting, you know it's really hot.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Now, there's a video you don't see every day, right? Unbelievable. And well, technically, when we're talking about heat wave conditions, the World Meteorological Association says a temperature has to be five Celsius before. And India and much of the country has fit the bill for heat wave conditions. You can imagine what that does to black asphalt or pavement. Hopefully, the gentleman looks before he crosses there. We did a bit of research, to find out how hot asphalt can get. Little wind, direct sunlight, temperatures on top of a road, can reach between 50 and 70 degrees Celsius. With that gentleman losing his flip-flop on the asphalt, he's lucky he didn't have second-degree or third-degree burns. It only takes a little contact like that. We're all familiar with ice. That melts at zero degrees. Butter, at 32 degrees. Other common forms. Chocolate, 36 degrees Celsius. That puts it into how hot asphalt can get. Look at temperatures in India earlier you get daytime highs and what that does to the ground.

I want to talk about a video you of Kansas. A tornado, on the ground, for roughly 90 minutes long. This did cause some injuries, and destroyed, Errol and Rosemary, 15 to 20 homes. We're thinking of the people out of Chatman, Kansas, as we speak.

[02:25:21] BARNETT: Indeed.

CHURCH: We definitely are. Just terrifying.

All right, thanks, Derek.

BARNETT: Thanks very much.

The U.S. presidential candidates are doing whatever it takes to get their message out to voters. And that includes hitting the friendlier daytime and late-night talk shows.

CHURCH: Republican Donald Trump appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel live," a few hours ago. And Democrat Hillary Clinton recently appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."


ELLEN DEGENERES, HOST, THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW: We're going to show you pictures of two people. And you're going to pick one other the other.

CLINTON: This is very helpful.


DEGENERES: You're welcome.

Mark Cuban or Joe Biden?



DEGENERES: You're picking Joe?

CLINTON: Got to go with Tony.


CLINTON: Bernie Sanders.





Well, Tony can be the first term and George can be the second.


DEGENERES: All right.

CLINTON: I believe in make lemonade out of lemons.


(LAUGHTER) Now, you have to choose. Obviously, it's me.


CLINTON: Well, I already offered it to you.

DEGENERES: You didn't sound like you --



DEGENERES: I turned it down.

CLINTON: You turned it down.


CHURCH: And CNN's new show, "State of the Race," with Kate Bolduan is just ahead for our viewers in Asia.

For our viewers elsewhere, stay will us. Hundreds of literary heavy hitters are standing up to Donald Trump. Their message to the American people is still to come. Stay with us.


[02:30:17] CHURCH: And a warm welcome back to you all. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church.

BARNETT: I'm Errol Barnett. We're 30 minutes into our two-hour block. Let's update you on our top stories.


CHURCH: Let's head back to the race for the White House. And Republican Donald Trump has been campaigning in southern California. A crowd of protesters stood outside of the Hollywood studio of late- night TV host, Jimmy Kimmel, where Trump was a guest. They held signs, calling the Republican a Nazi and chanted, "Dump Trump," but the demonstration was peaceful.

BARNETT: Earlier, police arrested a handful of protesters in Anaheim. A large number of police were deployed but there were a few minor clashes. Just a night before, things were more chaotic at a Trump rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Protesters lit fires, smashed a door, and threw rocks.

CHURCH: CNN's political commentator and conservative host, Ben Ferguson, joins me now from Dallas.

Always great to chat with you.


CHURCH: What is going on in the Trump camp? There is word that Trump has fired his top aide, Rick Wiley. What could that mean for Trump's campaign?

FERGUSON: I don't think it means much. He came over from the Walker campaign. He was brought in not by Donald Trump, but when Donald Trump hired a new team to come in when he was getting beaten in the delegate race. This was part of the rebranding of Donald Trump. So this was never a real Trump insider. This is more of the establishment that was brought in to help mainstream him, help build fences and fix problems he had with the establishment. I'm not surprised that he's gone. I'm not surprised anybody in the last couple months of Donald Trump's campaign could be gone at any moment. If you're not in the inner circle from the beginning -- Trump is about loyalty. If he doesn't feel like you're totally loyal or you're second-guessing him, he's going to shut the door quickly. I think that's probably what happened here.

CHURCH: Let's move on to Hillary Clinton's problems. How much of a gift for Republicans is this new State Department report indicating that Clinton broke the rules about e-mail servers? And will it change anyone's mind, do you think?

FERGUSON: I think it will have an impact in this race. Especially when Donald Trump is yelling about it every day and saying that Hillary Clinton is a liar. She said that she asked permission to use a private e-mail. The State Department now says that is actually not correct, that never happened, and they never gave her permission to use her server. That puts her honesty and integrity back in the limelight. Remember, Hillary Clinton had a trust issue in the primaries. The reason that Bernie Sanders is still around is the Democrats said they had a trust issue. It was one of her highest issues when it comes to numbers, that she was going into almost every state she was having problems against Bernie Sanders. The Democrats said they just don't trust her on honesty. And now, this makes it a lot worse for her.

CHURCH: And Donald Trump attacked New Mexico's Latino Republican governor. And on Wednesday, she fired back. Not a recipe for party unity or to reach out to women voters reluctant to back Trump. What's the GOP establishment saying about this?

FERGUSON: It's interesting. This campaign has not been normal since the beginning. What Donald Trump has been able to do is say either get out of the way or I'll run over you. If you're part of the establishment, it only makes me bigger than I am right now. Donald Trump has been saying, I am an outsider, I'm not an insider, and I'm not your typical GOP candidate. And when you have an elected GOP official saying, I'm not going to be on board or give my endorsement yet, Donald Trump helps his argument that, hey, if you want the establishment, then go with people like her. If you want a real person that's going to give you change in Washington and take on the establishment, which everyone hates by default, then go with me. So some of these I actually think are to his advantage to have them not come out and endorse him.

[02:35:32] CHURCH: Ben, I want to squeeze this in. We're out of time. Why is Paul Ryan holding back on his endorsement of Trump? What is he waiting for? FERGUSON: I think he was waiting for decorum and class and to act like a presidential candidate. He made his very point clear, look, you have to start acting more presidential. You can't attack quote the "National Enquirer" as a news source when you were attacking Ted Cruz and his father with absurd stories of him being connected to the assassination of a former president, JFK. His point was, if you want us to come onboard, you're going to have to start acting presidential, or at least act like a gentleman and not quote these insane articles. You want to attack Hillary Clinton, that's one thing. Don't make up things while doing it against Republicans or Democrats. I think his point was made very clear. And it was a wise decision for him not to just jump onboard. You need to have a real partnership. They're going to be speaking on the phone tonight. I wouldn't be surprised if you have an endorsement come out in the next week or so.

CHURCH: OK. We'll watch that closely.

Ben Ferguson, always a pleasure to chat with you.

FERGUSON: Great to be here.

BARNETT: The pen may be mightier on the sword, but is it more powerful than the rhetoric of Donald J. Trump? That's the question more than 450 writers are putting to the test, by signing an open letter opposing the presidential candidacy of the billionaire businessman. Using the word "Because" no fewer than eight times, these authors outline reasons they believe Trump could not be commander-in-chief.

Here's a quick sample. "Because, as writers, we're particularly aware of the many ways that language can be abused in the name of power. Because American history, despite periods of nativism and bigotry, has, from the first, been a grand experiment in bringing people of different backgrounds together, not pinning them against one another. Because we believe that knowledge, experience, flexibility and historical awareness are indispensable in a leader."

Signatories of the letter include literary stars such as Stephen King, Geraldine Brooke and Lydia Davis.

But the writer behind the petition is Andrew Altschul, author of the novel, "Lady Lazarus," and others. He joins us now from Washington.

Great to have you with us today, Andrew.

Your partner in this, Writer Mark Slouka, says this came out of a sense of desperation you felt. Just explain that.

ANDREW ALTSCHUL, AUTHOR: Well I think maybe frustration would be a better word, or my word. And there's a real sense of helplessness in watching what is happening in our country, and watching the rise of a figure in politics who is like something we have not seen before. And Mark and I both felt, even if we couldn't do anything at the political level, we couldn't sit back and not try to make our opinion known and to have some effect if that were possible. BARNETT: Just to play devils' advocate, are you expecting too much of

the American ideal of democracy. Couldn't take a deeply critical view and we call the U.S. a republic, built on the slaughter of Native Americans, initially, the enslavement of Africans, and the worship of money and capitalism? I know that's a controversial question. But in that context, doesn't Donald Trump make perfect sense?

ALTSCHUL: I can't argue there's a logic behind Donald Trump's candidacy and he's appealing to a vein in the American public that's always been there and maybe has gained some strength in recent years. But what's the most important about America and about its ideals is that it has always been trying to live up to some really beautiful ideals about what a country is and what should hold country together. While everything you said is accurate, there's been many improvements in our culture over the years. And I think Donald Trump would be a gigantic step backward.

BARNETT: We as journalists have a hard time answering this question, but how do you explain his fervent support? And what do you say to Trump followers who don't think he's fascist at all?

[02:40:50] ALTSCHUL: I think Trump functions as a demagogue. If you listen to his language, and this is one of the things we said in the letter, that his writers were particularly attuned to that language and to the tone he uses, the way he appeals to the crowds, and he stirs up the ugly and violent instincts in some of his supporters. Certainly, not in all of his supporters. That's a vein that's probably always been present, but really over the last couple of decades, it has grown stronger. The Republican Party itself bears a lot of responsibility for having cultivated this part of their base and having allowed it to grow to a proportion now where the Republican establishment last control of his nominating process for the presidency. You can see the same rhetoric that's opinion spewed out for the last eight years of the Obama presidency.

CHURCH: Are you concerned this plays into Trump's hands? He's benefitted from appearing to be the outsider or the underdog.

ALTSCHUL: I don't know the answer to that. It's possible that 500 writers, including 10 Pulitzer Prize winners, make a juicy target for his most ardent supporters. We couldn't do nothing. We had to make our voices heard. Hopefully, having done so, will change some people's minds that might not have decided who they will vote for.

BARNETT: The fact that you have come together speaks for itself.

Writer Andrew Altschul, thanks so much for your time today.

ALTSCHUL: Thanks, Errol.

CHURCH: Next here on CNN, why Russia released an imprisoned Ukrainian military pilot. We'll explain when we come back.


[02:45:11] CHURCH: Russia has pardoned and released an imprisoned Ukrainian military pilot. Nadiya Savchenko was jailed for an attack that killed two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine.

BARNETT: She became a Ukrainian national hero and a symbol of resistance.

Senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, has more.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After nearly two years behind bars, this is the first taste of freedom for Nadiya Savchenko, flown back to the Ukrainian capital in part of a secret prisoner swap deal with Moscow.

And she's lost none of her defiance. "I spent two years in a single cell," she screams at the crowd. "I'm just sorry for the mothers whose kids won't be coming back."

The case of Savchenko came to symbolize the acrimony between Russia and Ukraine with a broader, bloodier conflict. From the glass cage in the provincial Russian courthouse where she was tried, this former Ukrainian army pilot cast herself as a symbol of Ukrainian national resistance, condemning the proceedings as a show trial.


CHANCE: This was the fatal incident at the height of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Savchenko was found guilty of directing mortar fire against the group of pro-Russian rebels, accompanied by a Russian TV crew. The Russian reporter and the sound engineer were killed. Savchenko always pleaded innocent. The defense team arguing she had already been captured when the deadly incident took place. But the court rejected that possibility and sentenced her to 22 years.

The Kremlin says the prisoner swap was only approved after Putin heard from the widows of the dead journalists.

Putin said, "You are approaching me, asking me to pardon me Savchenko," he said. "I just want to thank you for that decision and to express hope that will lead to a decrease in the tensions in the conflict zone.

As part of the prisoner swap, Russia also seized the return of two of its own citizens, captured in the war zone and sentenced to 14 years by the Ukrainian courts. In custody, they confessed on camera to be in covert operations. Russia denies any of its troops were sent to Ukraine. The two are back in Moscow, as both Russia and Ukraine finally turn the page on this bruising chapter.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


CHURCH: When former French president, Francois Mitterrand, commissioned the iconic pyramid in front of the Louvre Museum in Paris, it wasn't popular with everyone. After it was finished in 1989, some wish the structure would disappear.

BARNETT: 27 years later, they're kind of getting their wish. Look at this. A French street artist, he wrapped the pyramid with an image of the building behind it.

CHURCH: It looks cool.

BARNETT: Well done.

CHURCH: Just ahead, after a high-level meeting, Barack Obama was in the mood for a musical interlude. What followed this challenge to a hip-hop artist.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED SATES: Why don't you give me a little rap? We'll see what you've got.


OBAMA: Come on. Do you need a little beat?

UNIDENTIFIED RAPPER: Yes, I do, actually.

OBAMA: Come on.





[02:52:43] BARNETT: Now, it is said that necessity is the mother of all invention. And doing something about the traffic in Beijing, that's considered a necessity.

CHURCH: Check out this invention. It's an elevated bus that can zoom over cars. It can carry 1,200 people at a time and costs less than a subway. The first one will be tested in China this year.

BARNETT: You get to slide down at the end. Fun stuff.

Now, over in the U.K., there isn't just one queen who attracts thousands of followers, wherever she goes.

CHURCH: This is what happens in Wales when a queen bee got trapped in the trunk of the car. The beekeepers removed them, but they returned the next day. The queen bee has yet to be located.

BARNETT: The beehive comes after you.

Barack Obama has never shied away from performing arts during his years as U.S. president.

CHURCH: But he has unleashed another talent in Vietnam.

As Jeanne Moos reports, he had a national superstar to impress.



JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We've seen him dance with Ellen.


MOOS: Tango in Argentina. And sing at the Apollo.



MOOS: But in Vietnam, President Obama got serenaded here.

UNIDENTIFIED RAPPER: I'm a rapper here --

OBAMA: Are you a rapper?

UNIDENTIFIED RAPPER: -- in Saigon, Vietnam.

OBAMA: Oh, yeah?

MOOS: It took a little nudge from the president.

OBAMA: Why don't you give me a little rap? Let's see what you've got.

MOOS: He even helped with a little beat boxing.

OBAMA: You need a beat?

UNIDENTIFIED RAPPER: Vietnamese or English?

OBAMA: In Vietnamese.


MOOS: Her rap was about people with money and big houses, but are they happy?


OBAMA: That was good.

MOOS: She wasn't just some random audience member. She is known in Vietnam as the queen of hip-hop. Her name, Sue Boy, comes from the nickname Sue, and her tomboy style. She has music videos and tens of thousands of fans.

(SINGING) MOOS: She's been in movies and performed on "Vietnam Idol."


MOOS: No wonder she wasn't nervous rapping to the president.

UNIDENTIFIED RAPPER: Actually, I was shaking. I was so excited and overwhelmed. A lot of surreal type, you know, me, Asian rappers, like cute girls.

OBAMA: Is that what they're thinking?

MOOS: Sueboy says she taught herself English, rapping along with Eminem.


MOOS: He curses so much, she says, that's why her English is bad and rude.

How does she rate President Obama's beat boxing?

OBAMA: Do you like a little beat?



MOOS: Hey, it beats beating this box.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.



BARNETT: Go, Sueboy, go.

CHURCH: A lot of cool in that story.

BARNETT: Pretty cool.

CHURCH: Much more CNN NEWSROOM next hour. I'm Rosemary Church.

BARNETT: I'm Errol Barnett.

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