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Two Oath Keepers Leaders Sentenced Harsh Penalties in Prison; Americans Now on Vacation Mode for Memorial Day Weekend; Belarus says The Transfer of Russian Nuclear Weapons Now Underway; Emergency Door Opened Mid-Air in a Flight from Jeju to Daegu, Passenger Arrested after Landing; One of the Perpetrators in the Rwandan Genocide Has Finally Captured; U.S. Lawmakers Showed Solidarity for the Cleaning of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 26, 2023 - 03:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: And a very warm welcome to our viewers watching from all around the world. I'm Paula Newton.

Ahead on "CNN Newsroom." U.S. lawmakers insist default is not an option, but there's no deal yet to raise the debt limit. Ahead, what this could mean for the global economy.

Plus new reporting from "The Washington Post," employees of former President Trump allegedly moved boxes of papers at Mar-a-Lago a day before the justice department showed up to collect classified documents. And --


UNKNOWN: Memorial Day weekend is just the start of what's going to be a very busy summer travel season that we're expecting.


NEWTON: Yes, it is the unofficial start of summer and people are packing up and heading out of town for the long weekend. Just ahead, we have your travel and weather forecast.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is "CNN Newsroom" with Paula Newton.

NEWTON: And we do begin in Washington where marathon talks to avoid the first ever U.S. government debt default appear to be making progress. Now, sources tell CNN the White House and Congressional Republicans are getting closer to a deal to raise the debt limit and cap federal spending for two years.

Now, any cuts or caps on defense or veterans spending are reportedly off the table. The chief negotiator for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is staying in Washington over Memorial Day weekend to keep talking with the White House.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: We've been talking to the White House all day, we're going back and forth, and it's not easy. We want to make sure this is an agreement worthy of the American people.

REP. GARRET GRAVES (R-LA): Our efforts actually put in jeopardy those very benefits to senior citizens like Medicare and Social Security because they're refusing to negotiate a work requirement. So think about this for a minute. You're actually prioritizing paying people taxpayer funds to not work.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I've made clear time and again, defaulting on our national debt is not an option. The American people deserve to know that the Social Security payments will be there, the Veterans Hospital will remain open, and that economic progress will be made, and we're going to continue to make it. Default puts all that at risk. Congressional leaders understand that, and they've all agreed there will be no default. And it's time for Congress to act now.


NEWTON: CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more now on the sticking points for negotiators and the potential fallout from a default.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, just one week out from the earliest possible date when the U.S. could default on its debt, President Biden said that the ongoing negotiations between White House officials and House Republicans are productive, but at the same time also very clear that there are still huge gaps between these two sides.

And that much was evident even in listening to the president himself. President Biden talked about the need for bringing back revenue raisers, like closing tax loopholes, for example, back into the negotiations. Now, that's something that the Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, has made very clear that he is not going to consider.

And it's also clear that the White House and House Republicans still have yet to agree on that top line spending number. House Republicans still pushing for spending cuts, while the White House says that they will accept a freeze on spending at this current year's levels for the next two years. But what we are also starting to see is that the financial markets are taking note of the potential, the increased potential for the first-ever default in U.S. government history.

I spoke on Thursday with the Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo and here's what he said when I asked him whether Americans should be worried about the potential for default.

WALLY ADEYEMO, U.S. DEPUTY TREASURY SECRETARY: I think we should all be worried that Congress has not taken the action they need to do which is raising the debt limit. Not doing so would be a catastrophe for the economy that would have an impact across not only the United States but across the global economy.

DIAMOND: Now, the stock market certainly hasn't reacted to this current debt ceiling standoff, the way it did during the 2011 standoff. Back then, the S&P 500 plunged 17 percent.

But we are starting to see some early jitters in the stock market. And Adeyemo also made clear that what he's especially watching is the market of treasury securities, bonds, where the U.S. is already seeing its cost of borrowing go up as a result of the concerns around a potential default.


And Adeyemo said that it's not just the cost of borrowing for the federal government that's going up but that's a cost that's going to be passed on to the American public the longer this goes on and in particular should a default come to pass, an outcome that Adeyemo and other Treasury Department and administration officials have made clear is unacceptable, he said that the consequences of a potential default would be catastrophic.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House


NEWTON: So according to "The Washington Post," Donald Trump's staff was moving boxes around Mar-a-Lago last year, just a day before they knew that the FBI was coming to look for those classified documents. Now, the newspaper reports that Trump also allegedly held a so-called dress rehearsal for moving sensitive papers before they were subpoenaed, and that was about a year ago. Investigators reportedly view the timing as a potential sign of obstruction.

Josh Dawsey of "The Washington Post" spoke to CNN about his reporting.


JOSH DAWSEY, WASHINGTON POST POLITICAL INVESTIGATIONS AND ENTERPRISE REPORTER: What we're learning is that one day before federal authorities came to Mar-a-Lago last June to pick up classified documents and return for a subpoena, that video camera footage shows two Trump employees, two employees of the former president of Mar-a- Lago, political employees, moving boxes back into the storage room.

As you remember, when the feds arrived at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's team said, come with us to the storage room, that's where the documents are. You can do a search. They would not let them in the boxes. What we've reported is that the boxes were previously moved after the subpoena arrived. And then the night before federal officials came to Mar-a Lago, they were put back into the storage room.


NEWTON: Now, investigators reportedly view the timing as a potential sign of obstruction. Now more than two years after the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol,

two convicted ringleaders of the insurrection were handed stiff prison sentences on Thursday. The judge has harsh words for Oath Keepers founder, Stuart Rhodes, as he sentences him to 18 years in federal prison, the longest that handed down so far. But Rhodes, who played a central role on January 6th, was unrepentant, declaring himself a political prisoner.

The judge sternly scolded Rhodes, saying, you pose an ongoing threat and peril to our democracy and the fabric of this country. I dare say we all now hold our collective breaths when an election is approaching.

Now, by contrast, co-conspirator, Kelly Meggs, who led the group's Florida chapter, was contrite and said he regretted his actions on January 6th. He was given a 12-year sentence.

Now, so far, 22 oath keepers have been convicted or pleaded guilty to various federal crimes, eight of them, including Rhodes and Meggs, were convicted of the very rare and serious charge of seditious conspiracy.

After a glitchy online campaign launch, the newest candidate in the Republican race for the White House has reportedly raked in more than $8 million in the first 24 hours of his campaign. And now, Ron DeSantis is sharpening his attack on the Republican frontrunner.

CNN's Steve Contorno has our story.


STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: A day after technical glitches marred the campaign launch of Governor Ron DeSantis's presidential ambitions, he returned to the more friendly confines of conservative media.

In more than a dozen interviews, DeSantis directly went after President Trump in a way he really has never done so before. In those interviews, he presented a stark contrast between himself and the way he has governed in Florida and Trump's four years in office. He suggested that Trump was ineffective, that he ran the deficit up, that he risked the lives and livelihoods of people with his COVID policies.

And he said that if he were elected president, he would be a far more ruthless user of government power in the White House. DeSantis also, in one of those appearances, challenged Donald Trump to actually show up to the presidential debates. This is what he said.

TREY GOWDY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Do you plan on participating in all the debates? And would you have a word of counsel for any candidates that were maybe equivocating on whether or not to participate in all the debates?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we should debate. I think the people want to hear it. You know, I grew up blue collar, working minimum wage jobs and learned nobody's entitled to anything in this world, Trey. You've got to earn it. And I think all of us have to go out and earn it. That's exactly what I intend to do. And I think the debates are a big part of the process.

CONTORNO: Next week, Governor DeSantis will return to the campaign trail with stops in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, where he will attempt to win over some of those Republican voters who will decide who will represent the party in 2024.

Steve Contorno, CNN, Miami.


NEWTON: Americans are on the move in a big way for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The Transportation Security Administration says it's planning to screen about 10 million airline passengers between Thursday and Monday, with about 300,000 a day at the world's busiest airport right here in Atlanta.

Delta Airlines says holiday weekend ticket sales are up 17 percent from last year. The airlines insist they are staffed up for the increase, but they're worried the federal government could cause delays because about 2 in 10 air traffic controller jobs are vacant.

Now for some passengers, the price of a ticket is their biggest worry.



JESUS MEDINA, TRAVELER: Way more expensive domestically, way more expensive. I looked at flights internationally, it's actually cheaper to fly internationally and to stay at a hotel internationally than it was domestically, so definitely -- definitely a lot pricier than I expected.


NEWTON: Extreme weather could dampen some holiday plans this weekend. Parts of West Texas and the Rockies could see storms. The forecast includes damaging winds and large hail.

Meantime, the South could also see some gusty winds and dangerous surf along the coast. Heavy rain is expected in the Carolinas and mid- Atlantic, but as you get further north, you will start to see those sunny skies.

An American woman has reportedly lost her leg in a shark attack in the Caribbean. According to police, it happened on Wednesday, when the 22- year old Connecticut woman and a friend were snorkeling at a resort in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Police say the woman is in hospital in serious condition. An excursion company in the area says a Caribbean reef shark probably attacked the woman in what is known in diving circles as a case of mistaken identity. Here's what one expert told us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDY CASAGRANDE, DISCOVERY CHANNEL SHARK WEEK EXPERT: In my opinion, in this situation, based on what I've read and what I've heard, you know, they're swimming in clear water, they're offshore, there was reference of it could potentially be a Caribbean reef shark. But from what I'm hearing about the loss of limb, it could have been a tiger shark, a bull shark. I would put my money on either of those two species.

You know, at the end of the day, they're predators, we are protein, so it's a risk you take.


NEWTON: Good thing to keep in mind. Now, experts also say shark attacks are rare, but advise that hitting a shark on the nose can temporarily stop an attack.

Iranian military drones keep coming to Russia despite international sanctions on Moscow. Still ahead for us, CNN investigates the murky web that provides Iranian weapons to Moscow and largely goes undetected.

Plus, harrowing moments onboard this passenger plane as the door opens during the flight. Details in a live report, just ahead.




NEWTON: Belarus confirms Russia has started transferring tactical nuclear weapons to Belarusian territory. Now, Ukraine's northern neighbor has been Moscow's closest ally since the war began last February. Russia has repeatedly used Belarus as a staging ground for incursions into Ukraine.

Russian and Belarusian defense ministers signed the agreement on Thursday to deploy those tactical nuclear weapons. The U.S. government and opposition leaders in Belarus denounced the move.


MATTHEW MILLER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We strongly condemn the arrangement. It's the latest example of irresponsible behavior that we have seen from Russia since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine over a year ago.

As we have made clear, the use of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons in this conflict would be met with severe consequences. But in response to this report, I will just add we have seen no reason to adjust our strategic nuclear posture or any indications that Russia has preparing to use a nuclear weapon.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NEWTON: Ukraine says Russia has launched a barrage of drone and missile strikes that lasted for seven hours overnight. It says the attacks involved dozens of drones and missiles going after targets right across the country. They included the capital, Kyiv, as well as the city of Dnipro and the Kharkiv region. One person was wounded in Dnipro while a number of homes and businesses were also damaged.

In the meantime, Russian installed officials are blaming Ukraine for a missile strike in the occupied city of Berdyansk are calling it a massive attack, but there's been no word on casualties. The officials also suggested without evidence that Ukraine may have used the long range storm shadow missile recently supplied by Britain.

Now, that happened after U.S. intelligence assessed that a Ukrainian group may be behind a drone attack on the Kremlin earlier this month and after a cross-border raid by Russians opposed to the Kremlin who said they used some U.S. military vehicles. Now, they allege they did not receive those vehicles from Ukraine, but the U.S. says there's a line it needs to draw for Kyiv. Listen.


JOHN KIRBY, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: We've made it clear to the Ukrainians that we don't want to see U.S.-made, U.S.-supplied equipment used on Russian soil to attack Russia. What we are providing is a lot of equipment, tools, training capabilities, including weapon systems, to be used to defend Ukrainian soil.

We have been very clear that we want Ukraine to be able to defend its own soil, its own territory. They have been attacked, they have been invaded, they have a right to defend themselves.


NEWTON: Ukraine has shared a dramatic video of an apparent attack on a Russian warship in the Black Sea. Now, Ukraine's defense minister says this footage was taken from an unmanned vessel that hit a Russian reconnaissance ship. We see it there racing toward the warship, but the video cuts out just before impact.

The CNN analysis shows the Russian ship was likely the Ivan Kurs. But Moscow claims the Ukrainian attack was foiled. It's still unclear how much damage, if any, the warship has taken.

Ukraine says Russia has used about 1,200 Iranian drones since the war began. But just how are those weapons finding their way to Russia?

Salma Abdelaziz reports for some ships and planes have a way of making deliveries largely unnoticed.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These calm waters are home to a secret Russia doesn't want you to know. Experts say Iran is quietly sending weapons on ships like this one across the Caspian Sea to replenish arms for Moscow's war on Ukraine. [03:20:04]

Concealing movement at sea is considered nefarious and potentially a violation of international law. But in the Caspian Sea, there's a growing number of gaps in vessels tracking data known as AIS, with a more than 50 percent increase in ships hiding their movement between August and September of 2022 according to maritime trafficking data. Most of the vessels going dark are Iranian or Russian flagged tankers.

The timing is suspicious too, this practice picking up last summer, just as White House officials revealed that Russia had purchased hundreds of drones from Iran. So, why would these ships want to hide their movements?

Maritime security analyst Martin Kelly tells us it is likely because of what these vessels are carrying.

MARTIN KELLY, LEAD INTELLIGENCE ANALYST, EOS RISK GROUP: There's a correlation between Russia requesting drones from Iran, dark port cause in the Caspian Sea and an increase in dark AIS activity and that to me was a key indicator of these three aspects combined that something was going on, probably the export of Iranian drones to Russia.

ABDELAZIZ (on-camera): This heat map from Lloyd's List shows where most of those gaps in AIS are concentrated, mostly near Iran's Amirabad port and Russia's Astrakhan port, where ships appear to be turning off their data on approach and going dark for extended periods of time.

Now, using data like this and expert analysis, CNN was able to identify eight vessels that exhibited suspicious behavior in the Caspian Sea. This is one such vessel. It's a Russian flag tanker that was seen in early January, leaving Iran's Amirabad port, making its way across the Caspian Sea to Russia's Astrakhan port. Now, we cannot independently verify what this tanker was carrying, but experts tell us the shipment was likely linked to the arms trade.

(voice-over): And there are signs that Tehran could be airmailing arms too. The U.S. and Ukraine both accused Tehran of sending supplies to Russia by plane. CNN analyzed the tracking data of four Iranian cargo planes flagged by the U.S. Commerce Department for potentially carrying drone shipments. Collectively, the aircraft made at least 85 trips to Moscow airports between May 2022 and March 2023.

Iran has admitted that it sold a small number of drones to Russia. But it says the sale was a few months prior to the war in Ukraine. CNN has reached out to Iran and Russia for comment, but has yet to receive a response.

But given the much larger volume cargo ships can carry, the Caspian Sea Corridor is likely the primary conduit. And experts say it is the new frontier for weapons trade between Moscow and Tehran, tucked away from Western interference. It provides an easy avenue for sanctions evasion, expert Anissa Tabrizi says. ANISEH BASSIRI TABRIZI, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, RUSI: I think the

perception in Moscow is that Tehran can teach a lot to Moscow about how to go and how to still have a significant economy, even when sanctions are imposed.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): And there is very little the U.S. and its allies can do to stop it. And more could be on the way. Intelligence officials warned in November, Iran plans to send ballistic missiles, ammunition and more sophisticated drones to Moscow. A bustling corridor potentially providing a much needed arsenal critical to Russia's land grab in Ukraine.


NEWTON: And Salma Abdelaziz now joins us from London. Salma, really interesting report there. You know, the question is what can be done about it, if anything?

ABDELAZIZ: Well, experts tell us there's actually very little that can be done about it. When you talk about the Caspian Sea, when you look at the map, you look at the neighbors that border the Caspian Sea, the United States, NATO have very little influence there.

One of the countries that we did notice seemed to attract the attention of the United States recently was Turkmenistan, which of course sits on the Caspian Sea. And U.S. Navy officials had made recent visits there but said it was about maritime security and would not provide any further details.

But you have to assume, of course, Paula, these drones are landing in Ukraine causing death, causing damage, that NATO and the United States are absolutely scrambling to figure out how are they getting there and how can they stop it. And we see the impact even today. You mentioned the attacks overnight in Dnipro, in Kyiv, and Kharkiv. That was a wave of 17 cruise missiles and 31 attack drones. According to the Ukrainian Air Force, all of those drones are Iranian made.


NEWTON: Yeah, as I said, fascinating report. And you certainly see from that, what the Ukrainian military and of course, air defenses are up against.

Salma for us from London, I appreciate it.

Now there's word of a possible compromise on the U.S. debt ceiling where the White House and Republicans in Congress are reportedly finding common ground. That's up next on "CNN Newsroom."

And, this is not what you want to experience during a flight, to say the least. Wind rushing into the cabin through an open door. Can you imagine? A live report on what happened? That's next.


[03:30:00] NEWTON: And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and

all around the world. I'm Paula Newton and you are watching "CNN Newsroom."

Now, we want to get you right up to date on our top story. The White House and Congressional Republicans are moving closer to a deal to avoid a U.S. government default. Negotiators are discussing a potential compromise to raise the debt ceiling and cap federal spending levels for at least two years. Now, funding for veterans and the Pentagon would be spared. Talks are expected to thankfully continue right through the weekend.

We go to Los Angeles now. Ryan Patel, Senior Fellow at the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. Really good to see you and to weigh in on this. Okay, no deal yet. We wait, we worry. The Treasury Department is biding its time trying to figure out, it's a shell game, right Ryan? Trying to figure out where to move their money around.

You know, officials there also warned that, you know, America is already too close to a default and that Americans will pay the price for this. We saw Fitch ratings downgrade or warn that they might have to downgrade Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, because the government-backed mortgage giants. You know, what I've outlined here is already quite bad. What is your takeaway?

RYAN PATEL, SENIOR FELLOW, DRUCKER SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT: Well, you said the word thankful. Like, I'm thankful that they're talking. I'm thankful that, you know, that I believe that they're going to get a deal done. But as you know, there's so many variables. Things have been going sideways. It could be with the flip of a switch.

So, as you mentioned, should that switch occur, there is this detrimental effect to the economy where you think about the significant knock effects on the domestic economy. There's going to be a loss of investor confidence should that occur, as you mentioned. There's going to be an increase in borrowing costs, decline of value U.S. dollar, obviously, because of volatility, consumers are going to have to prepare that things are going to get more expensive.

And especially those who have -- we're talking about the debt ceiling. Those who actually in the U.S. have debt, they would have to re-look at how to knock that down because things would be more expensive. So yes, consumers would be paying for this, because it does have an effect to them and they would see it very shortly. It's not something that's long and it's different from the government shutdown versus a default.

NEWTON: Yeah, and that is very different, which is a good point to make. If we want to get defensive here, what should people be doing, either on your own or with a financial advisor?

PATEL: Yeah, I think there's a couple things, right? It's easy to say to diversify, but to really understand if you have a financial advisor, asking them the short term goals and long term goals for your portfolio to understand that if cash is there if you're personally looking at it yourselves, right, to see what stocks and bonds that you're in you may if you need the money short term you may just want to pull it out the cash.

Now, there's also the flip side of this to, Paula. Should there be a dip and you're -- and I'm saying you do this -- but should there be a dip and you're in on a long term stock opportunities may arise but playing in that short term game is not something I would highly recommend, because of there's so many other financial pressures on the economy, so it's not one thing.

Don't forget, there's a lot of different things like inflation and other earnings and other things that are there. So, it's really hard to deter, but obviously if you're in it for the long term, seeing those assets that you feel like they're important to you and safer, there could be some opportunities at the same time.

NEWTON: Yeah, and that makes sense. Certainly, anybody who took advantage when the pandemic happened is certainly better off right now.

So, let's hope we're close to a deal, right, Ryan? But if we're not, what are the most vulnerable parts of the economy here?

PATEL: Well, it's interesting. I think it's obviously the credit. I mean, I also think it's a couple of things. I think when you think about the conversation for the consumer, right, because the consumer spending the CPI has been going so great, this could trigger, and again, to say the R word, the recession with inflation could be the perfect storm for that to really kind of go sideways, because people haven't really built their emergency fund over the last couple of months.

We've seen layoffs and going into the summer. It's a little bit different from COVID. We had a higher savings per average. So, I would see consumer spending would be something that I would immediately look at to see if that hit the pocket. And I think that would be a place that would determine where the economy is going.

NEWTON: Yeah. And obviously a lot of businesses have already been taking hits even if the economy is still growing. So that's quite worrying. So listen, Ryan, even if there's a deal, where are we in the American economy and more broadly in the global economy in terms of actually having the resilience to absorb, let's not even say that they're going to default, but just even to absorb the chaos and the prelude to this?

PATEL: Yeah, I think we're flat. What I mean flat, I mean GDP, I mean the U.S. is so used to doing what, growing a handful of percentage of GDP year over year. And we were already going into the year thinking about one to two percent of points. And with the inflation and raise, it's pretty much flat. So, this doesn't really help the standing of the U.S. to get their feet underneath them or to quickly recover.


I mean, there's also this long-term fiscal sustainability issue, too, Paula, that yes, this debt ceiling debate is done, but what, two years from now we're going to have the same conversation? How are we solving those kinds of problems, And are they cutting whatever deal they cut?

Is it the right programs that they decide to cut that actually is going to help the economy moving forward? So that's one. And the last thing, real quickly, there's a geopolitical consequence we're not talking about. I know because it's the U.S. and it's the big, the biggest player in town, but like, this can be annoying for those who hold debt like China and Japan into the U.S., that this continues to occur.

There could be some repercussions in the future, and not to say the credibility of the U.S. is not there, but if it was any other country, Paula, the credibility would have taken a hit when you kind of mess with the economy like that, and especially not being able to pay your debt.

NEWTON: Yeah. And, as you point out, right, the world economy, the American economy, already fragile at this point. Nobody needs a shock like this or even to come close to a shock like this.

Ryan Patel for us in Los Angeles. Thanks so much. I Appreciate it.

PATEL: Thank You.

NEWTON: So, terrifying moments during a commercial flight after a door was open prior to landing and we're hearing a passenger may be responsible.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is live for us in Seoul now. Paula, thanks for jumping onto the story. I cannot believe this happened. I mean, are they saying more about how anyone could even have opened this door?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the key question, Paula. We've just spoken to an aviation expert who said it shouldn't be possible to be able to open an emergency door while you are still in flight. Now, this is the information we have from Asiana at this point. This was the flight that went from Jeju to Daegu. That's the island just off South Korea to the mainland. It's only about a 40, 45- minute flight, all within South Korea, and it landed safely at 12:45 p.m.

Now, according to Asiana, a man in his 30s, who was sitting at the emergency seat opened the door. He, according to Daegu police, has been arrested at the airport. They said it was about two or three minutes from landing, so not too high. It was about 700 feet above ground. That's just over 200 meters.

Now, there were 200 people on board at this point, and you can see from the video just how terrifying that would have been for those sitting in that area.

Now, there weren't any significant injuries, we're being told by Daegu Fire Department. They say there were 12 people who suffered from hyperventilation. They say nine of those were taken to hospital, but they were all with minor injuries. So a very lucky escape, given what had happened, that an aviation expert said simply shouldn't have technically been possible. Paula.

NEWTON: Okay, Paul Hancocks, thanks so much for that update. I Appreciate it.

Coming up for us on "CNN Newsroom," a Rwandan refugee has been living the good life for decades now, but now is in custody. A report on his capture and his alleged crimes against humanity in the Rwandan genocide. Stay with us for that.




NEWTON: A man wanted for allegedly killing thousands of people during the Rwandan genocide is to appear in a South African court today. He was arrested Thursday, almost 30 years after allegedly being a mastermind of and taking part in the killings in Rwanda. A spokesperson for the U.N. Secretary General says the arrest sends a powerful message to those who try to evade justice that they will eventually be held accountable.

CNN's David McKenzie has more now from Johannesburg.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fugitive Fulgence Kayishema didn't look like a man on the run. South African police say they found him living the good life in wine country near Cape Town. But for more than 20 years, his mugshot was plastered on top of the list of the most wanted perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide, and even among the names that define pure evil. Prosecutors say Kayishema stands out.

SERGE BRAMMERTZ, CHIEF PROSECUTOR, U.N. INTERNATIONAL RESIDUAL MECHANISM FOR CRIMINAL TRIBUNALS: He was a chief of police, and his responsibility was, in fact, to protect civilians, and he did exactly the opposite.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): For more than 90 days, nearly 30 years ago now, more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutu Rwandans were murdered during the genocide. Investigators say Kayishema was not just a mastermind, but was also a participant, herding fleeing Tutsis, women, children and the elderly, into the Nyangay Catholic Church. At first, they used machetes.

BRAMMERTZ: When those killings were not advancing quickly enough, they brought petrol and put the church on fire and came with this heavy machinery to have the roof of the church collapsing over more than 2,000 women and children. Must be worse than having an evil character to go over days and days continuing those massive killings.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): When the Rwandan Patriotic Front put a stop to the orgy of killing. Investigators say that Kayishema melted in with the thousands of refugees fleeing Rwanda to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He used fake papers, assumed names and fellow fugitives to get refugee status and asylum in Mozambique, Eswatini and finally South Africa.

BRAMMERTZ: Kayeshema is indicted for the murders of more than 2,000 women, men, children and elderly refugees.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): At the U.N. Security Council, the chief prosecutor repeatedly blamed South Africa for a lack of cooperation.


That all changed a year ago, he says, when President Silvo Ramaphosa ordered a task force be formed and investigators began closing the net.

(on-camera): What message does this arrest give to those who still remain at large in Rwanda and in other possible crimes of humanity?

BRAMMERTZ: Persons who are powerful today are not powerful anymore tomorrow. Sometimes you have to wait months, sometimes years. But the message is really very, very clearly, well, there's no status of limitations for those international crimes, genocide, war crimes, grams, guns, humanity. And even if it takes years, we will at the end of the day get those guys.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Kayishema was one of a handful of those most wanted for the genocide. Rwandan prosecutors are still looking for more than 1,200 fugitives. The hunt is far from over.

David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.


NEWTON: Three other individuals are wanted by the U.N. for alleged war crimes committed in Rwanda and remain at large. The U.S. State Department is offering rewards of up to $5 million for information that leads to their arrest or conviction in any country.

Now, Alois Ndimbati was the mayor of Kisuvu and is accused of directing police to hunt down individuals who had fled into the nearby hills, leading to the deaths of tens of thousands of people. Charles Sikubwabu was a mayor in the Kibuyu Prefecture, he is accused of instigating massacres at places of worship. Ryandikayo was a restaurant manager who is accused of instigating a massacre at the church of Mubugu and directing others to take part in those killings.

Now, voters in Turkey are preparing for the second round of presidential elections there this Sunday. Neither the incumbent, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, or his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, received more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round, forcing the runoff.

Viewers outside of the United States. Be sure to watch CNN's special live coverage of Turkish elections, hosted by Becky Anderson. That's Sunday, 8 p.m. Ankara time, 9 p.m. in Abu Dhabi, right here on CNN. Now, in Washington, honoring America's veterans is not a partisan

issue. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle led a group effort to clean the Vietnam Veterans Memorial heading into Memorial Day weekend. Their emotional experiences, next.




NEWTON: Less than a mile from Capitol Hill on Thursday, there was a rare and refreshing moment of bipartisanship. A group of lawmakers, including veterans, came together to honor Americans who lost their lives fighting in the Vietnam War. The lawmakers picked up hoses, buckets, and scrub brushes and cleaned the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall by hand.

CNN's Jake Tapper was there.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Etched into these enormous pieces of black granite, which emerged from the National Mall like a wound, are the names of 58,318 servicemen and servicewomen who lost their lives fighting in one of America's longest wars, the Vietnam War.

In a town so often divided, today members of Congress from both parties were united and came together to wash this wall by hand, ahead of Memorial Day.

Republican Congressman Mike Waltz from Florida is a Green Beret who did combat tours in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa. He organized this bipartisan event several years ago with fellow lawmakers who have also served.

REP. MIKE WALTZ (R-FL), WAR IN AFGHANISTAN VETERAN: It's a reminder to us the sacrifices that have been made for this country and it's reminder to us as members of Congress, both sides of the aisle, the end of the day, we're all American. We're all veterans who were willing to die together just a few years ago. Then we can come together, roll up our sleeves and move the country forward.

TAPPER (voice-over): Retired Lieutenant General and Michigan Republican Congressman Jack Bergman is one of only three Vietnam veterans left serving in the House.

REP. JACK BERGMAN (R-MI), VIETNAM WAR VETERAN: I normally come here alone. I never, once I get here, I'm never alone because I know who I'm visiting.

TAPPER (voice-over): A wall full of the names of friends and Americans who did not come home.

REP. MIKE THOMPSON (D-CA), VIETNAM WAR VETERAN: I have friends whose names are on that wall, people, kids that I grew up with and people that I served with and from that perspective it was powerful.

REP. JIM BAIRD (R-IN), VIETNAM WAR VETERAN: The opportunity for he and I to be here is just, I think, very important and it really pays tribute to what we're here for.

TAPPER (voice-over): Republican Congressman Jim Baird from Indiana, and Democratic Congressman Mike Thompson from California, both served in Vietnam but only just realized all they have in common.

THOMPSON: We're both at Fort Bend in Georgia. We're both married to nurses and we're both wounded in Vietnam, and as Jim pointed out, you know, we're here to work together for the American people and maybe that'll help us get there.

TAPPER (voice-over): For Republican Congressman John James of Michigan and Democratic Congressman Pat Ryan of New York, Congress is a college reunion.

(on-camera): So you guys were in the class at West Point?


REP. PAT RYAN (D-NY), IRAQ WAR VETERAN: We lived across the hall from each other.

JAMES: Our class, class 2004, was the first class to take our oath of affirmation after the Twin Towers fell. That means we are all committed to our service after we knew we'd be going to war. We've suffered the most casualties of any West Point class since the Vietnam War.

RYAN: I wear this bracelet that actually has our West Point classmate's names on it, etched on it. And the interconnection between our generation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Vietnam generation.


TAPPER (voice-over): And maybe, just maybe, the camaraderie will thaw some of the partisanship division we see just down the road.

JAMES: The Long Gray Line is neither blue nor red. It's more red, white and blue. And it links every generation, those who understand that we need to continue to sacrifice to make this nation prosperous and free.

TAPPER (voice-over): Jake Tapper, CNN, Washington.


NEWTON: Nice to see that. I'm Paula Newton and I want to thank you for your company. "CNN Newsroom" continues after the break with Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo.