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Biden Departs for Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland; U.S. Urgently Investigating Documents Leak; West Bank Shooting Victim Laid to Rest; Netanyahu's Top Lieutenant Questions His Judgment; Kentucky Gunman Wrote Note before Shooting Up Bank; Abortion Pill Uncertainty; Leaked Documents Show Egypt Secretly Planned to Supply Rockets to Russia; Ireland's Ties to U.S. Presidents. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired April 11, 2023 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): I'm Becky Anderson live from Abu Dhabi where the time is 6 o'clock in the evening. This is CONNECT THE
Coming up this hour, President Biden heads to Northern Ireland as tensions rise in some parts of the country.
Ukraine downplays the impact of leaked U.S. intelligence documents.
The Kremlin says "The Wall Street Journal's" detained reporter was caught red-handed as the State Department classifies him wrongly detained.
And it's 100 days until the Women's World Cup.
ANDERSON: Well, any moment now, U.S. President Joe Biden will take off for Northern Ireland and, later this week, to Ireland on a trip that will mix
past, present and future. Biden's visit timed to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement that brought peace to Northern
He'll also likely address the current economic headwinds in the wake of Brexit and promote the U.S. position as a global leader of democracy.
International diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is connecting us from Belfast.
And Nic, as we await the president's departure on Air Force One, this visit coming amid heightened security and a day after protesters attacked police
in Derry. Just explain what's going on here.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: And there's a follow- on police operation in Derry at the moment, in the cemetery where those -- that contentious parade arrived at yesterday.
It's a parade that was organized by a group, a political group that the police believe the political wing of the new IRA, that small dissident
Republican group. And at that cemetery yesterday, they were calling out for recruitment for the IRA.
Now the police went in there earlier today and said they found a suspicious device. But by the nature, that they're in this cemetery that's very close
to this community, it is a potential recipe for more confrontation with youths and the police.
But that is ongoing. The president won't see any of that. These sorts of police operations in Derry are not unusual. The police have -- or rather
the government's raised their terror threat level because they're afraid that this particular organization is trying to draw them into a
confrontation for what they call a spectacular.
This group would like nothing better than to let off a big explosion or come into confrontation with the police while President Biden is here. So
the police are very aware of that.
The security operation here in Belfast very big; an additional 300 police officers brought over from mainland U.K. But the president here arriving
late, meet with -- will meet with prime minister Rishi Sunak.
Tomorrow, a ribbon cutting ceremony at a Belfast university here in the center of Belfast. And we can expect the president to speak about the
economic opportunities for Northern Ireland.
ANDERSON: Nic Robertson's in Northern Ireland.
The U.S. President will depart the U.S. shortly on Air Force One.
From the legacy of those historic Troubles to new challenges for the U.S. on the global stage, a top Democratic lawmaker on the U.S. House
Intelligence Committee has told CNN there could be deadly consequences after the leak of highly classified U.S. military documents onto social
We are now learning more about some of the information alleged to contain, "The Washington Post" says, a document shows that Egypt, one of America's
closest allies in the Middle East, may have secretly been planning to supply rockets to Russia.
Well, CNN not yet able to independently verify those claims. Let's bring you up to speed on what we do know so far, here's Oren Liebermann.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A damaging leak from some of the highest levels of the Pentagon, rattling U.S. officials
who fear the revelations could jeopardize sources and hurt us relations abroad.
Among the 53 classified documents reviewed by CNN, a detailed look at key shortages and Ukraine's air defenses.
LIEBERMANN (voice-over): And battlefield assessments with the war in a critical phase and Ukraine preparing for a counteroffensive.
The documents were posted on Discord, a messaging and chat platform, in recent weeks, where they resided unknown to the pentagon until they were
picked up and disseminated further.
The Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into the leaks. The U.S. government is reviewing how this type of intelligence
shared. The Pentagon has already taken some steps to tighten the flow of such sensitive information.
JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: We're taking this very, very seriously. There is no excuse
for these kinds of documents to be in the public domain. At the top of some documents, an alphabet soup of government secrecy.
Top secret SI-GAMMA is signals intelligence. NOFORN is no foreign nationals and FISA stands for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The documents also reveal U.S. efforts to spy on allies around the world. A CIA intel update from March 1st says Israel's spy agency the Mossad
advocated for protests against the government. The Israeli prime minister's office said the report was without any foundation whatsoever.
Another document has information and internal deliberations within South Korea to sell artillery ammo that could eventually go to Ukraine. The
report came from signals intelligence, which includes intercepted communications and drew backlash from Seoul.
KIM BYUNG JOO, SOUTH KOREAN LAWMAKER: We strongly regret that the top U.S. intelligence agency had been illegally spying on allies like our country.
We strongly demand a thorough investigation and urged that similar incidents do not occur.
LIEBERMANN: An official from one of the countries and Five Eyes, a crucial intelligence sharing arrangement between the U.S. and some of its closest
allies said they expected the U.S. to share a damage assessment even as they conduct an assessment of their own.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's not only the kind of intelligence we collect on foes but also the kind of intelligence that all
nations connect -- collect on their friends, too. We do this, other nations do it, too. But you don't like it to be put into the public space.
ANDERSON: For more reaction from the Pentagon, let's bring in Natasha Bertrand.
What do we know about the investigation so far at this point?
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky. The Pentagon has set up an interagency effort to look into how this leak is potentially
going to damage U.S. national security, including whether any sensitive sources and methods have been compromised as a result of this leak of
classified documents, which have been online for at least a month.
There do appear to be dozens and dozens of these documents. And the Pentagon still doesn't know at this point just how many documents there
actually are, kind of floating out there on the internet.
They have not managed to tell us whether they have actually contained the leak at this point or if there are more documents out there that they just
don't know about. So that is also going to be a part of the Pentagon investigation that is going to be coordinated across the entire government.
So multiple different agencies, along with the Pentagon, will be looking at the impact that this leak, this disclosure, this unauthorized breach has
had on U.S. national security. In addition to that the Pentagon is going to be reviewing who gets this information right.
So whether or not and everyone who receives these kinds of classified daily updates are actually supposed to be receiving them, whether these
distribution lists should actually be smaller and, of course, looking at who could have had access to these documents.
The Justice Department, meanwhile, is focusing on a criminal investigation, which is going to be centered around who leaked this information, because,
of course, whoever leaked it is likely in a world of trouble, because these documents are so highly classified as Oren laid out in his piece there.
Some of them are actually top secret, which is among the highest classification levels that the U.S. government has. So the Justice
Department, Pentagon investigations are separate but complementary.
And of course, it could take months. We are told before the Pentagon really has a good idea of just how damaging this leak could be, not only to U.S.
national security but also to the national security of our allies, many of whom have classified and sensitive information included in a lot of these
documents that have been leaked online -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Natasha Bertrand on the story for you, Natasha. Thank you.
Well, the U.S. State Department, meantime, has formally designated journalist Evan Gershkovich as wrongfully detained by Russia. The
designation allows the U.S. to negotiate for "The Wall Street Journal" reporter's release, including a potential prisoner exchange.
Now Russia has responded by saying Gershkovich had been caught red-handed, breaking the law. As of Monday, the U.S. embassy in Moscow said it had not
been allowed to speak to him since his arrest.
Just days after two of her children were buried, a British Israeli mother has also been laid to rest in the West Bank.
ANDERSON: Lucy Dee and two of her daughters died after a suspected Palestinian gun attack on Friday. Her funeral, a short time ago, follows
West Bank clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians that left more than 200 people injured, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
The latest unrest happening as Israel's national security minister joined thousands of settlers on Monday in a march to an abandoned Israeli outpost
in the West Bank. The crowd called on Israel to legalize the outpost, which is on land the Palestinians say they own.
CNN's Hadas Gold joins us live from Jerusalem -- Hadas.
HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky. People like Itamar Ben-Gvir are being blamed by people like former prime minister Yair
Lapid for the recent flareup in tensions, specifically because Ben-Gvir is a senior minister in this government and he, as you saw, was marching
toward the settlement that this own government still deems illegal.
The government that he is technically still a part of. And, of course, Itamar Ben-Gvir's in charge of the police, who raided the Al-Aqsa mosque
last week. But others are saying, you know, look, at least in the recent security flare-ups, rockets being fired from Lebanon and Syria and Gaza,
didn't evolve into something even greater.
And as we heard from Benjamin Netanyahu last night, the defense minister, Yoav Gallant, who was fired, who Ben-Gvir called for his firing, has been
unfired now and is still in his post. But you cannot ignore the influence that these new right wing politicians have on this new government.
GOLD (voice-over): When Benjamin Netanyahu entered office for his third stint in December, he did so only with the support of far right parties,
once considered the fringe of Israeli politics.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The way it is now --
GOLD (voice-over): When asked by CNN's Jake Tapper about their influence in his government, he brushed them off.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: I've got my two hands on the wheel. And believe me, it's going to be a good direction.
GOLD (voice-over): Even if Netanyahu's hands are on the wheel, people like national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir are making it a bumpy ride.
AMIT SEGAL, CHIEF POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CHANNEL 12 NEWS: I think Netanyahu got his hands on the steering wheel but he is bankville (ph) and
Smotrich with their leg on the gas. Netanyahu is the prime minister, no doubt. But he's not the leader of this government.
GOLD (voice-over): Now overseeing the Israeli police, whose multiple raids into the Al-Aqsa mosque last week after Palestinians barricaded themselves
inside, helped spark rocket fire from Lebanon and Gaza.
Former prime minister Yair Lapid calling on Netanyahu to strip Ben-Gvir of his police powers over the holy sites.
YAIR LAPID, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (voice-over): The Temple Mount during Ramadan is the most explosive place in the world. It is not possible
that it is being dealt with by a clown on TikTok that has lost the confidence of the police and the forces on the ground.
GOLD (voice-over): On Monday, Ben-Gvir marching alongside thousands of Israeli settlers to an outpost still deemed illegal under this government,
as Palestinians clashed with Israeli security nearby.
Last month protests against Netanyahu's massive judicial overhaul plan exploded into the biggest general strike in Israeli history. For hours,
Netanyahu was nowhere to be seen, just a tweet urging protesters to behave responsibly.
Instead, the news of a pause to the legislation came in the form of a statement from Ben-Gvir, who seemed to be the final stumbling block before
the pullback could be announced.
Guaranteed a new national guard under his ministry in exchange for agreeing to the pause, although he promised his supporters that the overhaul will
EHUD BARAK, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: So that's a lunatic step of Netanyahu, which shows to what extent he cannot make a sincere judgment.
GOLD (voice-over): Now even Netanyahu's own former top lieutenants are questioning his judgment.
EFRAIM HALEVY, FORMER MOSSAD CHIEF: I believe that the Benjamin Netanyahu of today is not the Benjamin Netanyahu that I knew when he appointed me
head of Mossad.
And I agree for this but I cannot accept that he could -- should continue and lead the country.
GOLD (voice-over): As Israel quickly approaches at 75th independence day, Netanyahu driving the country into unknown territory.
GOLD: And Becky, Jerusalem has been quiet over the last few days in comparison, of course, to last week. But there is a question about what
will happen over these last 10 days of Ramadan and whether non Muslims will be allowed to go up to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, known to Jews as Temple
In the past, the Israeli police have prevented non Muslims from going up for the past -- for the last 10 days. But people like the national security
minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, have advocated for Jewish visits to the compound.
And prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his speech last night said that they will make a security assessment on a day by day basis to see whether
they will allow non Muslims up because, if you see especially Jewish groups going up --
GOLD: -- that could only further inflame what would have already been sky high tensions now here, Becky.
ANDERSON: Absolutely Hadas Gold is in Jerusalem for you.
Myanmar's shadow government says about 100 people have been killed in an airstrike launched by the military junta. The images that we are about to
show you are disturbing.
Local media reported the attack happened just hours ago in a village where people were gathering for the opening of a new town office. CNN not able to
confirm the authenticity of these photos and the military junta has yet comment publicly on what is this alleged attack. More on that, of course,
as we get it.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Coming up, it has happened nearly 150 times in the U.S. this year. The grim details of
the latest mass shooting there when a Kentucky man opened fire at a bank and livestreamed the attack.
Plus the Tennessee Three a step closer to being reunited. One state representative thrown off the job for a gun violence protest is reinstated,
at least for now.
ANDERSON: We are learning more about the breaking news. It was unfolding on this program yesterday, the 146th mass shooting so far this year in the
United States. This time it happened, of course, in Louisville, Kentucky.
A 25 year old bank employee opened fire in a staff meeting. At least five people were killed. Several others, including two police officers, were
seriously wounded. My colleague, CNN's Adrienne Broaddus, has the story.
ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The search for a motive begins in Louisville, Kentucky, after police say a 25 year old bank employee shot his
coworkers, leaving at least five dead.
INTERIM CHIEF JACQUELYN GWINN-VILLAROEL, LOUISVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT: The suspect shot at officers. We then returned fire and stopped that threat.
BROADDUS (voice-over): Police shot and killed the gunman, Connor Sturgeon. Investigators say he was still firing his AR-15 style rifle when officers
arrived. The shooter had worked at Old National Bank for more than a year but a law enforcement source says Sturgeon was recently told he would be
The source says Sturgeon wrote a note to his parents and a friend, indicating he was going to carry out a shooting at the bank. It's not clear
when the note was found.
CALEB GOODLETT, OLD NATIONAL BANK EMPLOYEE'S HUSBAND: I got a call from my wife, panicking, that she was locked in the vault.
BROADDUS (voice-over): Police say the shooter livestreamed the attack to Instagram. It was also streamed to a Monday morning bank meeting, Rebecca
Buchheit-Sims, a manager at the bank, tells CNN.
BROADDUS (voice-over): Sims says she watched from her computer as her coworkers were gunned down in the conference room. She says she didn't work
directly with the alleged shooter but knew him to be, quote, "extremely intelligent with a low-key temperament."
SWAT teams raided the gunman's home Monday afternoon as officials praised the quick action of first responders.
GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): It's got to be about them and the heroic actions of everybody who responded.
BROADDUS (voice-over): One of the officers who ran into the gunfire was rookie cop Nickolas Wilt, who was shot in the head and is in critical
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're all praying and supporting him. It was just a 1.5 weeks ago that I gave him, along with the chief, his graduation diploma
from the academy.
BROADDUS (voice-over): One of the five victims, a senior vice president at the bank, was a close friend of the governor.
BESHEAR: Tommy Elliott helped me build my law career, helped me become governor, gave me advice on being a good dad.
ANDERSON: Adrienne Broaddus, reporting from Louisville, Kentucky. There
Now this comes as new research shows gun violence has affected most families in the United States. Next hour, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be
here to talk more about that.
Well, in Tennessee, state lawmaker Justin Jones has now been reinstated. Local council members in Nashville voted unanimously to return him to his
seat after he was removed last week by Republicans for protesting gun violence on the house floor.
Fellow Democrat Justin Pearson could also be reinstated soon as CNN's Isabel Rosales now reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, I want to welcome our newest member to the House chambers, state representative Justin Jones.
ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Reinstated: Democrat Justin Jones walking back into the Tennessee House of Representatives to the sound of
cheers, four days after being expelled by the state's Republican majority.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to welcome democracy back to the people's house.
ROSALES (voice-over): In a unanimous vote, the Nashville Metropolitan Council reappointing Jones as an interim representative from Nashville's
house district 52.
Late Monday, Jones spoke from the steps of the capital, thanking supporters while calling for the resignation of Tennessee Speaker of the House.
JUSTIN JONES (D-TN), STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Today we're sending a resounding message that democracy will not be killed in the comfort of
silence. Today we send a clear message to Speaker Cameron Sexton that the people will not allow his crimes against democracy to happen without
ROSALES (voice-over): Republicans expelled Jones and his colleague, Justin Pearson, for violating rules of decorum during a protest last week on gun
reform in the wake of the shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville last month.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a sacred place that belongs to everybody and literally start looking up into the gallery with a bullhorn, getting the
protesters worked up into a frenzy. That is incumbent on us to say you've gone a step too far.
JUSTIN PEARSON, (D-TN), STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Sometimes rules have to be broken in order for the voices that have been marginalized and told that
they are voiceless to be heard.
ROSALES (voice-over): As for Pearson, he says he's hopeful his vacant Memphis district seat will also be addressed during a special meeting
PEARSON: If it is the will of God and the people in Shelby County for me to serve, I promise to continue to do so and I'm going to do it, I believe,
with all of the people who continue to show up for us in this moment, who are saying it's enough. And now is the time for us to create change in this
ANDERSON: That's Isabel Rosales in Nashville, Tennessee, for you.
To a closely watched abortion medication case now in the United States. The Justice Department and an abortion pill manufacturer are requesting a
freeze on an order from a Texas judge to suspend the approval of a widely used medication.
As of right now, that order goes into effect nationwide on Friday. Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen shows us how doctors are preparing
for what may come next.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At this women's healthcare clinic in Ohio, Dr. David Burkons is telling women who
were expecting to get medication abortions next week that they should change their plans.
DR. DAVID BURKONS, NORTHEAST OHIO WOMEN'S CENTER: They're scrambling to change their schedules to get into see us earlier.
COHEN: Dr. Burkons says his lawyer told him that starting Saturday he can't give the drug mifepristone for abortions or miscarriages, because of
a federal judge's ruling in Texas last week. Mifepristone in a regiment with another drug called misoprostol, is FDA approved for abortion, up
until 10 weeks after the last period and they've been used safely for more than 20 years.
Data analyzed by CNN shows mifepristone is even safer than some common, low risk prescription drugs, including penicillin and Viagra. Misoprostol can
be used on its own in a medication abortion but it's not FDA approved that way.
COHEN (voice-over): Studies show it's not as effective and some doctors say it can make a woman feel much worse.
DR. ERIKA WERNER, TUFTS MEDICAL CENTER: We're more likely to see failures and therefore more likely to need surgical intervention after misoprostol
alone. Dr. Erica Werner is chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Tufts Medical Center in Massachusetts.
We trained to try to keep people healthy. Give them the most evidence based care and this ruling really jeopardizes that. We're feeling demoralized.
We're feeling scared for our patients.
COHEN: She's hoping that something will stop the Texas ruling from going into effect.
WERNER: We may get advice from lawyers as the week goes on about whether we really need to stop next week.
COHEN: Monday, U.S Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra vowed that the Biden administration would use every resource to protect a
woman's right to reproductive health care.
XAVIER BECERRA, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: And I say this for every woman in America who may need mifepristone -- mifepristone is still
legal for use. Mifepristone is still available today. And we are going to do everything we can within the legal process to ensure that that doesn't
COHEN: But at clinics around the country --
BURKONS: There's a lot of uncertainty.
COHEN: -- they don't know what will happen next if they'll be able to keep giving their patients the best possible care -- Elizabeth Cohen, CNN,
ANDERSON (voice-over): And just moments ago, the U.S. President, Joe Biden, calling the judge's decision completely out of bounds.
Well, let's get you up to speed on some other stories that are on our radar right now.
And the Italian Coast Guard is escorting two boats carrying 1,200 migrants through rough waters in the Mediterranean Sea. One of the boats ran out of
fuel and started to take on water. Italy's interior ministry says more than 28,000 migrants have arrived in the country so far this year. That is a
significant surge compared to recent years.
U.S. and Philippine military officials joined hands on Tuesday to mark the start of their largest ever military drills. More than 17,000 service
members from both countries will be taking part in the 18-day event. Part of the drills will include disaster relief preparedness.
One of Russia's most active volcanoes is spewing ash 20 kilometers above sea level. Russian state media says that that has triggered an aviation
warning around the country's far eastern Kamchatka region.
Video posted on social media from the region shows ash covering local villages. Scientists also point to a risk of hot lava flows blocking roads.
You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Still ahead, U.S. President Joe Biden returning to his ancestral roots this week. A look
at his and former U.S. presidents' deep connections to Ireland. That coming up.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. The time here is just before half past 6:00. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.
Your headlines this hour are as follows.
"The Washington Post" reporting that the leaked Pentagon documents reveal that Egypt may have been secretly planning to supply rockets to Russia.
CNN cannot independently verify these claims and the Pentagon has said it has taken steps to tighten the flow of information as the Biden
administration scrambles to minimize the fallout from what are these leaked documents.
Hundreds of mourners turned out to say farewell to a British Israeli mother, laid to rest earlier today in the West Bank. Lucy Dee's funeral
comes just days after two of her children were also buried. All three were killed in a suspected Palestinian gun attack on Friday.
ANDERSON: More now on Joe Biden's trip to Northern Ireland and Ireland. At the start of this newscast, we told you about the U.S. President's plans to
commemorate Northern Ireland's Good Friday agreement. He talked about that a few minutes ago just before he boarded Air Force One for Belfast. Have a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: What's your top priority on this trip?
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Make sure the Irish accords and the winter (ph) agreement stay in place. Keep the peace. That's the
main thing. And it looks like we're going to -- keep your fingers crossed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: There's also a deeply personal aspect to this visit. The president's ancestors were born in Ireland and he has relatives there. As
Donie O'Sullivan tells us, Mr. Biden is the latest in a string of U.S. presidents with an Irish heritage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm currently at probably the most highly regarded landmark in Ireland.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Barack Obama Plaza.
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's become a viral favorite on TikTok on the site of an Irish motorway, a rest stop named
after President Barack Obama.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello, Ireland. My name is Barack Obama of the Moneygall Obamas.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Barack Obama Plaza was built here in the tiny village of Moneygall where Obama's ancestors immigrated from in the 19th
OBAMA: I suspect you don't always dress up this much.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Obama visited the village in 2011.
O'SULLIVAN: That makes you guys --
HENRY HEALY, EIGHTH COUSIN OF FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Eighth cousins.
O'SULLIVAN: What's your nickname?
HEALY: He gave me the nickname Henry VIII.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Henry Healy is Obama's distant cousin and is now a manager at the Barack Obama Plaza.
(on-camera): I think it definitely raises some eyebrows in the United States when they hear there's a rest stop at the side of a highway named
after an American president.
HEALY: There's be some shock and all. The cardboard cutouts that we have here are phenomenally popular.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thousands cheer with the enthusiasm that only Irishman can -- O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Ireland's love affair with U.S. presidents
began when President John F. Kennedy visit his ancestral home here in New Ross County, Wexford in 1963.
(on-camera): And you were sitting in the front row?
MARK MINIHAN, IN CROWD FOR JOHN F. KENNEDY'S 1963 SPEECH IN IRELAND: I was about I'd say maybe 10, 15 yards out there.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Mark Minihan's dad was mayor of New Ross at the time and was to introduce Kennedy to the crowd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you hear me now?
Can you hear me?
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Some of the microphone stopped working just as JFK arrived.
MINIHAN: Microphones broke down just before he started, so he was even more uptight.
O'SULLIVAN: The microphones broke down?
MINIHAN: The microphones broke down when President Kennedy was only over at --coming along the street here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in right trouble now.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): The technical glitch was eventually resolved and the speech ended up going ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It took 115 years to make this trip.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): A trip which included a visit here.
PATRICK GRENNAN, IRISH RELATIVE OF LATE U.S. PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY: So this is the original farm yards the president's great grandfather, Patrick
Kennedy left from. He actually left through that gate, the same gate --
O'SULLIVAN: Oh wow.
GRENNAN: -- during the famine when he went off to Boston.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Like many Irish-Americans, Kennedy's great grandfather immigrated to the United States during the Irish potato famine.
GRENNAN: I think he decided to come back to Europe and show that he was proud of his peasant roots.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Kennedy began a tradition of presidential visits to Ireland Reagan visited in 1984.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So many Irish men and women from every walk of life played a role in creating the dream of America. O'SULLIVAN (voice-over):
The interiors of this pub and Reagan's ancestral village of Ballyporeen were eventually shipped to California to the Reagan Presidential Library.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Now perhaps the most Irish of Irish-American presidents is about to visit the country and his cousins, the Blewitts here
in Ballina, County Mayo are getting ready.
(on-camera): Tell us how you're related to the President, first of all.
JOE BLEWITT, IRISH RELATIVE OF U.S. PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: So my dad is his third cousin. So his great, great grandfather, Edward Blewitt left Ballina
in the 1860s. And he went to move to Scranton.
O'SULLIVAN: Girls, how does it feel to be related to a president?
EMILY BLEWITT, IRISH RELATIVES OF U.S. PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: It's very exciting.
LAUREN BLEWITT, IRISH RELATIVES OF U.S. PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Yes.
E. BLEWITT: Because he's president.
O'SULLIVAN: And have you met him before?
LAUREN AND EMILY BLEWITT: Yes, we've met twice. Yes.
O'SULLIVAN: What did he say to you?
LAUREN BLEWITT: He's just -- he was just eating our chips and when fancy meals came out, he just wanted the chips and chicken nuggets.
O'SULLIVAN: He was stealing your chicken nuggets?
LAUREN AND EMILY BLEWITT: Yes.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Biden's ancestors, the Blewitts and the Finnegans immigrated from counties, Mayo and Louth.
(on-camera): Your dad and Joe Biden are third cousins?
LAURITA BLEWITT, IRISH RELATIVE OF U.S. PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Yes.
O'SULLIVAN: But you seem to be the favorite cousin.
LAURITA BLEWITT: I don't know why. It was -- well, maybe it's just my personality.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hi, everybody.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Biden has visited Ireland in the past and Laurita Blewitt has made multiple trips to the White House but this wouldn't be the
first time they will welcome him to Ireland as president.
LAURITA BLEWITT: We've struck up a great friendship since the first day that we met. You know, his family are steeped in Irish traditions. You
know, he talks about it all the time as he tells great stories growing up and basically growing up in an Irish household even though, you know,
obviously, they were very much American.
(voice-over): From accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom --
BIDEN: You know, I can't let it come and go by without quoting an Irish poet.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): To accepting the Democratic Party's nomination for president.
BIDEN: The Irish poet Seamus Heaney once wrote --
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Biden always seems to have a line of Irish poetry to hand.
BIDEN: But then, once in a lifetime, the longed for tidal wave of justice can rise up and hope and history rhyme.
J. BLEWITT: And he's just so proud of those roots, like he's really proud of Irish roots. Yes, we have had the presidents but this president is more
important I think than the rest of them.
ANDERSON: Donie O'Sullivan joining me now from Belfast.
And Joe Biden now on his way. We saw him take off in Air Force One just about a half hour ago. Assuming the winds are OK, he should be with you in
Belfast on time. He'll spend a day there. But actually, most of this trip, of course, is going to be south of the border.
And I guess it's going to be a slightly different trip for him to a certain extent, because this is the first time that -- he is U.S. President but he
does seem to have a lot of not just supporters there but family who were looking forward to this trip.
O'SULLIVAN: Yes, I mean, look, some of the cousins that we spoke to there, they may be relatively distant cousins but he does have a genuine
connection with them. You know, many of them have been going to the White House; they were there recently for St. Patrick's Day.
And they seem to have that genuine connection with him. Of course, obviously, before he does go south of the border here, he will be here in
Belfast to -- on the anniversary of the Good Friday agreement, which is, you know, a celebration of the peace accords here.
But also it is quite still an uneasy peace. And things have not quite settled here. And of course, the power sharing government that was set up
under that agreement is not functioning at the moment.
So you know, touching on some serious issues here. But I think once he goes to the Republic of Ireland, it's very much going to become a very personal
trip for him.
ANDERSON: Well, ahead of his arrival, Mr. Biden saying, and I quote him.
"I look forward to marking the anniversary in Belfast, underscoring the U.S. commitment to preserving peace and encouraging prosperity."
As you say, you know, it's a -- it's better but there are still issues and he will, I'm sure, discuss those with those that he meets in Belfast. And
Donie, you're there to cover that trip. Thank you very much indeed.
Donie O'Sullivan in the house for you folks.
Next hour on CONNECT THE WORLD, I'll talk with the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Doug Beattie. He has praise for the Good Friday agreement
but says it needs to be revised. More next hour when CONNECT THE WORLD returns for you.
Tonight we'll show you how FIFA is counting down the final 100 days until the start of the Women's World Cup.