Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

North Korea Launches Ballistic Missile; Great Manchester Runs Goes Ahead; Merkel: Europe Can't Just Rely on U.S. and Allies; Trump Meets with Advisers at White House; Santorum to Trump: Stop Tweeting; Melania Trump's Style in Spotlight after Trip Abroad; Three Men Behind North Korea's Missile Tests; Bikers Ride to Honor POW's and Missing Soldiers. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired May 29, 2017 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:00:08] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Another missile test by North Korea, this one a short-range ballistic missile and now Japan promises to take action with the United States.

Manchester shows its resolve as thousands jog through the city almost a week after the terror attack. It's more than just a sport.

And the fall-out from President Trump's foreign trip: German chancellor Angela Merkel says Europe must now fight for its future on its own.

Thanks for joining us, everyone. I'm Cyril Vanier from the CNN NEWSROOM in Atlanta.

And we're going to start the show in the Korean Peninsula. Shortly after 5:00 a.m. local time, North Korea fired yet another ballistic missile; this one flew about six minutes, landed in the ocean within Japan's exclusive economic zone. So we're showing you the map where it was launched on the east coast of North Korea. It was launched from Wonsan.

Now the Japanese prime minister promises to take action along with the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We can never tolerate North Korea's continued provocation, ignoring the repeated warnings by the international community. We have launched a firm protest against North Korea.

As we have agreed at the G-7, North Korean issue is the priority for the international community. In order to deter North Korea, we will take concrete actions together with the United States. We will maintain high vigilance in coordinations with South Korea and the international community and take all possible measures to secure the safety of the people of Japan.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VANIER: Paula Hancocks is in Seoul, South Korea. David McKenzie is in Beijing.

Paula -- how much of a threat was this missile to Japan?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we heard from Japan saying that it's extremely problematic. Just the basic fact that they have a lot of ships in that area; it's a busy shipping area. They have aircraft in that area as well. And of course North Korea doesn't exactly give warning when it carries out one of these missile launches so Japan always says, as do many others in the region that it is very worrying when these missile launches happen.

And of course, it did, according to Japan land within the exclusive economic zone. Those waters are closer to the west coast of Japan than certainly Japan would want.

We have more information as well from the South Korean joint chiefs of staff and the military itself giving more details on the missile saying it flew to an altitude of 120 kilometers. And as you say it did fly about 450 kilometers, so it's a short range missile. These missiles are usually less worrying to those in the region than the longer-range missiles.

But of course, they haven't identified exactly what kind of missile it was. They assume it's a scud missile. They don't know if there have been modifications. And of course, when they can nail that then, they can figure out exactly why North Korea has been launching this type of missile at this point -- Cyril.

VANIER: David McKenzie, the Japanese prime minister promises concrete action. But so many missile tests from North Korea have been and gone without any kind of retaliation that we can see from the international community. You have to wonder, what can they actually do?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the, you know, million-dollar question because no one has really been able to slow this rapid pace of testing the missiles from the North Koreans. And you've seen more than -- or at least three tests in less than two weeks coming from Pyongyang.

So this is very troubling to all of the region, the U.S. and of course, here in China. And all, you know, the strong statements like what you heard from Prime Minister Abe have generally been ignored by Kim Jong-Un. The concrete steps -- well, we don't know at this stage. It could possibly be a move by the U.S. and Japan to push forward tougher sanctions at the U.N. Security Council. But that's something China is probably unlikely to sign up to just yet because they've been pushing for talks here in China. But with each provocation from North Korea it means talks become perhaps less likely than before -- Cyril.

VANIER: So Paula -- the pace of testing keeps increasing. What does that tell you?

HANCOCKS: It tells us that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un is doing exactly what he said he would do. He has been extremely clear in saying that he wants to perfect his nuclear and missile capability. And that is exactly what he's doing.

2016, for example, was the most intense testing that we have seen in North Korea's history. We had a slight lull just before the U.S. election and certainly when Trump took control of the United States but we are back to where we were this time last year. We are seeing intense testing, three tests in just over three weeks.

[00:05:01] and then, of course, you have also other things being tested -- anti-aircraft weaponry, according to KTNA, the state-run media, was tested on Sunday -- all of this being overseen personally by the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un. So he's been very clear in what he wants to do and he is doing it.

VANIER: Paula Hancocks in Seoul, David McKenzie in Beijing -- thank you to both of you.

Let's go to Adam Mount in Washington, he's a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who tracks this North Korea issue very closely. At this rate, Adam, how long before North Korea acquires or develops the ICBM, intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting, for instance, the United States?

ADAM MOUNT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: -- there is no way to know for sure. (inaudible) on this point, the best open source intelligence that we have suggests that it could take two to three years before an ICBM capability reaches an operational capability.

On the other hand, senior U.S. Defense officials and intelligence officials have said that we need to assume, and they need to assume in their defense planning that they have the capability today to be able launch something in the direction of the continent of the United States. It's probably not a reliable capability, it's probably not operational, survivable but it is of real concern.

VANIER: Donald Trump, the U.S. President, tweeted during the campaign I believe it was, "It won't happen", in reference to North Korea developing an ICBM. What are his options?

MOUNT: He has very few good options. That's been true of the past several administrations. Military strikes would be -- potentially spiral out of control. They have the possibility to be enormously damaging to U.S. allies in Japan and South Korea which North Korea can hold at risk with potentially nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.

On the other hand, they refuse all overtures of negotiations. So this is a very difficult problem and it's something that the administration is going to have to devote a great deal of attention to.

Now, it's not clear that they have a fully-formed strategy in place yet. For example, H.R. McMaster the national security advisor told John Dickerson this morning that he was not prepared to issue red lines to North Korea.

Now, it's perfectly fair to try to preserve your ability to maneuver. On the other hand, if they're not clear about what they attempt to deter, they're not going have the effect that they desire. VANIER: So what looks like the best options for them at this stage?

You say they have a range of bad options. What's the best one?

MOUNT: Well, the first step has to be to close ranks with U.S. allies. You're going to meet at a very early date with the new South Korean president Moon Jae-in and develop a strategy going forward together. The same has to be true of Japan. They have to improve cooperation and partnership between South Korea and Japan. Work out a mutually agreeable way to deter and respond to any North Korean provocation that they make.

And then put on the table a credible and reasonable package for -- that will get North Koreans back to the negotiating table. This will require some serious concessions and some very difficult diplomacy. But it's also unrealistic to expect that military pressure alone will cause Kim Jong-Un to volunteer to eliminate his nuclear arsenal. He simply values it too much. So negotiations are still the best chance but we can't depend on them to (inaudible).

VANIER: Recently, a North Korean official said under the right circumstances we would be willing to negotiate in particular with the United States. What do you make of that?

MOUNT: Unfortunately they have been contradictory on this point. They have said at various times that negotiations are on the table and other times they said, for example, that they are not willing to reach an agreed framework of the sort that we agreed to with Iran.

So they really need to start reading from the same piece of paper and come up with a clear negotiating position, to say here's a deal that we believe is in your national security interests and also in our own. It will require major concessions and coordination with U.S. allies.

VANIER: Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. Thank you for coming on the show. Thanks.

MOUNT: Appreciate it.

British police have made three more arrests in the Manchester terror investigation. Fourteen people are now in custody. It's been almost a week since 22 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a concert by pop star Ariana Grande. Many of the victims were teenagers.

Britain's Home Secretary warns that some of the people connected to the attacker, Salman Abedi, could still be at large.

Manchester's annual race, the Great Manchester Run, went ahead under tight security. Many runners wore yellow ribbons on Sunday in a show of solidarity for the victims.

[00:10:05] Our Phil Black was there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Young girls -- tense, single-minded -- ready to launch through the streets of Manchester. For their parents watching from the side, the emotions are more complex.

Is one of yours out there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. The one that's just holding it there, yes, yes; the little one in the blue.

BLACK: The little one in the blue -- what's her name?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Roxy.

BLACK: Tell me what you are feeling this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm proud and I'm nervous. I'm proud of her that she's doing it.

BLACK: Girls, boys, men and women came to run and cheer defying those who murdered 22 people just days ago including seven of the city's children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just have to show that we could (inaudible) and can stand up.

BLACK: What's on your mind this morning?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be all right for a while.

BLACK: He's not alone. More than 35,000 people turned out, all of them aware this was more than a running event. Many wore yellow shirts, ribbons and bees, the symbol of Manchester. The crowd honored the victims with silence. There were some tears, too. And huge applause for the police and emergency services who responded to the attack and worked to make sure this event could happen.

Did you have second thoughts about being here today given the week?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. It made me want to show up more actually. It made me more determined to come together and show that we defeat them.

BLACK: What does this mean to you today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean this is -- because of recent events we want to show that we want to stay united.

BLACK: Show me your back. "Run 22"

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Run 22" -- you can't let them change how you live your life.

BLACK: A short distance from the run, people stood in a long line waiting to leave flowers and messages at the city's growing memorial. Others have been busy painting bees on wall and people are waiting for hours to have bees inked into their flesh with all money going to the victims.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's something that I'll have forever. And I know that when I look back to that arm, I'll know that I helped.

BLACK: The people of Manchester are exploring many ways to prove their resilience. There's few things show it more powerfully than the pride and happiness of a young girl and the love of her parents.

Phil Black, CNN -- Manchester.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Coming up after the break, on the heels of the G-7 summit, Angela Merkel has a message for Europe. Why she's warning that they can no longer rely on a longstanding ally.

And now that he's back home, President Trump is launching a new attack on reports about the Russia investigation. We'll tell you about that.

[00:12:47] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VANIER: Angela Merkel says it's time for Europe to stop depending on the U.S. The German chancellor shared that message during a campaign stop in Munich on Sunday. She did not mention U.S. President Donald Trump by name but she did say her experience at recent international summits made her realize that Europeans must now fight for themselves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): -- we can't completely count on others. They are (inaudible) to an extent. I have experienced this in the last few days. And that is why I can only say we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Her comments came after President Trump recently criticized NATO allies and refused to endorse a global climate deal.

Now, President Trump's return to the White House after that trip brought the administration's focus back to the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump held staff meetings amid the latest revelations involving his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.

Ryan Nobles has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The White House has yet to confirm or deny the report that Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and senior adviser of the President, attempted to set up a back channel of communication between the Russian government and the transition shortly after the President was elected but before he was inaugurated.

In fact, no one from the White House has rushed to Kushner's defense but there was a Republican who took on that responsibility -- South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

Listen to what he had to say on "STATE OF THE UNION". SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don't know who leaked this

supposed conversation. But just think about it this way, you have the ambassador of Russia reporting back to Moscow on an open channel, hey, Jared Kushner is going to move into the embassy. I don't trust this story as far as I can throw it. I think it makes no sense that the Russian ambassador would report back to Moscow on a channel that he most likely knows we're monitoring. The whole storyline is suspicious. I have never been more concerned and suspicious about all things Russia than I am right now.

NOBLES: Now, Graham's defense of the White House is more than any staffer of the White House has offered up. Instead they've sent out administration officials to answer questions on this more broadly saying that they don't know specifically about Jared Kushner but the concept itself wouldn't necessarily be that big of a problem -- both H.R. McMaster, the National Security Adviser and John Kelly, the Homeland Security Secretary answering questions along those lines.

Also spotted out of the White House on Sunday was Marc Kasowitz, the high-powered attorney brought in by Donald Trump to represent him in his personal capacity as these ongoing investigations in Russia continue. Kasowitz seen with Ivanka Trump leaving the White House south lawn on Sunday -- an indication that the President is gearing up his legal team for a long battle ahead.

Ryan Nobles, CNN -- at the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: A former Republican presidential candidate says President Trump could be doing better if he'd just do one simple thing -- stop tweeting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The last nine days hopefully had showed the President that if you stay on message, you stick to the script, you focus on policy, you drive home the messages that you talked about during the campaign and that people in America are excited about, you can be a great president.

[00:19:56] If you tweet everyday and complain about the media and complained about how you're being treated, you're going to be sidetracked and you're not going to get your deals done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: So how's that going. Well, so far, Mr. Trump is not taking the advice. On Sunday he tweeted, "The fake news media works hard at disparaging and demeaning my use of social media because they do not want America to hear the real story.

Let's talking about all of this with Ellis Henican, author and columnist for "Metro" papers and with Ben Ferguson, CNN political commentator and conservative talk show host.

Ben -- let's start with you. According to the President's latest tweets, this is all fake news -- his words. Do you agree?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think certainly some of it is and I think there's been a lot of people that have been incredibly hard on him.

VANIER: Which part?

FERGUSON: Well, just on his trip in general. I mean there's people that just will do anything or say everything that he has done is negative. I mean look at what he was able to accomplish on this last trip. He was able to basically be very clear about America's stance on terrorism. He was also very clear when there was an actual terrorist attack that we need to unite together. He was very clear --

VANIER: Ben -- I'm going to have to cut you off there because you know that's not what the President is referring to. I mean I'm assuming the President's referring to coverage of Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and special adviser and the back channel communication with Russia -- that story.

FERGUSON: No. But my point is this. The media and many do not want to cover the positives. All they do is cover the negatives. I mean you look at this trip --

VANIER: His trip has been covered relentlessly for eight or nine days.

FERGUSON: It's been covered and then there's always someone who's trying to pull in some sort of controversy through some sort of leaked source or some sort of unnamed source who is doing everything they can to undermine the President of the United States of America.

And some of this news, they're acting as if somehow it's bigger than those accomplishments I just talked about. What they do is they come out and they say, oh well, the President yes did x, y, z there however, the real story is from an unnamed source who is telling us x is this and that's what you need to worry about. And I think that's very unfair.

VANIER: Ellis.

ELLIS HENICAN, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, gosh, if I had to choose between the so-called fake news and the leaks or what I hear from Sean Spicer, you know what, I'll pass on Spicer if you don't mind. The reality is if you want to know what's going on in this White House, you have to read the papers.

VANIER: But I think the question is, I mean would you agree with Ben that the, I guess the media is giving unfair coverage to President Trump and minimizing his accomplishments while focusing on potentially damaging leaks?

HENICAN: No, no, of course not. First of all, the President is his worst enemy in this stuff. I mean the vast majority of these crises have been self-inflicted. And you know what, in this democracy of ours, we do not allow politicians to decide their own coverage. We have independent, talented, professional, hard-working journalists and other members of the public who (inaudible) weigh in well as we can and we analyze it. But we need that First Amendment, I can assure you, in this administration.

FERGUSON: I'll give you a perfect example of the classic last week and a half. There is a story, again an unnamed source, "Washington Post" reported that an unnamed source said that lawyers at the White House were actually looking into what it would be to deal with the issue of impeachment. We found out afterwards that was just flat out false.

In fact, the question that was asked by people in the White House is if the President of the United States of America chooses to give information to any other country that deals with national security is that even an impeachable offense. The lawyers said no, it's not.

They said well, explain to us what an impeachable offense is. However, the "New York Post" comes out during this trip says the President's lawyers are lawyering up at the White House on the issue of impeachment, which is not true.

VANIER: Ok. That was last week. In that case --

FERGUSON: No, that's during his trip. It was a big issue.

(CROSSTALK)

HENICAN: Ben -- come one, that's off in some obscure site. By the way, the "New York Post" is

(CROSSTALK)

HENICAN: Rupert Murdoch --

FERGUSON: No, no, no. The "Washington Post" is not an obscure site.

HENICAN: Hold on, I thought you said the "New York Post". I'm sorry.

But listen, the reality is that the only way that we know about -- well I think, everyone at this concedes there's some very important stories about the Russians are trying to influence our election, about their impact at the very, very highest levels of the Bush administration -- the Trump administration and a series of lies and deception.

You're never going to get those stories in press releases. You're only going to get them with good, hard investigative reporting that does something rely on protecting your sources. Thank God for it.

VANIER: Sorry guys -- that's all the time we have for now. But Ellis Henican -- thank you very much for joining us on the show. Ben Ferguson -- you too, always a pleasure to speak to you.

FERGUSON: Thanks.

HENICAN: Good to be with you -- guys. VANIER: President Trump's first foreign trip also brought the first lady, Melania Trump, onto the world stage. She avoided any major faux pas even when she wore a $51,000 jacket around Sicily.

[00:25:05] Now, Anita McBride, the former chief of staff to first lady Laura Bush says Melania proved that she can represent the U.S. on the world stage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANITA MCBRIDE, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO LAURA BUSH: What I saw is that she's very comfortable in this role. And you know, there is a lot of pent-up demand to know who Mrs. Trump is and what kind of first lady she will be. And that is true for every first lady. There is a healthy interest who they are and how they will take on this role.

But because we hadn't seen very much of Mrs. Trump even through the campaign and transition, this was a real opportunity for her to show the American people but also the world that she can be on the world stage and represent our country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you see as her best moments?

MCBRIDE: Well, I think a couple of the things that she chose to do on the trip in Saudi Arabia, in particular, to go to that all female call center at General Electric -- really sort of a subtle sign and showing the Saudi women that she appreciates the progress that they're trying to make.

And also, you know, that is a window for us here in the United States to see that Saudi women are making a bit of progress. It may be slow by our standards but that really was an interesting selection.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: When we come back, the U.K.'s general election is fast approaching. And new polling shows the conservatives may have a tougher fight on their hands than they once thought.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:30:07] VANIER: Welcome back. We're live from the CNN NEWSROOM with a look at your headlines.

British Airway is recovering after mass cancellations at London's two biggest airports on Saturday and says it operated a full schedule at Gatwick on Sunday, but there were still problems with short distance flights at Heathrow. The airline says it hopes to resolve most of that by Monday but warns passengers should only come to the airport if they know their flight is operating.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europeans must fight for their own future. She didn't mention U.S. President Donald Trump by name but she said her experience at recent international summits made her realize that Europe can no longer just rely on the U.S. and other allies.

Eight people including a sheriff's deputy were shot dead in Southern Mississippi overnight on Saturday at three separate homes. Authorities have identified the sheriff's deputy as William Durr. Police have a suspect identified as Willy Godblot in custody. Local media saying most of the victims were relatives of Godbolt's estranged wife.

South Korea and Japan are condemning North Korea's latest ballistic missile launch. The third by Pyongyang in as many weeks. The U.S. military says the short-range missile was fired from North Korea's East Coast early on Monday, local time and flew about 450 kilometers then fell into the ocean within Japan's exclusive economic zone.

Japan's prime minister vows concrete action with the U.S. to deter Kim Jong-un's regime. And South Korea's president convened an emergency meeting of his national security council. Before this latest launch, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis bluntly warned about the consequences of a military conflict with North Korea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: A conflict in North Korea, John, would be probably the worst kind of fighting in most people's lifetimes. Why do I say this? The North Korea regime has hundreds of artillery canons and rocket launchers within range in one of the most densely populated cities on earth, which is the capital of South Korea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: We're still finding out details about this latest launch, but it's likely that three particularly close advisers to Kim Jong-un were involved. More on that from CNN's Brian Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a successful missile launch, they're always in the picture, sharing hugs, smiles, and cigarettes with their vicious boss. Three officials, whose body language and behavior toward Kim Jong-Un are different from the other North Korean elites nearby, who genuflect in fear.

MICHAEL MADDEN, 38 NORTH/NK LEADERSHIP WATCH: Kim Jong-Un has guaranteed their job security, and that is what their body language is indicative of. They can feel comfortable enough with Kim Jong-Un to deliver bad news.

TODD: CNN is told rival intelligence agencies are watching these three men carefully. Kim Jong Sik, Ri Pyong Chol and Jang Chang Ha are supernovas in Kim's inner circle, the men behind the missile tests.

MADDEN: At some point, they are going to put together North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile.

TODD: A missile that will eventually have the range to carry a nuclear warhead to the U.S. mainland.

AHN CHAN-IL, WORLD INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN STUDIES: Kim Jong-Un is keeping these technocrats by his side so he can be in direct contact with them and urge them to move fast. It reflects his urgency about missile development.

TODD: Of the three men, experts say Ri Pyong Chol, a former air force general, has the most important role.

MADDEN: He is the one that provides Kim Jong-Un with the situational awareness. He's the eyes and ears for Kim Jong-Un in the development and research of nuclear weapons and conventional weapons.

TODD: Analyst Michael Madden is consulted by intelligence agencies on North Korean leaders. He says Kim Jong Sik is an accomplished rocket scientist.

It's believed these three men are held in such high esteem, they get to rub elbows with the supreme leader like no one else.

MADDEN: They do get to travel in Jong-Un's jet. They do get to travel in his cars, which is a privilege that's not been extended to other core leaders. In terms of their lives in Pyongyang, they live in an exclusive apartment housing.

TODD: Analysts say it's possible rival intelligence agencies could target the three men for assassination, similar to how four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated a few years ago.

LT. COL. TONY SHAFFER, FORMER U.S. MILITARY INTELLIGENCE OFFICER, AUTHOR: They could be targeted through a drone strike. The other option is finding someone within the North Korean government who does not like Un, who is disenfranchised and still has access to the leadership activities who could be an assassin.

(on-camera) TODD: Could Kim Jong-Un purge any of these men himself if they fail to advance North Korea's weapons program? Analysts say it's possible but not likely. Their scientific and logistical knowledge is simply too valuable to Kim and too tough to replace.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[00:35:00] VANIER: Scores of people are dead and dozens are missing after disastrous monsoon flooding in Sri Lanka.

Meteorologist Allison Chinchar joins us now with the latest.

Allison?

(WEATHER REPORT)

VANIER: All right, Allison Chinchar there reporting from the CNN International Weather Center.

Thank you very much.

History was made at the Indianapolis 500, but not before a very frightening crash.

Look at this.

Scott Dixon runs into Jay Howard and his car goes airborne, slamming into the fence and the retaining wall. Incredibly, both drivers were unhurt. As for the race itself, Takuma Sato took the checkered flag. Now he is the first Japanese driver to win the Indie 500.

And nothing stops the so called rolling thunder ride. Why thousands of bikers rode on despite some bad weather. That's coming up after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:40:31] VANIER: In Washington, the U.S. Memorial Day weekend brings thousands of motorcyclists to the capital for the rolling thunder ride. The annual event kicked off Sunday morning at the Pentagon and despite some rain bikers rode through the National Mall area to raise awareness about veteran's issues.

The ride started 30 years ago, the protest, calling on the U.S. government to bring back service members who are missing in action after the Vietnam war.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's conservative party might be losing ground ahead of the UK's general election. They held a commanding lead in April but Jeremy Corbyn's Labor Party is gaining now in recent polls.

Both major parties suspended campaigning after the Manchester terror attack but they go back to work on Friday. The vote is set for June 8th. And Mrs. May called for this snap election last month hoping to strengthen her hand in the Brexit talks.

Now remember, during the Brexit campaign, CNN's Richard Quest hit the road to hear from voters in his trusty camper van. Well, it's back out again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS CORERSPONDENT (voice-over): It's been a long, cold, lonely winter for poor old Freddy Brexit, locked up in storage, ignored and unloved ever since that referendum last year. Oh, dragged out for a brief rainy day in Blackpool, when the sun didn't shine, a very sorry sight beside the sea.

But not even Freddy would have predicted he would be needed so soon to ride once again after Theresa May called a snap general election.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We agreed that the government should call a general election to be held on the 8th of June.

QUEST: All hands to the pump to get Freddy ready again. So Freddy passes his road-worthy tests.

And freshened up for another big road trip just like last year's Brexit journey. Ah, happy days in Cambridge. And the Caravan Park in Mabel Thorpe where Freddy was in his element.

Once again, Freddy will help us understand the British people as they make their political choice. This year, he will embark on a week-long trip from Cardiff, the capital of Wales, to the mining heartland of Newport, the seaside wonder that is Weston-Super-Mare, historic Bath and ending the week outside the royal residence at Windsor Castle.

So join me. All aboard as Freddy returns to the road and we keep our fingers crossed he lasts the course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. "World Sport" is up next and we're back in 15 minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)