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Aid Arrives to Eastern Ghouta; Bana Alabed Chronicles Conflict in New Book; Ex-Trump Aide Vows to Defy Russia Probe Subpoena; Political Uncertainty in Italy after Populist Victory; .S.-North Korea Talks Repeatedly on the Agenda. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired March 6, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:11] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: From Aleppo to Hollywood, Bana Alabed joins us to talk Academy Awards and her global mission of helping every child suffering in war.
VAUSE: Defiant but melting down -- a Donald Trump aide makes multiple appearance on cable news, refusing to comply with a grand jury subpoena in the Russia investigation and challenges Robert Mueller to arrest him.
Plus, meeting Kim Jong-un -- South Korean officials go straight to the top during a trip to Pyongyang.
VAUSE: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause. Good to have you with us.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.
VAUSE: We begin in Syria where most of the humanitarian aid convoy has entered eastern Ghouta but the trucks had been rolling without badly-needed medical supplies.
SESAY: For weeks, the Syrian government has pounded the rebel-held suburb of Damascus leaving hundreds dead.
Sam Kiley has the details.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Eastern Ghouta under attack. Some 400,000 people lived here but they've been bombarded for two weeks by Syria's government and its Russian allies.
This is the Russian and Syrian version of a ceasefire demanded by the U.N. Security Council. Syria's government agreed to allow a first convoy of humanitarian aid in more than a month but removed badly- needed medical supplies like trauma kits.
ALI AL-ZA'TARI, U.N. HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR (through translator): We are hoping to enter without shelling sounds because there must be a respect to the ceasefire, especially this is a humanitarian convoy heading with a big number of civilians, to help civilians.
KILEY: The needs are intense. This is now an every day scene in Eastern Ghouta. Frantic rescues no match for a ruthless military campaign.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD, SYRIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The humanitarian crisis that the West talks about every once in a while on n all levels is a lie. It's a very silly lie, as silly as the western officials that talk about it.
KILEY: Assad's forces have claimed to have taken parts of Eastern Ghouta and provoked fears of reprisal killings against civilians.
Mahmoud Bhudany (ph) has been sheltering in a basement for 13 days.
MAHMOUD BHUDANY, EASTERN GHOUTA RESIDENT: So they will take prisoners. They will torture people, they will -- I can't imagine what they can do because we've seen what they are capable of. They have no respect for their own people.
KILEY: But there is dwindling hope for survival or of any help from outside. That's why activists wrapped the bodies of these children in U.N. sacks.
Sam Kiley, CNN -- Beirut.
SESAY: The power of one and the child face of war now recognized at the Academy Awards. Bana Alabed, an eight-year-old Syrian girl, first captured the world's attention with heartbreaking tweets about the bombing of her native Aleppo.
Sunday night, she took center stage with Andra Day and Common during their performance of the Oscar-nominated song "Stand up for Something". That message of activism is stamped in Bana and her family's DNA.
After escaping the war to Turkey, Bana continues to tweet asking world leaders to help the children of Syria. She also wrote a book, "Dear World: A Syrian Girl's Story of War and a Plea for Peace" and was featured in the documentary film "(INAUDIBLE) from Syria".
Well, Bana joins me now here in Los Angeles. And Bana -- welcome.
BANA ALABED, SYRIAN REFUGEE: Hi.
SESAY: So you had a really big Sunday night -- you at the Academy Awards. What was it like to walk the red carpet with all those people there?
ALABED: I was really excited. I'm happy. It was my first time to go to there. And I met a lot of people and for "Stand up for Something". And raise up the voice for all the children.
[00:04:53] SESAY: And you're a brave little girl because you've been using your voice for the children for a long time. And you have been asking the world to pay attention to the fact that children in your country Syria are suffering.
What's your message to the children who are still in Syria now who are suffering, children in places like Eastern Ghouta? What do you want to say to them?
ALABED: Are you happy when you are seeing children suffering? Children are always suffering everywhere. Child is a child who needs to go to school --
SESAY: That's right.
ALABED: -- and to play in peace to join the (INAUDIBLE) life.
SESAY: Yes, you're absolutely right.
What was it like for you when you were in Aleppo, do you remember?
ALABED: It was really hard. A lot of people and children were dying. Some of their -- some of children lost their parents. I hope we will stop it and we all live in peace.
SESAY: Do you remember what the scariest thing was that you experienced when you were in Aleppo?
ALABED: When my friend Jasmine died. She was my best friend. When she died, I looked at her and cried and I told God at night, please I don't want any of my family to die. And also I cried when my house bombed because there -- there is my toys and (INAUDIBLE). And I was there when I was a baby.
I hope we can all go back there and build our houses again, everything.
SESAY: So you'd like to go back?
SESAY: What do you miss about home? What do you miss from home?
ALABED: I miss my friend. I miss my country. It is like my house. And also I like to play outside in my garden. I hope we can go back.
SESAY: I hope so too. Are you able to keep in touch with your friends?
ALABED: No. I hope they're ok because I didn't touch with them or called them. I don't know what happened to them. I hope one day I can go back to see them.
SESAY: Are you worried about them?
SESAY: You are such a brave, brave, brave girl -- Bana, using your voice and speaking out for the children. Do you ever get nervous now that everybody wants to talk to you and everyone wants you to speak for the children? Do you ever get nervous?
ALABED: No. Because I want to talk about that survival and help them.
SESAY: So when people read your book, there are not many young girls who have their own book. So you are very, very special. What do you want people to remember from your book when they read it? What's your -- what's your message? What do you want them to take away from the book?
ALABED: I wrote my book about my life and also children life so all -- like a lot of people can know my story and about the children who are suffering every day and like --
SESAY: So you want them to know what it's like?
ALABED: Yes. And how it hard to live in war and how it is difficult because there is no water or food and always bombing, bombing, bombing. You can't sleep. Sometimes your house bombed and sometimes people hurt. There is no medicine. The bombs bombed it, the hospitals.
[00:10:07] SESAY: It's terrifying.
SESAY: It's really scary. It must have been really, really scary for you and your family.
So, now you are out. You're living in Turkey and you got to come to America for the Academy Awards. If you could say one thing to international leaders, and you've been saying a lot of things, right. You said a lot all the time but if you could say one thing to all the leaders who may be watching this -- this conversation that we're having what would you say to them?
ALABED: You are just watching. Children are dying. We should all stand together and I hope we can help children around the world so children can live in peace. And we should be strong to help them so we can live in peace and all of us be happy.
SESAY: I hope so, too.
You're a very special girl and I hope everybody listens to what you have to say.
SESAY: Thank you.
VAUSE: Well, most former Trump aide subpoenaed in the Russia investigation had played it by the book. They show up, they to take questions. They didn't sail up to reporters at least publicly.
And then there is Sam Nunberg. Donald Trump's former campaign aide spent hours talking to newspapers and appeared on cable news Monday in a bizarre stunning series of interviews.
SESAY: Nunberg says he won't comply with a grand jury subpoena in the Russia investigation. And he believes special counsel Robert Mueller has something on President Trump. Nunberg has already spoken with investigators but says testifying before a grand jury would be ridiculous.
He also told CNN Trump knew about that 2016 meeting in Trump Tower between Don, Jr. and the Kremlin-linked lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: I don't think we ever got provided those subpoenas as you have kindly chosen to provide yours to us.
On this Trump Tower meeting though I do want to ask you, Sam, because I think this is just important so people understand. You left the campaign in August of 2015.
SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: Yes. And I'm going to (ph).
BURNETT: All right. So the meeting was actually in June, 2016.
BURNETT: So you're saying you think you knew in advance. You're saying that based on your knowledge of the individuals and how they interact with each other but not based on actually having been there.
NUNBERG: Yes, correct. Correct. It's my opinion. And by the way, once again I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I don't think there's anything wrong --
[00:14:58] BURNETT: You think there's now way that that meeting happened without Donald Trump, Sr. -- I'm sorry -- Donald Trump himself knowing about it.
NUNBERG: You know, the travesty of that whole thing was when it was reported by the "New York Times" initially, that they handled it so badly -- the communications of it because there was no problem with it.
BURNETT: In your opinion.
NUNBERG: In my opinion, yes. And they just consistently, you know, got caught in lies.
VAUSE: Ok. It was quite a day.
Jessica Levinson is a professor of law and governance at Loyola Law School; Wendy Greuel is a former Democratic Los Angeles City councilwoman; and John Phillips talk radio host, political columnist and Trump supporter.
Wow. It was a day.
Ok. Let's get this out there from the very beginning. John -- there are a number of reasons why Sam Nunberg should not be taken seriously and I'm sure you know them all.
JOHN PHILLIPS, TALK RADIO HOST: It's not very often where I would look at a politician when they say, you know, I think it's time for me to go to rehab where I think it's legitimate.
In this particular case, if Sam Nunberg were to come out tomorrow and say I'm leaving and going to rehab, I would think that this is actually a case where it's probably appropriate.
I mean he contradicted himself any number of times. He said he hated the President. Then he said that he considers himself to be a Trump supporter. He said that it's preposterous to think that any type of Russian collusion happened. Then he said, I think the Russians probably have something on Trump.
He said, I'm not going to turn over my e-mails. And then he said well, maybe I'll just them my password because I don't have 80 hours to spend going and producing everything that they want. And then he told Katy Tur that he is going to comply with everything that Mueller wants, he just wants to make him work for it.
I don't know what we can take, what we can extrapolate from what he had to say today. What's real, what's not but he looks like a very troubled person.
And very quickly we should say he was fired from the campaign. I think there is a history there --
VAUSE: -- of making statements that are not exactly true and that kind of stuff, right.
PHILLIPS: yes. I mean this guy's had a million and one problems and this is obviously one of the reasons why you can't have someone like this working on a major presidential campaign.
He also has lots of axes to grind including Corey Lewandowski who he attacked repeatedly today. So it's very personal in many ways.
Ok. Wendy -- maybe personally he may not have a lot of credibility but he actually still does have access and close ties with Roger Stone. Roger Stone we know has close ties to Donald Trump. So when Nunberg comes out and says that Donald Trump knew about that meeting in June, 2016 with Don, Jr. and the Kremlin-linked lawyer. How much credibility do you think it has?
WENDY GREUEL, FORMER L.A. CITY COUNCILWOMAN: Well look, I think we all watched in a bit of disbelief and horror today in his interviews. And the fact that, you know, he didn't' have time to go through his e- mails and yet he had time to be on TV all day today.
But look, there's got to be a kernel of truth in some of the things that he's saying. There's enough of crumbs that bring you to the same, I think, position that Donald Trump, it looks like, probably knew something about that meeting occurring before or after that.
You know, he sounded like a spurned lover today. Let's not forget that he was fired. Then he was hired again. And I think that that's the important part. And if this guy was part of the communications team of Trump, he did not do a very good job, clearly.
VAUSE: Former White House strategist Steve Bannon is quoted in "Fire and Fury", the Michael Wolff book as saying this. "The chance that Don, Jr. did not walk these people up to his father's office on the 26th floor is zero."
Jessica, that's reference to, you know, the Russians at that meeting in June 2016. Does that in some way corroborate what, you know, Nunberg has been saying?
JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: Well sure, in some way it does because they're saying the same thing. But I have to say I was just kind of sadly and ironically tickled by your line of questioning with John because replace the word Sam Nunberg with President Donald Trump. He was inconsistent. He contradicted himself. He was erratic and not, you know, he changed what he was saying from one interview to another.
So he should not be running a major presidential campaign and I would say and the President should not be President of the United States. But --
PHILLIPS: Well, here's the difference. Trump's not boiling (ph) a .2 --
VAUSE: Ok. Well, Nunberg would tell anyone who would listen that he didn't think there was any collusion but he also added that Donald Trump is not out of the woods yet. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Specifically, I know that you have said that you do think that they have something on Donald Trump.
NUNBERG: Yes. I don't what it is --
BURNETT: From the interview. But you're confident now. What made you feel that --
NUNBERG: I can't explain that once you're in there. I can't explain once you were in there (ph) and that's the answer and you're not going to like that answer. I can't explain it. But they have something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, he seems kind of unstable. He has a feeling. But by admitting that, you know, he believes that Trump may have done something wrong, did he just hand Robert Mueller, you know, essentially a search warrant.
[00:20:05] LEVINSON: Well look, I mean in the dictionary under like "witness that has credibility problems", there's a picture of Sam Nunberg --
LEVINSON: -- because you know, what he's saying is almost nonsensical. "I think I just have a feeling", "let me tell you he did something wrong" -- I mean Robert Mueller doesn't need Sam Nunberg to say, you know what, I think that there was a problem there. And so Robert Mueller is going to continue doing exactly what he's doing which is methodically going person by person, document by document; and when necessary asking people for subpoenas.
One thing I think we need to make clear is that the subpoena has the force of law. So while Sam Nunberg may decide that he's simply too busy or that it's quote-unquote "ridiculous", there are consequences that go along with that like, for instance, either a civil penalty, meaning money or actually being incarcerated.
VAUSE: You can fight a grand jury subpoena though, can't you, on grounds that it's onerous (ph) or he takes the Fifth; but when it becomes a search warrant -- that is a lot harder.
LEVINSON: Well, so I would say the grounds on which you can avoid a grand jury subpoena are actually quite narrow. And taking the Fifth is different.
LEVINSON: You comply with the subpoena but then you go in and say, I'm not going to answer.
LEVINSON: But the search warrant, I mean --
VAUSE: That's it. That's done.
LEVINSON: Yes. But again, I mean we have a real credibility problem with Sam Nunberg. So I'm not sure that, you know the affidavit's being signed right now.
VAUSE: Ok. There is that, you know, dubious credibility. But if you look at this subpoena which is very straight up and down, this is what's causing so much outrage. It's two pages. And it's seeking documents related to President Trump and nine other people including e-mails, correspondence, invoices, telephone logs, calendars and records of any kind relating to ten people all involved in the Trump campaign at some point including down there -- John Phillips -- that' number three on the list, Donald Trump, himself.
So there is a school of thought that this indicates that Robert Mueller is now not just interested in the campaign aides but now he's taking a closer look at the President himself and what he knew and when he knew it.
PHILLIPS: Yes. And we can speculate as to what exactly we think Mueller is looking for based on what he sent to Nunberg. But we don't know for sure.
I mean Nunberg himself is saying he thought that the Russians had something on Trump based on reading the room when the investigators were in there. So that maybe true. It may not be true. Who knows?
VAUSE: So Wendy -- how much stock, you know, are Democrats putting into the revelations from today?
GREUEL: Oh, I think a lot. You heard Congressman Schiff call today for Nunberg to come to the Committee and be able to testify. I think that Mueller would not be subpoenaing him if he didn't believe that there was something there and information that he could share.
So I don't think that we heard the last of it and I think the Democrats are going to continue to say we need to know more about this and we want to hear it right from the horse's mouth.
VAUSE: And Jessica -- how does this flow into the whole obstruction of justice issue here as far as Mueller's investigation is concerned.
LEVINSON: Well, we don't know yet what Sam Nunberg has to say other than that he doesn't like subpoenas and he really likes the media and doesn't really like his lawyer.
So in terms of the obstruction of justice case, I mean I know I sound like a broken record but it's a hard crime to prove. It's more than just "I really don't want this investigation to continue" which we already know.
I mean President Trump was very upset that Attorney General Jeff Sessions bowed out of the -- excuse me -- recused himself from the investigation.
VAUSE: This (INAUDIBLE) -- if Mueller is looking at what the President knew -- and we also know he's looking at his famous line when he pressured Sessions to resign, when he fired Comey -- that all seems to come together in some way.
LEVINSON: I think that's exactly right. So when you're trying to find obstruction of justice what you need, and we talk about this a lot, is corrupt intent. And I think all of the pieces of evidence that you're talking about go directly to that issue of what was he thinking? What was his level of awareness? And what was his intent?
VAUSE: Ok. This was a very strange day. Nunberg gave multiple interviews on Monday -- (INAUDIBLE) that story were broken to "Washington Post". You know, he then went on various cable news channels then came back to various cable news channels. He was on New York One. He was on CNN. This list is neither exhaustive or complete.
And at some point in the White House, there's concern that he may have been drunk or even worse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: We talked earlier about what -- people in the White House were saying about you?
BURNETT: About whether you were drinking or on drugs or whatever had happened today. Talking to you I have smelled alcohol on your breath.
NUNBERG: Well, I have not had a drink.
BURNETT: You haven't had a drink. So that's not --
BURNETT: So I just -- because it is the talk out there -- again I know it's awkward -- let me just get -- give you the questions. You've been categorical --
BURNETT: You haven't had a drink today?
NUNBERG: My answer is no. I have not.
BURNETT: Anything else?
NUNBERG: No. Besides my meds.
[00:25:03] BURNETT: Ok.
NUNBERG: Anti-depressants -- is that ok?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Wendy -- this just seemed to be a very, very sad, very public meltdown. GREUEL: I think that's what -- what a lot of people saw when they were seeing kind of spiral from the beginning of his interviews to the end of the day. And clearly, he has had some challenges in his life. And I think a lot of people have compassion about that.
On the other hand, I go back to my point earlier which some of the things that you're saying, there has been to be a kernel of truth there. He was within the Trump world, the Trump circle. And I think we'll see that as it goes forward that many of the things he may have said were in fact truthful, maybe just in an awkward and odd way in which he put it out there today.
VAUSE: Yes. Very awkward, very odd -- I guess we'll see where this goes.
Wendy -- thank you.
GREUEL: Thank you.
VAUSE: John and Jessica -- we appreciate you all being with us. Thank you.
PHILLIPS: Thank you.
SESAY: All right. Turning our attention now to Italy and that nation faces political uncertainty after populist rightwing parties scored a major victory in Sunday's parliamentary elections.
The anti-establishment Five Star Movement is now the largest party in parliament. And the anti-immigrant party known as the League, formerly known as the Northern League, more than quadrupled its share of the vote compared with the last election in 2013.
But no party or coalition won enough votes to form a government which means, yes, you know what it means. It means Italy faces a hung parliament and potentially months of negotiations and uncertainty.
Let's discuss all of this now with CNN's European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas. Dominic -- so please to have you with us.
So given that Matteo Renzi, the former prime minister of Italy, wasn't all that bad. I mean he was fairly competent -- right. His government did bring some improvement to the economy. They certainly did try and pass all the migrant crises.
Given that -- as they say he wasn't all that bad, why did the people of Italy decide to oust the Democratic Party and go in this direction for a bunch of fairly inexperienced political leaders?
DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: It's remarkable and we're seeing and have witnessed over the last year a very similar pattern where mainstream political parties are unable to capture the interest of the electorate and also that center-left or left-leaning parties, and we certainly saw that in the French election and in the Dutch elections, are also incapable of capturing the interest of the voters who seem more interested in movement like that of Emanuel Macron. And of course, he's very different to the Five Star Movement itself.
Now, the Northern League that is now going by the name sort of just the League, to try and appeal right to a broader sort of constituency of voters has really sort of expanded its base. I mean this is a political party founded in the early 90s. Now of course, it's not new to Italian politics to see these right wing fascist kind of organizations emerge but they experience of being in government with Berlusconi going back to the 90s and in the year 2000s.
What they are able to do as we saw in so many other elections, it managed to shift the conversation around the question of nationalism -- so Italy first. And also to scapegoat really all the sort of question around migration and immigration in order to sort of deflect from the economic issues and so on and so forth.
So even though under Gentolini, things were moving along in the right direction, the fact remains that along with Greece, Italy has not really recuperated from the great financial crisis and still struggling. And those sorts of circumstances make this sort of outcome, in some ways now predictable.
SESAY: Both of them are claiming the mandate to try to form a government -- both the League and the Five Star Movement. But who's in the driving seat and who has a better chance of forming a coalition?
THOMAS: Well, the driving seat right now is the President Mattarella --
SESAY: And he can go to anyone really.
THOMAS: Absolutely. He can go anybody so the magic number in this newly reformed electoral system is to try and reach 40 percent. So they're all underneath that -- right. Because the Five Star Movement runs independently --
SESAY: That's right.
THOMAS: -- has not entertained coalition talks and so on and so forth. But it's going to be interesting to see whether they can move from being that sort of 20-something party to sort of low 30s and actually start to speak to other parties to see where they can go.
So they claim that since they won the most single vote that they should have the right to try and speak to people to create a government. But then the center-right coalition, that ironically included Salvini and Berlusconi --
SESAY: Berlusconi -- yes.
[00:29:51] THOMAS: -- but Berlusconi expected to come out ahead but did not. He only scored in the low teens and it is Salvini, the leader of the League -- this far radical right political party -- anti-immigration, Euro-skeptic that is in the driver's seat and it was extraordinarily is an understatement throughout the campaign, Islamophobic and so on that are claiming that together, they have more votes than the Five Star Movement and it is to that that the discussion should go.
So there's no victory as yet. They're just leaders in the race.
SESAY: We're almost out of time but is this Brussels' worst nightmare?
THOMAS: Well, Brussels cannot ignore the fact that over 50 percent of people voted for Eurosceptic parties. Having said that, the Italians are overwhelmingly in favor of the European --
THOMAS: -- but it is a rejection of the Macron-Merkel vision of a more integrated Eurozone and those parties managed to get attention on those questions.
SESAY: Fascinating. Dominic Thomas, always a pleasure. Thank you.
VAUSE: OK, we'll take a short break. When we come back, North meets South. We'll look at what came out of the unprecedented meeting between a South Korean delegation and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
VAUSE (voice-over): Welcome back, everybody, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
SESAY (voice-over): And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour:
VAUSE: Let's go live now to Beijing this hour, CNN's Will Ripley is there.
So, Will, the wheels of diplomacy may be turning in Pyongyang but at the same time it appears the North Koreans may have resumed possible plutonium production for their nuclear weapons.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, 38 North, the North Korea watchdog, is reporting that they've seen an uptick in activity at the Yongbyon nuclear reactors. This is where North Korea produces the materials to make nuclear bombs.
And in -- you know, what this shows is that, yes, diplomacy is in the air but they're also maintaining their production capacity. They're creating more material potentially for weapons.
And this doesn't really contradict anything that North Korea has stated publicly. January 1st, Kim Jong-un gave his New Year's address and he said he wants to improve relations with South Korea but he also wanted to mass produce nuclear weapons.
And so it does seem as if North Korea is just basically doing what they said they would do.
VAUSE: They are true to their word quite often. When they say something, you should believe them. The images released by the North are any indication, Kim Jong-un --
VAUSE: -- he's really enjoying this role of diplomatic statesman. He has been smiling. He's been posing with the South Korean delegates. State media has reported that he told them he wants to write a new history of national reunification.
So firstly, is there any indication Kim will attend day two of these talks?
And more importantly, will he still be smiling when Seoul and maybe even Washington want to talk about his nuclear and missile programs?
RIPLEY: Well, that's the big sticking point here because North Korea has insisted, even as recently as yesterday, that denuclearization is not an agenda item for them and they probably didn't get too deep into that topic when they were -- when they had that four-hour 12-minute dinner and meeting.
But it was significant that the meeting even happened. There were some lower-level meetings initially, when the South Korean delegation arrived. And I was told that, depending on how those went, that would be the deciding factor whether Kim Jong-un would go through with the dinner, which he obviously did.
And a letter was delivered from President Moon Jae-in; you saw Kim Jong-un with his wife by his side, his sister was in the room. This is a trying to present almost a softer, more diplomatic image. And it seemed as if it was working with the South Koreans.
But now, you know, they'll be heading back to Seoul to debrief everybody about what happened. And there's a lot of insight you can gain from a dinner meeting like that. I mean a lot of times these leaders, they have this public persona that's built up with state propaganda.
But the way that they actually are in person is very different. You think about Kim Jong-un's father, Kim Jung-il. He never said a word in public. But people who met him privately described him as very social, very open to other people's points of view, something that you might not expect to see in the propaganda images.
And so hopefully these delegates will have learned something about Kim Jong-un, something that they can take to Seoul and then to Washington, where they will speaking with U.S. officials as well.
VAUSE: Here's part of the reporting, speaking of propaganda, from North Korea's state media.
"Hearing the intention of President Moon Jae-in" -- the South Korean president -- "for a summit from the special envoy of the south side, Kim Jong-un exchanged vows and made a satisfactory agreement."
That is kind of where it leaves us hanging.
So what exactly does that mean?
RIPLEY: We don't really know but what we can infer from that statement is that there's definitely not a date for a presidential summit set yet. Certainly we haven't had any indication from the North or the South.
But they're going to say the summit is going to happen in August or at some point later this year. I mention August because that's a holiday that both Koreas share when the Korean Peninsula was liberated from Japan. And that was thrown out as one possible date in the calendar year that might work.
But clearly there are a lot of issues that need to be worked out. Moon Jae-in agreed to the presidential summit in principle but he has to get -- talk to the United States and make sure that he has their buy-in on this because at the end of the day there is only so much South Korea can do without the support of their most important ally, which is Washington.
VAUSE: Very quickly, if it does get to some kind of leaders' summits between North and South, they've done this twice before, 2000 and 2007. Both started out great, ultimately failed.
Is there any different this time which would suggest a better outcome?
RIPLEY: Well, the sanctions are different. The sanctions are the strongest they've ever been against North Korea. And there's never been a U.S. administration making a very believable threat of military action.
I think North Korea always knew in the past that U.S. presidents would never consider striking their country because of the potentially catastrophic consequences. Obviously President Trump doesn't seem to have that same worry because he has talked openly about moving into phase 2, a military option if diplomacy doesn't.
VAUSE: OK, well, we appreciate you being with us. Will Ripley, who has being North Korea more times than I think most people have had hot dinners. Thanks, Will.
SESAY: All right, quick break here. With all the trouble he's facing on the world stage, Donald Trump's toughest battle could be at home.
VAUSE: So much trouble.
SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) may have crossed the line -- next.
(MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SESAY: Hello, everyone.
Donald Trump isn't exactly known for his sense of humor. In fact, the White House has been forced more than once to clarify that the president was just joking.
VAUSE: Yes, but the man with the notoriously thin skin who tried a little comedy over the weekend, may have gone just a little bit too far. Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Comedians always joke about the first lady escaping her marriage, tying it to the eclipse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two minutes of total darkness, that should have been her chance to escape.
MOOS (voice-over): Or to a border trip.
CONAN O'BRIEN, COMEDIAN: Melania was overheard saying we're near the border. Let's make a run it. Let's get out of here.
MOOS (voice-over): But we didn't expect President Trump to joke about his wife leaving him. The Gridiron Dinner is known for...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Self-deprecating humor, as he said, who does it better than me?
MOOS (voice-over): So with his wife sitting there listening, President Trump said I like chaos. Now the question everyone keeps asking is, who is going to be next to leave?
Steve Miller or Melania?
"Cosmo" responded, "Wow."
On Reddit, someone Photoshopped Melania, suitcase in hand, headed out the White House door.
Ever since stories surfaced linking adult film star, Stormy Daniels, to Trump, Melania has been traveling separately on occasion. She even tweeted out of photo with a military escort rather than her husband on the administration's one-year anniversary.
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: What about the claim that you and your husband sleep in separate rooms?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is a lie. I haven't slept since the election. MOOS (voice-over): The infamous hand swat, the infamous faded smile, critics are always wondering if...
MOOS (voice-over): A Marist poll released on Valentine's Day, no less, found that 43 percent of Americans think the first lady should stay with her husband; 34 percent said she should leave.
After the president made his Melania joke, he turned to his wife and said, "You love me?"
Then told the crowd, "I won't tell you what she said."
And a moment later added, "She said, 'Behave.'"
COLBERT: Just listen to Trump's wedding vows.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.
COLBERT: Yes, you got us.
MOOS (voice-over): In keeping with all the Oscars hoopla, someone named Melania Best Actress in a Supporting Role -- Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
VAUSE: Interesting time for the White House I'm sure.
SESAY: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. "WORLD SPORT" is next. And you're watching CNN.