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Muslims React to President Trump's Speech in the Middle East; Former Trump Campaign Adviser with Russia Ties; President Trump Goes to Israel; James Comey to Testify after Memorial Day; Another Missile Test by North Korea; Walk-Out On Vice President Mike Pence's Commencement Speech; Sisters With Cancer Run Half Marathon. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired May 21, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with us.
We begin with President Trump's message to Muslims worldwide and how it's resonating with Arab leaders and every day people in the region and around the globe. The president in his first speech abroad urged Muslim nations to purge their communities of the "foot soldiers of evil" and prevent terrorists from finding sanctuary on their soil. Trump asked Muslim leaders to unite with America in the global fight against terror.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life and decent people all in the name of religion. People that want to protect life and want to protect their religion. This is a battle between good and evil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: With the world watching, the president did not use the phrase radical Islamic terrorism. On the campaign trail, candidate Trump made it very clear. He believed the U.S. could not win the fight against ISIS and other groups without using those words. I want to go to CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson joining us. Nic, we know the president did not use that controversial phrase so how did he described the terror problem?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, he tried to sort of set a very even tone if you will, in fact specifically saying, and "I'm not here to tell you how to run your lives. I'm here because we have common values and that together we can find security by working towards those common values."
He had another important message, as well, which is, you know, our friends here should know that they don't have to question our support. We have your back, is the message. That was something that he really wanted to roll back the impression a lot of leaders in this region had that under President Obama he didn't support them. And President Trump was very clear in saying that they do, that he does -- the United States does support them.
But he also said that the onus was on them. The United States can't fix their problems, can't do this for them. They have to make these decisions themselves. He said there was a lot more for them to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Of course, there is still much work to be done. That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds. We must stop what they're doing to inspire because they do nothing to inspire but kill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: So he used sort of some soft language around it, if you will, but in certain ways he was quite direct there, Ana.
CABRERA: And Nic, what's the reception then of these words, the impact there in the region?
ROBERTSON: You know, I talked to one gentleman over the weekend here in Riyadh who told me that he thought Trump was coming here to apologize for everything that he said on the campaign trail about Muslims. But I think broadly speaking, what we've found here is that the leaders were not going to stand up and criticize him. They're very hard to judge from their faces what they actually made at the meeting.
But interestingly when the president was expected to attend a tweet forum this evening where he was going to tweet to sort of communicate and connect with the younger Arab audience here, the speaker who was speaking before him, the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, was actually not critical of President Trump, but pointed to Europe. And I think in a way this is a euphemism for all the west here not for much of what the Saudis have to say this was a reset of relations between the west and Muslims and the Arabs.
The Emirati foreign minister said very clearly that the responsibility, part of the responsibility here is in Europe. Don't point the finger at us as being the center of the problem. If you don't deal with the extremist problem in Europe, then you have a worst problem there than there is in the Middle East. So in some ways here, there was some pushback and of course that was the speech that President Trump then didn't actually attend. We don't know precisely why Ana.
CABRERA: All right, Nic Robertson reporting. Thank you. And by the way, you can read more of Nic's analysis on CNN.com. He has a full article there again on our website.
I want to talk more about the president's message to Muslims worldwide and how people of that faith are reacting. And joining us now, former "Wall Street Journal" reporter and author of "Standing Alone In Mecca," Azra Nomani. Azra, I know you are a Muslim. You have been a supporter of President Trump. First your reaction to President Trump's message.
AZRA NOMANI, FORMER WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTER: While I voted for Donald Trump,
[17:05:00] I don't call myself a supporter but a voter because he dared to talk about Islamic extremism and I don't think he was actually soft on the issue. What I actually saw him do today was walk into the lion's den of those that are the architects of Islamic extremism in the world today, and he called them out on it. And he did it in such a Trumpian way that he was vetted yesterday.
If you had talked to me yesterday I would have said that I was sick to my stomach because it was actually very disturbing to watch the president of the United States go through such the gold necklace and the sword dance and all of this. But today it was like music to my ears because he told the leaders of our Muslim world that they've got to deal with this real issue of Islamic extremism and be honest with it. And that was an advancement, that was a success for us as Muslims who want to take care of this problem so our generations ahead don't have to inherit it.
CABRERA: Now, the president did not use the phrase radical Islamic terrorism. You'll recall candidate Trump slammed President Obama and Hillary Clinton again and again for not using that label when discussing ISIS and other terror groups. What's your reaction for him leaving that out?
NOMANI: Well, to me the important adjective is not the radical, but the Islamic extremism problem that he did talk about. The adjective that President Obama refused to use was Islamic and what President Trump did was actually edit his own speech because the speech originally had just said Islamist, which is the word used for political Islam. So he dared to address the real fact that there is a theology within Islam, and we all know it. It was like the elephant in the room. It has been born by Saudi Arabia.
CABRERA: And I do. I just think it's important for me -- I just want to stop you there for a second though because we actually went back to the administration and asked if that was intentional of him changing that wording.
NOMANI: Yes, what did they say?
CABRERA: And they said it was not intentional, that he's actually just -- it's some of the fatigue setting in from the time change and the long day he had yesterday. He didn't intentionally use the word Islamic instead of Islamist. But I'm curious if you think from your view will the president's message resonate with all Muslims given there are significant divides between Sunnis and Shias especially in the Middle East.
NOMANI: Yes, you know, ultimately I'm -- actually, two of the issues of sadness to me, very deep sadness, is that there was no Shia participation and the Shias are so critical in defeating extremism in our world today. This was a clearly sectarian conference in which the Saudis wanted to put the government of Iran as the bad guys when in fact they are equal bad guys in the issue of extremism.
And then the other sadness to me is that Donald Trump did not talk about wanting to actually challenge these very, very sad denials of human rights and women's rights. You know, I sit before you as a Muslim woman with my hair loose and the wind will catch my hair when I go outside. And that is a right that has denied women in Iran and in Saudi Arabia.
These are fundamental rights that we as Americans must stand forward and really persevere to protect just as we challenge the government of apartheid South Africa, we must continue to challenge governments like Saudi Arabia. I understand that this is Donald Trump and the art of the deal. This is what I expected when I cast my ballot, Ana.
You know, what I was really thinking is that this man can actually bring peace to the Middle East and even peace to Israel and Palestine because he will incentivize these power brokers in terms that they understand, which is business. And the other term that he said, as you also heard, was Israel. And this is the first time that we will ever see so notoriously a flight going from Saudi Arabia to Israel. That is historic right there.
CABRERA: Well, we're going to see that. It is his next stop on this nine-day trip abroad. Azra Nomani, thank you so much for spending some time with us this weekend. We appreciate your thoughts and your viewpoint on the reaction to the president in his speech today.
So, as the president tackles these issues abroad, problems back home remain and the Russian investigation is not going away. Up next, why the House Intelligence Committee is now interested in a former Trump campaign advisor and possible ties to Russia. Stay with us.
[17:10:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: Welcome back. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
As President Trump is thousands of miles away in his first overseas trip, the cloud of the Russia investigation keeps getting darker and darker here at home. The House Intelligence Committee is now asking the man on the right side of your screen to hand over any documents that could help their investigation.
He's former Trump campaign advisor Michael Caputo and he has been told to submit any relevant materials by tomorrow. Meantime, national security advisor H.R. McMaster is responding to the "New York Times" reports that during the president's meeting with Russian officials at the White House in the Oval Office, President Trump called former Fbi director James Comey a "nut job." Listen to what McMaster who was in the room had to say about that report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I don't remember exactly what the president said, and the notes that they apparently have I do not think are a direct transcript. But the gist of the conversation was that the president feels as if he is hamstrung in his ability to work with Russia, to find areas of cooperation, because this has been obviously so much in the news. And that was the intention of that portion of the conversation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN's Ryan Nobles is joining us now with more. Ryan, what more can you tell us about Michael Caputo and this latest development?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael Caputo is someone that worked on the Trump campaign. He was there for the early part of the campaign and really helped organize the caucus operation for the Trump team.
[17:15:00] He is someone that is connected to Roger Stone who's a long-time Trump advisor, known has a dark arts master, and that's Caputo's connection to the Trump campaign.
Caputo ended up leaving the Trump campaign after he tweeted something negative about Cory Lewandowski, the former campaign manager after he was fired from the Trump campaign. But the reason that the House Intelligence Committee is so interested in Caputo is because of his long ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin in particular.
Back in the '90s, Caputo worked for the Russian government. He also worked for an independent P.R. firm that has connections to Putin. And he also has ties in the Ukraine. But Caputo hasn't worked with those firms in some time, and he has said that he's had no role at all in any type of connection between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
And he said he is happy to testify. He wants to do it in an open setting because he has nothing to hide. That being said though, Ana, he is being asked to hold on to any documents that might be pertinent to this investigation because the committee is interested in seeing all of them, Ana.
CABRERA: Again, Michael Caputo, the House Intelligence Committee. Meantime, let's switch to James Comey and the Senate Intelligence Committee. James Comey has agreed to testify before that committee, apparently, about the Russia investigation some time after Memorial Day. What do you think we'll hear from him?
NOBLES: Well, there's no doubt that this testimony is going to be one of the most highly anticipated in Washington in some time. But despite all that anticipation, it might be interesting to see just how much James Comey is going to say or will be willing to say in an open setting. Congressman Adam Schiff who serves on the House Intel Committee said today what he is hoping to hear from Comey. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think the most important thing in light of the reports are to find out was he being pressured by the president to drop any part of the investigation. I think those allegations concerning Mr. Flynn and whether the president asked him to essentially back off are among the most serious that we have heard. So, I would like to hear from the director about that.
I'd obviously like to find out whether he kept contemporaneous notes of those meetings and whether there were any other interactions with the president that made him feel uncomfortable, that made him feel that the president was acting inappropriately or that was trying to interfere or impede in the investigation -- with the investigation in any way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: And Ana, it's important to point out that even if James Comey delivers some sort of bombshell in his testimony when it comes after Memorial Day, it's not as if then the next stage is some sort of an impeachment process with President Trump. This is just one piece in a very broad and what will likely be a lengthy investigation.
And it's also important to point out that it is only one side of the story, and already the White House has pushed back on many of these reports about what James Comey viewed as those conversations with President Trump while he was still FBI director.
CABRERA: Ryan Nobles, thank you. I want to bring in CNN intelligence and security analyst Bob Baer. He's also a former CIA operative. Bob, we have not heard from James Comey since his firing 12 days ago, but Comey's father is now speaking out. He's not holding back. Here's what Jay Brian Comey told CNN about his son's termination. He said it happened because President Trump is "scared to death of him" and that his son tells the truth while the president does not. Your reaction to that characterization.
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SSECURITY ANALYST: You know, I support Comey in this. His reputation is sterling. In spite of the releasing that report about the e-mails and Hillary at the last moment, that was understandable to me. He's a former prosecutor. He knows what he's doing.
Coming out of those meetings, I can tell you right now he not only took memos but told people around him what had occurred. He understands evidence. This is not political for him. He was genuinely worried about what the president was trying to do, trying to pressure him. I think the Comey testimony is not going to do the president any favors.
CABRERA: And as far as getting to the truth because, again, what we heard from Comey's father, Comey tells the truth, the president does not. I mean if it is like he said, he said, how do you prove what is the truth?
BAER: Well, in this case I think the White House has lost its credibility all across the board. I mean his advisors, the rest of them, that the story changes every couple hours. So I think people are going to look at Comey as the one with the credibility. And there's another part of this Ana, the part of the investigation that's very important, and that's the intercepts of Flynn's phone calls, the Russian phone calls, the Russian oligarchs.
A lot of these intercepts, which we're never going to see but we're going to see them in closed -- people are going to see them in closed hearings with clearances, are going to back up a lot of this story. You know, we still have no clue what the reality is of these Russian connections. We have not had a witness that's we're never going to see but we'll see -- people will see them in closed hearings with clearances, are going to back up a lot of this story. We still have no clue
[17:20:00] what the reality is of these Russian connections. We do not have a witness that's come forward and said there was a conspiracy. We don't know whether the president is just being bull headed not releasing his taxes or there's something in there. So, and you know, this investigation will go on I'd say for years, just like Watergate.
CABRERA: Years, wow. Let's listen to what Senator John McCain said in an interview just this morning when he was asked if it is too early to compare the Trump-Russia investigation to the Watergate scandal you just mentioned. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: With the appointment of Mr. Mueller, we're now at that stage of a scandal. And now the question is how is it handled? Is it handled the way Watergate was where drip, drip, drip, every day more and more, or do we handle it like Ronald Reagan handled Iran-Contra.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Now, President Reagan fessed up to doing something wrong and the American people let him move forward. Is there anything President Trump could say at this point to be able to move on from all these?
BAER: Yes, he could speed this up. He has nothing to hide. He should come clean on the tax returns, everything. People should volunteer to go to the FBI, tell them everything they know, turn over documents, including General Flynn took notes in his meetings with the president. All those need to be turned over to the FBI to quickly get through this.
If they hold back and resist this, it will go on just like Watergate. It will be a drip, drip. And again, I don't know what the outcome is. I find it difficult to believe that so many advisors to Trump were colluding with the Russians. Seems improbable to me, but until we actually see the evidence, I just don't know.
CABRERA: How should Robert Mueller handle this investigation? He's the special counsel. I wonder how transparency comes into play with his investigation.
BAER: Oh, I don't think we're going to see much transparency. Maybe he'll talk to the committees in Congress, but this kind of investigation, he's going to clamp down on leaks. The last thing he needs is leaks coming out from his FBI agents working for him and other investigators.
He has to absolutely maintain his credibility and he's got to not make public statements or even have a spokesman for the special counsel. In that way I think people have a lot more confidence in this investigation.
CABRERA: And yet so many questions that everybody wants answered. So Tuesday there's going to be a part open, part closed hearing with former director of the CIA, John Brennan. He testifies before the House Intelligence Committee. What type of information might he be able to provide?
BAER: Well, the CIA originally is involved to the Russian connection looking into the collusion. I've heard that it's back in the game and is actively investigating this for the special counsel and turning reports over. I'm not sure that's exactly -- to what extent this is happening. But the CIA can describe to Mueller who these Russians were that were running through the Trump campaign. Were they intelligence officers? Were they simply businessmen? Were they close to Putin? Those are all key questions that Mueller's going to want to know, so the CIA's going to play a big role in this.
CABRERA: So interesting. And of course, CNN's exclusive latest reporting is that some of the intercepted conversations by intelligence officials are overhearing Russia officials bragging about their relationship with Michael Flynn and saying they believe they could use him to influence Trump, then candidate Trump. So, we'll be listening closely to the CIA, former CIA director's testimony. Bob Bear, thank you very much for joining us.
Still ahead, reckless and irresponsible, those are the words coming from South Korean officials after the North launched its second missile test in a week. We'll have an update from the region.
Plus, frightening moments for some tourist in British Columbia. This is an incredible video. A young girl plucked from a pier and dragged underwater.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god! Oh, my god!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: More on this dramatic video and the story behind it coming up. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."
[17:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I want to take to you North Korea now and I feel like a broken record. Another weekend, another missile launch. In fact, today's launch was the second missile launch within a week and just five days from the start of the G7 Summit in Italy. North Korea sending a message to the western world that it is not willing to give up its nuclear ambitions.
Japan's defense minister says this was a medium range ballistic missile that traveled about 620 miles high and then 300 miles to the east before landing in the Sea of Japan. Again, it's just a week after what analyst say was North Korea's most successful missile launch to date. Alexandra Field is joining us now from Seoul, South Korea. Alexandra, what is Seoul's reaction to this latest missile launch by Kim Jong-Un's regime?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, it is not dissimilar from their reaction to previous launches. You had a launch just a week ago as you point out, but they did convene a meeting of the national security council directly in the aftermath of this latest launch there calling the repeated provocation reckless, which is a word that they often use. But the foreign minister went on to say that North Korea is essentially throwing cold water on the new South Korean government's desire to denuclearize the peninsula and create conditions of peace here.
That reference to the new government here in South Korea of course in obvious nod to the fact that South Korean's recently elected a new president. He took office less than two weeks ago. He has now had to confront two ballistic missile tests since taking office.
North Korea has fired off about a dozen ballistic missiles since the start of the year. The launch just a week ago was considered the country's most successful to date. That projectile went higher and it went farther than previous tests. It was considered to be a significant stride toward the development of an
[17:30:00] intercontinental ballistic missile which is the North Korean goal. This latest missile launch this Sunday considered by U.S. officials to be a missile of a slightly shorter range, Ana. They're calling this one a medium-range ballistic missile.
CABRERA: Now meantime, the White House has been pressuring China to put pressure on North Korea. Did it think anything's working given these persistent missile launches by Pyongyang?
FIELD: Right. Well, it seems that just about every week you have the White House being asked to respond to these constant provocations from Pyongyang, but provocations have not stopped. So, what does the White House make of this. They have walked the line with different responses between reacting strongly and also backing off in their responses a little bit so as not to provide greater attention to Pyongyang when they carry out these highly provocative measures.
But we did hear from the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he spoke on one of the Sunday morning shows and here is what he had to say about whether or not the administration's policy toward North Korea could be considered to be working despite the fact that you've seen this constant barrage of missile tests.
He said, "I think we're early in the game of putting pressure on them. Perhaps they're just acting out in response to some of this pressure that I believe they are beginning to feel." So, what does he mean by that? Of course he's referring to the fact that Trump administration officials, Ana, have repeatedly said that the era of strategic patience with North Korea is over, that the Trump administration would craft a new policy toward North Korea, a policy that seems to involve at least the threat of military action or the repeated insistence that a military option is on the table, but also the insistence from Washington that they want a diplomatic solution to the rising tension here on the peninsula.
CABRERA: Alexandra Field in Seoul, South Korea. Thanks to you.
Still to come, harrowing moments for tourists on a pier in British Colombia. A little girl dragged into the water by a sea lion. Details coming up.
[17:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: I want to show you some stunning video that's just in to CNN. A sea lion surrounded by tourists at a wharf in Vancouver, British Columbia. Watch what happens to one little girl as she sits on the edge of the dock.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god! Oh, my god!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: They say a man, possibly a family member, according to witnesses, jumping into the water to save that girl right after the sea lion pulls her by the dress and drags her into the water. Thankfully, we're hearing nobody was hurt. I want to bring in Bob Baziuk, he is the general manager of the site where this happened at Steveston Harbour Authority where the incident again took place. Bob, thanks for being with us. In your opinion, why did this happen?
BOB BAZIUK, GENERAL MANAGER, STEVESTO HARBOUR AUTHORITY (via telephone): Well, it's what happens when you feed wild animals. It appears that these tourists -- I don't have any information on who they were but they're clearly to be tourists and they were feeding the wildlife, per se. And for years we have had signs, we have given the local papers going, don't do this, it's not a good idea.
And it appears that the California sea lion who I believe are in their migratory cycle off its (inaudible) the jetty right now in the rocks, a couple of the bulls or whatever they come in and they're looking for handouts. And when you hand it to them, that's, unfortunately, what can happen. First and foremost, we're just glad that it appears the little girl wasn't hurt.
CABRERA: Absolutely. We see as we watch the video and continue to play it for our viewers, the person who's with her is able to get her quickly out of the water. But have you ever seen such aggressive action by sea lions in this area?
BAZIUK: No. I have never witnessed anything like that in all my years working at that harbor which is 27 years. But I can tell you that it's come close. And that is from people that disregard signs that think it's cute to come and feed a 1,200 bull seal. And it's not surprising to me. And so with the media coverage on this, I'm thinking what a better way to get it through people's heads -- don't feed wildlife. It's just not a good idea.
What surprised me when I watched the video, as for many people that have watched it is, the thing -- the bull takes a snip at the little girl, and then they proceed to let her sit on the bough rail. So, that is kind of not wise in my opinion. Bull seals don't read signs. And it's not Marine World. It's a public (inaudible) boat where the public comes to buy their products. So to go down there and feed them is, to me, just asinine.
CABRERA: Do you think that this sea lion's behaviour is a reflection of play or is it more aggressive?
BAZIUK: Hunger. It's hunger.
BAZIUK: The aggressive -- I don't know. I'm not a sea lion expert, but in this case that's what they're doing. They're coming and they're looking for handouts from the public or if there's a fisherman that isn't wise enough to throw a byproduct off their boat. They're hungry and that's all there is to it.
CABRERA: Are you planning to take any steps to prevent it from happening again?
BAZIUK: I'm sorry?
CABRERA: Are you planning to take any steps of prevention so it won't happen again?
BAZIUK: Well, I mean, we can plaster signs and whatever else, but it's the common sense of the public and the people that go down there not to do that. This movie is a poster child of what not to do when you're dealing with wild animals, be as lions or grizzly bears or cougars or whatever else. That's all you can really do. The rest is up to the people that utilize the facility.
[17:40:00] You can't legislate stupidity, if I may.
CABRERA: Bob Baziuk, thanks you so much for joining us for giving us a little bit more information as to what may have happened here. Again, grateful that this young girl is OK. She was able to get out quickly and now raising awareness to situations like this. Let's fast forward now. The president getting ready for his next stop on his overseas trip -- Israel. There the president is hoping to make what he calls the ultimate deal.
But he's already facing controversy even before he steps foot in that country. We'll discuss. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom".
CABRERA: President Trump leaves Saudi Arabia tomorrow for his next stop -- Israel. Air force One to Tel Aviv, then a helicopter to Jerusalem. President's arrival in Israel won't be anywhere near the royal spectacle that we saw meeting him in Riyadh this weekend. According to one government minister,
[17:45:00] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to order all government ministers to attend Trump's arrival ceremony after word got out that several ministers wanted to skip it. CNN's Oren Lieberman is in Jerusalem today. Oren.
OREN LIEBERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli politicians would have been watching President Donald Trump's speech in Riyadh very closely, and it's exactly the message they wanted to hear from Trump, that Arab states need to do their part to combat extremism, to combat terrorism throughout the region especially when Trump shifted his focus to Iran and went on the offensive there.
That's where Netanyahu and Trump see the region from exactly the same perspective and are on very much the same page strategically. They see a need to combat Iran's growing influence throughout the region, and that's what they'll talk about in their meetings. President Donald Trump arrives on Monday. He'll meet with President Reuven Rivlin and then with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Now some Israeli ministers have expressed some reservations about a $110 billion arms deal between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. They say that may threaten what's known as the QME, Israel's qualitative military edge where Israel gets the latest hardware and the latest military technology as evidenced by Israel being the first state to receive the latest fighter jet, the U.S. F-35, just a few months ago.
So that may become a focus of the conversation, how to maintain Israel's qualitative military edge despite this $110 billion arms deal. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet Trump on Tuesday. He is in Riyadh and had a chance to see Trump speak in person. Oren Lieberman, CNN, Jerusalem.
CABRERA: Let's bring in CNN political analyst and Princeton University professor, Julian Zelizer. Julian, the president's initial, you know, reception there in Saudi Arabia was so grand and so many people talked about how well it seemed he was received there and now we're hearing there is this mandatory welcome -- "you must be in attendance" order that's gone out from the prime minister in Israel. What do you make of that?
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANAYST: Well look, in some ways this was the easier part of the trip. Now, he's getting into the details with the Israeli issue and the prospects for peace. I think there are many leaders in Israel who are uncomfortable with President Trump, both because of his military assistance to the Saudis, as well as the anti-Semitism that circulated in the Trump campaign and even during part of his administration with his supporters.
So there is tension over this and as many Israelis are uncomfortable with the unpredictability of this president. They like to know what's going to come next, and they are facing a president with a major crisis at home. That said, there are still many parts of the government, including the prime minister, who hope this offers opportunity for peace that has not been present for many decades.
CABRERA: And we know he could be meeting with both Benjamin Netanyahu as well as the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, during this trip. Now, this week there were some questions about how it was going to be addressed given what we learned from the conversation the president had in the Oval Office with the Russian leaders earlier in the week in which he revealed, apparently, some classified information that came from Israeli intelligence. Do you think he's going to be forced to address that?
ZELIZER: I think so. I think -- I'm sure there are many Israeli officials who are unhappy with the fact this intelligence, hard- earned, was shared in such a reckless way. This is part of where that Trump style will cause concern in these meetings. Both sides, the Palestinians, the Israelis, everyone wants to know that they can count on what the president is saying. And they also want to know that if they share information or intelligence, it won't be then distributed without their consent to the Russians or any other entity. So, I think this issue is going to come back both the actual issue, but simply what it represented about his style of negotiating.
CABRERA: You know, President Obama was criticized for not visiting Israel in his first trip to the Middle East. He becomes -- President Trump, the first president to visit Israel this early in his presidency. He's also the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall. What's the significance of that?
ZELIZER: Well, there's a part of the Trump administration and Trump campaign that's been very eager to court the Israeli leadership. Very close with Netanyahu and wants to send a clear signal that we are different in tenor than President Obama, even though President Obama actually supported a lot of assistance for the Israelis, that he is more open, more receptive to their concerns, their needs, and their sense of identity. But that Trump competes with all the other presidents and candidate Trumps that we've been talking about. And I think that's what the Israelis are trying to figure out.
CABRERA: We are already seeing the president soften some of his previous statements, some of his stances that he's taken regarding the Middle East, like we heard today during his speech regarding Islamic terrorism and he didn't use that word, the phrase or those three words that so many people had been critical of. When it comes to Israel,
[17:50:00] one of the big sticky points and possible controversy since then whether this president will move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. What do you think -- how do you think he's going to handle that situation now when he's face-to-face with the people in this region?
ZELIZER: Well, this is something he said very early on. He said he was going to do it, and then he backed away from doing it because there was a lot of blow back and many Israelis don't want this to happen either because they realize how volatile that decision is and that's not their main concern. So, I would be surprised if he really continued to move forward with that since in many ways it's not an essential step toward creating some kind of peace. The other issue would be the settlements.
CABRERA: Why would he say for -- why would that be a suggestion to begin with then if it's something that a lot of people don't want to see, including Israelis?
ZELIZER: There are certain factions within the Israeli government that want this, that symbolically it's important. It's a sign of a unified Israel. It's a sign of moving beyond that part of the territorial dispute. But again, there's many Israelis not just on the left but even in the center who say that's not really necessary, that shouldn't be our central issue right now.
Look, President Trump hasn't thought through all the politics of the different statements he makes, the different issues on the tables and that's part of the learning he's had to do very quickly. This is a region where what you say really matters and every word has to be treated with great care or it could cause greater risk rather than bringing peace.
CABRERA: Julian Zelizer, always great to have your opinion and your advice. Thank you.
ZELIZER: Thank you.
CABRERA: Still ahead. The vice president has been largely under the radar the past several days but today he was in the spotlight and facing a rather unfriendly crowd. Students walking out during the vice president commencement address at Notre Dame. We'll bring you the details next.
But first, two sisters were determined to finish a half marathon at Disneyland, but one was diagnosed with cancer. They promised to finish it any way. Here's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sisters Jackie and Karla Solano are training for a half marathon at Disneyland.
KARLA SOLANO, MARATHON RUNNER: We are big Disney fans. We forget that we're adults. We hold hands and we skip into the park because we're excited.
GUPTA: The sisters bond through running. Having raced dozens of events through the years, yet their next race is different.
JACKIE SOLANO, CANCER PATIENT & MARATHON RUNNER: Hearing the words that I have cancer was probably the hardest thing I've had to hear.
GUPTA: Last October, 31-year-old Jackie Solano was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. She's gone through three rounds of chemotherapy limiting her strength and her immune system but she's determined to finish the race with her sister.
J. SOLANO: Right now that I'm halfway through treatments, I want to feel normal.
K. SOLANO: Cancer, that's not what defines my sister.
J. SOLANO: Cancer is definitely not stopping me from running, not at all.
GUPTA: This "Star Wars"-themed Disneyland half marathon takes a run through the Magic Kingdom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Runners, set, go.
GUPTA: Five miles in, the strain on her body is wearing her down, but her team was there to help her.
GUPTA: By mile 12, she got up, to finish on foot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go. Finish it strong.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at those happy faces.
J. SOLANO: Really emotional like crossing that finish line.
K. SOLANO: That's just one finish line that we will be crossing. Once she is cancer-free, that's another finish line that she'll cross.
J. SOLANO: Cancer or no cancer, I finished the race.
[17:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: The vice president getting an icy reception as he prepared to address students at the University of Notre Dame's commencement ceremony. Some graduates stood up for what they say is religious freedom for all. They walked out on the vice president's commencement address. CNN's Rosa Flores was there.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, the students who stood up and walked out of their commencement ceremony said it best, they said that this is their graduation day and they graduated from a catholic university and on this campus, they learned about religious freedom for all, not just for Christians but also for their Muslim brothers and sisters. They also say that they learned about standing up for the marginalized, for the poor, for the LGBTQ communities and they say that these teachings are straight from Pope Francis and they don't believe Vice President Mike Pence represents those teachings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZZI PAGURA, GRADUATE, UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME: Either we are all Notre Dame or nor of us are. And if you are trying to silence and not listen to the preferences of one group and their families, then you're not listening to any of us and that was a speech or I guess, that was what we wanted to say today to the administration, more so than anyone else. The administration, you need to listen to our peers, you need to listen to our peers' families and concern when you decide who to invite to our graduation.
(END VIDE CLIP)
FLORES: Some context is important here because about 3,100 students received degrees and between 75 and 100 students stood up and walked out once Vice President Mike Pence began to speak, Ana.
CABRERA: Rosa Flores, thank you.
[18:00:06] You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with us, but first tonight.