Return to Transcripts main page
Deadliest Bomb to Hit Afghan Capital in Years; Trump to Announce Decision on Paris Climate Agreement; Sessions Under Fire for Russia Meetings; Comey Expected to Give Explosive Testimony on Trump; Jared Kushner Scrutinized for Links to Russian Banker; Poll: May Notably Absent from Televised Debate as Polls Tighten. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired June 1, 2017 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[02:00:07] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.
Ahead this hour --
SESAY: Welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.
Well, the huge explosion in Kabul's diplomatic district underscores how precarious security is in Afghanistan. At least 90 people were killed and 100s more were injured in the suicide bombing. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.
Our Ian Lee has the latest.
IAN LEE, CNN CORESPONDENT (voice-over): Blaring sirens and a towering plume of black smoke, these are the latest sights and sounds of Wednesday morning rush hour in Kabul.
LEE: Scores of people killed and hundreds injured after a truck bomb ripped through the city's diplomatic quarter. Among the dead, an Afghan BBC driver taking journalists to work, and a security officer involved in the protection of the German embassy.
The first few days of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan replaced by carnage and chaos on the streets and overwhelmed hospitals.
The blast, one of the worst attacks to hit the country in years, felt blocks away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): I heard a very loud bang, and then I don't remember what happened next. The waves of the explosion were so powerful that you could see a lot of people in the hospital wounded by shattered windows and collapsed walls.
LEE: 16 years after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, with deteriorating security and gains by both the Taliban and ISIS, Kabul seems increasingly unstable. The Taliban, which controls large chunks of the country, denies any involvement in the deadly blast. ISIS, known for carrying out increasingly deadly attacks, silent on that bombing.
As Afghan civilians suffer the most, the vast majority killed in such attacks, the international community calls out for more blood and treasure. NATO currently assessing a request for more troops while U.S. President Donald Trump weigh a Pentagon plan to send up to 5,000 additional solders and increase airstrikes against Taliban and ISIS targets.
Ian Lee, CNN.
SESAY: Afghan's president condemned the attack and sent a message to the victims' families.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMAD ASHRAF GHANI, AFGHAN PRESIDENT (through translation): I express my deepest condolences to the families of victims following today's terrorist attack in Kabul city, which martyred and wounded a number of our countrymen and damaged public installations. It was a brutal act that has caused out countrymen grief in this holy month of Ramadan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Muhammad Lila is in Kabul and joins us now.
Muhammad, let's start with the victims. As we heard the president offering his condolences to their families. How are hospitals coping with the number of injured, at least 400?
MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRSEPONDENT: Well, they are certainly struggling. I mean, yesterday, there was a call that they desperately need blood for transfusions because so many victims were coming in. Any time there is an explosion like this, one of the biggest injuries that they have is serious blood loss, when you suffer, they call it catastrophic bleeding. That's situation a lot of patients were in when they came to the hospital. The most important thing is to stop that bleeding. And then people who lost that much blood, they needed it and, frankly, the hospitals here in Kabul didn't have enough to go around. There was a desperate call that was put out. We know we are talking about 400 people that have been injured and that are in hospital right now in varying states of health. I mean, you have people with just nicks and bruises and then other people who are still in very critical condition.
The biggest fear here right now is that the casualty count could go up, given the condition that some people are currently in in the hospital.
SESAY: Muhammad, given this is one of a series of attacks to have struck Kabul this year, obviously, this the largest by far in recent years, but still one of a number that has taken place, do you get any sense that there is a growing anger among the general public being directed at the government for this inability to keep the public safe?
[02:05:05] LILA: Well, absolutely. Let me just first touch on the size and the scale of this attack. Look, I've been covering Afghanistan for a number of years. I covered the immediate aftermath of blasts that have taken place in Kabul and elsewhere.
I have never seen a blast this big. Some suggesting that the sewage tanker was filled with 1500 kilograms of explosives. You would see these before militants want to storm a military base they would detonate explosives outside the entrance and then storm the base. This happened in a heavily populated civilian area. We can talk about the embassies and the palace, but the reality of where this took place was an area that was filled with traffic in the rush hour of Kabul. And that's why the casualty count was so high. This is certainly not just one of the biggest this year. This is -- some people are calling it the biggest attack since America's involvement here in 2001. That's just to set the scale.
Now, in terms of the anger, absolutely, we are seeing anger on the ground. People are very upset. You have to remember, Afghanistan is a place where foreign countries have invested hundreds of billions of dollars, all under the premise to keep Afghanistan safe. But the fact this can happen in the country's capitol, in Kabul, in a very busy, and that a truck with explosives can drive up in the middle of area like that and detonate itself, there is a lot of anger right now directed at Afghan officials and -- (INAUDIBLE) -- people rising up to intercept this and keep people safe.
SESAY: Many questions still to be answered. A huge tragedy.
Muhammad Lila, joining us there from Kabul. Stay safe, Muhammad. Thank you.
For the third time in nine days, the Eiffel Tower in Paris once again went dark to honor terror victims. The French landmark dimmed its lights to mourn those killed and wounded in Kabul's suicide attack. This follows the tower's tribute one night earlier for the victims of the multiple bombings in Iraq and after last week's terror attack in Manchester, England.
Hours from now, the Trump White House is expected to bid adieu to the historic Paris Accord. President Trump tweeted he will announce his decision Thursday at 3:00 p.m. eastern. Despite heavy lobbying to stay in the agreement, senior officials tell CNN President Trump is leaning towards pulling out as he promised repeatedly during his campaign.
When the president was asked about it Wednesday, he ducked the question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm hearing from a lot of people both ways.
TRUMP: Thank you, everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, if the U.S. pulls out of the Paris Accord, it will join a very small group of nations not part of the global initiative, only two other countries, in fact. Syria isn't part of it because it is in the middle of a civil war. And Nicaragua because it said the deal didn't go far enough in addressing climate change.
We have reaction from Europe And Asia. CNN''s Matt River is in Beijing, but let's start with Melissa Bell in Paris.
Melissa, to you first.
What is the view there in Paris as we await word from the U.S. president, but all signs pointing towards the U.S. pulling out of this deal?
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well, a great deal of attention is being paid to what's likely to come out of the Rose Garden later today. In particular, which of the options Donald Trump will choose if he does decide to withdraw from this historic climate change agreement.
You know, a year and a half ago, the euphoria, really, the sense of euphoria that had been here in Paris as this historic document was signed really feels quite recent. Here in Europe, all eyes will very much be on Washington to see which of the options he has chosen. And that will have a big impact, no doubt, on whether or not other countries feel that they can follow suit or whether this climate change agreement, on the other hand, will see more countries sort of reaffirm their commitment. That's really what we are expecting to see today from brussels. The European Union and China and are expected to come out with a joint declaration by tomorrow which will, in the face of what's likely to be announced today in Washington, reaffirm the commitment of other countries not only to the commitments signed here in 2015 but to an acceleration of the cooperation between Brussels and Beijing to put together the kind of cooperation that would allow an acceleration of its application. Very much the opposite of what might be coming out of the United States today.
SESAY: Melissa, thank you.
Matt, to you next.
China has expressed its commitment to this deal with or without the U.S. But China, of course, as the world's largest polluter, would now be left driving the climate agenda in the absence of the U.S. What's the view there in Beijing?
[02:10:02] MATT RIVERS, CNN ASIA-PACIFIC EDITOR: Well, they remain committed, as you said, to pushing forward with this agreement even if they would hope the United States, as the world's second-largest carbon emitter, would stay in the agreement. But China does appear prepared to move forward with its commitments to this deal no matter what the Trump administration decides to do.
And look no further than what they have done from a monetary standpoint. It wasn't that long ago that the Chinese government announced a $360 billion investment into renewable energy projects. That money set to be spent by the year 2020. They also plan on making sure that their carbon emissions peek by the year 2030, if not earlier. So China stands prepared to stay in this agreement build the United States want to or not.
And China will take a leadership role if the United States pulls out. China and the United States were the two key players to agreeing to this deal. Without China and the United States agreeing, most experts would tell you the Paris agreement would not have come through in the way that it did. China now could stand alone if the Trump administration decides to pull out. And other countries will look to China for leadership, more than likely, as a country, the biggest emitter in the world, committed to making sure that it reduces those emissions moving forward.
SESAY: Matt, let me ask you this. Again, if the U.S. does, indeed, pull out of this deal, what are the implications of other areas of cooperation between the U.S. and China, namely North Korea? Will it have an impact?
Rivers: Well, it very well could. It was interesting, during the Obama administration, climate change was really the one area where both sides really saw eye to eye. Climate change was something they could generally agree on. It was one of the things that Xi Jinping and Barack Obama stood together and really had similar views on.
But during the Trump administration, obviously, things have really changed. The Trump administration has been warmer to China on things like North Korea and the South China Sea than many were expecting, given his rhetoric on the campaign scale.
But China feels strongly about the climate change. Whether that bleeds into other areas, like national security and trade talks, it might. That's the big open question. But the fact we are asking that question means it is a possibility on the table and something that experts are going to have to be looking at in moving forward.
SESAY: Indeed. We'll see how it plays out.
Matt Rivers, joining us from Beijing, thank you.
And Melissa Bell, in Paris, thank you.
To other news now. CNN has fired Comedian Kathy Griffin as host of its New Year's Eve program. The decision comes after photos showed her holding up a prop that offended just about everyone, a mock bloody head resembling the U.S. president. People across the political spectrum denounced the image. Griffin later said she went too far, apologized, and asked for forgiveness. Donald Trump reacted on Twitter saying, "Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11-year-old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick."
Let's take a quick break. We have a flurry of allegations in the investigation of the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia, including word of what former FBI Director James Comey is expected to tell Congress.
[02:15:26] SESAY: U.S. attorney general and former Trump campaign surrogate, Jeff Sessions, is facing new criticism for another possible meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
CNN's Jim Sciutto spoke with Don Lemon.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Republican and Democratic Hill sources and intelligence officials all briefed on the investigation tell myself, Jamie and Shimon that congressional investigators are examining whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions had an additional private meeting with Russia's ambassador during the presidential campaign. Investigators on the Hill are now requesting additional information, including schedules from Sessions, a source with knowledge tells CNN. They are focusing on whether such a meeting took place April 27, 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel here in Washington where then candidate Donald Trump was delivering his first major foreign policy address. Prior to the speech then-Senator Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak attended a value VIP session with organizers diplomats and others.
In addition to congressional investigators the FBI is seeking to determine the extent of inter-agencies the Trump campaign team may have had with Russia's ambassador during that event. This is part of its broader counter-intelligence investigation of Russia interference in the election.
Neither the Hill nor FBI investigators have yet concluded whether a private meeting took place. They acknowledge it is possible, Don, that any additional meeting might be described as incidental.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Has Sessions responded?
SCIUTTO: He has. We got this response from the Department of Justice tonight. The Department of Justice -- I'm reading it in full -- "Appointed special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter. We will allow him to do his job. "It is unfortunate," the statement goes on, "that anonymous sources whose credibility will never face public scrutiny are continuously trying to hinder that process by peddling false stories to the mainstream media. The facts haven't change. The then-Senator didn't have any private or side conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel."
Notwithstanding, clearly, that answer not satisfying as of yet to the Hill. And in the FBI, they are still investigating that question.
LEMON: If this all turns out to be accurate, it would not be the first time that Jeff Sessions failed to disclose a meeting with the Russian ambassador?
SCIUTTO: No. And that's one reason why this information raises new questions. During his confirmation hearing on January 10th, Sessions testified that he, quote, "Did not have any communications with the Russians," end quote, during the campaign. He said the same in a written statement submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee. When reports emerged in March that he did have two meetings with Kislyak during the campaign, one at the Republican National Convention in July, and another in his Senate office in September, Sessions conceded that the meetings happened but insisted they were part of his Senate duties and had nothing to do with the campaign. Nonetheless, Sessions was forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
After that revelation, Sessions was asked at a news conference on March 2nd whether there were any other meetings with the Russians besides those two. Here was his response then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you met with any other Russian officials or folks connected with the Russian government since you endorsed Donald Trump?
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't believe so. You know, we meet a lot of people. So --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Separate from those two meetings you discussed with the ambassador?
SESSIONS: I don't believe so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Later that week, when Sessions updated his sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, he acknowledged those two meetings with Kislyak, but, Don, he did not mention any meeting at the Mayflower Hotel.
SESAY: Our own Jim Sciutto reporting there.
Congress could hear from FBI Director James Comey as early as next week. His testimony could be explosive.
CNN's Michele Kosinski has that.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): James Comey, the FBI director fired earlier this month by President Trump, is about to break his silence, and will do so, according to a CNN source, in a very public way, before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating contacts between Trump associates and Russia.
This could happen as early as next week. Comey is expected to detail his one-on-one meetings with Trump, including any possible pressure he felt from President Trump to drop the investigation into fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and Flynn's ties to Russia, which some say could amount to obstruction of justice.
According to Comey's own notes, sources say, Trump allegedly told Comey, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."
Congressional investigators now want to speak to or want records from at least nine Trump advisers & associates.
[02:20:10] SEN. JAMES LANKFORD, (R), OKLAHOMA: Those accusations come up, we have got to clear them up, both for the sake of the president and the presidency. We've got to be able to resolve this issue long term and get the facts out.
KOSINSKI: One big question, why top Trump adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, according to a source, discussed with Russia's ambassador setting up a secret channel for communications with the Trump transition team, and as reported by the "Washington Post," why such a channel would be housed in Russian diplomatic facilities.
And former campaign advisor, Carter Page, also under scrutiny, from whom Trump distanced himself in February --
TRUMP: I don't think I have ever spoken to him. I don't think I ever met him.
KOSINSKI: -- today was the subject of Trump's support in tweets after Page revealed he might not be asked to publicly testify. "So now it is reported that the Democrats, who have excoriated Carter Page about Russia, don't want him to testify. He blows away their case against him and now wants to clear his name by showing the false or misleading testimony by James Comey, John Brennan. Witch-hunt."
(on camera): Now, as of today, Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen, has been subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee. So has fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn. In fact, seven total subpoenas were issued today. Four to do with the Russia probe, three with unmasking or the naming of Americans in intelligence reports. That's something that some Republicans have been furious about. And these three subpoenas are targeting Obama administration officials.
Michele Kosinski, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SESAY: There is also growing scrutiny of President Trump's son-in- law, Jared Kushner, and his links to a Russian banker he met with last year. Sergey Gorkov is the chairman of the state-run bank under U.S. sanctions for nearly three years.
CNN's Matthew Chance tried to speak with him.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sergey Gorkov has emerged as a key figure in the sprawling allegations surrounding the Trump administration and its connections with the Kremlin. He heads an institution called VneshEconomBank, a Russian bank sanctioned by the United States. He was appointed to that post by Vladimir Putin, and like the Russian president, he's a former Russian intelligence officer.
And it's with this man that Jared Kushner, President Trump's special adviser and son-in-law, had a private if not secret meeting in New York at Trump Tower last December. The White House says the meeting was about diplomacy, that Kushner attended in his capacity as a Trump transition team member. The bank, however, insists the talks were about business and that Kushner represented his family's sprawling property empire.
Sergey Gorkov is a very hard man to track down. But I caught up with him after he had spoken to economic students at a university in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.
Mr. Gorkov, quick question. What did you really speak to Jared Kushner about in New York when you met him in December?
SERGEY GORKOV, CHARIMAN, VEB BANK: No comments.
CHANCE: Did you talk about sanctions.
GORKOV: No comments.
CHANCE: What did you discuss? The White House says it was part of a diplomatic meeting, Kushner met you as part of the transition people. Your bank says it was about business.
GORKOV: Thank you so much.
CHANCE: Clearly, Mr. Gorkov was not at all happy about being confronted on the issue of his contact with the Trump team. We did offer his office the opportunity to answer our questions more fully, given the controversy in the United States, but the response was a firm no.
Matthew Chance, CNN, St. Petersburg, in Russia.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SESAY: Sergey Gorkov will be among business and political leaders attending a major economic forum in St. Petersburg in the coming hours. They will be joined by President Vladimir Putin.
Our Claire Sebastian is there in Moscow with more.
Claire, all of this focus in the U.S. on Mr. Gorkov and the Russian Ambassador Kislyak, are the Russians saying anything more in response to this? Are they doing anything that resembles their standard posture of ignoring this and saying it has nothing to do with them?
CLAIRE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have seen more kinds of high frequency of comments actually coming out in the last few days. They really see this as part of the ongoing effort to kind of hurt the Trump administration by using this kind of growing Russian controversy in Washington. We even heard this week from President Putin. He said in an interview in France that those who lost the election in the U.S. are blaming Russia rather than admitting their own failings. It hasn't escaped Russia's notice that Sergey Kislyak, their ambassador to Washington, is really at the center of a lot of this controversy, whether it is meetings with Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions or Jared Kushner. And there has been heated defense of him in recent days. The deputy foreign minister saying earlier this week that the defamation of their ambassador was causing indignation in Moscow. We heard just yesterday from the Kremlin spokesman who called it absolutely unacceptable.
Interestingly, Sergey Kislyak may be moving on from this job. The state Duma in Russia, according to state media, has approved a new candidate, the deputy foreign minister. So he may be moving on. But that does not mean that all this controversy surrounding him will go away -- Isha?
[02:25:28] SESAY: Certainly doesn't.
Also, Claire, while I have you, you remember that the Obama administration punished Russia by shutting down two diplomatic compounds back in December. Now we hear that the Trump administration is reportedly in negotiations with Moscow to reopen those compounds. But the conflict here seems to be Ukraine. That seems to be a sticking point. What more can you tell us about this?
SEBASTIAN: As you remember, Isha, Russia didn't retaliate at the time for those Obama-era sanctions imposed in late December but that doesn't mean they won't. We heard just this week from a Kremlin aide, who spoke to the Sputnik News Agency, and he said nobody has cancelled the principle of reciprocity and diplomacy. He also said naturally these steps will not remain without an appropriate reaction if these steps are not somehow adjusted by the U.S. side itself.
Interestingly, he said, though, that Russia is taking into account the difficult internal political situation in Washington. Perhaps giving allowances to the Trump administration for the fact they are facing a struggle when it comes to giving any ground to Russia, that it is politically toxic for them. You know, he said there will be a meeting between U.S. officials below secretary of state level in St. Petersburg in June. We wait to see what comes out of that.
But today, they were showcasing the Russian economy to the global business leaders and political leaders that are gathered there. They are keen to see any reduction in sanctions, being economic sanctions, imposed over the conflict in Ukraine or the sanctions over the alleged interference in the election -- Isha?
SESAY: We shall see what if anything is said about the situation in the U.S. at this meeting. Look for it there in St. Petersburg.
Claire Sebastian, in Moscow. Thank you, Claire.
Surveillance cameras captured dramatic video of an underground water pipe bursting in Ukraine. Asphalt and muddy water flew 25 meters into the air and the explosion damaged cars and buildings. Thankfully, no one was hurt here. Local media say the aging pipe blew during a hydraulic pressure test. The city will cover the cost of the damage.
We will take a quick break. "State of America" with Kate Bolduan is next for our viewers in Asia.
For everyone else, a new projection shows the race in the U.K. is getting tighter all the time. How rivals Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are reacting to the closing gap, next.
[02:30:18] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
The headlines this hour --
SESAY: The polls are shaking up the U.K.'s upcoming snap election with a new projection that paints an uncertain picture for Prime Minister Theresa May. The model gives her Conservatives anywhere from 274 to 345 seats. They need 326 to keep a majority. So the projection has a lot of room on either side. It also didn't use CNN standards to reach those figures. We want to point out that Mrs. May says none of the numbers matter anyway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The only poll that matters is the one that's going the take place on the 8th of June. Then people will have a choice as to who they want to see as leader, who they want to see as prime minister, taking this country into the future, me or Jeremy Corbyn. I have the plan for the Brexit negotiations but I've also got a plan to build a stronger and more prosperous Britain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Mrs. May called the election when polls showed her holding a much bigger lead over her biggest rival, Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party. But he is closing that gap. And he capitalized by entering a televised debate, which Mrs. May noticeably skipped.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, U.K. CONSERVATIVE PARTY: Amber Rudd seems so confident this is a country at ease with itself. Have you been to a food bank? Have you seen people sleeping around our stations? Have you seen it?
AMBER RUDD, U.K. HOME SECRETARY: I'd like to answer your attack. I'd like to answer your attack.
CORBYN: Because of your government's conscious decisions on benefit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Feisty stuff.
Let's bring in Silvia Borrelli, a reporter for "Politico Europe."
Silvia, thank you for joining us.
We saw Jeremy Corbyn on the stage at the debates being feisty. How much was he able to capitalize on Theresa May's absence?
SILVIA BORRELLI, REPORTER, POLITICO, EUROPE: Hi, Isha. Yes, well, yesterday's -- last night's debate was actually more about Theresa May's absence rather than any breakthrough by any of the candidates that were present. I think it's fair to say we can assign Jeremy Corbyn a tactical victory yesterday. It was quite smart on his part to end up at the show and to show up. And of course, Theresa May was highly criticized for not attending. I actually did watch the BBC debate. And it was a little weird having Home Secretary Amber Rudd speak on Theresa May's behalf. We are going to have to see what happens in the next few days and in the next hours.
SESAY: Do you think the British public will have been bothered by the fact that she wasn't there? I mean, is this something that will resonate with voters?
BORRELLI: It's early to say at this stage. I mean, coming over here to the CNN studio, I was speaking to a taxi driver who was really upset she hadn't shown up. And he was saying, you know, his entire family was watching the BBC and they are all potential Tory voters. They were wondering why would Theresa May call a snap election and then not bother to show up at debate to confront the other candidates on policy issues.
However, Theresa May had said from the beginning she was going to be speaking to electors rather than on TV about her policies and about the upcoming Brexit negotiations. She has been focusing on that. So it doesn't come as a big surprise. It really depends what happens in the next few hours.
As you were saying, the latest polls indicate there is might be a hung parliament. The polls over the weekend, however, said the Tories are still in a comfortable lead. It really depends. It will ultimately come down to how many people turn up at the polls and whether they are younger or older voters.
SESAY: As we talk about the narrowing polls and the dramatic shift in the race, I mean, is this due to Jeremy Corbyn's strength as a candidate or is this due to Theresa May's missteps? How do you read it?
[02:35:09] BORRELLI: Well -- well, I would say there's two main points to be made. The first one is that when Theresa May called the snap election in April, she was at the peak of her popularity. She was the most popular British leader since the 1970s. It was supposed to be a very easy win for her. Probably, she underestimated the importance of this campaign and the policies she had to unveil, not only around Brexit and the U.K. leaving the European Union but also on a domestic level. Some of the policies she unveiled on social care, on public education alienated some of her core voters, namely the older middle class. On the other hand, Corbyn who isn't really a strong candidate on paper, at the same time, has, you know, a lot of following among younger voters. And at the same time, they have unveiled some popular policies that, although they haven't been very clear on how they are going to fund them, have gained transactions among electors.
SESAY: Silvia, let's say the prime minister does pull out a win, but it's a narrow majority, but she gets her win -- I mean, how -- how weakened will she be by this, having squandered a 17-seat majority in parliament? And where will that leave her negotiating position when it comes to Brexit?
BORRELLI: Well, she would definitely be weakened. It would not be a pretty scenario because she called the elections to strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations, which start just a few days after the election on June 8th. If her position is weakened, if she does worse than David Cameron did in 2015, it is not going to be easy. And the divorce from the E.U. is going to be even more challenging for the U.K.
SESAY: The question that some people are raising is whether she can actually survive a showing that is worse than David Cameron's, whether she can actually keep her position. I mean, are you getting that sense? Is there such a narrative building?
BORRELLI: Well, here in London, for now, people are quite comfortable. Analysts, other journalists and people close to Theresa May are still quite comfortable she is going to win. Although, it might not be a landslide victory, it should allow her to have a comfortable majority to govern and to actually negotiate Brexit with the E.U. So that narrative isn't building quite yet. But at the same time, the election is more uncertain, too close to call, as opposed to what we would have thought a couple of months ago. Really, everything is going to depend on what happens in these last few days of campaign. SESAY: It all suddenly got very, very dramatic and exciting.
Silvia Borrelli joining us there.
BORRELLI: It did.
SESAY: Silvia Borrelli, with "Politico, Europe," we appreciate it. Thank you.
SESAY: Quick break here. Up next on NEWSROOM L.A., you say potato, I say potato. But how exactly do you say covfefe? It is the great debate over President Trump's head-scratching tweet.
[02:20:25] SESAY: OK. So where is autocorrect when you need it? Certainly, not there to clean up President Trump's tweets, which set off a frenzy on social media.
Here's our own Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gibberish goes presidential. It wasn't even a complete sentence tweeted out by President Trump just after midnight. "Despite the constant negative press" -- what's that word?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Covfefe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Huh?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Covfefe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Covfefe.
MOOS: Professionals could only guess at how to pronounce it. In the public --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is hilarious.
MOOS (on camera): How do you say it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Covfefe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Covfefe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have been saying it covfefe.
MOOS (voice-over): We're sure the president meant to type negative press coverage.
But the covfefe tweet stayed up for almost six hours. It was then deleted, and the president tweeted, "Who can figure out the true meaning of covfefe? Enjoy."
Which the Internet did. It was turned into a "Wheel of Fortune" puzzle. A "make America covfefe again" mocked up T-shirt.
Eventually, the White House press secretary only confused things more.
SPICER: The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.
MOOS: Hillary Clinton probably wasn't part of that group.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I thought it was a hidden message to the Russians.
MOOS: Tweeted one joker, "Are you suffering from small dysfunctional hands? Ask your doctor if covfefe is right for you."
Tweeted another, "I thought covfefe is what you say when someone sneezes."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounds French, covfefe.
MOOS: Covfefe was turned into an Ivanka fragrance. A California man bought the license plate as soon as he noticed the non-word trending.
UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: What is a covfefe?
SEN. AL FRANKEN, (D), MINNESOTA: A Yiddish term for I have to go to bed now.
MOOS: Ted Cruz tweeted, "Covfefe, hard to say, but I hear Al Franken's new book is full of it."
Many assumed President Trump just fell asleep -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Covfefe.
MOOS: Mid tweet.
TRUMP: I know words, I have the best words.
MOOS: The best non-words, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Covfefe.
MOOS (on camera): You say that with such assurance.
(voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Covfefe?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Covfefe. MOOS: -- New York.
SESAY: And a new word is born.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
"World Sport" is up next.
You are watching CNN.
[03:00:08] MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: We'll soon have the answer to a cliffhanger. Donald Trump's long-awaited decision on whether to honor a multi-national commitment --