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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Jr., Manafort, Kushner Scheduled to Testify; Trump Interview with "New York Times"; U.S. to End Support for Moderate Rebels; Iranian President Hits Back over New U.S. Sanctions; U.S. Senator John McCain Diagnosed with Brain Cancer; O.J. Simpson Up for Parole; U.S. Health Care Reform; Dozens Guilty in Thailand Human Trafficking Trial; Salvador Dali's Remains to be Exhumed. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired July 20, 2017 - 00:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:00:07] ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour --

President Trump in an explosive new interview unloading on his own Attorney General and the special counsel investigating his ties to Russia.

A big change in the war in Syria -- why the U.S. is ending a covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels.

And O.J. Simpson pleads his case, this time before a parole board but will he walk?

Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers right around the world. I'm Isa Soares.

And NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

A very good evening to you.

Key major developments in the investigation of the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia. The U.S. president's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner will testify in private before the Senate Intelligence Committee. That will happen on Monday.

Then two days later on Wednesday, Donald Trump, Jr. and former campaign chair Paul Manafort are scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Now meanwhile, the President is publicly criticizing the country's top law enforcement official. He tells the "New York Times" he would not have Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General if he had known Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia Investigation.

CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider has more now from Washington. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is shaping up to be another blockbuster week on Capitol Hill. Jared Kushner will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday behind closed doors. Kushner's lawyers said Kushner is prepared to voluntarily cooperate, provide whatever information he has.

So Kushner will be interviewed by the committee and his attorneys said they hope to put all of this to rest. Now, the questions, though they will be behind closed doors, they will likely range from Kushner amending his security clearance form at least twice to include those various meetings with Russians to that meeting he attended at Trump Tower in June, 2016 that included a Russian lawyer and a businessman who'd been investigated in relation to money-laundering back in the year 2000.

Then, of course, we jump ahead to Wednesday when Donald Trump, Jr. and Paul Manafort, they have been called to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

It is still unclear if they'll actually appear. Manafort's spokesperson will only confirm they got the invitation but won't comment further. We have not heard from Donald Trump, Jr.'s attorney.

But if Manafort and Trump, Jr. appear, it would likely be public testimony and would set the stage for some potentially dramatic details, especially in the wake of all that's come out about this June, 2016 meeting.

Now amid all of these details for next week, President Trump has just given an interview to the "New York Times" where he talked in wide- ranging fashion, talking about his dinner chat with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He claims it was only 15 minutes. He says they talked about Russian adoptions. Of course, we know when we've heard that it was nearly an hour.

The President in that interview saying also he's not happy with Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation after it was disclosed Session met with the Russian ambassador. And President Trump just saying that recusal is just not fair to the President.

And President Trump interestingly also leaving the door open to firing special counsel Robert Mueller if he were to start investigating the Trump family finances.

Still a lot developing from both the President and also his top three advisers.

Jessica Schneider, CNN -- Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SOARES: Well, plenty for us to get our teeth into. Joining me now here in Los Angeles, Michael Genovese is the president of Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University. Michael -- thank you very much.

So much for us to get through today -- all happening in the last 24 hours or so. But let's start with President Trump's closest advisers, or you know, I like to call them the Three Musketeers -- Kushner, Trump Jr., and Manafort testifying next week.

I mean these are all crucial players. These are the people that are all part of that meeting, the Russian investigation and their testimonies matter. What should we be looking for next week?

MICHAEL GENOVESE, PRESIDENT, GLOBAL POLICY INSTITUTE: Well, you know, we've seen a lot of loose talk. We've seen some changing stories. We've seen some half-truths. Now they're going to be under oath. And that's the key.

And the key is not going to be high drama. I doubt if there'll be a lot of, you know, headline news making.

SOARES: No explosives --

GENOVESE: I'd be surprised.

SOARES: Yes.

GENOVESE: It could happen but I'd be surprised. But the key is they will be under oath. They'll start comparing their testimony to the facts. They will start to compare to other stories.

And that's when you can get into trouble. I think it's -- the likelihood is that if there is going to be some preliminary charges, they'll be on perjury.

SOARES: And that's what you -- I'm thinking you're trying to insinuate is that's when you may start to get cracks, individual stories just don't match up.

[00:04:57] GENOVESE: That plus, if people feel threatened -- remember everybody in the top administration has a criminal attorney. They're going to start looking after themselves. Their attorneys are going to say no, I'm going to protect you, not the President.

And so you might see some people spilling the beans, telling the prosecutors more than they might otherwise in hopes of getting maybe an eased sentence.

And so all of the fragile house of cards that has been built up around the President, a wind -- and even a brief wind could just blow it down.

SOARES: Yes. Well, President Trump has been speaking to the "New York Times" and he spoke about Jeff Sessions decision to recuse himself, as you saw in that Jessica Schneider piece, on the Russian investigation.

I want to just -- just play a bit of what he said. Let's have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have -- which frankly, I think it's very unfair to the President. How do you take the job and then recuse yourself.

If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, thanks Jeff, but I can't, you know, I can't take you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: So Michael -- what do you make of that?

GENOVESE: Cabinet member number one under the bus. Trump is all about protecting Trump. And if you're president, loyalty is a one way street.

SOARES: Yes.

GENOVESE: It just goes to the President. So every one else is expendable. And I think in Trump's world, it's even more so because he's very hypersensitive. He's very concerned about his image. And he's willing to take six months and start to throw people under the bus.

The question is will that be reciprocated? Will then they turn on the President?

SOARES: Yes. But this is one -- he's one of the, you know, one of his biggest and first supporters, first loyal supporters. They had a very strong working relationship. I mean what does he have to gain from throwing him under the bus?

And the question is what does this mean for Sessions? Will he call it quits?

GENOVESE: Well, you're right. Sessions was the first members of the Senate to endorse Trump. And that's huge. It was -- it opened the door for others to follow. And Trump does owe him a lot.

And it shows how -- again loyalty is a one-way street. And for Sessions, it's going to be hard for him to continue in his job from this point on. He'll never have the trust of the President. And he'll never be thought of as a trusted or worthy cabinet member.

SOARES: But why -- I mean why put yourself in this situation? I mean why would he say this in the first place, to put him in this predicament that really just puts him in a very difficult situation -- Jeff Sessions?

And not also that, when I was listening to, reading the transcript from this interview, he really seems to be undermining several institutions -- American institutions, you know, Justice Department, the FBI, the media. And it's -- like you said, it goes to the whole point of loyalty, doesn't it?

But I want to play also -- he also touched on Robert Mueller. And this is something that you and I were talking earlier. You said it's basically a red line not to investigate his family.

If we can bring up exactly what he said so our viewers get a chance to see it. This is what he said.

"If Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia, is that a red line?"

Trump says, "I would say yes. I would say yes." He goes on to say.

So -- and he goes on to it.

"But if he was outside that line, would that matter, would that mean he would have to go."

"No, I think that's a violation. Look, this is just about Russia."

To me it says, if you say don't go there -- people go there, right? That's the first -- that's the most obvious thing, right. Don't investigate --

GENOVESE: That's right.

SOARES: -- people investigate, right.

GENOVESE: The taboo is what you go to. And you remember when you were a child and your mother said, don't -- don't ever open that closet door.

SOARES: You'd go and open it.

GENOVESE: The first thing you do is open the closet door.

And so it was almost like waving a red cape at a bull. Of course, they're going to go there now. And there's a very fragile relationship that the Trump family has with Russian oligarchs, with Russian banks.

And if that can of worms is open, I think the President feels that while it may not be illegal, it's going to look really bad because you'll see a lot of ties with Russia.

SOARES: But is he making the case here for firing Mueller -- fire Mueller?

(CROSSTALK)

GENOVESE: You know, he's almost at a point where he can't fire him. I mean the Watergate Saturday night massacre was so consequential that if you have a repeat of it -- firing Comey was bad enough. Firing Mueller, that's two strikes. You'll only get three.

SOARES: Well, there's plenty more in that interview with the "New York Times". One is he talked about Comey. What stood out to you from what he said about Comey?

GENOVESE: Well, you know, in the Comey conversation, he talked about how he thought that Comey was trying to use a secret Russian dossier that they had which had very incriminating information allegedly about Donald Trump.

And the President was saying, you know, Comey was using that as leverage to keep his job.

SOARES: Yes.

[00:09:59] GENOVESE: And the question is, is that an example of the President admitting that what's in this dossier really is damaging and goes right to the heart of all the criticism against the President?

So I thought that that was a slip by the President; that he seemed to be saying that there really is some fire there.

SOARES: And this is what he said -- in my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out then, Trump said. As leverage, he asked. Yes, I think so. And Mr. Trump said, in retrospect.

So plenty of questions arising from this "New York Times" interview, on a day of course, that so much talk was supposed to be on health care. Yet again, he's distracted the attention from that and focused on Russia.

Michael -- we shall be speaking again. Thank you very much.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

SOARES: Now, the Trump administration reportedly will stop supporting moderate Syrian rebels who oppose the regime of Bashar-al Assad. The Kremlin had been seeking the change since 2013 when the Obama administration undertook a covert CIA program to arm and train the rebels in a bid to topple Assad.

Now according to published reports, U.S. President Donald Trump decided to end the secret program about a month ago about prior to his first ever meeting with Russian leader and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit, you can remember, in Germany.

Well, with us from Telluride, Colorado CNN intelligence and security analyst Bob Baer who is a former CIA operative. Bob -- thank you very much. It was great to get you on the show.

You know, this program, I was looking into it, you know, was created by former President Barack Obama to put pressure on President Assad, to really force him really to step aside. That clearly hasn't worked -- Bob.

And he's still in power and he still remains emboldened. So how do you interpret this move by President Trump? Is it a strategic mistake, you think?

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: It's a strategic mistake. I mean now it's a small card (ph) supporting the Syrian rebels, but it was a card nonetheless and it was a pressure point on Bashar al-Assad and the Iranians who were playing a major part there and the Russians.

What it looks like to me is he just gave this as a gift to Vladimir Putin for no quid pro quo and that's not the way diplomacy works.

We should have used this. We should have demanded, for instance, safe zones so the Sunnis would be not hit from the air either by the Russians or the Syrian air force. So this is just inexplicable why he would do this.

SOARES: You were talking there, Bob, a bit about quid pro quo but what kind of leverage does this leave the U.S. President when it comes to -- in terms of bargaining chip when it comes to putting pressure on Moscow over negotiations in regards to Syria?

BAER: He's lost his pressure point, ISIS. It's crazy frankly. I've never seen anything like it.

I mean look, let's face it. This program was not particularly successful. It was supposed to be a magnet for moderates, Democrats and the rest of it. Most of these people ended up with the Islamic state.

But nonetheless it gave us a card in Syria because Syria is, you know -- you just look at the geography. It's crucial. It's the Levant to Iraq and to -- and to Lebanon. And now it's gone.

SOARES: And the timing, of course, you can't forget about the timing because it's a time when it's raising questions for the White House, of course, when it's fending off questions about undisclosed meeting with President Putin at the G-20.

So let me put it bluntly to you -- Bob. Who wins out of this? President Trump or President Putin.

BAER: President Putin did. I mean Europeans have gone along with us in Syria and all of a sudden we throw up our hands and surrender and say, hey we're going to give the country to Russia.

I mean it's crazy and so NATO, Britain, France -- everybody else that has any stakes in Syria are scratching their heads. What did Putin do to actually get this?

And let's not forget the context is that this meeting in Hamburg -- Trump let Putin go on the hacking. He still has not addressed the hacking. And rather than taking some sort of retaliation against Putin for the hacking, he gave him a gift. The optics of this couldn't be worse.

SOARES: Yes. And on the ground -- you're talking about the optics but on the ground the concern maybe that by cutting off one moderate group of rebels you run the risk of perhaps empowering more radical groups taking sides with Syria.

How much of a concern is this, would you say -- Bob.

BAER: Well, I think now that the Syrian moderate rebels have been abandoned. And they have been fighting and they have been winning occasionally.

And the message to them is well, the only people that are really going to fight and carry on the fight is the Islamic state or al Qaeda and that's where they're going to run to. They've -- this moderate option has been dropped.

[00:15:01] SOARES: And this may be pure speculation, I mean just pushing it slightly. But looking at this, Bob, do you worry that this may have been something this administration gave away in return for agreeing to that limited and fragile ceasefire with President Putin in southern Syria?

BAER: Look, if it's for Trump he goes through the motions about dealing with the hacking and dropping 59 T-LEM (ph) missiles on an air force base which actually did, you know, kill five people. All the planes were gone.

And the rest of -- but at the end of the day, it looks like Trump is ceding the Middle East to Putin for no particular reason. That's the way it looks to me.

SOARES: Bob Baer -- always great to get your insight. Thanks very much -- Bob. Good to see you.

BAER: Thank you.

SOARES: Now Iran is hitting back at the U.S. in response to new sanctions Washington imposed on Tehran for his ballistic missile program. President Hassan Rouhani said his country remains committed to the 2015 nuclear deal while the U.S. does not.

A top military commander is taking a harder stance warning that Iran will defend its rights to missile power. And he says if the U.S. continues to impose sanctions then he should move its military bases to more than 1,000 kilometers away from Iran.

Now, North Korea may be ready to test another intercontinental ballistic missile in about two weeks. That's what CNN is hearing from Trump administration officials familiar with the latest U.S. intelligence.

At the same time, officials say Pyongyang is continuing to test components to launch a missile from a submarine. Now these re pictures from April of last year but U.S. defense officials tell CNN a North Korean sub is currently engaged in unusual deployment activity. So Washington and Seoul have decided to raise their alert levels slightly.

U.S. Senator John McCain has been diagnosed with brain cancer. A tumor was discovered after a procedure last week to remove a blood clot above his left eye. The Senator and his family are reviewing his treatment options which may include chemotherapy as well as radiation.

Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more of the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Senator John McCain is recovering well after an operation last Friday to remove a malignant brain tumor known as glioblastoma.

With Senator McCain's permission I spoke exclusively to two of his Mayo clinic doctors about the details of his care.

McCain had come in for a scheduled annual physical early Friday morning with no complaints except intermittent double vision and fatigue which he attributed to an intense international travel schedule over the last several months.

His doctors ordered a CAT scan to check for anything from a possible blood collection to a stroke. Upon review of the scan, doctors called McCain who had left the hospital and asked him to immediately return for an MRI.

The scans revealed a five-centimeter blood clot above the Senator's left eye which appeared to have been there for up to a week. The decision was made to perform an urgent operation.

By 3:00 p.m. McCain was in the operating room undergoing a craniotomy to remove a tumor. Doctors made an incision above his left eyebrow to gain access to his skull where they bore a two-centimeter hole to remove the clot and the tumor.

A pathology report revealed a primary brain tumor known as glioblastoma. It's the most aggressive type of brain cancer. It is the same type of tumor that Beau Biden and Ted Kennedy had.

With treatment which usually includes radiation and chemotherapy, the medium survival is 14 months. But it can be five years or even longer.

This is not Senator McCain's first health scare. In 2000, he was diagnosed with invasive malignant melanoma.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I'm having a lot of exposure to the sun when I was very young and have a fairer skin.

GUPTA: But doctors removed a dime-sized melanoma from McCain's left temple. That was the most serious of several other bouts with skin cancer.

When McCain was campaigning for President in 2008, I had a chance to review all of his medical records. Details of his health since then have remained private until just now.

His doctors at the Mayo Clinic who'd been treating him for several years said it was McCain's gut instinct knowing that something just wasn't right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN -- reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SOARES: While many people are expressing their support for Senator McCain, in a statement U.S. President Trump said the following. "Senator John McCain has always been a fighter. Melania and I send our thoughts and prayers to Senator McCain, Cindy and their entire family. And we want to say get well soon."

Former President Obama tweeted about his 2008 presidential campaign opponent tweeting this. "John McCain is an American hero and one of the bravest fighters I've ever known. Cancer doesn't know what it's up against. Give it hell -- John."

Of course, everyone here at CNN wish him the very, very best of luck.

Coming up next, he went from being a mega celebrity to a convicted felon. Now, O.J. Simpson is just hours away from learning if he'll be allowed to leave prison early.

We'll have that story for you next.

[00:20:07] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOARES: Well, after almost a decade in prison, freedom for O.J. Simpson could be decided in a matter of hours. Simpson goes before a four-person Nevada parole board on Thursday over a 2008 conviction for an armed robbery in a Las Vegas hotel room.

Now the former football star and Hollywood actor said he was trying to recover personal property from two dealers in sports memorabilia. The conviction came 30 years after his high-profile trial for murder -- the deaths of his ex-wife and another man, a sensational crime that ended in acquittal. Simpson's last parole hearing was in 2013.

Well, defense attorney and CNN legal analyst, Mark Geragos joins us now with his perspective on first this parole hearing for Simpson.

Mark -- great to see you. Thanks very much for being on the show.

Look, this parole hearing, I'm sure all eyes and ears will be watching tomorrow and he may be, of course, a step closer to being a free man. What are his chances from your perspective of a favorable outcome, let's say?

MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I would have -- up until this most recent report, I would have laid his odds at probably five to one in his favor. But there's now a report, and I don't know if it's true or not, that says he was written for a disciplinary violation involving -- since we're still a family show -- pleasuring himself in the cell.

If that's true, that violation could present a problem and could cause a parole board to delay or to tell him that he's got to come back in a year or something else. I mean literally this is somebody who turned down a plea bargain of two and a half years in this case and he's already done basically nine.

For an international audience, Mark, explain how the parole hearing would work. Does it have to be unanimous?

GERAGOS: Yes. What the parole board does is they rely on reports that are prepared by experts. So the experts can be psychiatric, social worker, warden. The warden could have input.

And then what they do is they take a look at what has he done since he's been in prison? What kind of programs has he attended? What -- it hasn't been written up for anything and that's why I mentioned this latest report to suppose that he was written up recently although it hasn't been adjudicated yet.

What they do then is the parole board will listen to him and he's going to be on a video link apparently. They will -- and they can last for quite a long time. I did one in December that lasted for eight hours, literally eight hours.

[00:24:56] Then they go and they recess. They deliberate and then they announce whether or not they're going to give him parole. And for him it would not be an immediate release but it would be October 1st of this year if he gets a favorable decision.

SOARES: Now at his 2013 appearance before a parole commission he described himself as a person -- as a prison diplomat. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O.J. SIMPSON, FORMER FOOTBALL PLAYER: I give you my word. I'll try to be -- or would be the best prisoner diplomat in here. And I think for the most part, I've kept my word on that and not had any incident despite all the stories (inaudible).

I haven't had one incident since I've been here. I think that on a day to day basis, I speak to more inmates and see all the --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: So a prison diplomat, positive influence he's saying there on inmates. We don't know whether there's any truth to this report or not that you were just mentioning Mark. But is it possible that we hear a similar narrative from him? Will this get him points?

GERAGOS: Absolutely. You're going to hear everything that he's been doing. You're going to hear about his work history while inside. You're going to hear about his educational history. You're going to hear whether or not he took classes. You're going to hear whether or not he was free from discipline. They go through a laundry list of factors that they consider.

Most importantly from our standpoint in looking at this, is remember, this is somebody who is knocking on the door of 70 years old. In all likelihood, but for who he was and having been acquitted of the case in Los Angeles, he never would have been sentenced to this kind of time.

I mean this is clearly kind of a prosecution by proxy, if you will, for the fact that he was acquitted in the Nicole and Ron Goldman murders. Because otherwise nine years or 33 years or whatever the range is that he potentially could serve for this particular crime is frankly, woefully outlandish in terms of the other crimes of a similar nature in this particular system.

SOARES: Explain something to me, Mark. Why still the fascination right around the world with O.J. Simpson? What is it that people -- that makes people want to watch, want to listen to every detail, even with his time in prison?

GERAGOS: Well, I will tell you that having been here in L.A. I was actually across the hall when this case tried, you know, in another trial. It was a unique combination of celebrity, race, kind of popularity and murder. I mean that's always been fascinating for the American public and for the international public.

O.J. was -- he had kind of transcended prior to this case, race. And then race was brought back into this case. And when you combine that with celebrity and sex and everything else, it becomes almost an irresistible urge or an impulse.

And people, I think, beginning with the most speed or high speed chase, depending on how you want to look at it and then kind of gavel to gavel coverage. It is something that has just captured the imagination. It's change the criminal justice system in America for better or for worse ever since that trial.

SOARES: Mark Geragos -- I appreciate your time. Thank you very much, sir.

GERAGOS: Thank you.

SOARES: Now, another day, another start on health care reform. The U.S. president takes his third position in three days. Why Republicans seem headed in a different direction.

Also ahead, dozens of people including a high-ranking military officer are found guilty in Thailand's largest human trafficking trial. We have the very latest for you, next.

[00:28:51] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOARES (voice-over): You are watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isa Soares. Let me bring you up to date with the headlines this hour.

(HEADLINES)

SOARES: Now six months ago, on January the 20th, this is how Donald Trump's presidency began.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To the best of my ability.

CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Preserve, protect and defend.

TRUMP: Preserve, protect and defend.

ROBERTS: The Constitution of the United States.

TRUMP: The Constitution of the United States.

ROBERTS: So help me God.

TRUMP: So help me God.

ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.

Donald Trump taking the presidential oath of office on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Six months on, it has been a whirlwind in the White House, pulling out of the Paris climate accord, getting at least temporary limited approval for his travel ban, rolling back regulations but no border wall.

Escalating investigations over possible ties between his campaign and Russia and no health reform. But that last one may not be over yet, as CNN's Phil Mattingly reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, President Trump desperately deploying a last-minute pressure play on Republican senators to revive the all-but-dead ObamaCare repeal effort.

TRUMP: We're in this room today to deliver on our promise to the American people to repeal ObamaCare and to ensure that they have the health care that they need. We have no choice. We have to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Surrounded by 49 GOP senators, the president trying to muster the prestige and power of the White House.

TRUMP: Any senator who votes against starting debate is really telling America that you're fine with ObamaCare.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Something GOP sources have repeatedly complained has largely been lacking in the effort up to this point as Republicans remain intractably split on the path forward. And Trump Wednesday touting key elements of the moribund Republican plan.

TRUMP: Repeals the individual mandate.

How big is that?

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Calling on Republicans to cancel the scheduled August recess.

TRUMP: We have to stay here. We shouldn't leave town and we should hammer this out.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): And calling for a return to the repeal and replace effort, directly undercutting the new strategy of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

TRUMP: The people of this country need more than a repeal. They need a repeal and a replace.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Even in jest, Trump also tossing a not-so- subtle political threat toward currently undecided and, at times, sharply critical Nevada Senator Dean Heller.

TRUMP: This was the one we were worried about you. You weren't there but you're going to be. You're going to be.

Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn't he?

OK.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): For Trump, who so far this week has supported a repeal only effort, then called for doing nothing at all, now a third position in just two days and one that runs headlong into Capitol Hill reality.

Republican leaders still don't have the votes. But after the meeting, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell making clear he still intends to move forward with the health care push next week.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: We cannot keep the commitment we made to the American people to repeal and replace ObamaCare unless we get on the bill. Next week we'll be voting on the motion to proceed and I have every expectation that we'll be able to get on the bill.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Although back at the Capitol, GOP senators praising today's meeting.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: I completely support and I thought this was a really good lunch, good day.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We came from that meeting with a renewed commitment to keep working, to keep negotiating and to get to yes. And, in --

[00:35:00]

CRUZ: -- my view, failure is not an option.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): And renewing talk about trying to finally reach a deal to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R): The president was very explicit that he thinks we should do a repeal and replace, very explicit on that.

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R): A dozen or so members with the most concerns will be meeting later this -- early this evening and I think we're moving toward some conclusion here and the White House meeting was helpful and the president was very motivated and motivating on this issue.

MATTINGLY: And the real question now is whether momentum, real or imagined, can actually be sustained. There was a late night meeting on Wednesday, on Capitol Hill. Senators trying to figure out a way to bridge the differences, bridge the gaps that really have kept them not even close to a replace proposal up to this point, at least one that the entire conference can agree on.

So whether or not they can move forward on that and obviously throwing into this Senator McCain's health, a lot of senators very focused -- most senators, if not all, very focused on the health diagnosis on Senator McCain's health.

But the reality is, it has an impact on health care as well. That is one less vote that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, at least for the time being, will have.

Will they be able to solve those differences with all of these issues in play right now?

Still an open question -- Phil Mattingly, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SOARES: A court in Thailand has found 62 people guilty in the country's largest-ever human trafficking trial. A high-ranking military officer was among those convicted. More than 100 people were accused in a massive criminal ring that trafficked Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.

The operation was exposed in 2015, when some of the victims' bodies were found in shallow graves. CNN's Alexandra Field joins us now from Hong Kong.

Alex, this is, of course, a huge trial and a crucial one for the tens of thousands of Rohingya.

What has been the reaction to the verdict?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was really just a grisly and horrific discovery that prompted this investigation. The verdict, the fact that so many people were tried in this case, has been called by human rights groups really an unprecedented move by Thai authorities.

At the same time, they say this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting justice for thousands of Rohingyas, who they believe faced grave abuses, among tens of thousands who fled Myanmar when sectarian violence flared up around 2012.

So they are applauding the fact this case went forward. They're applauding the fact that 62 people were convicted.

Again, it all started when authorities found this grave, a mass grave, with more than 25 bodies believed to be Rohingyas in it. That led them to the discovery of what authorities described as a prison camp. They say it's a place where refugees were held against their will.

They weren't allowed to leave these camps; at the same time, they say traffickers were extorting their families back at home for money.

Serious abuses that they say were happening inside these camps. You saw a range of charges that the suspects in this case faced. Again, 62 of them convicted of crimes, including trafficking, homicide, assault. They've been sentenced to prison time ranging from four to 94 years, Isa.

There's still a chance for an appeals process for those who were convicted of these grave crimes but you've got human rights groups who are coming out quite loudly, saying they hope this is just the beginning of these kind of investigations. They hope that this will lead to an end of trafficking in Thailand -- Isa.

SOARES: Alexandra Field there for us, thanks very much, Alex.

Still ahead right here on NEWSROOM L.A., the story of Salvador Dali's legacy. Why a court is allowing the artist's body to be exhumed decades after his death. I'll bring you that story next.

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SOARES: Now he was an artist who redefined art itself and whose work has fascinated the world for decades.

But for everything we think we know about Salvador Dali, could we have taken a breathtaking secret to his own grave?

That's what the woman who claims to be his daughter believes. And she's now won a legal battle to have his remains exhumed later on Thursday.

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SOARES (voice-over): The legacy of artist Salvador Dali is taking a surreal turn; 28 years after his death, his body set to be exhumed on Thursday for DNA tests in a paternity suit. A Spanish woman says she is Dali's daughter, claiming her mother had an affair with the married artist more than 60 years ago.

MARIA PILAR ABEL MARTINEZ, ALLEGED DAUGHTER OF SALVADOR DALI (through translator): I want to know who I am. That is what I hope for, to know the truth. The rest will come, first one thing and then another.

SOARES (voice-over): In June, the Madrid supreme court said it ordered the exhumation because there was a lack of other biological or personal remains with which to compare the woman's DNA. Along with his pencil-thin mustache, Dali is probably best known for

his dreamlike paintings, including his famous melting clocks. When he died, he left much of his work, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, to the Spanish government and is buried in his hometown at a museum dedicated to him.

Visitors there are conflicted about the decision to disinter him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I don't know if this lady does it to earn money or just to say she's the daughter but it's fine she seeks to know who her father was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Her mother should know it perfectly if he is the father or not. They should have said it before and searched for the DNA before doing what they have to do now.

SOARES (voice-over): The Dali Foundation opposes the exhumation but the woman who says she is Dali's daughter says it's a long time coming.

MARTINEZ (through translator): I don't know. I might cry a lot or freeze or fall to the ground. I don't know. I have cried a lot.

How do I picture that day?

I can't describe it in words.

SOARES (voice-over): The answer now may lie in Dali's tomb, an artist turning out to be just as eccentric in death as he was in life.

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SOARES: Thanks very much for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isa Soares. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. Then I'll be back with another hour of news right around the world. You're watching CNN and we are, of course, the world's news leader.

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