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Russia Investigation; Syrian Civil War; U.S. Senator John McCain Diagnosed with Brain Cancer; Dozens Guilty in Thailand Human Trafficking Trial; North Korea May Be Preparing New Ballistic Missile Test; Brexit Talks Area All About Money; Salvador Dali's Remains to be Exhumed. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 20, 2017 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:00]

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ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour: U.S. President Donald Trump gives new details about his previously undisclosed one-on-one meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Plus why the U.S. believes North Korea's getting closer to another long-range missile test.

And the master of surrealism, Salvador Dali set to be exhumed nearly three decades after his death. We'll explain why.

Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Isa Soares and you are watching NEWSROOM L.A.

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SOARES: Now U.S. president Donald Trump is offering up details about his newly disclosed meeting with Vladimir Putin and tells "The New York Times" it lasted only about 15 minutes during a dinner at the G20 summit in Hamburg in Germany earlier this month. Others say the men spoke for nearly an hour. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wanted dessert. I went down just to say hello to Melania and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else. Was not a long conversation but could be 15 minutes. Just talked about things.

Actually, it was very interesting. We talked about adoption.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": You did?

TRUMP: Russian adoption. Yes. I've always found that interesting because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting, because that was a part of the conversation that Don had with this meeting, that I think, as I said, most other people -- you know, when they call up and they say, by the way, we have information on your opponent, I think most politicians -- I was just with a lot of people and they said, who wouldn't have taken a meeting like that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: Meanwhile Senate investigators are hoping to get some answers about the Trump campaign's alleged ties to Russia. Three star witnesses are scheduled to testify next week as CNN's Jessica Schneider now reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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 lawyer said Kushner is prepared to voluntarily cooperate, provide whatever information he has. So Kushner will be interviewed by the committee and his attorney said they hope to put all of this to rest.

The questions 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 the meeting that he attended at Trump Tower in June 2016 that included a Russian lawyer and a businessman who had been investigated in relation to money laundering back in the year 2000.

Then we jump ahead to Wednesday, when Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort have been called to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is still unclear if they will actually appear; Manafort's spokesperson will only confirm they got the invitation but will not 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 the 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 and 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 in the Russia investigation after it was disclosed Sessions met with the Russian ambassador.

And President Trump saying that recusal is not fair to the president and President Trump, interestingly, leaving the door open to firing special counsel Robert Mueller if he were to start investigating the Trump family finances.

So a lot developing from both the president and also his top three advisors -- 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. He's 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 advisors. I like to call them the Three Musketeers, Kushner, Trump Jr. and Manafort testifying next week.

These are all crucial players and part of that meeting, the Russian investigation and their testimonies matter.

What should we be looking for next week?

MICHAEL GENOVESE, LEGAL ANALYST: 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 --

[02:05:00]

GENOVESE: -- and that's the key. And the key is not going to be high drama. I doubt if there will be a lot of headline news made.

(CROSSTALK)

SOARES: No explosive --

GENOVESE: I'd be surprised. It could happen. But I'd be surprised. But the key is, they'll 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 going to be some preliminary charges, they'll be on perjury.

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

GENOVESE: That plus if people feel threatened -- remember, everybody in the top administration has a criminal attorney. They're going to start looking out for themselves. The 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 Russia investigation. I want to just play a bit of what he said. Let's have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have -- which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president.

How do you take a 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'm not going to 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's a one-way street. It just goes to the president.

So everyone 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: This is one -- he's one of the -- one of his biggest and first supporters, most loyal supporters. They had a very strong working relationship.

What does he have to gain from throwing him under this bus?

And what does this mean for Sessions?

Will he call it quits?

GENOVESE: Well, you're right. Sessions was the first member of the Senate to endorse Trump and that's huge. It opened a door for others to follow. And Trump does owe him lot and it shows you how, again, loyalty's a one-way street and, for Sessions, it's going to be hard for him to continue in this 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: Why put yourself in this situation?

Why would he say this in the first place if it puts him in this predicament that really just puts him in a very difficult situation (INAUDIBLE)?

And not only that, when I was listening to reading the transcript from this interview, he seems to be undermining several American institutions; Justice Department, the FBI, the media and it's like you said.

It goes to the whole point of loyalty, doesn't it?

I want to play also -- you also touched on Robert Mueller. This is something you and I were talking about 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," it goes on to say.

So and he goes on (INAUDIBLE).

But if he was outside that line, would that matter?

Would that mean you'd have to go?

No, I think that's just 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 most obvious thing, right?

Don't investigate --

GENOVESE: That's right.

SOARES: -- the people investigate, right?

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

SOARES: You would go and open it.

GENOVESE: The first thing you'd do is open that closet door. 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 -- for Mueller? (CROSSTALK)

GENOVESE: He's almost at a point where he can't fire him.

I mean, the Watergate Saturday night --

[02:10:00]

GENOVESE: -- massacre was so consequential that if you have a repeat of it -- firing Comey was bad enough. Firing Mueller, that's two strikes. You only get three.

SOARES: Well, there's plenty more in that interview with "The New York Times," one of them you talked about Comey.

What stood out to you from what she said about Comey?

GENOVESE: 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 that Comey was using that as leverage to keep his job.

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 there," Mr. Trump said.

"As leverage?" he asks.

"Yes, I think so."

And Mr. Trump said "in retrospect."

So plenty of questions arising from "The New York Times" interview on a day of so much talk was supposed 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 has been seeking a 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, that's prior to his first-ever meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Germany.

CNN's Gul Tuysuz joins us from Istanbul with more on this critical development.

And, Gul, the program was created by former president Barack Obama to put pressure on President Assad, to force him to step aside. That clearly hasn't worked.

So how has the move been received in Turkey?

What are the concerns?

What are people telling you?

GUL TUYSUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Isa, the Turkish government hasn't come out with an official response or a reaction to "The Washington Post" article. But commentators and analysts here who have been following the Syrian War at the beginning were confused.

Did this apply to rebel groups that were near the Turkish border?

And the answer is that the majority of these rebel groups that will be affected are by the Jordanian border down in the south, according to "The Washington Post" article and that the Pentagon-led efforts to back rebels against ISIS will not be affected by it.

But, of course, analysts here and commentators had a lot of questions about what this was. They had many little questions and, of course, one big one.

Is there a plan and is this a part of a bigger plan to end the war in Syria overall?

Or is this just about the U.S.' primary goal, which has always been about defeating ISIS in Syria? -- Isa.

SOARES: Well, what does this mean, Gul?

Just try and break it down for us, the fight against President Assad. I mean you touched on that slightly.

But more importantly, what does it mean for those on the ground?

How does it change the situation on the ground?

TUYSUZ: Well, we've seen that the moderate rebels have now come to a conclusion over the last six years, which is that the president Bashar al-Assad has better allies in terms of support and backing.

But basically it's better to be allied with Russia and Iran because their support has been much more concrete; whereas the moderate rebels who have been backed by the West and by the U.S. has not had as much support.

So this is just another one of those moves that's defeating their morale and really sending a message to them that their allies haven't been as committed to them as President Bashar al-Assad's allies have been committed to him -- Isa.

SOARES: Gul Tuysuz there for us In Istanbul, Turkey. Thanks very much, Gul. Wonderful to see you.

U.S. Senator John McCain has been diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer. He underwent surgery last Friday and his doctors say he showed no neurological problems before or after the operation. And our Dr. Sanjay Gupta now reports, McCain and his family are reviewing his treatment options now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 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 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 --

[02:15:00]

GUPTA (voice-over): -- 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 pm, McCain was in the operating room, undergoing a craniotomy to remove the 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 median 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: From having a lot of exposure to the sun when I was very young. And fair-skinned.

GUPTA: Doctors removed a dime-sized melanoma from McCain's left temple. That was the most serious of several 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 have 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: Well, John McCain's daughter's among those publicly supporting the senator.

She tweeted the following, "It won't surprise you to learn that, in all of this, the one who is the most confident and calm is my father.

"He is the toughest person I know. The cruelest enemy could not break him. The aggressions of political life could not bend him. So he's meeting this challenge as he has every other. Cancer may afflict him in many ways but it will not make him surrender. Nothing ever has."

What a beautiful statement from his daughter.

Still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM, could North Korea be days away from a ballistic missile test?

We reveal what U.S. intelligence is indicating in just a moment.

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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?

[02:20:00]

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly there is a belief this is a modicum of justice when you talk about the more than 2 dozen refugees, whose bodies were found in the mass graves that led to the investigation which uncovered this trafficking ring, which resulted in a trial of more than 100 people; 62 of them now convicted of crimes.

You've got human rights groups who are coming out and saying Thai authorities have done the right thing, leading this kind of comprehensive investigation. But they are all saying that they believe that thousands of other Rohingyas could have been subject to the same abuses as those who were found in those graves.

So they're hoping this is the beginning of more trials, more investigations, more prosecutions on behalf of a group that has been so widely, so heavily persecuted.

The images you're seeing there of the discovery that was made in 2015, more than 2 dozen refugees believed to have been trying to make their way from Myanmar to Malaysia.

Authorities say that they were kept in a prison camp by traffickers, who would not allow them to leave and who, at the same time, were extorting their families back at home for money.

This trafficking ring involving a huge cast of characters, according to Thai authorities, everyone from civilians to local authorities to high-ranking military officials.

They've been charged with a number of different crimes, everything from trafficking to assault to homicide. And they've been issued stiff sentences, ranging from four years in prison up to 94 years in prison.

It took a judge some 12 hours to read out the verdict going through the allegations that were lodged against some 100 people, who were all a part of this investigation that has really taken years now to complete -- Isa.

SOARES: Alex, I was reading a statement from a human rights group and they're basically saying it's a big step, of course, the fact of what's come out of the trial but it's a tiny example of what may be going on. They say it's one grave, one province.

So are authorities looking elsewhere?

Are authorities looking other areas of the country?

Or does the investigation end here?

FIELD: No, look these human rights groups and these human rights activists have been very dogged. They're very determined. They are saying that they believe other mass graves, like the one uncovered in 2015, do exist and they have been strongly encouraging authorities to pursue these types of investigations.

The word you heard from the prosecutor who was involved in this case was very clear that he believed that this case should send a signal that human trafficking will not be tolerated in Thailand, which gives some encouragement, some optimism that you could see more of these cases, that more of these cases would be pursued.

But these cases are difficult to prosecute for a number of reasons, Isa. And what you saw unfold over the time that this case was taking place was that you had hundreds of witnesses who were involved and many of them reported that they were being threatened at the same time that they were trying to come forward and describe the kind of abuses they had witnessed or knew others had been subject to.

Some of these threats included actual death threats. At one point even the lead investigator of this trafficking ring actually left the country, left Thailand, went to Australia, where he is seeking asylum, saying it became too dangerous for him, that there were too many threats against his life.

So a lot of these human rights groups trying to help and trying to encourage these witnesses to be able to speak up. But the climate for it, incredibly difficult and rather dangerous.

SOARES: All right, Alexandra Field there for us in Hong Kong. Thanks very much, Alex. Good to see you.

Now U.S. intelligence is picking up some disturbing developments about North Korea's missile program. Sources say there are indications Pyongyang is preparing a new intercontinental ballistic test, one which could be just two weeks away. Barbara Starr has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. officials tell CNN that U.S. spy satellites are picking up indicators North Korea is getting ready for another ballistic missile test.

Just two weeks after it stunned the world, launching its first intercontinental range missile capable of hitting the United States.

GEN. PAUL SELVA, U.S. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF VICE CHAIRMAN: The North Koreans are moving quickly to develop an intercontinental missile capability.

STARR (voice-over): U.S. officials say the latest satellite intelligence shows Kim Jong-un's regime is testing radars it would use in a launch that could occur in about two weeks. Japan again showing the world its Patriot missiles to defend against a North Korea attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We're the last bastion of our missile defense system.

STARR (voice-over): It's too soon to say whether it would be another ICBM or an intermediate range missile, capable of hitting somewhere in the Pacific. The second-highest ranking U.S. military officer warning about a key North Korean advantage.

SELVA: I'm reasonably confident in --

[02:25:00]

SELVA: -- the ability of our intelligence community to monitor the testing but not the deployment of these missile systems. Kim Jong-un and his forces are very good at camouflage concealment and deception.

STARR (voice-over): The Pentagon cautioning that July 4th ICBM launch had its limitations on being able to hit a precise target in the U.S.

SELVA: What the experts tell me is that North Koreans have yet to demonstrate the capacity to do the guidance and control that would be required.

STARR (voice-over): But skeptics say North Korea's missiles must remain a top priority.

BRUCE KINGNER, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The U.S. has frequently underestimated North Korea's capabilities when they've done some of their previous intermediate range missiles and some of their others. People were surprised that they landed where North Korea said they would land.

STARR: And the U.S. also keeping a sharp eye on a North Korean submarine about 60 miles offshore, watching to see what it may do next -- Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SOARES: Well, Uruguay has taken the next step in its plan to sell marijuana over the counter. Government-grown pot is now being sold in some pharmacies. A 5-gram bag costs less than about $7. Back in 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the recreational sale of marijuana.

But bringing it to market has been somewhat slow.

And a country famous for carnival and samba is suddenly looking more like Christmas in July. These are pictures out of Brazil from Wednesday, where a rare snowstorm has turned parts of the South American country into a winter wonderland.

Santiago, Chile, has also been hit with the white stuff leftover from last weekend's blast, rather frigid air.

Time for a quick break. "STATE OF AMERICA" with Kate Bolduan is next for our viewers in Asia.

And next here on CNN NEWSROOM, as Britain's prime minister grapples with the infighting in her own cabinet, she faces mocking from her opposition, too. An expert look at the state of play in Parliament, with all eyes on Brussels and this crucial Brexit talks.

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[02:30:00] ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. And I'm Isa Soares.

Let me bring you up to date with the headlines this hour.

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SOARES: At the Brexit talks in Brussels, it's all about money. The first round of negotiations wraps up later today ahead of a press question. The big question is, how much will the U.K. have to pay to exit the European Union?

CNN's Erin McLaughlin reports now from the Belgian capitol.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thursday marks the final day of this round of talks. The U.K.'s Brexit Secretary David Davis is expected to make his way back here to Brussels to meet with the E.U.'s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier. U.N. officials telling me we're not expecting much in terms of agreements out of this round of talks. It's more meant to be a format for both sides to exchange views and figure out each other's positions. Topics including the financial settlement, the rights of the citizens, as well as other separation issues.

The financial settlement being seen as a potential sticking point, especially when you consider the rhetoric we were hearing in the build up to this round of the negotiating talks. Boris Johnson, the U.K. foreign secretary, in response to a question about the billions that the billions that the E.U. is reportedly asking for from these negotiations, he responded by saying that the E.U. could go whistle, something that really did not play well here in Brussels. E.U. officials see these as financial obligations, financial commitments that the U.K. has undertaken as a member of the E.U. Secretary Johnson's statement was softened by something we heard from a Brexit minister, submit to parliament a paper statement acknowledging that the U.K. is obliged to pay the E.U. during these Brexit talks.

So it will be very interesting to hear what both sides have to say on this topic at a press conference scheduled for later Thursday.

Erin McLaughlin, CNN, Brussels.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SOARES: Well, warnings, jeers, and plenty of criticism, that's how the U.K.'s final prime minister's question time went down ahead of the summer recess. We await a progress reports today from Brussels on the state of the Brexit talks that Erin was talking about. Wednesday's clash between Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn was part of the recent British heat wave. Mrs. May accused the late leader of talking Britain down while Jeremy Corbyn alluded to a series of leaks and splits among ministers within her cabinet. And let's not forget Brexit. So is Brussels holding all the cards?

Leslie Vinjamuri is a lecturer on international relations at SOAS University in London and an associate fellow on the U.S. program at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. She joins me on the phone from London.

Leslie, you and I have spoken at great lengths about this. And what we saw yesterday from Theresa May was quite a faceoff with the opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Let's take a listen to one of these exchanges and I'll get your thoughts after.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: Mr. Speaker, the chancellor said this week that some public servants are overpaid. Given the prime minister has had to administer a slap down to her squabbling cabinet, does she think the chancellor was actually talking about her own ministers?

(SHOUTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: Well, this squabbling within her own party is a distracting from the job at hand, isn't it, Leslie? How do you see things unfolding there?

[02:34:35] DR. LESLIE VINJAMURI, LECTURER ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, SOAS UNIVERSITY IN LONDON & ASSOCIATE FELLOW, THE ROYAL INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS (via telephone): Well, as you know, it's a very difficult time for Theresa May. She's coming to this negotiation in very weak at home, the division, the leaks. And I think the important thing to remember is now the public opinion is potentially turning as well. Because as the public looks to see what the real cost, the details of Brexit will look like, which, of course, are very much unclear, she's now facing a climate where it's not clear she's go having to public support for what she's been saying for the last year, which is Brexit means Brexit. When it comes down to what does it actually man, it becomes a much more difficult sell. Which is, of course, why there are divisions, because people are beginning to think, can they open up a space for a conversation about a soft Brexit or, as some people say, no referendum or no Brexit at all. The state of play is very different than it was in the run up to the election. And the last few days are giving us a sense of how challenging it will be going forward.

SOARES: And you mention there have been -- I keep being asked, will it actually happen? And some in the political spectrum are calling for a halt to Brexit.

I want to play something Vince Cable said a day or two ago. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VINCE CABLE, LEADER, LIBERAL DEMOCRATS PARTY: The fact that Theresa May is politically weak doesn't help in many ways. But I think it's a much deeper problem. The whole Brexit project was almost certainly flawed from the start.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think it will happen --

(CROSSTALK)

CABLE: It's probably now 50/50.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 50/50?

CABLE: 50/50, I think it may never happen. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: So, Leslie, is this just wishful thinking or are these negotiations in such a catastrophic state that Brexit may not happen?

VINJAMURI: Well, it is very interesting to watch because, of course. it's still politically very difficult to make the kind of statement they've made. Most people are still committed to the line that the people have voted and Brexit means Brexit. And even those very much opposed are committed to saying we'll talk about a soft Brexit. We'll talk about different ways we could potentially stay longer. Very few people have said actually maybe this won't happen. But what I think we're likely to see over the next weeks and months is more of a perhaps low-key ground swell of support for that idea, even though it's difficult to say it might not happen. And the key thing here is less what happens inside the cabinet. It's probably what happens with public opinion. And of course, public opinion is very much linked to what leaders will say and what the media will say and what the numbers will come out on the cost of Brexit.

SOARES: Yes.

VINJAMURI: But if public goes, then we're in a very different climate.

SOARES: Absolutely. And on public opinion, it's impacted by optics. And we were showing our viewers video of the last meeting in Brussels where basically David Davis, the Brexit secretary, showed up with really no papers at the table. This all plays into the concerns in the U.K. and public opinion. How damaging is this for Theresa May and to her aim to try to get these talks completed in time?

VINJAMURI: I think it's tremendously damaging. And the other key factor, which you alluded to, is as the economy takes more of a hit, which seems to be -- and in the last week, we've seen the numbers don't as good as they have in the past. If people begin to feel concerned about their economic future, then I think we're in a very different climate. This is very difficult for Theresa May to handle. And the fact she did not do well in these elections is having a very significant effect on her ability to rally her own government. And of course, this ongoing question of how long she will remain leader. So it's very, very, tremendously difficult. Nobody is sleeping in the U.K.

SOARES: I bet.

VINJAMURI: And I don't see it getting better.

SOARES: Leslie Vinjamuri, always great to get your thoughts. Thanks very much, Leslie.

VINJAMURI: Thank you.

SOARES: NEWSROOM L.A. continues after a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [02:40:00] SOARES: Salvador Dali was nothing if not flamboyant. A very public showman whose unique artwork fascinated the world. But could he have taken a deeply personal secret to his grave? That's what the woman who claims to be his daughter believes. She's won a legal battle she hopes will settle the matter.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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 said she is Dali's daughter, claiming her mother had an affair with the married artist more than 60 years ago.

PILAR ABEL, CLAIMS TO BE DAUGHTER OF SALVADOR DALI (through translation): 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: 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's best known for his dream- like paintings, including his famous melting clocks.

When he died, he left most of his work, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, to the Spanish government and is buried in his hometown in a museum dedicated to him.

Visitors there are conflicted about the decision to exhume him.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): 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: The Dali Foundation opposes the exhumation. But the woman who says she's Dali's daughter says it's a long time coming.

ABEL (through translation): I might cry at 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: 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SOARES: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isa Soares.

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