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Deadly Quake Strikes off Turkish and Greek Coasts; Bloomberg, Mueller Probing Trump Business Deals; O.J. Granted Parole. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 21, 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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JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles ahead this hour.

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): At least two dead and dozens injured after a strong earthquake rattled Turkey and the Greek islands.

VAUSE (voice-over): A special counsel digging deeper into President Trump's business dealings and now the president's legal team taking a closer look at his authority to grant pardons to his staff, his family, even himself.

SOARES (voice-over): And a conflict-free life, O.J. Simpson's shocking statement and why a parole board granted him early freedom.

VAUSE (voice-over): Hello, everybody. Great to have you with us for our third hour. I'm John Vause.

SOARES (voice-over): And I'm Isa Soares. NEWSROOM L.A. begins right now.

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SOARES: Now a 6.7 magnitude quake has rattled Turkey and Greece, sparking panic and causing a lot of damage.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES (voice-over): These people were celebrating a birthday at a seaside patio in Bodrum (ph), Turkey, when the tremor struck. Several cms of water washed up on the deck and sudden darkness.

VAUSE (voice-over): No fatalities have been reported in Turkey but across the Aegean Sea, CNN Greece reporting at least two dead on the Greek island of Kos. Merchandise toppled from store shelves and rubble lay in the streets. Dozens of people have also been hurt.

SOARES: Let's get more on this story. CNN producer Gul Tuysuz has the latest from Istanbul.

Gul, both Bodrum (ph) as well as Kos, they're very popular with tourists, also with locals, too, in terms of this is high holiday season.

What are you hearing from the ground?

GUL TUYSUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First of all, Isa, we're hearing from the Greek authorities that those two people that had been reported as dead, they've come out and announced their nationalities.

It's one Swedish and one Turkish national are the ones who have lost their lives in the 6.7 magnitude earthquake that really shook this very touristy resort, part of the Aegean, both on (INAUDIBLE) and on the Greek (INAUDIBLE).

You can see from social media that people ran out in panic. And a lot of the injuries that are being reported on the Turkish side with the local governor coming out and saying, that a lot of those injuries were not sustained because of the earthquake but as people tried to flee in panic.

And in the case of one man, as he jumped out of a building. This was the epicenter of this earthquake, was 16 kilometers between the Greek island of Kos and the Turkish resort town of Bodrum (ph).

And you can see in the videos that people are coming out of their hotels and are completely panicked. This is supposed to be a time of, you know, idyllic summer beach and sea time.

But of course, this is something that no one planned for. And you can see the earthquake really sent a lot of water into some of these resort towns and a lot of boats have washed up onto shore.

And in terms of structural damage, at least one minaret belonging to a mosque on the Turkish side in Bodrum (ph) took structural damage, sending stones flying out and rescue workers have now cordoned that area off.

But the panic is ensuing and we are hearing that a lot of people are out on the streets, still camping out, waiting for more aftershocks -- Isa.

SOARES: And of course, this happened in the very early hours. Thanks very much, Gul. Do keep us posted.

Let's get more from meteorologist Karen Maginnis, who's in Atlanta.

Karen, give us a sense of just how powerful that quake was and the concerns moving forward in what relates to the aftershocks.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. And those aftershocks, they are very unnerving, Isa, especially since it took place during the early morning hours. People were either out enjoying themselves, because it's a very touristy area, or people were sleeping. So either way, it happens at night and it's an event that you are not

expecting. A lot of people were forced out into the streets to sleep there because their buildings, they are afraid or their buildings are compromised.

So this is the general area, I will tell you this is very tectonically active.

What does that mean?

We see a lot of earthquakes across this region. It's one of the most active in the entire world. So here is this coastal community, already we have seen about eight aftershocks between 4.0 and 5.0. Now, if you went --

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MAGINNIS: -- from 0.5 magnitude to 0.8 magnitude, that sounds like three clicks away. It is actually 20,000-30,000 times stronger. So this is considered a strong earthquake. And it was measuring 6.7 magnitude.

And we are looking at an earthquake that certainly is capable of taking a number of lives but its depth was fairly shallow, just about 10 kilometers deep. Already we have those two fatalities reported here. And around the globe, typically you might expect between 100, maybe 200 earthquakes of this size in a year.

There you see some of the damage associated with what looks to be some of the tourist areas, some of the debris that was thrown onto the roads. There was actually about a half-meter tsunami, so it was very small but it ripped some boats from their moors and also produced some water in some of those coastal areas.

But we will keep you updated on the situation there -- Isa.

SOARES: I appreciate it, Karen Maginnis for us there, thanks, Karen.

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VAUSE: Well, Donald Trump's legal team reportedly going on the offensive, looking to discredit the special counsel's investigation of the president's alleged ties to Russia during last year's election campaign.

"The Washington Post" and "The New York Times" both reporting that the president's strategy now is to try to find conflicts of interest among Mueller and his investigators. And "The Washington Post," reports that Trump's legal team also taking a close look at his authority to grant pardons, even to himself.

SOARES: Well, meanwhile, Bloomberg is reporting that Mueller has expanded his probe between Putin's and Trump's business dealings with Russians, going back more than a decade. Bloomberg says FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and other real estate dealings.

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GREG FARRELL, BLOOMBERG LEGAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: What we have learned is that he is taking a broad view of the investigation and not a narrow view. So the mandate he was given in mid-May is open to interpretation.

Anything related to Russia and that might have resulted in interference in the election. He is clearly going back, more than a decade, to any real estate transactions.

He is clearly focused on any major transaction that has taken place, like the Miss Universe 2013 pageant in Moscow, et cetera, the flipping of the Florida mansion, in order to get information, yes, he'll have to issue subpoenas.

(CROSSTALK)

FARRELL: He has to issue subpoenas to some banks and more difficult is to issue not subpoenas but requests for information from foreign banks, European banks. That takes time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: How much tension, how much anxiety is there within the White House to -- relating to this investigation as to how far it may go?

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VAUSE: All this comes as the spokesman of communications for President Trump's team has resigned.

Joining us now, Democratic strategist Matt Littman and CNN political commentator and consultant, John Thomas.

Good to see you both. OK, so we had that extraordinary interview on Wednesday, which the president gave to "The New York Times." In that interview, he essentially drew a line in the sand for Mueller. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHMIDT: Mueller is looking at your finances and family's finances unrelated to Russia.

Is that a red line?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?

(CROSSTALK)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would say yes. Yes, I would say yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: So that was Wednesday. Almost on cue, Thursday comes this report from Bloomberg that Mueller is in fact looking very closely at Trump's financial records.

Which, Matt, you know, seems to be well within the rights and the authority of the special counsel.

MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, in the counsel's charge, it basically says he can investigate anything about Russia and anything he finds out during the course of the investigation --

(CROSSTALK)

LITTMAN: -- so yes, I mean, he can look into Trump family finances if you look at the people they have hired on the Mueller team, these are people who were white-collar criminal lawyers.

And so, I don't think it should be any surprise that they are looking at the Trump family finances at this point.

The problem for Trump is, there's a reason why he has not wanted to release his taxes for all this time.

And one of the reports is saying that he is really getting nervous about the fact that they're looking into the tax returns. There's a lot here that we don't know about Trump's finances because he has not wanted us to know. We may find out and that's what's making him nervous.

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is the problem with the special counsel, is they have such broad authority to go anywhere and everywhere, when they were charged to look at the 2016 election.

Exactly what does an apartment deal that Trump may have done --

LITTMAN: That's exactly -- that is not what he's charged with --

THOMAS: You're right.

And so why he is going back?

LITTMAN: Because that's not what he's charged with. He is charged with anything the finds out in the course of the investigation, including Russia. So anything that he finds out is fair game. And he's finding some stuff out.

(CROSSTALK)

SOARES: But (INAUDIBLE) one of Trump's lawyers, this is what he said on that point, those transactions, in my view, well beyond the mandate of the special counsel, unrelated to the election of 2016 or any alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and most importantly well beyond the statute of limitations imposed by the United States. Now this is a Bloomberg report. We have much more on what this came out of this report, let's take a listen to what the Bloomberg reporter said.

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FARRELL: He is clearly focused on any major transaction that, that --

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FARRELL: -- has taken place, like the Miss Universe 2013 pageant in Moscow, et cetera, the flipping of the Florida mansion, in order to get information, yes, he'll have to issue subpoenas.

(CROSSTALK)

FARRELL: He has to issue subpoenas to some banks and more difficult is to issue not subpoenas but requests for information from foreign banks, European banks. That takes time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: How much tension, how much anxiety is there within the White House, relating to this investigation, as to how far it may go?

LITTMAN: Before they get to you, let me just say that Trump firing Comey is the stupidest political decision of all time because the whole reason all this is happening is because he fired Comey.

Go ahead --

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THOMAS: -- and you're right in the sense of the second the special counsel was appointed, Trump lost because this will take twists and turns. Look, Trump, as a business man, has lived a life, I'm sure he has had a lot of bad business deals, a lot of bad business debt, people with axes to grind and now they're all going to have a voice.

And I'm sure Trump and his team are going oh, God, this thing is creeping way beyond whether or not Russia hacked the election or I had anything to do with that.

LITTMAN: And if you broke the law you broke the law.

VAUSE: Well, in "The New York Times" interview, the president laid the groundwork, it seems, to try and discredit Robert Mueller and the investigation, so he told "The Times."

"We were interviewing replacements at the FBI. Did you know Mueller was one of the people that was being interviewed? The next day he is appointed special counsel. I said what the tell is that all about? Talk about conflicts.

But he was intervening for the job. There were many other conflicts there I haven't said but I will at some point," indication Mueller's out for some kind of payback because he didn't get the job.

And then the past couple of hours we had this report from "The Washington Post" about -- that Trump's lawyers are actively compiling a list of Mueller's alleged potential conflicts of interest which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work.

This is according to a couple of Trump's legal advisers.

John, I just wonder how effective can the administration be trying discredit Mueller?

He had bipartisan support when he took the job. He's the former FBI director, the second longest-serving FBI director. He saw this country through 9/11.

THOMAS: Yes, it's going to be hard to do that if they're looking to discredit the messenger. I'd probably focus on his team members that he's bringing in to show conflicts. I think early on, I can't remember exactly the person, but I think somebody had close ties to Clinton, coming into the team, or it was a Clinton donor.

So that's the strategy they will use. I don't think Mueller, good luck with that one.

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: You know who else gave money to Hillary Clinton?

THOMAS: Donald Trump, right?

(LAUGHTER)

LITTMAN: But also, by the way, none of this is about the truth, finding out the truth of what's happened with Trump over the years and with his finances is what we should be looking for. Donald Trump is not -- Donald Trump believes we have (INAUDIBLE) this country since the American revolution, speaking truth to power.

Donald Trump believes in speaking power to the truth.

SOARES: But it seems within the Republican Party, many are already worried and voicing their concerns about whether President Trump may actually fire Mueller. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: This is a person that makes statements off the cuff that sometimes come back to haunt him. And that's one of them. I'm presuming he probably wishes he could take that back.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you have any concerns about that approach that he's taking with Jeff Sessions, the attorney general?

SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: The independence of our judicial officials, Justice Department officials, is highly critical to the functioning of our democracy.

RAJU: Do you have concerns about the president saying that Bob Mueller should not look in the finances of the Trumps?

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), CHAIRMAN, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I haven't seen that specific thing. But Bob Mueller should look at anything that falls within the scope of the special counsel's mandate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: So do you think, Matthew, that he's pretty much set the stage for this?

LITTMAN: I absolutely thing that Trump will fire Mueller at some point, I can't see how he's not. Trump does not think that the law applies to him.

(CROSSTALK)

SOARES: How big of a bombshell would it be?

LITTMAN: In the House, I don't think it's that big of a bombshell; in the Senate, I do think it's a bombshell. So -- go ahead.

VAUSE: I was going to say, which kind of explains some of the reporting we are getting now about the president taking a close look at his authority to grant pardons.

So, John, just complete this sentence for me: if the administration has done nothing wrong, then why do they need to look at the power to pardon?

THOMAS: Because, again, well, you have to know all your options. I think, Trump feels, and probably rightfully so, that this thing has become a witch hunt, that they are going to go through whatever layers of the onion they have to, how many decades they have to go back, whatever apartment deal or condo that some Russian bought that maybe he doesn't have a relationship with.

They will find some wrongdoing that may have really no connection to this election. So Trump has got to figure out his options. And he needs to shut it down.

LITTMAN: It's not a witch hunt if they find legitimate things that Trump did wrong.

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THOMAS: You're right, but what about the 2016 election?

LITTMAN: They are looking into the 2016 election. We just came out last week, we just got new news about Donald Trump, Jr.

SOARES: Will Mueller, do you think, be intimidated by any of this?

LITTMAN: Absolutely not. There's no reason for him to be intimidated by this. And I believe that in the Senate, most of the people support Mueller. And if he ends up, if Trump ends up firing him, I think that already they're probably pretty far along in this investigation.

VAUSE: Really quickly, Senator John McCain --

[02:15:00]

VAUSE: -- diagnosed with brain cancer. I think now is a good time to remember what a decent man he was and what leadership he showed during the 2008 election campaign. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I cannot trust Obama. I have read about him and he is not, he is a -- he is an Arab, he is not --

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZ.: No, ma'am; no, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No?

MCCAIN: No, ma'am; no, ma'am. He is a -- he is a -- he's a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Very quickly, John, what happened between then and now?

(LAUGHTER)

THOMAS: Dramatically different people, there's no doubt about that.

SOARES: Matthew, John, thank you very much.

THOMAS: Thanks.

VAUSE: Well, we will take a short break; when we come back, The Juice is about to be set loose after nine years in a Nevada jail. The parole board agrees to early release for O.J. Simpson. Details in just a moment.

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SOARES: O.J. Simpson has been granted parole after serving almost nine years for an armed robbery in Las Vegas in 2007.

VAUSE: The former U.S. football star is expected to be released sometime in October, two decades after his infamous acquittal in the killing of his ex-wife and her friend. Details from Paul Vercammen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O.J. SIMPSON, FORMER FOOTBALL STAR AND FELON: Thank you.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nevada's parole commissioners unanimously handed O.J. Simpson a get out of prison card. A relieved Simpson heard what he wanted. He will serve the minimum nine years of a possible 33-year sentence for his role in the 2007 armed robbery and kidnapping of memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley, who is now deceased.

Simpson pleaded with the commissioners for his freedom from the Lovelock medium security prison.

SIMPSON: I'm sorry it happened. I'm sorry to Nevada. You know, nine years away from your family is just not worth it and I'm sorry.

VERCAMMEN: Simpson stressed he had been disciplinary free, a model inmate.

SIMPSON: I've done my time. You know, I've done it as well as respectfully as I think anybody can. I think if you talk to the wardens, they'll tell you I've been -- I gave them my word. I believe in the jury system. I've honored their verdict.

VERCAMMEN: Commissioner Tony Corda called Simpsons conviction a serious crime, said there was no excuse for it but added Simpson complied with prison rules and was low risk to re-offend.

TONY CORDA, NEVADA PAROLE COMMISSIONER: The question here as with all parole hearings is whether or not you served enough time in prison on this case. Considering all of these factors, my vote is to grant your parole effective when eligible.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): And his colleagues agreed. The board noted Simpson's 1990s legal issues in California had no bearing in Nevada --

[02:20:00]

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): -- an allusion to his acquittal for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

Simpson's life so often filled with sensational moments took another twist during the parole hearing. Fromong testified, but unlike so many crime victims who make frighten pleas for parole boards to keep their offender in prison, Fromong asked for his friend O.J. to be set free.

BRUCE FROMONG, ROBBERY VICTIM: He's a good man. He made a mistake. And if he called me tomorrow and said, Bruce, I'm getting out, will you pick me up?

Juice, I'll be here tomorrow.

VERCAMMEN: And Simpson revealed his plan after release is to move to Florida.

SIMPSON: I could easily stay in Nevada, but I don't think you guys want me here.

VERCAMMEN: The next step, the State of Nevada will hash out very specific terms of his parole and the commissioner sending a message, saying, if O.J. Simpson violates any rules of his parole, he could wind up right back in state prison in Nevada -- Paul Vercammen, CNN, Lovelock, Nevada.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: For more, joining me now is San Diego County deputy district attorney, Wendy Patrick, and criminal defense attorney, Brian Claypool.

Good to see you both.

Wendy, welcome; I think this is your debut appearance.

(CROSSTALK)

WENDY PATRICK, SAN DIEGO COUNTY DEPUTY D.A.: It is, thank you.

VAUSE: OK. So let's start with you.

Any question at all that parole will be granted here?

PATRICK: This hearing was O.J.'s to lose. And the more he spoke, I think, his family and his lawyer were afraid that may have been the direction that it was headed. I mean, he was -- he relitigated the underlying case, he did not testify during that trial.

He was unremorseful, unrepentant; now, under Nevada law, remorse is not a requirement to be granted parole. But we wanted to see it. The viewing public wanted to see it.

This was the Super Bowl of parole hearings. I have done some of them, Brian probably has, too. You don't have victims testifying on behalf of the inmate, they normally testify on behalf of the victim. So we would have liked to see more remorse but he was going to get parole anyway.

VAUSE: So, Brian, if you had a client like that on parole and basically showed very little remorse, wanted to relitigate everything, saying I'm not offering excuses and then going on and offering a lot of excuses, what do you do?

BRIAN CLAYPOOL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, John, was that a parole board hearing we saw?

(CROSSTALK)

CLAYPOOL: I thought it was a town hall meeting and O.J. Simpson was running for Congress.

VAUSE: Seemed like it.

CLAYPOOL: That is kind of how I felt. VAUSE: Yes, the board was kind of catatonic in a way.

CLAYPOOL: Tell me about it.

PATRICK: And the NFL tie, did you see that?

That was great.

CLAYPOOL: And O.J. Simpson's nickname is The Juice from when he was playing football and I got to tell you, John, I really feel like our legal system has been juiced in this case.

What I mean by that is, you put up there on the screen the murder that took place in 1995. And it's pretty surreal that we are only a few miles from where that murder took place.

And I find it really hard to believe in a civilized society that we live in, that this parole board is precluded from considering evidence that was presented, a mountain of evidence, a blood trail from the guest room up into O.J.'s room.

How do you not consider that evidence in determining whether O.J. is potential risk to society when he is released?

PATRICK: Or the domestic violence, John. Oh, my goodness.

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: -- when he said I live a conflict-free life, there was lot of eye-rolling.

You mentioned this, because Chris Darden, who was one of the prosecutors in the trial, he basically said that O.J. has not served long enough. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS DARDEN, ATTORNEY: I like the photographs of O.J. in handcuffs more than I like the photographs of O.J. with a golf club in his hand. You know, I think he has a lot to account for and, you know, we have yet to extract from him the punishment that he deserves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You know, so, Wendy, a lot of you out there are convinced that Simpson killed his ex-wife and her friend, Ron Goldman, so there's people out there who now believe quite rightly that the Nevada parole board set loose a known killer.

PATRICK: That may be true but there's a lot of people that also believe that they threw the book at O.J. when he was convicted and sentenced for the crime where he is serving time for now. There's been a lot talk about, gosh, somebody would not have gotten even half of that amount.

CLAYPOOL: But he had 12 felony counts. PATRICK: Well, remember, also, though, one of the things this parole board really stressed is that they were treating him exactly like any other inmate.

(CROSSTALK)

PATRICK: -- and remember, it flew under the radar, he was paroled already in 2013 on part of this case. So to say that he served more time as a model inmate but now he is somehow not ready now for parole, their hands were tied.

VAUSE: Before I get to you, Brian, former LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman, he played a very controversial role in O.J. 's murder trial 20 years something -- 20-something years ago. He was on FOX News and made some tough statements about Simpson, accused him of lying about owning that sports memorabilia, which was at the center of the armed holdup. Said it was not his property and he also went on to say this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK FUHRMAN, FORMER LAPD DETECTIVE: The shocking part of this is the parole board was lied to and, yet, it seemed to not matter. Let's call it what it is. I think the fix was in.

[02:25:00]

FUHRMAN: Then they wanted rid of Mr. Simpson. They were going to parole him, nothing he said would probably make any difference. You are seeing a classic sociopath, a narcissist, maybe even a psychopath. And he is talking, manipulating the crowd. He was doing exactly what he tried to do in the civil trial.

But in this instance, there was no cross-examination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Brian, what did he mean by "the fix was in"?

That they wanted to get him out of the system of Nevada?

CLAYPOOL: I hate to tell you, but I completely agree with Mark Fuhrman. Here is why the fix was in. A couple of days ago the Nevada parole board issued a press release. And they never do this, Wendy will tell you that; never issue a press release before a parole board hearing.

And they said, wait a minute, our parole board members are not conservative -- remember there was an allegation that O.J. may not get a fair parole board hearing because they're conservative in Nevada.

So they came out and said we are not conservative. Well, that portended the outcome of this parole board hearing. And I agree with Mark Fuhrman, this was a flat-out dog-and-pony show and nothing that was said today would have changed anything. And one thing, John, that really troubled me, I was offended by with O.J. Simpson, he had a chance to come clean and say, look, I was irresponsible, I should not have done this and I apologize to the victims. He never said any of those words.

In fact, he lied about -- remember, he said, "I did not know there was a gun pulled in this room" --

(CROSSTALK)

PATRICK: -- which contradicts all the rest of the evidence, absolutely.

CLAYPOOL: -- that is flat-out fiction.

PATRICK: There was no cross-examination. There would have been cross-examination at the trial.

VAUSE: OK, so Fuhrman also agreed that Simpson would violate his parole conditions, they look pretty standard.

What is the process if they are broken, Wendy, and do you think he will violate them?

PATRICK: I think he will violate it because it's going to be a zero tolerance policy. And you'll notice that the fourth commissioner before she cast that final vote, said exactly that, that they are going to be watching him -- I'm paraphrasing.

But she made it very clear that he is going to be on a short leash. So he should move to Florida -- I'm sure that will be permitted -- find a small place near a golf course -- I know Chris Darden does not want to see a golf club in his hand but I guess it's better than a weapon -- and just live quietly, disappear, except he's got to keep in contact with his parole officer.

VAUSE: And we can all get ready for the reality TV show or whatever is coming.

PATRICK: We know it's coming.

VAUSE: Wendy and Brian, good to see you both. Thank you for being here.

PATRICK: Thank you.

CLAYPOOL: Thanks, John.

SOARES: It's time for a quick break, "STATE OF AMERICA" with Kate Bolduan is coming up next, for our viewers in Asia. And for everyone else, we will have more violence in Venezuela. How the protesters hope to fight the government with a nation-wide strike.

And later, an offer to talk peace from South Korea, you will see how the North is responding.

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[02:30:14] ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isa Soares.

Let me update you with the headlines this hour.

(HEADLINES)

SOARES: In Venezuela, more unrest as opponents of President Nicolas Maduro stage a 24-hour strike. A post office was reportedly set on fire in Caracas -- you can see there. And at least two people were killed in Thursday's clashes.

Well, as the strike began, many streets in the capitol were barricaded by protesters. Mr. Maduro has called for a vote on July 30th to elect an assembly to rewrite the constitution. The opposition says it is being done to guarantee a majority for the ruling party and consolidate President Maduro's grip on power.

Let's get more on the situation in Venezuela. We're joined by Latin- American analyst, Nicolas Albertoni.

Nicolas, thank you for coming on the show.

NICOLAS ALBERTONI, LATIN-AMERICAN ANALYST: Thank you.

SOARES: It seems that you and I are constantly talking about Venezuela, it's in a dire state. We saw the footage of the civil disobedience campaign. This 24-hour strike, does that rattle at all, does that shake Mr. Maduro?

ALBERTONI: For sure. It's another way that the opposition is using to protest, you know, to show how dissatisfied they are with the regime. I think we compare it with other kind of, in the three months that they have been in the street, and it's strategic and effective the regime could not use the military power to stop the protesters. It is an interesting way to show the international community how dissatisfied they are with this terrible regime.

SOARES: Sure, it's a strong way to show the international community how they feel, but how is the international community reacting? Because, up to now, many in Venezuela and Latin-America may argue not much is being done to help support Venezuela.

ALBERTONI: Absolutely. And I would say the regional community is cognizant of what is going on in Venezuela. We have three months of the people in the streets and not much, and we don't have so much changes. So, we have more than 80 people that have been killed in this protest. Again, you think this is -- sometimes we could feel that it's the end of the protest. But again, every week, we have a new story related with this situation.

SOARES: Well, it's not just on the streets. It's within, it seems, power, politics within his own ranks. Because it seems that's is losing support, too. Isaias Medina, who is a senior diplomat, representing Venezuela at the United Nations, he resigned today, and this is what he had to say. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ISAIAS MEDINA, FORMER SENIOR VENEZUELAN DIPLOMAT TO THE U.N. (through translation): I am in the U.N., was working in the U.N., because I believed what I was doing, working with the international community, representing my country. Today, I honestly believe that it's hypocrisy that Venezuela is even in the U.N., in the Human Rights Council, violating human rights.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: That's what he said the reason was why he left. But this was the response from Rafael Ramirez, who is the ambassador to Venezuela. I'll translate: "I condemn the conduct of Isaias Medina. We have immediately relieved him of his duties. He does not represent us. He has acted dishonestly."

This breaking of the ranks, do you think we will start seeing more and more of it?

ALBERTONI: Yes. Many people that were from the regime are now against the regime. So we are saying this is something that could happen in the future.

But, just a quick point on how the multi-lateral level will work in the process. This is a clear example what is going on in Venezuela, how the international community but also the regional community is was not effective and the failure we have in the process. Because the international community is not just to solve this kind of problem. It's to prevent it. So it's incredible now that they are basically showing up when this rule of law is collapsed. So, again, this is not against -- I'm not just talking about the U.N., but again, this is a clear example of why it's important to act in the correct moment.

[02:35:31] SOARES: It's not -- not to say that they don't have enough evidence to show what is happening in the street.

ALBERTONI: Exactly.

SOARES: We saw the footage. We've been seeing it for months now. And we have the report from the Organization of American States. It had this warning in the latest report. And it said third report on Venezuela. I want to read it: "They are profiting off the starvation of their population." Talking about Maduro. "The violence is getting worse and the actions by the security apparatus are escalating. The fear that is on everyone's mind, but we are afraid to speak out loud, is our fear that this will escalate in to a bloodbath."

We have the U.S., France, Colombia, Spain, and they are all saying to President Maduro, back off. Back off his push for the legislation. His move. You know, he has not budged. So what would make him budge?

ALBERTONI: Yes, that's a quick point on the U.S. The U.S. was the one multilateral organization that really has taken real action on Venezuela. The rest are basically Twitters and many things from the international community that are not effective and really taking action of what is going on there. And I think the next step is to -- we have tomorrow, there is a summit in Argentina.

SOARES: And Venezuela is ---

(CROSSTALK)

ALBERTONI: Yes. But, I think the president tomorrow has to be very clear and very strong with the position they have about the conflict and to ask to not have more political prisoners, to call for general elections with international independent observers. And the last one is to cancel the referendum that President Maduro is trying to have to rewrite the constitution. So these are the points that tomorrow they have to pay close attention to.

SOARES: We have seen lots of reports already that perhaps they will push forward with sanctions to Venezuela, that has not been confirmed.

Thank you very much, Nicolas Albertoni.

ALBERTONI: Thank you.

SOARES: Always great to get your insight.

Now, we are following a developing story this hour in Jerusalem. Israeli police are barring men under the age of 50 from entering the Old City for Friday's prayers. Pictures you're looking at from Jerusalem. The move follows clashes between Palestinians and police that injured dozens of people. The protests break out after Israel's decision to put metal detectors at the mosque. They were placed there following a deadly shooting against Israeli police in the area in the last Friday.

Now, there's still a mystery surrounding the death of an Australian woman living in the U.S. Justine Ruszyzyk was killed by Minneapolis police last Saturday. She had called them to report a possible sexual assault near her home but was shot by one of the officers instead.

Here is how the city's police chief is explaining the tragedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANEE HARTEAU, CHIEF, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Justine did not have to die. Based on the publicly released information from the BCA, this should not have happened. On our squad cars, you will find the words, "To protect with courage and serve with compassion." This did not happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: Well, supporters gathered in a neighborhood on Thursday evening chanting "prosecute the police." As you can see there. Ruszczyk's relatives have hired an attorney experienced in handling police-involved shootings to help in the investigation. They also want her body to be returned to Australia immediately.

Still to come, alleged torture survivors are suing the Syrian regime and sharing their horrifying stories of abuse with CNN.

And from guns to drugs to black market, sold everything illegal. Police have shut them down and they are promising to go after every cybercriminal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:41:18] SOARES: Top Pentagon officials on Thursday briefed U.S. President Donald Trump on military efforts, mainly troop deployments in the fight against ISIS. Six months into his presidency, the administration has yet to reveal its strategy to wipe out of the terror group. Before spending two hours with defense leaders, Mr. Trump told reporters ISIS is, and I'm quoting here, "is falling very fast."

Now we take you to Germany where seven former Syrian prisoners are suing Bashar al Assad's regime. They claim they were victims of torture and abuse. Accused the regime of war crimes as well as crimes against humanity.

Our Atika Shubert spoke with two of the plaintiffs about their allegation and why the German courts may be the first chance for justice.

And a warning, some of the images in this story are disturbing and graphic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(SHOUTING)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 2011, the Syrian uprising against the government of Bashar al Assad filled the streets of Damascus. The regime crackdown was swift and brutal, and it continues to this day.

KHALED RAWAS, PLAINTIFF: They were drinking tea and they tortured people. They were laughing and they did terrible things. So it was nothing for them.

SHUBERT: Khaled Rawas said he was arrested twice by military intelligence, subjected to severe torture, including sexual violence. He is reluctant to go into detail, but he told CNN he was forced to watch inmates lashed with meat hooks.

RAWAS: I was sitting on my knees and I was forced to see another two Syrian people who were tortured, and not only tortured, it was like they were getting them meat from the bodies.

SHUBERT: Now he is seeking justice in Germany where he is a refugee. He is part of a criminal complaint that identifies six high-level Syrian officials accusing them of torture in secret prisons. Plaintiffs are asking the German prosecutor to issue arrest warrants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President -- SHUBERT: Bashar al Assad is not named as a perpetrator. In February, Assad denied claims of torture in Syrian prisons telling an interview the allegations had, quote, "not a shred of evidence."

But the Syrian lawyer, Mazen Darwish, also part of the case, says he speaks from personal experience describing what he calls a system of torture used to eradicate dissent in Syria.

MAZEN DARWISH, LAWYER: Become a tool to kill people, to destroy them totally, make people lose their mind or even die. I think it's really important to send this message that there is no peace without justice.

SHUBERT: Allegations of torture in prisons gained wide attention in 2014 when a Syrian military photographer published pictures he said he had taken and smuggled out of the country documenting the deaths of more than 6,500 prisoners over the span of three years. He testified to the U.S. House of Representatives on the photos. German prosecutors are now analyzing them as part of the case.

Many of those pictured appeared to bear signs of torture and abuse, including activist, Iham Gazul (ph). His mother petitioned the Syrian government for more than a year for news of her son's arrest without success. She said his death was confirmed with this photo. Now she is part of the German case.

Patrick Croker is the German lawyer bringing the case forward for the ECCHR, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights. He explains why the arrest warrants are so key.

[02:45:02] PATRICK KROKER, ECCHR LAYWER: That means he needs to wait for the person to go into any other country or maybe a future Syria, we never know, and the person could be extradited to Germany. And right at the moment, the whole indictment would be ready and we could go to court.

SHUBERT: Using testimony of more than a dozen victims and witnesses, the complaint maps out torture in three different branches of military intelligence in Damascus. But the most compelling evidence comes from the survivors themselves.

RAWAS: Maybe a lot of people think that we are doing that because like bad things happen to us, we just want revenge. And I just want to state clear, we were not seeking for revenge, we are seeking for justice.

(SHOUTING)

SHUBERT: There is only a slim chance of an actual arrest and indictment, but Germany's courts do give hope for justice for some.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Berlin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SOARES: Well, U.S. and European officials say they have taken down two major illegal online markets. Authorities have busted the site AlphaBay in early July. They were part of the dark web. It's a hidden part of the Internet not accessible to normal users. The U.S. Justice Department said that the black markets were used to sell drugs, guns, stolen documents and child pornography.

And now officials are promising to go after other cybercriminals. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Make no mistake, the forces of law and justice face a challenge from criminals and transnational criminal organizations who think they can commit their crimes with impunity by going dark. This case, pursued by dedicated agents and prosecutors, says you are not safe. You cannot hide. We will find you, dismantle your organization and network, and we will prosecute you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: You cannot hide.

Well, let's get more on this with Rod Beckstrom. He is the former CEO of ICANN and has worked as the director of the National Cybersecurity Center.

Rod, thank you for being on the show.

The closure of the sites is, without a doubt, a huge blow to criminal dark web activity. I want to give viewers a better sense of scale. I want to show them this quick graphic we've got up. What people are looking at, according to DOJ, AlphaBay had 250,000 listings for drugs and toxic chemicals, 200,000 users and over 40,000 vendors. That is 10 times Silk Road that was shut in 2013. So, how did the DOJ and its international partners crack this? Give us a sense of the scope.

ROD BECKSTROM, FORMER CEO, ICANN & FORMER DIRECTION, NATIONAL CYBERSECURITY CENTER: Sure. You know, what happens with these dark markets is inevitably, someone involved in administering it makes a mistake. And in this case, the gentleman that committed suicide in Thailand made a mistake. He used his regular e-mail address somewhere and someone was able to back chain and figured out who he was. And moved behind his sort of handle as one of the operators into his real identity, and they got a hold of him. And obviously, with that, they were able to take down that website. And more importantly, in the case of the Hansa Market, they found the two creators and then they took control and turned the marketplace into an intelligence gathering tool and watched the transactions. A very clever and brilliant move by law enforcement. And then they got records on many of the transactions you were talking about, Isa.

SOARES: Yeah, but like you said, they need almost to be making mistakes in order to catch them. So this is a challenge for authorities, isn't it? It's a huge step forward for law enforcement, without a doubt. But the reality is that others will pop up in its place.

I want the viewers to get a listen and see what the FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe had to say on this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW MCCABE, FBI ACTING DIRECTOR: Critics will say, as we shutter one site, another site emerges. And they may be right. But that is the nature of criminal work. It never goes away. You have to constantly keep at it. And you have to use every tool in your tool box.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: So, Rod, the question is, how can authorities get ahead of this? Because, already, as I was doing research on this, I saw there was already a new player, called Dream Market.

BECKSTROM: Yes, well, you know, law enforcement did something smart. The FBI and partners in Europe deserve credit. They got control of Hansa Market and watched the transactions from the inside, and have transaction records on more than 50,000 illicit transactions, or most likely all illicit, and 10,000 addresses that these illicit goods were shipped to. So they have a lot of very specific concrete data to use for prosecution. And, of course, this is a criminal's nightmare or the drug buyer's nightmare or the pedophile's nightmare, that their address could be captured. Even if their name is not there, at least it's enough to prosecute and get after them. Law enforcement -- some have been shut down, AlphaBay got shut down. But Hansa Market got hacked by law enforcement itself and they have a bunch of data to work with for years, I think.

[02:50:22] SOARES: And the reality is that many criminals are evading prosecution and hiding behind the web. Give us a sense of the people behind these sites and the lives they lead, the money, the property, the cars. Paint us a picture of what you are hearing.

BECKSTROM: Sure. I was on the phone tonight with someone who was in the first circle with the guy who founded Silk Road, someone who spent time with him on a daily basis in Sydney, Australia, before he was caught. He was a clean-cut guy, brilliant, highly technical. Did not use drugs. Kept a low-profile lifestyle. Staying in modest hotels. Camping in hostels. On the other hand, in this case with AlphaBay, the owner had an extravagant lifestyle, Lamborghinis, Porches, living extremely ostentatiously, reflecting a different approach and a much more risky approach. At the end of the day, they are smart young guys that like technology and maybe start experimenting with creating one of the sites and it just explodes and takes off and it has a life of its own. And then you are the king of the dark web kingdom. That power has to be, I think, quite addictive for them.

SOARES: Absolutely, and a challenge for authorities.

Rod Beckstrom, fascinating.

Thank you for coming to the show. Wonderful to speak to you.

BECKSTROM: Thank you. SOARES: And now to China, where state-run media are reporting two

people have been killed and 55 injured after an explosion in the eastern city of Guangzhou (ph).

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(EXPLOSION)

(SHOUTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: At least a dozen people have been left severely injured. The blast happened a short time ago in a shop near Westlake. More details of course, we will bring to you as they become available to us.

South Korea says its offer to hold military talks with the North is good for another week. President Moon Jae-in has proposed an end to hostile acts by July 17. So far, no response yet from Pyongyang.

CNN's David McKenzie has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You can hear the loud speakers blaring North Korean propaganda. It's just over there. And this is the Demilitarized Zone. Near this point, the South Koreans were hoping to have military-to-military talks on Friday, but that has not happened. And they have not heard from the North Korean side at all. Which means talks are probably unlikely at this point. They still want to try and diffuse the escalating tension between the two countries and set up direct connections to the military in the North.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials are saying the North Koreans could launch another ICBM missile in two weeks.

David McKenzie, CNN, in the DMZ.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SOARES: Up next, boorish airplane behavior. Passengers are up in arms over these bare feet on arm rests. We will explain, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOARES: Now, we have all heard or even experienced our own airplane horror stories, those annoying passengers we hope to not sit next to or near. There are the loud talkers, the inattentive parents.

And then something truly horrifying, as CNN's Jeanne Moos found out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[02:55:16] JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jessie Char (ph) was thrilled when she got on her JetBlue flight to San Francisco and see she was seated in an empty row. "My two favorite people to sit with on a plane," she tweeted. And then this happened.

JESSIE CHAR (ph), AIRLINE PASSENGER: A foot started to poke out, toes wiggling.

MOOS: And then another. The arm rest became a foot rest.

CHAR (ph): Just two little feet wiggling their toes.

MOOS: "Today, I flew on the set of a nightmare," she tweeted. And the bare feet in flight went viral, provoking oohs and yuks.

This should be on the no-fly list.

What's worse, snakes on a place of bare feet on a plane?

The disembodied feet reminded one commenter --

(MUSIC)

MOOS: -- of Thing from the "Adams Family," but double and worse.

Actually, we have seen worse. Ponytails over the seat back, a passenger doing a headstand, a guy that took off his jeans and lounged in his boxers with his feet up, a passenger with his belly exposed and a pillow case over his eyes, so at least he did not have to see himself.

Which would you prefer? This or these?

(on camera): The feet, by the way, were attached to a woman. Jessie described her as a short woman in her 40s.

(voice-over): For once, not man spreading.

(on camera): This would be called, what, foot spreading?

(voice-over): And then they became even more, foot loose.

CHAR (ph): Her left foot kind of reached over and pulled up the window shade, and then pulled it back down.

MOOS: When Jessie tried to signal a flight attendant, the feet reattracted, but at least they had at least closed the shade, thus avoiding a repeat of the old "Twilight Zone" episode in which William Shatner sees a creature out on the wing.

(MUSIC)

MOOS: The episode was entitled "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." One with a sequel, "Nightmare of Two Feet."

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

(on camera): Well, thank you very much. Very nice of you to do this.

(voice-over): -- New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SOARES: They do ask you to stretch your legs, don't they? So, why not?

You have been watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isa Soares.

The news continues with George Howell in Atlanta right after the short break.

You have been watching CNN. And we are, of course, the world's news network.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)