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White House Shakeup; Message to Pyongyang; Crisis in Venezuela; Police Who Fatally Shot Man Were at Wrong Address. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired July 29, 2017 - 03:00   ET



NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Capping off a dramatic week. U.S. President Donald Trump gets a new chief of staff but not everyone is happy about it.

North Korea tests another intercontinental ballistic missile and sends a fresh warning to the United States.

And the Venezuelan government bans protests in preparation for a major controversial vote that could pave the way to rewriting the country's constitution.

These stories are all ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you for joining us. We are live in Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.

For the second week in a row, there's been a major shakeup in the White House. Chief of staff Reince Priebus is now out. The president announced the change on Twitter late Friday, naming Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to the post.

Priebus said he submitted his resignation on Thursday. His tenure, one of the shortest on record, was marked by six months of near constant turmoil inside the West Wing.

The acrimony reached a fever pitch this week when new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci leveled a profanity-laced broadside at Priebus. For his part, Priebus bowed out gracefully. He had nothing but praise for his replacement, this man, Kelly, calling him a brilliant pick.

Priebus gave his first interview to CNN's Wolf Blitzer and strongly defended the president's decision to replace him. But he pointedly avoid responding to the vicious comments made about him several days ago by the incoming White House communications director.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: What was the impact -- the new White House Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, you saw the interview, he granted Ryan Lizza in "The New Yorker" magazine.

He called you some awful things, including a paranoid schizophrenic. He said your days were numbered. He said you were about to leave.

At one point he said Reince Priebus would resign soon and that he expected Priebus to launch a campaign against him.

What was your reaction when you saw that interview?

REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER TRUMP CHIEF OF STAFF: No reaction, because I'm not going to respond to it. I'm not going to get into the mud on those sorts of things. Look, the President and I had an understanding. We've talked about this many times. And we ultimately decided that yesterday was a good day and that we would work together. And I think that General Kelly is a great pick.

So, I'm not going to get into the weeds on that. I support what the President did. And obviously I think it's a good thing for the White House.

BLITZER: But why were you opposed to Anthony Scaramucci even getting a job in the White House?

You saw how bitter he was, how angry he was at you in that interview?

PRIEBUS: I'm not getting into that, Wolf. Look, it's over. I'm moving on. Support the President and I support John Kelly and the President's agenda. So that's all you're going to get from me on that. I'm not going to get into the individual personal stuff.

BLITZER: He was also very angry at Steve Bannon, the White House chief strategist. I can't even read the words he uttered to Ryan Lizza about Steve Bannon.

But do you think he could stay in the White House with Scaramucci now the communications director?

PRIEBUS: That's going to be up to John Kelly. But I will say that Steve is doing a great job. He is a brilliant guy who only cares about the president's agenda. He thinks about it 24 hours a day. Never quits. He's a great asset to this president. And, so and a dear friend. So, my hat is off to Steve Bannon.

BLITZER: Can you just clear up the other charge?

It was a very bitter charge that Scaramucci leveled against you, that you are a leaker and that you're really not that loyal to the president. You've got your own agenda. He made bitter accusations against you, specifically the leaking.

Are you the leaker in the White House?

PRIEBUS: That's ridiculous, Wolf. Come on. Give me a break. I'm not going to get into his --

BLITZER: Why not respond?

PRIEBUS: Because I'm not going to because it didn't honor the president. I'm going to honor the president every day. I'm going to honor his agenda and I'm going to honor our country and I'm not going to get into all of this personal stuff, so.

BLITZER: Is there a leaking problem in the White House based on what you've seen?

PRIEBUS: Yes, I think that General Kelly should see if he can get to the bottom of it and figure it out. But obviously unnamed sources are something that's been problematic and I wish him well and I'm going to try to help him. But, obviously, that's going to be on his plate and I hope he can get to the bottom of it.

BLITZER: Scaramucci suggesting the FBI should get involved in that investigation.

Do you agree with him on that?

PRIEBUS: I'm not going to respond to that. Look, this is about the president, Wolf.


PRIEBUS: I have answered your questions. I support his decision to hire John Kelly and I'm looking forward to the future.


ALLEN: Joining us now, Professor Michael Genovese. He is president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University.

Thanks again for being with us.


ALLEN: It's been quite a week for this White House. It seems like we say that every week. But he's -- the president continuing to shake up his communications team and out goes his chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

Was this the move that he needed to take?

GENOVESE: Well, it's kind of the crisis du jour. Every day there's a new crisis. Today, this morning we woke up to the failure of the repeal and replace. And now we've got more drama. This is a president who loves drama and he likes to be disruptive.

So we know that he can tear things down but can he build them up?

Bringing in John Kelly is an effort to bring discipline to the staff.

But the real key is can he bring discipline to the president?

If he can't rein in the president, keep him from tweeting so much, discipline the president, make him focus, make him do job of the grunt work of calling members of Congress, really working Washington, if he can't do that, he'll fail.

ALLEN: That's a really, really good point because he is bringing in a general and he certainly wants loyalty. Perhaps that's why he's trying to toughen up the communications team. But the bottom line is it's this president has to get things done and

someone has got to be able to get his ear. And maybe it's the generals that could do it. He certainly seems to be surrounding himself with generals.

GENOVESE: You know, there are several people around him who are in the military and they should bring more discipline to the team. But this is a team that's run on chaos and chaos is not a governing strategy. You've got to have discipline. You've got to have focus. You've got to do the job and there's a lot of grunt work involved.

Going Washington is not an easy task. It takes time. And it takes political capital. This is a president who likes to just flit all over the place and that may make him feel like he's getting something done. But look at the results. The results have been very disappointing for these first six months.

ALLEN: Right, because he does focus on loyalty but, at the same time, he hasn't gotten things done regardless. So much, he's so focused on leaks and control but it's not -- you really can't control when you have, you know, a reporting team following you and it's supposed to be an independent team and to do their best work.

But as you say, he's got to do the grunt work.

But is there anyone else on his team that could help support him in that?

Because a lot of people have been saying today this is a 70-year-old president. He's not going to change.

GENOVESE: Well, you know, too many people around Trump are supporting Trump's psyche. They need to support his presidency. There's a big difference. And while the two are interlinked -- because he's obviously president and what he says goes -- you have to have people there who know Washington, who know politics.

And while John Kelly is a career military man, he's incredibly polished as a politician. You don't get to be a four-star general if you don't know how to walk the corridors of power. So he can do it. He knows the game. He is of a stature that maybe, just maybe the president will listen to him.

But the great Roman poet, Juvenal, said, when asked about how do you govern Rome?

His response was, well, you do it with bread and circuses. This is a president who is all circus all the time. So we went from no-drama Obama to all-drama-all-the-time Trump. We need less drama and more governing. And that's something that has to come right from the president. John Kelly might be able to help him do that.

ALLEN: We certainly hope so because as we heard from John McCain this week, he was imploring -- he's the one, of course, that made sure that the replacement package wasn't going to get in there, the skinny repeal. But he implored his colleagues; we've got to get something done. And

Reince Priebus was kind of the connection to the Republicans. So it seems like it's more onerous tack now for the president.

GENOVESE: Well, Reince was brought in because he knew Washington, knew the Republican establishment. And the Republican establishment is falling along the wayside in the Trump administration.

And distancing yourself from that wing of the party is very dangerous, because these are people who didn't really want him to be the nominee, didn't trust him, didn't like him. They voted for him reluctantly but they voted for him. They were hoping to do a good job. He gave them the Supreme Court nominee that they wanted.

But if you were going to peel off any group from the Trump coalition -- and, remember, it's not a monolithic group. It's made up of a variety of different groups brought together in a coalition. But the one that runs the most risk of losing would be the Republican establishment.


GENOVESE: And Reince was the connection to those folks. And now it appears that the Bannons and the Jared Kushners are in charge of everything. It's going to be difficult for him to walk that line to maintain that part of the coalition, that's the old-style Republicans.

ALLEN: We will wait and see. We always appreciate your input. As you say, someone has got to help Donald Trump with the psyche that he brings to this White House. Thank you so much, Michael Genovese. We appreciate your comments as always.

GENOVESE: Thank you.


ALLEN: President Trump plans to sign a bill that slaps new sanctions on Russia. The White House says Mr. Trump negotiated parts of the bill and approved the final version, although it's not clear when he will make it a law.

Congress had overwhelmingly adopted the legislation, which also limits Mr. Trump's ability to ease sanctions against Moscow. Earlier Friday, Russia demanded the U.S. cut the number of diplomats it has in Moscow and it seized U.S. property there. The American ambassador protested the Russian moves.

North Korea is making good on its threat to build a missile that could hit the United States. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN (voice-over): It says this missile tested Friday can strike the whole U.S. mainland and should be seen as a grave warning. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reportedly oversaw the launch, which the Pentagon confirmed was an intercontinental missile.

It reached an altitude of almost 4,000 kilometers before splashing down off the coast of Japan.

At least one expert said it could strike as far as Chicago if fired with a flatter trajectory. North Korea's main ally, China, is condemning this latest missile launch and calling on Pyongyang to stop its nuclear provocations. Also, South Korea says it will consult with the U.S. to deploy additional parts of an anti-missile defense system.


MOON JAE-IN, PRESIDENT, SOUTH KOREA (through translator): The South Korean government strongly condemns the ballistic missile launch since it clearly violates U.N. Security Council resolution and it is a grave threat to international peace and security.


ALLEN: Meantime, the U.S. is again urging Russia and China to help stop North Korea.

U.S. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson said in a statement, "The United States seeks the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the end to belligerent actions by North Korea.

"As we and others have made clear, we will never accept a nuclear- armed North Korea nor abandon our commitment to our allies and partners in the region."

ALLEN: For more on the missile test, our Will Ripley joins me from Beijing.

A frightening forward launch by this regime, Will. And it's noted they quickly turned a video of their satisfaction with it as someone who has been to North Korea many times.

What do you make of that?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they were certainly proud of this achievement, Natalie. This is their most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile that they have ever had.

We've never, up until this month, first the launch on the 4th of July and now the latest launch just one day after the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the Korean War.

You have North Korea with a weapon in its hand that they claim can reach the entire mainland of the United States. Most outside observers would say it could certainly hit Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, maybe as far as Chicago. Some analysts think this could have even come close to New York.

It's only a matter of time the United States says before they have in their arsenal a reliable ICBM that could theoretically strike anywhere on the mainland United States. That type of a weapon in a matter of months, by early next year, is something as recently as six months or a year ago, experts wouldn't have predicted. You did see a quick turnaround, images, a video of the North Korean

leader Kim Jong-un overseeing this entire thing. The announcement on state media called him the great leader. They called him the genius leader. They said that he personally supervised every aspect of this.

So I can tell you from being inside the country, after other successful events like this, there is a real sense of national pride that people say they feel when their country accomplishes something like this, because the government tells them this is why they have to do without the best quality food, without consistent electricity, because they're under the imminent threat of attack by the United States.

And when the United States does things like that live-fire exercise with South Korea overnight, where they launching their own missiles into the ocean, North Korea takes that narrative and they tell that to their people and say this is proof that the United States is ready to invade us and this is why we have to have these weapons.

ALLEN: We have the United States saying they will not tolerate a nuclear North Korea. But that's where -


ALLEN: -- we are. And you said earlier also, Will, that the strange thing is, China and Russia continue to fuel, so to speak, North Korea and even the economy in North Korea has improved while the world imposes sanctions to try to stop them.

RIPLEY: Right. To your first point, the United States saying they will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea. North Korean officials have told me as recently as last month, when I was in the country, they'll never give up their nuclear weapons.

So there's one stalemate right there because North Korea certainly, having come this far, despite round after round of international sanctions, they're not going to give this program up.

The last chance for them to have given up their nuclear weapons altogether would have been around 2000, when Kim Jong-un's father, Kim Jong-il, was trying to normalize relations with the United States. Back then they hadn't conducted any nuclear tests yet.

Now they have conducted five. And you're right; China and Russia continue to trade very heavily with North Korea. Billions of dollars flowing into that country, cash that helps pay for this weapons program and helped the North Korean economy grow by 4 percent last year, Natalie, despite all the sanctions.

ALLEN: That's unreal. Will Ripley, live for us in Beijing, Will, thank you for your reporting.

North Korea's missile launch comes as a trial date that has reportedly been set in the murder case of Mr. Kim's half-brother. A lawyer for one of the suspects accused of killing Kim Jong-nam says it will begin October 2nd. Police say Kim died after being exposed to VX nerve agent at a

Malaysian airport. Both South Korea and Malaysia blame North Korea for his death. The only people charged with the crime are these two women from Indonesia and Vietnam. They could face the death penalty if convicted.

A Venezuelan government ban on protests seemed to prevent large-scale demonstrations on Friday but smaller clashes erupted anyway in the capital, Caracas, as protesters blocked streets ahead of Sunday's controversial election.

The opposition fears President Nicolas Maduro is trying to create a dictatorship through the vote for a new assembly. They're receiving support from neighboring Colombia, whose president said Friday their country won't recognize the election results. Our Leyla Santiago is in Caracas with more on the rising tensions on the streets.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Altamira Plaza. It's a symbolic area for the opposition of the government. Just yesterday they banned a protest and you can still see they have blocked the road.

These are called crancas (ph) and these young men have signs that say, President Maduro, they call him the worst president and even call him corrupt. This is something that you'll see in different parts of the city.

And let me show you the support that the opposition had. You can see the Venezuelan flag; you can see press, you can see people of all ages. And as we have talked to people in this area, they have told us that this is about freedom.

This is about basic human rights because they believe that, on Sunday, the election for a new assembly that could rewrite the constitution is something that violates their rights here in Venezuela.

The government has already announced it will be deploying 378,000 troops to ensure security here in Venezuela. But if this is an indication of what the people of Venezuela will do in listening to the government, that means there's a lot of uncertainty for this weekend -- Leyla Santiago, CNN, Caracas, Venezuela.


ALLEN: President Trump talks tough on crime. But when he tells police how to treat people who are under arrest, they erupt in cheers. We'll tell you what he said and why their response was so troubling as we push on here. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.



[03:20:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)

ALLEN: U.S. president Donald Trump flew to New York Friday to talk tough on crime, especially about cracking down on violent gangs. But his remarks before uniformed officers went further, appearing to endorse some level of police brutality. Here he is.


TRUMP: When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough.

I said, please don't be too nice. Like, when you guys put someone in a car and you're protecting their head, you know, the way you put your hand over -- like, don't hit your head and they have just killed somebody, don't hit your head. I said, you can take the hand away, OK?


ALLEN: The president's words were troubling but the cheering raised even more alarm. That prompted the Suffolk County Police Department to issue this statement, "The Suffolk County Police Department has strict rules and procedures relating to the handling of prisoners and violations of those rules and procedures are treated extremely seriously.

"As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up prisoners."

In the state of Missouri, police went to the wrong address to serve a warrant and a man ended up dead. But Ismael Lopez's family and authorities have different accounts of what led to that shooting. Our Nick Valencia has more.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Explosive new details from the family attorney of 41-year-old Ismael Lopez. No one, not even police, dispute that they were at the wrong address to carry out an arrest when they mistakenly knocked on Lopez's door. Now he was never a suspect to begin with. Police in fact were looking for his neighbor.

But when they knocked on Lopez's door, they say they were confronted by an aggressive pit bull. And they also say that Lopez had a gun in his hand that he refused to drop.

Here's where the story gets all the more complicated. Lopez's wife was at home at the time of the shooting. She said not only did she not hear police give her husband verbal commands, she says that her husband did not have a gun in his hand when he was fatally shot by police.

On Friday, the attorney for the family spoke to the media, alleging that police and local officials are part of a cover-up.

MURRAY WELLS, LOPEZ FAMILY ATTORNEY: What we've learned and what you need to know is that Mr. Lopez died by a single bullet to the back of his head.

Process that with the statements made by members of the Southaven Police Department, process that with the elected officials in the city of Southaven and see how you can arrive to the conclusion of anything other than a cover-up.

It is impossible, based on the distance from the door to where Mr. Lopez rested, based on the nature of the injury, it was a gruesome, terrible thing to have to see. It was gruesome, terrible thing to have to tell that family that he was executed by a shot to the back of the head.

VALENCIA: The Southaven Police Department has not responded to CNN's repeated requests for comment, instead referring us to the district attorney. The family attorney for the Lopezes says he wants the Justice Department to launch an independent investigation -- Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.


ALLEN: Heavy rains from a typhoon have flooded parts of Manila, causing property damage and major disruptions to daily life. Some places were submerged in knee-deep water. Forecasters say the same storm system is now picking up strength and expected to hit Taiwan in the coming hours.



ALLEN: A British man told police he only had his $260,000 Ferrari for an hour before he totaled it.


ALLEN (voice-over): Look at that. The owner wrecked it Thursday off of a highway in South Yorkshire, England. Police say the road was wet when he lost control and the car went airborne.

The Ferrari looked like a fireball as you see when first responders found it. No other vehicle was involved. And the driver -- get this, he's lucky -- walked away with only minor cuts and bruises.


ALLEN: He may need to get a slower car next time.

That is CNN NEWSROOM. I'll be right back with our top stories.