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CNN NEWSROOM

German Night Club Shooting; Australian Terror Plot; North Korea Missile Threat; Trump White House; Crisis in Venezuela; Russia Investigation; Turkey Jails German Journalist; Syrian Dancer Defying the Odds. Aired 5-6 ET

Aired July 30, 2017 - 05:00   ET

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


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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A breaking story we're following this hour on CNN, a shooting in a German nightclub. It has left at least one person dead there. We will have the very latest from authorities.

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): How a major terror operation in Sydney in Australia, as Australian authorities discover an Islamist inspired plot to bring down an aircraft. The latest on that ahead.

HOWELL (voice-over): And the President of the United States slams China for not reining in Kim Jong-un and his missile program.

5:00 am on the U.S. East Coast. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES: And it is 10:00 am here in London, I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones live for you here from the British capital. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

HOWELL: Around the world, good day to you. We start this hour with the breaking news we're following. At least one person was killed, this in a shooting at a night club in Southern Germany. All this taking place in the city of Konstanz, near the Swiss border.

We understand again that three other people were seriously wounded there at that nightclub. Now here is what we know about the shooter. Police say that he was a 34-year-old man. He was killed in a shootout with police officers. At this point the motive for the shooting still unclear.

Let's go live Germany. Journalist Chris Burns is on the phone with us this hour from Berlin following the story.

And Chris, first of all, what more can you tell us?

What more do you know at this point?

CHRIS BURNS, JOURNALIST: Well, George, details are very, very sketchy at the moment. What we do know is that this was a shooting that happened at 4:30 am local time in the resort town, you could call it, Konstanz, in a dance club called Gray Konstanz (ph), the industrial district of the city.

A 34-year-old man began shooting inside the club. One person was killed, three seriously wounded. People were scrambling for cover as news reports say here in Germany. There was a shootout with police. The man was fatally wounded. He died later of his wounds.

And in the shootout, a police officer was also wounded seriously. As you say, the motive is still under investigation. They're still trying to determine exactly he went into the club to begin shooting.

SO that remains very much open at this point -- George.

HOWELL: Just to get a better sense of exactly when this happened, what time this happened, can you tell us anything that you've learned from authorities about that?

They said the time of 4:30 am, this is obviously a very -- that time dance clubs like those are quite busy. Lots of people usually. It is a perfect time for people to go dancing in the middle the night and it is a college town, a university town.

So a lot of young people there as well. So it was -- could have been a target but, again, people say -- the police are saying that there is not clear what the motive was, that we have to be very careful about that. What caused that man to go in there and begin shooting.

HOWELL: Chris Burns on the phone, following this shooting, again, that took place in a German night club; at least one person killed there.

Chris, thank you for the reporting. We will, of course, stay in touch with you as we learn more about this situation.

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES: To Australia now, where the prime minister says police have foiled a terrorist plot to blow up an airplane. Four man are now in custody and are currently being questioned. Police say the plot itself is Islamist inspired but they are not saying if a specific terrorist group is involved.

The authorities rounded up the four men in weekend raids in Sydney. They say they became aware of a conspiracy to crash a plane using an improvised device.

Extra security measures are now in place at airports across Australia. CNN's Anna Coren is at the Sydney airport and joins me live from there now.

Anna, with these extra security measures, presumably that's having an immediate impact on passenger movements within the airport where you are.

ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Yes, Hannah, things are quite orderly, in fact, but the security has definitely been increased across all airports in Australia, international and domestic.

Certainly here at Sydney domestic airport we are seeing increased police presence. Passengers have been asked to arrive much earlier so that they can go through that additional screening process.

Otherwise, it seems quite orderly, obviously this comes after that foiled terror plots it to blow up an Australian plane. Police got a tipoff yesterday and they moved very quickly. Heavily armed counterterrorism police officers raiding five properties across Sydney, one --

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COREN: -- in the inner city; the others in the southwestern suburbs of Sydney.

And as you say, four men arrested. Now the prime minister claims that this was not a lone wolf attack, that this was in fact an elaborate and credible conspiracy which is why police moved on it straightaway.

And he says that this threat is very real. Let's take a listen.

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MALCOLM TURNBULL, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: We have strong transport security systems in place in Australia to prevent acts of terrorism. Upon the receipt of advice from our security and intelligence agencies, the government moved swiftly in order to protect the public while operations were underway.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: Now, Hannah, this is going to be an ongoing operation, authorities saying that police will continue these for days, searches on these properties, gathering evidence, to obviously charge these men -- Hannah.

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES: And, Anna, there are four men, as you say, in custody, not yet charged, though.

Do we have any indication from the authorities as to whether these four men were on the terror radar in some way?

COREN: Police are remaining tightlipped with those details. We don't know their names, their ages. We don't know if they were on a terror watchlist. But certainly here in Australia, under terrorism laws, it means that police can hold terror suspects for up to a week without charging them.

So as I say, that operation is ongoing, it will continue today as police gather that evidence. We understand that already suspicious devices have been found at numerous locations. But the justice minister here in Australia said that this was the 13th foiled attack, terror attack plot. And that this is really the result of the ISIS- inspired homegrown terrorism here in Australia.

Numerous arrests, numerous raids over the years as people who are either sympathetic to what has been happening over in the Middle East or have been fighting over in the Middle East have returned home. Certainly security and intelligence agencies here in Australia have been having to keep across this homegrown activity -- Hannah.

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES: Anna, we appreciate your reporting. Anna Coren there live for us in Sydney, thank you.

HOWELL: That's the reporting. Let's delve deeper to get some analysis now with Clark Jones. Clark is a counterterrorism expert and a visiting fellow at Australian National University, live with us from Australia this hour.

It's good to have you with us, Clark. First of all, we know that four people are in custody. This though raises the bigger question could this plot that was foiled, could have been an indication of much broader network there in the nation?

CLARK JONES, AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY: It's really hard to say. I spend a lot of time working with Muslim communities in Melbourne and Sydney. I hear different stories and I hear it is -- we don't want to get -- we don't want to make it sound much bigger than it is.

I think what we can say is there are quite a number of young people that may be sympathetic, not necessarily to violence (ph) but certainly that they feel oppressed or the world is not on equal footing.

And I think they -- there's a lot to do with how young people feel, whether they lack a sense of identity to, in this case, to Australia. So it's hard to get an exact number but there are certainly -- it's all concerned that we have young people that may feel that they need to take this sort of action and it is very violent and can be tragic action.

So it's hard to put a number on it, I would suggest.

HOWELL: All right, well, let's talk more just about this type of terrorism that that we're seeing, the ISIS-inspired homegrown terror.

What do authorities see you as their biggest concerns there?

CLARK JONES: Well, it's been what the government -- the government is really planning terrorism as the number one national security concern in Australia. And I think statistics, as a criminologist, I might argue that there are probably five greater threats in Australia than terrorism.

But there are a number of things at play. And certainly those that feel marginalized or young people who feel marginalized or aggrieved at the West, so to speak, or they don't feel that they belong to Australia or they feel that what's happening overseas in Palestine and Israel, what happened in Syria and Iraq, there's a different number of reasons what might cause young people to want to act out in this sort of ask (ph).

If that's what's going to play out in this case. But we're certainly had a number of plots foiled by --

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CLARK JONES: -- police and intelligence agencies, which shows there is a concern and we need to do something about it.

But how we actually go about addressing this problem is a big issue at the moment. And I don't think we have the right answers yet.

HOWELL: Clark Jones is a counterterrorism expert live with us from Australia. Thank you so much today for the insight on this story we're following.

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES: The United States is answering North Korea's latest missile test with its own show of force. Officials say two U.S. B-1 bombers joined aircraft from Japan and South Korea in a flyover of the Korean Peninsula.

Meanwhile, U.S. president Donald Trump took to Twitter to slam China over the North Korea issue. He wrote, quote, "I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade. Yet they do nothing for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem."

The Pentagon has confirmed Friday's launch by the Kim regime was indeed an intercontinental ballistic missile. North Korea said it should be seen as a, quote, " grave warning" to the U.S. and experts say a similar missile could strike major U.S. Cities.

Let's get the very latest from the region with CNN's Will Ripley who joins me now live from Beijing in China.

Will, before we go on to Donald Trump's tweet and China's reaction to that, I just wanted to get your response to what we're hearing from Pyongyang, now saying that they will respond with, quote, "firm action" if these U.S. sanctions persist.

Can you translate what "firm action" might mean from North Korea?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know. I think that statement may have been written in a deliberate way to keep people guessing about what North Korea's response will be if President Trump signs these sanctions that were overwhelmingly approved by the House and the Senate.

Although I have to say, when I was in the country, just last month, officials there didn't seem particularly fazed by the prospect of more sanctions. They said they'd lived through heavy sanctions for so many years and continue to grow their weapons program. Have also continued to grow their economy by almost 4 percent last

year, due in large part to their trade relationship with China. Maybe this rhetoric is an indication that, inside North Korea, they're starting to feel the pinch of the sanctions a bit more.

We now that China has not purchased any coal from the country for quite some time, since late last year, and that is a major source of revenue for the regime -- Hannah.

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES: And going on to Donald Trump's tweets, about China, that we had this weekend, he's gone from gushing praise really over Beijing to damning disappointment.

What kind of reaction will we get from China?

RIPLEY: The pendulum has really shifted, had swung back to the way it was in March, when President Trump was tweeting these provocative tweets kind of trying to bait Beijing for some sort of a response.

Remember right before Secretary Tillerson visited here in Beijing in March, he tweeted just hours before that meeting that China wasn't doing anything about North Korea and implying that there might be some trade deal difficulties with the United States if China did not work with the U.S. to rein in North Korea.

But then his tone shifted after his meeting in the United States with Chinese president Xi Jinping. And then we saw a series of tweets, praising Xi as a wise leader, a great leader, saying that the two had had excellent meetings and that Trump believed that China would do something about North Korea.

Clearly, he does not feel that way anymore. And this is a dramatic shift even from what he was saying just two weeks ago when he was in France. Listen.

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TRUMP: Well, he's a friend of mine. I have great respect for him. We've gotten to know each other very well. A great leader, he is a very talented man, I think he is a very good man. He loves China, I can tell you. He loves China. He wants to do what is right for China.

We've asked him some assistance with respect to North Korea, probably he could do a little bit more but we'll find out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIPLEY: President Trump now clearly annoyed by the fact that North Korea has launched two ICBMs in the past month. President Xi gave a speech at a military parade in Inner Mongolia and did not mention Trump's tweets whatsoever, which is not a surprise. Beijing has a policy not to respond directly to the president's tweets.

But they did put on quite a military parade to mark the 90th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army, showing off their latest stealth fighters and even their own nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles.

North Korea, of course, put out its own video over the weekend, a slickly produced video, showing its ICBMs that analysts do believe would have the potential to strike a good portion of mainland U.S., from the West Coast, Los Angeles, Seattle, all the way to Chicago -- Hannah.

JONES: Will , we appreciate it. Will Ripley live for us in Beijing. Thank you.

HOWELL: Around the world this hour, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM and still ahead, the U.S. president --

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HOWELL: -- again, on Twitter, blasting the Senate's failure to repeal ObamaCare and demand they change Senate rules to move the agenda forward. We'll have that story.

Plus moving General John Kelly to the White House as Chief of Staff creates an opening at Homeland Security and some in Washington are wondering if that job should now go to the embattled Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. More on that as NEWSROOM pushes on.

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HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

U.S. president Donald Trump has been busy on Twitter. Certainly was on Saturday. Venting about losing a crucial Senate vote last week to roll back ObamaCare.

Stunned over being denied a much-needed win, he wrote, "Unless the Republican senators are total quitters, repeal and replace is not dead. Demand another vote before voting on any other bill."

Well, earlier, the president demanded Republicans change Senate rules in order to move legislation forward.

"Republican Senate must get rid of 60 votes now, he said. "It is killing the Republican Party, allows eight Democrats to control the country 200 bills sit in the Senate, a joke."

Moving John Kelly from Homeland Security to become White House chief of staff may have created something of an opening to solve another of the president's headaches, what to do about the embattled U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions.

But at least one prominent Republican is frowning on even the possibility of having Sessions replace Kelly at Homeland Security. In a pair of tweets himself, Senator Lindsey Graham mused, "Attorney general Jeff Sessions has a good ring to it." And then he added, "Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeff Sessions just doesn't sound right, doesn't feel right."

Well, the most bizarre moments from the past week was perhaps the shocking and vulgar rant by new White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci. His invective targeted senior Trump aides, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus.

Priebus was of course out by Friday. Let's bring in "The New York Times" London bureau chief, Steve Erlanger. He joins me now in the studio.

Many thanks for coming in. So much for a clean slate with Anthony Scaramucci. This profanity laced interview where he slagged off all of his closest aides.

From a marketing, from a communications perspective, how bad has this last week been?

STEVEN ERLANGER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, for Trump, it's one of the worst weeks of any president that I can remember. t

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ERLANGER: I mean, it is not just the Scaramucci vulgarity and his gymnastic imagination of how Steve Bannon might behave. But this is a president that has gone to war against his own party. And that doesn't usually go very well because the Senate is only 51 Republicans. He needs every possible vote and screaming at them, yelling at them, blaming them for his own failures is not going to make friends.

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES: You're of course talking about health care. It was John McCain, Senator McCain who put the final nail in the coffin, if you like.

Did it have to be the old-school establishment maverick to seal the deal for Donald Trump?

Was it inevitable that it was going to be him?

ERLANGER: Well, it fits his reality show life. The fact is he'd slagged off John McCain during the campaign then he claimed he was a hero. Now McCain represents the traditional Republican Party, though he is a bit of a maverick personally.

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES: And of course he's gained a huge amount of sympathy and support recently with his own health --

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ERLANGER: -- and also for his prisoner of war status, where he was quite brave but McCain is very skeptical of Russia, very skeptical of Putin, does not understand the Trump romance with Russia, defends the NATO alliance. He is much more of a traditional Republican than Trump is. Trump has a very different view of the world. And you know McCain

simply, I think decided that pulling health care away from X million number of Americans without a replacement was a bad idea.

So I think people admire that.

JONES: And other Republicans who has been on the Donald Trump's side really from the very beginning, unlike John McCain, and yet is really getting it in the neck now from the president in a very public manner is of course the attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

Can you see him potentially moving to Homeland Security and out of the top legal job in the country?

ERLANGER: Well, the only reason Trump would want to do that is so he could replace him as attorney general with someone who would fire Robert Mueller, the special investigator, into alleged Trump campaign ties to Russia.

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES: It all comes back to Russia.

ERLANGER: It does come back to Russia. This is Trump's obsession. This obsesses him constantly. He's talking about pardoning. I mean, he is pulling the wings off people. He enjoys doing that. He did that with Sessions but Republicans went to Trump and said, you will not fire Jeff Sessions.

And he has done that with Reince Priebus, who did resign, fine -- or was fired but that may be a good thing for the Trump White House because John Kelly should provide a certain degree of discipline that Priebus was unable to provide.

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES: Pulling the wings off everyone except for family members, though. Jared Kushner, of course, his son-in-law, who -- it seems like such a long time ago now -- but it was just last week that he was also giving some testimony to the Senate and the House committees as well.

What have we learned from that?

ERLANGER: Well, we haven't learned all that much except there was a complacency about dealing with Russia and there was a complacency with the idea of getting detrimental information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.

They didn't tell the FBI. They seem to think this was a great idea and that, I think, gave the Russians -- and one doesn't want to exaggerate this -- a sense that they could do a certain kind of business with Trump.

The problem is, when this comes out, it makes it very, very difficult. So in the end, what Trump has had to do was swallow new sanctions against Russia, imposed on him by his own Republican Party in the Senate.

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES: Which he hasn't actually signed yet. But we expect him to --

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ERLANGER: He says that he will but you never know what Trump -- he could wake up and do a new Twitter --

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES: I was going to say --

(CROSSTALK)

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES: -- we wait to see what happens on his feed.

As ever, Steven Erlanger, thank you very much for coming in and speaking to us. We appreciate it.

ERLANGER: Thank you.

HOWELL: We following a story in Venezuela. Polls set to open in that nation in just about an hour's time for a critical vote that could give President Nicolas Maduro sweeping powers.

Voters will elect members of a new assembly that could rewrite the nation's constitution. The opposition is calling for boycott because it says the assembly could essentially turn President Maduro into a dictator.

There have been violent clashes leading up to the vote. Protests are planned for Sunday, despite a ban on demonstrations there. In the meantime, millions of Venezuelans are caught between violence and a brutal economic crisis.

CNN's Paula Newton reports from Caracas on how people there are simply trying to survive.

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PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a snapshot of everyday life here now. (INAUDIBLE) protesters hurl homemade Molotov cocktails at authorities, in the middle of the street. But now look beyond the chaos and look there.

Right there and you see how Venezuelans are caught in the crossfire.

This auto repair shop has seen it all, vandalized, robbed; a grenade fell on a car. Joel --

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NEWTON (voice-over): -- Escalante (ph), the security guard, says protesters beat him and cut his head open, believing he was spying for the government.

"All I want to do is work and they hurt me, "he said.

"If I don't work, what do I bring home?" The employees here are less than 50 feet away from scenes like this. Through all the street combat, they try to carry on with their work. It's a portrait the details survival and resilient.

NEWTON: One of the things that is so disarming when you're covering these protests here in Caracas is that you have all of these confrontations on the street and yet people are getting on with their everyday lives.

That includes going to church. And you can see there those are people who are just leaving a church service.

NEWTON (voice-over): The endless confrontations can pop up anywhere and they're just another thing to contend with. But this woman tells us not to mistake Venezuelans' survival instinct for resignation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I continue here in Venezuela because I love the country. It's, for me, the best country here, humanity.

NEWTON (voice-over): Humanity, she says. Even on the front lines, there's still plenty of it to be found here -- Paula Newton, CNN, Caracas.

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HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES: Paula, thanks for your reporting there.

Still ahead on CNN NEWSROOM this hour, the Kremlin strikes back at the United States over new sanctions. We will have a live report from Moscow after this break.

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GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): 5:00 am here on the U.S. East Coast. We want to welcome our viewers back here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones live for you in London, where it's just gone 10:30 this Sunday morning. Let's bring you up to speed with the headlines we're following this hour.

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HOWELL: Bringing you now to Russia, which is making good on its threat to retaliate for new U.S. sanctions. Those sanctions aim to punish Moscow for meddling in last year's U.S. presidential election.

Now the Kremlin is ordering deep cuts in the U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia. Our Clare Sebastian is following the story live from the Russian capital this hour.

Clare, it's good to have you. What more do we know at this point, exactly how many people will be

forced to leave their posts at the U.S. embassy there in Moscow?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: George, we don't know exactly how many people this affects. U.S. diplomatic sources told us that the U.S. is still seeking to clarify this. Now as for the Russian side, they say fake media reporting according to the foreign ministry that 745 people will be affected. We don't know exactly what positions; we don't know where exactly the embassy in Moscow as well as three other consulates around Russia.

But if it's anywhere near that number it will be a very serious response from Russia. Russia says that it's level the playing field here, trying to bring the level of diplomats in Russia down to the level that Russia has in the U.S. That s according to them 455 people.

You remember back in December when the Obama administration expelled Russia diplomats, they expelled 35 people. So there's certainly a need to clarify where these numbers are going to stand.

But this isn't the only thing that's causing confusion and tensions just 48 hours after this was announced. The U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, put out a statement Saturday when he said that the sanctions bill in the U.S. reflects the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the U.S.

Now the Russian embassy in Washington has responded fairly sharply to that, saying this cannot but raise eyebrows. And in another tweet they said that Washington still doesn't get the fact that pressure never works against Russia. So you can see that rhetoric and tensions are still rising, even as the full implications of this are coming clear.

HOWELL: The question with this ongoing, this discussion, these mixed messages as well that we see between Washington sending to Moscow, is there a sense that there could be further retaliation?

SEBASTIAN: Russia is making clear that this is still very much on the table. The foreign ministry in its very first statement that it put out said that it reserved the right to retaliate further.

And we're hearing more about this, the deputy foreign minister gave an interview to ABC on Friday, where he said that they have, quote, "a rich (ph) to work at their disposal." But he wouldn't disclose just yet what that could mean. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be a complete professional failure on my part to disclose any of the options at this moment. But I can assure you that different options are on the table and consideration is being given to all sorts of things, both symmetrical -- or as symmetrical -- to use a very popular word in the world of diplomacy.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SEBASTIAN: Asymmetrical, George, a word that you and I have discussed many times before. It simply means that Russia might do something very different to what the U.S. has done to it. Certainly --

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SEBASTIAN: -- we've seen that from Russia in the past. President Putin today, who himself has been very clear that Russia stands ready to retaliate if needed, is taking part in a military parade, a naval parade in St. Petersburg today, a very big event, preplanned but it still reflects the sense that you get from Russia today, that they are, they want to be seen as a global power to be reckoned with and they are ready to defend themselves, both militarily and politically -- George.

HOWELL: Clare Sebastian, live for us in the Russian capital, Clare, thank you for the reporting today.

JONES: Staying with Russia, an American businessman accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of stashing away billions of dollars. Bill Browder testified before U.S. lawmakers just last week. And as Brian Todd now reports, he spoke not just about the Russian leader but also about some of the participants in that controversial meeting Donald Trump Jr. had last year with a Russian lawyer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An enemy of Vladimir Putin makes a bold appearance on Capitol Hill and tells senators of what he calls Putin's kleptocracy.

BILL BROWDER, U.S. BUSINESS MAN: Vladimir Putin, believe to be the richest man in the world. I believe he is worth $200 billion. That money is held all over the world in banks in America and all over.

The purpose of Putin's regime has been to commit terrible crimes in order to get that money.

TODD (voice-over): Bill Browder is a wealthy financier who spent years working in Russia. He is now waging an anticorruption campaign against the Russian president. Browder claims Putin demanded a cut from Russia's richest business men who feared being targeted for persecution by the regime.

BROWDER: And he said very straightforward 50 percent. Now 50 percent for the Russian government or 50 percent for the presidential administration of Russia, 50 percent for Vladimir Putin.

TODD (voice-over): CNN cannot independently verify Browder's assertions about Putin's wealth or his maneuvering and he provided no evidence in his public testimony. Browder is not an objective observer of Putin and e admits he has got a personal ax to grind. Browder hired a Russian lawyer named Sergei Magnitsky, who exposed a $230 million fraud scheme benefiting people linked to Putin, a scheme which Browder ripped off his firm.

Magnitsky was arrested and jailed under suspicious circumstances and later died in Russian custody.

Sergei Magnitsky is dead. He has suffered terribly and is dead because he was my lawyer.

Browder dropped another bombshell in Congress, tying the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. last year, Natalia Veselnitskaya, closer to Putin. Browder admits he has got no firsthand knowledge of that meeting with Trump Jr. but says he knows about the players in the meeting.

Veselnitskaya is linked to Putin, according to Browder, a man named Pyotr Katsyv, a high-ranking official in Putin's government.

BROWDER: She is working with the Katsyv family, which is a senior Putin regime family. The Katsyv family works very closely with Yury Chaika, who was a general prosecutor of Russia and Yury Chaika is effectively Putin's enforcer.

Veselnitskaya and Kremlin officials deny she's ever worked for the Russian government but Browder believes Russian intelligence would have known about Veselnitskaya's Trump Tower meeting in advance with the goal to push for the Magnitsky Act to be overturned.

That American law spearheaded by Browder sanctions individual Russians close to Putin.

BEN JUDAH, AUTHOR: His allies, his oligarchs, his chiefs of police and the military can pillage the country and then store those assets in the West. And they're permitted to do so by Vladimir Putin as long as they get loyalty in return.

What they then give Putin back in return is enthusiasm, support, a cut.

TODD (voice-over): Putin denies that and says the investigation into the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia is not legitimate.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): What we see is merely a growth of anti-Russian hysteria and the utilization of Russophobia for domestic politics.

TODD (voice-over): But Bill Browder's effort to uncover Putin's alleged deeds, he says, has come at a huge personal cost.

TODD: What are the security threats you've received?

BROWDER: The Russian government has made numerous death threats against me. They want to kill me. They'd like to kidnap me. They'd like to have me arrested and sent back to Russia.

TODD: Putin and his aides have repeatedly denied Browder's claims. They accuse Browder of committing financial crimes in Russia, which they have convicted him in absentia of and which Browder refuse.

As for Browder's claims that Putin has amassed huge personal wealth, Putin has called that accusation, quote, "garbage" -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Brian, thank you.

Still ahead this hour, a diplomatic crisis is brewing between Berlin and Ankara. Why Turkey claims it's arrested German citizens -- ahead.

Plus they say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Just wait until you see the steps this dancer has taken to find a new home and to fulfill his dream. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: Relations between Germany and Turkey are deteriorating. This after Turkish police arrested German nationals and accused them of terrorist activities. CNN's Atika Shubert interviewed the partners of two detainees. They say these allegations are absurd.

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ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When Dilek Mayaturk decided to marry Deniz Yucel, it was not the wedding of her dreams.

"It was not a celebration," she told us. "We had two witnesses and an officiate. It was on one of her open visitation days so we could hold hands. But it was nothing more than that.

"We said our vows and I had to let my husband go."

That man, Deniz Yucel, is a journalist. He has been in solitary confinement in a Turkish prison for more than 150 days with no indictment against him. The reason for his arrest: propaganda in support of a terrorist organization and inciting public violence.

His articles for Germany's respected "Die Welt" newspaper were submitted as evidence by Turkish authorities. Yucel is Turkish but also a German citizen.

This month, human rights activist Peter Steudtner was arrested along with nine others, charged with, quote, "committing crimes in the name of a terrorist organization," without being a member. He was arrested in the midst of a workshop in IT security training in mental health for human rights workers, including Amnesty International.

His partner spoke to us in Berlin.

MAGDALENA FREUDENSCHUSS, PETER STEUDTNER'S PARTNER: If international organizations and their -- [05:45:00]

FREUDENSCHUSS: -- human rights defenders are under threat I think this is a threat for everyone.

SHUBERT: He was actually preparing --

SHUBERT (voice-over): She tries to be stoic but she admits their two children miss their father, especially when he is not there to read a story before bedtime.

FREUDENSCHUSS: For me, it's important to know or try to feel that he is with himself and he's -- that there is a strength with him.

SHUBERT (voice-over): There are about 3 million Turkish nationals in Germany. There have been massive rallies in support of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on German soil but there have also been several NATO military personnel seeking asylum here after the failed coup attempt against Erdogan last year.

Now there are fears that German nationals may be held as political hostages, as one senior politician put it. Germany's foreign ministry has asked its citizens traveling to Turkey to exercise caution.

Both Dilek and Magdalena do not want to imagine their loved ones becoming political bargaining chips. Pretrial detention in Turkey can last years. Both are determined to fight the charges.

"He said from the beginning, I went in as a journalist and I want to come out as a journalist," she says. "I expect a fair trial. And as absurd and fantastic as the accusations are, we are not going to answer them with anger because we are in the right," she says.

Germany is demanding their unconditional release and threatening to reassess its relationship with Turkey with possible travel and trade restrictions. Turkey insists the law must take its course; for the families, that is an agonizing wait -- Atika Shubert, CNN, Berlin.

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JONES: In Syria, civil war has robbed countless people of everything from their lives to their livelihoods. But despite unimaginable challenges, one Syrian man is refusing to allow the war to take something from him: his dream. And as our Salma Abdelaziz now reports, three simple words are giving this one dancer all the courage that he needs.

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SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): Dance or die. For Ahmad Joudeh, these words are a promise to himself and a challenge to his enemies. Ballet dancer, not Syrian refugee or stateless Palestinian is his true identity. AHMAD JOUDEH, BALLET DANCER: I felt when I dance for the first time this is who I am. And as I was born as a refugee in a camp, all my life, being annoyed, now the whole world call me the dancer.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Growing up in Damascus, few supported Joudeh's passion. He says his father even beat him for it and eventually left the family.

Joudeh continued his ballet education. He quickly became a rising star, competing on the Arab version of "So You Think You Can Dance."

But his success made him a target. In 2015, ISIS stormed his neighborhood. They threatened Joudeh, telling him dancing was punishable by death.

Joudeh inked his own message of deficit on the back of his neck, permanently.

JOUDEH: I did my tattoo on my neck, "Dance or die," because if they wanted to cut my head I want them to see this as the last thing they can see, dance or die.

Family members were killed; his home destroyed. But Joudeh remained unbowed, dancing on rooftops and even on the ancient ruins of Palmyra, where the terror group had once beheaded innocents.

Last year, the Dutch National Ballet sponsored Joudeh to come study and live in Amsterdam. He's safe and thriving now. He recently performed in front of the Eiffel Tower.

But his mind is never at ease.

JOUDEH: When I think of my family, it's hard to breathe (ph), especially while I'm dancing.

I was doing the audition and a certain point, my country and my family, they came to my mind and I couldn't even move and I couldn't breathe.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Joudeh's journey has changed at least one mind: his dad's, now a refugee in Germany.

JOUDEH: I was visiting him in Berlin.

ABDELAZIZ: Just five days ago.

JOUDEH: Yes. And he was dancing in his house.

(LAUGHTER)

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): The 27-year old believes ballet can and will warm dark hearts and open closed minds.

JOUDEH: It gives me the proof that I can change the whole world if I'm really believing in myself.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: An inspiring young man there with a wonderful talent.

Coming up, on the program, heavy storms bring dangerous flash flooding to parts of the U.S.

[05:50:00]

JONES (voice-over: And more rain is on the way to some of those areas. (INAUDIBLE) details next with a full forecast for you.

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HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell. Heavy rain has brought flash floods to the mid-Atlantic U.S. and more rain could be on the way.

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JONES: George, thank you for your company and thank you everyone at home for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones in London.

HOWELL: Hannah, always a pleasure. I'm George Howell in Atlanta. For our viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is ahead. For viewers around the world, Erin Burnett "OUTFRONT" will follow after a look at your headlines. Thanks for watching CNN, the world's news leader.