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North Korea Threatens; FBI Raids Manafort Home; Lawsuit over Trump's Business Ties Heads to Court; Trump Administration's Mixed Messages on North Korea; China Calls on U.S. & North Korea to Reduce Tensions; North Korea Threatens to Launch 4 Missiles Near Guam; Suspect Arrested in Attack on French Soldiers; Netanyahu Defiant in Face of Criminal Probes; NASA Searches for Planetary Protector. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired August 10, 2017 - 02:00   ET




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

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Ahead this hour, the war of words over nuclear weapons is escalating. North Korea responding to Donald Trump's threat by mocking him.

SESAY (voice-over): The Russia investigation heats up. New details on a surprise FBI raid at the home of Donald Trump's former campaign manager.

VAUSE (voice-over): And Israel's prime minister takes a page out of Donald Trump's playbook. Benjamin Netanyahu blaming the opposition and the media for all his problems.

SESAY (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE (voice-over): I'm John Vause. Great to have you with us for this third hour of NEWSROOM L.A.


SESAY: Well, North Korea is offering detailed plans for a military strike on Guam. An army general says Pyongyang would launch four missiles that would cross over Japan and land in the waters near the U.S. territory. The military says it will present the plan to Kim Jong-un in a matter of days.

VAUSE: Meantime, there are mixed messages coming from the U.S. Deputy secretary James Mattis says North Korea should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.

But the secretary of state Rex Tillerson had a refueling stop in Guam was a little more reassuring. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think the Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days. I think the president, again, as commander in chief, I think he felt it necessary to issue a very strong statement directly to North Korea.

But I think what the president was just reaffirming is the United States has the capability to fully defend itself from any attack and defend our allies and we will do so. So the American people should sleep well at night.


Los Angeles is an American journalist vacationing on the island of Guam. And earlier I asked him the reaction there to this more detailed threat of a military strike from North Korea.


ROBERT SANTOS, JOURNALIST: Certainly the majority of people did not lose any sleep. They went to bed yesterday, knowing what was said but also resigned to the fact that there's not much they can do, that they could simply rely on their faith and God -- this is a predominantly Catholic island -- and rely and be confident in our island leaders, all the way up to the White House.

But waking up this morning, certainly hearing these threats again, it was definitely a shock to hear it. I think it got definitely a lot of people saying, wait a minute, is this possible?

Is this guy serious?

Talking about Kim Jong-un. But you also have some people who are saying, we are protected. One particular resident I spoke to -- I spoke to dozens of residents here -- and they actually told me that President Trump, in his peculiar and unconventional way, is upholding the sanctions as best as he could.

I'm glad we have a president who can stand up to a tyrant like Kim Jong-un and you have others who are saying it's because of President Trump, letting his ego get in the way of decision-making that we are caught in the middle, that Guam is caught in the middle between the U.S. and North Korea.

VAUSE: So Robert, there's still a lot of questions about the North Korean missiles, their range, their accuracy, the distance they can travel.

How much confidence is there on the island in the U.S.' military ability to defend the island?

SANTOS: Well, there's certainly a lot of confidence. Our government has assured us. Our Congress woman has assured us well that they are getting the assurances from the top military leaders all the way to the White House.

So we're extremely confident. Guam is a patriot as much as any state in the mainland. We have fighters here on the island who have been involved in just about every war that the U.S. has been involved in.

So not only do we have the manpower here but we believe that there are sufficient U.S. military assets here to protect the island. Having said that, there are certainly some people who say, are we really certain of that?

We really don't know North Korea's full capabilities.


SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) speaking to us a short time ago.

CNN's Alexandra Field joins us now from Seoul, South Korea.

Alex, South Korea's a hold National Security Council meeting shortly.

What are the expectations for that gathering?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly they're going to condemn the kind of rhetoric we've been hearing from North Korea specifically in recent days. It's not unusual to see these kinds of emergency meetings of the National Security Council.

You see them oftentimes after there is a ballistic missile launch from North Korea. You certainly saw them after those two ICBM launches just last July. After those launches happened, they not only came out condemning that and saying that there would be a strong reaction that was followed by statements from the president and the Blue House at the time, talking about what South Korea could do to continue to build up its defenses and to work with its partner, its ally, the United States, in maintaining readiness to protect the South Koreans and the American citizens who live right here on the peninsula along with the 20 million or so people who live in the Seoul metropolitan area.

You do of course have 30,000 U.S. troops --


FIELD: -- positioned here, 200,000 American expatriates who are living here.

So certainly the government officials here are constantly projecting that they're working closely with the allies and doing everything that is necessary to create the defense that is needed especially during these incredibly tense moments on the peninsula.

South Korean officials have been listening closely as they have heard this war of words that's been reverberating around the world from Washington to Pyongyang. They're not by any means fanning the flames. They don't speak in the kind of fiery tones that you have heard from both the President of the United States and also directly from North Korea.

But they are sending a firm message today. You've had defense officials publicly speaking out again condemning Pyongyang, calling the threats to conduct a strike targeting Guam "absurd," also calling that a challenge to the U.S. and South Korean alliance, this deeply- rooted defense relationship that has stood firm for decades and decades, a relationship that people here in South Korea depend on so deeply.

But they're also sending this message to Pyongyang, saying that any further provocation will be met with a response. We've heard that from them before and they're also saying that provocation could be met with a military response.

So they are certain trying to project strength while also calling for Pyongyang to lower the temperature here -- Isha.

SESAY: We know that South Korea's new president was elected with the platform of engaging with Pyongyang.

In light of this heightened rhetoric and the missile launches last month in July, is that still this administration's approach?

Do they still cling to hope or being able to engage with Kim Jong-un?

FIELD: This administration, frankly, like the Trump administration, in this respect, is looking at a lot of different approaches. So, yes, they want to look at how they can best improve their defense and deterrent capabilities.

But, yes, this is a president who came to power with the promise that he was going to work toward dialogue, toward a different kind of relationship with the regime than the conservative government that was his predecessor had had.

And he has not moved off that point. In fact, the South Korean government has continued to issue an invitation to the North Korean government to engage in talks. That investigation was not responded to; there was a brief encounter between the foreign ministers of both countries just over the weekend at a diplomatic gathering in Manila, during which it was reported that the South Korean foreign minister asked for some kind of response to that invitation to dialogue.

The North Korean foreign minister responded by saying that it wasn't believed that the South Korean invitation was in fact sincere. But that invitation does remain on the table and South Korea has been very much behind these very tough sanctions that have been leveled against North Korea.

They are hopeful that sanctions and pressure will work here. But they want to see dialogue. They believe that bringing people to the negotiating table could be the peaceful way to progress toward some kind of more stable situation here -- Isha.

SESAY: Alexandra Field joining us there from Seoul, South Korea. Alexandra, thank you. VAUSE: Well, the U.S. president is no stranger to hyperbole and

exaggeration. But his threat of fire and fury like the world has never seen caught many off guard.

SESAY: Sources say Mr. Trump improvised that line but it's pretty similar to things he's said in the past.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- grassroots movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.

We're all part of this very historic movement, a movement the likes of which, actually, the world has never seen before.

Unemployment is the lowest it's been in 17 years. Business enthusiasm is about as high as they have ever seen it.

We're being very, very strong on our southern border and I would say the likes of which this country certainly has never seen.


SESAY: Looking back, President Trump has some longstanding views on the threat from Pyongyang. Our own Suzanne Malveaux reports.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not the first time the president has brought up using nuclear weapons but it's the most stark.

TRUMP: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

MALVEAUX (voice-over): For those left wondering what the president meant, a clue in a pari of interviews from 1999.

TRUMP: First I'd negotiate. I would negotiate like crazy and I'd make sure that we try to get the best deal possible.

North Korea's totally out of control and would you rather have a very serious chat with them now and, if necessary, you might have to do something fairly drastic?

Or would you rather have to go after them in five years --


TRUMP: -- when they have more nuclear warheads and missiles than we do?

MALVEAUX (voice-over): It's not just talk. President Trump now holds the nuclear codes and has the sole discretion to launch an attack and he hasn't ruled it out. TRUMP: If he does a nuclear test, I will not be happy.

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS HOST: Not happy meaning military action?

TRUMP: I don't know. I mean, we'll see.

MALVEAUX (voice-over): Candidate Trump's apparatus lack of understanding about nuclear weapons was often on display as in this CNN debate when he was asked about the so-called nuclear triad.

HUGH HEWITT, TALK RADIO PERSONALITY: The three legs of the triad, though, do you have a priority?

And I want to go to Senator Rubio --

TRUMP: No, I think -- I think for me nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.

MALVEAUX (voice-over): The nuclear triad refers to the three ways the U.S. is capable of launching nuclear weapons, either by plane, submarine or missile silo.

Another eye-popping campaign moment: this from "Morning Joe" on Trump's foreign policy briefings.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: Three times he asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked at one point, if we have them, why can't we use them?

MALVEAUX (voice-over): The Trump campaign denied the exchange but Trump says he would consider using nuclear weapons against another foe, ISIS.

TRUMP: I'd be the last one to use the nuclear weapons.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: So do you think --


TRUMP: -- sort of like the end of --

MATTHEWS: Can you tell the Middle East we're not using the nuclear weapon --


TRUMP: -- say that. I would never take any of my cards off the table.

MATTHEWS: How about --

MALVEAUX (voice-over): While the president wants his cards on the table, North Korea's Kim Jong-un wants seat at the table of nuclear nations. TRUMP: Obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie. but we have a situation that we just cannot let -- we cannot let what's been going on for a long period of years continue.

MALVEAUX (voice-over): So as North Korea escalates its threats, President Trump is doing the same -- Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: Carl Baker joins us now. He's with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank dealing with global challenges.

Carl, thank you for being with us. Giving everything that we've heard from the U.S. president over the years and in particular over the recent election campaign, how confident are you that he understands the full implications of just threatening to use nuclear weapons?

CARL BAKER, CSIS: Yes, it's clear from the background that you've just provided that he has not fully understood the implication of either the use of nuclear weapons nor even the threat.

But I'm sure that, over the last 48 hours, he -- if he's paying any attention to his cabinet, then he's learned a lot because I think Secretary Mattis and Secretary Tillerson do understand. And they've definitely dialed back some of his harsh rhetoric.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) again tweeting about updating the nuclear arsenal and it was one of his first executive orders and there is this theory out there if there was to be a U.S. nuclear strike that the president wanted to go ahead, then the cooler heads would prevail.

General Mattis, the deputy secretary; the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson; the White House chief of staff John Kelly, that they would defy the president in some way.

Do you buy into that?

BAKER: Yes, I do. I think that the cabinet has demonstrated that ability to actually push back when he does go too far off the rails. And I think that's -- this is certainly the case in this instance, that he has overstated the case he's playing to his domestic audience. I think that's what we need to appreciate is the rhetoric about the nuclear weapons. It's clear that that's not changed since he took office.

He didn't -- that wasn't his first act as the president. So I think it's clear that he's making these statements to play to the domestic audience. What needs to appreciate is that there's an international audience listening.

And again I think that his cabinet understands that and that's why they basically come background check and try to play down a little bit of what he's saying. VAUSE: The decision for the U.S. to launch a nuclear first strike,

it's the president's and president's alone, Congress doesn't weigh in. The president will get some advice from military leaders how long that goes for is up to him.

Should that now be revised?

The system is designed for speed, not debate.

BAKER: Well, it's a little more complicated than you state because there's a context there. And that context is the Cold War and the context is that it's in retaliation to an anticipated strike from someone else.

So I don't think we want to get in the position where we're making this as an assertion, that the president alone make a decision to do a first strike. That has never been part of U.S. doctrine. So I think that that's a bit of an overstatement of the case of how it would come about that he would do a nuclear strike.

VAUSE: How serious is this threat coming from North Korea for these military plans for an attack on Guam?

The Hwasong-12 missiles which they're talking about using, they're going to be tested successfully once. The range, the accuracy kind of questionable.

How do you see it?

BAKER: Yes, I agree. I think it is very questionable.


BAKER: As your previous speaker was talking about, there's only been one successful test and that's a test. That's not a test with a warhead and a reentry vehicle and a guidance system that actually directs a weapon to a particular point.

So there's a lot of questions about what their real capability is and even as far as the distance is concerned. We're basing that on some assumptions about what they've done with their short-range tests because they've launched them at a high launch angle.

But we really don't know what happens when you launch it at a traditional trajectory that would allow it to go the 3,500 kilometers that it world take to get to Guam.

VAUSE: OK, Carl, we'll leave it there. But thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

BAKER: Thank you.

SESAY: Fascinating.


Well, next here on NEWSROOM L.A., why did FBI agents raid the home of a former Trump associate?

What did they seize and where could this now lead?

SESAY: Plus a lawsuit arguing the U.S. president's business ties violate the Constitution is heating up and it is heading to court.




VAUSE: Welcome back. We're following a dramatic development in the criminal investigation of the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia. It concern Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign chairman.

SESAY: Without warning police moved into his home in the early morning hours to seize more information than he's disclosed so far. Our Jessica Schneider has more.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CNN has learned of an unannounced raid on Paul Manafort's Alexandria, Virginia, apartment. According to "The Washington Post" it unfolded in the early morning hour July 26th with agents seizing financial and tax records among other documents.

The raid appears to be unusual since Manafort has repeatedly claimed he is cooperating and it marks a significant step in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI agents working for special counsel Mueller believed that he's hiding something. And that they conducted their search in the early morning, as is normal for them so that the individual whose residence it has no opportunity to destroy or otherwise tamper with the evidence that they seek.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Manafort stepped down as Trump's campaign chair last August as questions about Russia's involvement in the election intensified.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign and Putin and his regime?

PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: No, there are not. It's absurd and there is no basis to it.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): But CNN has learned investigators have become suspicious of Manafort after they turned up intercepted communications fro suspected Russian operatives discussing Russian efforts to work with Manafort to gather information that could Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House, according to U.S. officials.

Manafort's attendance at a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and a Russian lawyer has also piqued the interest of federal investigators. Agents raided Manafort's home one day after he met behind closed doors with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

And CNN is told Manafort turned in approximately --


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): -- 400 pages to the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 2nd. Many of those documents pertain to Manafort's retroactively registering as a foreign agent at the end of June.

Paul Manafort disclosed he was paid $17 million for consulting work he did for a pro-Russia political party before he became Trump's campaign chair. Investigators are scrutinizing Manafort's tax and business records to determine whether any criminal violation may have occurred. Mueller's former special counsel at the Justice Department says if there's evidence of other crimes committed by Manafort it could be leverage for the special counsel to convince Manafort to cooperate.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: If you can obtain charges that are viable against them on something collateral to that then you can use that as leverage to strike a deal with respect to the type of evidence that you want, with respect to the heard of your matter -- in this case, the collusion.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Paul Manafort's spokesman says Manafort has been cooperating completely with all investigations -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: A legal challenge to Donald Trump's business ties is headed to federal court. Lawyers for the U.S. president will try to get the lawsuit thrown out when they go before a judge in October.

SESAY: The president is being sued by a government watchdog group over alleged violations of the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution. It prohibits the president from accepting gifts, money or other things of value from foreign governments.

VAUSE: The plaintiffs claim Mr. Trump is using his presidency to promote his hotels and resorts to foreign officials. Others in the hotel and restaurant industry have joined the lawsuit. They say Mr. Trump's presidency gives him an unfair business advantage over competitors.


VAUSE: Norm Eisen is a CNN contributor and former ethics star in the Obama administration. He joins us now from Palo Alto in California.

Norm, good to see you.

NORMAN EISEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, John, thanks for having me. VAUSE: We should also note that you are chairman of CREW, which is the watchdog group actually currently suing the president and heading to court in October. So Trump's lawyers have tried a number of times to have this case dismissed. Now a judge has set a date in October for formal arguments here.

How significant is that?

EISEN: John, it's very significant. The founders of the United States wrote in the Constitution that a president should not accept foreign government cash or benefits -- or cash or benefits beyond his salary -- from his own federal government or the states.

President Trump is doing all of it and now we have a federal judge in New York City who's going to decide whether or not he's violating the Constitution. We think he is.

VAUSE: This is one of about half a dozen lawsuits targeting income, which the president receives from foreign sources. The Trump Hotel in Washington seems to be a lightning rod to many. Here's part a report from "The Washington Post" earlier this week.

"This is nothing Washington has ever seen. For the first time in presidential history, a profit-making venture touts the name of a U.S. president in its gold signage."

And then there's this from "The Economist."

A new "director of diplomatic sales" has steered Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian bookings away from rival D.C. hotels to the Trump International. In the words of Mr. Trump's son, Eric, the family brand is now "the hottest it has ever been."

Trump's lawyers have argued none of that matters because it's all private income. It has nothing directly to do with the office of the presidency. Now this argument is going before a judge in court, in open court.

Is that legal argument on shaky ground?

EISEN: John, the legal argument that the president's lawyers have made is on extremely shaky ground. It doesn't comport with the plain meaning of the Constitution. We actually went and looked in the dictionary.

The Constitution says "no foreign emoluments." That includes profits and they want the president to be able to accept profits. It is flatly against the language of our Constitution. And it's troubling and we're glad that the judge is going to be hearing this matter in October.

VAUSE: Earlier this week, the Trump Organization posted this on Twitter.

"Delighted to announce the launch of the Trump Estate Park Residences, a collection of luxury villas with exclusive access to Trump Golf Dubai."

This is a Trump branded, not a Trump owned development in Dubai.

So what does this mean for the Trump Organization's promise to avoid new foreign deals while Donald Trump is in the Oval Office?

EISEN: Well, they have -- had a record of stretching these promises to the breaking point, of finding loopholes. Of course, the reason that the Trump Organization said that in the first place is because every time there is a foreign deal that's done, it raises the question of whether the president is protecting his own personal interests, as he shouldn't be doing, or the best interests of the United States.

So of course they have to stretch. It's just not right and we expect that the court is going to have some pretty tough questions for the president and his lawyers.


VAUSE: There's still a long way to go in this case but if -- got to stress if -- if ultimately the president is found to have violated the Constitution and the emoluments clause, what happens then?

EISEN: Well, it's one of the oldest principles of our nation; when the court orders anybody, including a president, to stop doing something, they have to listen. No person is above the law. That's the fundamental principle of the American system.

If the court orders, as we think, is consistent with the Constitution, President Trump, you must stop taking these, then the president is going to have to find a way to cease and desist from accepting these foreign government payments and other benefits that he's currently taking. Then the ball will be in his court to figure out a way to step away from them.

VAUSE: So it was (INAUDIBLE) make a choice, either put the whole business in like a blind trust, where he has absolutely zero influence, no family members, nothing or step down as president.

EISEN: John, for decades, presidents of both political parties, with far fewer conflicts than Donald Trump, have done just that. They've stepped away from the businesses, they give them to a trust, the blind trust. A president doesn't get involved in what's held in that trust. The trustee sells the interest.

That's what Donald Trump should do. There's a simply time-tested solution and since he hasn't voluntarily done it, now he's facing these court proceedings.

VAUSE: And Jimmy Carter put the peanut farm in a blind trust, I think, many, many years ago. Just an example.

Norm, good to see you. Thank you.

EISEN: Thanks, John. Nice to be with you.


SESAY: Well, if you're looking for a vacation getaway with a little history, the borough of Queens, New York, just might be the place.

VAUSE: It's President Trump's childhood home and now available for rent. Yes, find out where the legend was born. You, too, can experience it. Airbnb is listing the five-bedroom, 3.5-bath Tudor style home $725 a night. The president's father, Fred, he built the house back in the 1940s and the president -- or now president Donald Trump, he lived there until he was just a wee fellow, 4 years old.

SESAY: Bring the whole family --

VAUSE: All of them.

SESAY: -- the house can accommodate 20 people. There's even a cardboard cutout of the president in the living room but --


SESAY: -- but no room service though.


SESAY: Not for me.



[02:30:37] VAUSE: Many governments around the world are trying to sort through the mixed messages coming from the Trump administration to work out exactly what the U.S. intends to do about North Korea. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis followed up President Trump's "fire and fury" threat with an ultimatum of his own, warning North Korea against actions which could lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people.

SESAY: Earlier, the secretary of state tried to sound more reassuring. Rex Tillerson says Mr. Trump was simply using language Kim Jong-Un would understand and that Americans could sleep well at night. The State Department insists the U.S. is speaking with one voice.


HEATHER NAUERT, SPOKESPERSON, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: There are lots of ways we believe to get through to Kim Jong-Un and his regime, OK? And our issue is not with the people of the DPRK. It is with the regime itself. And that message has been strongly sent throughout this administration. When the president and Secretary Mattis and Secretary Tillerson agreed that the top security issue for the United States would, in fact, be both the safety and security of Americans, first, of course, but would, in fact, be DPRK and the destabilizing activities of its illegal nuclear and ballistics weapons programs that have continued to take place.


SESAY: Stuck in the middle of all of this is China, North Korea's only real ally. China's foreign ministry is calling for a de- escalation of tensions.

VAUSE: The U.S. president has repeatedly called on Beijing to do more to half Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.

And as Will Ripley reports from Beijing, China insisting it's done everything it can.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: An extraordinary warning from the U.S. president. Then North Korea's threat to attack Guam, the U.S. overseas territory with two military bases. All pointing to a potential nightmare for China, North Korea's only global ally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Avoiding a military conflict, avoiding the regime collapsing in North Korea is the top priority of the Beijing government.

RIPLEY: Analysts say China still views North Korea as a strategic buffer between itself and South Korea, where the U.S. maintains a large troop presence. Beijing also fears an influx of refugees if the Pyongyang regime collapses with a long border between the two nations.

Over the weekend, China voted, along with the rest of the U.N. Security Council, to impose punitive sanctions on North Korea for its recent tests of long-range missile despite a U.N. ban.

I don't think the U.N. resolution is going to have a magical difference or impact on North Korea as a nuclear power. As a result, after a while, the U.S. again will be disappointed about the results and will again put more pressure on China.

RIPLEY: Trump has certainly done that several times, most recently on Twitter, accusing China of doing nothing and saying it could easily solve the problem. Chinese officials have always brushed aside such criticism, insisting China is not the root cause of the current crisis and has faithfully implemented all U.N. sanctions.

As North Korea's largest trading partner, China says it is going to bear the brunt of economic sacrifices to enforce the latest U.N. resolution. But Beijing also stresses the issue is not an economic one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): The international community has told North Korea to abandon its development of nuclear warheads. This is a security issue. While the North Korean side believes it has been threatened and pressured militarily, which is also a security. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With China, the only real objective for now is to have a near-term agreement to, firstly, cap and freeze North Korea's missile program.

RIPLEY: With fiery rhetoric flying from Washington and Pyongyang, analysts say Beijing simply doesn't see what more it could do as the risk rises for an accidental war on its doorstep.

Will Ripley, CNN, Beijing.


SESAY: Countries around the world are reacting to this tense standoff between the U.S. and North Korea.

CNN's Sherisse Pham is live in Tokyo for us.

Sherisse, in this plan announced by North Korea, the missiles, they could launch to land in the waters off Guam, would fly over Japan. How much concern is this causing where you are?

[02:35:07] SHERISSE PHAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is causing some growing concern, Isha. The Japanese government today saying we can never tolerate provocation from North Korea, and saying these provocative comments are clearly inflaming the region. Really calling on the regime to listen to the warnings coming from the international community and, essentially, saying North Korea, please, dial it back.

Now the defense minister today reportedly saying it would be within Japan's legal right to intercept the ballistic missile that flew over its territory if it poses an imminent threat to the country.

So with that, it's a very interesting statement, too, because Japan's self-defense forces are essentially that. They are forces that can defend the country in the event of an imminent attack. But there is no capability for Japan to launch a preemptive strike. So the defense minister there saying, if there is a missile launched over our territory and it poses a threat to us, we do have the legal right to take it down. Now whether they have the capability to take it down, there are mixed views on that. I talked to an analyst about an hour ago. He said, technically, yes, they have the capability to take it down. But timing and precision would be key. And if it's four missiles launched at Guam, it might be out of range of the ballistic missile defense system that Japan has in place -- Isha?

SESAY: Now that Pyongyang has crossed the red line drawn by President Trump and this continuation of the threats, the question is what will President Trump do? Should the U.S. decide to go down a military track, would he receive the full support of Japan?

PHAM: Japan has said the U.S. has said all options are on the table and we agree with that. The Japanese government officials are saying today that the role of Japan, it's self defense and protection, and the U.S. as an ally of Japan, it's role is to help boost the defense by providing the means to attack. So I think it's a little bit of diplomatic tiptoeing around things. They don't directly address Donald Trump's most fiery rhetoric. They didn't address the "fire and fury" comment he made yesterday. But they are saying that they remain a close ally of the U.S. and they are supportive of the U.S. stance that all options are on the table -- Isha?

SESAY: Sherisse Pham, joining us from Tokyo. Thank you so much.

VAUSE: Time fort another short break. When we come back, Israel's embattled prime minister says his political enemies are trying to stage a coup. More details in a moment.


[02:40:02] VAUSE: Well, the U.S. State Department says a number of American diplomats based in Havana were the target of a mystery acoustic attack from sort of sound-producing devise.

SESAY: These two employees had health problems that were serious enough to bring them back to the states for treatment. An official said at least one employee might have permanent hearing loss.


NAUERT: They've reported some incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms. I'm not going to be able to give you a ton of information about this today, but I'll tell you what we do have that we can provide so far. We don't have any definitive answers about the source or the cause of what we consider to be incidents.


VAUSE: Well, the U.S. has expelled two Cuban diplomats as a result of the incidents. Cuba denying the American envoys were mistreated.

SESAY: Police have arrested a man accused of ramming a car into a group of soldiers in a Paris suburb.

VAUSE: The man was arrested by police following a manhunt on Wednesday.

Melissa Bell has details.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The manhunt lasted several hours and ended here on a motorway in the very North of France. After a shootout, police arrested the man believed to have rammed his car into a group of soldiers near Paris.

The military personnel had been making their way out of the barracks at the base when they were struck. Three were seriously wounded in the sixth attack on security personnel I France this year. Once again, becoming victims of the very threat they are deployed to take on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation: The threat today remains extremely serious. And our security forces, our military forces are always a possible target.

BELL: The Louvre was the first terror attack in France this year and it marks a change. Civilians were not targeted but, rather, the military deployed to protect them. A man armed with machetes took on soldiers patrolling the museum. Then in March, a man shot at a policeman north of Paris before taking on a military patrol at Orly Airport. In April, one policeman was shot on the Champs Elysses after a police van was attacked by a man who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. In June, at Notre Dame, police were attacked by a man wielding a hammer. And just a couple of weeks later, a police van was rammed by a car carrying explosives on the Champs Elysses.

The latest attack on security personnel comes even as France plans for the lifting of its state of emergency this autumn and a lightening of the very presence of what has become the target of recent attacks.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


VAUSE: Protests have been breaking out in Kenya supporting the opposition leader Raila Odinga.

SESAY: He claims election computers were hacked after Tuesday's presidential vote and that numbers were manipulated favoring incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta, who held a commanding lead. Kenya's election commission denies the allegation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were no external interference to the system at any point, before, during, and after the voting.

Our team has reviewed the election logs and established that the claims being made are not substantiated from our end.

JOHN KERRY, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: There is an ability here, which is critical, to be able to provide an appropriate transference accounting of the ballots. And people need to be patient. People need to let this process work thought and not jump to conclusions at this point in time.


SESAY: The election commission is expected to release final results in the coming days.

VAUSE: To Israel now, and the criminal investigations which have dogged the prime minister for months. Benjamin Netanyahu has been interviewed by police four times already over allegations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

SESAY: At an anti-coup rally Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu told supporters the probe amounted to an attempted coup.

Our own Ian Lee was there. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just took the stage in a fiery, defiant speech, going after the opposition and the media, saying because they can't beat him at the ballot box, they're going to try to beat him at the courthouse.

This rally here tonight was a show of support by the Likud Party. But leave no doubt, this is an embattled prime minister.



LEE (voice-over): Benjamin Netanyahu has dominated Israeli politics for years. Only the founder of the state, David Ben Gurion, has led the country for longer.

But Israel's prime minister is in a fight, and it's getting serious. Police have been investigating him for months in what we now know are cases of suspected bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. He has been questioned as a suspect on four occasions.

So what are the cases about? The first, case 1000, involves allegations that Netanyahu received gifts inappropriately, including cigars and champagne from overseas businessmen. The second case, 2000, involves allegations that Netanyahu agreed to a deal with the owner of a major Israeli newspaper, which would see the paper tone down its attacks on Netanyahu. In exchange, the prime minister would ensure a cut in the circulation of a rival paper.


LEE: Last month, Netanyahu's former defense minister, Moshe Ya'Alon, was removed from his post by the prime minister, gave this prediction to CNN of how it would end.


MOSHE YA'ALON, FORMER ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER: By indictment. That's my assessment and belief. Too many issues under investigation and questions, and I believe that, in the end, we will witness indictment.


LEE: And that was before the dramatic news that a former close ally of the prime minister was turning state's witness. Ari Harow, a one- time Netanyahu chief of staff, had cut a deal with prosecutors. He would plead guilty to entirely separate offenses and would avoid prison in exchange for telling investigators everything he knew about case 1000 and case 2000.

Netanyahu denies any wrong doing. "We flatly reject the false claims made against the prime minister", a spokesman told CNN. "The campaign to replace this administration lies at its heart. But it's doomed to fail for the simple reason that there will be nothing because there was nothing."


IAN: The prime minister himself took to Facebook, as he often does, to address Israelis.

NETANYAHU (through translation): I do not pay attention to background noise, and I continue working for you.

LEE: When the investigation concludes, the police then will hand the matter over to the attorney general. It will be up to the attorney general to decide whether to follow police recommendations to indict Netanyahu. That decision is likely months away. But any decision to bring criminal charges will make it politically difficult for the prime minister to stay in power

Ian Lee, CNN, Tel Aviv.


SESAY: Despite tensions with the West, North Korea's top court has released a Canadian pastor held longer than any Western prisoner in decades. 52-year-old Hyeon Soo Lim was granted for humanitarian reasons. Soo Lim was given a life sentence of hard labor in 2015 because of crimes against the state. His family says he was in North Korea on a humanitarian mission and that his health has deteriorated while in custody.

VAUSE: Coming up next on NEWSROOM L.A., help wanted. To enforce the outer space treaty, NASA is looking for a planetary protector.


VAUSE: Right now, while the U.S. government's employment Web site, there's one opening which isn't your typical 9:00 to 5:00 job with the public service. Job number HQ17S0010 is a permanent position with NASA, annual salary up to 187,000, which is good money because the successful applicant will be responsible for protecting life here on earth and across the entire galaxy. The official title is planetary protection officer. Here's part of the job posting: "Planetary protection is concerned with the avoidance of organic constituents and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration."

Catharine Coney is the current planetary protection officer. Has been doing the job for 11 years. She joins us now from Washington.

Catharine, good to see you.


VAUSE: So this has to be the world's greatest job title. What do you do? CONLEY: Well, mostly, I send e-mails, I read documents, and occasionally I get to go spacecraft rooms and take samples of spacecraft.

VAUSE: So your job is to make sure no bugs go into space and no bugs come from outer space?

CONLEY: Yes. That earth life doesn't get introduced into places where it could grow in our solar system. And if we bring samples back that we don't bring something unfortunate back with us.

VAUSE: It's a very grand title. The job doesn't seem to live up to the title in some ways.

CONLEY: I always say that the planetary protection officer is the second-best job title at NASA. We used to have a director of universe.

VAUSE: OK, used to.


CONLEY: It's now called astrophysics.

VAUSE: OK. The earlier title was much better.

NASA has been worried about biological contamination long before the first space flight. The 1967 space treaty includes a provision for countries, "To avoid the harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the earth resulting from the introduction of extraterrestrial matter and, when necessary, shall adopt appropriate measures for this purpose."

How serious is the threat of contamination here on earth from outer space and vice versa?

CONLEY: We actually don't know. We have no idea, really, what the risk is from contamination from outer space. But we do know that there has been a significant amount of risk and negative consequence from contamination moved around by humans on earth. That's really the basis of the policy, is the recognition that, on earth, there have been problems cause. So we want to be careful to try and reduce those similar potential problems to be caused as we explore space.

VAUSE: So essentially, what you guys do, or what you do, you're almost like a quarantine point?

CONLEY: That's actually the former name of the planetary protection function at NASA. We used to have a planetary quarantine officer. The first one actually was appointed from the Public Health Service to NASA in 1963 to support the Apollo program.

VAUSE: Well, I image many people have been applying for this. Possibly, the cutest application so far is 9-year-old Jack Davis. This is part of his handwritten letter explaining why he's especially qualified. "One of the reasons is my sister says I'm an alien. Also I have seen almost all of the space and alien movies I can see. I am young so I can learn to think like alien."

And NASA's response was pretty cool as well. "We are always looking for bright future scientists and engineers to help us so I hope you will study hard and do well in school. We hope to see you here at NASA one of these days."

So young Mr. Davis aside, how much interest has there been in this job?

CONLEY: An enormous amount, based on the media attention and also the e-mails I've been getting from people. I'm not actually supposed to be able to see the applicants because they need to go through the USA jobs Web site. But we do have a Web site for planetary protection, Unfortunately, there's been a lot of people making the mistake of sending me e-mails instead of submitting their applications properly.


VAUSE: What are the qualifications here?

CONLEY: The qualifications --

VAUSE: What are they? What do you need to have?

CONLEY: According to the job advertisement, you need to have an advanced degree or even equivalent experience in physical sciences, chemistry, some sort of engineering. I have a biology degree, which is actually critical to understand concerns of planetary protection. And I have post-doctorate work doing experiments to understand how the potential for contamination transfer would be an issue potentially for spacecraft. In addition, you need to have former past experience, or at least the job ad says you need to have experience in planetary protection and demonstrate technical proficiency, all the kinds of things you would expect for a senior and technical senior leader position in the U.S. government --


CONLEY: -- having to do with U.S. space exploration.

VAUSE: It's not quite Will Smith in "Men in Black," is it?

We should note that the applications close on Monday.

Catharine, good to speak with you.

CONLEY: Thank you very much.

VAUSE: You could do that.

SESAY: Let move on, shall we?

VAUSE: Up to you. SESAY: All right, whatever.

A Russia Air Force jet got a rare look at key landmarks around Washington and New Jersey.

VAUSE: The plane's two low-altitude flights on Wednesday were permitted under a very long-standing open-skies treaty. The agreement allows the U.S. and Russia to observe each other's military sites.

SESAY: The jets flew over the capitol building, the Pentagon, the CIA headquarters and Joint Base Andrews, home of Air Force One, on the first flight. Later, it got a look at Bedminster, New Jersey, where the president is on a working vacation. U.S. Air Force personnel were on the Russian jet for the tour.

VAUSE: Amid the historic landmarks and monuments at the U.S. capitol, there now stands a 10-meter tall inflatable chicken.


VAUSE: It's huge.

[02:55:00] SESAY: It's true.

VAUSE: With a huge Trumpian pompadour.

It's just a stone's throw from the White House.

SESAY: It's showing up in a lot of TV live shots.


SESAY: An artist got a permit for the display. Its message is that the president was refusing to release his tax returns and is playing a game of chicken with North Korea.

VAUSE: Remember, they did to George H.W. Bush when they had a chicken follow him around because he refused to debate Ross Perot. Never gets old.

OK. Well the president's threats towards North Korea might have a lot of people on edge, but the late-night hosts on American television are doing their best to lighten the mood.


UNIDENTIFIED LATE-NIGHT HOST: Why is he sitting like that with his arms crossed.


He looks like he's pondering his order at Starbucks.


Yes, let me get the -- (LAUGHTER)

-- fire and fury


When you respond to North Korea, you're not supposed to sound like North Korea.


Obama didn't respond to Putin's hacking by riding shirtless on horseback.


Even though everyone would have loved that.



JIMMY FALLON, HOST, THE TONIGHT SHOW: Last night, Kim Jong-Un actually threatened the U.S. territory of Guam. When he heard that, Trump said, oh, my god, do I have any golf courses there?


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: So this morning, at 7:56 a.m., the president tweets, "My first order as president was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before. Dot, dot, dot."


And now, after he tweets this totally untrue statement, he makes us wait seven minutes --


-- before, "Dot, dot, dot. Hopefully, we will never have to use this power but there will never be a time we're not the most powerful nation in the world."

Kim Jong-Un, in the time between those tweets, Kim Jong-Un could have a nuclear missile half way to my house, OK?


This is not "dot, dot, dot" time. It's not, not, not, is what I'm saying.



SESAY: Late night.

VAUSE: Yes. You know, a good laugh.

SESAY: That's what I tell myself --


You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: It's better than crying.

I'm John Vause.

Follow us on Twitter at newsroomla for highlights and clips. And Isha will respond to every single tweet. She'll get back to you quickly.

The news continues here with Rosemary Church. She is in Atlanta. We're leaving.


[03:00:08] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: The war of words between America's president and the North Korean regime escalates. We have the latest reaction --