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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Never Take Back His Words; Aleppo on Clean-up Operation to Bring Back Life to Normal; Migrants Left to Die; Trump Won't Rule Out Preemptive Strike On North Korea; Russian Reaction To N. Korea Has Been Muted; Acoustic Attack May Have Hit U.S. Diplomats In Cuba; Trump Vs. Republicans; Trump: I'm Very Disappointed In Mitch Mcconnell; Trump's Childhood Home For Rent On Airbnb. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired August 11, 2017 - 03:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:00:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea better get their act together or they are going to be in trouble like few nations ever have been in trouble in this world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE HOWELL, HOST, CNN: Words from the president of the United States doubling down on his hard line rhetoric against North Korea. Still, members of his administration looking for a more diplomatic path forward. And the island at the center of it all we speak to the governor of Guam why he says there's no panic on the island despite the bluster.

And the city of Aleppo left in ruins after years of war but life there slowly returning to normal and people there they are thanking Russia for bringing about peace.

Live from CNN world headquarters we want to welcome our viewers around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN Newsroom starts right now.

Around the world, good day to you. It is 5 p.m. in Guam, 3.30 p.m. in Pyongyang. And the United States and South Korea both pledging to work together in dealing with North Korea. Their national security advisers spoke by phone just a few hours ago but tensions on the Korean Peninsula are on rise.

This the scene in Pyongyang. Huge crowds came together at that nation's capital for a rally Thursday. The North Korean government promising, quote, "a shameful defeat and final doom for the U.S. if it keeps up its military adventure." End quote.

In the meantime, the U.S. president says his threat to bring fire and fury to North Korea well, may not have been tough enough.

Donald Trump warned Km Jong-un not to attack the U.S. territory of Guam. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I read about worry in Guam by August 15. Let's see what he does with Guam. If he does something in Guam it will be an event the likes of which nobody has seen before what will happen in North Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when you say that what do you mean?

TRUMP: You'll see. You'll see. And he'll see.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that a dare?

TRUMP: It's not a dare. It's a statement. It has nothing to do with dare. That's a statement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: The U.S. defense secretary saying the military is ready if needed. But General James Mattis says he would prefer a different diplomatic path.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think of the president's comments and as the second question, can you talk about the human toll we might see in the event of a nuclear confrontation?

JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: What I would say here ladies and gentlemen, my portfolio, my mission, my responsibility is to have military options should they be needed. However, right now, Secretary Tillerson, Ambassador Haley, you can see the America effort is diplomatically lead, it has diplomatic traction. It is gaining diplomatic results and I want to stay right there right now.

The tragedy of war is growing up known it doesn't need another characterization beyond the fact that it would be catastrophic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: The man better known as 'Mad Dog' taking a more diplomatic stance. The president, though, sticking with a harsher line.

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice appeared on CNN Thursday and here's what she had to say about the crisis that is unfolding between the United States and North Korea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN RICE, FORMER UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: We now need to decide how to proceed. And what we are facing is a country with nuclear weapons and reportedly now a capability to reach the United States with intercontinental ballistic missiles.

What do we do about it? That's the question. And it really boils down to two options. One is preventive war or preemptive which I argue would be absolutely foolish and catastrophic. The other is to maintain an increase to pressure on North Korea, we can leave open the door to diplomacy, refine our military capacities, build up our missile defenses for ourselves and our allies; while at the same time recognizing that we can in all likelihood safely rely on deterrence to prevent a catastrophic event unless we manage it and carefully.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: So that's a snap shot of where things are and now the question how the things move forward.

CNN covering the story with our reporters throughout the region. Our Alexandra Field live in Seoul, South Korea. But we start with journalist Robert Santos, live in Guam with reaction there. And Robert, good to have you with us this hour.

Guam right there in the middle of it all that this is island that has been the topic of hand between this back and forth rhetoric between North Korea and the president of the United States.

[03:05:07] How is this affecting the life there on the island?

ROBERT SANTOS, JOURNALIST: Well, you know, locals are still going about their normal business, you know. So, certainly it is on top of their minds what would happen if North Korea did fire missiles towards Guam.

And you know, officials with the Guam homeland security have said that it would take about 14 minutes for those missiles to reach the island. If that happened it would not only activate the defense missile system but also the island's warning system which includes a number of sirens throughout the island's low lying areas.

At that point local will be encourage to tune in to local TV and radio stations and social media. You know, it's the same kind of response that might be expected in the case of any disaster.

Now that alert warning system was actually put in two years ago as a result of another threat that came from North Korea. And since then it has been tested, not only tested but it was also used to alert locals about an incoming typhoon.

So locals have heard it. But I tell you, growing up in Guam I never heard it because it wasn't around at that time. A couple years ago when it was tested I was reporting in San Diego.

Overall, we're still not seeing, you know, locals preparing for eminent danger here, you know, thinking that that would happen such as stocking up on food and water. It's like normal. My relatives here in Guam where I came here to visit when all of this broke out are not really doing, they're not doing anything different.

In fact, some of them are shopping right now, some of them are at work, others are at home relaxing. I haven't seen anything out of the ordinary out and about either. I was out along Tumon Bay it's a hotel row and many locals and tourists are enjoying a day at the beach. You know, the weather is a bit gloomy but still people are out and

about.

HOWELL: So, Robert Santos is telling us that life there continues as usual. Obviously are paying close attention though to, you know, the words coming from these officials on this situation of North Korea.

Robert, we used to work together there in Seattle. I just want to get a sense from you growing up there in Guam. Do you get a sense tough that people are looking at strategies just in case there is a need to take any sort of action. Are those evacuation or plans are being discussed?

SANTOS: It is certainly among even just talking about my family, for instance, you know, people have asked where do we evacuate. You know, there's e-mails back and forth or messages on social media back and forth. You know, people finding the sense of humor in all of this, what do we going to do, where are we going to evacuate to.

But overall, I think, you know, we've gone through a lot of natural disasters here with typhoons and our island fair as well despite some very strong typhoons, despite a very strong earthquake and despite war. You know, during World War II we went through a lot of devastation there.

People are definitely resilient, they've seen a lot. So I think that has certainly added to the sense of peace. You know, it's a predominantly Catholic island as well, so people can, you know, I heard time and time again. There's not much we can do. All we have is our faith in God and our faith in our leaders.

The majority of residence they are Catholic. The archdiocese of Hagatna, they are Catholic here has ask the parish priest to offer prayers of peace during the weekend masses. So it's Friday here around 5 in the evening so that is most likely will be happening.

HOWELL: Santos, it's good to get the reporting from you there live for us in Guam this hour. Thank you. We'll stay in touch with you.

Let's cross over now to CNN's Alexandra Field following the story in Seoul, South Korea. Obviously the proximity to Pyongyang certainly gives you an indication of why this is so important, a very important topic that is playing out there in South Korea tensions higher.

But both the U.S. and Seoul publicly reaffirming their commitment to work together, Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Right. There is an alliance of decades old here, both sides have said that they are firmly committed to. What strikes me at the moment, George, is that your people are doing the same things a usual in Guam and you could really say the same for Seoul. But what's different now is they're wondering if maybe their government officials their leaders should be doing something differently at this point.

Look, President Donald Trump has fueled a lot of uncertainty for the people of South Korea because of their proximity to North Korea. They're used to living under the North Korean threat. They're not so used to having this kind of uncertainty generated by a U.S administration.

So, you're hearing a louder voice now from some who say it's time really for South Korea to step up and look at what more it can do to defend itself.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FIELD: Launching intercontinental ballistic missiles boasting about an ability to miniaturize nuclear weapons. North Korea keeps crossing the line. On the other side of this line the equation is changing.

ANDREI LANKOV, PROFESSOR, KOOKIMIN UNIVERSITY: Any people including people who are by no means marginal characters or mavericks begin to see the (Inaudible) about the nuclear weapons.

[03:09:58] I don't think it's going to happen but the change of mind is quite clear.

FIELD: Should North Korea's furious pursuit of nuclear weapons trigger a regional arms race. In South Korea an opposition party leaders says his country doesn't have the power it needs.

HONG JUN-PYO, MEMBER, LIBERTY PARTY (through translator): It is perhaps time to start discussing the redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons, perhaps nuclear balance can bring peace on the Korean Peninsula.

FIELD: A war of words between North Korea and the U.S. president is adding heat and pressure.

TRUMP: They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: This mad man to have a missile...

FIELD: The rhetoric sparking realistic concern for South Koreans.

GRAHAM: If thousands die they are going to die over there and they're not going to die here and he's told me that to my face.

FIELD: Top Trump administration officials even the president say the U.S. is firmly standing by its ally. A decades' old agreement guarantees the protection of South Korea under the American nuclear umbrella. Some in South Korea now want more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the right time for our two nations to talk about the reinstatement of tactical nuclear weapons onto South Korean soil. That can be a very wise way to avoid any armed clashes.

FIELD: South Korea abandoned its efforts to build its own nuclear weapon under pressure from Washington in the 70s. The country's dovish new President, Moon Jae-in has repeatedly called for dialogue with North Korea and denuclearization of the peninsula.

But under mounting security threats he is now looking for ways to increase his country's defenses. Green lighting more parts of a controversial missile defense system and working to increase the payload of their ballistic arsenal. Any kind of conflict could come at the highest cost to his people.

LANKOV: Most Korean military is capable of shelling Seoul these dozens and then hundreds of heavy guns.

FIELD: Nearly 10 million people in South Korea's capital city Seoul live within range along the North Korean border.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FIELD: Officials here in Seoul are warning Pyongyang that they are ready to meet any further provocation with a military response if necessary at the same time the Moon administration making it clear that the offer for dialogue with the North remains very much on the table and certainly, George, they are hoping that talks are exactly what will lead them out of the situation.

HOWELL: Alexandra Field following the story for us in South Korea. Thanks, Alexandra.

Japan has opposed North Korea's nuclear ambitions for decades and is supporting President Trump's tough talk. Listen to what their chief cabinet secretary had to say just earlier Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YOSHIHIDE SUGA, CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY OF JAPAN (through translator): President Trump has said all options are on the table. We, as a government welcome this stance. We believe it is extremely important for the Japan-U.S. alliance to strengthen its deterrent power and ability to respond.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: And now let's get the view from Japan. Our Sherisse Pham is in Tokyo this hour. Good to have you with us. What steps is Japan taking given this most recent threat.

SHERISSE PHAM, REPORTER, CNN: Well, right now Japan is looking at possibly beefing up its self-defense forces because the self-defense forces in Japan are just that. There are forces that can defend the nation in the event of an eminent attack. Now there is ballistic defense missile system in place here, they have bought the land base missile defense system as well as a sea-based one.

And the defense minister said yesterday he said we will adopt all necessary measures to deploy ground-based ballistic missile defense systems to the areas identified specifically by the North Korean plan. The detailed plan that they laid out yesterday of how they are going to fly four missiles over the land of Japan towards Guam. And in that detailed plan North Korea named three specific areas in Japan mainly Shimane, Hiroshima, and Kochi. Very interesting regions for several reasons. One being that they are regions that do not have a land-based missile defense system in place. So the defense minister of course saying look, we will deploy them to those areas if it need to be.

But also interesting because technically, it seems almost impossible for missiles flying from North Korea to only pass through those three areas in Japan. But look, similar to Guam and similar to Seoul in South Korea life just continues on as normal here in Japan. There's been no official response to the most fiery rhetoric coming from Donald Trump overnight because it's national holiday here in Japan.

[03:14:58] And the three areas identified by North Korea, you know it's a national holiday and trains to those southern regions were packed today.

And I want to zero in on one of the areas specifically identified by North Korea which was Hiroshima. Because, George, this week marks the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and people are going to that region not only to vacation but also to commemorate and remember the real costs of a nuclear attack. George?

HOWELL: Very important points, Sherisse, thank you so much for the context and the reporting today. We'll stay in touch with you of course as we continue to monitor this story.

To tell our viewers now just a bit more about Guam. The island is a relatively small but it's immensely important to the U.S. military. Dubbed the tip of the sphere. It hosts two major bases and thousands of troops all in a strategic location. And Guam's governor does not seem too concerned with North Korea's threat.

Our Ivan Watson spoke with him and as has this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EDDIE BAZA CALVO, GOVERNOR OF GUAM: There is no panic in Guam. I'm sure you've talk to people who live in Seoul or even Tokyo. I think the concerns are even more weighty over there which is closer to the action, particularly Seoul where the artillery is within range of the inhabitants of Seoul..

IVAN WATSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: How much does Guam depend on the THAAD defense system in this situation?

CALVO: That's the final layer. So, again, there are several layers. There are layers that are floating in the Pacific in terms of missile defense and there are layers that are in, I mean, there is a THAAD system even in South Korea now, and the THAAD system happens to be the last in a line of our layer of a defensive shield.

WATSON: But Governor, if you could say something to the leader of North Korea right now Kim Jong-un, what would you tell him? CALVO: To Mr. Kim, I bear no ill will. The people of Guam bear no ill will to him or the people of North Korea. From a people that have also been subject to war the last thing we want to see is a death of thousands if not millions of North Koreans. A war in the Korean Peninsula, a war in East Asian and the Western Pacific would be a tragedy.

And as we walk around this museum we see what happens when the ultimate form of diplomacy is taken. And the ultimate the last form of diplomacy is war. There is a lot of death; there is a lot of pain for so many people that last for decades, if not generations.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: The governor there hoping that history will be a guide in the situation. Ivan Watson, thank you for the report.

Still ahead here on Newsroom, after years and years of fighting, Aleppo is getting back to a sense of normalcy. We'll show you how the city is slowly coming back to life.

Also ahead this hour, more migrant deaths off the coast of Yemen. How the U.N. is reacting.

Stay with us.

[03:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm George Howell.

In Kenya opposition leader Raila Odinga is refusing to accept the results of the presidential election even though the final tally has not yet been announced. Odinga on the right, claims election computers were hacked after Tuesday's presidential vote and that numbers have been manipulated to favor the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta who holds a big lead.

Odinga spoke earlier with our Clarissa Ward about his frustrations. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAILA ODINGA, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF KENYA: The observers as usually they are more concerned with the cosmetic aspect of the electoral proposes. Usually they talk about at what time the polling stations open, how was the turnouts, how was the process, the working process itself. They are counting at the polling stations.

All that of course you see when there is robbery. Now the devil is in the detail. We are basically talking about the transmission of the results and the final tally. So I don't think that those observers are completely missing the point about the kind of aspect of rigging that they are talking about.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOWELL: Election observers say they are confident about the integrity of the vote there. The election commission is expected to release its final results soon.

The U.S. President, Donald Trump says that his administration is also getting close to updating its strategy for the war in Afghanistan. The war and how to manage U.S. troops there has been a hotly debated topic inside the Trump administration for months now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you make any decision o Afghanistan whether to...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: No, we're getting close, we're getting very close, OK. It's a very big decision for me. I took over a mess and we're going to make it a lot less messy, but that has been a place 17 years our longest wars. I read in one of your columns. And frankly, it's going to be a decision that's going to be made very soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: The president there giving his thoughts to reporters earlier on the day. Now to Syria and the war-ravaged city of Aleppo, for the most part it remains in ruins nine months after the Syrian regime retook the city. Some businesses there are reopening and the overall cleanup efforts move forward.

Our Fred Pleitgen has more from inside Aleppo.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: This is one of the most brutal battle in the Syrian conflict when Syrian government forces backed by Russia launch their final assault on rebel-held areas in Aleppo taking them from the opposition.

Nine months later much of Syria's second largest city still lay in ruins but life is starting to emerge once again. Thousands have return to former battle zone neighborhoods many relying on a donations to get by.

We came to this neighborhood just as residents were rushing to get bread handouts.

"Most people who return are in bad need of almost everything," the local head of this NGO says. "Many come back and find that their homes are reduced to just walls and ceilings, we help them as much as we can." Some stores are also reopening and market vendors coming back. This area was once held by rebels. Some who fled fear reprisals if they return.

But all the people we met were vocal supporters of the government and its Russian backers. "The Russians are our friends," this man says, "they are honest with us like we are honest with them. Bashar al-Assad and the Russians are one part." Amid this massive destruction the tiny effort of reconstruction here

almost like a drop in the bucket. But inside the bombed and burned ruins Aleppo's industry is starting to spring back to life. We came across this textile shop where they repair the machines and manufacturing flows once again.

"When the people who fled see that businesses are coming back they'll return and we'll work together to make Aleppo as great as it used to be and even better," the shift leader says.

Aleppo's historic old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site much of it now reduced to rubble. Some of the fiercest battles revolved around the highest point of the city ancient Citadel. The ancient Citadel was one of the main battlegrounds here in Aleppo and like so many parts of the city repairing the damage will be a momentous task.

[03:24:58] We climbed to the highest point of the Citadel getting a stunning view of all of Aleppo one of the oldest cities in the world badly damaged but now with a chance to stand up once again.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Aleppo, Syria.

HOWELL: Fred Pleitgen, thank you for the report. Another tragedy has unfolded off the coast of Yemen. Smugglers push more than 150 migrants overboard on Thursday leaving them to die at sea.

The International Organization for Migration says six bodies were found on the beach and over more than a dozen people are still missing. The others made it to Yemen. Survivors of a similar incident Wednesday say about 50 people were quote, "deliberately drowned."

Here's how a spokesman says the U.N. Secretary-General reacted when he heard the news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANE DUJARRIC DE LA RIVIERE, SPOKESPERSON, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: Looking at the situation in both the Mediterranean the Sahara those situations are just as heartbreaking. Two thousand four hundred five people have died or disappeared during their attempts to cross the Mediterranean. As we reported on Tuesday more than 265 people are dead or missing traveling across the Sahara just trying to reach the sea.

The Secretary-General is heartbroken by this continuing tragedy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Just as you heard from the U.N. spokesman there this latest tragedy as part of a much bigger global issue.

CNN's Arwa Damon has more now on why African migrants are risking so much and we do warn you this report doesn't contain some graphic images.

ARWA DAMON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: There is no boundary it seems to the cruelty inflicted on the most desperate. The bodies like crawled up on the beach and from a distance one could even imagine they are sleeping. This is how they washed ashore. They didn't have a chance. They were killed by those they trusted to take them to what was meant to be a better life.

LAURENT DE BOECK, CHIEF OF MISSION, INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION: So it is the first time. It's maybe link to a fact that there is reinforcement of control at the borders and the smugglers are panicking but the reaction is actually worse because instead of preventing them entering they basically continue their business by getting people there.

DAMON: The survivors told the IOM, the International Organization for Migration that the smugglers force them off their boat off the coast of Yemen when he saw authorities near the shore their boat was packed with more than 150 migrants and many were just teenagers.

There were two similar incidents in as many days. Those who make this lesser used crossing presumably were hoping for a jobs in the Gulf countries, hardly aware of the dangers of Yemen.

Most African migrants do aim for Europe, about half of migrants recently landed on the shores of Spain, stunning sunbathers before they scattered at the beach but their hardships are hardly over as Europe tries to contain its so-called migrant crisis.

And while the crackdown by authorities to contain the flow may have reduce the numbers of migrants reaching Europe's shores it has hardly stopped those driven by desperation and false promises from trying. Journeys that have already claimed thousands of lives this year alone and that will claim many more until the wars, poverty, and hunger at the root cause of this desperate and deadly journey are eliminated.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:30:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers around the world. You're watching CNN Newsroom. It is good to have you with us. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: This hour, the U.S. president insists his threat of quote fire and fury for North Korea may not have been tough enough. Donald Trump says he will discuss military options but he refused to rule out a preemptive strike.

North Korea is bowing a quote, shameful defeat and final doom for the U.S., end quote. The former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that he is confident about the integrity -- integrity of Tuesday's presidential election in Kenya.

Kerry is collating Carter Center's mission of election observers in Kenya. Opposition leader Raila Odinga has claimed early results were compromised by hackers, final results are expected soon.

China says that a U.S. warship violated its sovereignty Thursday in the South China Sea. The U.S. says it's destroyer conducted a freedom of navigation operation.

That is a man-made island you see there on the map of that is barrack with the island chain which China claims as its own territory. The U.S. considers the area international waters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: The tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have the Pentagon and planners there considering all military options. CNN's Barbara Starr has details for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump not ruling out a preemptive strike against North Korea.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't talk about that. I never do.

STARR: The president has been given updated options as always for a preemptive strike using aircraft, missiles, ships and submarines even though many North Korean weapon sites remain hidden. The death toll if war breaks out could be there horrific.

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: There is a -- a contingency and its real but it has consequences which I think the American people and the world would find really unacceptable.

STARR: But if Kim Jong-un moves first, attacking America as he is threatened by hitting the waters near Guam with four ballistic missiles. A decision to shoot missiles down will have to be made so fast that it could come without President Trump even being consulted.

Several U.S. officials tell CNN, once Kim fires, a shoot down decision must be made within minutes. For Guam, the U.S. THAAD missile system there will be the final layer of defense against the North Korean intermediate range ballistic missile attack.

LT. GEN. SAMUEL GREAVE, DIRECTOR, MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY: My sincere hope is that the testing that we've done to demonstrate THAAD capability will provide confidence to the residents of Guam that they are protected from an IRBM shot coming their way.

STARR: But the next move is up to Kim for the moment. President Trump appearing to set a new redline if Kim attacks Guam.

TRUMP: Let's see what he does with Guam.

STARR: Following a U.S. response.

TRUMP: It will be an event, the likes of which nobody seen before what will happen in North Korea. It's not a dare, it's a statement. STARR: Trump signaling his initial fire and fury vow against to Kim more than stance.

TRUMP: Maybe that statement wasn't tough enough and we've backed by a 100 percent by our military.

STARR: Even if the State Department talk diplomacy, Defense Secretary James Mattis had warned, if the regime initiates the conflict, the U.S. will destroy it.

TRUMP: I need to be honest, General Mattis may have taken any step beyond what I said. There are no mixed messages.

STARR: U.S. military officials are preparing for tensions to rise in the coming days. An already scheduled annual 10 day war game in South Korea begins August 21st to test how well U.S. and Korean troops can work together.

More than 17,000 U.S. troops will participate. Kim Jong routinely steps up his rhetoric during the war game.

[03:35:00] And for now, U.S. officials say they see no evidence that North Korea is preparing for a missile attack. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Barbara, thanks for the reporting. Let's hit some context now with military and intelligence expert Carl Schuster. He is a professor at Hawaii Pacific University joining us this hour in Honolulu. It is good to have you with us this hour, Carl.

So we have reported on the threat at hand, the biggest difference in this case, then we've seen in past administrations as the president of the United States now going back and forth with the leader North Korea. First of all, what are your thoughts on this tough talk?

CARL SCHUSTER, PROFESSOR, HAWAII PACIFIC UNIVERSITY: Well, in Kim's case, he has to talk to tough. He has all the total power and fury in North Korea.

If he shows weakness then the regime becomes shaky, at least his connections within its security connections and support.

In our case, you were trying to establish a deterrence to him taking action and so what you're looking at as an exchange of threats, both of which are intend directed as a domestic and international audience.

HOWELL: Well -- but here is the thing. So Kim Jong-un talking tough, that is nothing new. Tough talk from KCNA, that is nothing new.

But tough talk from the president of the United States again in past administrations we have seen, presidents take a more nuance position clearly indicating the strength and power of the U.S. military, but at the same time, always putting diplomacy first. In this case we're seeing the president of the United States that is

doing a different -- taking a different stance on it. Is that making an impact here?

SCHUSTER: It should be making an impact on Kim Jong-un because in the past, we have placed faith in diplomacy in the perception and the evidence now suggests that diplomacy largely has failed.

Doesn't mean the door is close to it but it does mean he needs to be convinced that his current path is not in his interest. His primary focus is regime survival and personal survival.

So the talk is intended to inform him that he can guarantee both if he continues down this path.

HOWELL: Carl, I touch on this AE and you -- you go to this and we heard in Barbara Starr's reporting as well. But the question about mixed messages, the president saying one thing, your hearing on James Mattis say a different thing.

The defense secretary saying that you know, diplomacy would be the better route but obviously military options are a possibility as well. Are these mixed messages or is the United States, speaking with one voice in this case?

SCHUSTER: I believe it's one voice. Certainly Kim Jong-un would look at it that way or should be. Diplomacy is the preferred path for all parties.

But at the same time, he needs to understand our military is ready and then our patience is not infinite, and so that is the message that overall that the ministration is sending. The state -- more states when like tweets might be appropriate but the messages themselves are unified and appropriate.

HOWELL: James Mattis described a possible war with North Korea as quote catastrophic. Catastrophic for people in South Korea possibly for anyone within the range of Kim Jong-un's reach.

What are your thoughts about the possibility of a war because that is what were talking about here with the rhetoric, with all the bluster that is going on, the possibility of war breaking out on the Korean Peninsula.

SCHUSTER: There was always the risk but I believe that Kim Jong-un calculates his actions very carefully. His rhetoric is one thing but he knows that if he goes too far, he will not remain in power for very long.

He cannot afford conflict anymore than we can. The only difference between us is he does not care about casualties among his own people.

He only cares about casualties among those that matter to him, which is of the population. We on the other hand are sensitive to innocent casualties, as well as those on the battle front. And that is the instrument he is playing. And so, from those two different perceptions, I think he will not take an action that will lead to an action -- that counteraction that affects his survivability or his regimes hold on to power.

HOWELL: Carl Schuster, we appreciate your thoughts today and of course will stay in touch with you as we on the world continue to monitor the situation.

SCHUSTER: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

HOWELL: Thank you so much for being with us. Moving on now to Russia, diplomats there have called for continued dialogue over the worsening situation between North Korea and the U.S. CNN's Phil Black following the story from the Russian capital this our. Phil, how is the Kremlin view all of this?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: George, during this recent escalation in language from the United States and North Korea, Russia has been significantly silent, not entirely silent.

[03:40:00] They have made some comments. Some Russian officials have talked about the need for people to take a step back and -- and not exacerbate the situation. But crucially, they're not being openly critical of either the United States or North Korea.

Even though we know really quite well that Russia will not approve of the language and the threats that are being made currently. They do not like the fact that the atmosphere has escalated to this point.

Russia's consistent position over a long period of time now has been one that says threats, colorful language, talks of military options. None of this is helpful to the situation. None of this will ultimately result the situation.

The Russian view is that there is no military solution to the North Korea issue. So although North Korea like United States does not want North Korea to have nuclear weapons. Russia does not want that I should say.

It is not prepared to engage in the sort of language and the sort of threats that we've been hearing from the U.S. in recent days. Its view is that all sides need to step back, need to sit down and ultimately, need to talk.

The needs to be redirect dialogue and only then through a negotiating process. Can you get a solution that is acceptable to everyone?

Moscow in not naive, it doesn't necessarily believe that that is easily achieved. But it does believe that that is simply the only way forward. Russia is one of North Korea's neighbors'. It does not want a war in North Korea.

HOWELL: The Phil Black with perspective from Moscow. Thanks, Phil. Now to tell you about a bizarre assault on U.S. diplomat, that maybe straining ties between Washington and Cuba.

Officials say that employees at the U.S. Embassy in Havana might have been attacked with a sophisticated device that uses sound. Canada says that one of its diplomats also had unusual symptoms. We have more now from CNN's Patrick Oppmann in Havana.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If any diplomat may be the latest victim of a string of suspected acoustic attacks on diplomats in Havana.

The Canadian government released a statement saying they are investigating the illness of a Canadian diplomat whose sickness appears to mere that of five U.S. diplomats who the American government say were attacked by sonic weapons.

And what these are -- are clandestine devices that were put in and around U.S. diplomats homes in Havana late in 2016 and apparently calls them to come down with symptoms similar to concussions.

What these devices do is broadcast a frequency that people can't hear but it can cause headache, concussion like symptoms. Even the one diplomat -- his hearing was so damaging, now it needs to use a hearing aid.

The FBI is investigating who is behind these possible attacks. The Cuban government says that it was not them. That they are cooperating and will help the United States discover what it was that led these diplomats to fall I'll.

Diplomats say that they believe that Cuba has some involvement in the attacks. But in recent months, at least, there have been no further attacks on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Havana. Patrick Oppmann, CNN Havana.

HOWELL: Patrick, thanks. A little more on that now, Cuba denies that it mistreated U.S. diplomats. An official tells CNN, the U.S. is investigating if a third country was involved, perhaps as payback for U.S. actions elsewhere.

They said, driving a wedge between the U.S. and Cuba may also be a motive. Here is how the U.S. State Department described the investigation on Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEATHER NAUERT, SPOKESPERSON, UNITED STATES STATE DEPARTMENT: This is a situation that we're still assessing. What I say an active investigation is underway, in part with that means is, we don't know exactly where this came from, OK?

We can't blame anyone individual or a country at this point yet. An investigation is underway. We take that very seriously. This is a U.S. government investigation that is taking place. We've spoke extensively to the Cubans about this.

As you know, we had two of their Cuban diplomats leave back in late May or so. We do -- and the reason that have them leave is because we said that this is the agreement that the United -- United States rather has with Cuba.

And that is that they are responsible for the safety and security of our -- our diplomat while our diplomats are serving in that country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: U.S. Republicans have majorities in both chambers of Congress and of course they hold the White House, but President Trump has overseen rampant infighting within his own party, often starting at fighting himself and that has some people questioning if this really his party at all. It's a question we'll delve into ahead.

[03:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Welcome back to Newsroom. The U.S. President Donald Trump is raising the alarm over a major drug problem. He is vowing to declare the opioid crisis, a national emergency.

That designation would give federal agencies and state governments more power to fight the epidemic. Since 1999, officials say the number of overdose deaths from opioids has quadrupled. Here is how the president explained the situation earlier Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The opioid crisis is an emergency and I'm saying officially right now, it is an emergency, it's a national emergency.

We're going spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis. We're going to draw it up and we're going to make it a national emergency. It is a serious problem, the likes of which we have never had.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: The president also in the middle of a messy fight with top Republican lawmakers. This week, Mister Trump repeatedly attacked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

He blames McConnell for not pushing through the repeal and replace of Obamacare. Here is how Mister Trump describes McConnell's future leading the Senate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)

TRUMP: Well, I'll tell what, if he doesn't get repeal and replace done, and if he doesn't get access done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn't get a very easy one to get done, infrastructure, he doesn't get them done, then you can ask me that question.

I'm very disappointed in Mitch, but if he gets these bills passed, I'll be very happy with him. I'll be the first to admit it but honestly, repeal and replace of Obamacare should have taken place.

And it should have been on my desk virtually the first week that I was there or the first day that I was. I have been hearing about it for seven years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: It was a Jeff Sessions, his Attorney General who was on the hot seat just a few weeks ago, now Mitch McConnell. The president's latest fight within his own ranks has a lot of people revisiting the popular question that was raised in the 2016 campaign.

And that question being, is Donald Trump even a real Republican? Senior U.S. Correspondent Alex Marquardt has this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump surprise victory made a president out of a proud political outsider.

TRUMP: It is time to drain damn swamp.

MARQUARDT: Voters voted out. Now in office with the Republicans also controlling both Houses of Congress, the president is still a fighter even against his own party leaders and staunch allies.

TRUMP: I am disappointed in the attorney general.

MARQUARDT: Especially when the going gets rough.

TRUMP: So far, Senate Republicans have not done their job in ending the Obamacare nightmare.

MARQUARDT: During those failed efforts to repeal Obamacare, the president clearly distance himself from the party he leads using his beloved Twitter account.

[03:50:00] Writing, for years, even as a civilian, I listened as Republicans push the repeal and replace of Obamacare. Now they finally have their chance and then it is very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back do very little to protect their president.

So who really represents the Republican Party, the man who fought his way to the White House or the people who were already in the trenches?

AMANDA CARPENTER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, TED CRUZ: There is a big difference between Trumpism and while he represents for Republicans and traditional Republicans want to do things like more traditional tax reform, run a campaign against abortion and the social issues. There's a break there.

MARQUARDT: Trump has famously flipped parties on number of times.

TRUMP: In many cases, I probably identify more to Democrat. It just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans.

MARQUARDT: He has blasted pillars of the GOP like John McCain and George W. Bush.

TRUMP: People don't like him. People think he has been a horrible president, possibly the worst of the history of this country.

MARQUARDT: In the White House, he has mainly been in sync with the GOP when it comes to issues.

CARPENTER: Trump and the Republicans that have been around for so long do agree a lot in the issues. Where they differ in terms of style and how they conduct themselves in private.

That is really where they tear apart and the only reason that they have been hanging together this long is because they do have mutual goals.

MARQUARDT: Goals that Republican leaders say are harder to accomplish with this chaotic, combative White House that has shown it is more than happy to shift the blame. Alex Marquardt, CNN New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Still ahead before living in the White House and even before Trump Tower, President Trump live in a five bedroom house in Queens, New York. How you can also spend time there?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Pop superstar Taylor Swift took the stand on Thursday in a civil trial insisting that former radio disc jockey groped here four years ago at a backstage event.

In court she described the incident as horrifying and shocking. The DJ, looking at this image here on the right says that didn't happen. He is suing Swift claiming her accusation was false and cost him his job. Swift is countersuing claiming sexual assault. The jury of six women and two men will decide that case.

Google's CEO canceled a global townhall meeting moments before it was supposed to start on Thursday. CEO Sundar Pichai wanted to talk about a controversial essay that went viral.

But he canceled the meeting after employees identities were leaked online. He said they could face harassment or threats. It is all fallout from a 10 page memo by James Damore.

The Google engineer claimed that women lag behind men in the tech industry because they are less assertive and more neurotic. Google fire Damore saying part of his memo violated company policy.

In New York you can live like the Trump's did back in the 1940s because President Donald Trump's childhood home is available for rent on Airbnb. It even comes with a giant cardboard cutout of Mister Trump and

multiple copies of his book, The Art of the Deal. Our Jeanne Moos has this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[03:55:00] JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Knock, knock. Oh, it you. Taking you on a tour of what may be Airbnb's most unusual listing, the childhood home of Donald Trump.

The address in the New York City Borough of Queens is on the president's birth certificate and now for 725 bucks a night, you can stay here, too. Look what is waiting to greet guests in the living room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who would be glad to sit with you and watch television Fox News late into the night?

MOOS: Back when he was running for president, the house was for sale.

TRUMP: That's really good childhood. I was -- oh, that said to look at that. I want to buy it.

MOOS: Lease sold for just over $2 million, five bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths. Photos of the (Inaudible) all over, so is the art of the deal. Is there a copy of this in light of the Bible in every room?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, absolutely.

MOOS: The leaseholders have furnished the house and period furniture to reflect the 1946 to 1950 era when Trump the new born came to live here for four or five years. It smells like grandma's house sits chalk full of bond pads to accommodate gas. This is believed to be young Donald's bedroom with a view of the flag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the Airbnb listing, the onerous says quotes, it says I live in one of the bedrooms which will not be accessible to you, which is also what Melania told Donald when she moved into the Whit House.

MOOS: Imagine how the president would describe this property.

TRUMP: Like the world has never seen.

MOOS: A sun porch like the world has never seen. A walk-in closet like world has never seen. Interior decoration like world has never seen. Now this, the world has seen. In the master bedroom, there is a plaque. In his bedroom, Donald J. Trump was likely conceived.

TRUMP: The likes of which this world has never seen before.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN -- but on this exact bed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, this is a new bed.

MOOS: New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Jeanne Moos, thank you so much. And thank you for being with us. I'm George Howell at CNN world headquarters. The news continues this hour with Max Foster live in London. Stay with us.

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