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CNN NEWSROOM

10 Sailors Missing In U.S. Destroyer Collision; Trump To Announce New Afghanistan Strategy; Trump To Outline Path Forward In Afghanistan; Joint South Korean-U.S. Military Drills Get Underway; Pyongyang Threatens Merciless Strike On U.S.; International Manhunt For Barcelona Attack Suspect; Political Upheaval after Protest in Charlottesville; Trump to Announce Path Forward in Afghanistan; 10 Sailors Missing in U.S. Destroyer Collision; Survivors Plead for Help after Deadly Mudslide in Sierra Leone; Sonic Attacks in Cuba Worse Than Reported; Americans to Experience Total Solar Eclipse. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 21, 2017 - 01:00   ET

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


[01:00:00] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the CNN NEWSROOM in Atlanta. We're following breaking news this hour. The U.S. Navy is searching for ten sailors missing after a collision at sea early on Monday. The USS John S. McCain, a guided-missile destroyer, collided with a merchant ship just east of Singapore; you see the damage on its hole there. Five sailors are injured. There is some visible damage; you can see a hole at the bottom of the ship but it's moving to port under its own power. This is the fourth mishap involving a U.S. Navy warship in the Pacific this year. The U.S. president tweeted about the collision, "Thoughts and prayers are with our U.S. Navy aboard the USS John S. McCain, where search and rescue efforts are underway."

CNN's Kyung Lah joins us now from Tokyo. Kyung, start by telling me about the search and rescue efforts for the 10 missing sailors. The accident took place some eight hours ago now.

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Some eight hours ago. But that search is still underway. The Singapore Maritime Authorities telling us that there's a stretch of the Strait that they are searching. They have deployed helicopters. They -- in addition to the Malaysian Navy -- have sent assets to the region. There are also a number of U.S. assets from helicopters to the Marine Corps Osprey, searching those waters, looking for those ten missing sailors. That is the effort right now from what we are told.

At this point, we do not have an update on the status of that search, other than that it is under. We are told that five sailors were also injured; four of them have been airlifted to a nearby hospital in Singapore. They do not have life-threatening injuries; their injuries are described as nonlife-threatening. And one of the injured sailors, as far as we understand, did remain on the USS John McCain. But Cyril, everything that we're hearing, the focus is on the search for those sailors.

VANIER: So what happened? What happened out there at sea why was there a collision between a military ship, which has all these precision instruments on board, and this tanker? KYUNG: That's the big question. At this point, we just don't know.

From what we' been told, a U.S. Navy source telling CNN that it appears that the "USS John McCain did lose steering power right before the collision. We don't know if there's a direct correlation. We do know that that steering power was regained and that, as you mentioned, the USS John McCain is returning to port on its own power. Although, we did, according to the Singaporean sources that it is requesting tug assistance back to port. So, that's the only clue that we're getting so far. But let's take a look at this particular Strait.

It is -- the Strait of Malacca is a very congested shipping area; it is narrow. And its most narrow point, it is about two nautical miles across. And it sees a lot of traffic from shipping, from the military. It is a congested pathway if you will. So, you're right that when they do cross that area, any sort of naval vessel, generally, has its eyes up. They have their radar on alert. They try to make sure that they don't run into anything. But in this case, something happened. The "USS John McCain, sustaining some sort of damage to its rear left, we are told.

VANIER: And look, what's going to be on everyone's minds right now is that something extremely similar to this happened less than two months ago. It was with the USS Fitzgerald at the time, off of the coast of Japan, seven sailors died in that accident.

KYUNG: And that really did shake the seventh fleet to its core. A lot of questions about what exactly happened here. There was a deeper view of what happened with the USS Fitzgerald. But I want to give you a look at these last four incidents. You have what just happened with the USS John McCain colliding with the merchant ship. On June 17, the USS Fitzgerald collision with container ship -- that were just about, seven sailors perish in that incident. May 9th, the USS Lake Champlain struck by a fishing boat. And another one on January 31st, not a collision but the USS Antietam ran around while anchoring.

So, these are all incidents that have occurred, and the larger question of what's happening with the U.S. forces here on this side. The one thing we should point out as well is that the USS John McCain is forward deployed; it is like the USS Fitzgerald. These vessels are part of the response with North Korea. Also happening today, Cyril, are those U.S.-South Korean military exercises that often inflame tensions here in the region. And so, these vessels have those ship- based interceptors that are just going to be out of commission while they try to look into this.

[01:05:03] VANIER: Yes. Kyung Lah, thank you very much for your continuing coverage out of Tokyo, and we'll want to know as soon as we get information, explanations. Either information on the sailors or explanations on how this happened. So, let us know when you have new information. Thank you very much.

And Republican Senator John McCain tweeted his best wishes to the crew saying, "Cindy and I are keeping America's sailor aboard the USS John S. McCain in our prayer tonight. We appreciate the work of search and rescue crews." The destroyer, you might've noticed, is named after the senator's father and grandfather. They were both Navy admirals, and the senator himself was a captain in the Navy:

Now, U.S. President Donald Trump will address the nation Monday night to explain his strategy on Afghanistan. The president's team has been working on the new military plan for months now. Mr. Trump is said to be frustrated by the lack of progress against the Taliban and other Militants, and the U.S. has more than 8,000 troops in Afghanistan still to this day. Here's Defense Secretary James Mattis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MATTIS, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I was not willing to make significant troop (INAUDIBLE) until we made totally knew what was the strategy, what was the commitment going in. In that regard, the president has made a decision. As he said, he wants to be the one to announce it to the American people, so I'll stand silently until then -- until that point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: General Mattis had told lawmakers in June that he would be able to present a strategy by mid-July, but deliberations dragged past that deadline. Advisers have been presenting President trump with the range of options, including a surge in troop numbers or a full withdrawal on the other end of the spectrum. CNN's Elise Labott has more on this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: President Trump has decided on the path forward for America's engagement in Afghanistan -- the longest war in American history. Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis, said that on Monday, the president will lay out that strategy in an address to the American people. On Friday, the president met at Camp David to review his options with his top national security aides, including Secretary Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and Vice President Mike Pence.

The White House has been taking an exhaustive month-long review of U.S. policy towards Afghanistan and has been accused by many in Congress of dragging its feet. Now, back in February, General Nicholson, the Commander of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan, requested a few thousand troops to break what he said was essentially a stalemate with the Taliban. Now, Secretary Mattis said, all options are on the table waging from Surgent troops to complete withdrawal. Now, one proposal former White House Strategist, Steve Bannon argued for involves a shifting of responsibilities to private contractors or mercenaries, if you will.

We're hearing a bump of about 4,000 troops, mostly advisers that would embed with the local unit of the Afghan National Army is likely. It's not a major departure from the current strategy being pursued in Afghanistan, but the decision in troop levels is just one component of the strategy. Defense Secretary Mattis noted this is a full South Asia strategy, including the need to pressure Pakistan to stop providing safe haven to the Taliban and other extremist group operating in the country. Elise Labott, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: CNN Military Analyst, Rick Francona, is with us. Rick, we need your input on two stories. We'll get to the Navy collision in just a moment, but let's continue in Afghanistan for a little bit. And what I'm hearing from Elise, it's very similar to what we've been hearing for years. You know, you've got these two levers, you've got the diplomacy, and especially what Pakistan is doing, and you've got how many troops you're putting on the ground. But do you think, with what we've just heard 4,000 extra troops, if that is indeed what happens, and extra pressure on Pakistan, does that really move the needle in any significant way?

RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The key is, what are these troops going to do? If we're just going to send 4,000 more troops to do the train advise and assist mission, it's probably not going to make that much of a difference. We've tried this before. We had many more troops there doing this exact same thing. It really has to --

VANIER: There was a huge (INAUDIBLE) under Barack Obama, a much more important surge.

FRANCONA: Exactly. And we have not made any progress. If you look -- in fact, we're declining. If you look at the amount of the territory that the Taliban now holds is increasing, not decreasing. If you look just three years ago, we were in a much better position than we are now, so it's this downward slide and I think the president wants to put an end to that. So, if we just do more of the same, I don't see how that changes. So, I'd be interested to hear on what the -- if he's going the send more troops exactly what their mission is going to be. Articulate what their goal is, and then provide the resources to General Nicholson to do that.

I'm hoping that we're going to see maybe some U.S. combat forces to go in there, particularly to that area in Southeast Afghanistan, where the ISIS group is operating, and deal with them because seems to be one of the key, one of the priorities for the government. What are we trying to do in Afghanistan? We're trying to prevent it from becoming a safe haven again, and just continuing more of the same as the Taliban continues to spread their influence is not going to make that happen.

[01:10:16] VANIER: Now, official, combat ended in 2014 when Barack Obama announced the end of the combat mission of the U.S. forces. And he kept 8,000 troops there but in a train and advisory position.

FRANCONA: Yes. He was really keen to get out of the combat roll, and l think that hurt us. Especially, when he announced to the Taliban that we're leaving on this date or we're ending our combat mission on this exact date. Whenever you tell an insurgent group that you're on a certain date, they just wait you out. So, we don't want to make -- we want to make sure that does not happen again. So, we'll see what the president has to say, but I think we need to hear a different strategy not just more of the same.

VANIER: Yes. I'd like to tap into your expertise as regards the ship and the collision that occurred off Singapore with the USS John S. McCain. It's been eight hours or so since the crash. It is possible that the ten sailors we're looking have survived at this stage?

FRANCONA: It's possible. But you know, each hour that goes by, it becomes more and difficult. There are some things working in our favor. It is light. There are a lot of assets looking for these sailors. If they're in the water, they could be still alive, we just have to find them. Otherwise, they're probably on the ship. We don't know their exact status. The fact that the ship had to depart the area rather than staying there and looking for those ten indicates to me that the ship is in danger. It's probably taking on a lot of water, and the fact that they've assisted -- tug boat assistance means that although they're under their own power, they not going to be able to make port. So, I think first priority for the captain was to get this ship to safety -- save the ship. And maybe have to rely on others to look for the ten of his crew. A very difficult decision.

VANIER: Rick, it's the second such incident in two months. The previous one involved the USS Fitzgerald; seven sailors died in that incident. I mean, is this sending alarm bells through the Navy?

FRANCONA: I can guarantee you that there will be a top-to-bottom review of procedures and protocols, and find out what's going on -- if it's a systemic problem. Now, I suspect that all four of these incidents that we were talking about are coincidental. Because if you look at what happened today, it did lose a steering just before the accident, it might just be a simple as that, a maintenance issue or a technical issue. Whereas on the Fitzgerald, what I'm reading from the investigation now is that it was poor seamanship, and the officers were removed for cause.

VANIER: Are you -- what about the argument that these are busy shipping lanes, and in a sense, that makes them more dangerous?

FRANCONA: Well, they are busy shipping lanes but there are protocols, exact protocols, and control on how you maneuver through these shipping lanes. And these military vessels have to be very, very careful because they're much smaller than these commercial behemoths. Look at the sizes of these two vessels today. You've got a U.S. Navy Destroyer about 9,000 tons, and commercial tanker which weighs about 30,000 tons -- big difference. So, while the tanker could sustain an impact like this, it does tremendous damage to a much smaller warship.

VANIER: Yes, absolutely. And it explains why in this case, as was the case in the previous one, you see all this damage, very significant to the U.S. Navy ship, and very little damage, almost insignificant damage, to the commercial ship. Rick Francona, CNN Military Analyst, thank you very much.

FRANCONA: Sure thing.

VANIER: The U.S. is facing other challenges in East Asia. It's taking part in military drills getting under way in South Korea, and that has Pyongyang issuing new threats now. On Sunday, North Korean state media called the drills reckless and said that they were a move towards possible nuclear war. It also said it's military can target Guam, Hawaii, and the U.S. mainland at any time with a merciless strike.

The Kim regime sees the annual drills as practice for an invasion, but the U.S. and South Korea say that they're purely defensive and the North knows that. Our Paula Hancocks is monitoring the situation from Seoul; she joins me with the latest. Paula, do you think -- do you feel that these drills are different because of the context now? And the context, of course, is the recent war of words between Donald Trump and the North Korean leader.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Cyril, what we're told by the U.S. military is that this is a computer-simulated exercise. It's to test the command post, to test the communication. You would assume that there are certain things in that that would've been developed throughout the year given what's been happening, but we don't know that for sure. We know from the U.S. military that these are planned months in advance. But of course, they want to practice their readiness.

So, certainly, there'll be -- you'd assume using the latest information. But what we've heard from the Secretary of Defense James Mattis and from other officials as well is that they are defensive in nature and that North Korea knows that, that North Korea has its own domestic audience, has to say a certain thing, has to show its displeasure. But there shouldn't be any kind of miscalculation as they are annual, and they are defensive in nature -- something that the president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in also said this morning.

[01:15:30] VANIER: The North has greatly developed its abilities. And we saw weeks ago that they now have an ICBM, an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. They have the ability, at least in theory, to reach the U.S. mainland. How does this impact this situation?

HANCOCKS: Well certainly, the U.S. has to take that into consideration. It's something that Kim Jong-un has been very clear about that he wants to have that capability of hitting mainland United States with a nuclear warhead, and he is certainly on his way. The South Korean officials believed that he's not there yet; there is a difference of opinion as to how exactly or how long exactly it would take to be able to have that capability. North Korea claims it has it already, although those two ICBM tests, according to some experts, doesn't necessarily mean that it would be able to strike right away.

But from the U.S. official's point of view, they say when they hear the threats from North Korea, threats from Kim Jong-un, they have to take him at his words. So, if he says that he has managed to miniaturize a nuclear warhead, they have to assume that he is telling the truth. But when he says he can hit the mainland United States, they have to act accordingly. So, certainly from the U.S. point of view, it is of great concern the fact that the U.S. could potentially now be hit as well. Cyril.

VANIER: Our Paula Hancocks, reporting live from Seoul, South Korea. Thank you very much. The search for a key suspect in last week's terror attacks in Spain has become international. We'll have more on the hunt for this man after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:20:03] VANIER: The search for a suspect in Spain's twin tower attacks has now widened to an international manhunt; Spanish police fear that he may have fled the country. Meanwhile, investigators are learning more about the terrorist cell and the extent of its plans. Isa Soares, explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Standing strong and united. A defiant Barcelona, living up to its motto: more than a club. Today, a city, a fitting ending to what has been a sunny day. Earlier, Spaniards gathered outside the Sagrada Familia. Inside, Spain's King Filipe and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy paid tribute to those who died and the more than a hundred injured. But prayers haven't even been heard when the tragedy of August 17th was relived once more. Authorities telling CNN, 7-year-old, Julian Cadman, thought to be missing was confirm dead. As the country continues to come together both to grieve and to mourn, police are making shrines on what has become an increasingly complex investigation.

JOSEP LLUIS TRAPERO, HEAD OF THE CATALAN POLICE (through translator): They had planned one or more attacks in Barcelona with explosives that were made during days in the hopes of causing even greater damage.

SOARES: The grand plan orchestrated from right here. They may have long gone but their shadow continues to haunt the sleepy town. For days now, controlled explosions have rocked Alcanar. Police, carefully sifting through rubble on the pile of explosives taking stock of the magnitude of what was being planned.

TRAPERO: The number canister is more than 100 at the moment, but the inspection isn't over yet. It will probably last day because it's a very slow process. As you know, this is the kind of explosive used habitually in Daesh attacks, and we are finding the ingredients to make this kind of explosive.

SOARES: For six months, they squatted in this house, until a mistake by them forced their hand. Since that explosion, police say the discovered human remains, belonging to two suspected terrorists. A search suffered serious injuries and is now under arrest. As the pieces of the puzzle come together, this man, Younes Abouyaaqoub, is still on the run. Police may have intensified the hunt with reinforcements in highways and borders, the five days on from the terror attack, they acknowledged may have slipped through the net. Isa Soares, CNN, Barcelona.

VANIER: And police arresting several suspected members of that terrorist cell in a quiet town of Ripoll, also in Catalunya. Melissa Bell went there, and this is what she found.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees, the quiet town of Ripoll was known mostly for its 9th Century monastery, until now. (WOMAN CRYING)

BELL: In the town's center, the families, not of the victims of Barcelona, but of the suspected attackers. Among them, Fatima Abouyaaqoub, whose brother, Mohammed Hisham, was one of the five men killed by police as they launched an attack in the town of Cambrils.

Her brother was not alone. Eight of the suspected Barcelonan Cambrils terrorists came from this small town. Their families gathered Saturday night in grief, but also to disown the terror attacks. The placards read "not in my name." On the outskirts of Ripoll, investigators have sealed off an apartment where the youngest of the alleged attackers, Moussa Oukabir, lived.

One of Moussa's cousins turns up. He says, he wants to collect belongings but is quickly escorted out. In shock, he can't believe what's happened. Moussa, he says, must have been brain washed. A neighbor tells us what the family was like.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they were normal people but they didn't talk much. No, no, they didn't talk. If they could avoid saying hello to you, they would.

BELL: The Cafeteria Esperanza is a Moroccan bar where most of the Ripoll suspects would meet to drink mint tea. Even today, their former friends are inside doing just that. But watching the news with a sense of disbelief. They said, they can't believe, they say, the men they knew so well, a man who ran orderly lives, and who weren't particularly religious might've cried out such atrocities. They also express a sense of anger that they should've been committed in the name of Islam. Only five percent of Ripoll's 11,000 strong population is Muslim. The town is peaceful, and although proudly Catalonian, happily integrated, say local officials.

[01:25:08] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We work together. The Muslim community, and the local council to make different activities and built bridges to be a normal community.

SOARES: A normal community whose peace has been shattered. The makeshift mosque, where Moussa Oukabir prayed is now shut to the outside world, and to its many questions. Melissa Bell, CNN, Ripoll.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: OK. I want to recap our breaking news this hour and bring you these live pictures off the coast of Singapore. Remember, the U.S. Navy is still searching for 10 sailors that were, are missing after a collision at sea early on Monday. What you're seeing now is live footage of the American Destroyer that was involved in that collision. It happened shortly after 5:00 a.m. local time with a tanker.

You're looking right now at the USS John S. McCain. Ten sailors are missing; five are injured. You're the damage on the haul of the ship. Now, tanker itself doesn't have nearly as much damage, because it's much bigger, much heavier than this Navy ship. Now it was able to come back almost to port under its own power, however, the tug boats have been called in. I believe that's what we're watching; footage that's being filmed from one of those tug boats, possibly need to -- that's not the case.

[01:26:39] You're watching live pictures of the USS John S. McCain, not far off the coast of Singapore. The sailors on the deck. And of course, we're still -- without news about the ten missing U.S. sailors. All right, we'll give you more after the break. Stay with us here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:30:24] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier, with your headlines this hour.

(HEADLINES)

VANIER: The U.S. president's announcement of his plans for Afghanistan follow an exceptionally tumultuous week for Donald Trump. His statements on the deadly white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, triggered a tsunami of political fallout. His two business advisory groups fell apart as CEOs quit in protest over his remarks.

Here is a reminder of Mr. Trump's comments after the Charlottesville protests.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides, on many sides.

I watched this very closely, much more closely than you people watched it. And you have -- you had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that. But I'll say it right now.

I think there's blame on both sides.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: You look at both sides -- I think there's blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it. And you don't have any doubt about it either.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: And -- and if you reported it accurately, you would say that.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Excuse me. Excuse me.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: You had some bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: And just days after that controversial press conference, White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was ousted. Bannon is viewed as an architect of the president's nationalist views. And he's now back as an editor at "Breitbart."

The criticism from within the president's own party is becoming more pointed. The only African-American Republican in the Senate says the president's moral compass has been compromised.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TIM SCOTT, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: At this point, it's not what the president says next. It's what he does. We are at a very critic and sensitive time in this nation. We need our president to sit down with folks who have a personal experience, a deep connection to the horror and the pain of this country's provocative racial history. If the president wants to have a better understanding and appreciation for what he should do next, he needs to hear something from folks who have gone through this painful history. Without that personal connection to the painful past, it would be hard for regain that moral authority from my perspective.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: And here's the Ohio Governor John Kasich, who lost to President Trump in the Republican primaries. He says he's hoping for more stability now in the White House

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KASICH, (R), OHIO GOVERNOR: I'm rooting for him to get it together. We all are. We're only like seven months into this presidency, and, look, what we have to start thinking about, all of us, not just the president, but down at where we live, in the neighborhoods, in the communities. We have to build a stronger America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Larry Sabato heads the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. In addition to being one of our regular analysts, he had a front-row seat to the protests in Charlottesville.

Larry, the Trump presidency has generated a lot of noise and controversy. Do you feel that Charlottesville and President Trump's response to it will fade into the background eventually or will it end up being a defining moment of his presidency?

[01:35:19] LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Normally, I'd bet on anything fading with time, and maybe that's true for this. But I do think it has been a defining moment because it's rely the first time that Republican office holders have done more than criticize Trump for something minor or a passing incident. This has been sustained criticism for days from senior people. So I do think it's a watershed. And Trump's ratings cheerily have been damaged all across the country.

VANIER: About that, I want to look as this new NBC/Marist poll. In three key states that got Donald Trump elected, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, strong majorities in each of those states say they're embarrassed about the president's conduct. You see it there left of your screen, 63 percent, 64, and in the other column, just about a quarter of people saying they are proud of his conduct. Are you surprised by those numbers and, more importantly, do you think it matters politically for Donald Trump?

SABATO: The next election is 14 months away for congress and the next presidential election is until November of 2020. So there's plenty of time for those numbers to change. But it is significant in one way, other than generally being a shocking number who are embarrassed by their own president. It's the fact that these three states gave critical pluralities to Donald Trump, which put him in the White House, put him over the top in the Electoral College. He didn't win any of those three states by much. It was a percent or less. But to see essentially the electorate decide two to one against Trump, that means he's inn a deep hole and he has to do some things right. This president needs to become preident of the United States instead of president of the Trump base.

VANIER: Larry, consider the other side of the argument. If people are embarrassed, when they're faced with a choice during the next election between Donald Trump and a Democratic candidate, they may go with someone who is embarrassing but closer to their views politically.

SABATO: That's what they did the last time. So absolutely. And the problem for the Democrats is, you can't throw a rock in Washington without hitting two candidates for president for Democrats. There are going to be a record number of Democrats running, and it's easy to see the party splitting six ways to Sunday or nominating a weak candidate of what is essentially a smaller faction within the party.

VANIER: Donald Trump's going to be explaining his vision for Afghanistan, his overall strategy not just Afghanistan but for the region, South Asia. Do you think that's possibly intended to put the Charlottesville controversy behind him? Some have been saying that.

SABATO: I'm sure that it's designed partly to turn the page. But of course, you have too at the page he's turning to. This is an insolvable war in many ways. It's the longest war in American history. And we can't seem to put it away. So whatever he does, he's got a split party. His base doesn't want foreign involvements like Afghanistan. The traditional Republicans want him to put in tens of thousands more troops, which he's not going to do. So again, welcome to the real dilemmas of the presidency.

VANIER: Yes, it's going to be interesting to see where he falls on this, especially in light of the comment from his former advisor, Steve Bannon, "No administration," says Steve Bannon to the "Washington Post," "has ever been so divided among itself about the direction about where it shgould go."

Do you think, Larry, with Steve Bannon gone, there's going to be a more consistent approach within the White House, whether it's to do with Afghanistan or domestic politics?

SABATO: I think it will help somewhat that he's gone, because he was a disruptive force. But as everybody has said correctly, the number- one disruptive force in the White House is Donald Trump. He himself frequently flip-flops or contradicts himself, even within 24 hours.

VANIER: Look, it's going to be interesting to see what he says on Afghanistan also because Mr. Trump, since the beginning of his presidency, hasn't frequently laid out a strategic or policy vision on foreign policy. I can think of the speech he made when he was meeting Sunni leaders in the gulf in Saudi Arabia. I can think of that, but I can't think of any other instance when he's laid out a vision of how things should happen in a region of the world.

SABATO: And what he's done, Cyril, he's done it with a Teleprompter speech. He's also not had a single Oval Office address to the American public, which is extraordinary. He likes to speak in front of an audience of supporters, and he will probably have that at the military base he's going to. But what he says is going to be important. It will actually be analyzed, every phrase of it, by factions that are completely at loggerheads with one another.

[01:40:13] VANIER: Larry Sabato, from the University of Virginia, always good to talk to you. Thank you.

SABATO: Thank you, Cyril.

VANIER: And Sierra Leone faces a difficult road to recovery after last week's deadly mudslides, after the breaks, we'll have the country's plea to the international community.

Also, I want to remind you of these are live pictures. We're keeping an on this. This is happening right now just off the coast of Singapore. In the background, if you're watching, the "USS John S. McCain," a U.S. Navy destroyer that was involved in a collision with a tanker in the early morning hours in the Pacific. It sustained great damage. Search-and-rescue operations are currently under way for 10 missing U.S. sailors. We'll have more on this as well after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VANIER: We continue to follow these live pictures just off the coast of Singapore now. About eight hours ago, the "USS John S. McCain," which is the largest of the two boats which has just gone out of vision right now, it's coming back in vision, was involved in a collision with a tanker. And you're seeing the significant damage sustained on one side of the ship, where this video was shot just moments ago. Again, off the coast of Singapore. Importantly, the search-and-rescue operation is under way to find those 10 sailors. The U.S. Marines are involved, the Singaporean -- Singapore has deployed assets as well, their Navy to try to find them. But it was eight hours ago. We continue to track these pictures for you.

The people of Sierra Leone are pleading for help after last week's devastating mudslides. The death toll has risen to nearly 500 people and hundreds more are still missing.

CNN's Farai Sevenzo tells us about the thousands of survivors that are now displaced.

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FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPODNENT: Since the mudslide last Monday, Freetown has been some respite from the rains. But survivors of the tragedy are beginning to swell. 20,000 are now homeless says a presidential spokesman.

The government has issued an appeal for help as the threat of disease looms. And people are without shelter in the harsh rainy season.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need the support so that we can get permanent housing solutions for this unfortunate people that are scattered all over the city and dealing with the challenge of hygiene as we are speaking.

SEVENZO: Schools and churches are being used to shelter the homeless. And for many here, the memories of the mudslide are still raw. And they have been telling stories of incredible loss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just saw the hill coming down. After that, somebody came and took us. When they carry my child -- I didn't see my husband again. I look for him. I look for him. I didn't see my uncle. My sister, she lost two of her children.

[01:45:31] SEVENZO: About a third of those killed when the rain and mud carried everything in its path to the valley below were children.

This has left children parentless and parents childless in one morning.

The government knows the task ahead is enormous and is calling for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This shouldn't happen to Sierra Leone, shouldn't happen to anybody. This is why we are appealing very passionately, come to the aide of Sierra Leone, who have never received a disaster of such magnitude in just one day

SEVENZO: This young man tells CNN he lost everything. As he looks up at the hills where large red scare on the mud is, he echoes the government plea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are pleading to people in the world, if you can hear us, help us.

SEVENZO: Farai Sevenzo, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VANIER: A mysterious sonic attack on U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Cuba may have targeted more people than originally thought.

Our Patrick Oppmann reports from Havana.

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PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: CNN has learned that 10 U.S. diplomates and family members were injured by acoustic attacks, but it's unclear who was behind these incidents. In addition, five Canadian diplomats and some of their family members were also affected.

What took place, U.S. officials tell CNN, is sonic weapons starting late last year were placed outside the homes of both U.S. and Canadian diplomats. They put out an acoustic wave or frequency that is not always able to be picked up by the human ear but it has very real physical impacts on people. It can cause nausea, headaches, even hearing loss.

Within a few months when this began, U.S. diplomats said they complained to Cuban officials, demanded an investigation, and that they have received some cooperation. The Cuban government has allowed FBI agents to come to the island, look into diplomates homes, search these homes. But they have not found any devices that could have carried out these attacks.

Some of the attacks were audible, but U.S. diplomats were not able to determine where the source of the sound came from. U.S. government officials tell us when they left the rooms, immediately the symptoms ceased. This indicates, U.S. government officials tell CNN, these were not eavesdropping equipment that had malfunction, but actual targeted attacks on people. It's not clear who has this kind of capability and what the motive would be for attacking U.S. or Canadian diplomats in Havana.

So while there's more information coming to light, the mystery surrounding this case continues.

Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: In less than 12 hours now, millions in the U.S. will be able to see a total solar eclipse. We'll have the details on what you can expect just after e break.

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[01:52:25] VANIER: Welcome back. So millions of people in the United States will have their eyes on the sky on Monday to see the first total solar eclipse to cross from coast to coast in nearly a century. Planets and stars will be visible as day briefly turns to night. Many animals should be going into their nighttime routines at that time. The path of totality, as it's being called, where people will experience total about 112 kilometers wide. The total eclipse will start on east coast just after 10:00 a.m. Pacific time and end on the east coast just before 3:00 p.m. Eastern time.

And to talk about the eclipse of the century, Professor Robert Walsh, professor of solar astrophysics at the University of Lancashire in the U.K. He's now in the U.S. actually for a few days to watch the eclipse with his family.

Professor, you have to help me out. Like many people living in the U.S., I've been telling my children about the eclipse. I know you have children. Mine are younger than yours. They've never experienced this before. I've kind of struggled to explain why it's fun and why it's important. What would you say?

ROBERT WALSH, PROFESSOR OF SOLAR ASTROPHYSICS, UNIVERITY OF LANCASHIRE, U.K.: Well, there's a number of reasons why. This only happens across the entire country of America. It gives us an opportunity for us to understand the sun, the moon. And you have these objects that dance together. There's no other planet in our solar system that this has happened in this particular way, where the moon is just the right distance away and just the right size. And tomorrow morning, you will see brightness of the sun blotted out. It's a wondrous thing. It's sends goosebumps up and down your spine. I know many children and families will also be excited about what they're going to see tomorrow.

VANIER: We're watching the path of totality, where there will be 100 percent blocking of the sun in the U.S. What's special about this particular eclipse?

WALSH: There's a number of reasons. First is the fact that it's going from one coast of America to another. It's very rare is goes across such a large portion of the country and large areas of the population. It gives us an opportunity to view it continuously. Will be able to do that. Most of the planet is covered with water. So, so many people will be able to experience it. Estimates are 200 million Americans live within one day's drive of the eclipse's path. And this is going to be the largest experiment this world has ever seen.

[01:55:34] VANIER: Half of Americans have plans to watch the eclipse.

You'll be part of the live stream from NASA, answering questions from the public. Anybody that wants to see it, can see it online at the NASA feed. What is the most frequent question you get asked about this?

WALSH: One questions is, is this the only eclipse we've seen. There are eclipse that happen every 18 months or so. They just happen in areas difficult to get to. Another question I'm getting a lot is, when is the next eclipse going to be in America? Actually, you're very fortunate. In seven years' time, 2024, there's going to be another eclipse going across part of the country. And that's what people are excited about, particularly here where I am, because they're going to be on that path, the crossing of the eclipse. (CROSSTALK)

VANIER: Professor, that was going to my last question. So I'm unoriginal in that respect.

Professor, it's been a pleasure speaking to you. Thank you very much.

A reminder to the audience, we've said it many times, don't look up into the sky directly unless you have eclipse glasses.

Professor, thank you very much.

WALSH: Thank you very much, indeed.

VANIER: All right. As we wrap up the show, I just want to leave use with these live pictures. The "USS John S. McCain" sustained severe damage after a collision with a tanker in the Pacific just off the coast of Singapore. 10 U.S. sailors are missing. A search-and rescue effort is under way to try told them eight hours after the collision.

George Howell is with you next.

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[02:00:07] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We are following the breaking news this hour. You're on CNN. I'm George Howell.